UPDATE: Please note, this article was written in 2016. It should not be construed to be a current endorsement of either Aimee or Mary.
My friends and readers are the best. They are so sweet and helpful when it comes to making sure I stay up to date on what’s happening out there in Evangelicaland. It’s like having a little army of really smart co-laborers who are great at research.
Last week, a couple of articles about women teaching men appeared on the Reformed complementarian women’s landscape, and several folks were kind enough to send them to me and ask for my reaction. I e-mailed the readers back with my responses, which I’ve posted below.
What is Sunday School? What Does it Appear to Be? And Who Can Teach It?
by Aimee Byrd
May 18, 2016
I have loved and respected Aimee’s work as a writer and podcaster for a while. This article was apparently written to clarify some things that had been said on a Mortification of Spin podcast.
“I didn’t catch the podcast, but I did read the article. I was disappointed with what Aimee said, because Steve’s comments [Steve Cooley’s comments in the comment section following the article] are correct. Also, if we look at the broad pattern of male headship in Scripture…
man was created first, then woman
woman was created to be helper to man
women are to submit to their husbands
women are not to serve in the office of elder or pastor
women are not to preach to men
women are not to exercise authority over/lead men in the church
…which fits better with this pattern, women teaching men in co-ed Sunday School or women not teaching men in co-ed Sunday School? I think it’s pretty clear that women not teaching men in co-ed Sunday School fits best. Why would God set this pattern of male headship in motion and then turn around and contradict it when it comes to women teaching men in Sunday School?
Furthermore, the gathering of a body of believers for studying the Bible is the gathering of the church, whether it is in someone’s home (like the first century church), a sanctuary, or a Sunday School classroom. We’re the ones who have invented all these lines of delineation between Sunday School, worship service, Christian conferences, revival meetings, etc., and then tried to go back and figure out which of these man-made distinctions 1 Timothy 2:12 applies to. When 1 Timothy was written, they didn’t have all that. The church was just the gathering of the believers for worship, study, etc. So 1 Timothy 2:12 applies to the gathered body of believers without respect to all these artificial lines we’ve drawn.”
Again, I have great respect for Aimee, but I disagree with her on this particular issue. It’s possible that the differences in our denominational viewpoints of Sunday School play a big part in this, and that if we ever had the chance to sit down and hash it out over coffee or something, we might find more common ground.
Women Teaching Men- How Far is Too Far?
by Mary Kassian
May 21, 2016
I’m not as familiar with Mary as I am with Aimee, but I’ve read and enjoyed a few of her articles. This one may have been a response to Aimee’s article above.
“Good stuff! I agree with her about 90%. I love that she brought out the part about “teaching under a man’s authority.” I wrote about that not long ago. It’s nice to hear somebody with a bigger platform say it. I hope people will listen to her!
I also love what she says about what we love versus following a set of rules. So true! Another aspect of this that I run into frequently with women who want to preach is that they’re so focused on leading they forget about Jesus’ example of humility in servanthood. We’re supposed to be focused on serving, not gaining notoriety.
My main disagreement with her would be the line she (and most others who address this issue) draws between the worship service and things like Sunday School and Christian conferences. Those are really man made lines of distinction rather than biblical ones. The “church” is the gathered body of believers for worship and biblical instruction. So whenever believers are gathered for those purposes – whether we call it Sunday School or worship service or a Christian conference, and whether it’s in a sanctuary, Sunday School classroom, or conference center – that’s the church, and the Scriptural mandate for women not to teach or hold authority over men applies.
I also think it’s interesting that in the second paragraph under “Can Women Teach Under Male Authority” she rightly points out, “The text doesn’t say, ‘A woman may teach men if…'”. But then later in the article she talks about how she feels it’s OK for her to teach men if they’re much younger than she is. Well, just like the text doesn’t say a woman can teach men if she’s doing so under male authority, it also doesn’t say it’s OK for a woman to teach men if she’s much older than they are. It just says “don’t”. Curious.”
Mary’s position on this issue is much more similar to mine. I hope to hear more from her about this in future articles.