I’m opening a can of worms!

I was inspired yesterday to blog about something that’s, quite honestly, always had me puzzled.  It’s one of those “been meaning to get around to blogging about that. . .” things.  It’s a Bible question, and I’m joining it to my new “Bible Questions” series.  But please don’t be mistaken by my questions.  They’re just questions, I’m not trying to disprove the Bible or question the truth of it. 

I do believe I have the right to ask questions.  I don’t think it bothers God . . .if it bothers you . . . well, find another blog to read.

Bible Question #2, (thank you to to Kim for bringing up this topic, therefore reminding me to blog it.  I’m sending you ‘link love’ in sincere appreciation!)

Why can’t women teach in the church?

Paul says that it isn’t right for women to teach men. . . or so much as comment at church.

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; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
                                                                                         ~I Corinthians 14: 34-35

Okay . . . I remember the first time I read this…I was maybe 12-13 years old.  I remember being very offended and shocked.  Religion has never treated women very kindly, has it?  I mean, is it a wonder there’s such a strong feminist movement?  After getting knocked around and beat up from all sides, women got sick of it and, although they may be taking it too far, they’ve loudly claimed, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” 

Here’s my issue.  Have people taken those verses out of context?? (I’m not saying they have, I’m openly and honestly ASKING.)

The reason I (hesitantly) ask this is because I’ve come to a state of distrust.  I do not trust religion or religious leaders, even when it comes to stuff that looks obvious and black-and-white in the Bible. 

Religious leaders told me that Eve and women were considered men’s “helpers” according to the Bible. . . now I know that the Greek (I think it’s Greek, anyway) word used in the original translation to describe Eve is NOT “helper”, but a difficult word to translate.  This word is so powerful that every other time the Bible uses it, with the exception of Eve, it’s describing God Himself!!  A little more than a mousy little “helper”, wouldn’t you say?

Religious leaders told me that my modesty and submissive spirit were vital to a “proper” walk with God . . . no one told me that Ruth practically seduced Boaz or that God uses prostitutes such as Rahab without “converting” them into “proper Christian women” first.

Religious leaders told me that swearing was one of the greatest sins in the world . . . now I know that the Bible never even talks about swearing specifically and the only verse that could condemn it is Ephesians 4:29…which condemns ANY negative talk, yet those same religious leaders gossip and judge about as often as they breath (and I could find more than just this one verse that condemns those things!)

I could go on, but, to not get off-topic, I’ll go back to the task at hand. 

If women can’t teach men at all, then why was Deborah a prophetess??  For those of you who don’t know (Judges 4-5) Deborah was married but God didn’t speak to her HUSBAND, he spoke to her and under her care she ordered a MAN to go to battle, but he was too scared to go without her!  (Ironically, his name was Barak.  hehe.  A little political humor there, for my fellow Amerians.  🙂   )  And, also under her watch, Israel had peace for 40 years. 

Is it really the Bible that doesn’t like women leaders. . . or is it our culture??

God loves women, that I know.  Look at how He uses them!
Deborah leads a war
Rahab gives God’s people the keys to the Promised Land
Jael kills Israel’s enemy instead of men soldiers
Esther rescues entire nation of Israel (she, also, is a woman leader!)
Mary, the mother of Jesus, obviously was used by God
Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist has faith when her husband (a man!) does not
It was a woman who annointed Jesus with oil, while the disciples called her a “foolish woman” (and women aren’t supposed to teach men???)
It was a women who Christ first appeared to after rising from the dead

Yet, if my pastor is a TERRIBLE public speaker, but a businesswoman attending our church has a heartbreaking testimony she feels she need to share (and it’ll only take up one sunday.  We’re not talking forever, here) . . . her needs cannot be fulfilled at the church and we all have to put up with the man?

My Youth Leader can’t be a woman or at least can’t lead devotions because of the teen boys in our group (even though they’ve the spiritual maturity of pigs whereas she is the most godly woman I know)?

When our worship leader gets sick last minute, I (who help with the music) can’t put down my fiddle (or violin, to be politically….er religiously-correct), step up to the mic and fill in because a MAN might hear me? (or, at the very least, I can’t comment between songs or read scripture)

(note: These instances aren’t necessarily effective at my church.  I made the circumstances up; I wouldn’t dare use actual, legit ones on here, in case someone I know actually decides to read this someday.)

Sorry this got so long…I know I never read long posts, so if you actually made it to this line. . . wow! thanks.  🙂

And if you wouldn’t mind shedding some light on my search for the truth in this area…COMMENT.  (Men: don’t be shy to comment, too.  You won’t offend me in any way;  you couldn’t possibly, because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it ALL.   🙂   )

Honestly Searching,


5 Responses

  1. I’d highly recommend you read Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis as well as The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart by Peter J. Gomes.

    Fight selective literalism (all the prejudice you’ve been taught since you were little is “supported” by the Bible).

  2. Well, I don’t know as if I’d support the notion that Ruth “seduced” Boaz….. this is a comments box, and I’m not about to dominate it.

    I think one of the major differences between the women you mention and the principle of women not being able to teach is that the context of women not having authority over men is in the context of the New Testament Church. I have certainly not puzzled through the entire issues myself, but that is where I would begin.

    I would also point out that Esther’s activities were in complete submission to her husband and to her uncle.

    I believe there is a difference between teaching or leading and being used of God. Yes, women are used of God, and we can be used without leading, so where is the problem?

  3. I have often wondered about that especially after reading Romans 16. In the first verse Paul makes reference to a deacon named Phoebe. That chapter makes reference to several woman that are leaders in different churches that Paul started. If you also look in 1 Tim 3 you will find the qualifications for being a leader or overseer in the church, they also make reference to women leaders being the same as the men. A good answer for what Paul wrote is, I just don’t know. I will probably never know this side of heaven. Be leader in how you live. Great post by the way.

  4. Thank you all for your comments! You have definitely helped me!

    ubuntucat: I will try read that book! Thanks for the tip. (I love it when ppl recommend me books. lol I’m excited to read it)

    Kim: I will definitely try start w/ New Testament vs. Old Testament…that is definitely where the gap is; it’s just very confusing. New vs Old is something I’ve tried to figure out for a long time, as well. I do realize that some things we just won’t have answers for! Also, about the Ruth and Boaz comment, I was referring to her dressing to get his attention and then crawling under the covers by his feet…can you imagine if someone did that today?

    Jalack: THANK YOU for those verses. I will look them up as soon as I finish this! 🙂 I didn’t know about Phoebe and the Romans passage. This will help me immensely! As for the not knowing part. . . .ha, join the club!

    Keep the comments coming, ppl! Just b/c I finally butted in to the comment box doesn’t mean you need to stop!

    Blessings to all!

  5. Dear Emily Grace:

    Perhaps, this might be helpful.

    If I understand your question – it is that you don’t understand “why can’t women teach in the church.“ 1Corinthians 11:3-10, 13, 15, 16, 14:(33) 34, 35 (36-38) and 1Timothy 2:11, 12 (8-15).

    “Verses out of context” Women are not to teach (excepting their own children / 1Timothy 2:15, and younger women / Titus 2:3-5), women are not given positions of authority, and not at all over men. Also, women are not permitted to speak in an unknown tongue / interpretation of tongues, prophesy, or participate in judging the same, at least in public. They are prescribed to not speak in the service, not that she couldn’t ask for a pen, say hello, or correct her child – which does not violate this command; I’ve never heard anyone say that a person could not testify as to Gods’ goodness, to ones friends, or evangelize in private. There are certainly many different opinions on these verses, but Paul meant what it clearly says, and he got it from the Lord. . Certainly, many people might be “offended and shocked,” but most people are offended at the Gospel: Matthew 7:26; Romans 10:16; 1Corinthians 1:18, 27.

    If you realize that one of the reasons God does not sanction women to perform these actions is because it is a male(s) prerogative; then, various Biblical verses make sense. Genesis 3:16 (4:7); Numbers 12 (Miriam; not Aaron gets leprosy); 1Corinthians 11:3-10, 13, 15, 16, 14:(33) 34, 35 (36-38), and 1Timothy 2:9-15

    I would think, if some one were not a Christian, that the subject at hand would hardly affect them; if others were Christians, they would be expected to submit to the Lord in this, as in all things. If joyfully – for the better; if not – with the expectation that God would help them in this.

    Finally, one reason people have a problem with the this is because: a. the flesh nature is a rebellious nature, and b. it is our selfishness that drives us to desire power. Matthew 11:19 / Luke 7:35


    Glenn Hall

    Here are a few additional comments on your essay. While it is common to contest these verses with a list of notable women in the Bible, I’m not sure how it might refute them.
    “Women men’s… ‘helpers”. Genesis 2:18, 20 refers to a wife as helper to her husband, not all women to all men, husbands: Genesis 3:16 (Gen 4:7); 1Corinthians 11:3-10, 13, 15 & 16, 14:34 & 35; 1Timothy 2:11-14; Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1Peter 3:1, 2, 5, 6. Women are only subordinate to men in the sense that they are to be modest and to the limits described above. But none of us should forget Ephesians 4:2, 5:21; Philippians 2:3; 1Peter 5:5. H5828 עזר ‛ezer means help; as an aside, Isaiah 30:5; Ezekiel 12:4; Daniel 11:34 do not refer to God. H5048 נגד neged means mate here.

    We are all called to have a “modest(y) and submissive spirit… vital to a ‘proper’ walk with God.” e.g. Philippians 2:6-8. The Lord used many people for his own purpose: Pharaoh, the pagan kings (in order to punish Israel), and Rahab; he also used a couple of burros, locusts, fish, and cattle.

    “the Bible doesn’t like women leaders. . . or is it our culture”
    Our culture is content with it. All liberal, and more churches than not, permit women leaders. Many leaders guard their own particular position(s), but most denominations permit one to start a new congregation. It is God who limits womens leadership. And yes, God loves both women & men, in fact, so much so that he wants them to do his will, not their own.

    “Swearing” Matthew 12:36, Ephesians 5:4, and James 1:26 might be better, but there are many verses that would apply. Hypocrisy is dealt with in John 7:24; Romans 2:1; 1Corinthians 11:31: James 4:11, 12.

    Deborah a prophetess” / “Deborah leads a war.” There are several things of interest in this story: Judges 4:1 ”…the children of Israel did evil.” In verse 6 she reminded Barak to do what God had previously told him to do, something in that he was hesitant; she neither ordered him to go, as he was a judge as well, nor did she direct the battle as he was General of the army. Deborah rose to this position because of the poor state of masculinity in Israel at that time. The concept that Barak would ask a woman to go with him was a sign of weakness; she tried to discourage him in this – 4:9. But, to his favor, Barak is listed as faithful in Heb 11:32.
    Esther is not a leader. Esther 4:11-14 shows weakness of character on her part, but thank God for chapter 5.
    Luke 1:6 “they were both righteous before God,” :13 Zacharias prayer is heard, :18 He doubts. :24 Elizabeth conceives. I’m not sure either one of them acted in faith.
    “The disciples called her a “foolish woman” (‘and women aren’t supposed to teach men‘)“ The disciples didn’t call her a foolish woman. That would have been a violation of Matthew 5:22. Certainly, we can learn from exemplary behavior.

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