Women in general are emotional beings. Their feelings about right and wrong can sometimes lead them astray. When women step out of the role that God has outlined for them in the Bible, even well meaning ladies lead others wrongly. If you haven’t yet read the previous posts on women in the church, “What does “be in silence” mean for women in church?” is here, and “How do women “usurp authority” in the church?” can be found here. You might want to read them as a background for this post.
I did some research into religions invented by women when I wrote His Ways, Your Walk.* To my surprise, I discovered that women founded at least eight religions. They include: Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Shakers, four different branches of Pentecostals, and a Japanese church where the founder claimed to be the embodiment of the Sun Goddess.
How did these ladies become religious leaders? I’m not sure about every case. Some said they had visions. Others seemed sane, even technical in their approach.
But, every time a woman becomes a church leader, she is doing something that a man should be doing. God never gave church leadership (of a mixed congregation) to women.
By the way, when a woman takes over the leadership in her home, she is taking over her husband’s role. A godly married woman lets her husband lead the family and supports him as he does so. He is its head.
I have a theory about women taking the lead in religions and why so many of them are cults. (A cult is any religion that has a false view of Jesus and a skewed belief about how a person can be saved. Any religion of works, idolatry, or that has an erroneous idea about Jesus—that He is less than the only Divine Son of God and equal with God in the trinity—is a cult.) My theory is based on one of the basic differences between men and women: women pay more attention to their feelings. Following feelings can lead women into theological error.
Is it bad to have emotions? Of course not. God made the man more practical and decisive and the woman more emotional because together, they balance the home. The man has the kind of practical thinking skills he needs, and the woman naturally nurtures and cares. This is good. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:27, 31a).
So, what’s my point?
We get into trouble when we don’t obey God’s specified order.
Our churches and homes suffer when we don’t allow men to lead. We might even get caught up in dangerous cults or a false belief system that doesn’t even preach the gospel, because we may like the music or the way we feel. In extreme cases, women might make up their own religions and attract followers.
The Bible warns against another gospel in Galatians 1. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ (verses 6-7).
When women make up their own theology, they can get it wrong. We’ll look at the first three female-founded religions that we mentioned earlier as examples.
Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science teachings include that Jesus is not God and that all men and women are God’s children. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Jesus Himself said, I and my Father are one (John 10:30) and He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (from John 14:9). The Bible says that people need to believe on the Lord Jesus in order to become His children. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
Ellen G. White started the Seventh Day Adventists. Their teachings about the Bible being the Word of God and who Jesus is are correct, but they obviously add to God’s Word by believing the inspiration of White’s writings. This is a direct quote from their reaffirmation: “We reaffirm our conviction that her writings are divinely inspired, truly Christ-centered, and Bible-based. We commit ourselves to study the writings of Ellen G. White prayerfully and with hearts willing to follow the counsels and instructions we find there.” (adventist.org) The Bible says, For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book (Revelation 22:18). While I don’t think Adventists would claim to be adding to the Bible, they clearly believe Mrs. White’s writings are divinely inspired and to be used along with the Bible, which is wrong. Less concerning are the practices of keeping the Old Testament laws about food and the sabbath, when in the New Testament, it is obvious that these laws were obsolete and that the New Testament church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). By the way, Mrs. White claimed to have had over 2,000 visions.
The Shakers were founded by Ann Lee, who desired a more emotional religious experience than she had in the Church of England. She joined a group called the Wardley Society, which had broken off from the Quakers. “She also began to have visions; these, and her innate leadership ability and charisma, led to her becoming leader of the group. However their untraditional mode of worship also brought the group much persecution. Finally one of Ann Lee’s visions directed her to take her followers to America.” (shakerheritage.org) The strange name comes from their shaking body, head, and arms in practice of worship. “She regarded herself … as the female aspect of God’s dual nature (e.g., male and female) and the second Incarnation of Christ.” (shakerheritage.org) Never in the Bible does it use a female pronoun for God. Ann Lee set herself up as God, which is blasfemy.
There’s an interesting story in Acts 14:8-18, where Paul heals a crippled man through the power of God. The people call Paul Mercury and Barnabas Jupiter. The priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands to the gates in order to do sacrifices and worship them. Barnabas and Paul tore their clothing and cried out to the people, Why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein (verse 15). Contrast this with Ann Lee, who said she was equal to God.
In conclusion, God gives Bible believing and obeying women many rights and privileges. Women can minister in a variety of effective ways, including being active in our churches and communities. Women are able to share the gospel wherever we go.
Let’s be like Lydia, Joanna, Mary, Martha, Phoebe, and many other New Testament women of faith. May we not usurp the authority of men in our churches but rather keep silence in the congregation. And, may we, like Timothy’s mother and grandmother, influence the coming generations for God.
*His Ways, Your Walk is available through me. Contact me for details.