Should a Woman Heal On the Sabbath? (A Response to Mary A. Kassian)


This post is in response to “Women Teaching Men – How Far Is Too Far?” by Mary A. Kassian (See Here).

On May 21st, Desiring God (a ministry founded by John Piper), released an article written by Bible teacher and writer, Mary A. Kassian. The questions she began with are as follows:

“Where is the line when it comes to women teaching men? May women preach on Sunday mornings? Teach a Sunday school class? Lead a small group? Instruct a seminary course? Speak at a conference? At a couples retreat? Or on the radio? May women ever teach from Scripture when men are in the audience? Should men even be reading this article? How far is too far?”

Kassian subscribes to a theology named “complementarianism.” This doctrine teaches that men are to be the “heads” of the home and the Church. Complementarians interpret the word “head” (as found in Eph. 5) to mean “authority over.” The problem with this interpretation is that there is very little ancient linguistic evidence to prove this case (read more:

Further, the Old Testament names Judge Deborah (Judges 4), who was a spiritual and military leader over both men and women. The New Testament (specifically, the Apostle Paul) names an apostle named Junia (Romans 16:7), who would have led and taught both men and women; and a Bible teacher named Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3, 18, 26; Romans 16:4; 1 Cor. 16:19; 2 Tim. 4:19), who would have led and taught both men and women (read about more NT female leaders in my master’s thesis:

Please note that Priscilla’s name is mentioned five times out of seven, by the Apostle Paul, before her husband’s name. In a patriarchal culture, this was a huge deal and probably meant that Priscilla was the stronger Bible teacher of the two. Some complementarians have claimed that Judge Deborah was only chosen to lead because there were no “strong godly men” who would or could lead, but this is a far-fetched argument. Even in the most evil of Old Testament times, God seems to be able to find one godly man (Ex: “Sodom and Gomorrah” or the story of Noah).

Learn more about the Apostle Junia at

Complementarianism’s ongoing attempts to silence and limit females who are gifted to lead, preach, and teach are unbiblical and dangerous to the spreading of the Gospel. Complementarian doctrine is a great threat to the Kingdom of God, which is why more and more Christian men and women are joining forces to speak out against it.

Some doctrines that are legalistic in nature do not matter all that much. For example, if a Christian wants to continue to argue that the wine Jesus drank was unfermented and that God wants Christians to abstain from alcohol, that is a doctrine that is not worth too much of our time. However, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that are present in girls and women, are being stifled and limited by legalism, we must speak out.

Kassian states,

“Because I want to honor 1 Timothy 2:12, for my good and the good of the church, and because I believe it presents a fairly clear boundary about women teaching authoritatively in the local church, I generally turn down invitations to speak on Sunday mornings. The passage indicates that the doctrinal teaching delivered in the context of the regular church meeting is the responsibility of the church “dads.””

If the Apostle Paul (the author of 1 Timothy) praises female leaders and Bible teachers in other portions of the New Testament, it is evident that 1 Timothy 2:12 was never meant to be a universal and timeless command (read more:

Kassian’s entire article reminds me of Luke 13:10-17:

One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!

But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did.

The “mainstream” religious leaders of Jesus’ day were so caught up in what they believed to be “biblical laws” that they forgot about what matters: healing the broken.

Do we really believe that Jesus would tell the women in China who are leading the “house church movement,” not to teach the Written Word of God on the Sabbath to men? Do we really believe that Jesus is displeased with all of the female pastors here in the United States who are healing broken men and women every Sunday morning by washing their congregation in the written Word of God and speaking truth over their lives? Must we continue to limit the Holy Spirit that lives inside of Christian girls and women with nonsensical, confusing, and unloving rules? Is this really “loving God?”

Further, Kassian compares “How far is too far” when it comes to a woman teaching men to “how far is too far” when it comes to sexual sin.

“So a woman who only considers the boundary and asks, “How far is too far?” is really asking the wrong question. A better question would be, “Do I love what God loves?” “Do I treasure what he treasures?” “Does what I do with my body indicate that I treasure purity?” And, “How can I best honor Christ in how I physically interact with my boyfriend?”

By now you may be muttering, “I thought she was going to talk about women teaching men in the church.”

I am. But I think the question of how I — as a woman with a spiritual gift of teaching — ought to honor male headship in the church has many similarities with the question of how a young woman ought to honor the principle of purity…”

I am personally grieved by this comparison because I remember the shame and regret I felt as a Christian teenager when I went too far sexually. I saved my virginity for marriage, but when I went too far sexually, I felt immense guilt that I struggled to let go of for many years. I am not alone in this; I mentor many Christian women who have brought sexual shame, from past mistakes, into their marriage, and they are still learning how to forgive themselves and accept the forgiveness of God.

To compare a woman sexually sinning to a woman teaching the Bible “too authoritatively” to men is an outrageous and disturbing comparison.

Oh, sisters, if we only understood the lavish love and freedom Jesus died and rose again to give us. God is unbelievably proud of the girls and women who are dedicating their lives to leading, preaching, teaching, writing, pastoring, evangelizing, starting businesses, becoming judges, and also staying home to raise their sons AND DAUGHTERS to be little “Jesus warriors.”

Pick up your Bibles sisters and heal, preach, and teach on the Sabbath and everyday of your life to whoever will listen. Spread the good news in the Church and outside of the Church. Refuse to allow legalism and wrong biblical interpretation to limit and oppress the gifts that the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon you. The Church, both men and women, need to hear the message that God has put in your heart!

You are a city on a hill. You are a bright and shining star. As we sang as little girls, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”


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  • There have been historical periods in which children have preached as they were moved by the Spirit (this is a very interesting study if you ever have time — it had to do with heavy religious persecution that prevented any regular church services as would normally be held), and it is worth noting that the Spirit moved both girls and boys to preach.

  • “The text doesn’t say, “Preserve some semblance of male authority in your churches.” It does not say, “A woman may teach men in your church meeting if she is under the authority of an elder/church-father.” It does not say, “A woman can teach if she is married to an elder/church-father.” It does not say, “A female pastor can preach if she is a paid church staff, operating under the authority of the elders/church-fathers.”

    It says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” Even if we don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or don’t understand it, the boundary is quite clear. Having the church-fathers authoritatively teach and instruct the congregation is God’s standard for the regular public meeting of the local church.”

    Her logic here is so faulty. I could add, “It doesn’t say, ‘A woman can teach men so long as she only allows the church-fathers to authoritatively teach and instruct the congregation and she sticks to motherly messages.’ The verse says, ‘I do not allow a woman to preach or exercise authority over a man.'” By her logic, she shouldn’t be able to teach any man…and I would include that article as a “prohibited act” If a man were to happen to read it. Obviously, that scripture is not so cut and dried as some people would like to think.

    • Complementarian logic is always confusing when it comes to women teaching. The “rules” are inconsistent and always subject to change.

    • Paul does state the reason for Saying Women should not teach or have authority over men, but that gets omitted. Also, one should look at the passages and ask ones self the question, does the passage say what I am being told it says? We need to scrutise and check things out and not just accept things because it sounds right. What assumptions are being made? What assumptions are being stated in an article as facts? Verse numbers are only there to help find the passages, but the down side is that people tend to only look at those verses without looking at the ones in front or behind them that may give them the context. This applies to all biblical subjects.

    • Unfortunately, translation issues are rarely brought up with this passage. Greek has a word which can mean ‘man’ or can mean ‘husband.’ The same is true for the word for ‘woman’ : it can mean woman or wife. When used together with the word for woman/wife, the word for man/husband means husband. (In a culture where nearly all adults are married this makes more sense than it does in our culture.) So ‘I do not permit a wife to teach or exercise authority over her husband’ is a more accurate translation. I personally think Paul is talking about the fact that married couples were getting into arguments in front of everyone at church meetings, and this was not a good thing. Christian worship was all inclusive and egalitarian in ways no other religions were, and for the first time in that culture, wives could publically speak out and disagree with husbands. Imagine the cultural bombshell. After a lifetime of stuffing opinions and feelings, and letting the men do all the talking, women could now participate. Small wonder if some of them got out of hand and expressed themselves too adamantly for good manners or Christ-like love. The best corrective for the problem Paul is addressing? Let everyone in the church participate on an equal footing. You will then avoid tension and stress building up, the sort that led to wives speaking ungraciously to husbands. The answer is more equality, not less.

  • This is powerful! All I can do is say WOW, YES, PRAISE GOD, and AMEN! I really hate that we, as egalitarians, have to spend so much time on this. We love God. We are committed to the Gospel. We are about winning souls. It is time for us as the Church to start focusing on the right things. Trying to restrict the power of the Holy Spirit in a woman is the devil’s job.

  • Awesome article! Preach! Honestly, what are they afraid of happening if a woman preaches to men on a Sunday morning? Will it be drastically different from a woman teaching a Bible lesson on Wednesday over the radio?! I am so confused at why complementarians think women teaching is such a terrible idea, especially now that we have female teachers, CEOs, and politicians — all exercising authority over men with no dire consequences to suggest female leaders are a bad thing. Complementarianism seems so out of touch with reality. :/

  • I think Kassian’s association of women teaching mixed groups with women sinning sexually is very telling. Complimentarianism focuses a good deal of energy on women’s dangerous and distracting sexuality; I often feel the main way complementarian men see women is as sexual beings, with a second being the vigilance they seem to think is necessary to keep the women from suddenly tossing off their chains and taking over. No wonder women teaching spirituality seems strange and off kilter to these people. They spend so much of their time (not to mention their sermons, blogs and tweets) worrying about women’s bodies being covered up and tented over, and women’s ideas being in need of correction.
    Perhaps it’s clear I think the problem is the complementarians view of women. And the idea that it’s because they love God so much, not because they look down on women so much, is just denial.

    • Kathleen: Preach it. lol. Your last sentence, IMO, rings with the truth of how patronizing complementarianism is: “the idea that it’s because they love God so much, not because they look down on women so much, is just denial.”

      **pat on head** “Oh, honey. We do this for your own good because we know so much better.”

  • I agree with you, Jory, that the parallel to sexual boundaries is unsettling.

    It’s interesting that at the beginning of the blog, Ms. Kassian states, “Trying to put together a list of rules about permitted behaviors would be both misleading and ridiculous.” After this, this goes on to write a befuddling long article that includes a list of criteria that she applies to herself. Perhaps she has a genuine intent of trying to make her point clear. Nonetheless, it seems that her picture of the bible as a whole is limited.

    It’s very clear in the Old Testament that many cultures greatly limited women and that Deborah was held up in contrast to this. So, why would it be any different in the New Testament?

    I have to say that I have often been puzzled by many statements of Paul, which seem like universal edicts, while the ministry of Christ offered freedom from those.

    Waving to you, Jory and anyone else within range, from the eastern side of Pa.

  • Along these lines, I am going to teach/preach at my own funeral. I cannot wait! My husband said he thinks it is a fantastic idea.

    I am making a video for those who attend so I can tell them all about Jesus and to thank them for coming. What is in the heart needs to come out – for the glory of God -whether you are a man or woman , and I refuse to let such a perfect opportunity slip by…

    I am in great health so no date set ;).

    • J.F.!

      BRILLIANT IDEA! Since I left off going to church I have been wondering who would preach at my funeral…and now I know! Awesome! I preached at my brother’s funeral along with a lovely minister from the Salvation Army who really saved the day for I had just left the Complementarian church about a year before…but my sermon was in the form of a eulogy…and a lady came up to me and said “you have missed your calling”…that really stuck…because on that day I believed she was right….thank you so much for the wonderful idea. It may become a new way of doing things for all us women who have been silenced for decades in our life.

  • Adam Hamilton, a United Methodist pastor, addresses women in church in his book, Making Sense of the Bible. The chapter is entitled “Women Need Not Apply,” but don’t let the title put you off. It is a tongue-in-cheek comment on the limiting of women in ministry.

  • Lovely writing here! Excellent points…too many to mention them all! I love the way Jesus set up these pharisees and crushed them so well that they slunk away, muttering…defeated and powerless…and love won the day…Love was winning every battle in those days and so they had to kill Jesus. In fact, with the Complementarian ‘affair’ with Paul one rarely hears much about Jesus…they sort of have killed Jesus in the church…at least in the ones I attended…just counting the sermons from the Sermon on the Mount, (on one finger) I could easily see that Paul won their hearts, and mainly because of 3-4 lines of his writing that were so easily manipulated to get their own way all the time…such pride and selfishness should never be found in a church of Christ…that is why I left, realizing this had nothing to do with the miracle working Lover of my soul.

    Headship can be no more than entitlement to respect…otherwise it steps on the person of God. “My glory I will not give to another”. “Ye have ONE master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren”. “There is ONE God and ONE MEDIATOR between God and mankind (anthropos)” and that one mediator is Jesus Christ the God-Man…never a mere man. Jesus is the great king and ONLY head of the church. Hence in the church, headship can only go so far as permitting women and men to have ‘headship’ over one another or to have joint-dominion over all the earth…any more than this is sin. “Submit yourselves ONE TO ANOTHER”…”in HONOUR PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER”…it cannot be more than this in the church of Jesus.

    And don’t ever forget Huldah, because Complementarians always do. Just try to find A sermon on her in the Complementarian camp! She was CALLED by the priests of Israel by request of King Josiah, to inform the nation and its king of God’s view. She was called of God to teach the whole nation of Israel via their king. In effect she stood above the priesthood and the king, because as a prophet, she spoke for God. Deborah also. Miriam also. Abigail also. Yet strangely, all these women are regularly demeaned by the Complementarian crowd, and this is a very pertinent point. DEMEANED. That is the bottom line. Whenever a woman is called by God the Complementarian sermons flow freely demeaning the choice and either saying she was God’s second choice or that there were no men available at the time. REALLY? Yet they have the nerve to call God sovereign? There is a psychological profile of Complementarian LEADERSHIP here and it WILL NOT respect God’s WILL.

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