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The Role of Women in the Church

There has been great conflict in the church regarding the role of women. This teaching will bring clarity to this conflict by explaining the scriptures. 

Women Remaining Silent in the Church

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (I Corinthians 14:34-37 NKJV)

The Greek word for "women" also means wife. This scripture would be better translated, "Let your wives keep silent in the church." Wives are commanded to be submissive to their husbands in the New Testament law of love (Ephesians 5:22-24). 

Paul is addressing issues of disruption going on in the church. Women were asking their husbands questions during the meeting while the preacher was speaking. This was causing disorder in the church meetings. Paul is simply telling women not to speak during the meeting while the preacher is speaking. Paul is doing this by the command of the Lord. Paul points out that any wife who wants to ask her husband a question about the message, should wait until they get home so as to not disrupt the meeting. 

This scripture is still very relevant for us today. Husbands and wives should both be respectful of the speaker, and not talk during the meeting. By honoring the speaker, we honor God. Also, the same could be said about texting or checking Facebook during a public meeting. This is disrespectful to the Lord. 

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (I Timothy 2:11-15 NKJV)

Again, "woman" can be translated "wife," and "man" can be translated "husband." I believe that Paul is trying to convey the husband and wife relationship, since he mentions Adam and Eve who were husband and wife. Paul is simply giving his spiritual son Timothy some counsel. Paul probably encountered in his ministry experience; wives who were out of order, and were attempting to exercise authority over their husbands and teach them. Maybe the wives were more spiritual and had more knowledge than their husbands. Therefore they thought they could step into a place of authority and teach their husbands. This was pride on the part of these women, and Paul is addressing this issue. When a woman takes this role upon herself within the marriage covenant, she becomes open to deception just as Eve was. 

Women in Church Leadership

The scripture does not say that women cannot be in leadership. In fact, the scripture gives us examples of women who God called and anointed for leadership. Deborah was a prophetess and a judge of Israel (Judges 4:4). This means that Deborah was called to five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), and she was called as a "president" of the nation. During that time period in the history of Israel, judges were the leaders of the entire nation. 

Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26 NKJV)

In this scripture we see that Priscilla was apart of teaching Apollos "the way of God more accurately." This New Testament scripture demonstrates that it was acceptable for women to teach men. 

There are women who the Lord has used powerfully in ministry. Maria Woodworth Etter had an amazing ministry. A little research on this woman would prove that the Lord was with her in power. Certainly God called and anointed her. The same could be said about Heidi Baker. These women were truly commissioned by Jesus. The fruit of their ministries prove it. 

With that being said, more men are called to a ministry office than women. The Bible will back up this statement. From Genesis to Revelation, most of the leaders of God's people were men. The same is true today since Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There are woman leaders in the church today, but the majority are men. This is simply how the Lord chooses to operate. He is the King and He does as He pleases. 

Women were oppressed in the church for a long time, and not allowed in leadership. This is a sad history in the church. However, the present church must be extremely careful not to take this truth to the extreme. We shouldn't put women in leadership positions, because we want to fight against the injustice of the past. Women must only be put into leadership positions if they are truly called (the same with men). 

There is a tendency in the charismatic church to put women in an office that they are not called to. Sometimes we call the male and female leaders of a church both pastors, because they are married. Both husband and wife may be pastors, but they might not. If the man is the pastor and the woman is not, we should not call her a pastor. Only Jesus can make someone a pastor. A husband and wife are obviously called together into a certain ministry. However, the majority of the time, they are not both given a five-fold ministry office by Jesus. My wife and I are called to full time ministry, and we are co-commissioned. We have equal importance in the Lord's calling, but she has not been given a ministry office as I have. The church must become balanced on this issue, or it will cause confusion and disorder in the days to come.

God chooses more men for five-fold ministry leadership than women. However, this does not mean that women are less important. Callings may be different, but the level of importance is not. The church must learn this and stop judging our level of importance based on calling. There may be differences between men and women in the areas of the natural flesh and the soul (mind, will, and emotions). But there is no difference between men and women in the Spirit. There is neither male or female in the Spirit. The Lord can use women just as effectively as He uses men. The Lord sees no distinction between men and women who are in Christ:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:27-28 NKJV)