[AssemblyHUB’s mission is “to facilitate open and honest interest and discussion about assembly principles, practices and the Christian life. To encourage acceptance and appreciation for the views of others in relation to personal conviction.”
In this Women and Men Series, we are introducing, what are to some, controversial topics. We intend to foster discussion not to come across as absolute authorities on any subject.]
In part one of this article, we discussed that women are created in the image of God, some have verbal spiritual gifts, and that there must be ways for women to use these gifts in the church. (read part one here)
The only two books in the Bible named after women are written about women who did bold things. Acts that were out of character, out of traditional women’s roles. Like sneaking into a guy’s bed in the middle of the night and proposing to him. Like seeking audience with the king, your husband, who wields the power of life and immediate death, to beg for the lives of your people.
Ruth was in sync with God’s plan, and seized it boldly. Esther’s choice was death or death, with a slim to nothing chance at life. She, a woman, did what a man couldn’t do.
We’d not accuse either of these women of usurping authority over men. Yet neither of these women’s actions would fit into what we’d define as traditional woman’s roles, gifts, or responsibilities.
I have a very strong personality (for a woman or a man), and I also tend to see things very black and white. Logic is my love language. I read these verses in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians, and I take them at face value. The English translations of the Greek words are pretty accurate. Usurp means what it means. There’s not a whole lot of gray area or nuance in its usage. The Greek word silence means stillness, that is, desistance from bustle or language: quietness, silence. Teaching is teaching, and not is definitely NOT.
The wrestling comes from trying to reconcile these verse with the other verses and examples of women in the Bible. Women like Esther and Ruth and Hannah and Sarah are examples we are taught to admire and follow. We want to be godly, spiritual women who love the Lord, and know and obey His word. We see the value of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Of developing inward character and allowing the Holy Spirit to produce his fruits in our lives.
There is a tension between being, first and foremost, humans created in the image of God, spiritual beings with personal relationships with God versus being women, with specific caveats on how we live out our spirituality.
Usurp is a very strong, very specific word. In its specificity and strength is where we find our direction.
We should ask questions, and we should answer them from Scripture…
Is there a difference between usurping and delegating? (absolutely) And are there roles and practices that men can delegate to women without abdicating their responsibilities and roles? (yes) In the sphere of the church, are there ways a woman can share without teaching, be verbal without usurping authority? (yes. 1 Corinthians 14:3-4)
Can a woman write a book (or an article for AssemblyHUB) teaching Biblical ideas or practices or doctrine? Is that wrong? Is it contrary to Scripture? Are there any occasions when a woman is allowed to teach men Scripture? (three names…Aquila, Priscilla, Apollo, Acts 18:24-28)
What about (assembly) woman missionaries? The women who evangelize and disciple, sometimes baptize, lead Bible studies, and are often instrumental in church planting. Each of these activities would fit within the Great Commission, which is traditionally read as applicable to both men and women. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Why stir the pot?
This article was written because there are so many popular women preachers right now. Jen Hatmaker. Sarah Bessey. Shauna Neiquist. Beth Moore. They preach in churches and encourage other women to throw off their shackles and preach. Bill Hybels’ church has appointed a woman head senior pastor when he retires this year. This is mainstream Christian culture.
I’m not saying their example is right and that we should follow it. (Actually, it’s the exact opposite.) I’m saying that we need solid answers when we say it’s wrong. We need to make sure our practices are Biblically based, and not merely tradition.
We need to obey what the Bible says without assigning limits it doesn’t include.