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: http://www.jorymicah.com/what-does-husband-headship-really-mean/).
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: http://www.jorymicah.com/about/masters-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 http://juniaproject.com/who-was-junia/.
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.
“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: http://juniaproject.com/defusing-1-timothy-212-bomb/).
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.”