America as a nation is continually going downhill in its godliness. Homosexuality and abortion are big things that go against what God tells us he wants in his word, but that doesn’t matter. It is pushed and made a big deal, so much so that if you speak against it you are labeled a hater. These aren’t the only issues. A movement is rising and growing even in the churches, women are becoming ministers and stepping up to the podium. They are taking the role that God has designated for Christian men and filling it themselves and it is supported. Women rising into power and authority, even in church leadership positions, is a subject that America pushes and some congregations agree, even though the Bible does not support this.
The positions of a minister, elder, and deacon are ones that Christian men are to fill and execute. 1 Timothy 1:12 says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man: rather, she is to remain quiet.” The word in the Greek that is translated authority has the definitions of: give orders to, rule, domineer, and have power over. Today we would label them as the boss or the person-in-charge. This would include being in positions such as elder, deacon, or minister. There are many congregations that support women being in those roles, but there are many that do not.
Let’s hit the pause button real quick. Please go back and reread the verse. It does not say ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or take the position of elder, deacon, or minister over a man,’ rather it reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or take authority over a man…” Does one have to be behind the podium or teaching to take authority over another or the make themselves the “boss”? The answer is no, one does not. It is 100% possible to take over a class, devo, study, etc. while sitting in the audience.
Sadly, some know that if they make this comment here and these ones down the line: 1. The class discussion will go where they want. 2. Put its attention on them and what they have to say. 3. If they continue, some will subconsciously make them an authority figure. It happens in congregations that try hard to be biblical and do what God wants. Some people do it on purpose, like those that we just discussed, and some don’t do it on purpose. Sometimes they don’t realize that they’ve done it. It can be a thin line to walk between being curious about the class and what is being discussed and taking the authority from the teacher. There are a couple of things that can be done to help us keep the balance.
First, we can watch our attitude. Attitude is very important and shows a lot about a person’s motives and thoughts. If a child responds to a request from a parent with a bad attitude they still aren’t being submissive and obedient to the parent. In the same way, the attitude in which we comment will show if we are still being submissive and staying in the role God wants us as women to occupy. In Matthew 12 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees about their hearts and actions. Verse 34 reads, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What comes out of our mouths, not just the words, reflects what we hold in our hearts. We can say the correct thing yet it still be wrong, as the Pharisees did.
A scenario in which attitude would apply would be when there is a disagreement on what is being taught. The teacher believes a verse, passage, or book to mean one thing while a student believes it to be another. Instead of debating this publically we should wait and discuss it in private. This way we do not take authority from the teacher and are able to learn where they are coming from and what led them to that understanding. If it is learned that something that was taught was incorrect do not go around informing everyone, let the teacher.
Second, we pay attention to our surroundings. There are times when it is more appropriate to discuss something than others. If there are still unanswered questions about a topic and the discussion has moved on we should save it and talk to them about it later instead of trying to turn the discussion back to where we want it. Also, this will allow for more discussion on what stood out on a personal level and lead to better study. This also applies to the previous scenario about having a disagreement. It would be more appropriate to study about it later after class.
Third, figure out the reason behind what will be said. Is it for learning? Is it to disagree? Is it for attention? The only one that knows is the one thinking it. If the reason isn’t a good one then there is no reason for it to be said. During times such as Bible class, worship, devos, Bible studies, etc. we are there to learn and study God’s word. If what we say detracts from that than we shouldn’t say it. Discerning our reasons might be hard sometimes but it will help keep us where God wants us.
These things aren’t always easy or fun. It can be annoying to watch what you say closely, but it’s a good thing. God wants the men to be in authority in his church so we need to let them. We need to remember that being behind the podium or in front of the classroom isn’t the only way to be in authority. We can take authority even out in the class, but by watching our attitudes when we say something, paying attention to where we are saying it, and why we are saying it preventing that will be easier. The men can be where God wants them and we can be where God wants us.