WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: There are several portions of scripture that have caused sincere believers sincere problems. If you fit them to THE PRINCIPLES in God’s Word, you are safe.
TWO BASIC RULES: (to be used when interpreting any scripture)
1. SCRIPTURE WITH SCRIPTURE: AKnowing this first, that NO prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.@ (2 Pet. 1:20) You must interpret scripture BY OTHER SCRIPTURE, and define scriptural words with definitions found in scripture.
2. NEVER WREST SCRIPTURE: AIn Paul’s Epistles are some THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD.” (2 Pet. 3:16) We are warned of this so we must be careful.
WE MUST TAKE THE WHOLE OF SCRIPTURE: NEVER should we take an isolated verse or portion and build a doctrine from it. EXAMPLE: Baptismal regeneration can be built into a doctrine by taking several verses apart from the whole of scripture in isolation from THE BASIC PRINCIPLE found throughout God’s Word that salvation is BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. If the “apparent” interpretation differs from God’s PRINCIPLE, we must recognize by faith that the “apparent” interpretation is wrong and that there is a reasonable explanation somewhere in the Bible. Acts 2:38 seems to say something that the whole of scripture DOES NOT SAY. Always make your interpretation fit the whole of scripture THE PRINCIPLES.
I. WOMEN SPEAKING IN THE ASSEMBLY: (1 Cor. 14:34 35; 1 Tim. 2:11 15)
A. A SURFACE reading and ISOLATED interpretation (remember Acts 2:38) SEEMS to say a woman MUST be in COMPLETE SILENCE in the church meeting: she cannot teach, pray, prophesy, sing, praise, read scripture, give a testimony, call out a hymn, sing, etc. In other words she MUST NOT MAKE A SOUND. SEEMS to say a woman cannot teach a man ANYWHERE but must be in silence EVERYWHERE.
B. IS THAT WHAT THESE VERSES SAY? IF NOT, WHAT DO THEY SAY? THEY DO NOT SAY the law commands women to be in silence.
THEY DO NOT SAY a woman is never allowed to teach.
THEY DO NOT SAY a woman is never allowed to teach a man.
THEY DO SAY a woman is to be in submission and obedience to the man.
THEY DO SAY a woman is not allowed to teach OVER THE MAN (or) a woman is not allowed to teach Aauthority over the man@ (or) a woman is not allowed to teach (in) authority over the man.
THEY DO SAY a woman is not allowed to USURP AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN. THEY DO SAY a woman is allowed to be in silence where teaching learning is concerned.
THEY DO SAY (if taken in context: the whole of 1 Cor. 14 is about TONGUES vs PROPHECY) a woman is not allowed to speak in tongues in the church. A man could speak in an unknown tongue if an interpreter were present (v.34); two or three of ALL could prophesy (v.29 31); and ALL could learn (v.31,35); and ALL be comforted. NOT ALL could speak in tongues, BUT ALL CAN PROPHESY even the women (1 Cor. 11:5).
C. SOME PRINCIPLES to help interpret these verses: (principles not isolated verses)
1. MEN & WOMEN were both servants of God, and GOD SPOKE THROUGH WOMEN: (Num.12:2; Mic.6:4; 2 Kg. 22:11 20; Jdg. 4 & 5; Ph. 4:3; Acts 18:26; 1:14 18; 16:14 15; Rom.16:1 6, 15; 1 Cor.16:16,19; 7:34 40; Lk.2:38; 8:1 3; Mt.27:55 56; Dt.29:10 20; 2 Tm. 4:19; Tit.2:3 5; I Tm.5:5 12; Neh.10:28; 12:43; 2 Sam. 20:22; etc. etc.)
2. SOME WOMEN were full time servants: GOD USED WOMEN TO LEAD, TEACH, & JUDGE his people: (Num.12:2; Mic. 6:4; 2 Kg.22:11 20; Jdg. 4 & 5; Num.6:2; etc. )
3. WOMEN CAN PROPHESY and did so without shame or rebuke: (Ex.15:20; Jdg.4:4; 2 Kg.22:14; Is.8:3; Lk. 2:36 38; 1 Cor. 11:5; Acts 2:17 18; Joel 2:28 32; Acts 21.9; ICor.14:3,29 31)
4. WOMEN CAN PRAY and did so without shame or rebuke: (I Cor.11:5; Acts 1:14; 12:5,12; Lk. 2:37; Acts 16:13; 1 Sam. 2:1 11; 1 Tim, 5:5; etc.)
5. WOMEN CAN SING & PRAISE & should do so: (Heb.13:15; Eph.5:19; Col. 3:16; Rom.15:9 16; Jdg. 5:1; 2 Sam.19:35; Ex.15:21; Ps.50:23; 33:1; 67:5; 106:47 48; 147:1, 148:12 13; etc,)
6. WOMEN CAN & DID SPEAK IN THE ASSEMBLY of believers without rebuke: (Acts 12:5 15; 5:8; Lk.24:9 10,22 24; Jn.20:17 18; Num.12:2; 5:6 7; Mt.28:5 10; Mk.16:9 ll; I Sam. 1:24 28 )
7. WOMEN CAN TEACH whoever needs to be taught: (Acts 18:26; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:5 with Acts 16:1 and 2 Tim. 3:15; Tit. 2:3 5; etc.)
8. WOMEN CAN EVANGELIZE and should: (Jn.4:28 30,39; Pr. 11:30; Dn.12:3; James 5:20; etc.)
9. WOMEN ARE UNDER MEN IN AUTHORITY: Women Prayed, prophesied, sang, judged, led in war, led the people, spoke God’s messages to His people, etc., but USURPING AUTHORITY was wrong. A woman should not seek offices & positions reserved for men (1 Tim.3:1). The classic example is Miriam and Aaron. They BOTH spoke against God’s leader. Why was SHE to be ASHAMED? God had used her and spoken through her just as He had Moses & Aaron (read Ex.15:20 thru Mic. 6:4) . They BOTH SPOKE AGAINST God’s leader, and Aaron accepted the blame also (Num.12:1 2, 11 15) but SHE was USURPING AUTHORITY. Deborah HAD AUTHORITY given her by GOD, but she HAD NOT usurped it.
THE PRINCIPLE that a woman is to be a keeper at home, taking care of the house, is one thing; but to say she is never to serve God full time, or go out and earn a living, or help the husband financially is NOT SCRIPTURAL. THE VIRTUOUS woman, Ahard to be found,@ in Prov. 31, was an industrious, money making business woman. It was a business woman Paul wrote about in Rom. 16:2. Lydia was a seller of purple & owned her own house, Acts 5;1. Mary owned her own house, Acts 12:12. Sapphira was a co owner of land, Acts 5:1. Priscilla’s occupation was tentmaker; she was a helper of Paul, and a co owner of a house, Acts 18:3, Rom. 16:3 5. It was WOMEN who supported & traveled with Jesus Lk.8:1 3. A woman is not bound to her father’s house nor to his rule any more than a man is (Gen. 2:14; Mt.19:5). The unmarried woman is free to serve Jesus, 1 Cor. 7. MANY WOMEN in the Bible were independent. Minor children give obedience to parents in the Lord, Eph.6:1; adult children give honor to parents (Ex.20:12). A Christian’s allegiance is to Jesus and to his NEW family (Mt.8:22; 10:32 37, 12:48 50; Lk. 14:26; Acts 5:29). In Christ there is neither male nor female, Gal. 3:28, and the female is not excluded from God’s commands to GO, to PRAY, to WITNESS, to PRAISE, to PRAY, etc. She is not to dominate nor usurp authority, but she is to be a functioning part of the Body.
WHEN COMPARING 1 Cor. 14:34 35 & 1 Tim. 2:11 15 with BASIC PRINCIPLES found throughout God=s Word, we come to the conclusion that they do not say what they might SEEM to say, because they SEEM to say something the rest of scripture DOES NOT SAY. (remember Acts 2:38) When comparing scripture with scripture, we conclude that these verses are saying a woman is not to speak in tongues in the church; she is not to usurp authority or teach over the man, but is allowed to be in silence when it comes to a teaching learning situation. According to all other scripture, she may pray, prophesy, praise, exhort, teach, sing, speak, etc. in the assembly without usurping authority and without shame or rebuke.
II. THE HEAD COVERING: (I Cor. 11:1-16)
A. A SURFACE reading and ISOLATED interpretation (remember Acts 2:38) SEEMS to say a woman must have her head covered WHENEVER & WHEREVER she prays or prophesies, while a man must NEVER cover his head when he prays or prophecies.
SEEMS to say a woman must have long hair while a man must have short hair.
SEEMS to say a woman may not pray or prophesy if she cuts her hair or shaves her head.
B. IS THAT WHAT THESE VERSES SAY? IF NOT, WHAT DO THEY SAY?
THEY DO NOT SAY a woman must cover her head in the assembly at all times.
THEY DO NOT SAY a silent woman must cover her head in the assembly at any time.
THEY DO NOT SAY it is uncomely for a woman to pray to God with short hair, without a hat, scarf, or etc. THEY DO SAY to judge in ourselves and according to the verses given below on OUTWARD APPEARANCE, we judge: Is it uncomely? NO.
THEY DO SAY a woman was clearly expected to pray or prophesy.
THEY DO SAY a woman is under the headship of man.
THEY DO SAY a woman’s hair is given her for a covering, if a covering were necessary.
THEY DO SAY though, THAT THE CHURCH HAS NO SUCH CUSTOMS.
C. SOME PRINCIPLES to help interpret 1 Cor.ll:l 16: (containing verses hard to be understood)
1. THE HIGH PRIESTS wore head coverings (Lv.10:6; 21:10; Ex.28:40; 39:28: Ezek.44:18; etc.)
2. OTHER MEN wore head coverings (2 Sam.15:30; Est.6:12; Jer.14:3 4; Ezek.23:15; 24:17 23)
3. SOME MEN wore long hair (Jdg.13:53; 16:17; 1 Sam.1:11; Num.6:2-11; 2 Sam.14:26; Acts 18:18)
4. IN CHRIST JESUS (where the church is) there is neither male nor female but one body. (Gal. 3:28; 6:15; 1 Cor. 10:17; 11:11; Rom.12:5; Eph.3:6; 2.15; 1 Cor.12:12,27)
5. A STRONG STATEMENT on woman=s adorning is: LET IT NOT BE THAT OUTWARD. (I Pet. 3:3)
6. ONE PRINCIPLE is God=s emphasis on the heart: NOT OUTWARD APPEARANCE. (Jn.7:24; 8:15; Mt.6:16 on; 23:28; 12:2 8,34; 15:8 9,18; 2 Cor.5:12; 4:18; 10:7; Gal. 6:13 15; 5:1 16, 22 26; Rm.2:28 29; Acts 7:51; Lk. 6:45; Pr. 23:7; 1 Sam. 16:7; Ps.139:23; 51:17; 34:18; Is.57:15; 66:2; Jer. 17:9; Rev.3:1,17; Rom.7:6; 2 Cor.3:6, Is.l:ll 14; Amos 5:21 26; Dt.32:17; Lev.17:7; Hos.8:13; 1 Sam.15:22; Mal.1:6 14; 2:11 13; 3:13 18; Acts 7:39 43; Hos. 6:6)
AS OUTWARD APPEARANCE IS SO STRONGLY DOWNPLAYED THROUGHOUT SCRIPTURE WHY WOULD GOD INSIST on some form of outward appearance? He doesn=t. (1 Pet. 3:3; 1 Cor.ll:15)
HERESIES yes DO cause & should cause divisions in the church, but CUSTOMS? NO. (v.16 19)
When comparing scripture with scripture we must conclude the OUTWARD sign of a head covering is a custom not held by the church and not at all imposed by a God who rebukes things OUTWARD so strongly. The verses hard to be understood in this chapter must not be built into a doctrine to be imposed on the church, especially where they SEEM to say something the rest of scripture DOES NOT SAY. (remember Acts 2:38.) Knowing the PRINCIPLES we conclude that the head covering is not a custom to be observed by the church. IF IT WERE, then we would HAVE to conclude that the hair, not a scarf or hat, was the covering.
III. APPAREL: THE OUTWARD ADORNING
A. ONE ISOLATED interpretation of Dt. 22:5 is that a woman should not wear pants. 1. We must remember that pants were not men’s attire when this was written.
2. In the same chapter (v.ll) the same law, it states not to wear garments of divers sorts
(i.e. wool & linen). Should we stop wearing dacron cotton clothing? 3. Pants can be just as revealing on men as on women, and dresses can be just as revealing as pants.
B. OUTWARD ADORNING IS CUSTOM:
These are THINGS MENTIONED IN SCRIPTURE that women wore. THE THINGS themselves are not condemned or condoned. The ATTITUDE OF THE HEART is what counted: tinkling ornaments; cauls; round tires; chains; bracelets; mufflers; bonnets; ornaments of legs; headbands; tablets; earrings; rings; nose jewels; hoods; vails; girdles; well set hair; stomachers; Is.3:16 24. Crimson; ornaments of gold; painted faces; Jer.4:30. Earrings; jewels; Hos.2:13. Clean bodies; painted eyes; decked with ornaments; bracelets; crowns; Ezek. 23:40 43. As a bride adorned with jewels: Is. 61:10; Rev.21:2; Coverings of tapestry; silk & purple clothing; Pr.31:22; Covered with a veil & wrapped & he thought her to be a harlot because she covered her face; Gn.38:14 19; Plaited hair; gold; apparel; 1 Pt.3:3 5. Gold; pearls; costly array; 1 Tim. 2:9 10.
C. SOME PRINCIPLES to remember when considering outward adorning;
1. THE PRINCIPLE of OUTWARD APPEARANCE as outlined under “head covering:” God DE EMPHASIZES things outward we should do the same.
2. THE CHURCH IS NOT JEWISH & NOT UNDER LAW: (Acts 15:19; 21:25; Gal. 2:14,19; 5:22 23; etc)
3. THE PRINCIPLE OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY: (Rom. 8:21; 1 Cor.8:9; 2 Cor. 3:17; 1 Pt. 2:16; Gal.3;3, 11 12, 25 28; 4:8 11,17 31; 5:1 26; 6:12 16; Acts 15:10 29; Rom. 6:4; 14:12 23; 7:4 6; 1 Cor. 6:12,20; Heb. 13:9 10; etc.)
OUR LIBERTY should be guided by what edifies (Rm.15:2); what is expedient (1 Cor. 6:12); what causes a brother to stumble (1 Cor, 8:9); we are to walk in love & not use our liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Gal. 5:13); or as a cloak of maliciousness (1 Pt.2:16; Gal. 6:1); we are not bound by touch not, taste not, (Col. 2:21) days, years (Gal. 4:9 10) O.T. law (Gal. 5:18) traditions (Mt. 15:2 3); customs (1 Cor. 11:16), but by love (Jn.13:34 35;14:15).
D. GOD HAS SOME GUIDELINES IN CHOOSING APPAREL:
1. Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. (1 Tim. 5:14)
2. Be discreet. (Tit. 2:3)
3. Don’t be overly concerned with your outward appearance beauty is vain Pr. 31:30.
a. Whose adorning LET IT NOT BE THAT OUTWARD: plaiting hair; wearing of gold; putting on of apparel, but LET IT BE THE HIDDEN man of the heart. (1 Pt. 3:3 5)
b. Dress modestly (probably in contrast to expensive or showy but including not seductively), not with broidered hair; gold; pearls; or costly array. (1 Tim. 2:9 10)
4. THE PRINCIPLE of women dressing modestly is one thing (men & women both have this responsibility); but to say a woman may not wear pants; knee length dresses; short sleeves; make up; broidered hair; gold: jewels; etc. is another. Someone may need counseling about what is decent, or what might give occasion to stumble or to the adversary to speak reproachfully; and in such cases a spiritual brother or sister should do so. Neither the woman nor the man is under a law to wear robes that drag the floor and have high necks and long sleeves. They are BOTH to use discernment but walk in liberty.
E. THE IMPORTANT APPAREL: 1. Garments of salvation; robes of righteousness (Is.61:10, Jb.29:14; Ps.132:9; Rv. 19:7 8)
2. Obedience to good instruction is an ornament of grace (Pr. 1:9)
3. Strength & honor are her clothing; the fear of the Lord is to be praised (Pr.31:17 30)
4. Adorn themselves with good works (1 Tim. 2:10) 5. WHOSE ADORNING LET IT NOT BE THAT OUTWARD: let it be
a meek & quiet spirit (1 Pt.3:3 5)
IN THIS ASSEMBLY we teach doctrine from the BASIC PRINCIPLES found throughout God=s Word NEVER from isolated verses. ONE PRINCIPLE to build all doctrine from is the principle that THE LETTER KILLETH but THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE (Rom.2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6; Hos.6:6; Mt.9:13) LETTER KEEPING builds pride and a self righteous spirit, The O.T. Jews & N.T. Pharisees had both. God hated their sacrifices, their feasts & their hypocrisy. (Read again the verses under outward appearance.)
THE EMPHASIS OF GOD IS THE INNER MAN and Godly people should place their emphasis where God places it.