Christian women, Complementarianism, In Case You Were Wondering, Rock Your Role

Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?

female bloggers

“You say that women shouldn’t teach men (1 Timothy 2:12), but what about men who read your book or blog? Aren’t you teaching them?”

Complementarian women bloggers and authors are frequently asked this question. Often it’s asked by dissenters looking for a “gotcha” moment. Other times it’s a genuine concern for Christian women who want to write but still be in obedience to God’s word as it speaks to the role of women. But, whatever the motivation for asking, it’s a great question that needs to be answered.

It is true that God has ordained different roles for Christian men and women. Both roles are needed and important, but different. Part of the role for women is outlined in 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Women are not to preach to or teach men in the gathering of the church or hold other positions of authority over men in the church. (If you’d like to read more about the Bible passages pertaining to women’s roles in the church, check out my Rock Your Role series.) But notice that key phrase “in the church.” The context of all of the passages dealing with women refraining from teaching men refers to the teaching of God’s word in the gathering of the body of believers.

That’s not the same thing as blogging in the public square. Yet, most of the godly women I know who blog still seek to be obedient to the spirit of the command even if the letter doesn’t technically apply. I admire their character and their faithfulness to God’s word, so I asked each of them how they would answer this often-asked question. Here’s what they said:

Erin Benzinger of Do Not Be Surprised and Equipping Eve

Equipping Eve-05“A semi-formal ministry such as a blog, book, or podcast must be approached with the biblical mindset of seeking to teach and equip fellow women as per Titus 2. At the same time, a woman blogger cannot know who is reading her blog. Nor can an author control who reads her book, or a podcaster supervise who hits “play.” Might the woman see it as necessary to make clear that she is, in fact, a woman and that her ministry is directed toward fellow sisters in Christ? Of course, this seems a logical and simple safeguard and is in fact my own approach.” (I had to edit Erin’s fantastic comment for length, but you can read it in its entirety in the comments below.)

Pamela Couvrette of Guarding the Deposit

“As a woman blogger, my intention is to write to women, however, I cannot control who reads my blog posts. I was concerned for a while about teaching to men, however, after a conversation with a few trusted Christians, my concerns were alleviated. The point was made that I was not teaching in an official church capacity; if I am offering the Word of God to show men their error, I am not claiming to be over them in authority, but instead, beside them as a sister in Christ. Additionally, if women are not supposed to teach men anything, how far does this mandate reach into our everyday lives?”

DebbieLynne Kespert of The Ouspoken Tulip

“In honor of Christ, I want to avoid teaching men through this blog without avoiding my responsibility to substantiate my assertions (or, when necessary, recant them) with Scripture. Sometimes, I may cross the line, in which case I’ll eagerly repent. If I had a way to guarantee an all-female readership, believe me, I’d be teaching a lot more boldly! Alas, I can’t control who reads this blog. I will, to the best of my ability, state my beliefs with appeals to Scripture, and will provide links to in-depth teaching by respected men.” (This is an excerpt from a great article at DebbieLynne’s blog.)

Christine Pack formerly of Sola Sisters

“My bottom line is that (1) I’m not expositing scripture, and (2) the book of Jude (about contending for truth and doctrinal purity) was written to all believers, not just men.”

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time

11695005_969809886414876_853379219293858257_n“As for women writing books, blogging, discipling, or speaking of theological things in the public square, I follow Philip’s daughters, (Acts 21:9), Eunice and Lois, (2 Timothy 1:5), Lydia, (Acts 16:14),  Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and other women who restrict their ministry to women, submit to the men in their lives, but unashamedly proclaim the glories of this wonderful Jesus whom we share and whom the dying world needs to know.” (This is an excerpt from an excellent article Elizabeth wrote at her own blog. In it, she links to several great resources.)

Beth Seifert formerly of the Naomi’s Table Radio Show/Podcast

“In the forum that we were in with Naomi’s Table, it was made clear that this was intended for women not men. Could I stop a man from listening on the radio? No. But, especially when teaching anything that directly related to men (i.e. husbands love your wives…) I put so many disclaimers around anything I said, pointing any men listening back to Scripture, re-stating that I was not trying to teach them, that they should not be using me as their teacher, etc. At the end of the day, I couldn’t stop them from downloading the studies or notes, but there was no ‘muddiness’ about who I was teaching.” Beth also has her own blog, Daily Dose of Truth.

Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ

“Since [my blog is] on the internet, I’m not purposefully putting myself in any way as authority over men. If I had a blog that was just for men and I was doing the same thing, that would be sinful. But whether or not men read my blog and glean something from it, that is between them and God as many women have wisdom that helps men and women (cf. Priscilla and Aquila)… there is a difference between having a generic blog (like mine) and one that is purposed to reach both men and women in a teaching manner.” (Read Sunny’s awesome article on women’s roles here.)

Lori Williams of Falsified Ministries

falsified book coverFrom the Falsified Ministries web site: “Vince is the leader of this ministry and Lori serves in a supportive role helping with the administrative aspects of organization of materials, responding to women who email the ministry, supportive research, working resource tables/booths and any other help-mate role that Vince needs in fulfilling other aspects of the ministry. Lori will never be speaking in front of a group that consists of a mixed audience of both male and females. We choose to obey the Biblical command in1 Timothy 2:12…Since the verse refers to a corporate setting of the church in any assembly, we always want to adhere to that.” (Like Beth, Lori is also a former Bible study teacher at Naomi’s Table.)

 

As you can see, all of these women are keenly aware of their biblical role and strive to obey Scripture by setting up various reasonable safeguards and parameters for their blogs, ministries, and podcasts, most of which are aimed specifically at women. I believe they all do an excellent job of adhering to the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:12.

I have, however, seen blogs by other Christian women which I believe cross the line and actually violate this passage, even though the woman was blogging rather than teaching in the church setting. This article, written in the wake of the Ashley Madison scandal, is the most clear cut example I’ve run across. As you can see, the article, by a pastor’s wife, is written directly to men in a corrective, instructive, rebuking, warning, and even threatening tone. It certainly does not exemplify the “gentle, quiet spirit, which, in God’s sight is very precious,” and, at the very least, is most unbecoming of a pastor’s wife and a woman who bears the name of Christ. This is a great example of what not to do for female bloggers who desire to be obedient to Scripture.

Christian men should also desire to be obedient to 1 Timothy 2:12 by not seeking out female bloggers for biblical instruction for themselves. I mentioned that sometimes people inquiring about the biblical appropriateness of women bloggers do so for a “gotcha” effect. Sometimes men with ulterior motives of “nailing” complementarianism visit my blog, claim to have learned something, and then turn around and attack me as a hypocrite for “teaching” them. This is akin to a man listening at the door of a women’s Sunday school class, then bursting in and saying, “Aha! You taught a man.” To those men, I would ask a simple question- If a female blogger puts a fence around her blog and you jump over it and trespass on her property, how is she the one at fault?

And me? Like my godly sisters featured above, I have also set up parameters for both my blog and my book to do everything I can to place myself under the umbrella of 1 Timothy 2:12. My book (when it was in print) was always labeled and marketed as a women’s Bible study. If you’ll take a look at the “Welcome” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see I explicitly say that this blog is for Christian women and that I’m a complementarian. When I address the readers of this blog and my Facebook page, I nearly always address them as “ladies,” both because this is a blog for women and also to remind the handful of men who follow me that they are not my audience; they are, in a sense, “eavesdropping.”

While I welcome male readers, I do not want men seeking me out for biblical instruction for themselves. All of my readers should look to the doctrinally sound teaching of their pastors and elders for biblical instruction. For women, my blog should only be a leisure time supplement to their sermons and classes at church.

 

Being a godly female blogger can be a tightrope walk. All of us have fallen off from time to time, and in those cases we ask that you extend us grace and forgiveness, knowing that we didn’t do it intentionally or rebelliously. Praise God for the “net” of God’s mercy and cleansing that catches us and puts us right back up on that tightrope so we can encourage and build up the lovely Christian ladies in our audience. You mean so much to each of us. We love you and want you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why we do what we do.

12 thoughts on “Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?”

  1. Here is Erin Benzinger’s wonderful comment in its entirety:

    Everyday on my commute, I pass a small church. It appears rather quaint, looks very traditional, and boasts one of those infamous “church signs” in its front yard. Recently, I noticed a new message on the sign: “Welcome, Pastor Rita!” Sigh.

    This church, for all of its pseudo-traditional Americana quaintness, does not have a pastor. And in fact, it is not a church. Why? Because it has deliberately and overtly disobeyed the Word of God (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

    Scripture is clear as to the role of women within the body of Christ and within the context of the local church. Women are not to be in roles of authority, leadership, or teaching over men; they are not to usurp the God-ordained, distinct role that God has reserved for men of His choosing. The Scriptures do not stutter on this point.

    But, what about a more ambiguous ministry? What about a book or a blog or a podcast? What if a woman is teaching the Scriptures or speaking theologically in one of these forums and a man happens to stumble upon it? Has the woman sinned?

    A semi-formal ministry such as a blog, book, or podcast must be approached with the biblical mindset of seeking to teach and equip fellow women as per Titus 2. At the same time, a woman blogger cannot know who is reading her blog. Nor can an author control who reads her book, or a podcaster supervise who hits “play.” Might the woman see it as necessary to make clear that she is, in fact, a woman and that her ministry is directed toward fellow sisters in Christ? Of course, this seems a logical and simple safeguard and is in fact my own approach.

    The issue does not end there, however. What is the role of women in casual conversation? What if a woman finds herself around a table of men, engaged in a theological conversation? Further still, what if one of those men takes a theological wrong turn? Is the woman stepping outside of the proverbial boundaries to offer correction, particularly if the other men present are failing to do so?

    My answer to this would be no, she is not. Of course, there are multiple reasons why deferring to another man who is present in the conversation is the wisest choice. If there is no other man present, or if there is and he is remaining silent in the face of error, the woman can follow confidently in the footsteps of Priscilla (Acts 18) in offering her theological thoughts as based in Scripture.

    The issue of authority within the church is not threatened by casual water-cooler conversation. All believers are called to contend for the faith (Jude 3) and to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name (Luke 24:47). All believers sit, stand, walk, and talk under the authority of Scripture. Too many women are affected by a distorted view of submission that leads to inappropriate silence in the face of error, and a mindset that tells them that they are not worthy of diving into deep theological waters. Dear sisters, do not let the errors of feminism cause you to shrink away from the commands and truths of Christ.

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  2. When I think back to the times I learned the most, it was the times I sought out a diverse set of people to guide me: young, middle-aged, old, men, women, black, white, latino, biracial. I can’t imagine telling the women that their wisdom must be kept to themselves because God set the rule in stone two millenia before we were born. No one has a monopoly on wisdom and the fact that its personified as a woman tells me that Christianity is cutting off its nose to spite its face to silence more than half of its members. The other day a woman reminded me that rules were made for us as we were for the rules, God didn’t want us beholden to following rules like “no healing on the sabbath” Jesus broke the rules that were used to justify why they wouldn’t help people by helping people. Jesus gave women their voice by speaking with, not to, them. It only seems right to follow his example.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jamie-

      Yes, Jesus broke the Pharisees’ man made rule about healing on the Sabbath. There is no command in Scripture not to heal on the Sabbath; that’s why Jesus was able to do so and remain sinless. Jesus always obeyed Scripture and in order to follow His example, that’s what Christians must do. First Timothy 2:12 is not a man made rule like the one Jesus broke. It is Scripture. Men and women who want to follow Jesus’ example of obeying Scripture must obey it and all His other commands.

      I know that the commands of Scripture seem silly to people who aren’t Christians, but we love them and embrace them. You probably find them restrictive and oppressive. We don’t. Even though we may struggle to understand or obey them at times, we find them liberating and a source of peace.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind and respectful comment :0)

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      1. Hi Michelle and Jaime –

        I have no expertise in what commands are thought to truly encompass God’s intent and which ones are thought to be out of line with his purposes, but I agree so much with Jaime that the Timothy rule seems to end conversations and the spreading of wisdom between men and women. Please tell me if I am understanding it at all correctly, but it hurts my heart to think that women might feel called to hold their tongue rather than engage in a conversation with men about what the bible teaches us or even responding to questions about her interpretations and insights. I just feel that we can use all of the wisdom, discussion, and sharing that we can get!

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      2. Hi Andy-

        I completely agree with you! Notice, I’m answering your question and conversing with you, which is in no way prohibited by Scripture. Conversations, discussions, input, feedback, the asking and answering of questions about theology- none of that is breaking Scripture. My husband and I are faithful members of a co-ed Sunday School class where all of our members are equally welcome to participate in the discussion. We also attend a monthly co-ed prayer meeting where everyone is welcome to pray aloud. I have lots of male friends, many of them pastors, with whom I discuss the Bible and theology on a peer level. And, obviously, I answer questions, comments, and e-mails from male readers.

        Where the Bible draws the line is at women holding the office of teacher, pastor, or any other position that puts them in authority over men in the gathered body of believers (the church), or behaving as though they hold that office even if they don’t (for example: guest preaching). That doesn’t apply to conversations, blogging, etc.

        As to “what commands are thought to truly encompass God’s intent and which ones are thought to be out of line with his purposes,” every word of the Bible encompasses God’s intent and none of those words are out of line with His purposes because God is the author of Scripture. I think what you’re getting at is which commands Christians are to obey today, right?

        Just for the sake of brevity, and because you’re asking about a New Testament passage, I won’t get into the civil and ceremonial law of Old Testament Israel (though it’s a very interesting study). Suffice it to say that all New Testament commands (and we have to make sure they’re actual commands, not a historical narrative, a parable, etc.) are to be understood in context and obeyed by Christians and the church. We can be especially sure of this when we’re looking at a pastoral epistle (specific instructions to pastors on how to structure and run the church) such as 1 Timothy.

        In case you might be interested, I’ve written a series on the Scriptures dealing with women’s roles in the church called Rock Your Role. It might help clarify things a bit.

        Hope this helps :0)

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  3. Michelle-

    I think I agree with you for the most part, but I am wondering, what would your perspective be in the setting of a college campus ministry or youth group: could one of the women leaders speak to the group or do a talk (that would involve basic teachings)?

    I believe they can, because I think that the commandment for only accepting a man’s teaching is limited to the home and the church setting, but I am wondering your view on this. I think outside of these two specific God-ordained authorities in all of our lives, we, as women, have the freedom in Christ to indeed teach our fellow brothers and sisters from our knowledge of Scripture and our personal testimonies.

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    1. Jaris- Thank you so much for asking this question, and I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I have been meaning to go back and add this issue to my Rock Your Role FAQs article, and your comment was the reminder I needed. My thoughts on this are in #7 and #11 (I think we need to separate out a meeting of Christians for worship, Bible study, etc., from outreach ministries to the lost).

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  4. On my sidebar I give what I am teaching, Titus 2:3-5, as the Lord has commanded for me to teach. My husband is watchful over what I write and has even told me not to publish some things that he didn’t feel I should be a part of. He even writes posts once in a while for me. I asked him if I should be teaching the Word and he told me of course I should or how could I teach the women to be good if they didn’t understand who they are in Christ.

    Men do read my blog but they know, without a doubt, that it is for women. Some read it and want advice for their marriage. Ken mentors them. Some want to find a godly women like one I teach about! Others just want to know what a godly wife should look like so tries to lead his wife in the ways of the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great that you and your husband collaborate on your blog. What a blessing!

      I kinda feel like my blog fits in to Titus 2:3-5 under “teach what is good.” There are a number of great blogs out there that focus specifically on being a godly wife and mother, but not as many that focus on discipleship- Bible study, hermeneutics, discernment, etc. I think the best foundation for being a godly wife and mother or single woman is to be a good student of the Bible and to be sound in doctrine, so that’s the area I focus on. I think that fits under “what is good” :0)

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  5. Praise the Lord for giving you beautiful respect for His word and for a discerning mind. Women need to submit to the authority of the scripture. I greatly appreciate you taking on the topic of teaching outside the church. As its been explained to me by several pastors, the scripture addresses authority in governance in the church as well as spiritual headship. Basically, women are not the boss of men in church or in a marriage. Outside of that, there’s nothing that says women cannot use their brains to talk about scripture or share their testimonies and how God’s word has applied to their life. Thank you for the blog and quotes.

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