The Role of Women in Ministry
Open your Bibles to Judges 4 and we continue our study on crisis in leadership; crisis and leadership in the book of Judges. We need to be reminded that in Judges there are these cycles that go on. There are six key cycles, central cycles in the book; they go from disobedience to divine discipline on the nation, to divine deliverance for the nation and then after a period of rest in the land they to through the cycle again, much like every believer does in his own personal life. We go through various cycles and yet God is always gracious to us, we can never out sin the grace of God. That does not mean we have a license to sin but it does mean that no matter what we do in life there is always a grace recovery procedure and that if we are still alive God still has a plan for our life.
Now in the overall structure of Judges there is a deterioration. And you see the cycle, it starts with Othniel who is sort of the exemplary judge and he stands as a benchmark of integrity in leadership. And with each successive judge there is a deterioration and decline because the nation is becoming more and more absorbed and more and more influenced by the pagan concepts surrounding them as they've compromised with the values of the Canaanites. So we go through the process, we've gone through Othniel and Ehud and now we're are the Deborah cycle, and the Deborah cycle sets us up for the first time in the book with a key critique by the prophet who wrote the book of Judges of failure of male leadership. It's a fascinating study as we go through this to see how…there's a commentary on how paganism affects the role of men and women in society. Sex role reversal or what we see in our society today is the concept that such roles are just interchangeable, that there's no real difference between men and women, is one symptom of paganism.
The idea that I'm developing as we go through this and I'll begin to systematize this more and more as we proceed through the book is that pagan thought, human viewpoint thought which is defined in James 3:13-15 by three key adjectives, we must keep this in mind, all human wisdom is defined as being earthly, natural and demonic. And that is in contrast to the divine viewpoint expressed in Scripture. Now those three terms are crucial to understand the nature of human viewpoint wisdom, no matter how good it sounds, no matter how wise it may be, no matter how much it may appear to work at any given time, human viewpoint thinking is classified by these three terms. "Earthly" comes from the Greek word ge, which refers to the fact that it is of those who live on the earth and is often contrasted with heavenly. Okay, the contrast is with heavenly thought versus earthly thought, the thinking of man versus the thinking of God.
The second word, translated "natural" which is a bad translation, is the Greek word psuchikos, and that is a form of the noun psuche for soul, it means soulish. To understand that we have to realize that man was originally created trichotomous, that means he had three parts, he had a body, he had a soul and he had a human spirit. The human spirit was that aspect of man's soul that allowed him to have a relationship with God and to understand spiritual things. Now at spiritual death when Adam sinned and disobeyed God in the Garden, God had said if you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will certainly die, instantly die and that death that occurred then was the loss of the human spirit, separation from God and the inability to have a relationship with God and to understand spiritual things, so that man in his immaterial part not, his post-fall experience, only has a soul. It is only at regeneration that God the Holy Spirit creates and imparts to this individual a new human spirit so that he can have a relationship with God and understand spiritual things. So the soul, the unbeliever is called psuchikos as opposed to the believer who is sometimes referred to as pneumatikos, meaning he now is a believer; pneumatikos also can refer to spiritual maturity, it depends on the context, but the human soul, the believer is psuchikos which means he just as a human soul, so human wisdom is soulish. That means that it is limited in its content because it is unable to understand spiritual things, so it is diluted at its core; there are major flaws in all human wisdom because there are critical aspects of reality that are left out, and that is related to spiritual phenomena, so human wisdom has its source in man as opposed to God, it is soulish as opposed to spiritual, not incorporating within it spiritual truth, therefore it is flawed.
Then lastly it is called demonic and that is from the Greek word, daimonos, meaning related to demons and that tells us that all human viewpoint at its core is related to the same kind of thinking that characterized Satan in his fall, and this means it is ultimately characterized by two concepts, arrogance and antagonism towards God and God's plan… arrogance and antagonism. Now this is the core of all human viewpoint thinking, what I call all pagan thought. Paganism is a technical term for all thought that is inconsistent with the Word of God. It is not an insult, some people think it's an insult; it is a technical term for non-Christian thinking. It always has been and I'm not using it in any kind of an insulting manner, just as a term to contrast the two types of thinking.
So when a culture is influenced by paganism at its core, that means that at the core of its thought, the ideas that dominate the culture, at that core you have antagonism to God's Word and human arrogance in all of its forms, self-absorption, self-indulgence, self-deception and self-justification. When you have all of those aspects functioning as part of arrogance, then that core thought is going to manifest itself in various different ways in the culture. And these are symptoms. Now what happens so often is we see all kinds of symptoms that occur, everything from lawlessness to the other extreme which is tyranny, we see breakdown in the family structure, we see a breakdown in marriage, the high rate of divorce is just one symptom of that. And not only that but one reason that some people suggest that the rate of divorce is beginning to decline is that people just aren't getting married, they're just living together and so when they breakup they don't even get a divorce. But if you factor in the number of people who are living together without benefit of marriage for a number of years and then they break up, if you factor that in as a divorce, then the statistics would be quite high indeed.
So you have various symptoms of paganism; it also expresses itself in the ideological structure of a society and that will work itself out in art forms, such as music, literature, architecture, every art from is going to be impacted by the expression of these autonomous ideas that are also antagonistic to the Word of God. It's going to affect also how we view ourselves as individuals and the role that men and women, males and females, operate on in society, how they view their roles in society. That in turn is going to come back and impact the view of marriage and the view of family.
So paganism therefore works itself out in any given culture in perhaps many different ways. You might have it express itself in one culture as an extreme tyrannical patriarchy, where the males are ruling excessively tyrannically over women and that's wrong. It may be expressed on the other extreme in terms of the matriarchy, where there is a rejection of male authority and male leadership and the men are operating in an extremely passive manner and leadership in the home and leadership in the society is dominated by women. There has never been a successful matriarchy in all of human history; in fact I think that matriarchy probably marks more the more primitive expressions of paganism rather than more sophisticated forms of paganism. And this is the situation that we see happening in the book of Judges. One of the things that we'll see as we go through this is that part of the symptoms, as you see this role reversal take place, the men will exercise leadership in a more negative light; women have to step to the plate so you see a masculinization of women, a feminization of men and another symptom that goes along with this as it occurs is that there is less and less respect for women and there is a rise of an abusive attitude toward women. Now I find that interesting.
We'll work the implications of that out as we go through this study and get to some more detailed passages on that but it's interesting that one of the things that we note in our modern culture is that as there has been a rise of the changing views of the roles of men and women in society and in marriage since the rise of modern feminism in the early 60s, there has also been a rise or increase in abuse. Now what you'll hear from the liberal is that well, there's always been abuse. I didn't say there never has been abuse, but there never has been the kind of abuse and the kind of breakdowns in marriage that we have today in the past. There was always some of that because no society is ever perfect, people have a sin nature and there's always been an element of pagan thought in any society; there's always a large element of that. But it doesn't mark the culture. What we see today with the rise of abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, is that this is something that is characterizing our culture as a whole across the board, and it did not characterize the culture a hundred years ago. There may have been many instances of that kind of abuse but it wasn't characteristic of the culture as a whole, which is what I am saying.
We started our study of this because this is so crucial, to understand this as it impacts the church and the role of ministry in the church, and this has been a hot issue in Christianity and in ecclesiology for the last thirty years. And the pressure has come in many ways from groups, politically active groups in our society putting pressure on the government and then the government putting pressure on businesses and on schools and on seminaries. When I was applying to Dallas Seminary in 1974 this was one of the issues we talked about. I was involved with a pastor then who had two or three men who were planning to go to seminary and one of the issues was to work through your position on the role of women because Dallas was changing. Dallas Seminary was originally founded to train men for the pastoral ministry. And they opened up a secondary degree program in the mid-70s called just a Master of Arts which was different fro the Master of Theology. A lot of people don't understand that what's happened today; people go to Dallas and they think they get a Dallas grad who has a Master of Arts and Biblical Studies and they don't understand that that's a cheap imitation, in my opinion, of a ThM, it's only a two year program and no languages are required. And they don't understand the distinction so they get something less than what Dallas used to produce in the 50s and 60s. But one of the reasons they opened up a MABS program was because of this cultural pressure, because up until, I think 1973 or 74 when they instituted this there were no women at Dallas Seminary because it was designed to train men for the pastoral ministry. But people were beginning to have trouble getting GI bill funding for their tuition because the government was looking at the school and saying hmmm, there are no women there, that violates our governmental policy for restructuring society so you have to start either including women in the student body or we won't let any government funding come your way. Since money talks, there was a response to that and there were changes that took place and by 1981 Dallas changed their purpose statement; no longer do they exist as a seminary to train men for the pastoral ministry, they changed their purpose statement to train men and women for Christian leadership.
Now I don't necessarily have any problem with that per se but I do have a problem with the fact that there needs to place that trains men for the pastoral ministry. So what you see there is something that is very similar to, in my opinion, what happened in Israel. Israel wanted to have a king like everybody else. Well, Dallas wanted to be a seminary like everybody else and from that point on I would mark it as in decline. And they began to add degree programs and once they changed their purpose statement there was no longer a legitimate reason to exclude women from the ThM program and from the ThD program. And then eventually they even had women on the faculty who taught in those programs. So you see it's a gradual, gradual pressure.
When I was speaking at a church in Wilmington, Ohio, at a black church there, we were talking about how much pressure there is among many of the black Baptist Churches in this area and the association of Baptist Churches in Columbus, Ohio, approximately 54 churches were in this association and in the last few years there has been a lot of pressure to put women in the pulpit and so only 6 of those 54 churches still have men in the pulpit. That's the kind of shift that is taking place; it's a feminization of the church, a feminization from the resulting feminization of our society. The Southern Baptist Convention this last year adopted a new Faith in Message, which has created all kinds of controversy and in that new Faith in Message that they adopted they made a position that women should not be in the pulpit ministry, in a pastoral ministry. And so that's created a lot of stir recently. There was a report that the Texas division of the convention decided to withhold all of their finances from the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole because they didn't agree with that position. Then former President Carter decided to remove himself from association with the Southern Baptist Convention because they wouldn't allow women in the pulpit. And then the Georgia Baptist Convention voted to affirm the Baptist Faith in Message so they're going to stick with the Southern Baptist Convention.
So it's creating a tremendous controversy in our society, not to mention the fact that it impacts not only churches and pulpits but it impacts everybody's view. I would gather than anybody here over 40 has seen some of their views in this area change, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse, change in regard to this. So we have to look at what the Bible says about the role of women in terms of spiritual leadership. And that's why I started off talking about the general doctrine of leadership the last several weeks, understanding that this is related to, I think it's a corollary to the first divine institution, which is human responsibility. And human responsibility tells us that everybody holds a certain duty, office or trust that has been delegated by God and is therefore answerable and accountable for decisions and actions in relationship to that duty, office or trust so that men were given in terms of the created order a position of leadership and spiritual responsibility.
The woman was created to assist the man. That does not make her less than the man. That was unfortunately a position that was taken for many years, many centuries as a matter of fact, that somehow women were somehow in their essence, what is called ontology, were somehow ontologically less than men. But that's not what the text says. In Genesis 1:26-28 it says God created them in His image, male and female, He created them, so that both the man and the woman, both the male and the female are equally created in the image of God. So in terms of who they are as individuals, they are ontologically and metaphysically equal. There is nothing that makes a man inherently superior to a woman, or a woman inherently superior to a man. They are created with different roles and because of that you can demonstrate that the male soul was created differently from the female soul.
But then we come to Genesis 3 and we discover that because of sin that was marred, and God said that now as a result of sin the relationship between men and women would suffer damage, just as every other relationship in creation suffered damage, so that it says the woman's pain would now be multiplied in childbirth, and her desire, it says in Genesis 3:15, would be for the man. And the word there for "desire" is the Hebrew word teshuwqah, which indicates a desire to control and to dominate. And then it turns around and says but the man will want to rule the woman. So right there you have the beginning of the family feud and the war of the sexes.
What changes that and the only thing that can change that is regeneration and spiritual growth. And then you come to passages in Ephesians 5 which will begin to restore those relationships in Christ. But nevertheless, there are role distinctions and that does not mean that one is less significant than the other. You look at a football game, you've got a quarterback and you've got a running back and one is not inherently better than the other, but there are roles; the quarterback calls the plays or maybe the coach calls the plays from the sideline but everybody has a role, everybody has a position that they operate in, everybody has a position of leadership and responsibility and authority is related to those concepts of leadership and rresponsibility and leadership and authority are related to your sphere of responsibility. And in a family the husband is given the role of responsibility and spiritual leadership in the home.
Now when you think about it, the church, the meeting of the local congregation is nothing more than an aggregate of families. This is just a logical argument, we'll get into some Scripture in a minute; if women were to be in a position of following in the home spiritually, not in the role of spiritual leadership, and in the church when all the families get together the woman is now in a position of spiritual leadership there would be a major conflict between what goes on in the home and what goes on in church. So the church is an extension, in one sense, of the family because it is an aggregate of families. So that is why the leadership principle in the home continues to the church and you see a breakdown in leadership in the home, male leadership in the home, you see a corollary in the church and that's exactly what we're seeing happen. These are all symptoms of an underlying paganism which is a rejection, number one, it's arrogance, man is defining his roles on his own terms so it's arrogance and it's antagonistic to God. How can God say that men are superior to women? It doesn't mean that there aren't women that can out teach men, I've certainly heard some women who know a whole lot more than men do and they might be more articulate and they might be able to communicate some things a lot better than men but that's not the issue; that's a pragmatic argument. We always have to argue from what the Scripture says. So we get into a look at what goes on in these passages.
In Judges 4:1ff we'll see the significance of Deborah. "And the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.  And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin, king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim.  And the sons of Israel cried unto the LORD," this is their turning to the Lord for succor from their domination by the Canaanites, "for He had nine hundred iron chariots; and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time."
Now as I have said, the concept of a judge is not what we think of as a judge. In fact, "judge" probably isn't the best word to describe, to translate the Hebrew word shaphat, it has the idea of deliverance, sometimes it's a military deliverer, sometimes it's a military conqueror, it sort of wraps up several functions. There is an adjudication function here where he is making decisions related to problems, civil problems, problems in the society, but there's also a sense in which he is… most of them are used by God to go out and attack a foreign power that has oppressed or dominated the nation. But you don't see Deborah functioning in that way; she is not functioning in that deliverer sense. She is simply functioning as someone who is adjudicating decisions in the nation.
Judges 4:5, "She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment." This is a fulfillment of the Deuteronomy 17:8 passage which says, "If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, between one kind of assault or another, being cases of disputes in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses." So God clearly raised up Deborah as a judge in this fashion to adjudicate decisions. There is no hint that there is anything inherently wrong with Deborah that she's operating in some sort of illegitimate manner at all. But nevertheless, what we have to define is what her role is; her role is not in handling Scripture. Her role is not in the communication of Scripture; her role is in adjudicating decisions based on the Law.
Now there are several questions we need to address in this whole issue; we began with this last time. First, what exactly is the role in nature of a prophet because we see that she was a prophetess? What exactly is the role and nature of a prophet? The second question, what is the authority of the prophet? Third, how many women are there in Scripture who are prophetesses? What's the argument there? Fourth, is this a normative role or an unusual role? Fifth, is there something negative going on here about Deborah taking the role of a judge? Is there something negative and if so what sense is there something negative going on here. And then finally what is the implication of this for the role of women in ministry for the Church Age, because this is one of those passages that if you ever get in a discussion with someone on this subject, and I know from talking to many of you that you have run into this problem in one way or another, that this is always one of those examples that people go to—well what about Deborah? Well what about the daughters of Philip in Acts, they were prophetesses, why doesn't that justify us in having woman pastors? So that's why we have to look at this important issue and take it apart Scripturally.
The first question is: what exactly is the role and nature of the prophet. First of all you have to distinguish between the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy. You don't have any women functioning in the office of prophet because the office of prophet would entail a certain level of authority that went with the office. What you have in the Old Testament is four women who are said to have the gift of prophecy. Now the gift of prophecy is that God has given them the ability and God reveals to them certain things and then they express that. It is a revelatory gift. As such, the gift of prophecy receives revelation from God and then expresses that verbatim to people. The difference between a prophet and a priest is that the prophet stands between God and man; and God reveals certain things to the prophet and then the prophet communicates that to man. A priest operates as an intermediary between man and God. So the priest is bringing man before God; the prophet is bringing the Word of God to man. There are no examples in the Scripture of a female functioning in the role of priest.
Now in the gift of prophecy, not in the office of prophet, but in the gift of prophecy, prophecy does not entail, according to an excellent article by Dr. Hohner on prophecy, he states: "Prophecy is neither skill nor aptitude nor talent." Now that's important because that's going to relate somewhat to the role of a pastor later on. "It is the actual speaking forth of words given by the Spirit in a particular situation and ceases when the words cease, so that the authority in a prophetic utterance is in God and His Word. It is not in the person delivering the Word, so that in the function of the gift of prophecy the prophet functions merely as a mouth piece or a speaker." An example we might use is like this summer when I was teaching in Kazakhstan, and I would teach through an interpreter, and I would state something and then the interpreter would put it into the language of the people, into Russian or into Kazakh. The authority was not in her, she was simply restating what I said, so she did not possess any authority at all, she was simply the mouthpiece through which I taught. The authority was completely in me and in my teaching. So that helps us to distinguish the authority position of the gift of prophecy. So the role of prophet was to reveal God's will to man, specifically in terms of what God had revealed to the individual prophet.
The second question is: what is the authority of the prophet? The authority of the person with the gift of prophecy is not in an office, I'm not talking about the person that has the office of prophet; the authority resides in the words themselves, that they come from God and it ceases once the prophecy ceases, once the revelation ceases. The authority resides in the message, not in the person giving the message, and that is distinct from a teacher, because the teaching involves the explanation, exposition, interpretation of the Word of God. And there is authority inherent in teaching that is not in the gift of prophecy. So you don't have any women functioning an office of prophet, they only function with the gift of prophecy and that is distinct from teaching in that it does not entail an authoritative position.
That brings us to the third question which is: how many women are there in Scripture who are prophetesses. The first one that is mentioned is Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, in Exodus 15:20 it states, "And Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing." So that's all it states, is that she was a prophetess, it doesn't really give us more information than that.
The second woman mentioned as a prophetess is Deborah in Judges 4, the passages we're studying.
The third is mentioned in 2 Kings 22:14, a woman by the name of Huldah, "So Hilkiah, the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah, went unto Huldah, the prophetess, the wife of Shallum, the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the second quarter) and they spoke to her." So they were going to her for divine revelation, but she is not in a position of authority.
The fourth is an interesting passage in Nehemiah 6:14 where you have reference to Noadiah, the prophetess. This is interesting because the rabbis never listed her among the prophetesses of the Old Testament, even though the Septuagint lists her as a prophet she's ignored by the rabbis, so there's some textual or historical problem with this, but she is listed as a prophetess but we don't know anything more than that. ["My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess, Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, who would have put me in fear."]
When we come to the New Testament, in Luke 2:36, we have mention of Anna, the prophetess. This happens at the time that Jesus is presented by His parents at the temple on His eighth day according to the Law. "And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was advanced I years, having lived with an husband seven years after her marriage," and so she is waiting there at the temple expecting the Messiah, she's been there for years, and she announces when Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus, when they bring the baby in she announces that this is the Messiah. This is not a position of authority; she is simply expressing the revelation of God.
And then the other major example of this in the New Testament is with the daughters of Philip in Acts 21:7-10, and it simply mentions that the daughters of Philip were prophetesses.
Now two important observations must be kept in mind. First of all, none of these are teaching, explaining, expositing the Word of God. They are merely relating the Word of God; they are telling people what God has told them to articulate. Second, none of them is in a position of authority in relation to spiritual matters. They are not in a position of authority. The authority does not reside in them but in their words.
That brings us to the fourth question, which is: is this a normative role or an unusual role? When we look at the fact and compare how many men served as prophets versus the number of women that are mentioned as prophetesses, it clearly indicates that this is not a normative position. I'm not saying that it…that doesn't mean it's wrong, obviously God gave them the gift, but it was sort of more in an unusual set of circumstances rather than being the normal course of action.
This brings us to the next question, which is a crucial one and that is: is there something negative about Deborah taking the role of a judge? And the answer to that is yes and no. No in the sense that it's not wrong for Deborah; God has put her in this position, God has given here the gift of prophetess, but it's like a back-handed compliment. She's in that position because there's a vacancy, an absence of male leadership. We looked the fact that at the end of Judges 3 there's this mention of Shamgar, and that's so important, and it just kind of hangs there and not much is said about Shamgar, but what we saw there was that in order for God to deliver and protect Israel from this threat on their flank from the Philistines, that God brought in this Egyptian mercenary named Shamgar, he's not even a believer, he's not an Israelite, so God has to use an unbeliever in order to protect the Jews because there's no Jew who's willing to stand in the gap; there's such an absence of leadership in the nation. We see that more and more throughout the entire book of Judges.
We come to Gideon in the next episode, we're going to look at Gideon and Gideon just hides out in the winepress every time there's a military threat from the Midianites and the Amalekites. I mean, he's just a cowering coward. And there's just no real strong leadership in the land. And we look at some of the things that are done by others, like Jephthah and Samson, and we just see that there is just this terrible problem with the leadership; they are in carnality, they don't really trust the Lord fully, they have so compromised their thinking with paganism, and so we see this real shift taking place here between Judges 3 and Judges 4 that is setting us up for understanding the problems in the leadership in the land. So it's a backhanded compliment, God raises up Deborah because the men are too weak and wimpy spiritually to stand in the gap. And so what we see here is women having to take over the man's role, and that's what typically happens in a pagan society. As men abdicate their role of spiritual leadership women have to stand I the gap in order to provide some form of spiritual leadership in the home, otherwise there wouldn't be any.
Now that doesn't make it right, that's simply an analysis of what happens, but it is an indictment on the male leaders in the society and on husbands and fathers, and shows that the people are too impacted by the pagan way of thinking, and men fall way. So many times I've heard this from people: religion, that's for women, that's not for men so we let the wife take care of that. That just shows the real flaws in many families, that men cannot exercise leadership and when they try to it's more like tyranny and it's not leadership. And that goes back to the war of the sexes, back in Genesis 3, that apart from regeneration and spiritual maturity men are going to want to act like tyrants but women are going to want to do the same thing so there's a constant war for who's going to wear the pants in the family.
So we look at this and we see that there is something negative about this; it's not a condemnation or a critique or anything negative about Deborah, it is a comment, a negative comment about the culture, and this is also seen in Isaiah 3:10-12. There we see the same kind of indictment against the nation. And Isaiah is told to "Say to the righteous, that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions.  Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with them; for what he deserves will be done to him.  Oh my people," says the Lord, "their oppressors and children, and women rule over them. O my people, those who guide you lead you astray, and confuse the direction of your paths." The lack of male leadership and the need for women to stand in the gap is a shameful thing in Scripture. This is a shameful thing and this is an indictment of the role of the men that they have failed to stand in the gap as spiritual leaders.
Let's turn to some important New Testament passages. 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul writes, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ," so right there he's establishing an authority leadership position. He is a leader and he's setting an example by his life and he's saying just as I recognize that I am under the authority of Christ and am following His example, in that I follow His example you follow my example. Now that's an important distinction to make. Don't just follow the example of some pastor or some spiritual leader because they are spiritual, they may do some things wrong, but in that they are following Christ, in that pattern we are to imitate them, but not necessarily in everything. Remember, every spiritual leader, every pastor, every theologian, every major figure in church history has also been flawed because we all have sin natures so we can't set up any pastors or any spiritual leaders as the ultimate example because they're all going to fail at some point and once we make them some sort of a standard for spirituality, as soon as they make a mistake then too many people react to that and either try to destroy the person they set up in that position or they decide well, Christianity isn't worth anything because dear old so and so that I trusted for so many years fell apart and committed…[tape turns]
…offends me and now I'm going to throw away Christian. So we never put our hope in man. But Paul is just simply saying that he is an imitator of Christ, we are to imitate him. And then he is going to use that as a framework for understanding the role of men and women in church life and ministry.
1 Corinthians 11:2, he says, "Now I praise you, because you remember in me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions just as I delivered them to you." Now "tradition" for some people is a bad word. Tradition can be good; tradition can be bad. The Pharisaical tradition was bad; it was based on a false concept, but a tradition that is based on Biblical truth and is sound and is in accordance with doctrine is a good tradition. So tradition in and of itself is not wrong. It is whether the tradition is biblically correct or not. So Paul has passed on the correct Biblical traditions grounded in creation.
1 Corinthians 11:3, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a women, and God is the head of Christ." Now this is an interesting statement and in the Greek it is not in the same order that it is in the English. In the Greek it reads like this: "But I want you to know that of every man," notice, that's the first thing, he doesn't start with the authority and then go to the one under the authority, that's what we would expect and that's the way it is translated, but that's not how he states it. He starts with the person under authority first, he says "of every man Christ is the head." So the emphasis is on the person who is a subordinate role, in a submissive role, "of every man," and here it's talking about every male.
It is not the word anthropos in the Greek which can be used generically of every human being; just like in English we talk about all mankind, not this silly human kind that the multi-cultural politically correct people are foisting on everybody today, but because every language has always been that way and that's because every language ultimately…what's inherent in this is a recognition of the created male authority going back to Genesis 1. That's why in almost all…most languages that I know about talk about mankind, use the word for "men" to describe the entire human race because man is the Adam. It was Adam who was the head; it was Adam's decision as we see in 1 Timothy 2, not the woman's decision, that caused the fall. So there is nothing wrong with that and all of these attempts to go to some kind of gender non-specific language is really heresy and is just another example of man's rebellion against the created order.
But I want you to understand Christ is the head of every man. So every male is under the authority of Jesus Christ. That's what he is starting with. Then the next clause reads: "and the man is the head of the woman," in the Greek it's reversed, it's "the head of a woman is the man." And then the third line is "and the head of Christ is God." I want you to notice that in the first clause the focus is on Christ, and in the second clause the focus is on Christ; that's the way it's worded in the Greek. So this is something of a chiasm. Now we have discussed that form, that style of writing before. Chiasm is based on the Greek letter Chi, and what you do is when you're writing something you will list two or three things in an order like this, so it forms one side of a Chi, that's where they get the term chiasm. And a chiastic structure is common in many passages in Scripture. In fact, I may or may not take the time to do this but the entire outline of the book of Judges is based on a chiasm, and in a chiastic structure the focal point, it's like a frame, a frame is designed to draw your attention to the center of the picture, to what it is framing. The frame should never detract from the picture and it's designed to draw your attention…when you look at a picture the frame should help draw all of your focus to the focal point of the picture, whatever the picture is, and that's how a chiastic structure is. Now that's not saying that the other points aren't important but they're all designed to draw the attention to what's in the center point.
The book of Judges is based on a chiasm and the center point is the judgeship of Gideon because Gideon is a major turning point to the bad for the history of Israel during the period of the Judges. But here you have a chiasm where a focal point in the first part is Christ and the last part is Christ and in the middle the emphasis is on the male-female relationship and specifically it is a husband-wife concept. The reason I say that is because in the opening section of verse 3 it says that of "every man Christ is the head," and there it is andros in the Greek, which is the term for male. It is also the term for husband. Now context has to indicate which it is, and here it says that Christ is the head of every male; "of every male Christ is the head," and then it says, "and the male is the head of a female." It is andros and gune, emphasizing male and female, but when you have it that context then it's husband-wife. Those two terms can either be male or they can emphasize the female but when you put them together in the same context it's usually husband and wife. So what Paul is doing in his argument here is he's laying down a fundamental principle in verse 3 and the application will come from that principle. And he says, "of every male Christ is the head, and of a woman," "of a wife the man is the head, and of Christ God is the head."
Now the other key word that is listed here is a word translated "head," which is the Greek word, kephale, there's no soft "c" in Greek, and when this comes over into English you have the word cephalic, which refers to the head, and so in some passages it refers to the physical head but in passages where it is used metaphorically it always…in Greek it always, in this kind of a context always refers to an authority position. Now the feminists, the so-called evangelical feminists, which is an oxymoron, the evangelical feminists come along and they have tried to argue that kephale really means origin or source, like in English we might talk about the head of a river, so that just means origin or source and then they would translate this that Christ is the source of every male and the male is the source of every female and that means that the woman was taken out of the side of Adam, and God is the source of Christ. That's just false.
In fact, what really impressed this meaning on me was a debate that a friend of mine, Wayne House, had, Wayne is quite a well-educated individual, he is a professor of theology, he also has a law degree, he was a professor at Dallas when I was working on my doctorate there, I had some courses with him, and Wayne has debated all of the major evangelical feminists; he's gone into the lion's den at their universities and debated them and he was debating one of the major scholars on the evangelical feminist side at her university in Washington State I believe, and in front of the whole student body, and she made the argument that kephale referred to origin or source. Wayne reached down in his brief case and at that time computers were just coming into their own in terms of Bible study, and he pulls out a ream of paper about two inches thick and said I have here a list of every use of kephale in Greek literature, Classic Greek and Koine Greek, would you please give me one example where kephale is used of source anywhere in all this literature. She couldn't even read Greek. It took over a year for the authorities of that school to somehow restore their liberal slant to the student body.
The evidence, none of the evidence is in the evangelical feminist camp; all of the syntactical and lexical evidence is against their position, but it's not socially acceptable. It doesn't fit the social agenda of the liberal left and the feminists to go with this kind of authority hierarchal position. Nevertheless, that is exactly what the Word of God says and the only way you can avoid it is to ignore the evidence and to misconstrue it. So what we have here is a clear statement that just as Christ is the authority over every male, and the husband is the authority over the wife, God is the authority over Christ. And it's not just authority, don't hear tyranny, don't hear the autocratic boss. Remember the flip side of authority is leadership. If you are in an authority position you are in a leadership position and leadership is related to a goal and a role. And remember the man's role is the leader in spiritual authority so his authority is related to spiritual leadership in the home.
Let's look at 1 Corinthians 11:4, "Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.  But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one in the same with her whose head is shaved." Now being shaved was a sign of dishonor and that you weren't under authority, and usually the prostitutes would shave their head and so it was a sign of extreme shame in that culture. And what Paul is saying here…the only thing I want to emphasize here is that he accepts as legitimate that men and women both can pray and prophesy in church. Now since the gift of prophecy is no longer in effect that's out. But it does, at least, allow for the fact that praying by a woman in church was legitimate because it's not an authority position; it's not an explanation of Scripture. I've heard some men and some women try to preach when they pray and that's going beyond the bounds of prayer, if you understand it. But the point is that Paul does accept that as a legitimate function because it's not authoritative.
Then he goes on to talk about the issue of physical recognition of authority. 1 Corinthians 11:6, "If a woman does not cover her head," that goes back to the previous verse that if a man prays he should not cover his head because it was a sign of his submission to his authority, and so he would take off his head recognizing his authority position but every woman would pray with her head covered and that was a cultural thing; I just want to skip on past that and go to another passage.
1 Corinthians 14:34, Paul says, "Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak," and here the word is laleo, which has the idea of teaching in the context, "women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak." No, what happens is…first of all, this passage has a textual problem and the liberals come along and say well, it wasn't really in the original and I've heard some other scholars try to argue there. There are a large group of manuscripts that do not have verses 34-35 in this location, but they're there, they're just at the end of the chapter and not there. But they also happen to all relate geographically to the western church around Italy and they probably are copies of the same original. But the fact is that it's not that the verses are missing, it's just that they're not in the same place. There is no significant manuscript that I'm aware of that omits these verses at all. They are always there, there's just a problem with where they put them. But most of the oldest manuscripts, the manuscripts that are considered the better manuscripts all have these verses here and those manuscripts go back to the early third century AD.
So it says, "Let the women keep silent in the churches," now obviously they're allowed to pray and prophesy, so Paul is not addressing that, he's talking about teaching and also in this context he's talking about using the gift of tongues. So they were forbidden to speak in tongues, which indicates that women would not have then been given the gift of tongues, and this is interesting because in many charismatic churches it's primarily the women who were speaking in tongues. The women are to "keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves also, as the law says,  And if they desire to learn anything," that is if they have a point of confusion or are distracted on doctrine then they're not to interrupt in the congregation meeting to ask a question, they're to wait until they go home and ask their husbands. See, that puts the husband in the spiritual leadership position and does not put him in a spiritual leadership position in conflict with the pastor. And that happens in many situations because the man has bailed out in terms of his authority position, that the only place that a woman can get spiritual leadership is from the pastor and all of a sudden she goes home and says, well pastor said so and so and pastor said this and she makes her husband look like an idiot and she shows disrespect for him. And here the woman is to keep silent and she's to go home and ask the husband. That just puts him in a position of carrying out his divinely ordained role of spiritual leadership.
Let's go to one last passage, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, this is the clearest statement in the New Testament and I want you to note from both the 1 Corinthians 11 passage and from this passage that Paul is not arguing that women be silent because that's the way we do things in our culture. He's not arguing from that, he is arguing always from the order of creation, and what he is saying is that a woman's position in the church, and the fact that she is "in Christ" and we all are equal in Christ, you know in the Old Testament law women could not be priests, they could not go into the inner part of the temple, and there was a distinction made in the Law between men and women and slaves and free people and if you were a man you had certain privileges and prerogatives in the worship of God that did not extend to women or to slaves. And what happens in the church, Galatians 3:24-25 says that there is no longer slave or free, male or female, because all are one in Christ. Now the evangelical feminist comes along and says what that's really saying is that there are no distinctions any more between men and women. That's patently false; I mean there were still distinctions between the slave and free. Paul clearly recognized that, he didn't tell Onesimus, when he ran away from Philemon, that you're now free because we're all one in Christ so you're not a slave any more. He sent a letter back to Philemon and he said because Onesimus has now become a believer I'm going to encourage you to set him free. He doesn't argue that oh well, now that we're all one in Christ he's automatically free. So there were still social distinctions. Just because you're "in Christ" it doesn't wipe that out and yet that's the argument that is always floated on this and it's just inherently illogical.
Starting in 1 Timothy 2:11, "Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness," and what this is focusing on is that there should be an attitude of respect for authority in the instruction of Scripture and that the woman is not to interrupt or to impose her opinions in the congregation meeting.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet." Now the interesting thing there is the order of the sentence in the Greek. The order tells us what Paul's emphasis is. The first word is to teach, he says "to teach I do not allow a woman, or to have authority," and by separating those two infinitives, to teach and to have authority by his prohibition is to draw attention to what he is prohibiting. And he puts teaching at the priority, he is prohibiting a woman from teaching or exercising authority and the two go together. And he is not saying, as I heard one woman, when I was at Dallas I had the…I don't know if it was a privilege or not, Tommy and I were sitting together listening to a woman who has written a number of books in Christianity, she was the first woman allowed to teach in chapel at Dallas Seminary, she had the gall to misquote this Scripture and stand up there and say well, Scripture says that a woman is not to teach and have authority over men so I am teaching you but not with authority because the authority resides in the faculty behind me. Well, the Scripture doesn't say "teach and have authority," as if you could teach without authority. It says to teach or have authority, either one, both are forbidden, this is why you can't have women even teaching any kind of a Sunday School class, teaching Scripture to adult men. It's great for women to be teaching kids but once they get to, I think, adolescence then it ought to be male teachers.
"I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet,  For it was Adam who was first created, then Eve.  And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman, who being quite deceived, fell into transgression." So his argument is from the order of creation, that the man was created first, priority, his position is the leader, not the woman. And the woman was designed to be the assistant to the man but not to be the leader. So the Scripture is clear that in terms of ministry, there are many ministries open and available to women but the teaching, the authoritative teaching of the Word of God and teaching the Word of God is inherently authoritative, I want to make sure you understand that, you can never teach the Word of God without authority. The authoritative teaching of the Word of God to men is forbidden to women.
Some people say well women can teach women's Bible studies and they always go to the passage in Titus 2 which says that the older women are to teach the younger women. Did you ever notice what that says? We don't have time to go there but did you ever notice; it says the older women are to teach the younger women doctrine? Is that what it says? That's not what it says, it says older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands, love their children, be hard workers at home. It doesn't say anything about teaching the Bible. It says they're to teach them how to function in their role as wives but it doesn't say anything about older women teaching younger women the Bible. So I don't think there's a place for women, that the Scripture allows women to teach the Scriptures authoritatively in any environment, period. And that's not what Deborah was doing. Deborah was functioning as a judge and she was functioning as a mouthpiece for God in a situation where male leadership had abdicated authority but she was not in a position, she never exercises the authoritative explanation of the Word of God.