How Much Liberty Does A Woman Have In Church Worship?

Many churches are suggesting that our Christian sisters should be able to participate in the following activities: (1) Praying, (2) Reading scripture, (3) Passing communion, and (4) Song leading. Brethren, whether you realize it or not, this is becoming one of the more pressing issues in the present day church of our Lord.

More and more women are wanting (many are actively seeking) a role which they think has been denied them by the “traditional” church. Many express the attitude that they will have their way. Most all agree that there is language in God’s word that is restrictive to the woman’s role in church worship services—such as Paul’s instructions to the church at Corinth, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. {35} And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35); or his instruction to Timothy, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. {9} In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; {10} But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. {11} Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. {12} But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:8-12).

But, the women activists say that in the past women were prohibited from active use in worship because of culture. They argue that culture has now changed opening more opportunities for the woman to have an active role. Some have gone so far as to say that Paul was a male chauvinist who hated women, and that he tried to “put them in their place.” IS IT SIMPLY A MATTER OF CULTURE?

What does the Bible say? Paul tells us that the role of women was set by God Himself even before culture was a part of man’s nature: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. {14} And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.{15} Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charit and holiness with sobriety” (1 Timothy2:13-15). The restrictive instruction found in God’s word is not that of a male chauvinist named Paul. It has nothing to do with culture. It came from God who set this course for women because the first woman, Eve, allowed herself to be deceived by Satan thus causing all mankind to fall to sin. This restricted role will stand for women until time ends whether they like it or not, whether they obey it or not, and no matter where man’s culture may lead.

WHAT GREAT ROLES ARE GIVEN TO WOMEN? Notice the verses where God’s word speaks to the expected activities of the woman. In Philippians 4:2-3 Paul speaks of Euodias and Syntyche, two women whom Paul said had “labored with me in the gospel.” Here we see that women can be useful in spreading the gospel. Priscilla was useful in helping her husband, Aquilla, teach others such as Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). In neither case were these women placed in a position to usurp authority over men, nor was their teaching in a public assembly of God’s people. Paul said these two sisters labored with him, meaning they were under Paul’s authority. Priscilla, being in subjection to her husband, was under Aquilla’s authority while teaching privately. Where might the woman have authority to teach by herself? Titus was told by Paul to exhort “the aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; {4} That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, {5} To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). Here is where the woman has a God-given role to teach. Oh, that our sisters in the past had done a better job teaching our young sisters to follow these God-given roles instead of teaching them to “stand for their rights” and to demand equal roles with their husbands. Paul reminded Timothy that his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, had built a great faith in him (2 Timothy 1:5). They had built this faith by teaching him the word of God while he was a child, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Mothers have a responsibility to teach even their sons while they are still children. Again, we see that this teaching is done privately and without usurping authority over any man. God’s role for women is clearly stated; none of which allows the woman to have or take any position or role that can usurp authority over any man. These assigned roles are golden roles and has a purpose, “that the word of God be not blasphemed.” To take other roles is to violate the word of God.

—John D. Cotham

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