The Woman Teacher

LauraAll Posts, Marriage, Motherhood

Over the past few weeks, I felt compelled to share here what I’ve come to believe about any opportunities I may have to teach or preach to a group that includes men.

Funny timing, because the next thing I knew, a friend wrote a similar post herself. It must have stirred up some controversy because she removed her original statements for now.  (It’s kinda difficult to tackle the likes of  1 Timothy 2: 11 – 12 without stirring up controversy! First Timothy 2:11 – 12, says “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence…”) Anyway, so after I read her blog posts, I thought I’d join the folks cheering her on for tackling a tough subject in the first place, and say, “here’s what I’ve come to believe…”

As you know, there are all kinds of interpretations of the women-teaching-men-in-church Scriptures. Most of them come down to two arguments:

1. The passages must be applied literally for us, just as they were for the original audience. These folks believe that women should not teach men.

2. The passages must be interpreted culturally. Paul was writing to an audience with starkly different gender roles, and was trying to promote peace and order in the worship services. He was suggesting worship rules that would benefit the women and men in his culture. These folks typically believe that women could – and often should – teach men.

Like many of you, I’ve wrestled over this topic so many times. I love to teach – was born to teach – and so, this topic has appeared often on my personal journey.  I never found peace for my turmoil, until God revealed this to me:

1. If the Scriptures are to be interpreted literally, I must conclude that I should not teach men. Period. It’s plain and simple. It’s just what the words themselves say.

2. If the Scriptures are to be interpreted culturally, I should imitate Paul’s examination of gender roles, carefully considering what would benefit both genders in my culture. I still come out with: I should not teach men.  It seems to me, that in our church culture, women are rocking-the-party with teaching each other, holding Bible studies, encouraging each other to dig deep into Scripture. It seems to me that many men struggle to do so. It seems to me that women prosper when their men are confident, wise, and able to teach. It seems to me, that the men in a church need open spaces before they step forward in leadership, teaching, or preaching. Of course, that’s just my cultural interpretation. But let me tell you about one specific experience that encouraged me greatly. About a year ago, I had the opportunity to decline a teach-men-in-church offer. Here’s what happened: because I did not fill the podium, a man did.  He spoke about prayer. At the end, he had the elders (all men) pray for people in need. One of the people they prayed for was me! They gathered our little family together and prayed that God would increase and bless us. (And has He ever!!) It was powerful to sit in the receiving position and watch all of these men work in the Lord. They were mobilized, empowered, strong. And, by choosing to refrain from the opportunity, I was mobilized, empowered, and strong, too.