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Women In The Church
Does The Bible Restrict Women's Roles In The Church?
By Ken Raggio
I am often asked to explain Paul's directive in I Corinthians 14:34-35, which says, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
Let's get this straight from the very beginning. In the most general terms, women have always been involved in the ministry and work of God. "The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses," Exodus 35:29.
Although that verse does not demonstrate a speaking role for women, there are many examples. From ancient times, women have played many significant roles in the nation of Israel and in the Church.
We cannot properly interpret Paul's instruction without considering all the other defining verses in the Bible on the subject of women's role in the ministry. If we ignore the other scriptures that ALSO DEFINE the subject, we will surely be in error. We must not formulate ANY doctrine on a few verses while ignoring many other verses that address the same subject. All scriptures have to be reconciled to each other.
Before we jump to the conclusion that Paul would never let a woman have a voice in church, we must face the fact that Paul himself said that "every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head." Aside from the issue of head covering, he gives us this evidence that women DID PRAY AND PROPHESY in the church. That was NOT silence! Their voices were heard praying. Their voices were heard prophesying. Why did not Paul demand THEM to remain silent?
It is important to understand that the basic definition of the word "prophesy" is "to bubble forth, to effervesce." It does not necessarily connote foreseeing or predicting the future, although it often does. You do not have to predict or foresee the future to have a prophetic ministry. Praise and worship leaders are said to be prophesying. I will give you a scriptural example.
Samuel told Saul, in 1 Samuel 10:5, "Thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."
These men were not predicting future events. They were not engaged in apocalyptic, end-time jargon. They were singing, and playing instruments, and praising God. That is exactly what Samuel called "prophesying."
"And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" 1 Samuel 10:10-11.
The significance of this fact is that throughout the Bible, women also prophesied. They sang, played instruments, and praised God in the congregation of the saints.
So, if the modern question is, "Should a woman sing, play instruments, or lead praise in the church?" the answer is printed in the Bible. Yes. They should sing, play instruments and lead praise in the church.
For example, "Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea," Exodus 15:20-21.
Would you have silenced Miriam? Would you remove the Song of Miriam from Exodus 15? Would the Apostle Paul? I think not.
The leadership ministry of the church is five-fold: pastors, teachers, evangelists, apostles, and prophets (Ephesians 4:11).
We can easily prove that women frequently occupied the office of a prophet (prophetess).
Miriam was a prophetess. God called the whole family - Moses, Aaron and Miriam - into the ministry. In the very beginning of the story, young Miriam negotiated with Pharaoh's daughter for Moses' mother, Jochebed, to be baby Moses' nursemaid. Eventually, we see all three children leading the new nation of Israel. Miriam played her tambourine and led the multitude in praising and worshiping God for taking them safely through the Red Sea. It is a wonderful thing to see an entire family serving God in the ministry together.
Deborah was a judge and a prophetess in Israel who was honored by God for her role. "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time," Judges 4:4. Deborah was a godly judge and prophetess in Israel during a twenty year oppression by the Canaanites. God commanded Deborah to send troops after Sisera, Canaan's army captain. She delivered the word of the Lord to Barak to lead an attack, but he would not go without her. Deborah told Barak, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman," Judges 4:9.
Deborah showed herself to be a champion in that story, but another woman, Jael, also became a heroine. She is the one who assassinated the enemy Sisera that day. When Sisera fled to a nearby tent for rest, this Israelite woman named Jael drove a nail through his head while he slept. By Deborah, Barak and Jael, God delivered Israel that day. The song of Deborah (Judges 5) declared the mighty works of God. "Let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might," Judges 5:31.
Huldah was a prophetess in Israel. "So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum, ...(now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel," 2 Kings 22:14-15. When the people of Israel rejected the righteous reforms of King Josiah, Huldah the prophetess prophesied evil upon the people, but grace to Josiah for his heroic efforts. Her prophecies figured prominently in the destiny of Israel in those times.
Isaiah's wife was a prophetess. "And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son," Isaiah 8:3.
The Old Testament prophets set forth the criteria for the New Testament, especially with the prophecies of the prophet Joel. Joel prophesied that women would continue to prophesy. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit," Joel 2:28-29.
The prophetic role of women extended unquestionably into the New Testament church. That cannot be denied.
The Apostle Peter certified that Joel's prophecy pertained to the New Testament Church. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy," Acts 2:17-18.
Elisabeth prophesied over Mary. "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord," Luke 1:41-45.
Anna the prophetess prophesied over the baby Jesus. "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem," Luke 2:36-38.
Philip the Evangelist had four daughters who prophesied. "And we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy," Acts 21:8-9.
We have these several examples of women who prophesied in the New Testament!
So, how can we reconcile the history of women prophesying with Paul's injunctions that women are not permitted to speak? Women definitely ARE permitted to speak in the role of singers, musicians and praise and worship leaders. We MUST NOT FORBID women from these roles, at the risk of controverting GOD HIMSELF! If we deny this BIBLICAL ROLE to women, we are DENYING DIVINELY-ORDAINED MINISTRY! What will be the consequence if we forbid something that God ordains? I do not want to have to discover that personally.
But there are still questions. Should a woman teach or preach in the church?
Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety," I Timothy 2:11-15.
Now, we have to weigh out both of the statements we have already introduced. Look at the specifics of both I Corinthians 14 and I Timothy 2.
The BIG issue here is about women being SILENT in the churches. We have already seen that women historically participated in the praise and worship.
More than that.
Almighty God instructed Abraham to receive counsel from his wife, Sarah. "And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called," Genesis 21:12. Abraham was deeply grieved over the complex matter of Hagar and Ishmael. He was perplexed about what to do about them. God told Abraham to do what Sarah said.
That story probably does not set well with a male chauvinist. But it is in the Bible, and it is just the way it is. God sometimes has to pass His wisdom down to men through women.
When Jacob's wife gave birth to her first son, Joseph, Rachel also prophesied that she would have another son. "She called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son," Genesis 30:24.
2 Peter 3:10 says that "no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." Rachel was NOT prophesying for her benefit alone. She was prophesying for my benefit and yours. The fact that, years later, Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, was a divine fulfillment of prophecy. That took place for my edification and yours. For thousands of years, men and women around the world have been blessed by the miraculous stories of Jacob and Rachel. Rachel was a divinely-ordained prophetess.
Would you have silenced Rachel? Would Paul? I think not.
In the book of Judges, "the children of Israel came to Deborah for judgment." The author of the book called her a prophetess. "She sent and called Barak, ...and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying..." She urged him to take 10,000 men to Mount Tabor to confront Sisera and his Canaanite army. But Barak was reluctant to accept the word of the LORD from Deborah. Barak said, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go," Judges 4:8.
Here is a typical illustration of a man who does not want to receive the word of the LORD from a woman. He put the burden back on DEBORAH that God wanted HIM to carry. That was not as it should have been. God wanted Barak to do the job, but his apparent prejudice against receiving the word of the LORD from a woman prevented him from getting credit for the thing God was with HIM to do.
Deborah said, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." So Deborah went with him. The rest of the story was that God DID deliver their enemies into their hands - BY THE HAND OF A WOMAN! God choreographed the whole scenario to play into the hands of a woman. Sisera went into a tent to take a nap, and Jael (a woman) drove a nail into his skull!
Would you have silenced Deborah? Would you tell her not to prophesy? Would you demand that she keep silent in the church?
What will God say when you silence her? He is the One who gave her the word.
Will you also silence Huldah the prophetess? The high priest and elders of Israel WENT TO HER to get the word of the LORD! Furthermore, Huldah pronounced judgments on Judah for resisting the righteous leadership of King Josiah - AND GOD FULFILLED IT!
It is a DANGEROUS THING to attempt to silence ANYBODY who has been chosen BY GOD to deliver a SACRED MESSAGE!
King David prayed for the daughters of Israel to be as cornerstones in Israel. "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace," Psalms 144:12. That does NOT suggest a silent role for women, but instead suggests that David hoped and prayed that the women would make a major contribution to the well-being of the nation.
In Proverbs 31, Solomon famously spoke of the virtuous woman. "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. ...She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
God has ordained for women's voices to be heard in more ways than just the office of the prophetess.
There are four other offices in the church to consider: pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apostles. Does God authorize for women to have a voice in any of these offices?
There are numerous Biblical examples of women in the role of a teacher.
Anyone knows that every mother is a teacher of her children. As a child, Jesus was subject to His mother, whose godliness was the very cause for which she was chosen of God in the first place. "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart," Luke 2:51.
The child Samuel was set onto his career path in the ministry because of the careful influence of his mother, Hannah. Moses became the great man of God because his mother, Jochebed, was a woman of great religious faith.
In the home, a woman occupies one of the most significant roles in all society - raising the children.
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, ...teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed," Titus 2:3-5.
From Moses' day, the parents were commanded to teach their children the laws of God. "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up," Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
"And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up," Deuteronomy 11:19.
Women are commanded to teach the children and the younger women. There is no silence in that area. A woman has every authority and right to teach younger women and children.
But the woman is instructed to learn from the men. In the chain of command, God always has the man at the top of the hierarchy. And this, I believe, is the PRINCIPAL REASON why Paul asserted that women should keep silent in the church. GOD WILL HAVE THE MALE VOICE DOMINATE THE CHURCH. It must be that way, by HIS OWN DESIGN from the beginning of the human race.
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression," 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
A woman is forbidden to usurp authority over a man. That means that she may not exercise dominion over a man if it has not been delegated to her. "Usurp" means to take over, or claim without justification. Under this commandment, a woman may not have a position in a church that a man did not give her.
However, if a man who is in authority in the church, such as an Apostle, Pastor or Evangelist delegates an assignment to a woman, that would not be considered "usurping." If the Pastor asks a woman to teach a class, and empowers her to take the position, she would not be usurping her office.
One of the great preachers of the New Testament was a Jew named Apollos, "an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures." But unfortunately, he knew only the message of John the Baptist, and did not have a real revelation of the Acts 2, Spirit-filled life. Apollos was "fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord," and was bold to speak in the synagogue.
When Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak, they took him to themselves and "expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly," Acts 18:26. After Aquila and Priscilla taught him what they felt he needed to know, they recommended Apollos to other disciples to receive him and allow him to minister in their places.
So the great preacher was trained by a husband and wife team. Certainly, Priscilla instructed Apollos in the ways of the LORD. Here is a WOMAN OF GOD teaching a MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL. I don't know how anybody can avoid that fact.
Aquila was the key person in this scenario. Aquila, as her husband, certainly consented to his wife teaching this good brother in the LORD. That is the critical component in WOMEN being used in the teaching ministry.
How can anybody deny that there are many great women of God who are just as learned, if not MORE SO than many of the brethren? There are many honored and esteemed women of God in the church whose command of the Bible, and whose godly lifestyles cannot be faulted. These women are elders in the church.
Anytime a pastor chooses to endorse such a woman of God, with his consent or approval, there is no reason on earth why she cannot stand before the entire congregation and teach the ways of the LORD to both men and women and children.
If Aquila can legitimize Priscilla's ministry to Apollos, then the pastor can legitimize a woman's ministry to men.
The overwhelming fact is that THE WOMEN OF THE EARLY CHURCH were critical components of its very survival. In the first chapter of the book of Acts, right after Jesus went away into heaven, the disciples "ALL" (about 120) "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with THE WOMEN, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren," Acts 1:14.
All these men and women were together in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost. All of them received the Holy Ghost and spoke in unknown tongues. All of them, by default, were speaking in unknown languages to the multitudes out in the streets. The people in the streets exclaimed, "How hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" Acts 2:8.
God was SPEAKING TO THE LOST through the 120. The MEN AND WOMEN in the Upper Room were preaching to MEN AND WOMEN in the streets BY THE HOLY GHOST!
I don't know a stronger argument in the Bible that favors women preachers than this text. Every woman in the Upper Room became a preacher that day.
If Almighty God chose to preach the gospel to those multitudes that day through the lips of women, then where is the argument against it?
Notwithstanding, this does not release women from answering to, and being accountable to male authority in the church. Everything in the scripture proves that men have the final say in who is authorized to preach, teach and minister in the church. For that matter, EVERY MEMBER, male and female, is accountable to church rulers.
Some would argue that it is wrong for a MALE to AUTHORIZE A WOMAN to have a voice. That cannot be the case.
In the story of David, he developed a years-long separation from his son, Absalom. David's general, Joab, called on a wise woman from Tekoah to go to the king and speak to him. After a prolonged and exasperating exchange with the king, she was responsible for reconciling the king with his son.
Mordecai urged Esther to present herself before King Ahasuerus in Shushan. Esther did so at the risk of her own life. Her intercession was divinely ordained, but would not have happened if Mordecai had refused to allow a woman to speak in God's behalf. Esther literally saved a generation of her own people by speaking before the king.
God made Abraham listen to Sarah. God made Barak listen to Deborah. God made the High Priest listen to Huldah.
I believe that many men have a problem listening to women. (Of course, many women also have a problem listening to men, too.) But the important thing is that ALMIGHTY GOD requires everything to be done "decently and in order."
The RULE is that the MAN IS IN CHARGE. But the EXCEPTION to the rule, is that God sometimes requires a woman to speak, and gives her HIS WORD. And that is undeniable.
Still, the woman must NOT take authority over men without the Pastor giving her authority. The woman must not lift her voice in the church without the permission or consent of the Pastor. In the final analysis, if the Pastor rules against the woman speaking, then she must not speak. If he is wrong, he will answer to God. If she is wrong, she will answer to God.
According to all this logic, it is then difficult to calculate how a woman could rightfully assume the role of a Pastor, except in the unusual situation where a male Pastor might relinquish his office to a woman. In fact, we have NO SCRIPTURAL PRECEDENTS - no examples - of women Apostles, Pastors or Evangelists. Only Teachers and Prophetesses. The government of the church is always given to the men. God never intended for women to run the church. By the will of God, men are supposed to run the church.
It would be difficult to define how the woman, in a pastoral role, could have rightful authority over the male elders. I, for one, would be hard-pressed to explain, on a scriptural basis, why I should submit to a female pastor. I would have to VOLUNTARILY submit to a woman pastor, because I know of no scripture that obliges me, as a man, to submit to a female authority in the church, unless she was installed under the authority and permission of a male superior apostle or pastor. Again, the verse says, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
I think that means that, apart from some highly unusual and exceptional circumstance, a woman is not authorized to teach men, or to take authority over them. But there are rare exceptions.
If I sound like I am compromising, or trying to be politically correct, I am not. It is simply because I know and believe that God does occasionally make exceptions to His own rules. There may be extraordinary times and places where God places a woman in a pastoral role. I believe that even in that role, she should remain accountable to a male hierarchy in the church-at-large. Nevertheless, in such a case, I believe that everyone in that congregation should give honor and respect to her, no less than they would for any other elder in the church. If you don't think you can serve under a woman pastor, then go to another church.
God's chain of command is "etched in stone." Jesus Christ, Son of Man, is under the authority of His Father. All the church is under the authority of Christ. The church is also under the authority of its pastor. All the women are under the authority of their husbands. All the children are under the authority of their parents and their elders.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Ephesians 5:21-33.
In the home, the Bible shows very clearly that a woman is under the authority of her husband.
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous," 1 Peter 3:1-8.
What does it mean for a woman to be in subjection to her husband? Women are NOT the only ones who are required to be in subjection. The Son of Man is subject to God. Everyone in the church must be subject to Christ. Furthermore, all the church is commanded to be in subjection to one another.
If one person is in subjection to another, then that person is not completely sovereign to act on his or her own will.
NONE of us are completely sovereign to act on our own will. We are ALL to be in subjection to God.
We are ALL to be in subjection to those who have the rule over us. We are ALL to be in subjection to our elders. We are ALL in subjection to the rulers of the church. And we are ALL in subjection to one another. "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God," Ephesians 5:21.
In the same way, a woman is to be in subjection to her husband.
Both men and women in the church must be in subjection to the church rulers - apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists.
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble," 1 Peter 5:1-5.
Paul said that women "are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law," I Corinthians 14:34. What law is Paul referring to?
From the beginning of the human race, Almighty God laid down this law: "Unto the woman he said, ...thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee," Genesis 3:16. That is the first law pertaining to a man ruling over a woman. Secondly, God's law gave the husband authority over the woman and her oaths. "Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void," Numbers 30:13. God gave the husband authority to establish his wife's word, or render it null and void.
I am keenly aware that such talk is deeply offensive to today's feminists - the women's liberation crowd. This is NOT politically correct teaching. The National Organization for Women would decry and denounce these statements. But it happens to be the word of the LORD, and no political or governmental authority, including the highest courts, have dominion over God or His word. I would remind you, whoever you are, that YOU AND I will be judged for all eternity, NOT by the opinions or whims of men, or even human laws, but by the WORD OF GOD.
The counsel of the LORD shall stand. God demands respect for the both the MALE AND the FEMALE identity and roles.
God is no respecter of persons. He judges men and women altogether by His infallible word. God is not prejudiced. If God is not fair, then nobody is fair. But He does have His rules, and regardless of how you or I may feel about those rules, they are the ones we will be judged by.
If a male prophet or a female prophetess is faithful to obey the word of the LORD, he or she will be blessed of God. If a male prophet or a female prophetess is DECEPTIVE or EVIL, he or she will have an equivalent curse from the LORD.
In the letter to the Church at Thyatira, in Revelation 2, God said, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works," Revelation 2:19-23.
This story does not teach that God is against women prophetesses. It teaches that FALSE PROPHETESSES will be judged. The premise here is that God will not tolerate sin in ANYBODY who calls himself a prophet, or who calls herself a prophetess. In fact, God called this woman to repent, and offered to show mercy. But her failure to repent provoked God to wrath.
You should also remember that God is equally angry with any MAN who deceptively calls himself a prophet. Until the end of the age, there will be false prophets and prophetesses. That is not a gender issue, but an issue of sin and deception.
I believe that, rather than arguing in behalf of women's rights, or making accusations of chauvinism, or any other gender-related "rights" issue, we should recognize that EVERYTHING in the kingdom of God is subject to the will and word of God Himself. In the end, we have NOTHING AT ALL TO GAIN if ANY of us attempt to occupy any place or position that God did not specifically put us in.
"Let EVERY SOUL be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake," Romans 13:1-5.
I would rather keep silent in the church, even as a man, than to open my mouth and say anything at any time or in any place that God did not ordain me to. Let us ALL walk softly in the will of God.
Dear God, "order my steps in Your Word!"
A FINAL NOTE:
For thirty years, my wife, Dixie, stood by my side in ministry. She sang with me. She taught thousands of children in Sunday School classes. She led the women of the church. She spoke to crowds of women in Ladies Conferences. She led the leaders of the church. When she died in 2003, I began to realize for the first time in my life, that I had never really encouraged her to be a leader. I took her role for granted. I assumed that she would find her own place. Then it occurred to me that she could have been so much more mightily used of God if I had not overlooked her potential in so many cases.
If I had it to do all over again, I would encourage her to sing, to testify, to teach, to lead, to assert herself in every place where God provided an open door. And I would not prevent her from teaching what she knew, even in the presence of men.
I believe that there are multitudes of MEN and WOMEN of God who are just waiting to be used of God. If church leaders would do more to encourage EVERY SAINT to be more productive in the kingdom of God, there would be multitudes MORE SOULS in the church of tomorrow.
In these dark days of spiritual apostasy, we need MORE VOICES, not LESS voices declaring the WHOLE COUNSEL of God. If a pastor extends permission to someone in the church to be used, and they abuse the opportunity, then they can be reined back in and put in their place. But if there is legitimate potential in a person, let God use them.
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