On "Women's Role"
Sunday Afternoon, February 20, 2000
Question: So, what is the “woman’s role” supposed to be in the church, anyway? There is so much controversy! Some say all of Paul’s teaching about women and their role was only “cultural” and not “the Word of God.” I know this cannot be true. How much of the Bible would we need to throw away, in order to please everyone on every topic? However, I also have a very difficult time understanding what the women’s role should be. If she is a co-heir, what about her preaching and leading bible studies and worship leading? Should it happen or not happen, according to God?
The biggest problem is that we are asking, “Should our poodle dog wear a beret, or a baseball cap, or a cowboy hat when she goes to the dance?” The answer is, “None of the above. Poodles don’t go to dances.” We spend our time trying to interpret Scriptures for totally unscriptural environments!! The legalistic answers are wrong. The culturalistic interpretations are wrong. The liberal answers are all wrong! Poodles don’t go to dances, and Paul was not writing to people that had to decide if women should be allowed to “preach sermons” (there were none) during the “service” (there were none) or speak up during a “bible study” (there were none) or “lead worship” (wrong idea) in Paul’s day!
There is no mistaking (1Cor. 11, 14; 1Tim. 2; 1Pet. 3; etc.) God has a different role in mind for women than men. However, the real role of a woman can only be interpreted in the context of biblical, daily Christianity. We cannot understand God’s thought unless we live as a family “from the least to the greatest,” “confessing sins one to another,” and “bearing one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ.” Any attempt to interpret a male/female role in the unBiblical context of “attendance,” “programs,” “Sunday house-church services,” “bible studies,” “monthly prayer breakfasts,” “hirelings,” “cell groups,” “Buildings Appropriated for Religious Functions,” and “worship teams”—will miss the mark terribly.
Let’s not try to “dot the i” when the “i” does not yet exist! In other words, let’s just build God’s way, without the gimmicks, or accommodating human flesh with the human schedules and programs. Let’s try it without the hierarchies and “automatic teachers, preachers or leaders.” This “automatic speaker” or “official leader” makes a man nothing more than a mini “vicar” or “substitute” (from the Latin word, “vicarious”). Do we really need a substitute for Christ? Whether a “protestant” vicar, or a roman catholic one, it is the same disastrous offense to God’s Son. “Nicolaitanism” translated, is to “conquer the People.” Jesus is ALIVE and needs no one to fill in for Him! “When Revelation comes to the second, let the first one sit down!” “Everyone has a word of instruction, a song, etc.”
Jesus said, “Call no man leader, teacher, father, vicar—for you are all brothers!” Are there Gifts? OF COURSE! But, Oh, how different. “Automatic” anything or anybody? Nope. Only Jesus. Period.
Let’s try building daily as a Family, rather than as an organization. Also, do you realize what is as unfruitful and as far outside of Father’s Heart as institutional christianity? Here it is: A “loose-knit nothing” is equally wrong. Just nice people that hang around together some, is not God’s intent for “a City set on a hill that cannot be hidden.” The “loose-knit nothing” is not His thought either! We were, according to Father, “baptized by the Spirit” into something immensely greater than that! (1Cor. 12). If we will each lay down our lives in tangible ways every day as a Priesthood, “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament,” then and only then will we be in a position to KNOW what the “women’s role” can be, in keeping with both the Spirit and the Words of the Scripture.
Here is another way of saying the same thing: What is the basis on which God intends for us to fully understand Scripture? Personal prayer and Greek word studies? Oh, I love those, but...NO, that’s NOT the end of the deal!
“God’s household, the Church of the living God, is the pillar and foundation of truth,” saith the Lord.
Much of what is seemingly contradictory in the Scriptures, and the majority of those things that cause controversy and division, are the product of ignoring God’s Counsel on this point: “The Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth!” In the midst of daily lives, joined to one another and hidden together in Christ Jesus, baptized into one Body by one Spirit, daily “having need of one another,” “contending as one man for the Faith,” in that environment God shows Himself and brings “unity of the Faith and the full knowledge of the Son of God!” In that environment, where the Testimony of His Son is evident in “how all men will know you are My disciples,” He shows His Friends His Thoughts, as things come up. His House is not a laboratory, a library, a think tank, or an ivory tower. It is a Family of “a hundred homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, and children.” We must be a daily Family, or we are not living in His Heart’s desire, and are not the “Bethany” or the “Beth-El” where He desires to put His feet up and open His heart and current applicable thought to His Family in the most comfortable way.
“His Intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Well, the “woman’s role” in the Church? Hey, let’s start with being the Church, and then we can, in the context of Family, discover together what the women’s role should be in the heart and mind of our Father.
Question: We were talking this morning about teachers. We believe Scripture when it says women are not to teach men. I have been influenced by women teachers, and I want to be obedient in all things, so is that wrong of me to put myself under their teachings? Can you give us insight about women teaching in the church? Thanks...
Hi...so much of the difficulty in comprehending and “obeying” Scripture is the unbiblical world we attempt to “apply” Biblical teachings within. If I said to you, “I want you to take your pineapple tree and fertilize it with koala droppings,” and you lived in Canada, of all places, you would want to “obey”—but you could not. You could call a pine tree by the name “pineapple tree” and you could call dog droppings “koala droppings” and go on. But then, if I were to say, “Now, I want you to take the pineapples, and eat every bite of them,” you would find yourselves eating pinecones and getting very sick. Why? Because we attempted to substitute truths and apply things, and rename things that are not what “the author meant by that word” and that don’t work in your world. That is the dilemma of so many things that most folks face.
“All things in common”—what does that MEAN??!! One cannot know and one cannot “do” it in an unBiblical world of attendance and disconnectedness and leaven in the batch, where hypocrisy and lukewarmness can remain hidden or accepted. It would be a program or a “community” or a gimmick...and a disaster! The same is true for “woman’s role” and “leadership” and “the Lord’s supper” and so many other topics.
SO, what to do about “women authors” and “women in pulpits” and the like? Who knows?! A “good author” is no evidence whatsoever that the man or woman even knows God, or lives a life anything like Jesus. I personally know and have spent considerable time with a number of the “big name” authors and leaders and music guys in christendom (in their homes, at the YMCA with them, in their meetings and at their breakfast tables), and find the majority to be as worldly, ambitious, and hypocritical as anyone you can name. Jesus is not their “Passion”—even when they write wonderful books about that very topic! They are so often proud, egocentric to an extreme, power hungry, and ambitious. And worse. They will not submit to the Word of God, or anyone around them. And yet their books and “sermons” are marvelous (and quite lucrative for them—“peddling the Word of God” and music they claim God inspired, “for profit”). It is pathetic and tragic.
SO, how do you, in this unBiblical world, deal with “women authors”—or “men” for that matter—when you have no idea what their lives are really like, because the ivory tower, leaven-filled, hierarchical, traditions-of-men world they live in is so far from God? I don’t know! Just do your best, and when you find something that sounds legitimate, do not be fooled into automatically thinking they must know God well, or live anything like what they write about. Contact them, perhaps. Send them things to read. Get feedback on what is going on where they are, for “you know them by their fruit”—not their word-crafting.
Question: “I have a question for you... It has to do with what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:26-35. Could you explain for me what he was saying there, ESPECIALLY in regard to the women? We really want to do things God’s way, so what does Paul mean about women being ‘silent’? Should they never say a word in meetings? And what about every day life? I know we’re supposed to be a ‘family’ but I’ve never been able to figure it out. It can feel so unreal and mechanical. Are there answers? What is it like for you all there?”
: ) Yes, there are answers, for sure. And they are pretty well tested for Biblical authenticity and fruit in the 15 years we’ve been living the way mentioned, as Family. I feel a bit overwhelmed to try to describe it, though. If someone asked you about a typical week for your family, I think you could see the magnitude of the task of answering the question—if you were meaning to do the answer justice instead of superficiality! That’s kinda how I feel. I don’t see how I can answer thoroughly with time constraints right now. But, I would say that the answer is relational, rather than legal, of course—meaning that if we are functioning as family every day, then the answers can be extracted from how you function with your own physical family.
Of course the parallels are not exact because of raw numbers in “the whole church” that Paul was writing to, and because of various levels of relationship, as well as unBelievers that were in the midst of the Family, on the occasion mentioned. All of these are factors, just as they would be in your home. If a third cousin were there, there would be some “Heisenberg” effect on the dynamics of your family and how you functioned and spoke to one another. If an outsider were there—someone you did not know at all—it would affect your family dynamics considerably. The bathrobe is not an option for wandering around the house now. The discussion at dinner would not likely be of sensitive matters, and so on. I just use this to illustrate the point that there is no way I can answer your question in a general way, because every situation is different.
But, the points Paul is making must not be violated:
1) Men’s roles are different then women’s. Women must not dominate or control the assembly, but be submissive to their husbands and the men in general.
2) There must be no more than two or three prophetic “thrusts” in one sitting. There may be considerable teaching and discussion and songs and prophetic insights on topic number one. Later in the time together, another totally different prophetic thrust may come along, and all that surrounds this. But, when a third entirely different thrust manifests itself, it must be questioned as to whether enough has been done already for the Time. “The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.” If a fourth thrust were to come up, we know that it should be set aside for another time, no matter how good it may be. “Two, or at the most three.” God is not the God of disorder or chaos, and “over-feeding” is no longer good for the health.
3) Nor is a tongue worthwhile in the assembly if there is no interpreter—because that is a potential source of chaos, and God does not author confusion or noise or chaos.
In a general way (but as I said, don’t go too far with this, because every situation is totally different and “as many as are led of the Spirit are sons of God”)—if women desire to say something, they must (by the Principle of 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Corinthians 11—speaking of women prophesying) do it in submission—not as one with “authoritative teaching” (the Greek of 1 Timothy 2). “Would it be okay if I asked a question?” “Would it be okay if I offered a thought on that subject?” That is the spirit of anything that would be said.
And, contextually, in listening for the Spirit’s Voice on these matters, it has been interesting to see that when very large numbers are together, including perhaps large numbers from other cities on occasions, the women have generally not felt liberty in the Spirit to say a word. And the very same women may be able, under Headship, to offer a Thought in a more local environment (a living room, or with 250 folks locally that they are intimately close with on a daily level), and be powerfully used by God without anyone feeling any lack of humility or submission.
SO, again, seen through the “family” eyes that most can relate to at home, it is not hard to see that the dynamics of the specific occasion have much to do with whether your wife or children should say or do something. And in a different situation, what they may do, acceptably, could be much different. And, if a woman were exercising indiscretion or lack of humility and acting in a way that is inappropriate for the situation, because every single person is daily involved in each others lives, someone could easily nudge her and whisper “Not here. Not now. There will be a better time to express yourself on this matter. This is inappropriate.” And she would be glad and grateful (though perhaps ever so slightly embarrassed at her temporary poor judgment). It’s a family, not a “meeting” to attend, so everything changes radically!
Question: I have a concern about women in meetings or just speaking in general. What does it look like when women are quiet in meetings? 1 Corinthians 14:34 says, “The women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says.” Should women talk to men in a certain way all the time or does this only pertain to meetings? I am specifically asking about the women who speak to any man besides their husbands. I don’t fully understand this. I know that there is no male or female in His Church, just Christ. How does this apply to our daily lives? I will pray that God gives us wisdom on this.
Thanks, Brother in Christ,
Hi there, Beyond question Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians (in two places) and to Timothy and to Titus—about who women are to be, as well as Peter’s Thoughts—all point to the fact that women are clearly to be different than men in how they carry themselves. Many who deal with “Church” as something to “attend”—an institution and organization, rather than Family—will never get it right. They’ll either allow women to dominate in “meetings” and in “real life”...or they’ll make “separate rules” for “meetings” and then allow women to dominate in the rest of life...or they’ll bury women into some subservient role in “both” worlds. There are NO good answers when the Church is not functioning as Family in the Body of Christ. “Round peg in a square hole.” The “Scriptures” don’t make any sense in a non-Biblical paradigm. “Get the leaven out of the batch.” It can’t be done, in a non-Biblical paradigm. It can only be excused or justified or legally applied or totally ignored. TRUTH only can be understood in a Biblical model of daily Life in the Church. “The Church: the pillar and foundation of Truth”—that is the meaning of this verse. Anyway, a great and important topic. And women fully released to be who God called them to be, and yet fully in the role that God intended for them under the headship of men (not just their husbands)—AH!
What a Marvel to behold! Truly good stuff. Women who are subservient doormats and women who are domineering feminists—Neither have any idea of how awesome it can be to do it God’s way!!
Excerpts from a question......
I listened to the tapes entitled “Silent Women in the Church” and I have a question in my context. I’m sorry, but I need to voice my emerging understanding on this issue in a (probably) long winded way. Don’t worry about writing back soon if it is not convenient. I trust my questions will become more focused as I see a clearer picture of Father’s ultimate intention.
...To sum all of that up, this woman is not power hungry for power’s sake, I think. She is like a mom who is fed up with her kids who won’t shape up to her expectations, and says it is actually God who is fed up. What can I do other than to pray and fast? It has been 15 months now. Maybe it’s not fair to ask you, but you seem to have gone through some stuff that may enable you to sense if the Lord is in this, and to what degree. I love these folks like my own family, and my kids are getting hurt, as too much time elapses with no resolution.
Is it true that the Lord has arranged for the man (husband only?) to lead the family and church, and even if he is wrong (or falls into sin?), the woman (wife?) is to obey?
Thanks and love,
NO, NO! You didn’t understand me! Xoxoxox!!!!!!!!!! Not sure where you got that idea!!! Of course a woman must never buckle under and “obey” anything sinful! I’ve never been willing to accept that scenario as from God. “Judge for yourselves whether it is better to obey God, or man!” Any authority must reflect Jesus’ Authority (“All Authority in Heaven, and on Earth, belongs to Me”) in Spiritual matters, or they have usurped the place they were delegated to, and must not be obeyed.
The fact is, you will never be able to “envision” how to fit many Scriptures into such an incredibly unBiblical paradigm as what you have had to endure there. Many Scriptures cannot make sense or be put into practice in such a faulty, sinful environment. And it is sinful, if for no other reason (and there are, no doubt, other reasons) than that it is unBiblical in it’s very essence and manner of “serving God.”
A couple of e-mails follow on the subject of authority and man/woman roles with one another, which may clear it up a bit.
Hi, Some thoughts exchanged between the saints, years ago...captured in some rough notes at that time relating to “authority.”
Understand “Authority”! Take a hypothetical situation to help interpret other “authority” situations. In the United States, a cabinet-level position known as “Secretary of Defense” or a military position known as “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” have tremendous authority and decision-making status. However, they report to the Chief Executive Officer, the Commander-in-Chief—the President of the United States.
He has the ultimate authority. They would be totally irresponsible to not speak to the President very frankly about their viewpoints. They have the expertise that often he will not. Nevertheless, he makes the final decision and they must be supportive of that decision. If his decision is counter to their recommendation, and things fail (as they had predicted to him, earnestly)—they will not be traitors to his authority with an “I told you so” attitude, or allow anyone in the media or press know that they were right, and the President was wrong. That lack of loyalty and insubordination is TOTALLY evil. They will simply work with him to rebuild and find new solutions for the new problems. But He will continue to get their full support and loyalty. That is the “Authority” that Jesus commended the Centurion for, and saw him to be of Great Faith.
Now, here’s another scenario. Let’s say that the President asked the Secretary of Defense to do something illegal. Now that is an entirely different story! There are laws that the President must submit to that are bigger than him. He has no “authority” to ask anyone to violate the law, simply because he has “authority.” He only holds that “position of authority” based on the law, and will never have the right to “order” someone or make a decision that violates the “delegated authority” that he has been granted. He is not an “owner” of authority, but has only been entrusted with authority to get a job done, within the confines of the law and greater authority that is over him.
In a similar way, authority in the home, and in Spiritual situations, is real and appropriate. God Himself grants authority to one in various situations in Church and Family and workplace and elsewhere. Responding to that “delegated authority” is a Faith issue, like it was for the Centurion who was so commended by the Master Himself. If we don’t respond to authority, we cannot please God. We cannot have “God” as an authority and savior if we will not respond to authority that He has placed in our lives, whether we always “like” or “agree” with what they decide (as in the Presidential example above)—or not.
However, in an unBiblical environment, with false, man-appointed authority (clergy), or over-bearing, lawless authorities in home or workplace...anyone who asks us to disobey God has over-stepped their authority and...“Judge for yourselves whether it is better to obey God, or man.” Authority is real, and God is disobeyed when we make ourselves the ultimate authorities because we will not submit to those God has placed in our lives—in family, or Church, or workplace, or civil environments. God is at the root of Authority delegated to men, and to miss that or ignore that is the height of arrogance and unBelief. But, at the point where one (in any of those environments) asks us to disobey God, they have forfeited their right to have “authority” in that area.