Tag Archives: women’s role in the church

Women: Their Role In The Church — Lucy Mitchell

The teaching of Jesus that we will keep His commandments if we love Him is the most fundamental basis for Christians.  However, will we still obey those very teachings if God’s Word teaches something which makes us uncomfortable?

When studying Genesis 2:21-22, we find that God created man and woman in a different way.  He first made man from the dust of the ground, then from the side of man He made woman.   Although God named Adam, notice that it was man who named her woman. “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh and she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man” (Gen. 2:23; 3:20).  God’s method of creation suggests the difference between men and women.

We have a blueprint for today, just as it was written in the beginning and put into action, about how to keep peace and harmony, both between man and woman and  also the family, society and the church that Christ was to establish.  As for the woman, God has molded her, given her an important role, and in Proverbs 31:10 tells her that “her price is far above rubies.”  When she was created, she was the crowning act of His creation.

Somehow, people today seem to dislike the original model and are trying to cheapen it.  Some have indicated that the teachings are “out of date for today’s woman” because of culture differences.  Some even say women should have more of a leadership role since there are more women than men in some congregations. However, God did not intend that the authority in the church be by popular vote or that we could add or subtract to fit our liking.

1 Corinthians 11:3 gave the authority that equates spiritual matters to the man over the woman with the same authority as He gave Christ to have over man.  He has already told us what He expects from men and women in worship. Do we disobey because we do not like His instructions?  1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 and 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 teach that women should remain silent in the assembly (except for singing—Eph. 5:19) and does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

What then is the role of the woman in the church?  If we are honest in our searching we will find that the Bible speaks of women who have had very important roles in serving God throughout the ages.  Older Christian women have a duty to instruct the younger women, using Scripture and their own insights gained from years of service. In fulfilling the role that God established for her she is to act as a godly woman.  This role involves support, service and teaching younger women as Titus 2:3-5 instructs the older women to do.

She is to admonish them to exercise self-control, to be affectionate to their own husbands, to correct and admonish their children, to be restrained in their passion and desires, to be modest in how they dress and to have good character.  What better person to teach about these things than a godly woman who has herself weathered these circumstances, both good and bad, that constitute godliness, marriage and children?  The instructions were not limited to married women, however, because only four of the admonitions are directed to those who are married.

Sadly many families are swimming in a sea of chaos because men refuse to follow God’s instructions as to how to be godly leaders, husbands and fathers as shown in Scripture (Eph. 5:25-33; Col.3:19,21; Titus 2:2,6-8; Deut. 6:1-9).  When men are spiritually strong and obey what God has said, they find an outpouring of blessings in store for them.  But what happens when men do not stand up for the truth and choose to disobey God because they are not spiritually strong?   Here is when we begin to see women overstepping and reversing their role in the church, home and society in ways which God never intended.

Clearly God has said that men are the leaders in the home, the church and even in the way people live.  They are to be the head of the household and bind their families close in the teachings and love of Christ.  He used the word “husband” (meaning “house bound”) for this very reason.   As the father in the home, he should be F—faithful, A—in authority, T—a teacher, H—head of his household, E—an example, and R—redeemed.

Since men have been given those instructions by God to attend to the public worship assembly, sometimes a woman feels as if there is nothing left for her to do.  However, God has given her different talents which are vital for church growth that will help both others as well as herself to grow and serve.  Just as the men must grow to maturity, so must women.  Stepping out of our comfort zone is sometimes very difficult, but it is definitely needed so that our obligation and role as a Christian woman can be fulfilled.

God has given women a different set of talents which are vital for church growth that help them serve so well.  All women can serve in some of the following ways: visiting the sick and shut-ins, writing cards of encouragement, using their phone for both encouragement and edification, praying privately with other women, preparing communion, inviting others into your home, having Bible studies, teaching children and other women, visiting members, attending teacher workshops and gospel meetings, managing the church library and church bulletin, transporting the elderly and disabled, as well as many other opportunities (when made aware of) which would help the church to grow.  Women cannot do everything, but the things that can be done should be done with joy and gladness in their heart.

We have many examples of godly women at the church in Rome such as Phoebe,   Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa and Persis (Rom. 16). Other examples are Dorcas (Acts 9), Lydia (Acts 16), the virtuous woman (Prov. 31) and the older women (Tit. 2:2-4).  These examples were given for our learning.  There is much for women to do and we must not allow the things of this world keep us from obeying God in doing our part.

In our society we are seeing some women forsaking what He said for them to do as a help meet to their husband.  That role was set in action from the day they were created and before the fall (1 Cor. 11:7-9).   From the beginning she was to support her husband.   The oldest institution isn’t the church, but marriage.   “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate)” (Matt. 19:6b).    Titus 2:4 says that women need to be taught to love their husband and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 teaches us how to love.

Therefore one of the roles wives have in the church is to love their husbands and set an example to other wives to do the same.  This seems very obvious since we married them, but looking at it from the world’s view of the wife it appears that those teachings of how to love him are no longer taught.  Older women are commanded to teach the younger women these things as well as how to love their children.  As the most early and influential person in every aspect of a child’s life, mothers have an awesome responsibility to train, correct and help to direct their paths to Heaven.  What will be our excuse as the mothers of our children if we gain the whole world and, because of our lack of training, lose the souls of our children?

Reading again from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and applying it to the wife’s love for her husband, we find that we must be patient because it is difficult at times learning to live with someone who is different from ourselves.   Be kind rather than acting nicer to friends then to our husband.  Be happy instead of envious over his successes.  Do we act in an arrogant way toward him or are we humble?  Do we speak rudely to him instead of being courteous?  Love is not selfish, but are our own needs put before his?  Many do not know how to control their tongue instead of being easily provoked.  Love thinks no evil; therefore we need to keep pure thoughts in our marriage.  Love bears all things, believes, hopes and endures all things.  Therefore the Christian wife protects and has hope for what is the best in her marriage.  With these things in mind it is easier to endure all things during the good times and bad, when the kids leave home and just the two of you are left.  That is when the first part of verse 8 comes into view.  Then we can continue to renew that devotion to each other because we find that loves never fails.

Fifty-seven years ago I met and married Mike Mitchell, a godly man who had been raised in a strong Christian home.  As a new wife and Christian, I had no knowledge as to what God expected or had in store for me.  Because of my husband’s concern, I learned to participate in Bible studies and how to search the Scriptures.  A few years later, when he decided to leave the engineering field and become a minister, we were blessed to sit at the feet of many strong gospel preachers and their wives.

Many of those older godly women became close friends and have now gone on to their blessed reward.  By instructing me both by their example and the Word on how to be a better wife and mother to our children, I wanted to be a better example as well.  It took much courage for me to begin teaching the children’s classes at first and then the teenage girls.  My faith grew stronger as I began teaching ladies classes and conducting special ladies’ days throughout the country.  In doing this I have discovered many women who desire to better their knowledge, become a stronger Christian, be an example to others and to find a purpose in their life.  Women simply need and long to have encouragement from older women in today’s society.  We must not let them down.

Sisters, be that godly woman who desires to serve God and His church as instructed in His Word.  Do all that you can in serving others and in teaching what God has instructed.  Love others more than yourself.  Pray always for guidance.  If you are married, make it the strong marriage as God would have it.  Teach and train your children as the precious privilege it was intended to be.  Love your enemies and be willing to forgive others who have done you wrong.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.

My prayer is that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:9-10).

Lucy lives in Rickman, TN, and teaches a ladies’ class at church.

 

 

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Editorial: Some Guided By Feelings Over Women’s Role Controversy (January/February, 2015) – Jon Mitchell

Much discussion and debate erupted online among the brotherhood on December 3, 2014, after a YouTube video surfaced which showed the 4th Avenue church of Christ in Franklin, TN, hiring Lauren King, a young Christian woman from Lipscomb University, as their preaching intern and having her preach to the entire congregation on a Sunday morning. As I watched the video (which has since been made private by its owners), wrote an article about it which immediately received numerous comments, and read the many other blog articles and online discussions among brethren about it, I could not help but notice the sharp divide between those who applauded and defended Miss King for using her obvious talent for public speaking to serve God and those who were very concerned and upset about hers and other’s blatant dismissal of clear scriptural commands prohibiting sisters in Christ from teaching men in the church (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-12; cf. 3:14-15).

Miss King defended her actions by stating that “the Lord made it very clear” to her “through a lot of discernment and prayer” that she was on the right path. She claimed to be “perceiving the Lord’s voice” whenever she “(had) peace when I walk through open doors” and also said, “If I have peace about where I’m going, that’s the Lord telling me yes…” I observed the majority of her supporters making similar statements about their beliefs which held no common ground with very plain scriptural commands and principles about women preaching and several other topics.

While condemning those who looked at the Lord’s Word as “an object of scorn,” Jeremiah warned, “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace,” and exhorted Benjamin to “ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it…” (Jer. 6:10, 14, 16). I feel nothing but deep concern, compassion, and sorrow for this young lady and the numerous others who allow their feelings of peace to guide them instead of God’s Word (Prov. 14:12; 28:26; Jer. 10:23; cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). I pray Miss King and her supporters will see their error, repent before it’s too late, and then use their talents and great passion for God with proper knowledge and in obedience to his will.

Preachers, we have our work cut out for us. The large number of misguided supporters of this error and others like it make it very clear that our pulpits must preach Bible instead of buncombe, scripture over stories, and facts instead of feelings (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

Pastors, you have your work as elders and shepherds cut out for you. All of you must “hold firm to the trustworthy word” and “build up the body of Christ” so that “we may no longer be children…carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Tit. 1:9; Eph. 4:11-14).

Parents, we have the most important job of all, the job of training our children daily to have the Bible as their sole authority (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4). If not, feelings will lead them astray too.     — Jon

Culture and Bible Commands – Carl O. Cooper

There are some commands in the Bible that, to quote the late Howard Winters, “that are easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  One such scripture is the statement by Jesus in Matthew 19:9 where he says:  “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (NKJV).

In our modern culture where divorce is considered a commonly acceptable practice by the majority of the population, even members of the church have a hard time applying this verse to people and situations they encounter.  There is a natural tendency to soften this verse or explain it away to sidestep and avoid the consequences of this command.

The two most common ways that men use to try to nullify these words are to either claim that this is regulated by the culture and the laws of the land, or to try to spin a different meaning from the words by claiming, “They have a new meaning because of the tenses of the Greek words.”  They say the phrase, “commits adultery,” is said to be punctiliar rather than linear action, a onetime action and not continuing.  With that explanation it is said to be a sin, but once you repent of it, it is not necessary to do anything else because you have been forgiven for the action and you do not have to separate.  That explanation solves a lot of hard, difficult “messes” that people have created for themselves by their divorces.  The only problem with this explanation is that there is a very simple way to show that claiming this explanation is not valid.  Suppose we slightly change the words in the sentence to say, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries a man commits adultery.”  Doesn’t this clearly tell you what this phrase means?  There are no questions to be asked about tenses of the words, and no questions about this action and what needs to be done.  Don’t look for this explanation to be respected permanently.  With our culture changing and the acceptance of homosexual activity as normal, soon the example I just gave will no longer be enough to satisfy this explanation.  Culture makes a difference in how the Bible is interpreted, even in the church.

Another scripture that is more and more diluted by the culture of our time is Genesis 3:16.  To the woman He said:  “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  Once again, the culture of our times has influenced women to demand equality in all things with the men.  This includes equality in authority in the family and even within the church in some locations.  Even though the scriptures teach different roles for men and women in the home and in the church and even in life in general, these concepts and laws are “easy to understand, but hard to apply.”

1 Timothy 2:11-14 is an explanation of a difference in the roles of women and men.  “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.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”  Is there any clearer way to tell us why a woman is to “learn in silence (quietness) with all submission,” and why she is “not to teach or have authority over men” but to be in silence?  It is because “Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman fell into transgression.”  But, here again, the culture of our day is making men and women everywhere want to explain this verse out of the Bible.

First, there is a tendency to restrict this instruction to only within a church assembly.  But this passage is much broader than that.  The context is not just restricted to an assembly of the church.  Look at the context starting with verse 8:  “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere…”  Now, it is obvious that this is talking about anywhere men and women are gathered together and a public prayer is given.  The word “everywhere” is pretty broad and there is nothing in the context that restricts this to “an assembly of the church.”  In fact, it is just the opposite.

The very next verse says this:  “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel.”  Now, my question is this.  If the context is restricted to a church assembly, can a woman dress in immodest apparel everywhere else?  I think the answer to that is clear, don’t you?  The word “everywhere” is broad and inclusive, as it should be.  Just like the role of women as defined in Genesis 3:16 is broad and all-inclusive, so is the application of it in life.  This prohibition on women does not depend on the culture of our times to define it and it is broad and inclusive enough to flow continuously from woman to woman, from generation to generation, and from culture to culture, forever.  I like what Barnes has to say in his commentary on these verses:

The direction in 1 Timothy 2:9-12, therefore, is to be understood particularly of the proper deportment of females in the duties of public worship.  At the same time, the principles laid down are doubtless such as were intended to apply to them in the other situations in life, for if modest apparel is appropriate in the sanctuary, it is appropriate everywhere.  If what is here prohibited in dress is wrong there, it would be difficult to show that it is right elsewhere.  (Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament)

And while we are looking at these verses, how does the culture of our day define “modest apparel”?  Even the young women in the church are “driven” to become like the images they constantly see portrayed on TV and in magazines and the movies.  This advertising is provocative and tempting and the culture of the world around us promotes and endorses it.  The way women dress absolutely catches the eyes of men.  This is the obvious and simple reasoning behind the clothes some women wear, and yet it is usually denied to give respectability to any immodest dress that culture promotes.  Is this “easy to understand?”  Yes, but “hard to apply.”

The last thing I want to mention is the list of sins mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”  The culture of our day is driving sin.  Here is a list of sins that will prevent a person from being saved if they are engaging in these activities.  There is not a shadow of doubt that this behavior described here is sin.

By now, most have heard of the NC Amendment One that was voted on May 8, 2012.  This amendment is not make our laws in NC clear that “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”  The culture of today has been carefully manipulated for a long time now to bring us to the point where we are today.  All of the children within our public schools have been fed a diet of “tolerance” for homosexual behavior for many years now.  This amounts to a public “brain washing” of the general population.  The only relief that any children have had for this is where a church or a parent has taken the time to give them the proper explanation at home or at church.

For many people, the Bible verses condemning homosexual behavior are “easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  Already laws are on the books to make it a criminal act to discriminate against this behavior in the work place.  Laws are also in place to allow full disclosure of this behavior within the military services and civil service jobs.  The media of all types glorify this behavior and make it “politically incorrect” to speak out against it.  Even this amendment won’t change much of this cultural acceptance of homosexual lifestyles by the general population.  There is likely to soon come a day when laws will appear making it unlawful for a church to discriminate against it and to speak publicly about it as a sin.

“Easy to understand, but hard to apply.”  Many things are.  But there is only one answer:  don’t give up!  It would be easy to hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich in fear of conflict and confrontation with the evils of sin.  But I am reminded of what the Bible says in Revelation 21:8:  “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Not only do we have an obligation to those caught up in these sins to tell them and teach them that this behavior will lead to eternal punishment and condemnation, but to cowardly avoid this responsibility is not respected by God either.  Sometimes it would do us good to remember the story of King David’s men.  In 2 Samuel 23:15-16 the Bible tells us:  “And David said with longing, ‘Oh, that someone would give me a drink of the water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!’  So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David.  Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord.”  God so respected what these men did and the bravery they demonstrated in the army of the Lord that he recorded these events in the Bible as an example for us to honor as well.  Can we cowardly avoid telling the world about the consequences of sin?  And let us be very careful that we do not allow our own thoughts to be contaminated by the culture of our day.

The Bible also says in Romans 1:32:  “…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  To approve of sin is also a sin.  We must not allow ourselves to be influenced by the pressures of the culture of the day.

ccooperapp@aol.com