Often, with regard to 1 Timothy 2:12, husbands and pastors will reassure a woman that it’s OK for her to teach that co-ed Sunday School class or step into a church leadership role reserved for men because she’ll be doing so “under his [husband’s or pastor’s] authority.”
But is that biblical?
When God tells us (in context, rightly handled, of course) not to do something and we do it anyway, that is sin. Only God has the authority to say what is sin and what is not. No one – not your pastor, your husband, your parents, your best friend, the Pope, nobody – has the authority to tell you that it’s OK to do something God has said is sin. That authority belongs to God alone.
Try inserting any other sin into that situation. Does your husband, pastor, or anyone else have the authority to tell you it’s OK to lie? Cuss? Covet? Of course not. And why would they even consider doing such a thing?
My point exactly.
The issue here is that this particular sin (teaching/exercising authority over men) has become so acceptable in the church that we no longer even see it as sin. If your husband or pastor gave you the go ahead to preach to or teach men in the gathered assembly of the church body, and you were to ask him to show you in Scripture where God says it’s OK for him to allow you to do that, he would quickly realize that he is not basing his decision on Scripture (because there is no Scripture that allows him to give you that permission), but on his own personal opinion that it’s OK. And that opinion has been heavily influenced by the fact that this sin is now so widely acceptable in the church at large.
Beth Moore is a perfect example of why husbands and pastors should not allow or encourage women to violate God’s word by teaching men. Beth Moore started out teaching a women’s Sunday school class in her home church. It grew. Men wanted to attend the class (a problem I’ve addressed here). She was hesitant, so she talked to her husband and pastor about it. They both told her it was OK because she would be teaching the men “under their authority” (despite the fact that there’s no passage of Scripture that allows them to say that or gives them the right to lay some sort of “mantle of authority” on her) That initial compromise led to another and another. Fast forward to today, and this is still the argument Beth Moore – in all of her false doctrinal glory – uses for preaching to men if she bothers to defend herself at all. And she has influenced thousands of women (and their husbands and pastors) to do the same.
But it doesn’t matter how sound our doctrine is, when women stand in front of co-ed groups and teach (or accept positions of authority over men in the church) we are teaching more than just what’s coming out of our mouths. We’re teaching that group of people by example that it’s OK for women to teach men. That God’s Word can be ignored and disobeyed in this area while we stand there urging them to obey it in other areas. How can a woman exhort a group to obey God while she is standing there disobeying Him herself?
It’s my prayer that we’ll begin to see more husbands and pastors uphold God’s Word and protect their wives and female church members from sinning by encouraging them to fulfill all of the wonderful roles God has for women in the church and by fencing off that one tree in the garden that bears the forbidden fruit of teaching and exercising authority over men.
Adapted from a Facebook mini-blog.
Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit
The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism
The Mother of All Rebellions: Having a Woman Preach on Mother’s Day
Why Asking Women to Preach Is Spiritual Abuse by Josh Buice