Editor’s note:  A rather odd question for a Christian Evidences website, but I like to answer all questions, so here goes:


I’d like to know about the role of women in the church. According to 1 Co 14:-34-35 and 1 Tm 2:13-14, we can’t lead and teach in public, but what about leading other women, working to the church, speaking during a service? And what about Deborah in the OT and Philip’s daughters, Priscila and Lydia in the NT? How do you understand 1 Tm 2:15?


I am not going to claim to be an expert on the proper role of women in a Christian church. It is obvious that you know the most important relevant scriptures, so let me give you my general thinking on the issue, trusting that you can fill in the details as to what passages apply.

I believe that women are definitely given a different role from that of men in both the church and in marriage. Both roles seem to be designed to fit the skills and strengths of both women and men. In the church, in public meetings, I get the strong impression from 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 that Paul, and therefore God, as he is speaking with inspiration, commanded that women not take part in activities which required that men submit to them. So, to me, a woman can do anything in the church which does not put her in a place where she is “over” a man in a spiritual sense. This means that women will not be preaching in the church. That seems fairly clear. But women can do whatever they can do without going around the authority issue. Women can greet the visitors. They can sing to the church. I believe that they can lead the singing as well, as it is almost inconceivable to describe this as having authority. Women can share their testimony or pray. Again, I see no submission issue here. What a women should not do is stand up and interrupt someone speaking (Most likely, neither should a man!). She should not rebuke or admonish men in the church, which means that when a woman shares her testimony or speaks to the women in a church service, she should be aware of this.

The case of Deborah in the OT tells me that God is not legalistic in this matter. In this case, because a man would not take the lead, God had a woman do it. This is not God’s normal plan, but if a man will not lead, then a woman must step forward. I believe that this can apply in marriage. However, Deborah herself, in Judges 5:2, expresses the ideal. I think we should avoid being dogmatic on this issue. OBVIOUSLY, God supports, encourages and even commands that women teach women in the church–especially that the older women teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-4).

About 1 Tim 2:15, clearly this passage presents difficulties in interpretation. I prefer to say “I do not know.” Honestly, I do not know the specific meaning or the practical application of this passage. My feeling is that there is something specific to the culture and the situation which would help us to understand what Paul is getting at. My very vague answer is that he is trying to tell the women that if the have a rebellious attitude and willfully reject their God-given role, then it will not go well for them. I think the key word in this passage is propriety. Women should show propriety in all things, but especially in how they conduct themselves in the meetings of the church (in the context of the entire chapter).

Please forgive me for being at least a little vague in my answer.

John Oakes

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