(August 9, 2021) Dr Robert McQuillan responds to what used to what used to be an issue in some churches…
Dear Dr Robert
I’ve moved to a new church but find that women are not permitted to preach, teach or lead, or even speak up at meetings. Paul’s 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 words are strongly quoted… ‘..women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak…’ and also 1 Timothy 2:12. I’m now thinking I’m in a legalistic church. Deborah.
I think you are… but I have a question for you. You obviously know the Lord so what is your heart telling you, what do you feel the Lord is saying to you?
Have to admit that it’s quite a few years since I came across churches like you describe. For decades women have been active in church life (and I mean so active!), particularly evangelistic churches, encouraging church growth including various departments, and missionary enterprises.
Indeed, often it has been a woman who has gone alone as a missionary into foreign countries where no man has dared to go to share the gospel and such lone women both established and pastored churches! Of interest, read Erica Grace’s Marie Monsen.
In local churches, many a good woman has helped her husband grow their church not only by running women’s groups and Sunday schools but preaching herself. Praise God for active, effective female ministry!
Of interest, way back in Bible college days 50 years ago, one time we were taken to experience life in a synagogue. We found that that the men sat downstairs and the women up in the balcony. During the whole service, the women chatted away with one another! And, to be honest, I observed many of the men around me were disrespectful too, discussing business. It was no wonder that the harassed rabbi kept ‘Harrumphing’ as he glared around while trying to perform synagogue duties!
Afterwards our college dean told us that for years it was well known that women over-socialised in synagogues, even as they had in church meetings in Paul’s day; that this was probably what Paul meant when he required that ‘women should be silent in meetings.’
I don’t want to get lost in historical matters here, Deborah, but learning was not generally encouraged for women by Jewish men in the first century and Gentiles, new to the Christian faith, probably tended to follow this… at first. The balance of all this seems to be in Paul’s directions in Galatians 3:28, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ and in the decades that have followed. Paul encouraged women to vocally worship God (1 Corinthians 11:5), decently adorned as was traditionally expected. Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).
In short, things did change over the years and the kingdom as a whole would be in trouble if it weren’t for ministering ladies! Just as for years we have had outstanding women in literature, medicine, scientology, businesses, the general workforce, we have great female Bible teachers… and wise governing female eldership who aren’t afraid of speaking their mind and asking sensible questions. As was the case in the general workplace where women had to fight to Gain respect and status, so it was in church circles. So much has changed during and after WW1 and particularly WW2.
In short, every Christian has a calling in God and many times it is a calling to women who can minister effectively. But, Deborah, let’s not get tangled up with endless debate here. Think 2021, not ancient times. If you’re feeling uncomfortable in that church, allow the Lord to speak clearly to your heart and move you to a with-it, Christ-centred one where you too can be used to extend the kingdom. I trust this helps you.
Got a question for either Dr Robert or Pr Maureen McQuillan? Email to OnlinerConnect@gmail.com