Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ruminations On Women's Ministries

So, I am thinking about women in the church and in the home, and about how difficult it can be to maintain a biblical view of so many things in the face of the pressures arrayed against us. Nevertheless we must strive to think biblically in all things. What else do we have, after all? Biblical thinking comes from biblical truth, and this truth is our safety (Philippians 3:1) and is for our joy (1 John 1:4); certainly not to keep us down.

Back to thinking about the roles of women, in the church in particular. Women's ministries in the church are such a fact that few question the need for them, or safety of them. So we have women directing other women into biblical truth, into doctrinal teaching, into understanding God's will for their lives. This is largely being done without a careful look at what the apostles have said to regulate women's roles in teaching. So here are a few places in the epistles that address various aspects of women's lives both as learners and teachers in the church. 

1 Timothy 2:11: "Let a woman learn quietly and with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." 

1 Corinthians 14:33-35: "As in all the churches of the saints, women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." 

I hope that we desire to submit to, and not judge, the word of God.  The biblical remedy for all our ongoing sin resulting from the fall of our "first parents" is humility and lowliness. So for women in particular, this humility and lowliness calls for us to step back and take a sober look at the teaching of Scripture.

I don't see anywhere in Scripture where women are to serve as official teachers in the church, per se, since the biblical office of teacher is a leadership role. But women do have a job description for teaching, clearly stated in Titus 2:3-5: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands that the word of God may not be reviled." You can see that the good teaching from the older women is for the purpose of training young women to love their families, living and serving so as not to bring shame upon the word of God. 

But in too many churches women, often younger women, are conducting Bible studies and instructing each other in sometimes complex doctrinal issues.  We know that teaching is an office of the church and that men in the church are to hold it. So in light of the clear instruction we are given for women's teaching in the church, and in light of the limitations on women's speaking in the church (based on the Law and on Eve's being deceived) we should fear to trespass in this area. 

Young women in the church desperately need mentoring and training in how to love their husbands and children; how to live so as to never bring discredit on the gospel. The sober-minded older women of the church are the designated drivers for this. There could be nothing more challenging and rewarding for a woman than to be part of this exciting ministry. So much is at stake! May the Lord grant us grace to repent of and forsake all lesser pursuits and turn wholeheartedly to the ones he has in his Word called us to.