Does God Really Tell Women to Sit Down and Shut Up in Church?

A gifted young woman is hired as a minister at a church within the fellowship of churches of Christ, and from some of the reactions to the event, you’d think that the Apocalypse had somehow been triggered.

It’s not like this has never happened before, for one thing, and for another … this fellowship has long promoted a concept called congregational autonomy. Which simply means that one church has no business sticking its nose in the business of another.

With all due respect to the classic interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 – which has been that of virtually all churches for more than a thousand years – I think there are too many other scriptures which refute Paul’s instructions there as normative throughout all time: a woman evangelist of Sychar, Samaria in John’s gospel; the women evangelists of the resurrection at the close of Luke’s; the partnership of Prisca with Aquila in instructing Apollos more perfectly regarding baptism … as well as others I’m sure we’ve all encountered.

The circumstances at Corinth were clear: what women were not to do was interrupt with questions, adding to the chaos that already existed among the gathered saints in their one-upsmanship in place of worship and edification. Can any other picture be drawn from scripture of what was happening there?

Nor can there be any question what was taking place in Ephesus where Timothy served: men were praying yet quarreling in anger; women were dressing to attract attention to themselves rather than to bring God glory. They had not yet learned how to behave as believers and were therefore not qualified to teach. As to Paul’s reminder of the order in creation, would it not be because women were attempting to exert authority over men – rather than share in it – that he tells them they must not? It’s a reminder that man and woman were created to complement and fill each other’s needs and serve side by side; it was a prophecy of God after they had sinned that this equality of purpose would no longer take place. Surely God’s desire to restore His relationship to His children would be to the original state of creation, not after sin and the fall from His grace.

We cannot conflate these two separate circumstances and places as a single scripture, nor interpret them as if they mean something now that they did not mean to those originally addressed.

If women were instructed to prophesy with their heads covered by authority in 1 Corinthians 11, then Paul cannot be forbidding their ministry entirely a scant three chapters later. That simply does not make sense.

I think we have to face the possibility that we – and generations before us – may have been wrong about our interpretation of these scriptures as normative for all time.

And that Jesus wants, desires and calls all people everywhere not only to repent and believe but also to share His gospel in whatever setting they are in, no matter what genders are present, or whether the walls of a church building surround them.

My late wife Angi never preached in a pulpit. But I’d challenge anyone to read her keynote address a year ago February at an Azusa-Pacific University conference and prove to me from scripture that no man could possibly be blessed by hearing that message by virtue of the fact that he was sitting in a church building hearing it live when it was delivered.

Then you can explain to me why God gives such gifts to both men and women, but only wants half of them to use those gifts to His glory if both are present and worshiping together.

Tell me it’s because Eve sinned first, before Adam did. And that’s why God placed a curse on all His children until the end of time.

So therefore women aren’t allowed to preach.


God never cursed Eve nor Adam nor us. He told them the consequences of their actions. He told them it would no longer be like it was in Eden’s paradise. It was no curse to affect all people for all time, but a prophecy that sin had thwarted His wishes for us all, and yet that He would restore those intentions and reconcile His children to Himself.

Paul wouldn’t have expected his readers to stop at half the story of the fall – forgetting entirely the relationship people once had with God in the garden – and neither should we.

That reconciliation and restoration of relationship took place at the cross. We live and must act in that grace, living that reconciliation extended to ALL people. So we are ALL commissioned by the Great Commission. The Spirit is poured out on ALL, both men and women. We are ALL one in Christ Jesus; no male nor female.

Either those things are true ALL the time.

Or they are not true at all.

89 thoughts on “Does God Really Tell Women to Sit Down and Shut Up in Church?

  1. Keith, my first response to this post:
    How can you think that the three examples of “women evangelists” you cite can be compared to a woman having an ongoing leadership position in an established congregation? The record states that the woman at Sychar and the women from the tomb simply related one incident to a few people on one occasion each. Luke specifically mentions that Prisca and Aquila taught Apollos in private. Each of these women likely went on through the grace of God to accomplish much more in the kingdom. But do these examples or anything else in scripture give any indication that they did so as leaders of any public assemblies? No, they do not.
    Gary Greene

    • I didn’t say these women led assemblies. They preached. They brought good news. They were evangelists. They were ministers. They were fellow-servants.

      And scripture doesn’t say anything about churches being required to have leaders, whether during worship or not; whether male or female. There were shepherds appointed to care for the flock. There were deacons appointed to serve needs. They served. They were not to lord it over each other.

      Speakers were to take turns in Corinth, to respect each other. They were prophets, communicating what God revealed.

      I don’t believe there’s anything ever said about leaders in worship – except possibly two synagogue leaders in Acts.

      So of course we’re not going to see rules in the New Testament about who can or can’t be worship leaders. But people who weren’t behaving properly should not have been making it difficult for those who were trying to gather in the Lord’s name.

      If that were a big problem in churches today, I’m sure there would be a lot of instructions to people to stop it, and some would come from these scriptures. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be.

      • But we do have a Biblical definition of what those shepherds are supposed to be. Deacons and elders were specifically defined as men. Of the two leadership positions actually defined in the New testament, women cannot qualify for either of them. It’s really hard for a woman to be the husband of one wife. Christ chose 12 people to spearhead the growing of the church after he was gone, and not a single one was a woman.

        Also, if these women did not lead in public assembly as you yourself say, then how can we lift them up as an example of why it’s ok for women to preach?

      • How do you define “lead”?

        What do the responsibilities of being an elder or deacon include that preclude someone from serving as an evangelist (which is what we’re talking about here)?

      • Let me ask this way, dawn:

        If you are teaching me something in this blog comment, does that mean that you are leading me or exercising authority over me or lording over me?

      • “If you are teaching me something in this blog comment, does that mean that you are leading me or exercising authority over me or lording over me?”

        Well said Keith! Perhaps, in the view of some, women should not be commenting or blogging to the general public? ツ

  2. Keith, my second response to this post:
    Looking at “the classic interpretation of 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2” you described your perception of the context surrounding these statements, that women interrupting in Corinth would have added to the existing chaos and that spiritually immature women in Ephesus were not qualified to teach. What about men interrupting in Corinth? What about the spiritually immature men you referenced in Ephesus? Why are they allowed to speak in the assemblies? Your point seems to be that anyone gifted with the ability of public speaking should be allowed to do so. Why did Paul only stop the women in these two situations and not the men?
    Gary Greene

    • To Corinth, Paul had already given instruction about taking turns and courtesy, and presumably there were infractions by both men and women.

      If that had been all that was taking place, he could have stopped there. But he addressed women who were interrupting. If men had been interrupting, would he not have addressed them, too?

      Church was a new experience for gentile Christians and for women believers, Jew or gentile. Most Jewish women would not have crowded the synagogue doors to overheard, as I understand it. Women would not have been likely to attend school. So there was no basis of experience to guide their behavior. As Christians, they were finally being taken seriously as people of faith! It must have been thrilling, especially for the Jewish women who believed!

      But their understandable enthusiasm could not be permitted to disrupt the assembly.

      In Ephesus, women appeared to be trying exercise authority over men, and that was not evidently something that the men were doing regarding the women.

      It helps to remember that Ephesus was the seat of worship for Diana/Artemis, a “goddess” served by priestesses. The culture was used to women being in charge in a religious setting.

      Paul’s reminder is that God is in charge.

  3. Keith,
    my third response is regarding your statement: “If women were instructed to prophesy with their heads covered by authority in 1 Corinthians 11, then Paul cannot be forbidding their ministry entirely a scant three chapters later.” Of course not! God never forbade anyone from ministering. But he did frequently instruct as to the proper and improper way of ministering. We are told what men cannot be pastors. We are told what men cannot be deacons. And we are told that women are not to be church leaders.
    Gary Greene

    • Again, “church leaders” isn’t a term or a concept you’ll find in scripture. Church servants – shepherds (elders, bishops, pastors), deacons (ministers, servants), evangelists – yes. But they serve, and Christ leads. What was going wrong in Corinth was that people didn’t recognize that, and everyone (seemingly) wanted to lead and be important and have the good gifts — and perhaps show them off for their own glory, rather than God’s.

      I understand that titles like the NIV’s “On Covering the Head in Worship” does not appear in old manuscripts in Greek and was added in English and other languages, and they may make it sound like the context is public worship in 1 Corinthians 11. It may be and it may not be.

      But if it isn’t, why does a head covering matter? if a woman’s head is covered or not covered while she is praying/prophesying privately, who knows whether she is obedient to this instruction or not? And to whom is she prophesying if alone? In chapter 14, Paul tells us that prophecy is for unbelievers (leading to edification of all present), not believers. So it is a gift used in public. And it was being used (and perhaps misused) in the gathering of the saints, according to that chapter. As nearly as I can tell, prophecy involved intelligible words (v. 19) and that was part of the reason it’s described as a gift superior to tongues.

      No, not every person who is gifted at speaking should be permitted to speak to the assembled saints, No matter how silver-tongued a speaker might be, no one should be allowed to speak who is rude, untruthful, divisive, unChristlike. No message from such a person can lead to salvation; the power of the gospel is weakened by such behavior.

  4. Keith, my last comment for today:
    As you conclude your post, you seem to be saying that the reconciliation and restoration that takes place through the cross returns us to the same place that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall: full, unhindered presence with God. I am hearing you say that since our relationship with God has been restored, the consequence of the fall, namely that woman’s desire would be to her husband and he would rule over her, has been removed. If that is what you are saying, then would it not also be true that the curse of death would also be removed? Isn’t it true that mankind was not subject to physical death, having access to the Tree of Life, until after the fall? If things have returned, for Christians, to pre-fall conditions, why do we still die? Why do we still have to toil by the sweat of our brow due to the curse upon the ground (Gen. 3:17-19)?
    Gary Greene

    • There is a limit to which our relationship with God is and can be restored in this life. He has offered it through Christ. Believers have accepted it through Christ. But sometimes we still choose sin, and so death is still among us.

      Just because death was conquered forever at the cross doesn’t mean that people no longer die. Believers have no fear of facing the lake of fire, the second death. It has no power over them. They are forgiven.

      There is no indication that the woman’s desire was NOT for her husband in the garden; in fact, quite the opposite. What resulted from sin was that her desire for her husband in relationship would have to be a substitute for the nearness of God, because sin distanced them. In the restored relationship of the kingdom, sin no longer is to separate us from God. It is forgiven.

      The fact that we toil by the sweat of our brow is a consequence of sin; we never lived in the garden where the Tree of Life was planted, and we do not yet live in the New Jerusalem, where the Tree of Life grows in groves near the River of Life. We are in-between. But we are to live as people restored and reconciled in this world while we await His return.

      Now honestly, can you tell me that scripture says that Adam and Eve, having had access to the Tree of Life, actually ate from it? And were therefore somehow immortal as a result? God’s purpose in removing them from the garden, surely, was at least in part to separate them from that Tree and its promise. But it doesn’t say they had eaten of it, nor that they were immortal as a result.

      So, now, can you answer my questions?

      Are we not ALL commissioned by the Great Commission?

      Is not The Spirit is poured out on ALL, both men and women?

      Are we not ALL one in Christ Jesus; no male nor female?

      Can these things be true and yet not be true all of the time and in every place — including the places where believers gather?

      If there were fellow believers in Angi’s audience who were male (and you can bet there were), did she sin and become damned to hell for preaching because where two or three are gathered, the Lord is also? Did that make it a church? Is a church building required to make it a church? Would she be damned only if she spoke on a Sunday morning? What about Sunday afternoon? Sunday evening? What hours? What if there had been only two or three other people to show up? What if none of them were believers? Would that be okay then, for her to deliver that address, that sermon? Because it was, you know. You only have to read the excerpt to see and know that.

      Did she do evil? Did she do harm? Did she disobey God, or witness for His wisdom and glory? Were people moved closer to Him, or farther away? Was He pleased or displeased with what she tried to do to give honor to Him?

      Because she was a woman?

      Gary, I’m assuming you might be my old friend from Greenfield, IN. Even if you’re not, let me say that I celebrate you as a brother in Christ. I’m glad you’re passionate about this — if you can’t tell, I am too — and about serving God to the best of our ability and understanding.

      Thank you for asking substantial, substantive questions.

      I believe that dialog like this is how we plumb out the truth, rather than relying on our own individual wisdom; we count on the community/family of believers to check our facts, logic and understanding.

      I, for one, in these times of great challenge and uncertainty in my life, need all the help from the family of God that I can get.

      • Yes, Keith, I am your friend from high school years, first, and often, meeting at Indianapolis area youth rallies. That is why I first started reading your blog. But I have continued to read it because of the challenge you’ve given to my thinking.

      • “So, now, can you answer my questions?
        “Are we not ALL commissioned by the Great Commission?
        “Is not The Spirit is poured out on ALL, both men and women?
        “Are we not ALL one in Christ Jesus; no male nor female?
        “Can these things be true and yet not be true all of the time and in every place — including the places where believers gather?”

        Yes, I can answer. Yes, we ARE all commissioned. Yes, the Spirit IS poured out on both men and women. Yes, we ARE all one including both male and female. And these things being true does not depend on time or place or any other circumstance.

        But does being commissioned, having the Spirit, and/or being equal in Christ mean that ALL are intended to teach in mixed assemblies of believers? These items being true causes us to see the value in many varieties of Christian that, if using worldly thinking, we would dismiss due to ethnicity, economic status, gender, etc. But in addition to commission, Spirit, and unity are other important truths. While the truths you have pointed out are important (vitally important), so are the principles of submission and obedience. There appear to be instructions in scripture that we need to obey in regard to speaking in the public assemblies of the church.

        You wrote: “If women were instructed to prophesy with their heads covered by authority in 1 Corinthians 11, then Paul cannot be forbidding their ministry entirely a scant three chapters later. That simply does not make sense.” That’s right. That interpretation would not make sense. But that is not the interpretation that has been made. No one has forbidden women from ministry! (Well, maybe someone somewhere, but no one I’ve ever heard of.) Off the top of my head, I can think of two women internationally known for their writings and speaking (their ministries) who would never consider speaking before a church gathering that included men. I also know of several female missionaries that work very effectively who likewise would never think of speaking before a church gathering that included men.

        Just to make my position crystal clear: Paul taught that women are not to teach in mixed church gatherings. This does not mean that women are 2nd class citizens. It does not mean that we do not appreciate their talents. This does not mean that we believe them to be incapable. It means that speaking in a general assembly of the saints is not part of their role.

        Gary Greene
        Brentwood California

      • My point, Gary, was that their ministry was prophesying, which could only be a public ministry.

        Obedience IS important, but if we’re obeying something not intended for us as a corrective and it is preventing gifted people from serving, what is the point of obeying? That’s my response to Jeff on this page.

        And let’s explore Paul’s authority a moment, and say he did teach that women should not speak in worship, anywhere, ever, in a situation where men could hear them. (For the sake of argument, since I don’t believe he did.)

        Paul says “I do not permit …”

        What does Jesus say? He neither permits nor forbids. Instead, He commissions and encourages all. He incited and commissioned men specifically in some situations, and women in others. Did it even occur to Him that someone would later forbid women to witness for Him? His actions wouldn’t lead one to believe so.

        So does Paul’s authority trump Christ’s?

  5. Keith,
    Thanks for your beautifully constructed argument; you are my hero for today.
    While I agree with your evaluation of ‘the curse,’ for the sake of argument, I’d like to keep that term. There are few things about the whole referral to ‘the curse of the fall,’ that puzzle me. What happened after Eve and Adam sinned (if she is more to blame, let us put her first?) indicates that ‘the curse’ was not what God had intended for humans originally. On some level, all of us agree with this. If not, why has humankind been working for centuries to overcome those ‘curses?’ Well, at least most of them. The only part of ‘the curse’ than men, as a general rule, have not worked to overcome is the part where they get to be in charge of women. If it is appropriate to strive to overcome part of ‘the curse,’ isn’t it appropriate to work to overcome all of it? I’ve never heard anyone speak of ‘the curseS,’ so I believe it is a package deal.
    If God DOES want men to dominate or at least minimize women, then it isn’t it also true that he wants us to abide by the rest of ‘the curse’?
    Yet, I have NEVER heard a sermon condemning the use of weed killer or large farm equipment to help control thorns. I have NEVER heard anyone suggest that working in a comfy office, rather than sweating in field, is sinful. I have NEVER heard a sermon where someone suggested that we not provide pain relieving measures for women in labor. (Even people who promote ‘natural birth’ teach women how to manage labor more comfortably.)
    Either ‘the curse’ is God’s new will, and we are wrong to strive to overcome it, or ‘the curse’ represents the reality of a fallen world. Either all of the measures we have taken to overcome ‘the curse’ are sinful or they are all okay. And if they are all okay, then re-evaluating what is not only allowed, but expected, of talented women is a most noble pursuit.

    • The only things cursed were the serpent and the ground. God didn’t curse His children. He delivered punishment and warned them of consequences.

      Our goal should be to listen for Him walking in the cool of the day — and go walk with Him once more.

  6. The issue for me is how people apply one set of rules for the church and another for the ‘secular world’ – like their is such a thing. It seems that we should be looking for kingdom principles and not church ones. Qualified Christian women lead and speak in corporate America and many other places of authority and power. The church should understand that these women are working in the kingdom of God. If they did they would welcome such gifted ladies into church leadership.

  7. “Are we not ALL commissioned by the Great Commission?”

    Hbr 8:10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
    Hbr 8:11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

  8. 1 Timothy 2:11,12. “let a woman learn in silence with all submission, and I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” Very clear passage. kb, what clear passage would it be that has done away with this one?Are you saying that scripture contradicts it’s self? I’ve always been taught that whenever I think a passage contradicts another, I don’t have a correct understanding of one or both. The teacher is the authority in any given situation. It is a position of power as well. A position given to men in the Lord’s church. Women are to be submissive to man as man is to be submissive to Christ as Christ was to the Father. This is all that this argument is about, it’s about people in the who refuse to submit to the will of God.

    • No passage of scripture has “done away” with this one. It was Paul’s instruction through Timothy to the church at Ephesus, and if women were behaving the same way at a church today, it would be an instruction to them, too – just as the instruction for men not to pray in a quarrelsome way would apply to men who might be doing that today, Jeff.

      Jesus tells the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21 to sell all he owns and give to the poor. Does He therefore tell all of us to sell all we have and give to the poor? No, just the ruch young ruler. But He does tell us to sell our possessions and give to the poor in Luke 12:33. Does He mean all of them? He doesn’t say “all,” there, does He? So the instruction is just for the rich young ruler, who needed to hear and obey it especially.

      So it is with Paul’s instructions to these churches. They are corrective. If there is no wrong or disrespect to correct, then the instructions do not apply. As I think I’ve explained sufficiently above.

      • I disagree with your assessment that only the rich young ruler was meant to sell everything and give to the poor. We see the example in Acts 4:32-35 that all the believers shared everything they owned. All of Acts 4 and 5 depict that it was normal for Christians to sell all their possessions to take care of each other and others in need. Apparently they thought that Christ did mean for them to sell everything they had and give it away. Apparently, they thought that instruction was meant for them also.
        There is nothing in the Bible that was meant only for the Early church and no longer applies to us today. Saying so would be like later jews claiming it was fine to make idols and golden images, because that part was written for Aaron and all those who had made themselves a golden calf to worship.

      • I don’t see the word “all” in Acts 4-5 in connection with “sell,” but with “share,” Dawn.

        I understand that it was important to be honest, not sell and hold back some and give the impression it was all.

    • This passage says nothing about women being in submission to men – but to God. The phrase “submission to any man” does not appear there; just “in submission.” It appears after an instruction about modesty. If any man should instruct a woman to dress immodestly, must she obey him? Ridiculous! She is in submission to what God desires, not what man desires. The similar passage in 1 Corinthians 14:34 illuminates this fact when it adds “as the law says.” The law came from God, not man nor men. Find me a place where the law commands women to be submissive to men generally, and you have your point. It doesn’t.

      What scripture does ask is for wives to submit to husbands and for husbands to love their wives sacrificially, as Christ loves the church. I think that’s because it’s what we crave from each other, and what’s sometimes hard for us to do. Really, it’s the same thing: being selfless. So he also says we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21ff), who is the One to whom is given “all authority on heaven and on earth.” Scripture says nothing about delegating it only to men.

      Plus, “wives” and “husbands” are not the same as “women” and “men.” Not all believers are married. And we are certainly not all married to each other in one gigantic mass marriage.

      We are the church, all married together in one gigantic mass marriage to the husband Christ.

    • I think there is quite a lot to talk about in that passage, and that like many other texts, it calls us to some pretty deep reflection. Conclude what you will, but it’s been said before that there are many things in Paul’s letters that are in fact quite difficult to understand, and I think you have to let people go through a process of interpretation before you can simply stamp the passage with “very clear passage” and end discussion.

      More seriously, I think it is a high accusation to say “This is all that this argument is about, it’s about people who refuse to submit to the will of God.” If you can discern that sort of spiritual condition from a single blog post or position, you surely are a wiser man than I am.

      It may be that others are simply pursuing a different understanding of the will of God. Indeed, any of us may end up being wrong about anything, and perhaps its because of that that I’m appreciative of anybody who can help me shake down what I’m thinking, even in disagreement (Keith often has). Nonetheless I think its a good idea to slow down before assuming such evil demonic intentions of people.

  9. Can anyone recommend an in-depth, scholarly, thorough study of the Scriptures normally used to forbid women from leadership roles in our churches?
    Most of what I’m hearing in the discussions I see on the internet could be summed up by “But what about the Scriptures that ‘contradict’ our ‘classic’ interpretations?” Or “how can we reach this modern culture unless we match the social changes of last 45 years?”
    It seems we need to be careful not to succumb to reorienting our understanding of the Bible to fit the times. (“He who marries the spirit of the times will soon be a widower.” Or maybe I should say, “widow”.)
    Why have the vast majority of Christian churches held to this ‘classic’ interpretation for 2,000 years? Were they just wrong… chauvinistic… woman-haters, etc? Or did they see something in Scripture to demand they hold to that interpretation?
    I, for one, am willing to try to change the way our congregation does things – if I see it in Scripture, in context, and, because of that, am led by my conscience to reform.
    Any ideas on what books to read for an in-depth study of Scripture on this?

    • I hope that the “most” does not include this blog post when you suggest that its driver is a question like “how can we reach this modern culture unless we match the social changes of last 45 years?”. I have no interest in matching or accommodating culture where it is not congruent with scripture.

      And that, of course, leads me to add that your expressed desire for a well-founded Bible study of the subject would not be complete if it ignored the scriptures which seem to contradict classic interpretations – whether those interpretations are right or wrong.

      That’s my goal to explore, not ignore.

      If you’re suggesting that an interpretation or church policy must be correct because it is 2,000 years old, I’d say there’s a flaw in that logic. I doubt that you would make that assertion regarding the papacy, some practices of baptism or other interpretations which led to church policy. And not all of them go back 2,000 years or even 1,900 years. Nor can we assume they did so.

      Our primary concern should be what scripture actually says and why and to whom and in what circumstances. In short, what is God trying to reveal to us?

      And are we unwilling to see it or at least examine it because we are comfortable with our “classic” interpretations?

      What if we’re wrong, and the effectiveness of the church has been cut in half by our mistake – for close to 2,000 years? Should we perpetuate that mistake and continue to act unjustly toward those gifted by God who speak the truth and live worthy lives and yearn to share the gospel?

      “What if I’m wrong?” is a question is always a question that is in order for the believer in Christ.

      • My question certainly wasn’t an attack on you. I say again… Can anyone recommend an in-depth, scholarly, thorough study of the Scriptures normally used to forbid women from leadership roles in our churches?

      • Keith R., I know there are books which address the subject, but I can’t recommend them because I haven’t read them. I wanted to draw my own conclusions from scripture before diving into someone else’s.

    • Read the book “Created to be his Help Meet” by Debi Pearl. She has an in-depth, scholarly, thorough study of the scriptures used to forbid women from leadership roles in our churches and our families. She doesn’t make me feel less of a human or unhappy to be in my place. She calls women to support their husbands by being submissive, cheerful, kind-hearted and to anticipate his needs. It will change your life!

      • Debi Pearl’s teachings do not line up with Jesus’. I find it quite ironic that you don’t believe a woman should teach and yet here you are teaching men about the teachings of another woman. Curious.

  10. Sorry that I’m not able to respond to Dawn’s reply regarding the rich young ruler within the thread, but my first thought was just how right Keith is that things aren’t as clear cut as we’d like for them to be (or as clear cut as some believe they are). If that command to the rich young ruler applies universally (and to us today), how many of us are condemned because we don’t sell all our possessions and give to the poor. As I recall, Paul had to tell the Macedonians to stop giving because they were giving beyond their means. So…which is it? Did Paul have the authority to countermand a clear command from Jesus?

  11. Dawn, how do you explain Phoebe? Paul calls her a deacon. What about Priscilla, who taught? Junia and the other women Paul lists in Romans 16? The daughters of Philip who prophesied? Lydia, whose house seems to have been the location for a church. Women were certainly not silent in the first century church.

  12. I believe we may have missed the point of the young rich man’s question, and Jesus’ reply.

    Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (shall I do)
    If you notice the young man asked; ” what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
    Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
    Jesus’ answer was, if you expect to be saved by your own works, then you will have to be perfect, as I am perfect, and give up everything for the sake of God, as I have, and follow me.
    As far as I know, no one today expect to be perfect, so we depend on the good graces of God.

  13. As a woman of the Church of Christ my entire life, I can cheerfully and respectfully inform you that my opinion disagrees with yours. Women should be silent in the church. They should not lead. They should not teach any man older than a child. It is not a curse. It is not an attack on my character, my abilities or my gifts. It is an acceptance that man was given the role of leadership. If everyone tried to lead, there would be chaos. There should be one head of the family, just like one head of the church and he should be male. I am not less of a person for this. I have been given other roles that are just as important. I take care of my children. I keep a clean and functioning, enriching home for my children. I support my husband, give him encouragement and back down to let him lead the way in which he feels best. Have you ever heard “Behind every man, there is a great woman”? It is true and brings honor and glory to my role. Look at divorce rates, gender identity confusion and, homosexuality since the women’s rights movements and tell me that they aren’t linked. I am not claiming that we can’t inherit land or that we shouldn’t be allowed to get a driver’s license without a husband permission slip, just mentioning that I wouldn’t vote unless I thought it wouldn’t make my husband’s vote go farther. Look up the profile of Jezebel. She was a “spiritual woman” who decide to lead. Her husband turned his head to the wall and allowed her to take over. She is described as an evil woman. The churches of Christ can all stay out of each other’s business. But if any one of them decide to turn away from everything the COC stands for, they can respectfully re-title themselves so as not to bring shame to the rest of us.

    -Happily married, happily congregated, submissive woman

    • A few quick responses Christa:

      “They should not teach any man older than a child.” — Does that mean that women should not teach 13 year old boys (age of Hebrew manhood) and up?

      “Women should be silent in the church.” — Should they also be silent in the corporate and political part of the kingdom of God? If not then it seems that the patriarchal structure that you advocate would be limited to only a tiny part of the kingdom of God.

      • “I am not sure what you mean.” — My point is that the kingdom of God is larger than the church. What you are proposing is that the church operates differently than the kingdom of God. For example, a woman is often called by God to teach in a “secular” coed university. Women are also called by God to manage groups that include men in “secular” endeavors. Although these roles are called “secular” by religious folks they are jobs that people are called to by God and thus fall within the kingdom of God. Not sure if that makes sense to you. If not then perhaps you can help me understand you perspective of the kingdom of God and how you see woman working in the kingdom.

      • Honestly, I believe women belong in the home. One thing is for sure, I don’t belong in this century. Just so you are aware, I am only 23 years old. It’s not like I am a dinosaur and refuse to change my views over the ages. I am even an English major at a Liberal Arts college. What do I plan to do with my degree? Home-school my kids.

      • ” I believe women belong in the home.” — Should women not go away to college and stay with their parents until they are married?

        “I am even an English major at a Liberal Arts college.” — Are there women teachers in that college and do they teach men? If so, the I would suggest that it is possible that you attend a college that violates your beliefs.

        Not saying any of this to be mean just trying to understand what you are advocating.

      • How refreshing, Crista. You haven’t bought into the modern media mindset, but seem to be trying to follow the Bible’s mindset when it comes to the man-woman relationship in Christ.
        I’ve lived my whole life down here in the south (so far) and grew up around some VERY strong women (including my wife, mom and sister), yet they know how to be strong without trying to be a man.
        I know what I’ve said here is mostly cultural and not Bible, but so is most of the other side of this ongoing discussion.

      • I have also grown up with strong women Keith. In your agreement with Crista, are you saying that a patriarchal society is what we believers should be striving for?

      • I am advocating that women be silent in the church and be happy about the place God has given them. I cannot control others and I don’t claim to have all the answers. I think that churches of Christ are the way they are for a reason and if one of them is going to change, they should be happy to change their name as well. I do not approve of the culture I live in and I am subject to certain situations that violate my beliefs. I am getting my degree because my mother wanted me to and she is dead. My husband wants me to get a degree so I am honoring him by doing so. If the situation permits, I believe married women belong in the home. I should have clarified that.

      • What I am hearing you saying Crista is that you believe in a patriarchal society like they had back in the early church where men were the only ones that held all positions of power and authority. Am I misreading what you are saying?

      • Crista, I am truly happy for you that you are comfortable doing / not doing things just because you’re told to – including getting a degree – but not everyone is that way. That’s a personality type, not a law from Jesus.

        And no one on this blog has said anything about a woman who interprets “submissive” in this way as being less than anyone else. I’d have deleted it, because it’s false and denigrating.

        But I’d have to say you’re typical only of a group of women who are like you. My mom isn’t, nor was my late wife, nor is my daughter. That doesn’t mean they’re rebellious against God or not Christ-like. Mom, at 87, teaches foreign students English and Bible through a “Let’s Start Talking” opportunity. My wife taught at Christian universities as well as public ones, and frequently used scriptural principles in her teaching. There’s no telling how my daughter will yet serve God!

        All I’m doing in this post is calling into question the way believers have, in your own word, “used” scripture to teach something they believe for many hundreds of years. Simply repeating over and over what we believe those scriptures to mean doesn’t negate the possibility that we’ve all been wrong about our interpretation, and that gifted people have been discouraged from doing what they yearn and are able to do, and that the growth of the church has suffered as a result.

        I didn’t preach for years, until just last year. For many years, I worked free-lance from the house and was the stay-at-home parent for two awesome adopted children. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s a noble and wonderful calling!

        But it’s not the calling that every man OR woman has from God.

      • God didn’t give women a place. Nor did God give slaves a place. Nor different races. Patriarchy is a result of power wielding. Look at how Jesus overturns all the norms about treating women. Look at the examples of Mary, learning at the foot of Jesus, the Samaritan woman, who is the first person to share the news that Jesus is the real deal, Mary Magdalene, the women who share the news of the resurrection. Look at Lydia, Priscilla, Junia, Philip’s prophesying daughters. Phoebe, a deacon.

  14. I’m giving my opinion. Not teaching. 🙂 But I just wanted everyone to see a view of a typical church of Christ wife who doesn’t feel attacked or abused because of her place. God Bless!

  15. The Kingdom of God is the church, the church that he built and the church His Son died for. Scripture clearly states the roles that men and women are to have in the church. Paul understood why can’t we? Or is it that we choose not to? Age has little to do with it. It is when a male becomes a Christian. The church as we know it, the church of Christ has always understood this. How many thousands of faithful brothers and sisters have there been over the past 2000 years? all having this understanding. Why can’t we allow God to have His way? But only recently have we been so enlightened by such brilliant minds. Social justice anyone? This movement has become very clear to me recently, when a lawyer for the Trayvon Martin family stated, that she was a social engineer first and a lawyer second. She said, when the government gets it wrong the “social engineers” should step in and make things right. So it is in the church. I guess God got it wrong. And Crista you are right, don’t back down, your beliefs are biblical. “Hold fast the pattern of sound words.”

    • I guess someone forgot to tell Priscilla she couldn’t teach. junia that she couldn’t be an apostle. Phoebe that she couldn’t be a deacon. Philip’s daughters that they couldn’t prophesy

      • I believe Priscilla and her husband spoke privately, they pulled him aside. Women can teach. They just can’t preside over a male Christian. Men have been given that role and authority. We must also understand the meaning of words, “deacon” means servant. They are special servants to Elders. I don’t think Phoebe could meet the qualification of “deacon”, the husband of one wife. Context dictates the way a word is being used, Phoebe was simply a servant.

      • Priscilla and Aquila are mentioned five times in the Bible. Priscilla is never mentioned alone. Prophesy is very different from teaching or leading. There is debate about Junia even being a woman… Phoebe’s exceptional character, noted[Rom. 16:2] by her status as a deacon and prostatis—one who should be esteemed highly “because of their work”[1 Thes. 5:12]— may be the reason Paul sent her to Rome where she delivered (and probably deliberated on) the most theological letter we have from Paul. By referring to Phoebe as a prostatis, Paul solicits the attention and respect of the leaders in Rome’s church, which also included other women leaders who worked hard in the Lord like Mary[Rom. 16:6] and Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis. Soooo women are capable of delivering mail. I never disputed that.. Nor that they are incapable of anything.. Just out of place in leadership roles.

    • Concerning this Jeff:

      “The Kingdom of God is the church, the church that he built and the church His Son died for.”

      I would love to understand why you believe this. Perhaps you can share a few verses of scripture that supports this idea. Here are a few of my favorite verses:

      “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” -Luke 17:21

      For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. -Romans 14:17

      For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. -1 Corinthians 4:20

      Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. -1 Corinthians 15:50

      The kingdom is only about the church when you consider the church to be the people in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. Fleshly limits of patriarchy, slavery, culture or any other form human rule must bow to the rule (i.e. kingdom) of God.

  16. Let me ask those of you who interpret “let women keep silence in the assembly” quite literally … Does this not mean that women should not speak a word from the moment worship begins until it is called to a close? Including singing? Responsive reading of the scripture by the congregation? The assent of an “amen”? The word used in the text is “silence,” complete and utter.

    And does not a women’s group constitute an assembly of the saints? Whether a women is teaching a man in that assembly or not? And must a woman be the one to operate any needed sound or visual equipment, lest the speaker teach a man?

    If Priscilla taught Apollos anything while her husband was present, did the two or three of them gathered in Christ’s name constitute an assembly, a church? If so, did she sin? Before Paul laid down this rule, possibly?

    The church is the body of Christ all the time, whether assembled together or not. Does that mean a woman can’t teach or hold any kind of authority over any man at any time or place, including schools, businesses, government?

    It just seems to me that the more we try to make universal rules for all time out of instructions that were meant for a specific time, place and/or circumstances … the more we have to legislate conditions and times and exceptions so the laws we’ve made can “work.” And all of those come from inside our own heads. We’re bound to disagree on some of them.

    And Satan is delighted for the opportunity to divide us when we do.

    • Excellent thoughts Keith! Doubtful that anyone will try to answer the difficult questions that you asked. Complementarianism (the theological view held by some in Christianity and other world religions, such as Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere) presents a simplistic view of the world that works well in Mideast countries but not so much in countries where women have had the freedoms and education absent in so much of the Middle East.

  17. I grew up in a fairly conservative time and place where women didn’t preach, but have spent the last two decades convinced that the Bible is not forbidding women in ministry leadership. If anyone wants to delve into this, I recommend two books by J. Lee Grady, 10 Lies The Church Tells Women and 10 Lies Men Believe. His discussion on this issue is quite persuasive.

      • I agree Jeff. Read this one and believe it:

        There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:28

      • Is this meant as a dismissive statement about Christian books? Each time Jesus said, “You have heard it said,” he was referring to the teaching of the rabbis on the Mishnah, itself a commentary on Torah. The Apostle Paul asks to have his “books” brought to him. Your experience may be different, but I have found the writings of Christian leaders, pastors, authors, etc. have been what drew me to study the scriptures, and enriched my understanding.

        I know people who say, “I only read the Bible, I don’t read Christian books;” and if that works for you, great; but I would say that for most people, that would consist of studying the scriptures and learning the ways of God in a bit of a vacuum. It would also render the textbook stores of most of our Bible Colleges and Seminaries totally unnecessary, but obviously those who teach our pastors and leaders don’t choose to go that route.

        That’s why when I find people engaged in a good discussion online, I don’t hesitate to recommend other voices which I find to be both thorough and balanced.

      • kbob, I believe the point of that passage (Gal 3:28) is, in Christ we are all heirs of His, regardless of who we are. A point the Jews had problems with. We are all equal in God’s sight. That however does not mean we all have the same role in the church. 1 Tim 2:11-12 remain very clear. Paul stated, ” I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” Scripture does not contradict itself. Can women teach, yes they can, they just can’t have authority over a Christian man in a “church” setting. It’s what God wants, may we all just accept it.

      • Paulthinkingoutloud, My point about studying books written by man is they are dangerous, they are not inspired words. According to 2 Tim 3:16,17 the bible is all we need. God said that, I didn’t. Just be very careful when reading man’s thoughts, God has warned us about men who seek to pervert His message.

      • “A point the Jews had problems with.”

        The Jews were a patriarchal society Jeff. Much of the sentiment of 1 Tim 2:11-12 is rooted in a patriarchal culture that is similar to the cultures of Muslim dominated ones of our day. Our culture is different from that culture so why inflict it on American churches when it has no more applicability to us than the verses about slavery (i.e. Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Peter 2:18). I rejoice that women are free to follow God, unencumbered by cultural taboos, wherever He leads them,

      • kbob, The problems the Jews had was they had always been God’s chosen people. Under Christ all people from every nation could become heirs, that they did not understand, that is what is addressed in Gal 3:28. To believe that God could not provide a written account of His will that would be good for all ages, I will not accept. To even think that we who live now are somehow much more enlightened, to think that we are so special that God’s word does not apply to us anymore is nothing short of blasphemy. Yes our culture is different, but God says there is nothing new under the sun. Lets remember that man’s wisdom is foolishness to God. God instructs us on how He wants His church to be, and you question why? It’s not me inflicting my will on anyone, it’s God, heed the warning. Are you saying that God is talking out of both sides of His mouth? His written word says one thing and you say that He leads women to do the opposite? If that’s who God is, I don’t want anything to do with Him. As far as reading Keith’s and the others I have. All I have asserted is what the inspired word says, if God’s word is nothing more than assertions then there is no hope of any of us. We can twist passages to say just about anything. The question is, do we really want to know God’s will for us or not. In my mind to deny the words of Paul, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” to deny those words is to deny Christ Himself. Jesus told the 70 before He sent them out, “He who hears you, hears Me, he who rejects you, rejects Me.”

      • My thinking Jeff, is that you like the ONE verse that defines the “role of a woman” but may not like the MANY verses (see my comment above) where the NT writers tell slaves to obey their masters. I am glad that our country escaped from the misapplication of those verses that kept people in slavery. Would that churches embraced such freedom for women too.

        And as I have said before, one must apply the roles that you advocate both inside and outside of religious venues as the church is much greater than a group or denomination. To align with your point of view, a Christian woman (i.e. part of the church) would not be able to teach in a coed high school or university. In addition such a woman would prohibited from starting a small business or managing a mixed team of people in a company. And perhaps she not be allowed to exercise authority over men by casting a vote in an election. ツ

  18. Since I’ve given my reasons why I feel these verses are instructions for a specific set of circumstances, let me ask it this way:

    Why can these instructions not possibly be for a specific set of circumstances?

    Because if we maintain that every instruction in the New Testament is for all people for all time from the Lord Himself, we’re going to run into problems real quickly. 1 Corinthians 7 comes to mind, where instructions are given to particular groups of people and not others and some are from the Lord and some are from Paul.

    Why do we insist that an instruction for a headcovering is for that era only, but silent women is for all time (in church, but women may speak in some other situations we pick and choose based on … what? Our perfect logic?).

    • I don’t know of any passage that condones slavery, but scripture does instruct that if one happens to be a slave to be a good slave. God commands women to be submissive to their own husbands, as man is to be submissive to Christ, sorry but there is a pecking order. Kbob your view of the Kingdom of our dear Lord is not biblical. Scripture teaches that those who are saved will be added to it by the Lord Himself. It teaches that many will go through the wide gate that leads to destruction, and few will find and go through the narrow gate that leads to righteousness. It is not some all inclusive club, all are called but only the obedient will be added. Women enjoy many freedoms in this world, they can teach, they can own a business, they can vote, they can teach in church, they just can’t teach or have authority over the men in a congregational setting. We must learn to separate the freedom they have in the world from the restrictions that God has placed upon them in HIS church. I wish that God had given them the responsibility of church leadership, but He didn’t, who am I to argue with God’s wisdom? Who are we trying to please, man or God? None of us can ever be pleasing to God unless and until we humbly submit to what He wants. It would be nice to share this responsibility with women, but we can’t in the church if our desire is to please Him. To do so would be like offering strange fire. Dipping in the muddy Jordan six times instead of seven. God created man first, and then gave woman to him as a helper. Woman was deceived first. Throughout biblical history, man has always had the responsibility of spiritual leadership over the woman, it’s nothing new. God dictates our roles, let us let Him have His way.

      • Who said anything about an “all inclusive club” Jeff? My thinking is that you are either not even trying to understand what folks are saying here or you simply do not like what is being said.

        I am not sure that I even understand your view of what the church is. You seem to embrace a small view of it limiting it to what can be done inside of a building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. God forbid that this is a biblical view of the church. Have you ever considered that the church is the body of Christ? As such the church spend the most of its time ministering outside of a religious building. When a Christian woman teaches in a university setting to adult males she is using a gift of the Holy Spirit and being the church.

        And regarding slavery, those NT verses that I shared with you (did you bother to read them?) tell slaves to obey their masters. People once misused those verses to keep slaves in America bondage saying that these slaves should obey their masters because that is what the bible says. I think that religious folks also misuse ONE verse to tell women today to, as Keith says, sit down and shut up. It may fly in Islam but it does not in Christianity.

        You may sincerely think that your view is “biblical” but many in this comment thread have given plenty of “biblical” rational of why it is not. So please do not say things that others say are not “biblical” as if your view is the only one that is right.

      • kbob, All of life is not worship, we are instructed as to what worship is and when it is to occur. Worship occurs when the body comes together and when that occurs women are restricted in their roles as members of that body. As for the slavery verses, slaves were to be good slaves, if that is where they found themselves. Becoming a Christian did not release them from their masters. Not condoning slavery, just informing the slave on how to act as a slave. “Biblical rational’ better put “human reasoning.” A woman or man by them selves cannot be the church. When a woman is not with the body she may teach whomever she wishes. If she teaches college math to a group of male Christians, that would be no problem. But on the other hand, if she teaches a group of male Christians biblical lessons, then she would have authority over a man in spiritual matters. I am not always right, but God is.

      • A few responses Jeff …

        “Worship occurs when the body comes together” :: that is not a biblical view if you are referring to religious services (i.e. preaching and singing) at a local church. Jesus told the woman at the well that worship was not about a place but about worshiping in Spirit and in truth.

        “Becoming a Christian did not release them from their masters.” :: Would that be your advice to girls in the sex slave industry? Would you tell then to follow the bible and obey their masters or would you tell them to get out ASAP? Do you think that these girls should simply obey the words of Peter and Paul in the NT and stay in slavery? If not then I would suggest that you are not being consistent in your application of the NT writings.

        “A woman or man by them selves cannot be the church.” :: Never said they could be. Yet, as I have pointed out, the church is the body of Christ and as such is always ministering, 24×7, in the world. Using your rationale a woman could really not share Christ with a lost man because she would be teaching him about Jesus.

        “I am not always right, but God is.” :: Amen. Especially on this issue. ツ

  19. 1 Corinthians 11,14 are both dealing with disorders in the assembly, “when you come together.” 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Head refers to “Authority.” Paul is making the case that women were to be subordinate to man, (in the church). The women were removing their veils and going forward in the assembly to lead that assembly with their Spirit imparted gifts. This was in direct violation of the subordinate principle given by Paul in chapter 14. In chapter 11 he focuses on females who remove their cultural symbols of submission (the veils). They removed them because they understood that to stand and exercise a spiritual gift in the assembly was in fact an authoritative act of leadership. To have worn a symbol of submission while doing so would have been seen as contradictory. Paul requires them to stop, to put their cultural symbols back on to show their willingness to submit to the authority of man. We see Paul’s implicit directive to women in 14:34. In verse 33 we see that this directive is universal, “as in all the churches of the Saints. As for slavery, I know of no verse that comes right out and condemns slavery. It would have been pointless to speak against something that was the rule of the day. Instead the Holy Spirit teaches both the slave holder and the slave how to treat the other, attacking the problem with Godly wisdom. If the slave holder would only understand God’s principles concerning loving thy neighbor as thy self, there would be no such slavery. But to your original point of Gal 3:28, male and female are equal in God’s sight, but that does not mean we don’t have different roles. Roles and status are indeed different. One last point, it would be possible for a Christian man to work at a Female/ Christian owned business, where she has all authority in her work place. Go to worship, those roles reverse, “when you come together” as the body of Christ, man has the authority over the woman.

    • I am not sure Jeff (I may be wrong) but it sounds as if you might be quoting Wayne Grudem or something from a website. That said, I apologize for suggesting that if the ideas you presented in this last comment are your words. My desire is to have a conversation here not swap excerpts from the writings of other people.

      I tried to respond directly to your previous comment but you seem to (I may be misreading your intentions) prefer to not want to engage with me about the application of your ideas in a current day situation such as sex slavery. I do fear however that you might think that a girl caught in such a situation should follow what Peter and Paul wrote and obey her master.

      You have also not spoke directly to whether the ministry of the body of Christ is limited to inside of the buildings of religious walls. I suspect that you see it that way as you see to embrace some sort of artificial delineation between work done (i.e. gifts exercised) in religious settings and work done in other settings. Seems that kind of thinking exalts the work of people who work for religious organizations over the work of people who pay the salaries of such people. I could be reading to much into some of what you have written though.

      One last thought about this excerpt from your comment:

      “It would have been pointless to speak against something that was the rule of the day.”

      Do you not see that Paul was simply agreeing with the cultural “rule of the day” when he spoke of women not speaking in religious settings? Do you think that it was even possible for Paul to see a woman as his equal? The “rule of the day” in Paul’s time was that men held ALL positions of authority in both the secular and religious. Fortunately, as many have enumerated in this comment thread, that cultural “rule of the day” was broken by many godly women who God put in places of leadership.

  20. kbob, The words are mine, the thoughts do come from others, thoughts that I believe to be true to God’s words. I don’t see how we got to the point of arguing over slavery, just because slavery is wrong in the examples you use, doesn’t give women authority in the Lord’s church. Women are equal to men, we just have different roles in the church, Why is that so hard to understand? Paul used the rule of the day to set standards for the church. God gave man the responsibility of leadership in the church. It will be God’s word that judges us all, not “biblical rational”, or social justice. I have said over and over “when you come together” which is referring to the assembling of the “saints” which is the church, women must be submissive to man. Outside of this assembly, women can teach any non Christian group she desires. If Christian men are present and spiritual matters are to be discussed, the women must give the authority to the man. Simple, fear God and keep His commandments.

    • “I don’t see how we got to the point of arguing over slavery”

      Hope we are not arguing over slavery. From your last comment you seem to agree with me that slavery is always wrong and the apostles should not have encouraged slaves to obey their masters.

      Peter and Paul simply did not have a context for the idea that slavery was wrong. In like manner Paul simply did not have a context for seeing women as equals to him – either inside or outside of religious assemblies. Paul’s view of women was shaped by Judaism and not by the Holy Spirit. Paul therefore shared what he understood to be true (like he did with slavery) but did not understand that he was speaking for himself and not for God.

  21. Slave, sometimes means bondservant, servant. Not all slavery was wrong. There were those who had debt they could not pay, they became slaves if you will until their debts were paid. Anyone today who works for another is a slave in the same sense. I don’t believe we have to obey anyone, even the government if their will goes against God’s. We must always obey God first. I don’t think Paul was encouraging anyone to obey the type of masters that you have noted. Don’t you believe that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit? Jesus told the Apostles that he would send them a helper, (Holy Spirit) to guide them into ALL truth. Yet you believe Paul spoke an untruth? Paul was given by the Holy Spirit miraculous abilities, one of which was the power of discernment. He could discern right from wrong. Even with that, Paul wasn’t speaking, it was God speaking through Paul.

    • “I don’t think Paul was encouraging anyone to obey the type of masters that you have noted.”

      I tend to agree with you. His encouragement to slaves of that day should definitely not be carried over to modern day slavery. The words of Paul and Peter to slaves were focused at a specific time and place and did not represent the timeless will of God for all kinds of slavery.

      “Don’t you believe that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit?”

      I do believe that. Yet I also understand that the writers of scripture were also influenced by, and their words directed to, the culture around them. For that reason I do not see Paul’s words as the timeless will of God for Christian women.

      “Yet you believe Paul spoke an untruth?”

      I would not say untruth as that would indicate that he lied. My take is that his understanding was shaped by Jewish patriarchal culture with regard to the role of women in society and in the church.

  22. For those unaware, Naomi Walters got a one year minister-in-residence position at the cofC in Stamford, ct. She will do a D.Min. At lipscomb starting in fall. I am glad for her and proud of her.

  23. Good show, and a wonderful theological pretzel you have twisted. You ask a good question:

    “The circumstances at Corinth were clear: what women were not to do was interrupt with questions, adding to the chaos that already existed among the gathered saints in their one-upsmanship in place of worship and edification. Can any other picture be drawn from scripture of what was happening there?”

    Answer: Yes, another picture can be drawn, and was drawn, as you point out, for thousands of years. Paul wanted women to sit down and shut up. This is why he instructed them to sit down and shut up. “Gender equality” was a completely foreign concept to Paul. So if you believe in that sort of thing, the Bible is simply against you. You can accept that your convictions contradict the Bible, or you can continue these contortions, claiming that a first century zealot shared your twenty-first century sensitivities. I can guess which course you’ll choose. Good luck to you; it seems awfully tedious work to me.

    A much simpler solution is to admit that the Bible is wrong here. No great surprise. The Bible is wrong about a great many things. Let’s set it aside; it does us no good.

    • I doubt that I will convince you in one comment that the Bible is not unhelpful, but I think it would be more helpful if we read it more attentively. So I have to take issue with your conention that gender equality was a foreign concept to Paul. It probably was before he had encountered Christ. But after that, Paul could write that believers are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) and that in Christ there is no male nor female (Galatians 3:28). Thanks for stopping by.

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