Then God Made Woman
The place occupied by women in the operation and function of the local church has been a point of contention among evangelicals for many generations. Some groups consider the function of women to be synonamous with that of men and the ministry of each has become interchangeable. What saith the Scriptures?
It seems that the Scriptures clearly teach the relationship of the women as it pertains to the local church is summed up in three words: (1) silence, (2) sobriety, (3) subjection.
There are basically four Scriptures that deal with the subject and in order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the entire teaching, all four Scriptures should be considered. The Scriptures are as follows: (1) 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (2) 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (3) 1 Peter 3:1-6 (4) 1 Corinthians 11:3-16.
Three out of the four Scriptures (the exception being 1 Cor. 11:3-16) deal with the subjects covered by the three summary words mentioned above. One refers to all three (1 Tim. 2: 9-15) whereas the other two mention a combination of two out of the three.
Since 1 Corinthains 11:3-16 covers a related but entirely different subject, let us deal with it first.
It is important to note, first of all, that the Corinthian letter was written to a local church and the subject matter of the letter deals with the Christian’s relationship to the local church and how he or she should act while therein. It therefore follows that what Paul says about women in chapter 11 does not apply to them in their homes or outside the local church activities.
There are four persons or items under consideration. These are: (1) God (2) man (3) woman (4) her hair.
Paul goes on to say, (a) man is the glory of God V7, (b) woman is the glory of man V7, (c) her hair is the glory of the woman V15. The principles are as follows:
(a) The glory of God (which is man) must never be covered. His glory is the first and foremost consideration of any Christian activity. Hence man (who is the glory of God) is not covered.
(b) The glory of man (which is the woman) must always be covered. He must be placed in the background; he must decrease. Hence the women (who is the glory of man) is covered.
(c)The glory of woman (which is her hair) must always be covered. Again this necessitates that the woman must wear a covering so that her glory is out of sight.
It is indeed logical, therefore, that the woman wear a covering for two reasons. First, so that she is, by symbol, hidden, being the glory of the man and second, so that her glory (her hair) is not seen.
It is also important to note what Paul is saying about the woman’s hair. First of all he says that it is a shame for it to be shaven or shorn. “If this is the case,” says Paul, “it must be covered.” In other words he is saying that either her hair (which is her glory) must be shorn (done away with) or covered —one or the other. He is not speaking about the length of hair. His whole point is that one way or the other her hair (her glory) must disappear.
Now consider the other three Scriptures and the three great summary words which describe the ministry of women.
First let us examine the subject of silence. Two of the Scriptures mention it — 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-5. In 1 Timothy 2 the context is that of prayer. Paul says that he desires men everywhere to pray. The word for “men” denotes the male of the species and does not refer merely to mankind. He then goes on to describe the ministry of women. It therefore follows that it would be inappropriate for women to audibly pray in a general meeting of the local church.
In connection with the “silence” in these two Scriptures, there are two words which perhaps give the key. The first word is “learn” and it is used in 1 Timothy 2, as well as 1 Corinthians 14. The other word is “teach.” The word for teach (didasko) means “absolutely, to give instruction” (W. E. Vine) and the word for learn (manthano) is related to the Greek word mathetes meaning “disciple.” The silence, therefore, referred to in these Scriptures is associated with prayer and with teaching.
He uses another clause that may help us in understanding the passages — “As also thus saith the law.” We would gather that he is not speaking of a peculiar situation at Corinth but rather a principle which has been carried forward from the Old Testament to the New and hence is applicable today.
What constitutes teaching? There is another Greek word used in the New Testament which is very interesting. It is the word Paideuo and means “to train children.” Paul does not use this word in connection with the ministry of women. It seems to me that teaching refers to any situation where the church is being instructed either by way of doctrinal teaching or exhortation. This function is reserved for men.
Second, there is the principle of sobriety. Two Scriptures deal with this subject. 1 Peter 3:1-6 and 1 Timothy 2:9-15.
Someone has suggested that the Christian should not be ashamed of the gospel nor a shame to it. The principle here is the matter of dress. He uses terms such as “modest apparel,” “shame facedness” and “meek and quiet spirit.” The negatives that the writers use describe those women that were prostitutes and dressed as such in the days the passages were written. The whole point of these Scriptures is that the inward adornment is the thing that matters. As we are internally so we will appear externally. The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit will find its expression in an outward appearance which is similar.
Paul uses an interesting word in Romans 12:1 where he speaks about not being “conformed” to this world. It is the word suschematizesthai and the root of the word is schema which means our outer form, that which changes. A man’s scheme may be different when he is dressed for dinner than when he is working in the garden. Paul says in effect “don’t let the world dictate what form your outward appearance should take. Let the inner man be the important part of your life.”
Third, there is the principle of subjection. All three Scriptures mention it. Sorry girls — it is the Word of God and it is extremely clear.
First, the Scriptures teach that wives are to be subject to their husbands. In Ephesians Paul gives the reason for this subjection. He says that the relationship that exists between a man and his wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church. What a beautiful relationship! It is not a matter of lording over or being in command but rather the subjection of love.
Second, Paul says that the woman is not to usurp authority over the man. The word “to usurp authority” is interesting. It is the Greek word authenteo and comes from two Greekwords — autos meaning “self” and hentes meaning “working.” It, therefore, literally means “working for self.” In its early use it meant “to take the law into ones own hands” and later came to mean, “to domineer over.” It is always disheartening to see a situation, whether in the local church, in the home or in an office, where a woman has usurped authority. Girls, it is important to understand your scriptural position. Remember that in the analogy mentioned above you are likened to the Church which will become the bride of Christ, without spot and without wrinkle.