Role of Women in the Church
I. PRIORITY OF PASSAGES
Gal 3:28 earliest NT letter, written to correct the problem of Christianity moving into a Jewish culture. The Pastoral letters, the last letters Paul wrote, correct problems Christianity confronted cultures. I Tim 2; I Cor 11; 14
II. CLARIFYING CULTURAL CONTEXTS
Peter and Paul appeal to the creation order, hierarchy within the Godhead, or the relation between Christ and the Church, in providing the reasons for their instruction the role of women
III. THE TELESCOPE EFFECT
The role of women in the church is not considered separately from the role of women in marriage, which again, is not considered apart from the role of a woman in her personal relationship with Christ, which is viewed as a subset of Christ's relationship with the Father, etc.
IV. ROLE OF WOMEN IN MARRIAGE
The foundational, or most fully expressed Scriptures on the subject are Genesis 2:18-25; 3:16; (4:6); Ephesians 5:21-6:9; and I Peter 2:13-3:7. In Ephesians 5:21, (the most relevant for our discussion), Paul commands mutual submission on the part of believers in the church. In 5:22-6:9 he address hierarchical relationships in the church.
Submission does not imply inferiority, or inequality, any more than Christ is inferior to the Father, or the Holy Spirit inferior to Christ.
V. SERVICE WITHIN THE CHURCH
A. MOTIVATIONS FOR SERVICE The major reason why we seek to serve God is to glorify Him. Service is also an expression of love, an act of obedience, and an opportunity to receive reward. Service that pleases God, and that is blessed by Him, must always be in accord with His word on the subject. Remember, He desires obedience rather than sacrifice (religious ritual).
B. OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE
Titus 2:3-5 A sphere of responsibility for women is clearly marked out as that of teaching other women (verses 3-5).
I Tim 2:15 the sphere of service and reward for women is specified as being within the home, as opposed to public worship.
Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us. 40 After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers...
Rom 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
C. LIMITATIONS ON SERVICE 1Tim 2:10-15 direct, explicit command: no teaching or exercising of authority over men.
”Discipleship" settings (Priscilla and Aquila ministering to Apollos), can be handled in a husband-wife team approach (Acts 8:26),.
I Cor 11:1-16 reinforces the existence of a hierarchy within the Body of Christ, by appealing to the creation order and the order within the God-head (vv 2-3). Women are to be demonstrably under authority even while praying or prophesying. The sign of authority is probably culturally determined. The issue of submission to authority, in the context, is transcultural and still binding.
I Cor 14:33-36. The immediate context is that of the regulation of spiritual gifts in a public worship service. Verse 34 has a context of pagan mystery religions and Greek culture. Overarching principles are edification, order, SELF-CONTROL and submission.
VI. RATIONALE FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS
VII. PROBLEMS IN PRACTICE
A woman without a husband/father, would probably look to an older woman, or to church leadership for finding answers.
Where men aren't taking their responsibility, and a gap or void exists, the power of prayer should not be underestimated. It is interesting to note that the majority of the support for Jesus' ministry of developing godly men was supported by women.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. If God has specified rules for how to please Him, then what would be the motivation for a woman to want to do something different?
2. Why would God set up a structure that some people in our culture would find so repulsive?
3. Does subordination imply inferiority? What if a woman has an unbeliever, or a carnal stumblebum for a husband?
4. If a woman has a strong desire to teach others about God, how can she work out that desire in a manner pleasing to God?
5. To what extent does submission in the Church carry over into other spheres in society?