Dear Brother G,
In reply to the inquiries regarding the ministry of our sisters, it is well to remember that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 teaches that the principles which should guide us in this matter are the same in both the Old and the New Testaments, “As also saith the law.” That which was commanded by the Lord in this regard in the Old Testament is likewise commanded by Him in the New Testament.
Let us look at the subject in three ways: first, the indispensability of our sisters; then, their suitability; and, finally, their responsibility.
“Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man (in creation), even so is the man also by the woman (in birth), but all things of God (1 Cor. 11:11-12). Our sisters are indispensable in turning Christian homes into little sanctuaries for God. The wife is the equal partner with her husband in the sharing of the joys and sorrows of life. They are called “heirs together of the grace of life”, and their united prayers sanctify the home for God (1 Pet. 3:7). The word “hindered” in the expression “that your prayers be not hindered”, means “to break up the road,” and suggests the blocking of the pilgrim’s progress. Mutual love and reverence are the balancing factors of a happy home (Eph. 5:33); and the family altar is the greatest preservative of its security (Job 1:5).
Their indispensability also is seen in their being fellow-members of the Body of Christ; there they enjoy equal privileges and bear equal responsibilities. God has placed each of us in the Body to function for His glory.
Their Suit Ability
There are significant lessons in the Word of God regarding the manner in which we are to meet in church capacity (1 Cor. 11:1-14). Men are to meet with uncovered heads and women with covered heads. In this God wishes to impress upon us three profound truths; namely, the subjection of the Church to the Risen Head, the Headship of Christ over all, and the glory of God resting on the Christian assembly. The head of the woman is the man, hence she covers her head. In doing so man is symbolically put out of sight. Every fleshly activity in the assembly therefore has its rebuke in the covered head of the sisters. The Head of every man is Christ; his head therefore must be covered. In the uncovered head of the man, we are to read the aim of the Divine Spirit to unveil Christ to every heart. When there is obedience to the Divine order the glory of God rests, like the pillar cloud of Israel, upon the assembly of the saints (1 Pet. 4:14; 1 Cor. 11:15). This latter Scripture teaches that whatever helps a Christian woman to discharge the duties of modesty and submissiveness is seen in her long hair and the veil.
Let us now look at the service of our sisters in the three avenues of service which are open to them.
1. The exercise of the prophetic gift: This embraces an oral ministry (1 Cor. 11:5; Acts 21:9). In the public assembly where men are present our sisters are to remain silent. There are three reasons given in Scripture for this prohibition; namely, the order of creation, the transgression of Eve in Eden (1 Tim. 2:11-15), and the nature of the whole economy of God in both the New and the Old Testaments where no prominence ever is assigned to the woman in the presence of the man. Consequently, the prophetic or teaching gift of women must be used when men are absent. Their gifts find an outlet among children (2 Tim 1:5; 3:15). What splendid opportunities in the field of child-evangelism to mould young minds and hearts by the Word of God! Their gifts find an outlet among their own sex, either in the mission field abroad or at home (Tit. 2:3-4). In many countries women can be reached only by women, and God has His instruments for every need.
2. The exercise of deaconship: What Pheobe’s service was we are not told, but, in communications between the churches of the saints, it appears she had important business to do on behalf of the church at Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1). The assemblies of Rome were exhorted to assist her in the discharge of those duties. There are many ways in which the sisters may serve the Lord and His people. Noble women ministered unto the Lord of their substance. Chapter 16 of Romans gives us a list of saintly women who succoured the early pioneers of the gospel and exposed themselves to dangers on behalf of the work of the Lord.
3. Their service in the home: In this regard we read, “She shall be saved in child-bearing (not from death, but from disobedience which was the transgression of Eve), if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness with sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:15). The context of our chapter shows that Eve left the place that God had assigned to her, and in the absence of her husband she acted independently of him and brought dishonour on the name of God. Women who do not keep their place, but usurp authority over the man, are the true daughters of Eve. In contrast to Eve, Sarah kept her place of subjection. Christian women who do the same are called the daughters of Sarah so long as they do well (1 Pet. 3:6). To do well is to continue in faith, love, and holiness; that is, to keep right with God, to keep right with others, and to keep right with ones own conscience. To those Christian women whom God has blessed with children, the very act of raising those children for the Lord, would save them from the transgression of Eve who stepped out of her place. There are many beloved saints of God who can trace their conversion and the subsequent moulding of their Christian character to a mother’s touch.
Perhaps, in the will of the Lord, later we shall submit other thoughts upon this important subject.