Women & Teaching

This post is my response to the following question (asked in my theology of the church class forum):

Question: If 1 Tim 3 explains the qualifications of an elder and is gender specific, men only, what impact would that have in regard to whether a woman could preach at the corporate gathering?  Would 1 Tim. 2 have any bearing on the matter?

“The Greek word translated “exercise authority” has the connotation of usurping authority or giving orders to someone. As we learned in the lectures, one can also view ‘teach and/or exercise authority’ as a single thought; teaching and exercising authority together are equated with being an elder. This does not mean that neither teaching by itself nor leading by itself are prohibited for women.

“You say that a woman has great value in service to the church, but what if she has gifts of teaching and leadership? The Holy Spirit gives gives as he pleases and these gifts are for the benefit of the church (1 Cor 12). Often, churches that take the heirarchical stance allow women to teach children and/or other women. Following Paul’s logic in 1 Tim 2, woman was deceived so she should not teach. To me, that means it would be inappropriate for a woman to teach other women because it is essentially the blind leading the blind. The same is true for a woman in a position teaching children. Using her spiritual gifts outside of the church would not benefit the Church. While it might be fruitful, using her gifts this way would miss their essential purpose.

“I believe that Paul does allow for women to speak in public gatherings, to prophesy and pray (1 Cor 11:2-16), both of which are a form of teaching, so his prohibition cannot be taken absolutely.

“This discussion is more than theoretical for me. As a woman with teaching and leadership gifts affirmed repeatedly by the church (even those who hold a complementarian view), I want to be faithful to the gifts God has given me. I obviously do not want to be in error or lead/teach others in error, but I want God to use me as much as he possibly can to the benefit of the Church. I attempt to remain faithful to this passage by only teaching and leading where the church calls me. I do not take authority where it is not given to me. I also am careful to collaborate with others (men and women), so that if I were to be in error, it would not be taught to the church.”

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