Posting this as an update to last weeks issues I was having with the associate pastor of the church that I attend.
Friday, Sept 23
Thinking I was going to be meeting with both the head pastor and associate pastor I spoke with my wife on my lunch break, letting her know what was going on and why. This was at the recommendation of another blogger whom I consulted with, so as to avoid her being able to say that I “sprang things on her” later. She was somewhat receptive, but politely informed me she would be continuing on at the church if I decided that our family would not longer attend. I politely informed her that there would be consequences for her disobedience and disrespect if she chose to go that route. Overall no one got angry, which I was grateful for. I tried to make it clear to her that this course of action (speaking with the pastors about the issue) was not for any other reason to ensure that my family was receiving sound teaching, and that I was not going in trying to prove a point, but in hopes that the truth of scripture would be brought forth in all of us.
Unfortunately the head pastor was unavailable that evening and we had to reschedule for the next day, which again had to be rescheduled because of his work schedule.
I finally met with them both last night (Monday, Sept 26th). Now let me start off by saying that the entire meeting ended with all three of us agreeing to continue in some prayer for understanding, but overall it was pretty much what you would expect to come out of a discussion regarding scripture, with everyone trying to talk over everyone else. I did my best to try and give my point and allow the others to talk, but the associate pastor kept trying to speak over me AND the head pastor, and at one point things kind of devolved (which you will see later).
I don’t quite know what format to use while writing all this out, so as to keep it from becoming a giant mess, so I will try to stick to the three main points of contention I brought before them. 1) Women being silent in the church, 2)Women teaching in the church and 3)Wives submission to her husband:
I started off by informing both pastors that the message delivered the previous two Sundays we were in attendance were not only scripturally unsound but quite possibly dangerous, in that the associate pastor was giving the ladies of the church a foothold in which to be rebellious and feel justified. I indicated that I felt that he was wrong for giving the women a platform in which to teach the rest of the congregation, but that through misunderstanding, none of the ladies really “taught” anything, but shared both a scripture and what that particular scripture meant to them or how it applied to their lives at the moment.
I was able to confirm that this whole mess started after my wife had shared with the associate pastors wife the previous issue she and I had in which I told her I did not want her meeting with a counselor from our doctors office who’s qualifications include being “a licensed minister with a bachelors in psychology”. Seeing these as red flags I suggested she meet with some of the older ladies of the church to help her with her issues. My concern with the pastor and his wife was that neither one of them suggested that my wife be obedient to her husband, but rather they said they would pray that we would “reach an understanding” over the matter. Also the associate pastor seemed to indicate that both he and his wife thought there was a discrepancy in “where we both were spiritually” (referring to my wife and I). To me this was equipping her for rebellion.
Regarding women being silent in the church.
In all honesty this was not one of my points of contention, but I will mention it because both the head pastor (whom I will refer to as L) and the associate pastor (whom I will refer to as B) kept coming back to this.
I was up front in telling both B and L that I had no problem with them allowing the ladies of the church a time to come up and share scripture with the congregation. The women were under the authority of B and were not given authority themselves. As to whether or not the ladies should be silent at all times I indicated that it wasn’t my church and if the pastors allowed the ladies to talk before and after service that was there call, as we all were silent during the lesson anyhow. I indicated that I didn’t fully know what capacity “let your women keep silent” entailed, whether it mean they aren’t allowed to speak at all within the church walls or if it was referencing a different capacity such as teaching. I indicated I would continue in prayer for understanding regarding these verses, but as the pastors of the church they would be accountable for that, and not me.
B argued that the verses calling for the women to be silent needed to be considered for their cultural relevance and that the women in the church of Corinth had a problem with shouting questions across the room to their husbands (as the men and women sat on separate sides of the church). Because of this Paul, in his dealing with the other issues present in the church of Corinth, also laid down some rules to keep the women from disrupting the teaching. Therefore the instruction for women to keep silent was only directed toward the THAT church, and not all churches.
(Now, I have never cared much for this defense as it requires us to believe that women are so dense and vapid that, in the middle of an organized lesson they would stand up and shout questions across a room to their husbands. It’s difficult to believe it would happen in our modern age, much less in an age when people believe women were treated as second class citizens and oppressed by misogynistic men. Not only that, but if we discount something because of its ‘cultural relevance’ we cant discount ANYTHING because of cultural relevance)
He also argued that if we wanted to forget about the cultural aspect of the verses then I was already in direct violation for shaving my beard and sitting next to my wife in the church instead of her being on the other side of the room, and also kept telling me that if I wanted to hold the women to being silent in the church then I was in direct violation of the scripture by sitting on the stage and performing worship with my wife. This made no sense as the prohibitions and scripture had nothing to do with the old Testament law but with the authority structure of a functioning church.
Take note that this was AFTER I had already indicated that I had no issue with the women talking in the church, sharing in the church or otherwise not being silent except during the actual service, in which all were silent.
Again, note that throughout our entire conversation both B and L continued to return to the point of women being silent in the church AFTER I had already ceded the point.
Regarding women teaching in the church
My argument was that the bible expressly prohibits women from being given the authoritative position of teacher (preacher, pastor, etc.) even temporarily, as, by its very nature, being a teacher is a position of authority. For example, in the past both pastors have allowed the wife of another pastor to come up and teach the congregation. I argued that this was not allowed within the structure of the church, but may be permissible outside of the church, such as at a church function or at a home bible study, etc. The bible not only prohibits this but also gives the reasoning why this prohibition is in place:
1 Timothy 2:
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
The reasoning here is twofold. First its order of creation. I like the way my study bible puts it in that it is very similar to the concept of the first born. The first born son receives more esteem than his siblings, not because he is better or superior, but because of his birthright. Secondly its because the woman (Eve) was deceived and is under the authority of man.
This is within the order and structure of the church (ie: the gathering of the congregation) and not at other functions or gatherings of believers. The bible indicates that women and daughters will prophecy and at least one instance indicates a man with several daughters, all of whom prophesied (Acts 21:8-9), but note that it says they were at the mans house, and not in the church.
I also indicated that I was unsure as to whether or not the scripture strictly prohibited women from teaching others scripture outside of the church, as it indicates “I do not permit a woman to teach” and certain things lead me to believe that this could be a restriction on women teaching scripture at all, but I am still in prayer on that. I noted that the instructions for older women to teach the younger women in Titus do not convey anything that appears to require scripture be taught in the capacity of a pastor to his congregation
3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
None of these items (love your husband, love your children, be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to your husband) seemingly require anything beyond the sharing of scripture, not necessarily the teaching of scripture in the way a pastor would teach scripture (I may not be making myself clear here, so I may revisit this and see if I can make more sense).
B’s argument is that we should be willing to hear the word of God preached regardless of who is speaking, and that the Pharisees are an example of those who didn’t listen to the word of God (Jesus) because they concentrated on WHO was speaking and not what was being said. He asked me if I thought that the woman they allow to teach was filled with the Holy Spirit during her lesson and, if she was in direct violation of God and being disobedient, if she was not allowed to be a teacher, how could that be. If the God will not bless that which is sin then how can she be filled with the spirit if she is in sin? He indicated that not being able to receive teaching from a woman in the church was a sign of spiritual immaturity. He also indicated that the one teaching was under the authority of the pastor and didn’t, technically, have authority over the church or the men.
He also kept talking about how Jesus, upon his resurrection, appeared to Mary first, and that if she had “kept silent” as instructed then no one would have been told about His return. I don’t quite understand what the point of that was other than, as I said, he kept returning to the point of women being silent in the church.
The head pastor, L, asked me several times if I knew how many women pastors were out there, to which I replied “Many, but that doesn’t make it right”. He also indicated that his mother in law was a pastor and proceeded to tell me that his wife had often blessed him with “teachings” by sharing scripture with him and encouraging him with the word, which is not in the context of what my contention was. He argued that the Word indicates that the spirit was poured out on ALL flesh, and not just men. Women as well as men could receive gifts of the spirit, which included teaching, to which I agreed, but referred again back to the proper use and context of the spiritual gifts we have been given.
Regarding a wife’s submission to her husband
Now this was really my biggest issue with what B had said during his teaching the week before ‘ladies night’. During his message he said of men not willing to accept wisdom or teaching from women, “don’t be surprised when your wife becomes more spiritually mature than you do, and don’t be surprised when she does if she doesn’t submit”. I have made it fairly clear on my blog that my wife and I are having issues with her submitting as the bible calls wives to submit (“in everything”). These words from B, specifically, I took as being dangerous for the congregation as it easily gives women ammunition to be rebellious and claim they are justified because their husbands aren’t “spiritually mature enough”. Not only that but he specifically pinpointed and denigrated men who fail to listen to their wives as being in danger of spiritual death rather than just lacking wisdom. Personally I think a man would be wise to get his wife’s opinion in some cases, but not all, as women don’t always make much sense, but that is up to the man to know his wife and understand where her input my be useful. At worst he might be lacking wisdom not to get her insight, but there is nothing that indicates he SHOULD be consulting his wife, and certainly nothing that puts his spirit or salvation in jeopardy if he doesn’t.
My argument was that there are no qualifiers in the bible for a woman’s submission towards her husband, nor are there any qualifiers for a mans love of his wife. Both are commanded to do so by God. Who, in B’s world, would be the arbiter of who was the one more spiritually mature in a marriage? A pastor? A deacon? A panel of judges? No, the arbiter is the Bible itself, and the bible says there are no qualifiers. In fact it states that EVEN IF THE HUSBAND IS NOT A BELIEVER, a wife who is a believer should submit to his authority in EVERYTHING in silence. Why? Because the bible says that her silent submission is her witness to her unsaved husband!
B’s argument was that if men don’t step up to be the spiritual leader in their households then the women have every right to step up instead. If she has to take it upon herself to teach her kids the bible and about Jesus then she should. However, he said that his words about women not submitting was only in the spiritual sense, and not in the physical. Her husband is still “head of the household” and she must submit to him in physical things, but if he has no spiritual life how can she submit to him spiritually?
This is where things got heated, as L asked me a question regarding his wife and her ex-husband (I don’t know the situation with that, if he be dead or not, so I wont get into that here). The question was this:
Her ex-husband did not go to church nor did he want to, but L’s wife at the time took their two boys to church anyhow. So, he told me, she would get up on Sunday morning and tell the boys “get up and get ready to go”, and would then go to her husband and tell HIM “get up and get ready because you are going to church”. Was she in the wrong for doing what she did?
My answer to him was that she was wrong by taking authority over her husband and demanding he get up and get ready to be taken to church because she inverted the authority structure of her marriage. By issuing her husband a command she was in the wrong. He did not forbid her from taking their sons to church, nor did he forbid her from going herself, but her attitude likely repulsed him and made him RESENT going to church, rather than drawing him toward God. She would have been better of going in silence, as the bible says THAT is her witness toward her unsaved husband, not her vocal demands.
L then proceeded to ask what she should have done if he told HER to stop going to church or taking their sons to which I replied that she should have been obedient and stopped. Though going to church is good, not going does not take her from Gods hand and that she can still maintain her walk with the Lord while being obedient to her husband.
From there things went off the rail as L got mad. He asked me who would be responsible if his wife had backslidden and died, going to hell, to which I replied it would have been her own responsibility, as no one else is responsible for our not backsliding but ourselves. I indicated that far more powerful men than his wife’s ex-husband have threatened believers with death and made open worship and communion with God illegal, yet those, such as Daniel, maintained their faith and were commended for it. From there L shut down and was ready to leave.
Overall their argument was that where the man is deficient the woman has the right and responsibility to lead, but only speaking in the spiritual sense (though the bible makes no determination and says women should submit to their husbands in everything). B asserted that everything in the bible was in reference to the spiritual, not the physical (I believe those were his exact words).
The night ended with them saying that I was concentrating on the word silence, even though I had told them, again, that my issue was not with women being silent in the church, but with women teaching and with their teaching on authority.
I very much took issue with B’s statement that he feels like there was some type of catalyst that has lead me down a road of thinking women are lower than men or that perhaps I have fallen in with some chauvinists who have swayed my thinking. This despite the fact that I showed them scripture that indicates that God esteems men over women, and the reasons WHY He does so, while still maintaining that we are equal recipients of His grace and His kingdom. Though I did find and have been researching through the manosphere for the past couple of years I have made sure to test everything against scripture, as not even the manosphere supersedes the word of God. The bible along with other supporting evidence, has show that much of what the Christian manosphere says is true, but I wasn’t about to talk red pill stuff with them for fear their heads would explode with anger.
We agreed to continue in prayer and discuss a little more, but overall I think that being out of the discussion has given me plenty of time to think clearly.
When I got home that evening I spoke again with my wife. She asked some questions but overall indicated that she still isn’t on board with my interpretation of the scripture and that she does not and will not believe the same way I do. She thinks women, under the authority of the pastor, can stand before the congregation and teach, which I do not believe is true and is prohibited. I don’t know if I believe women can teach at all, even to other women or children in the same capacity that a pastor teaches, but I am still unsure on that and am in prayer on it. Recent information I have been looking over leaves me on the razor edge of that debate, as I see plenty of reasons why women should NOT teach at all. Unlike some I know I believe science and data affirms Gods creation and design, and data on the actions and mindset of women as a whole make be believe God wanted them nowhere near teaching scripture in the capacity that a pastor does to ANYONE. But, I am not interested in being right, but in adhering to the truth, so I will remain in prayer over that.
There is more that I can speak of and in more detail, but this is the gist of it. If you want to ask any questions about the conversation I will answer them in the comments to the best of my ability, as there was a lot going on and I may not remember everything that was said. I kind of wish I had recorded the whole conversation now so I could reference it later, but the arguments I listed were the ones that stuck out the most.
Until next time, I guess.