[x_custom_headline type=”left” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]Perhaps there is nothing worse than misunderstanding. Have you ever developed a bad attitude towards someone only to later discover that the entire episode was a simple misunderstanding? We would probably be shocked if we were to discover just how many relationships, marriages, businesses and even churches have unraveled all because of misunderstandings.[/x_custom_headline]
Sadly, there are those in church leadership, both in times past and even among us today, who have a very simple misunderstanding of what the Bible really does say about women and their role in the local church, and yes even within the ministry. As you continue to read, I’ll do my very best to clear up those misunderstandings.
DIGGING FOR GOLD
Some people only skim over the top of the scriptures and never really find out what the Bible is saying. I have read several books about the gold rush days in California back in the 1800’s. I have discovered that studying the Scriptures is very similar to those gold rush days. The miners found that you may get a few nuggets lying on top of the ground, but the wealth of gold comes from digging deep into the earth. And dig deep they did, until they brought out great sums of wealth. We must learn to do the same with the Bible. When it comes to studying the Bible, a failure to dig deep is what often creates these terrible misunderstandings.
One of the first misunderstandings that some believe and teach is that men are the head over all women. Is that true? Is that what the Bible teaches?
[x_blockquote cite=”1 Corinthians 11:3 KJV” type=”left”]“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”[/x_blockquote]
Is the man the head of every woman? Absolutely not. He may be the head of one woman, his own wife, but he is not the head of every woman.
KNOW THE CONTEXT
The Greek word for “man” and for “husband” in this verse is the same word. And the Greek word for “woman” and for “wife” is the same. Therefore you have to tell by the context whether Paul is writing about wives, or whether he is writing about woman in general.
In other words, when the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write “the head of the woman is the man,” it is clear that he is talking about a man’s wife in this context, and certainly not about men being the head of every woman on the earth.
Now for clarities sake, let’s take this single issue one step further: If a woman is born again then Christ is her “spiritual head,” not her husband. What Paul was talking about was from the domestic standpoint the husband is the head of his wife. However, a husband isn’t his wife’s head spiritually.
- A husband is not the head or the lord of his wife’s conscience, or her spirit, or her spiritual growth.
- Jesus is the spiritual head of the wife, just as much as He is of the spiritual head of the husband.
Every woman can come to Christ directly herself without the help or consent of any man, including her husband. A wife has a subordinate place in the family under the husband, but not in the Church, the Body of Christ.
And taking this one step further, we must also understand that a husband cannot countermand any of the Lord’s commandments. Don’t you find it a bit strange that people would teach that a wife should totally ignore the written Word of God if her husband doesn’t like what the Bible says? No intelligent person would argue that the Bible is telling us that every wife should obey every unscriptural idea or ungodly activity her husband comes up with, let alone obey every man.
Again let me state that Jesus is the wife’s spiritual head. The husband is the head of the home, in as much as he follows the Word of God and His commandments.
ARE WOMEN TO KEEP SILENT IN THE CHURCH?
Now let’s move forward and examine another serious misunderstanding about women and the church. As you’ll see, the verses below instruct women to keep silence in the church!
[x_blockquote cite=”1 Corinthians 14:34-35 KJV” type=”left”]“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”[/x_blockquote]
Again I must point out that the Greek word for “man” and for “husband” is the same, and the Greek word for “woman” and for “wife” is the same. With a very simple examination of these verses, we can easily see that this passage is not talking about all women in the church. It is clearly a message to married women, because they are being instructed to “ask their husbands at home.” The passage would be clearer to us if it read, “Let your wives keep silent.”
WHAT IS THE MAIN POINT FROM THE PASSAGE?
Why did these wives need to “keep silent?” Well notice in these verses that Paul is writing about these women asking questions. Here is what was happening: these wives were asking questions out loud in the church service disturbing the services. Most of the women in the time of Paul’s writings had little or no education whatsoever. So they would just speak right out in church and start asking questions. You can imagine how chaotic our services would be today if people just kept speaking up, asking one another questions.
The main point from this passage had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not women could be called of God to the ministry, or whether or not a woman can teach and preach in the church. Of course they can. Yet this very simple misunderstanding has crippled the Body of Christ, demeaned women, and created arrogant condescending men who were more out of order biblically speaking than the women they were haranguing.
Women are a great asset to the local church and to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time that they are lifted into their rightful place.