Women Preachers?

This is the follow-up episode to the one regarding Beth Moore and John MacArthur.

A lot of heat and memes were generated by a casual comment from MacArthur at a conference the other week.  Like all things today, outrage was the reaction.

At some point our culture is going to find itself simply exhausted trying to keep itself so riled up in hurt, angst, and such.  But that time has not yet arrived, so we must endure fake tears and fake humility and fake battles against fake enemies all in the name of social purity.

Meanwhile the core issue regarding Beth Moore is not being answered by too many who are leaders in the church today. The pressing question that needs to always be asked in every situation is what does the bible say regarding the issue?  It is that simple.

And then the work begins by studying and dealing with the text itself.  Not our emotions, or our presuppositions, or our cultural values. Just, deal with the biblical text.

But if you listen or read so much of what people are communicating right now on this subject, you’ll find a lot of heat, but very little light. 

And this is shameful and should be seen as shameful.  The teachers of the church are always to guide the faithful back to the Word of God, every single time. But instead, we find the teachers reflecting the same terrible spirit of the false prophets of Israel who will not speak truth. And at that point, opinion and cleverness of speech becomes the guide.

But once everyone is looking at the bible, then a genuine conversation can occur. We can debate the text.  We can wrestle with the text. But everyone is focused on the text. And in the end, our actions should reflect what we learn from the biblical text.

With this whole controversy over Beth Moore we want to use it to shed light on a subject that has become divisive.  We want to simply ask, what does the Word say about women and teaching.

We have six points in a key passage. 

Framing this argument is important because it defines what is discussed.

Too many people are trying to argue about whether a woman is to be preaching.  Or should they be preaching from a pulpit? Or should they be preaching from a pulpit in the main Sunday gathering? Or should they be allowed to preach if the elders permit them to teach, but under their “umbrella of authority?”

But the bible simply doesn’t address it at that narrow of a level, so we find ourselves in an awkward position, at least in the eyes of some.  So as we walk through the key passage regarding women preaching (or teaching) we would simply ask that if possible the listener have a bible open and follow along.

Our goal is not to convince anyone. We learned a long time ago that it’s not possible.  Rather, it’s simply to present (and proclaim) with as much clarity the Word of God, and let the chips fall where they may.

If a person is truly wanting to understand, or at least begin to wrestle over the issue at a textual level, that’s the person we want to engage.

Many have come with preconceived notions, who haven't done an honest study of the text for themselves, but have simply adopted the statements of others.

And that’s where a lot of this is at.

Many have heard a few brief statements on FB, or have seen a 2 min. Video clip, but have never done a serious examination of what the Bible says. Nor have they thought about what type of hermeneutic they’re using (or not using) when they choose to read the texts.

So it’s our desire to get people to think and to slow down for a moment and consider how much of what they think (or believe) is actually bound up in a biblical framework.

Again, we’re not going to deal specifically with those who argue that there are no restrictions regarding the teaching ministry of women in the church.  That view will be answered simply by dealing with the text, itself.

Rather, what we’re going to seek to do, is attempt to show how the Bible reveals that the role of teaching in the church is very limited in the sense of the audience and the purpose.  And as a result, the bible also limits who can and should teach.

The key passage on teaching prohibitions.

1 Tim. 2:8-15 “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments;  but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 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. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

There is a flow of logic in this passage that is very easy to follow, and only when you try to make it not say what it’s saying, does it, then, become somehow complex.

Some of this we will deal with very lightly as not everything directly is tied into teaching and the role of women.

First, men should be leading the church in prayer.

Vs. 8 marks out the men specifically.  In the beginning of the chapter he speaks of the need to pray for those in power.  Here, now, he focuses upon the men of the church.

And so he says, they're to be pure in heart so that they might pray properly and effectively.

The problem implied (in the context of what Paul’s speaking into) is that there were fights (and disunity) occurring in the church among the men, and so it was stifling true prayer.  So he says to put these sins away.

Behind this is the idea that it is not the proper “look” of men to be fighting with each other.  Rather, they should be praying men. This is what they’re to be known for. This is what should draw people’s interest about them. They shouldn’t be known for their personal agenda, but they should be known as godly men of prayer, seeking the good of everyone else in the church.

Second, women are to be careful with their dress (9-10).

“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.”

This isn’t a hard passage to understand either, but it’s often met with some incredible resistance. And yet, that resistance is very revealing.

Paul simply states that women are to wear clothing that is respectable. There’s so much that could be said here . . . . But suffice it to say that the way a woman dresses conveys very clear messages about herself and her values.

And that’s the underlying principle for Paul.

The internal desire always makes its way to the external. And so, in the case of women, the internal state of the heart, and that which a woman truly wants to be known for, will always manifest itself in an external way.

For men, it’s manifested in multiple ways, but for women, a key one is often their dress.

In light of that, Paul enlarges on that to say that the way a woman dresses should express a modest heart and sound judgment/sober thinking.  Expensive clothing is not something to show off on instagram, it is something to repent of. He expands it even more to say that the hair styles and such are to be kept free from ostentatiousness.  

In fact, imagine the poor slave girl who comes to worship and is now sitting near her, is a woman with the latest clothes, and beautiful perfume, and the fancy makeup and hair.  Imagine the message communicated in that.

And so, how he then sums it up in verse 10 is so good because he refuses to give a specific dress code.  

Rather he says, “dress and conduct yourself in such a way that it models what a godly person should look like.” In other words, when you look at your closet (and your mirror), the question asked is very simple, does this external appearance express that I’m a lover of Christ and a godly woman? Or does it express a desire to be recognized simply for “me.”

So that’s the question to ask.

He doesn't give a list of acceptable clothes, or amount of jewelry you can where, rather he always brings it to the heart.

And then he ends it with a key point, adorn your life with good works.  And this is what is said over and over to women in the NT -- be busy with good works.

Are people noticing you for the external things you adorn your body with?

Or are people noticing you because your entire life is adorned with works befitting that of righteousness?

Third, women are to be active learners (11).

“Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”

The command is to learn (present active imperative).

Very simple and straightforward.

Learning isn’t something that only men should be actively engaged in. But also women.

The question then becomes, how are they to learn? And Paul gives two statements that fill out the idea of learning.

In quietness.  

There’s a question on if this means silence, or if it’s more speaking of a heart attitude of peaceableness.

But since it’s being set in the context of teaching (in v. 12), then it’s best to see it as quietness-- (though the peaceableness is captured in that as well.)

And this is where understanding grammar and syntax  is helpful.

If you try to understand (or interpret) this idea of quietness (or silence) in v. 11, without first understanding that it’s tightly connected to v. 12, then you’re not going to understand the statement rightly.

Paul is making a connection