When women make it up

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.

How do women “usurp authority” in the church?

What happens when women take away the authority that God gave to the men of the church? If you are reading this post, you might want to read my post, What does “be in silence” mean for women in church? here, or you can scroll down and read the previous one before this post.

Let me tell you a true story. A young woman attended a church. When any man would say something—on any subject—she would interrupt and correct him. “No,” she would say, “It’s like this.” And she proceeded to give her opinion. She did this during the church services and before and after church.

(Now, there’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, and there’s usually nothing wrong with giving one’s personal opinion, even if it differs from others.)

Most of the men in the church showed great patience with this young woman. But, some of them argued with her, and others got very quiet.

After a while, several of the men voiced their concerns to the pastor. (We’ll call the woman Susie, not her real name.) “Susie always tells me I am wrong.” “Susie is hard to get along with, so I don’t know how to talk to her. I just let her talk, and I try to bite my tongue.”

What Susie didn’t understand was that she was undermining the authority of the men in her church. Instead of arguing with her, the majority of the men grew quiet.

The same thing often happens in the home. In order to avoid conflict, a man whose wife contradicts him will become quiet, even cold and evasive.

God knows that most men deal with conflict in one of two ways: they get mad, or they withdraw. Can you see why it’s a great idea for a woman to keep quiet in a mixed meeting at church? There will be less cause for anger and less motivation for the men of the church to withdraw. When the men of the church step back, they do not rise to the occasion and serve as leaders in the church. To avoid confrontation, they simply let the women lead.

We know that all the biblical church leadership roles in the congregation are for men. Two of the requisites are “the husband of one wife” and being an effective head of his household. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…. (1 Timothy 3:2) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well (1 Timothy 3:12). Ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly (Titus 1:5b-6).

What happens in many churches, though, is a few women step up and take the lead. This is what the Bible is talking about when it uses the term usurping authority in 1 Timothy 2:12.

The truth is that many women are very capable. Some are great organizers. Others are good teachers. Lots of women are able to do many things in Christian work. And, most of our pastors, evangelists, and deacons could not do what they do without their wives.

There are lots of things women can do in the church—indeed, are supposed to do. Mentoring, teaching women and children, leading women, helping in practical ways, hospitality, organization, secretarial work, interpreting, music ministry, visitation, witnessing, etc. The list goes on and on.

The one thing she is not to do is take away the leadership from the men of the church by speaking out in a mixed meeting in church.

Does this mean a woman cannot share a testimony?

Can she pray?

May she sing or provide music?

Let’s take these three questions one at a time.

A testimony is telling others what God did for you. It is sharing your story. Does this take authority from the men of the church? Let’s suppose the woman is a missionary, and she is going to Country X. The pastor asks her to give her personal testimony of salvation. The woman tells how she came to know Christ and then sits down. Did she take away the pastor’s authority? No. Not at all.

Maybe a woman—I have personally heard this—turns her testimony into a mini message and challenges all in the congregation. She actually preaches to the group before her. In doing so, she has taken away the authority from the pastor and, if married, also her husband. This is not right.

Can she pray? It is perfectly fine for a woman to pray silently in church. Some churches practice that all the people pray aloud simultaneously. Of course, women can pray aloud along with the body of believers. If men and women divide into prayer groups, of course a woman can lead other women in prayer.

Should a woman lead the congregation in prayer? No, I don’t think so. Why not? Simply because there are men present who can pray. Women are not to take leadership away from the men.

Let’s say several couples are together in a home setting—not a church congregation, but a social setting. They have a session of prayer together, going around the circle with each person praying. Can a woman participate? Yes, I think so. She is not taking away anyone’s authority, and this is not a church service.

May a woman sing or provide special music? It is hard to tell exactly what they did in the early New Testament churches. We know they sang hymns and used music in worship. Is a woman taking away the pastor’s authority when she sings? No. May she play an instrument or sing in the choir? Yes, of course.

A woman should not, though, exhibit herself. God values a meek (strength under control) and quiet (peaceful) spirit (1 Peter 3:4). I am afraid that many of the women in praise teams are both leading men and exalting themselves. (By the way, I’m sure that some have no clue and are perfectly sincere.)

Many on church platforms aren’t careful to be modestly dressed, and some actually lead the congregation in the worship part of the service. I cannot see that kind of a role for women anywhere in Scripture. If a woman is on the platform, she needs to allow the pastor or male music minister lead the service. She should also dress to please the Lord.

Have you thought of other questions? My post is already long, but please feel free to ask. I want to write one more blog post on this concept of women in the church. I think you’ll find it interesting.

What does “be in silence” mean for women in church?

Ephesians 5:22-32 is perhaps one of the most misunderstood, debated, and ignored passages in the Bible. Let’s read it first and then point out some important concepts.

  • 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  • 23. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
  • 24. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
  • 25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
  • 26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  • 27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
  • 28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
  • 29. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
  • 30. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
  • 31. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • 32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
  • 33. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

There are two parallel concepts here:

  1. Jesus Christ and the church
  2. Husband and wife

There is an order in the church: Christ is its head, and the church is its body. The church is subject (in lesser rank, as in the military) to Christ.

The order in marriage is exactly the same: the husband is the head, and the woman is the body. The wife is subject to (ranks herself willingly under) her husband.

Just as Christ doesn’t abuse His headship over the church, neither should the husband over the wife. (See my post, I Will Make You Submit, here.)

Let’s look at another passage that addresses a woman’s  behavior in the church. Keep in mind, this is talking about a church gathering of men and women together, not a ladies’ class or children’s Sunday school. This is a mixed congregation of the church.

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. 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 (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

This passage says women aren’t supposed to say anything. Silence. It’s a shame for her to speak in church. She needs to ask her husband. 

Seriously?

God wrote the Bible. Here you see the husband-wife relationship as it works in a mixed church service setting. The woman defers to her husband’s authority. You will notice in other passages that the authority in the church is always for men: pastors, teachers, evangelists, deacons. Christ is the Head of the church, and the church responds to Him. The husband is the head of his home, and the wife asks him her questions and doesn’t interrupt the church meeting.

Another passage on this subject gives clarity to what a woman should do. It’s 1 Timothy 2:7-13. The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to Pastor Timothy.

  • 7. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
  • 8. I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
  • 9. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
  • 10. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
  • 11. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
  • 12. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
  • 13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Before you label the Apostle Paul a machista, read the context of the whole passage. It’s talking about men praying in faith and women adorning themselves in modesty, with good works. Then, we have the instruction for women at church to learn in silence with subjection—just as we saw in 1 Corinthians 14. But this goes further: a woman is not to teach or usurp—interesting word—authority over the man, but to be in silence. Why? Simply order. Adam came before Eve.

We could go into so many ideas, here, but let’s instead define usurp. In the context of usurping authority, it means teaching the men and thus taking away their authority in the church. For a married woman, this means she is stepping out of her rank. Again, for a mixed church gathering, teachers are to be men.

Women are supposed to teach other women and children, of course. (See Titus 2:3-5.) By the way, women and children make up 80% of the world’s population. God doesn’t limit women except when it comes to church and home leadership. In the church and in the home, it’s for men.

Why? Order.

Too many bosses creates confusion. God straightens out that confusion by making it a simple matter of order. Even Jesus—equal with God the Father—responds willingly to His Father (1 Corinthians 11:3—God is the Head of Christ).

The only other passage I know of that speaks about women’s conduct in church is the controversial one in 1 Corinthians 11:3-15 about hair and head coverings for both men and women. I am not going into that in this post.

Soon, though, we’ll delve into what happens when women “usurp authority” and teach men in the church. We’ll also discuss giving testimonies, prayer requests, and other speaking in church. So, stay tuned. I think you’ll find it interesting.

When is it right to name and shame?

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

What does God say about naming and shaming? When is it correct to call someone out for his sins? Who has the authority to do so?

The most obvious answer is government. When a person has committed a crime, law enforcement arrest him, the person will face trial, and his name becomes public knowledge. For he (a ruler, i. e. the government) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Another authority is the church. Most disagreements between believers can be resolved one-on-one, but if that doesn’t work, God has provided a process whereby the church can help. This is how it works: But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:16-17). In the sad case that a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter goes before the church. At that time, the problem is public knowledge.

The Apostle Paul admonished, Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).

Paul called out several, by name, for their sins. Note that these instances are actually the Word of God, not only a record of Paul being upset because someone disagreed with him.  

  • I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:2).
  • Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:19-20).
  • This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes (2 Timothy 1:15).
  • And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:17-18).
  • For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10a).
  • Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works (2 Timothy 4:14).

If a person who calls himself a brother in Christ lives in sin, we are not supposed to be close buddies with him. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat (1 Corinthians 5:11).

Who should be named and shamed?

  • Those who cause divisions in the church.
  • People who say they’re Christians, live in sin, and will not forsake it.
  • Brothers who have not responded favorably to church discipline.
  • Criminals.
  • False teachers.

It’s sad anyone would ever need to be named, but there are times when it’s appropriate for good men to warn others of disobedient brethren, heresies, and criminals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always done in Christian circles, resulting in the people in churches not being warned. They don’t recognize the wolves among them.

Jesus said, Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15).

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).

Is an empty church obeying men rather than God?

A corollary to that question is: are we actually assembling when we do it virtually?

At least one pastor has been arrested for insisting that his church remain open when the government has decreed that no groups of over ten people should meet—except in hospitals, stores, and other critical places.

Many can see this pastor’s point. After all, the Bible says, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Shouldn’t we gather? Are Facebook Live and Zoom services actually assembling ourselves?

Or, should we defy the government guidelines and sit in pews or chairs, all together, as usual?

Let’s look at the other side of the issue, okay? The government has shut things down in order to flatten the curve and save many lives. If this advice is heeded, they say literally hundreds of thousands more people will survive the coronavirus scourge than would if these measures were not heeded. If people go about normal life, the peak of the curve means hospitals are not able to cope—which is true—and many more deaths will ensue.

The Bible says, Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king (1 Peter 2:13-17).

God says to fear God and honor the king (government). Can we do both in this situation, or do we have to choose?

Let’s consider another ethical question: is it right to value life? Almost every Christian would say yes. Life is God-given. No one has the right to take another’s life in murder. We’re against abortion, killing embrios, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

I want to paint a scenario for you. Pastor X decides his church ought to obey God rather than men (lifted from Acts 5:29, about stopping the preaching of the gospel). Pastor X has services. His congregation comes on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evenings. Men, women, children, and seniors are together. They sing in worship. They hold children’s classes. People shake hands and greet each other. They even divide up into intimate, small prayer groups on Wednesday night.

Two weeks later, half of the congregation is infected with Covid19. Several of the seniors are in Intensive Care, and even some of the teens and children are finding it difficult to breathe.

They keep meeting, carrying on as before. Seniors are dying. So are younger people. Children with asthma and immune deficiencies are in Intensive Care.

After five weeks, there are very few people in Pastor X’s church who are not self-isolating or in the hospital. In fact, Pastor X himself is very ill and unable to preach. It’s all he can do to breathe.

Now, this is a totally hypothetical picture, and I pray it doesn’t happen anywhere. But, it’s realistic, if people do not take extreme precautions in the face of a virus with no known cure, that’s extremely contagious and dangerous.

Is it right to expose a congregation to sickness and death when it’s in your power to protect them?

Is it wrong to hold services online for a limited time in order to save lives?

Are we assembling if the assembly is virtual? Is it truly corporate worship?

And finally, what do you think God thinks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Maybe this includes temporary, online church.

What’s your opinion?