I’ve maintained for some time now that christian women should not be engaging in “women’s bible study”. The main reason for this comes from Paul’s instructions to churches found in 1 Corinthians 14:

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Now you might say, “Snapper, those verses only apply in the church, and women’s bible study is not church”.

To this I would say you are wrong. You are thinking of “church” as the building you go to on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Church, or “The Church” is any gathering of believers where the word is being taught. The early church did not take place in specialized buildings meant solely for being places of worship. Take note I am not referring to the synagogues used by the Jews in those times, but the church, formed of Christ followers after his death. These believers gathered not only in the temple but in the homes of other believers in order to worship, pray and study:

Acts 2:

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 5:

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians:

19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Looking through these verses, which describe the early church after the death of Jesus, we see that the church is not a specific building, but a gathering of believers for a purpose, no matter where they meet. This would mean that a gathering of men to study and discuss the word of God would be considered church. This also means that a gathering of women to study and discuss the word of God would be considered church. Therefore if we got back to the first verses from Corinthians we see the following instruction for women in the church:

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Now I know this flies completely in the face of modern church teachings, where women are often given free reign to hold their own bible study courses complete with books and guides written by well known authors and preachers, but the practice certainly seems to be forbidden in the bible. Here we see that women are permitted to be in the church, and to learn from whoever may be teaching, but they are to be silent observers and, if they have questions about what is being taught, are to ask their own husbands at home for further clarification. To me this seems to have two distinct advantages for the christian household:

  1. It maintains a mans spiritual authority in his home: It makes a husband or father the one whom his wife and children seek for spiritual knowledge. Assuming that the church is a good one that believes and lives the word of God it means this man will be receiving good teaching and passing that on to his family.
  2. It keeps everyone on the same track, spiritually: A problem I have seen with many modern christian families is that while the husband has one understanding of the bible his wife, who attends separate women’s studies and groups, will often have differing beliefs that put the two at odds. Each one believes they have the “right” interpretation and so, on certain issues, they agree to disagree or it becomes a point of contention. This can cause a lot of problems in a household in which the husband has been appointed as the de facto authority, but because of his wife’s opposing teaching she will fight with him and act rebellious toward him. This can also cause discord and contention between the parents and their children, since the differing interpretations can propagate down, pitting child against parent and child against child. It breaks cohesion in the family where the father should be the final authority on such things.

My wife has attended many, many women’s groups and studies through the years and I have had the opportunity to look through many of the guides and books these studies have used. Many of them seem fairly innocuous on the outside, particularly the ones that seem to be simple, verse-by-verse bible studies, often interspersed with questions about what has been read. What I have never seen, however, is any guide or book that hones in on the things the bible says christian women should be teaching each other:

Titus 2:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

In fact, often times when the study isn’t one of those specific verse-by-verse studies they are often “woman centric” studies, with emphasis on glorifying women. What I mean by this is that they are centered around propping women up and reminding them of their importance rather than their submission. They are “Daughters of the King” or “Pearls of Great Price”. Again, Dalrock’s blog is an invaluable tool that has documented instance after instance of the modern church, modern church writers and teachers and modern church culture extolling the virtues of christian women, while denigrating and shaming christian men.

As a serious question for the ladies: Have you ever engaged in a women’s bible study that actually encouraged women to be any of the things described in Titus 2:4-5? Has any study actually focused on being discreet and chaste? To be obedient to their husbands in the same manner the church is obedient to Christ?

Again, this is a serious question. I know some of my regular readers have indicated that they have had mentors who taught them these things, but I’m asking about established, church-backed-and-authorized women’s bible studies.

I know that even some readers of my blog would argue that there is nothing wrong with women assembling to study the word, and even more so if it is under the guidance of their church pastor, but I say that the bible shows that its not the pastor who should be in authority over men’s wives, but the men themselves, and the woman’s bible study setup undermines that, and has caused much discord in the church. I won’t say it hasn’t done some good, and I suspect that for many well grounded christian women it has done good, but its really a question of “What does scripture say”, and “Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD”. No one stops women from holding a bible study, but should women, well versed in scripture, be doing something that scripture says they should not?

This, of course, doesn’t mean women cannot meet and pray for each other or even share scripture and encourage one another, but expounding on scripture in the same manner as a bible study or church service is not acceptable. The things Paul prescribes women teach in Titus 2 certainly benefit from scriptural backing, but they do not require a church service to teach. How to cook. How to clean. How to maintain respect and obedience to ones husband. Yes, these sound like horribly sexist and outdated teachings, but I don’t see anything in Titus 2 about “girl power”, “how to be a bad-ass bitch” or “how to own a man in an argument”. These are things God has prescribed, through Paul. And no matter how outdated or sexist they seem to be, they please God and are beneficial to both husband and wife. And, as I have said in a previous post, when christian women consider these things sexist, outdated and beneath them, they miss out on literally free blessings and praise from God.

Comments? Questions? Want to talk about it? Use the comments section below or join me in my Discord channel (link on the sidebar).