Tag Archives: women’s role in the church

The Role Of Women In The Lord’s Church — Will Hester

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the September, 2018 issue of the Carolina Messenger. Through an editorial mistake, a section of brother Hester’s article was accidentally left out of the printed edition of that issue. The fault for that omission is mine alone, and for that I apologize to brother Hester and to the reader. This is the full text of the article.    — Jon

Over the last 28 years, we have seen a large contingent of the church that has taken an unscriptural stance on an important doctrinal question. Most would think that we would talk about instrumental music just by that statement. Although that issue is important to discuss, we are not talking about that doctrinal question at this time. The doctrinal question we will be attempting to answer is, “What is the role of women in the church of the Lord?” This question has plagued the church in many different ways. On one side you have those who believe women have no voice at all in the worship service. On the other side you have those who believe women can do anything a man can do in worship and maybe even more. The pertinent question that must be asked when studying this doctrinal position is, “What roles are women allowed to have through scripture within the confines of worship?”

The view of women within the Lord’s church has been tainted because the interpretation of certain passages has been tainted by denominationalism. We have seen that most liberal theologians have done eisegetical study, forcing a meaning into a text that is not intended by the author, with these texts. When we do this, we are creating our own narrative to suit our own version of Christianity. Did we die for the sins of the world? Did we purchase the church with our blood at Calvary? The answers are a resounding no! However, the way some of our friends view the Bible would make us believe that they think they did purchase the church. We are only interpreters and must be exegetical in our approach to the scripture. When you exegete a passage, you are literally being led to your conclusions about a certain Bible subject by following the text itself. Exegetical study is critical for viewing the texts of the Bible and discerning what the text says about doctrinal issues that we face.

As we go through this study, we will try to look at both sides in equal measure. Our goal is to view the arguments of both sides and try to formulate a conclusion of which argument holds with the biblical view of the role of women. We will also be looking at the different roles that women do have within the confines of scripture. The goal of this study is not to cause division but to allow for discussion and to show that we must use the Bible as our only guiding principle for faith and practice.

Arguments For An Expanded Role Of Women In Worship

The position for an expanded role of women in worship is the minority view in the Lords’ church; however, the proponents of this view have a very loud voice. These voices are being given an audience at some of our brotherhood school’s lectureships. Abilene Christian University, Lubbock Christian University, Lipscomb University, and Pepperdine University have decided that they will allow these views to be defended at their lectureships. We find that the Bible departments are bending to the whims of these men and women.

On Wednesday night of the 2018 Pepperdine Bible Lectures Don McLaughlin, preaching minister at the North Atlanta Church of Christ, gave the 7:00 pm keynote address on “1 Corinthians 12-14.” From this text, brother McLaughlin used for a subject “The Gift of the Spirit to the Body of Christ.” Twenty-two minutes into his lesson, Don uses a term that would be the calling card of the rest of his lesson. He coined the term, “hermeneutical segregation,” in speaking of “our” belief of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.

He would ask the question, minutes later, “What is a woman’s body for?” Don attempts to answer his own question by stating, “It is for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…not for exploitation by men or women for financial and self gratification.” He then stated, “Let me take it a step farther. I am going to talk to the ladies. Women’s bodies are not for evaluation or comparison.” I agree with his assertion. A recurring problem we have in this country is “body-shaming.” In many instances, our society shames young women for not having a certain body type or for not being under a certain weight. However, Don does not stop there. He would state further, “I will say one more thing. We have lived under the false assumption that the Holy Spirit prefers male bodies to female bodies for leadership in the church. That did not arise from Scripture, but that is what WE put on Scripture.” As we will see later, his argument does not hold fast to what Scripture says.

One of the main arguments used by the proponents of an expanded role for women is, “We must take 1 Timothy 2:8-12 as cultural for the first century and not a command for us in the 21st century.” Patrick Mead, senior minister at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, has been the biggest proprietor of this position in recent memory. He, along with a couple of others, wrote the document found on the Fourth Avenue website entitled, “Document on Women in Worship and Ministry.” In this document, we find that the authors make the statement, “Paul felt the need to address the situation in Ephesus with several commands, most of which we do not apply to ourselves or to our congregations.”

The text of 1 Timothy 2:8-12 states, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 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.” The view of these scriptures as just being “cultural” to the first century is not a new phenomenon; however, for many years it was just a dominating denominational view.

A point of contention within this text, according to the proponents of this view, is the translation of two Greek words used by Paul in verse 12. The first Greek word, which is a very uncommon word, is “αὐθεντεῖν” (authentein). This word comes from the verb, αὐθεντέω (authenteo), which carries an idea of “having authority over, to be domineering, and having full power.” Those who have a feministic view of where they believe the church should be going take this word as the key to this passage. In their estimation, verse 12 only pertains to a cultural problem in the church at Ephesus. It is only to be taken to the conclusion of being for the relationship in the home and not the church.

The second Greek word, which only occurs in the New Testament four times, is ἡσυχίᾳ (hesuchia). This word carries the idea of “being calm, being in silence or having a stillness in ones’ life as a believer.” Brother Thomas Robinson, Senior Minister at the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York, wrote a study guide entitled, “A Community Without Barriers.” In his study guide he references this Greek word and says the following, “Again, the phrases translated by the RSV ‘learn in silence’ and ‘keep silent’ both use the Greek word hesychia which means ‘quietness’ rather than ‘silence.’” He would further state, “Quietness is not silence.” As we will see, it is not so cut and dry as he tries to make it out to be.

Another main argument from the proponents of this position is, “What do you do with Phoebe, the deaconess that Paul mentions?” The singular point that is focused upon is the Greek word “διάκονος” (diakonos). This word carries the idea of “a person who is a servant and is set to serve.” The main push of this argument is that “diakonos” can be translated as “deacon.” With the revelation of this information, they translate that word as “deaconess.” Romans 16:1 in the New King James version states, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” They view these verses as the key to view the scriptures in a brand new light.

A final major argument comes from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which states, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Thomas Robinson writes of this passage, “Here, as elsewhere, Paul judged the actions of the community not by a rigid standard of required conduct that was eternal and unchanging. Rather, what mattered to Paul (because it matters to God) was the souls and salvation of people.” He further states in his study guide, “In our day and in our context, the kind of shame and disgrace that Paul wanted the church to avoid is more likely to come upon the church by silencing women (and thereby indicating that they are somehow inferior to men) than by allowing women to use all the gifts that the Spirit has given them.” As it seems, the narrative that they want to portray is one of tolerance and equality. In their view, the roles of women and men are similar and equal to each other. The perspective given is, “To stay relevant with the times, then we must embrace all progressive cultural narratives.”

Arguments For A Biblical And Less Inclusive Role For Women In Worship

The position that this author takes, like so many in the Lords’ church, is that women have specific roles they must take in the makeup of the church; however, they are not to step outside of the parameters of Scripture. We have seen our more “progressive” brethren are willing to forcibly insert a meaning into texts that are not there. When they do this, then they are misleading scores of people with their view of scripture.

The passage in 1 Timothy 2:8-12 gives us the first indication of what we are to look for in defining the role of women. David Lipscomb explains the text of verse 11 by stating, “The position of women in public worship is a quiet learner in manner, yielding submission in all lawful respects to the position God had placed man as leader of the worship in the public assembly of the church.” Lipscomb would further state, regarding verse 12, “The point guarded against here is woman’s assuming authority over man…this is the only reason given why it is wrong.” Brother Lipscomb is not taking a male chauvinistic approach to the passage, but he is taking a clear and concise role that is defined through Scripture.

Brother Robinson tries to point out that hesuchia means only “quietness” and it cannot mean silence. According to Strong’s Concordance, which is one of the most reliable concordances one can own, hesuchia means “silence” in verse 11. As we have seen, the misdirection used by the proponents of an expanded role for women is prevalent. In order to fit their view of Scripture into the box, they must change the way words are defined to change the narrative.

The Greek word authentein means, “to have authority over or to be domineering.” We cannot overlook that this word means what it means. Although there have been many cases where people have tried to change the definition, it remains constant that the original meaning is what we have shown. In verse 12, Paul is not just addressing a cultural problem. Paul is addressing the church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and is addressing a wider issue. Women, in church and at home, must be submissive to men and not exercise authority over them as well.

The question of Phoebe is one that has caused much strife and division. Brother Lipscomb states in his commentary on Romans, “Some think she was a publicly recognized deaconess, but we find no recognition in Scriptures of any such class.” He would further state, “Many women did, however, voluntarily devote themselves in a womanly way to teaching and to those who preached, waiting on the sick and doing whatever work presented itself for them to do. Phoebe was one of this class.” I could not agree more with these statements regarding Phoebe. The word diakonos in Romans 16:1 is properly rendered in most translations as “servant.” Phoebe was a servant of the church and devoted herself to taking care of the people of the church. As a Christian, she understood her role and was “commended by Paul for her service,” according to Brother Lipscomb.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 14:34ff in light of everything we have seen thus far with other passages, we see that the progressive view is not the view that should be taken. Brother Lipscomb writes of verse 34, “No instruction in the New Testament is more positive than this; it is positive, explicit and universal; and however plausible maybe the reasons which are urged for disregarding it, and for suffering women to take an active part in conducting public worship, yet the authority of the inspired apostle remains positive and his meaning cannot be misunderstood.” This passage is not one to be taken just on a basis of cultural stigmas. We must remember that Paul, like all the writers in the Bible, were fully inspired and that they were given the words to write from God. Brother Lipscomb would continue, “He looks at it from every viewpoint, forbids it altogether, and shows that from every consideration it was to regarded as improper for them to take any active part in conducting the public service.”

Biblical Roles For Women

As we all know, there are five acts of public worship. These are singing, praying, preaching, giving and observing the Lord’s Supper. These acts of worship are important to the church and how we are to give praise to our Father. The Bible clearly indicates that we all must actively participate in these to be pleasing to God.

The question that remains is, “What roles, if any, do women have in the structure of the church?” This is a great question and it must be answered with the Bible and, most importantly, it must be answered with great care. The women of the church have a vital role to play in the church!

One role women must take on is a participant in the worship itself. What does this mean? Do women take leader roles? As we have seen, they do not take on the role of the leader; however, they must give their being to the worship of God. When we come together to partake of the emblems of the Lord’s supper, we all must participate. When we sing songs of praise, we all must “sing and make melody with our hearts to God.” When we pray, we all must give our thoughts and praise to God through prayer. When the preacher is preaching, we all must give our attention to the speaker and listen to the sermon being taught. When we give of our means, we all must give of what we have been blessed with each first day of the week.

The women of the church can also take on the role of mentors to the young ladies of the congregation. They can give pertinent skills training and advice for girls. This is also a biblical concept. Titus 2:3-5 states that “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” This passage gives the women of the congregation insight into what God is looking for from the ladies of the church.

The Great Commission of Matthew 28 is not just a statement for men, but it is also for women. Some of the most brilliant preachers in our brotherhood would not have been the men they were, had it not been for the women who stood beside them or the ones that taught them. Someone might ask, “Wait, I thought women were not allowed to teach and now you are saying they can?” We are all to teach and bring souls to Christ every day because that is a primary function of being a Christian; however, the roles must be understood. If we are the kind of Christians we must be under the New Covenant, then those around us will be taught just by our example. Women can have a much greater influence in some respects than men can have in certain areas.

For too long, we in the mainstream” have been silent on the roles women play in the church and vocal against what they cannot do. May we continue to search the Scriptures, train women to be confidant in their roles, and train churches to understand there are many roles women have which do not compromise Scripture for the sake of cultural relevancy!

Will is married to Sarah and is the minister of the Pleasant View congregation in Skullbone, TN.

The Role of Women in the Lord’s Church — Will Hester

Over the last 28 years, we have seen a large contingent of the church that has taken an unscriptural stance on an important doctrinal question. Most would think that we would talk about instrumental music just by that statement. Although that issue is important to discuss, we are not talking about that doctrinal question at this time. The doctrinal question we will be attempting to answer is, “What is the role of women in the church of the Lord?” This question has plagued the church in many different ways. On one side you have those who believe women have no voice at all in the worship service. On the other side you have those who believe women can do anything a man can do in worship and maybe even more. The pertinent question that must be asked when studying this doctrinal position is, “What roles are women allowed to have through scripture within the confines of worship?”

The view of women within the Lord’s church has been tainted because the interpretation of certain passages has been tainted by denominationalism. We have seen that most liberal theologians have done eisegetical study, forcing a meaning into a text that is not intended by the author, with these texts. When we do this, we are creating our own narrative to suit our own version of Christianity. Did we die for the sins of the world? Did we purchase the church with our blood at Calvary? The answers are a resounding no! However, the way some of our friends view the Bible would make us believe that they think they did purchase the church. We are only interpreters and must be exegetical in our approach to the scripture. When you exegete a passage, you are literally being led to your conclusions about a certain Bible subject by following the text itself. Exegetical study is critical for viewing the texts of the Bible and discerning what the text says about doctrinal issues that we face.

As we go through this study, we will try to look at both sides in equal measure. Our goal is to view the arguments of both sides and try to formulate a conclusion of which argument holds with the biblical view of the role of women. We will also be looking at the different roles that women do have within the confines of scripture. The goal of this study is not to cause division but to allow for discussion and to show that we must use the Bible as our only guiding principle for faith and practice.

Arguments For An Expanded Role Of Women In Worship

The position for an expanded role of women in worship is the minority view in the Lords’ church; however, the proponents of this view have a very loud voice. These voices are being given an audience at some of our brotherhood school’s lectureships. Abilene Christian University, Lubbock Christian University, Lipscomb University, and Pepperdine University have decided that they will allow these views to be defended at their lectureships. We find that the Bible departments are bending to the whims of these men and women.

On Wednesday night of the 2018 Pepperdine Bible Lectures Don McLaughlin, preaching minister at the North Atlanta Church of Christ, gave the 7:00 pm keynote address on “1 Corinthians 12-14.” From this text, brother McLaughlin used for a subject “The Gift of the Spirit to the Body of Christ.” Twenty-two minutes into his lesson, Don uses a term that would be the calling card of the rest of his lesson. He coined the term, “hermeneutical segregation,” in speaking of “our” belief of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.

He would ask the question, minutes later, “What is a woman’s body for?” Don attempts to answer his own question by stating, “It is for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…not for exploitation by men or women for financial and self gratification.” He then stated, “Let me take it a step farther. I am going to talk to the ladies. Women’s bodies are not for evaluation or comparison.” I agree with his assertion. A recurring problem we have in this country is “body-shaming.” In many instances, our society shames young women for not having a certain body type or for not being under a certain weight. However, Don does not stop there. He would state further, “I will say one more thing. We have lived under the false assumption that the Holy Spirit prefers male bodies to female bodies for leadership in the church. That did not arise from Scripture, but that is what WE put on Scripture.” As we will see later, his argument does not hold fast to what Scripture says.

One of the main arguments used by the proponents of an expanded role for women is, “We must take 1 Timothy 2:8-12 as cultural for the first century and not a command for us in the 21st century.” Patrick Mead, senior minister at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ, has been the biggest proprietor of this position in recent memory. He, along with a couple of others, wrote the document found on the Fourth Avenue website entitled, “Document on Women in Worship and Ministry.” In this document, we find that the authors make the statement, “Paul felt the need to address the situation in Ephesus with several commands, most of which we do not apply to ourselves or to our congregations.”

The text of 1 Timothy 2:8-12 states, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 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.” The view of these scriptures as just being “cultural” to the first century is not a new phenomenon; however, for many years it was just a dominating denominational view.

A point of contention within this text, according to the proponents of this view, is the translation of two Greek words used by Paul in verse 12. The first Greek word, which is a very uncommon word, is “αὐθεντεῖν” (authentein). This word comes from the verb, αὐθεντέω (authenteo), which carries an idea of “having authority over, to be domineering, and having full power.” Those who have a feministic view of where they believe the church should be going take this word as the key to this passage. In their estimation, verse 12 only pertains to a cultural problem in the church at Ephesus. It is only to be taken to the conclusion of being for the relationship in the home and not the church.

The second Greek word, which only occurs in the New Testament four times, is ἡσυχίᾳ (hesuchia). This word carries the idea of “being calm, being in silence or having a stillness in ones’ life as a believer.” Brother Thomas Robinson, Senior Minister at the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York, wrote a study guide entitled, “A Community Without Barriers.” In his study guide he references this Greek word and says the following, “Again, the phrases translated by the RSV ‘learn in silence’ and ‘keep silent’ both use the Greek word hesychia which means ‘quietness’ rather than ‘silence.’” He would further state, “Quietness is not silence.” As we will see, it is not so cut and dry as he tries to make it out to be.

Another main argument from the proponents of this position is, “What do you do with Phoebe, the deaconess that Paul mentions?” The singular point that is focused upon is the Greek word “διάκονος” (diakonos). This word carries the idea of “a person who is a servant and is set to serve.” The main push of this argument is that “diakonos” can be translated as “deacon.” With the revelation of this information, they translate that word as “deaconess.” Romans 16:1 in the New King James version states, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also.” They view these verses as the key to view the scriptures in a brand new light.

A final major argument comes from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which states, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Thomas Robinson writes of this passage, “Here, as elsewhere, Paul judged the actions of the community not by a rigid standard of required conduct that was eternal and unchanging. Rather, what mattered to Paul (because it matters to God) was the souls and salvation of people.” He further states in his study guide, “In our day and in our context, the kind of shame and disgrace that Paul wanted the church to avoid is more likely to come upon the church by silencing women (and thereby indicating that they are somehow inferior to men) than by allowing women to use all the gifts that the Spirit has given them.” As it seems, the narrative that they want to portray is one of tolerance and equality. In their view, the roles of women and men are similar and equal to each other. The perspective given is, “To stay relevant with the times, then we must embrace all progressive cultural narratives.”

Arguments for a Biblical and Less Inclusive Role for Women in Worship

The position that this author takes, like so many in the Lords’ church, is that women have specific roles they must take in the makeup of the church; however, they are not to step outside of the parameters of Scripture. We have seen our more “progressive” brethren are willing to forcibly insert a meaning into texts that are not there. When they do this, then they are misleading scores of people with their view of scripture.

The passage in 1 Timothy 2:8-12 gives us the first indication of what we are to look for in defining the role of women. David Lipscomb explains the text of verse 11 by stating, “The position of women in public worship is a quiet learner in manner, yielding submission in all lawful respects to the position God had placed man as leader of the worship in the public assembly of the church.” Lipscomb would further state, regarding verse 12, “The point guarded against here is woman’s assuming authority over man…this is the only reason given why it is wrong.” Brother Lipscomb is not taking a male chauvinistic approach to the passage, but he is taking a clear and concise role that is defined through Scripture.

Brother Robinson tries to point out that hesuchia means only “quietness” and it cannot mean silence. According to Strong’s Concordance, which is one of the most reliable concordances one can own, hesuchia means “silence” in verse 11. As we have seen, the misdirection used by the proponents of an expanded role for women is prevalent. In order to fit their view of Scripture into the box, they must change the way words are defined to change the narrative.

The Greek word authentein means, “to have authority over or to be domineering.” We cannot overlook that this word means what it means. Although there have been many cases where people have tried to change the definition, it remains constant that the original meaning is what we have shown. In verse 12, Paul is not just addressing a cultural problem. Paul is addressing the church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and is addressing a wider issue. Women, in church and at home, must be submissive to men and not exercise authority over them as well.

The question of Phoebe is one that has caused much strife and division. Brother Lipscomb states in his commentary on Romans, “Some think she was a publicly recognized deaconess, but we find no recognition in Scriptures of any such class.” He would further state, “Many women did, however, voluntarily devote themselves in a womanly way to teaching and to those who preached, waiting on the sick and doing whatever work presented itself for them to do. Phoebe was one of this class.” I could not agree more with these statements regarding Phoebe. The word diakonos in Romans 16:1 is properly rendered in most translations as “servant.” Phoebe was a servant of the church and devoted herself to taking care of the people of the church. As a Christian, she understood her role and was “commended by Paul for her service,” according to Brother Lipscomb.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 14:34ff in light of everything we have seen thus far with other passages, we see that the progressive view is not the view that should be taken. Brother Lipscomb writes of verse 34, “No instruction in the New Testament is more positive than this; it is positive, explicit and universal; and however plausible maybe the reasons which are urged for disregarding it, and for suffering women to take an active part in conducting public worship, yet the authority of the inspired apostle remains positive and his meaning cannot be misunderstood.” This passage is not one to be taken just on a basis of cultural stigmas. We must remember that Paul, like all the writers in the Bible, were fully inspired and that they were given the words to write from God. Brother Lipscomb would continue, “He looks at it from every viewpoint, forbids it altogether, and shows that from every consideration it was to regarded as improper for them to take any active part in conducting the public service.”

Biblical Roles For Women

As we all know, there are five acts of public worship. These are singing, praying, preaching, giving and observing the Lord’s Supper. These acts of worship are important to the church and how we are to give praise to our Father. The Bible clearly indicates that we all must actively participate in these to be pleasing to God.

The question that remains is, “What roles, if any, do women have in the structure of the church?” This is a great question and it must be answered with the Bible and, most importantly, it must be answered with great care. The women of the church have a vital role to play in the church!

One role women must take on is a participant in the worship itself. What does this mean? Do women take leader roles? As we have seen, they do not take on the role of the leader; however, they must give their being to the worship of God. When we come together to partake of the emblems of the Lord’s supper, we all must participate. When we sing songs of praise, we all must “sing and make melody with our hearts to God.” When we pray, we all must give our thoughts and praise to God through prayer. When the preacher is preaching, we all must give our attention to the speaker and listen to the sermon being taught. When we give of our means, we all must give of what we have been blessed with each first day of the week.

The women of the church can also take on the role of mentors to the young ladies of the congregation. They can give pertinent skills training and advice for girls. This is also a Biblical concept. Titus 2:3-5 states that the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” This passage gives the women of the congregation insight into what God is looking for from the ladies of the church.

The Great Commission of Matthew 28 is not just a statement for men, but it is also for women. Some of the most brilliant preachers in our brotherhood would not have been the men they were, had it not been for the women who stood beside them or the ones that taught them. Someone might ask, “Wait, I thought women were not allowed to teach and now you are saying they can?” We are all to teach and bring souls to Christ every day because that is a primary function of being a Christian; however, the roles must be understood. If we are the kind of Christians we must be under the New Covenant, then those around us will be taught just by our example. Women can have a much greater influence in some respects than men can have in certain areas.

For too long, we in the mainstream” have been silent on the roles women play in the church and vocal against what they cannot do. May we continue to search the Scriptures, train women to be confidant in their roles, and train churches to understand there are many roles women have which do not compromise Scripture for the sake of cultural relevancy!

Will is married to Sarah and is the minister of the Pleasant View congregation in Skullbone, TN.


Editor’s Note:  This online edition of brother Hester’s article contains the full text of the article.  Through an editorial mistake, a section of his article was accidentally left out of the printed edition of the September issue.  The fault for that omission is mine alone, and for that I apologize to brother Hester and to the reader.  — Jon Mitchell, editor 

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.

 

 

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