Complementarianism, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Women teaching men- Questions from a young reader

I received this very astute line of questioning from a young lady who left a comment on one of my articles. The comment and questions were rather lengthy, so I’ve broken it up into portions in order to answer it in an organized way. If you need to read the entire comment, uninterrupted, for context or ease of understanding, scroll down, reading only the portions in bold.


Hi! Just to let you know, though it may seem, I have no intention of being rude in this question, and genuinely want to know your response to this. I am only in 9th grade, so I have a lot to learn, and want to know what you think about my comment...Thank you, and I am very curious to find out what you think about my questions and things that I might have misunderstood or missed.

That’s awesome! I wish I had been thinking as deeply about these things as you are when I was in the ninth grade. And, rest assured, your questions didn’t seem rude to me at all. I’m so glad you want to learn! I hope you’ll understand that my answers aren’t meant to be rude either, although they may not be quite what you’re expecting or wanting to hear.

You didn’t mention whether or not you’re a Christian or what your church background, if any, is, so let me just start off by saying, if you’ve never been genuinely born again, my answers might not make much sense. I would encourage you, even if you’re pretty sure you’re saved, to examine the materials at the What must I do to be saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page before moving ahead.

I was just wondering, if women are not allowed to teach men, and you are a woman and this blog is public to men and women, then aren’t you technically providing biblical insight and evangelizing to whatever gender is reading this to inform them of the Bible?

Nope. I’ve answered that question in detail in my article Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?

Additionally, “evangelism” and “teaching” (“providing insight” isn’t really a biblical category) are two different, separate things. You might find our podcast episode Women Preaching the Gospel? helpful for understanding the distinction.

Also, the book of Timothy, like you said, was a letter written from Paul to Timothy, so this was just the teachings that Paul gave to Timothy as instructions for the churches, and not necessarily coming from God.

I’m afraid that’s one of the things you’ve misunderstood. This wasn’t just a letter from one human being to another. The words in 1 Timothy, just like every word of every book of the Bible are from the very lips of God Himself. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” There aren’t some parts of Scripture that are from God and others that aren’t. It all comes from God, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

First and second Timothy and Titus are what we call the pastoral epistles (“epistle” means “letter”). That means they are God’s instructions, written through His human instrument, Paul, to Timothy and Titus and every pastor who came after them, about how to run the church.

I know Paul was a prophet and one argument could be that he got this information from God,

No, Paul was not a prophet, he was an apostle. And, as I discussed above, the Bible says that all Scripture is breathed out by God, so “Paul got his information from God” is the only argument that can be made, especially for Christians. Because, for Christians, the Bible is our authority on what to believe, not human arguments, opinions, and ideas.

but even prophets (besides Christ) make mistakes in their instructions to others,

I’m afraid that’s also incorrect. There’s not a single prophet in the Bible who, when speaking as a prophet to people on God’s behalf ever made one iota of a mistake about what He said. There were false prophets (who received the death penalty for saying they spoke for God when God had not really spoken to them), but none of God’s true prophets – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Habakkuk, etc. – ever got anything wrong or “made mistakes in their instructions to others” when speaking on behalf of God.

such as Abraham, who instructed people to be stoned for certain sins,

I think you mean “Moses” here. Abraham wasn’t a prophet, and I don’t recall any instance in Scripture in which Abraham “instructed people to be stoned for certain sins”. Moses didn’t either. God did. God gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai, and Moses wrote it down and taught it to the people.

and you can see that it was unlawful in God’s eyes

I’m sorry, but that’s incorrect as well. Since God is the One who gave the laws about stoning people for certain sins, He would never have said that someone properly obeying His law was doing something unlawful. That would be like God saying He was wrong when He made that law. And, of course we know that God is never wrong.

and you can see that it was unlawful in God’s eyes when Jesus told the priests about to stone Mary of Magdala that they should not stone her because they have sinned as well and God sees all sins as the same.

I think you’re talking about the story of the adulterous woman in Luke 7-8, right? Again, I’m sorry, but there are many things that need to be corrected here:

  • Stoning a woman caught in adultery was not “unlawful in God’s eyes”. It was lawful. God is the one who gave this law. The scribes and Pharisees correctly cited the law in 8:5.
  • Jesus wasn’t speaking to the priests, He was speaking to the scribes – experts in the law (which was an important point of this passage) – and Pharisees.
  • The text does not say the unnamed woman was Mary Magdalene.
  • Look carefully at the passage. In which verse does Jesus say “they should not stone her”? Answer: He didn’t say, “Don’t stone her.”. On the contrary, He said that they could commence with the stoning as long as whichever one of them was without sin cast the first stone.
  • He also didn’t say they couldn’t stone her because “they have sinned as well”. Every lawful stoning that has ever taken place on planet earth was carried out by sinners, because (except for Jesus) every human being is a sinner.
  • The Bible doesn’t say that God “sees all sins as the same” (In fact, we can see in the way that God deals with various sins in various ways throughout Scripture that this isn’t true.), so Jesus would never have said this nor given it as a reason that these men should not have stoned this woman.

Jesus didn’t say the law against stoning an adulteress was wrong. That would have been equal to saying God was wrong for giving that law. He didn’t tell the men not to obey the law, either. The key to understanding this story is in verses 4-7:

4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

They didn’t care about this woman or what happened to her. They didn’t care about the man who was sinning right along with her. They didn’t care that this sin wrecked the man’s and woman’s lives. They didn’t care that God’s law had been broken. They didn’t care that adultery grieves the heart of God. They didn’t care.

All of those things were just a means to an end for them. All they cared about was trying to get the advantage over Jesus. To trick Him into saying something they could use against Him so they could discredit Him or bring Him up on charges with the Sanhedrin (Jewish court). And they were using God’s precious and holy Word as a tool to accomplish this evil goal. They were blasphemously using God’s own Word against Him.

That is the entire point of this story. God’s Word is His representation of Himself to us. It is our lifeline to Him, because it is how we come to know Christ as Savior. It should be revered as high and holy, not twisted and abused for wicked purposes.

This is just one example of many things that God’s prophets have taught wrongly.

No, none of the things you’ve mentioned, nor the corrections I’ve given, have demonstrated that any true prophet of God has ever taught anything wrong when it comes to prophecy or commands of Scripture. Second Peter 1:20-21 tells us:

…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

So, since times were different in the first century and women were not seen as important to men, couldn’t this have been something Paul told Timothy to do based off of his own understandings culturally?

No. Again, 1 Timothy is a passage of God-breathed Scripture, not Paul’s personal human opinion. It was not based on Paul’s human understanding (see 2 Peter 1:20-21, above), culturally, or in any other way. This is God’s command to pastors, based solely on God’s reasons.

And God kindly shares those reasons with us in verses 13 and 14 of 1 Timothy 2:

11Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

God gives us two reasons for His command that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the gathering of the church body: the creation order and pattern of male headship (13), and the fact that the woman was the one who was deceived into sin (14).

That’s why. Not culture, not Paul’s personal opinions, not because men didn’t value women at the time, not because the women in that particular church at that particular time were unruly or false teachers, not for any of the man-made theories that people have come up with. God tells us exactly why He made this rule for the church in verses 13-14. I’ve discussed this in greater detail in my articles Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit and The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism. Here are a few of the pertinent excerpts:

You’ve asked some really great questions here, and your reasoning skills are sharp. It was my pleasure to serve you by answering your comment. Keep asking questions, studying, and learning all God has to teach us through His authoritative, inspired, all-sufficient written Word.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

4 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Women teaching men- Questions from a young reader”

  1. Excellent questions and comments from a young girl. Thank you Michelle Lesley for answering as you did. It gave me a chance to review by understanding of scripture and will help me in witnessing to others correctly. It is so good to see a young girl thinking earnestly of these matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent and thoughtful answers Michelle! I wish I had always had this patience when dealing with new believers or erroneous understandings. I am curious if it is ever ok for women to teach at a seminary?

    Like

Before commenting please see the "Welcome" tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. Comments are handled manually, so there will be a delay before approved comments are posted. I do not publish comments which promote false doctrine.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.