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Bible Study Women in the church

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#1
I don't always fully subscribe to the teachings of my church, and I suppose that in itself isn't unusual. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is very immersed in all its teachings.

But one thing in which I part company with the church is its stance on women. A woman is not allowed a position of serious authority, or to preach, or to advise. They say that it's unbiblical.

A difficult and controversial viewpoint, and difficult for some women to accept.

But, as I mentioned before, it's an uncompromising church.
 
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#2
There are two things here to consider: One, the Biblical teaching of women in the church and two, what our responsibility is to the church we attend.

As for the Biblical teaching of women in the church, I know well 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 11. Yes, these passages seem extremely straightforward in saying that women are not to speak out in church or to hold any kind of authorative position. However, this is a place where I've been challenged in the past 8 years or so to rethink, and to separate what very well be a tradition of men from the whole of the Word of God. And, it's a study that I've tried to share here as well as on other forums and find that usually one gets hit with 1 Timiothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 11 & 14 and that's it, end of story, let's all just stop thinking and regurgitate what's been pounded (by men) from the pulpits, for 1000+ years. ;-) It's amazing that I have found biblical teachers and scholars who despise the use of 'proof texts' and yet, when this issue comes up, out pop these texts and poof, the matter is to be considered settled. Well, I have a real problem with 'proof texts' as well, and when one diligently studies the issue of women in the church, it's not quite as black and white.

The second issue should not to be dismissed lightly though. As you say, its not unusual at all to not suscribe fully to all the teachings of one's church. However, it's my opinion that if one is going to become a member of a church, then, in the interest of church unity, one shouldn't fight too stringently against the teachings, unless the teachings are out and out wrong. Even then, if after sharing a Biblical point-of-view, and listening to the church's stand on it, if one feels very strongly about the issue, it's probably better to seek a church which teaches that truth, rather than be divisive. Again, this isn't in matters of wrong doctrine, just doctrines that we, as Christians, can have legitimate differences of opinion over.
As of now, due solely to wifely submission, I'm attending a church in which I don't necessarily agree with several points of doctrine. In the case of my church, what is the issue for me is liberal theology. We had an interesting time in Sunday School just this week, when the pastor danced around the issue of Biblical inerrancy. I think the thing is, she (yes, the pastor is a she) believes in Biblical inerrancy, but the denomination doesn't.

Because my husband wants to go to this church, it is the denomination he grew up in and his family are very faithful members of the church, I go to it. And, I'm not going to be divisive either. One thing about it, we can dialog in the church fairly easy and I can give my views, but I'm not going to be divisive. In these areas of legitimate disagreement, the whole idea of 'agree to disagree', while lousy theology is simply the best way to move forward. Church unity is a very important issue.

I would very much like to discuss the issue of the biblical position of women, but before we plunge into it, Jules, I do see your dilemma, it's one I struggle with myself (although the opposite is true of our church, they go to extreme liberalism), and all I can say is, if you are committed to staying with your boyfriend in anticipation of getting married, then this will most likely become an issue of wifely submission for you as well, and you'll need to decide if this is something that's a "deal breaker" before marriage. Because, once you marry, then wifely submission does come in. However much one can (at least try) to discuss the position of women in the church, the position of the godly wife in the home is one of submission (not subservience, two different things there) to her husband. It's a big decision and with lots of ramifications, and the idea of not being unequally yoked comes into play here.
 
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#3
I think these are very wise words.

I would like to marry David, but I'm perturbed by the way in which he seems to immerse himself so completely in the church. Maybe I should find it admirable. We should still live individual lives, though, not completely identify with the church in every way.

Some right wing organisations can interpret the Timothy scripture in such a rigid way that it becomes stifling and oppressive. Our church is borderline!
 
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#4
I think the key to understanding texts like 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians is to understand the differences between what is a godly commandment for all time, and directions to the church within a culture, yet has a principle that we can apply today. In order to sort things out, we must look at how God has used women in authority. If it's true that God never wants a woman to be in autority, then God would never call a woman to be in authority. So, has God ever called women to authoratitive positions?

I truly have to go, and will most likely be gone most of the day (maybe not). I'll check in when I get back home.
 
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#6
In Old Testament times, there were certainly women in authority. There were women judges.

In the New Order in the first and second assemblies of Christ, there were women deacons (or "deaconesses" if you prefer), but deacons, in those days, were positions of servanthood, not of authority.

Some think that the Greek person "ἰοÃ…νιαν" of Romans 16:7, who was notable among the apostles, was in fact a woman, Junia, who was an apostle. But this is not by any means clear. This could be a man named "Junias". For the name is in the accusative singular, and is a first declension noun. First declension masculine nouns ending in "αÂ" and first declension feminine nouns ending in "α" both have the same accusative singular form ending in "αν". So there in no way to determine whether or not this person was a woman, Junia, or a man, Junias. Not only that, but to be notable among the apostles does not necessarily mean that the person was one of the apostles.

Yet, there were clearly women who laboured in the gospel:

Romans 16:3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.

Romans 16:6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard among you.

Romans 16:12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa.


The following indicates that the local church met in a woman's house. This doesn't indicate that she was in a position of authority in the church. Yet, would she not have some kind of authority in her own house?

Colossians 4:15 Give my greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
 
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#9
In the book of Acts, there are 2 instances that come to mind in which a woman is a Godly power-house. One woman in Acts is even named a prophet.
Exactly. So it's a case of balancing that against some of the other Scriptures. Some people forget that.
 
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#10
Three posts were deleted as it was an exchange between Lordkalvan and Handy. Lordkalvan, you are not a Christian therefore you are not permitted to post in this forum.
 
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#11
The lettes to Rome and to Corinth are almost universally accepted as letters by Paul, and it's in these two letters, as much as the Timothy letter that we get what might seem as apparent contradictions. Because in Romans, Paul is clearly setting the women saints and church leaders on a equal basis with the men, and yet in Corinthians, he seems to subject women under men.

The point is, a good biblical scholar, (something we should all feel called to be) studies what the entire Bible has to say on any given subject and important rules of interpretation should always be, always study a specific text within it's larger context, and always let Scripture interpret Scripture.

Keeping these two rules in mind then, what of the context then of Romans 16:1 where we find Phoebe so elevated? Romans is arguably the most important epistle in the Christian canon. According to the history I have of this letter, Paul had not visited Rome and was writing, as an Apostle of Christ, a treatise of important Christian theologyto be distibuted to the churches in advance of his going there. The letter wasn't written to correct a lot of problems or settle disputes and quarrels, but rather to expouse Christian theology. And, it was to a woman that Paul entrusted the task of taking this letter to Rome and seeing to it that it got distributed to all the churches in Rome, including the one held in Pricillia's and Aquila's home, Pricillia being another woman whom Paul held in the highest esteem.

Quite different from the context of the letters to Timothy and to the Corinthians which were written to correct problems and settle disputes. The churches at Corinth and Ephesus had their fair share of problems and Paul wrote each church on several occaisons in order to straighten things out. It was to these problem prone churches, that Paul wrote his famous admonitions to women to be quiet in church and to not hold authority.

Going back to the idea of letting Scripture interpret Scripture, I'd like to look again at the question, what is a Prophet? A prophet was one who brought God's messages directly to the people of God. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul established that the prophets were second only to the apostles in the church leadership. (1 Corinthians 12:22) To the Ephesians, Paul said the it was the apostles and the prophets who lay the foundation of the church, the foundation of which Christ is the Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

So, did God ever call women to be prophets? Yes, in both the Old Testament (see the account of Huldah in 2 Kings 22:14-20 and she was by no means the only OT woman prophet) as well as the New Testament. When Jesus was born, the first two to publically declare Him was Simeon, an righteous man to whom the Spirit had promised would see the Messiah, and Anna, the prophet who declared "Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2:25-38)

As for Paul himself, he stayed with Philip in Caesarea whose four daughters were recognized as prophets. While there is legitimate disagreement as to whether these women held a formal position as prophet in the church or 'merely' prophisied, it is impossible to imagine that Paul would ell these women, "Be silent".
 
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#12
Handy, I find it completely possible that Paul would tell these women to remain silent just as he called out Peter in Galatians 2 for siding with the Judaizers. Paul was not a man shy about making sure hypocracy was dealt with, and so it would be suprising to read him contradict himself in his letters.

I will do what no one else has done in this thread yet and state, that while I do not know why Paul would instruct us to not allow a woman to be over a man, I see NO rebuttal of such a stance in Scripture. I do not support the idea of women being the central leader in a church.

Handy, I grant that there is a degree of cultural context in that passage, but there are other matters which fall likewise if we allow for the changes in modern cultural context. The church for the most part today claims that Alcohol is wrong for a christian to consume, and yet culturally, the majority of Christians still drink? So which serves as the more truthful stance, do Christians teach abstanance from Alcohol or only say one thing and do another?

Another such issue would be Masterbation. Scripture not once comes out and calls it wrong, and yet the church has very clearly decided that we do feel it is. How is it that we create a general rule of abstance in once instance from no scriptural evidence, and yet when we have a passage clearly suggesting that Paul did not see it fit for woman to be over a man, and yet we seem to be casting it aside in regards to keeping culturally relevant?

There are numerous suggestive arguments that can be made from scripture with varying degrees of worthiness, but the fact remains that unless you are reading the Message paraphrase, Paul writes that a woman is not to be in authority over a man.
 
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#13
The issues you raise of alcohol and masturbation serves to prove my point that a lot of what is accepted as "Biblical truth" is nothing more than one or two 'proof texts' applied to a traditional teaching of man. Which is why I think the best approach for a Bible believing Christian is to apply what we all know to be solid rules for exegesis: Study the whole of the subject in the word, consider context in the study and never settle for the allowances of 'contradictions'.

There is much to be considered regarding women in the church. If a woman is to always, for all time remain silent in the church, then why did Paul admonish women to cover their heads while prophesying? What would be the point of having a message from God, yet not sharing it?

Another thing to consider is the aspect of historical context. Are some issues driven by historical culture, such as the issue of a woman covering her head? Or are we to consider these issues as God's commandment for all time?

If the stictures against speaking or holding authority were historical context, then are we bound to them today? But, if these strictures represented commandment from God for all women for all time, then why did God raise up women prophets, or a woman judge? We know that He did indeed raise up women prophets and a woman judge (very authoratative position) so did He compromise His own commandment?

There are a lot of questions, and the only true way to find the answers is to carefully consider what the Bible has to say on women. But, we need to look at all the Bible has to say, not just one or two passages, that on the surface seem to contradict other texts.

A word on cultural relevency: I strongly reject the idea that we interpret Scriptures in light of 'cultural relevency'. And, I know that a lot of churches that now embrace women ministers do so because of this error and many of them are the same ones who are poised (if not having done so already) to embrace homosexual ministers.

However, that isn't to say that there isn't a strong Biblical case to be made in regards to this subject.
 
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#14
This is a difficult subject for me, as I'm sure you can tell. I greatly envy people who just have an easy answer for everything - that's what it says, that's what we should do! Some people say that.

I'm glad that people here have the vision to understand more deeply, to consider more carefully and to apply the Timothy scripture in a wider context. It's still so difficult for me to get my head round it!

Some people would say that it means I have to be a subservient dogsbody, fetch David's tea, do as I'm told and wash his smelly horrible socks.
 
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#15
Jules, the thing is, wifely submission is different than the issue of women's roles in the church. Of course, wifely submission is also different from being a subservient dogsbody. The Proverbs 31 woman is always held up as the ultimate standard of the perfect wife (and rightly so) and nowhere in that Proverb does one get the idea of a subervient person. The word "obedient" is nowhere to be found in the Proverb, although it's clear that she places her husbands best interests as a priority. As a matter of fact, "obedient" is never used of a wife to a husband, "submission" is. There is a difference between the two.

It's clear that in cultures where the woman was almost always married, then her submissive role would place her under her husband. However, Huldah was a prophet of Israel even when she was married to Shallum. So, marriage didn't bar her from fulfilling the role of prophet. Nor did marriage bar Pricillia from being an active, respected leader of the church in Rome.

And, of course nowdays, far more women are not married. So, if we are to be silent in church, and yet have no husband at home to ask questions of, what are we to do then? I was single for a very long time. Was I supposed to simply live at home and be submissive to my father? That was the historical culture of the Bible, but it's not a Godly commandment that all unmarried women are to remain in their father's household. The church now has a large number of single people in it, something that the Apostle Paul acutally encouraged, btw, but it does bring up the question of the difference between the role of a submissive wife and the role of an indepent woman.
 
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#16
handy said:
The issues you raise of alcohol and masturbation serves to prove my point that a lot of what is accepted as "Biblical truth" is nothing more than one or two 'proof texts' applied to a traditional teaching of man. Which is why I think the best approach for a Bible believing Christian is to apply what we all know to be solid rules for exegesis: Study the whole of the subject in the word, consider context in the study and never settle for the allowances of 'contradictions'.

There is much to be considered regarding women in the church. If a woman is to always, for all time remain silent in the church, then why did Paul admonish women to cover their heads while prophesying? What would be the point of having a message from God, yet not sharing it?

Another thing to consider is the aspect of historical context. Are some issues driven by historical culture, such as the issue of a woman covering her head? Or are we to consider these issues as God's commandment for all time?

If the stictures against speaking or holding authority were historical context, then are we bound to them today? But, if these strictures represented commandment from God for all women for all time, then why did God raise up women prophets, or a woman judge? We know that He did indeed raise up women prophets and a woman judge (very authoratative position) so did He compromise His own commandment?

There are a lot of questions, and the only true way to find the answers is to carefully consider what the Bible has to say on women. But, we need to look at all the Bible has to say, not just one or two passages, that on the surface seem to contradict other texts.

A word on cultural relevency: I strongly reject the idea that we interpret Scriptures in light of 'cultural relevency'. And, I know that a lot of churches that now embrace women ministers do so because of this error and many of them are the same ones who are poised (if not having done so already) to embrace homosexual ministers.

However, that isn't to say that there isn't a strong Biblical case to be made in regards to this subject.
The issue of keeping silent may be cultural, but that is not to say that it must be. The example of prophesying only gains leverage if it occurs in a church setting. However, even then, a woman or even a man who seeks to share a "prophecy" with a congregation should remember that they should speak in turn, just as was the case with tounges to avoid confusion.

However, may continued concern is that our generation is seeking to disolve the order prescribed by Paul in that a woman is not to have authority over a man. This is not just seen in 1 Timothy 2:12, but better so when the guidelines for the submission of a man to Christ and a woman to man found in Ephesians five. This order is made very clear. There is to be no arrogance in the way authority is exercised, but this does not change the structure which is laid out. The Ephesians 5 passage is not spoken in regards to cultural context, but rather in regards to a structural context.

It would not make any sense for it suggest the man is reportable to Christ in the home, if he were not also the one reportable to Christ in the church. Many times, the best model for a church is that of a family, even as christ himself compares us to children of God, and calls God not a dictator, but a father. The title of father is given not just in light of his relation to the father in the Godhead, but also in light of the clear comparison of how a father is to lead a family.

Allow me to ask this, how can a Father lead his family in a godly manner if He is to be subject to his wife while at church? If your answer is that he must submit to the one called by God to serve, then your answer also causes contradiction when in regards to Ephesians 5. Therefore, just as man has been placed as the central authority in the family, a man is the central authority in the church as well. Ephesians 5 does not teach from a cultural context, and so even if the rest of the passage speaking of the order between man and woman can be related to culture, this passage would still give firm proof to true Godly structure.
 
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3rddayuprising

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#17
Jules C said:
I don't always fully subscribe to the teachings of my church, and I suppose that in itself isn't unusual. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is very immersed in all its teachings.

But one thing in which I part company with the church is its stance on women. A woman is not allowed a position of serious authority, or to preach, or to advise. They say that it's unbiblical.

A difficult and controversial viewpoint, and difficult for some women to accept.

But, as I mentioned before, it's an uncompromising church.
It is my understanding that women can operate in all the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12-14) just as freely as a man, but the five-fold ministry is strictly for the male populace. I could quote many Scriptures, but just consider this....no where in giving credentials for Church "leadership" do you see the Scriptures saying, "you must be the wife of one husband", but rather, "you must be the husband of one wife."

Paul, who, for the most part, "laid the foundation" of the new Testament church, said in 1 Cor. 14;37 "If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord."

I'd hate to be the one now to presume to change what Paul said to whatever I thought was more suited to our "times".

Women are also free to minister to and teach women. But must always have male oversight...either husband or church leader that they trust and look up to. They have an enormous calling to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church...submission and meekness and trust.
 
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#18
I don't have a lot of time this morning and will be very busy this weekend. This subject is a complicated one, but one that affects so many women on so many levels, it's important to study. 3day, could you explain what you mean by "five-fold ministry"? That is not a term I'm familiar with.

Also, while I agree with the order of family laid out in Ephesians 5, I'm not so sure that we need to apply the same principles that hold true for the family to women in the church in general. Again, what about the fact that there are many women in church that have no husbands? During the time Paul wrote this these women would be under their fathers, but that simply isn't true anymore. When I have more time, I'll get to why I think that this isn't necessarily a Scriptural way of looking at the issue, but perhaps a tradition of man's that has crept in.
 
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3rddayuprising

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#19
handy said:
I don't have a lot of time this morning and will be very busy this weekend. This subject is a complicated one, but one that affects so many women on so many levels, it's important to study. 3day, could you explain what you mean by "five-fold ministry"? That is not a term I'm familiar with.

Also, while I agree with the order of family laid out in Ephesians 5, I'm not so sure that we need to apply the same principles that hold true for the family to women in the church in general. Again, what about the fact that there are many women in church that have no husbands? During the time Paul wrote this these women would be under their fathers, but that simply isn't true anymore. When I have more time, I'll get to why I think that this isn't necessarily a Scriptural way of looking at the issue, but perhaps a tradition of man's that has crept in.
What many call the "five-fold ministry is "Apostle. Prohet, Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist" from Ephesians 4.

"handy"; I am a firm believer in the fact that we are to be letting the perfectly TRUE and authoritative Scriptures renew our minds...no matter how we feel about It or how it goes against the pressures and changes of the times.

When God lays a Foundation through His apostles and prophets, you can be sure it is for a very important reason, and to stray these cornerstones of Truth is to open up to present day deception and loss in usefulness for Him. Seek God for the REASON of these Truths. God, your "Husband", will visit upon you His Truth and goodness.

God is dealing with CHARACTER in this hour...for the many-membered body of Christ to be prepared to rule and reign with Christ. There is much to DO and demonstrate in the future ages (close at hand). Don't forfeit your place in this administration by yielding to todays "rights" and self-will. God bless.
 
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#20
3day, please don't misunderstand, I'm not in anyway trying to deny the authoratativeness of Scriptures, nor ignore any commandments from God. It's precisely because of the current changes in attitudes towards women's role in the church that I and other Bible believing women seek in-depth study of this issue. We cannot deny that many times since the apostles that man-made traditions have crept into the church. What I seek, and what is an important question for all to consider is whether or not this current trend in opening up ministry to women is a matter of social relativism at the expense of God's written word, or a correction of a long-held tradition of man that wasn't commanded by God.
 
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