The subject is a minefield. No one seems to be able to keep their own prejudices and sore spots out of it. Women are quick to point out the failings of men as if that undoes the dictates of God. Men are quick to pontificate about the worst of women, even straying into women in the work force and the evils of abortion as if that had anything to do with the issue. Not a few pat themselves on the back about how well they treat women and why would any woman want anything more than their wonderful selves? (Am I not better to thee than seven sons? Elkanah asked Hannah.) Everyone wants to add the “what ifs” and invent artificial boundaries that the scriptures never speak of. And we think the Pharisees were ridiculous with their traditions.
But I am asked—often. So here is, not what I think, but what it seems obvious that the Bible says.
Do women have a leadership role as Christians? Yes. “Children obey your
parents” Eph 6:1, obviously includes mothers who, last I checked, were all women .
The older women are to “train the younger,” Titus 2:4. When I teach my Bible classes, I have control of the students. I am the one who directs the discussion and sets its boundaries in time and content. I am the one responsible for correction if error is spoken. Sounds like leadership to me.
Women are to “rule the household” 1 Tim 5:14. A lot of men completely miss that one. It means she has a domain and he has no business micromanaging her in it unless she is doing a poor job of stewarding his provision for the family.
On the other hand, whenever the church is talked about as an assembled group, things are much different. Women are specifically told to “learn quietly with all submissiveness” 1 Tim 2:11. As to the command in 1 Cor 14 that women are to “be silent,” we need to recognize the context and pull out every other time that two word phrase is used in that same context before we make blanket statements about women not opening their mouths until the “amen” has been said. But that does not undo 1 Timothy 2 in any way.
I could go on about Paul’s statement that a woman is not “to teach nor have dominion over a man.” I could talk about parsing the sentence. I could just bypass that and go to the obvious point that the preposition “over” has to go with both “teach” and “have dominion” or else the Bible contradicts itself. Priscilla obviously helped teach Apollos and if all teaching is forbidden to women then that includes teaching children and women (which we have already seen is commanded) and singing (“teaching and admonishing yourselves in songs…”—the Greek word is the same in both passages) and you know what? Everyone would have to completely ignore all godly women because their example teaches even if they never open their mouths. But don’t you see? There is something much more basic going on when we take issue with the scriptures.
Whenever I hear women trying to sidestep 1 Tim 2:11, when I hear them rationalizing about their talents and how God wouldn’t want them wasted, when I hear them talking about Paul as if he were not an inspired apostle, when I hear them listing the failings of the men in their group (as if they had none) and dreaming up everything they can possibly think of that might make an exception, I think of Psalm 119:97: Oh how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day. When I try to weasel my way out of God’s commands, when I try to avoid them in any way possible, what does that say about how I feel about them? Doesn’t much sound like love to me.
God is my Lord, not the other way around. He has told us exactly how He wants things to be done. I have no business telling Him that my way is better or that He ought to accept my way because I did it with a good heart. I have no business railing against Him about why He gave me a certain talent if He won’t let me use it the way I want to use it. I remember a few men in the Old Testament who learned that lesson the hard way. Ladies, God will treat you equally. Isn’t that what you want? Or is it?
If I love the law of God, if He is my Lord, I will not try to worm my way out of His commands, no matter how many men or Pharisaical Christians abuse them. THAT is how I feel about the issue.
I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! It is time for the LORD to act, for your law has been broken. Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way. Ps 119:125-128