So, I’m tired of this debate/fight.. I’m going to go through and post what I know on women in leadership (all of the following is thanks to my daddy’s amazing understanding of the Bible and his ability to explain it). I’m tired or trying to explain why I think it’s ok… and I’m not gonna lie I do it totally out of selfish reasons. I want to prove them wrong because I am the type of girl who is gifted with leadership… so if you think women can’t be in leadership, then you essentially are telling me I am sinning simply by utilizing my strengths and gifts.. That is just too hard for me to swallow, especially coming from people/men I respect.
This is a marathon of a Blog, but I didn’t feel like splitting it up into a couple blogs.. Figured giving all of the information my dad gave me at one time would be the best… It’s broken up into sections to make it easier, and most but not all the verses are labeled at the bottom. Haha… Goodluck.
So, with that being said.. here’s what I believe on the issue of women in leadership:
Starting with the verses..
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Gal. 3:28
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” – Rom. 10:12
Ok, that’s where it all starts… Now, onto the juicy meat part of this whole thing… (and again, this is all my daddy 🙂
“Let a wife quietly receive instruction with respectful submissiveness. But I do not allow a wife to be continuously teaching, nor to exercise autonomous control over her husband, but to be in quietness. For Adam was created first, then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but his wife who was deceived.” 1 Timothy 2:11-14
The above is taken directly from the Greek, emphasizing how it should be translated based on the normal translation rules for these Greek words. First thing to notice, due to the relationship of (“woman, wife”) to (“man, husband”) in the sentence, particularly the way it is compared to the first husband and wife, they should be translated with the specific “wife” and “husband,” not the general “woman” and “man.” In Greek, the only way to determine if the words should be specific (husband and wife) or general (man and woman) was context, and the context here points to the specific, not the general.
However, even if one refuses to accept that this is about husbands and wives, the idea that it forbids women from having spiritual authority over men in the church still has problems, as I address below.
When written as it should be translated, you see that this is speaking to the husband-wife relationship, NOT to positions within the fellowship. The assumption underlying this sentence is the culture in which these people lived. In this culture, men were taught in public, and they then had the responsibility to instruct their wives in private. This was not a rule laid down by the church, this is the way the SOCIETY functioned. As with many social issues in Christianity, this was NOT a laying down of laws within the body of Christ, but an explanation of how a husband-wife relationship should function within this specific culture. Remember, Paul told us in very clear terms, within the bounds of morality, to adapt to the culture we find ourselves in so that we may more readily bring those in that culture to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Our culture does not have the men learning publicly and the women learning privately, so there is less application here to us.
This cultural approach to teaching had carried over into the church, since the people were used to public teaching to be to the men, and the women to receive private instruction from their parents or husbands. That was simply the way their society ran, and so that practice had continued in the church.
In the sentence “I do not allow a wife to continuously teach,” our first clue that this is NOT talking about the fellowship as a whole is that it references a WIFE. This is a relationship issue, not a church issue.
The second clue is that the verb appears in the wrong tense. If the prohibition against teaching were absolute, it would have been an aorist infinitive: “I do not allow a wife to teach – ever.” Being a present infinitive, it means “I do not allow a wife to teach continuously.” Since it was the husbands who were being given the public education, the wives needed to be spending some of their times LEARNING from their husbands. The very choice of constructions, however, indicates the wives DID teach. Paul just says they should not be doing it constantly.
Wives are also not allowed to exercise absolute autonomous control over their husbands. The first thing to note is that this is the only place in the NT that this word (authenteo – “autonomous authority that answers to no one, dominating, oppressive authority”) appears. Because it is not used anywhere else in the Bible, we have to go to extra-biblical sources to be certain of its meaning. In classical Greek, it meant someone who was free from the authority of ANYONE, had become a law unto themselves, and exercised a control over those under them that was complete and total, even to the point of being able to decide if those people lived or died. No one could judge what they did, because no one was above them. This was the kind of authority wielded by tyrants, and as a result, this word is always used in a negative sense.
In reality, only God has that kind of authority, but this is a critical point in understanding this word: it is never used of God in the Bible because it has a built in negative implication of “abuse of authority.” The difference in meaning between exousia (the usual word for “authority” in the Bible) and authenteo (“autonomous authority”) is similar to the differences in meaning between “ruler” and “tyrant.” These two words have the same basic meaning, but tyrant includes the additional negative idea of a supreme ruler, answering to no one, who abuses his authority. Likewise, authenteo has the additional idea of someone who answers to no one (or acts like they answer to no one), and thus, begins to abuse their authority.
This is such an extreme word that it really is best translated “absolute autonomous control.” It is equivalent to addressing a congregation and stating, “wives do not have the right to murder their husbands.” The most appropriate response to something so obvious would probably be (to borrow from my teen-aged daughter), “No duh!” But since Paul addresses it so seriously, it is almost as though some people might be expected to respond with, “Aw, rats. I thought we did!”
It raises the question, why did the wives have to be addressed about something so extreme?
I can’t imagine this statement by Paul being greeted with anything other than stunned silence. I don’t know what was happening in that fellowship, but it must have been fairly outrageous for Paul to use such an extreme word (and this is the ONLY place he uses it ever), particularly since HUSBANDS did not have this kind of authority over their WIVES either (masters didn’t even have that kind of control over their slaves). Greek has a lot of other words that are much more moderated (such as katexousia or exousia). The only person in the Roman Empire who might be said to have this kind of authority was Caesar (and if used of him, it was considered an insult, not a compliment).
The only thing I can figure is that Paul specifically used this word for the shock value. Something was happening within the fellowship in the way wives were treating their husbands, and Paul intentionally overstated the issue to get their attention. In other words, it is similar to saying “if you hate your brother, you are a murderer” (1 John 3:15). It casts the situation in extreme language to illustrate how important this issue really is.
For some reason, Paul did not feel the husbands did needed to be TOLD this, while the wives did. It is worth noting, however, that it does NOT say husbands DO have this kind of authority over wives, either.
His use of this extreme word, BTW, indicates that wives DID exercise authority, but some had tried to take their authority and become miniature tyrants, dictators who answered to no one and whose words could never be questioned. If Paul had meant they had no authority at all, he would have used a completely different word (the primary word for authority in the NT is exousia).
Those who believe that women cannot exercise authority in the church need to answer the question, why does the bible NEVER say that women cannot have exousia over men? This word has no negative connotations, and it is used of all levels of authority, from soldiers in the military (Matthew 8:9), to the civil authority of human leaders (Luke 20:20), to the legal authority of life and death (John 19:10), to indicate that all authority of any kind comes from God (Romans 13:1), to spiritual authority over demons and sickness (Matthew 10:1), to the spiritual authority of church leaders (2 Corinthians 13:10), to the authority of Jesus over all of creation (Matthew 28:18).
If someone wishes to dispute that this verse is about wives and husbands, the central issues remain the same. Women are forbidden to become tyrants. They are forbidden to exercise a negative, totalitarian type of authority that NO ONE is supposed to use. That, frankly, is about ATTITUDE, not position.
Bottom line, women are NEVER forbidden to exercise exousia in the church.
….Women in the Church….
“Let your wives be quiet in the churches, for it is not allowed to them to be continuously speaking, but to be in submissive, even as the law says. But if they desire to learn something, let them question their husbands at home; for it is a shame for a wife to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
The Message translation actually catches the force of this paragraph best:
“Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God’s Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking.”
Again, this is not about POSITIONS within the church, this is about husbands and wives, and the difference between FREEDOM and LICENSE.
First of all, this is dealing with a situation of service disruption between HUSBANDS and WIVES, not just of women in general. If it is an absolute reference to being able to speak, it means SINGLE women were exempt from this prohibition: only married women had to stay silent (because single women had no husbands to ask at home).
Second, the word translated “to speak” means continuous speaking (present infinitive), as in, being a disruption to the service. It is NOT a prohibition against ANY KIND of speaking (aorist infinitive). What is shameful is for the wives to be disrupting the services by constantly asking their husbands questions, chattering on and on. All of that should be contained and discussed at home.
There is NO prohibition against a woman being a pastor, a prophet, an apostle, a teacher, etc. In fact, there is no prohibition here against women “speaking” in the church. The prohibition is against continuous, disruptive, disrespectful speaking.
Throughout the NT there are several references to women who served with their husbands side by side, prophesied in the fellowship, etc.
Women and men are equal in scripture in God’s eyes. Women are allowed to hold all positions of authority that a man can hold. But women are ALSO required to show respect and honor to their husbands, NOT because of what their husbands have done, but because of what Christ has done. Likewise, husbands are required to place their wives ahead of themselves in terms of what their wives need.