Updated: Jun 22
Not to beat a horse to death because I've written four times this year about the debate about whether women have proper roles in churches, but this is too good of an example not to share.
A couple weeks ago my husband and I went out to eat across from our neighborhood. My husband recognized a guy he had talked to at the driving range. The couple asked us to sit with them. We sat and talked for about 2-1/2 hours. They were about 7-8 years older than us and simply lovely! I asked if they had any trips planned. They said they had signed up for a trip to retrace the Apostle Paul’s footsteps, but had to cancel due to family health issues. My husband asked about where the trip would have gone. The guy wasn’t sure where Philippi, Thessolinica, and Ephasus were. I said where they were (Northern Greece and Turkey.) My husband explained to them that I know that because I teach classes.
They asked what classes I teach and I said Connecting the Dots of the Bible, The Pentateuch, The Kingdom Books, The New Testament Historical Books, and The Intertestamental History. They asked WHERE do I teach. I told them the two churches I had taught at, but added that I'm not teaching now. The man became silent, but noticeably stiffened. It was very obvious I had struck a chord.
I asked what church they go to - a very conservative Baptist Church I am quite familiar with. The woman proceeded to tell me in their Sunday School class, the teacher couldn’t make it. “Of course the teacher was male. And we have a woman in our class who has her PhD in Apologetics from XXXX Seminary fill in for him and teach Sunday School. They came down on her afterwards and told her she could not do that because she was a woman. She did a very good job teaching.” I blurted out, “Do you know how absurd that is that you have a member with her PhD in Apologetics and she can’t teach a Sunday School class?” And I looked at the man (who was obviously irritated by my comment) and said, “So XX Baptist Church is complementarian?” And I added, “Teaching a Sunday School class is not having authority over a man.” He said nothing but his wife said, “Oh yes. Women cannot be deacons, elders, ministers or teachers at our church. But this woman said she was glad to step down from teaching. She was glad to do it. She can still teach other women in the women’s ministry.” I said nothing after that about it. But it was awkward. Shortly afterwards the husband said they had to go. My husband and he exchanged numbers for golfing and we shook their hands and commented how wonderful it was to meet them. And they left.
My mind was reeling. 😳 That seems ludicrous to me. That woman would have spent years getting her PhD from a seminary. She was probably more trained than any man in the Sunday School class. Yet she isn't allowed to share what she knows with a man because she is a woman. What a shame.
Complementarians who believe that women have proper roles in churches will base their argument on 1 Timothy 2:12,13: But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve., other verses, on the order of creation - woman came from man, the Ephesians 5:22-33 passage about wives shall be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord; and the example of Jesus the Son of Man submitting to the will of God the Father while here in this world. They will say male authority has been established in the church.
Egalitarians who believe women and men have equal roles in the churches will point to other Scripture such as Galatians 3:26-29 - for you are all one in Christ Jesus, to women active in ministry in the early church, to context and culture of the Pauline letters, etc. Both sides will say you must look at the entirety of Scripture to draw your conclusion. And I agree on that.
This is an excellent article I found balanced, if you want to look into it some more.
Beth Moore in the Pulpit by Dr. James Emery White
Here is the bigger news in all of this. Every year a survey is done on the religious climate in America. And in the past ten years thirty million people who used to affiliate as Christians no longer do so. Thirty million! In ten years! And of the Americans who do consider themselves Christian, they aren't reading their Bible. Biblical literacy is ridiculously low right now in this country. The Church in America is in decline. And what is the Church? It was established by Christ to further the kingdom of God. We ought to be doing what He asked of us. The Church ought to be letting every single person use their spiritual gift to further the kingdom in my opinion. The wife of a Baptist minister tweeted to me recently, "But preaching in the church service is not a woman's gifting. No matter what she claims. God does not gift something that is forbidden. She may be a TEACHER, and if qualified, she can teach other women. Why are women not satisfied until they are teaching men?"
And there we have it. I think the Church is in turmoil over many things. The role of women is one of those things causing discord. And the issues the Church is facing today better be resolved sooner than later or we will sadly lose an entire generation.
For my other posts this year about this issue, see:
Women's Proper Roles in the Church dated February 13, 2019
Equal, but Not? dated February 21. 2019
When the Church Authority Debate Goes Bad dated February 22, 2019
Christians NOT Acting Christian dated October 29, 2019