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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Does God Want Women Preaching Sermons?

Bob Thiel posted an article yesterday entitled "Should women preach?" http://www.cogwriter.com/news/doctrine/should-women-preach/ To make a long story short, he answers that question with a "NO!" Thiel claims that I Corinthians 14:34 ("Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.") should be understood to forbid women from preaching in church. He goes on to quote I Timothy 2:11-12 "Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them."

Notice that both of these passages were authored by the Apostle Paul - a man who has never been accused of misogyny or chauvinism! By the way, in his second letter to Timothy, Paul strongly implies that the young man was taught the Christian faith by his grandmother and mother (II Timothy 1:5). Moreover, the evidence of Paul's own ministry contradicts these statements. Notice that Paul worked with both Priscilla and Aquila during his missionary work in Corinth and Ephesus (Acts 18). In the book of Acts we read that "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him (Apollos) preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately." (Acts 18:20)

In his letter to the saints at Rome, Paul wrote: "I commend to you our sister Pheobe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God's people." (Romans 16:1-2) He goes on to say: "Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus...Also give my greetings to the church that meets in their home." (Romans 16:3-5) Sounds to me like Pheobe and Priscilla had prominent roles in the early church - am I missing something?

In the Genesis account of creation, we read: "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) Sure sounds to me like both men and women were created in God's image - that both sexes reflect the Divine persona equally. And, if that's the case, then why should we settle for only hearing from half of the team that reflects God's image? How can one hope to get an accurate picture of God by only ever hearing from the male side of the equation? Doesn't make much sense does it?

Think about it for a moment. My first introduction to things spiritual was sitting beside my grandmother in her rocking chair while she read the Bible to me as a small child. Did your mother ever talk to you about God? Do women ever teach Sunday/Sabbath school classes? Have you ever heard a woman participate in a church Bible study? Are women capable of preaching? Have you ever heard one preach? Have any women ever written books and articles of a religious nature?

Yes, the Old Testament is paternalistic and focused largely on male leadership. However, I can think of some important exceptions to this rule. Do you remember Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Ruth, Naomi and Esther? All of these women were placed in prominent positions by God to lead/protect "His" people or to help further "His" overall plans in some way.

When one considers the entirety of the testimony contained in the Bible, doesn't it seem just a bit absurd to exclude one half of humanity from the pulpit of our churches? Do we really believe that God intended for them to be silent because of two brief statements made by Paul? If the male voice is the only one which is needed to shepherd the flock, why didn't God just make women mute? I think Bob Thiel and his associates have it wrong. I think that the weight of the evidence points to a God who wants full female participation within the Christian Church. What do you think?

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