Summary: What does this really mean and why we must accept it.
God’s Glorious Church
Women: Silent in the Church
Woodlawn Baptist Church
May 22, 2005
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 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.”
Just a few weeks after I came to Woodlawn, someone approached me and wanted to know what I thought about women teaching men in the church. It is one of those questions that frequently gets asked, because although the Scriptures speak to the subject, God’s people and many Bible critics have done a good job of confusing people about what it means.
I’m continuing to preach about God’s Glorious Church, and specifically for the last two weeks and today I’m preaching about women and their roles in the Lord’s churches. I told you two Sundays ago that Jesus placed high value on women in His life and teachings. He recognized them as unique individuals, speaking to and with them in a kind and caring manner. He ministered to them and engaged them in ministry themselves. Jesus didn’t just have the men ministering and the women passively sitting by; He gave them responsibility and encouraged them to use their talents and abilities.
Moving on from there I told you last week that men and women are on equal spiritual footing before God. God created male and female equality in that His design was that both men and women were created in His image. We were created to be reflections of who God is – not in form, but by bearing His nature, His personality, His moral and spiritual capacities, His emotions, intellect, conscience and will. God created both men and women to be images of His righteous character, of His holiness and of His unconditional love. However, have created us to equally bear His image, God also instituted male-headship: not as a result of the fall, but before the fall. Man was given and still has the primary responsibility to lead the home in a God-glorifying direction.
So, God places high value on women; men and women are spiritual equals before Him, but God has given man the responsibility to lead, and women have been called to honor and affirm the man’s leadership and help him carry it out. Now, the real test of whether we have grasped the Biblical essence of manhood and womanhood and affirm it as good and right is whether Paul’s application of it to the life of the church surprises and offends us or not.
Remember what I told you last week about allowing the Bible to interpret our beliefs rather than forcing our beliefs onto God’s Word so that we make it say something that it doesn’t. I will confess to you that in studying for this message I have changed my mind about today’s subject. I offer that information to you simply to say that when your beliefs are not in alignment with God’s Word, you are the one who must change.
Our approach to our text today is going to be simple. First I’m going to explain what is meant by verses 11-12, then I will give you two reasons why as a church we must be in agreement with what it teaches.
What It Means
In verses 11-12, there are three statements I want you to examine with me.
Let the woman learn in silence
There are some extreme views about this phrase. Some explain it away by saying that women then were not treated with the same regard that we treat ours with today, so women don’t have to learn in silence. It is okay for them to talk. The other extreme is to say that a woman should keep her mouth shut in church. “Be seen and not heard.”
Both extremes are wrong – and I think you can see this from how the word is used in some other places, two of which are in this chapter. In verse 2, Paul says, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” The word peaceable comes from the same Greek word for silent.
In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul pointed out how some in that church were walking disorderly and were busybodies. He said in verse 12 in regard to those people that they should work with quietness and eat their own bread.