Thursday, March 26, 2009

Woman in Christianity

Women In Politics

Q. What is your biblical take on women in politics? I have heard Isaiah 3 quoted as a reason for not having women take political office. Then I’ve heard that this chapter of Isaiah took place in a theocracy and ours is a republic government which is much different and also a lot of talk on men not fulfilling their roles so women are moving in and taking them which will lead to that country being cursed by God. I’m just really confused over women being in politics. Any help in clearing this up would be appreciated.

A. I don’t think Isaiah 3:12 was intended as a general prohibition against either young people or women in politics. Josiah was only 8 years old when he became Judah’s King. At age 16 he led a national revival that restored their relationship with God, and by age 20 had repaired the Temple and destroyed all traces of paganism. Hezekiah was only 25 when he became King but was seen by the people as a model of the Messiah. Deborah was a judge of Israel, and Esther was a Jewish teenager who the Lord raised up to be the Queen of Persia in order to save the Jews from extinction. Priscilla was a leader in the early Church as was Lydia.

Isaiah 3:12 was an observation on the nature of Israel’s spiritual condition. Those who should have been leading were not and those who shouldn’t have been leading been were. The Lord was criticizing their irresponsibility in choosing immature and inexperienced leaders who did more harm than good. If we’re going to use the prophecies of Isaiah in our political commentary, it would be good to use them in their proper context.

Are Women Allowed To Preach?

Q. Thanks so much for all that you do. What does Scripture say about women preaching? There are so many women in the “pulpit ” right now-especially on so called Christian television. The ones I have witnessed are all so loud and seem to scream a lot.

A. In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul wrote. “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Some read that to mean that women shouldn’t be teaching men or be in positions of authority over them, but that teaching other women is OK.

I confess, I’ve heard some very good woman teachers, and have encouraged some to exercise their teaching gifts, but always under the supervision of a male pastor. I have a problem with women in a senior pastor’s role. Not because of any inherent lack of ability, but because I don’t think the Lord designed things that way. But like it is with men, there are a lot of women teaching who aren’t properly prepared and have no business in front of a group of any kind. Sounds like you’ve run across some of them.

Women In Ministry

Q. For over 20 years I labored alongside my husband in the ministry. He went home to be with the Lord two years ago. I still feel the call to minister. Being a woman has disqualified me in the eyes of much of the church with the exception of teaching children or other women. Yet my husband and I were “in the trench” workers. We had a church that was an outreach to those on the fringes of society and worked the streets.My burning desire is to continue setting the captives free, praying for the sick, etc. I’ve tried to ignore it, deny it, and run from it. I’ve even asked the Lord to take the desire from me. Yet it continues. Still, there is a voice I hear that tells me I’m a “woman” and that is not my place or role.

I know all the arguments against women ministering. The Bible also tells me that “in Christ, there is neither male nor female - we are all one.” (paraphrased) What do you believe about women ministers?

A. I’m one of those who doesn’t believe that the Bible prohibits women in ministry. There are just too many examples of effective female workers for the Lord in both the Old and New Testaments.

I do believe that women in ministry are more effective when there is a man in the ultimate leadership role simply because it recognizes the order that God established. Therefore I would recommend a called and qualified woman for any position other than senior pastor in a church, or for any position in a para church ministry that is subordinate to male leadership, such as a board of trustees might provide.

Women In Ministry Follow Up

Q. I really appreciate your teachings and enjoy hearing your biblical insights on the many questions people ask you. Now I would be pleased to hear what you think about my situation.

I’ve been in a situation over the years where I’ve had the opportunity to teach. Mostly because I’ve been more familiar with the biblical material than many of my male counterparts. I believe that even though I was the one doing the teaching I was in no way in a position of authority over the few men I taught. I also home schooled my three grown sons spiritually and academically.

Now, I find out this is some form of heresy. The scripture quoted to me is I Timothy 2:11-15 and to question this is to question God himself. What is so incredible to me is that Timothy was taught spiritually by his mother and grandmother. While I believe this is a rule that should be followed and that men should be our leaders especially in spiritual matters, I can find several exceptions IN the bible where women lead and teach men.

The scripture in Timothy has been used to keep women from teaching for a long time. And I can accept this if asked. But I have to wonder, Where are the men and why aren’t they teaching?? And, if they refuse, are uninformed or undereducated in biblical teaching does this scripture really absolved women of any responsibility to teach??? I find this situation hard to believe. I would love to hear your thoughts. I would hope I haven’t committed a heresy of some sort.

A. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is a real puzzle, especially in light on Both Paul’s and Timothy’s experience and practice. Paul allowed Priscilla to teach, and at one she even helped instruct the great Apollos in a matter of doctrine (Acts 18:26). The entry of Christianity into Europe would surely have been delayed had Lydia’s group of female worshipers not been converted. Acts 16:11-15 offers no criticism of Lydia’s role in this. On the contrary Paul welcomed her offer of fellowship. And as you say women were a prominent part of Timothy’s spiritual education.

Then there’s the Greek phrase translated “usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim. 2:12). The word for usurp authority originally meant “to strangle someone with one’s own hands” but can also mean to act on one’s own authority as an absolute master.

In my opinion this is meant to describe a woman who demands to be the ultimate authority and refuses to be accountable to any one, “choking off” any man’s attempt at supervision.

I interpret this passage to mean that a called and qualified woman is free to accept a teaching role in the church as long as it doesn’t give her autonomous authority. In a local church this would exclude the position of senior pastor, and in a para-church ministry there needs to be an oversight board or committee led by a male. This isn’t intended to say that women aren’t as capable as men, but that it’s important to respect the governmental order for the Church that the Lord has established.

Head Covering

Q. In 1st Corinthians 11, it says that a man dishonors his head when he covers his head while praying but a woman should be covered. I know it’s talking about submission to authority and headship, but I was thinking of the Jewish people. When the Jewish men pray, they have a yamakah (sp?) on their head, or perhaps even a tallit, but the women don’t. What was Paul meaning when he wrote this passage - specifically, should women be wearing some covering when they pray?

A. Jewish men wear a kippa, or yarmulke, out of respect for the Lord. Most admit that it’s traditional rather than religious and based on Middle Eastern courtesy which is the opposite of Western culture where a man removes his hat out of respect.

Many Orthodox Jewish women who appear to be bare headed are actually wearing wigs, which are acceptable head coverings since they hide the woman’s natural hair.

Yes, although it’s almost universally disregarded, women should wear a head covering while praying as a sign of respect. (1 Cor. 11:6-10)

Should Women Cover Their Heads In Church?

Q. I periodically re-read sections of the bible. Each time I find more that I did not see before. This time I am in 1 Corinthians 11. I am concerned that I need to cover my head when I worship or pray. This chapter speaks about honoring your head (authority over you). It says men should be uncovered and women covered. I know that women used to wear hats etc. to church on Sunday’s but that’s no longer the case anymore (at least in my church). Can you expand on what this chapter is referring to?

A. I believe that Paul was using a local custom to illustrate a timeless truth, and that is that our God is a God of order. He has established a hierarchy in His creation that begins with Him, then goes to Jesus, man and woman in that order. In the society of the day, a woman going out in public with her hair uncovered was a demonstrating her rebellion against that hierarchy. It was a sign that she was available, and therefore an insult to her husband. Paul was reminding them that our worship services are regularly attended by angels and out of respect for them we should be careful to adhere to the established order while in worship.

Today the head covering for women is not customary, but we should still be careful to act in a manner that pleases the Lord and is acceptable in His sight, especially in worship. For instance how many people routinely show up late for worship, or fail to demonstrate the proper reverence while there, or in other ways by action or appearance distract other worshipers? Would they look or act this way if they could see their angelic visitors, or even the Lord Himself in their midst? Worship is not a time for musicians to show how talented they are or for worshipers to call attention to themselves by the way they act or look. It’s a time to pay homage to the Lord, to focus on Him, and to express our gratitude to Him. It’s not about us, it’s about Jesus.

Silent Women?

Q. I have a question about your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

How does this correlate to today and why was it abolished?

A. I’m afraid we might be the victims of a translation less specific than it should have been here. Paul was not forbidding women ever to speak at all, or else why would he have admonished them to wear a head covering when praying and prophesying? (1 Cor. 11:5-6)

The context of the verse you’ve cited is orderly worship, and the Greek word translated “speak” means to talk, question, argue, or chatter. These are disruptive actions of which some women were guilty. In support of this, in 1 Cor. 14: 35 Paul said that if ever they didn’t understand what that was going on, or had a contrary opinion about something being said, they should wait and discuss it with their husbands when they got home.

The definition for “speak” specifically did not prohibit singing, praying, prophesying or public speaking, which women, like men, have always been welcome to do in the church as long as it’s done in an orderly manner.

Women In Pants

Q. I want to find out more about Deuteronomy 22:5 and have the New Testament revealed the understanding about women wearing pants to church.

A. Deut. 22:5 says, A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

It addresses a deviant sexual behavior we call cross dressing today. In those days both men and women wore floor length robes but you could tell one from the other. Today both men and women wear pants but you can tell one from the other. The sin is in a man dressing up to present himself as a woman, or a woman dressing up to present herself as a man.

Being Fashionable Or Cross Dressing?

Q. Thank you for your wonderful site. I am a female who wears slacks to church and have recently been told about Deut. 22:5. I found a Q&A you had on this subject and in your answer you stated that this passage refers to cross dressing, deviant sexual behavior. Is there other verses referring to this? I can’t understand how you came up with this explanation. I greatly appreciate your site and have learned so much from you.

A. Common sense tells us that Deut. 22:5 is not referring to a female wearing slacks. First of all, it references both men and women. And remember, when Deuteronomy was written they both wore full length robes. Pants and dresses had not been invented yet.

Today it’s fashionable in some cultures for women to wear slacks, while in others men wear kilts or sarongs. The intention of Deut. 22:5 was not to limit men to certain types of clothing, and women to certain other types. It was to prohibit men, regardless of their culture, from trying to pass themselves off as women and women as men, in other words, cross dressing.

Why Did God Judge Eve First?

Q. Genesis says that God created man and gave him dominion over the earth. Later on in scripture the role and responsibilities of the man and father are further clarified in the lives of others when traditions and roles were defined and then recorded in scripture and advocated as “the law.” My question is this, having been created in God’s image and given dominion and if Adam was the man in charge, why did God approach Eve first in addressing original sin?

A. Eve was the one who actually sinned first and so God addressed her first. Since Adam was with her and sinned too he was also penalized. By the way Satan had to make it happen this way to accomplish the absolute fall of both. Had he gotten Adam to sin first, Eve would have had the excuse that she was just obeying her husband.

In 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul observed that Eve was deceived but Adam was not. He made the choice to join her in her fallen state rather than remain immortal and alone. It was the first model of the Lord and His Church, because you could say that Adam loved her so much that he gave himself for her. Because he did the family of man was begun, and through a descendant of Eve’s the Messiah was born to redeem what Adam had lost. I believe this is what Paul meant by the woman being saved through child bearing in verse 15.

Why Did God Judge Eve, Follow Up

Q. In your Ask a Bible Teacher section, I came upon this question, Why Did God Judge Eve First?, and have a question of my own.

In Genesis 3:6 - “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

Does “with her” mean at the time of her conversation with the serpent? If Adam was with her, had he not already sinned by allowing her to eat of the fruit?

A. Yes Adam was with her during the entire event. I believe that Adam failed in his role as Eve’s spiritual leader, and I reject the notion that only Eve was to blame for the Fall because she was “out from under her cover”. But I don’t believe Adam sinned by failing to prevent Eve from sinning. We’re all responsible for our own behavior. Adam sinned when he decided to take the fruit.


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