See the conclusion for links regarding scripture related to this topic, including to 20 passages asking women to speak, have authority over, and teach men in the assembly and elsewhere.
Seven of the 12 national and regional colleges affiliated with the Churches of Christ no longer exclude women from actively serving in chapel worship-services when the assembly includes men and women.
Four of them—Abilene Christian University, Lipscomb University, Pepperdine University, and Rochester College—do not exclude women from any role in their chapel worship-services. Women preach, read scripture, lead prayer, and otherwise actively serve in chapel services that include men and women.
Three other schools—Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, and York College—no longer generally exclude women from actively serving in mixed chapels, but some exclusivity remains, at least in practice. Women serve as the featured speaker and also actively serve in other roles in these three schools’ main chapels, and women actively serve in all roles in some mixed chapels besides the main one at OCU, but some roles in the main chapel-services for all three are generally filled by men.
These 7 colleges are joined by a growing number of Church of Christ congregations that have lifted all or most restrictions on women serving in the worship service.
Still Excluding Women
The vast majority of the Churches of Christ still wholly exclude women from actively serving in worship services in which men are present—women are not allowed to read scripture, lead singing or prayer, serve at the communion table, or preach.
The Churches of Christ denomination is nearly alone among significant U.S. Christian denominations in wholly excluding women from doing so in most of its congregations. More than 90% of U.S. Christianity is less restrictive.
Five of the 12 Church of Christ colleges—Faulkner University, Florida College, Freed-Hardeman University, Harding University, and Ohio Valley University—continue to wholly exclude women from actively serving in their mixed chapel worship-services.
At Harding, women occasionally give personal testimony or speak on a special topic (e.g., stress and anxiety) as part of a chapel program, normally after a devotional period.
These 5 colleges have an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 12,000, with half of those at Harding, while the other 7 colleges have an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 18,000.
List of Church of Christ Colleges and Their Approach to Chapel
Below is a list of the 12 national and regional Churches-of-Christ-affiliated colleges along with the status of women’s service in their chapel worship-services.
The list concludes with a few questions to consider.
1. Abilene Christian University
Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.
“Chapel at ACU Gathering daily for a time of fellowship and worship ….”
2. Faulkner University
Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services.
“Chapel Leadership … Males who serve in a leadership role in the Chapel worship assembly are asked …”
Audio/Video: Video 1 (Wake Forest’s Dr. James Otteson) Video 2
3. Florida College
Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services.
Video: Livestream of chapel services
4. Freed-Hardeman University
Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.
“Each chapel service begins with a devotional. Following the devotional, activities may include guest speakers, entertainment, singing, ….”
Audio / Video: Available online
5. Harding University
Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.
Also, women occasionally speak their personal or family testimony or on a special topic, such as stress and anxiety, as part of a chapel program, normally after a devotional period. See examples 1, 2, and 3.
Chapel for worship, “… dealing sanely with the problems of life, to develop proper ideals of true manhood and womanhood …,” and other purposes
6. Lipscomb University (and Hazelip School of Theology)
Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.
“The Gathering is a time when our entire campus comes together for worship …”
7. Lubbock Christian University
Women preach and read scripture; do not lead prayer or singing.
Audio/Video: Chapel Audio and Video (see, e.g., videos from February 19, February 23, March 2, March 5, 2018; and August 29, 2017)
8. Ohio Valley University
Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.
“Chapel and Assembly is designed to gather the OVU community on a daily basis …”
9. Oklahoma Christian University
Women fully participate in some mixed chapel worship-services (main speaker, lead prayer, etc.) besides the main chapel and sometimes serve as the featured speaker and read scripture in the main chapel.
See video and first article, second article, and announcement.
10. Pepperdine University
Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.
“From its beginning, Pepperdine has included regular assemblies where students gather to grow in faith, …”
11. Rochester College
Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.
“Rochester College Chapel/Convocation series (RCC) …”
12. York College
Women preach and make announcements; do not lead singing or prayer.
“Every weekday, York College faculty, staff and students gather for worship, scripture, a program, and announcements …”
Videos: Video 1 Video 2 Video 3
Where would a young woman in high school deciding on a college rather go, a college that excludes her from actively serving in chapel or a place that gives her opportunities to do so?
Where would be best for her spiritual health?
What does a college’s exclusion or inclusion of women relative to chapel suggest about how that college might treat her in other respects? What other opportunities available to men will or will not be made available to her by that college, directly or subtly?
What message does the college that excludes women from serving in chapel give to its male students about her? What message does the college that fully includes her give to the male students?
Where should a high-school girl’s parents want her to go? Where might her youth minster think is best for her? What does she think?
Here are some resources on relevant scripture:
This article sets out 20 scripture passages that asks women to speak, teach, pray, etc., in the assembly and elsewhere. Such scriptures are among those cited by those who view it as a sin to exclude women from roles in worship services.
I also published articles that take a deeper dive into the two passages that some assert exclude women from speaking in the worship assembly. They are written from the standpoint of a young woman considering which Church of Christ college to attend.
Part 2 of this series, “… Scriptural? and a College Visit,” takes you on a journey with Mary, a high-school senior girl who attends a Church of Christ and is choosing among colleges affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Part 3 continues Mary’s journey, as she considers scripture and her future.
In Part 4, Mary attends a college class that is discussing some of the scripture related to women speaking in the assembly. She has a few questions of her own.
Sources & Notes
(The picture is a freely available one from pixabay.com.)
I obtained information on the various schools via internet research (the schools’ web-sites, YouTube, etc.) and, for most of the schools, by communicating with people who attended or who are attending the school or who are or were otherwise associated with the school. I am very appreciative of those who shared information with me. I received more information regarding some schools than others. If you have any other information relevant to this list, I would appreciate hearing from you via commenting or the Contact page.
I used “leading” in the title only because it seemed to be the only way to convey the subject to my audience in a succinct manner. “Serving” is a better description than leading. By “active role” or the like, I am referring to what many refer to as a “leadership” role—preaching, leading singing, leading prayer, serving at the communion table, making announcements, etc. I am not referring to singing with the congregation, participating in communion when passed to her, giving money when the plate is passed, or similar things. The term “active role” or the like is used to differentiate between those two categories but is an imperfect descriptor.
“… national and regional colleges …”— I used as my criteria: (a) listed in U.S. News & World Report’s Find the Best Colleges for You (2016 Edition — this is the latest one I had) as a national or regional college, (b) substantial and meaningful information about the school listed in that book, (c) that book showing enrollment of more than 350 full-time undergraduates and a peer-assessment score of 2.0 or greater (out of 5.0), (d) accredited by at least one nationally well-respected and well-known accrediting body whose accreditation is regularly sought after by highly respected colleges, (e) in the United States, and (f) shown as a university or college formally affiliated with the Churches of Christ in this list and this list. The first list indicates that Florida College is not formally affiliated with the Churches of Christ and its entry in the U.S. News book mentioned above does not mention its affiliation with the Churches of Christ. This is likely due to its non-institutional history and approach, so I included it anyway, as it meets all the other criteria. The criteria are mostly meant to express that this list does not include non- or minimally accredited schools, preaching schools, “Bible colleges,” local or online schools, schools outside the U.S., or the like. Amridge University and Southwestern Christian College appeared in the U.S. News book, but very little information was listed for either, and it showed Amridge at under 175 full-time undergraduates. Crowley’s Ridge College, Heritage Christian University, Johnson University (Florida), and Nations University were not listed at all even though the book lists over 1600 U.S. colleges.
It appears that Southwestern Christian College does not exclude women from at least some roles in its chapel. See http://swcu.edu/chapel-schedule. I received information, too, indicating that Heritage Christian University excludes women from actively serving in worship services.
From its web-site, Austin Graduate School of Theology appears to adhere to an exclusion of women from serving in chapel, at least in being the featured speaker. See http://austingrad.edu/happenings/chapel/.
“Seven … no longer exclude ….”: Nos. 1, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12, which is 7 out of 12.
“Four … do not exclude women …”: Nos. 1, 6, 10, and 11, which is 4 out of 12.
“… growing number of Church of Christ congregations that have lifted all or most restrictions on women serving ..”: http://www.wherethespiritleads.org/gender_inclusive_churches.htm.
See generally Erik Tryggestad, “Faith in higher learning: A sampling of chapel services,” The Christian Chronicle (Oct. 1, 2013).
“Churches of Christ denomination is nearly alone among significant U.S. Christian denominations in having most of its congregations exclude women …. At least around 90% of U.S. Christianity is less restrictive relative to women’s service in worship services.”: See, e.g., Steve Gardner, “David Lipscomb, Church of Christ Foundational Leader: ‘All the Teaching of the Bible is Against Women Speaking in Public’ (It Gets Worse),” AuthenticTheology.com (April 12, 2018) (discussing evangelical denominations in the main body and in the notes); Pew Research’s religious landscape study, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/(includes percentages reflected by various denominations). It appears that, of the sizeable evangelical denominations, only three others (the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (1.1%), Presbyterian Church in America (0.4%), and Independent Baptist (2.5%)) are generally as restrictive as the general Church of Christ (1.5%) approach. Notes and sources regarding the larger evangelical denominations are in the David Lipscomb article cited above.
|7 who do not wholly exclude||18237|
|5 who do||12059|
|All numbers from||US News at|
|(searched May 8, 2018)||https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges|
|except for marked with *, which are|
|from the 2016 U.S. News book referenced above|
Links to scripture-study materials from some Churches of Christ explaining why scripture does not prohibit women from speaking in the assembly, etc.:
- Sycamore View Church of Christ
- Springfield Church of Christ
- Providence Road Church of Christ
- Southern Hills Church of Christ
- Glenwood Church
- Oak Hills Church
- Fourth Avenue Church of Christ
- Meadowbrook Church of Christ
- Highland Church of Christ
[Updates: added link to Video 3 under “12. York College,”; added marked additions regarding personal testimony and special topics under “Harding” and in the introduction; and made explicit that the article is referring to mixed chapels when discussing the group of 5 colleges; added specific cites to the Lubbock Christian section since the link is to a long list of chapel videos; added information on Southwestern Christian and Heritage Christian in the sources / notes section. 11/2/20: fixed broken links. Moved church links to notes.]
You DO realize that having women in leadership roles in worship is UNscriptural????
Thank you for your question. I published the second article in this series today. It begins to address the unscriptural question. It is here —
Why did you not include Heritage Christian University in your study?
Hi Terry, Thank you for your question. The criteria I used for “national and regional colleges” is in the notes/sources part of the article. I mention
there that Heritage Christian U is not listed in the U.S. News book I referenced.
I believe the churches of Christ are considered non-denominational. There is no national organization, leader, etc. It’s one of the reasons you will find a diversity in practices across the church. Ideally, the church speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent on the things where it’s not defined.
This paper may be informative
Is Patriarchy Lost?
The church of Christ is not a denomination, and Christians don’t rely on the so-called “Christian Colleges’ executives or their inclusion/exclusion of female participation in school worship settings, nor for the congregations’ policies (whether there is an eldership or not), but on the oracles of God. Female Christians should know how to conduct themselves in worship, whether in a school or school setting. Females who demand or expect to participate in leadership roles in mixed (male and female) groups are in error, because the scriptures clearly that a woman is not to have rule over a man. Thank you for allowing me to comment!
Thank you for your comment. Regarding this part of your comment—“because the scriptures clearly that a woman is not to have rule over a man” —- I published the second article in this series today and it begins to address the unscriptural assertion. It is here —
Correction: School or church worship setting ……………Line 7
Correction: Scriptures teach clearly …………… Line 10
The one on Harding isn’t true. They have allowed women do announcements before chapel, women have given the devotional at chapel before, and a praise team led all of chapel one day.
Hi Jacob, Thank you for your comment. I understood my sources to report differently, but of course it is possible that I missed something. Could you give me some details on the devotional part in particular? When, who, regular chapel session, just once or multiple times, any special announcement about it, reaction by the students, any video / audio recording, etc.? You can email me at steve . gardner [at symbol] gmail . com if you prefer (I express it with spaces and the [ ] to help reduce spam). Thanks much.
Your article is very informative. The problem with churches of Christ is that we rely too heavily on “Christian colleges” to influence our practices. It is the Bible and the Bible alone that should govern practices in the church. I have never heard a valid Biblical argument that allows women to teach or have authority over men in the church. The church needs to have more influence over the schools that bear it’s name…unless we decide to disregard biblical authority.
Thank you Gary. I cite several resources with such arguments in a different article (the sources / notes part in particular, but some in the main text, too), the one at the link below. Probably the best place to start is the Two Views book (arguments on both sides) cited there. https://authentictheology.com/2017/11/17/excluding-women-from-church-roles-introduction-to-problems-with-citing-scripture-to-do-so/
Seems as if 1906 is coming for us again, and this will. Be one of the fault lines. I wonder what the names of the new fellowships of churches will end up being on the census forms.
I hope not!
How do they define the scripture that states women should remain silent in the assembly
Hi Arline, Thank you for your question. I did not see that any of the schools published a written interpretation or anything of that nature.
It is likely that the 7 schools interpret the 3 verses that most folks point to (1 Cor 14:34-35 and 1 Tim 2:12) to exclude women as instead (1) telling the married Corinthian women not to ask disruptive questions during the assembly (probably disruptive questions to their husbands about prophecy offered by their husbands) (1 Cor 14:34-35) and (2) Paul telling Timothy that he doesn’t allow women to teach uninformed, false doctrine that disturbs the peace or to exercise unauthorized power in a domineering way that creates conflict with a man (or to teach in a unauthorized, domineering way that creates conflict) (1 Tim 2:12).
That is roughly how some Church of Christ congregations who have studied the issue closely define it. And how a lot of other denominations define it.
Here is some of the relevant scripture: 1 Cor 14:5, 26, 39 (all NIV); 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Cor 12:6-8; 1 Cor 11:4-5, 13-16; Eph. 5:19; Col 3:16; Acts 2:15-21; Acts 18:24-26; Acts 21:8-9; 2 Kings 22:11-20; Luke 2:36-38; 1 Tim 3:11; Romans 16:7; Matt 28:8-10; Judges 4:4-5:31; Micah 6:4; Titus 2:3; Gal. 3:28; Matt 22:36-40.
I point to some resources on that question, from CoC congregations and otherwise, in an earlier article: https://authentictheology.com/2017/11/17/excluding-women-from-church-roles-introduction-to-problems-with-citing-scripture-to-do-so/
Most of the notes / resources are in the “sources and notes” section of that article (the bottom section), but some are in the main body of the article. A good place to start is the “Two Views” book cited in there.
Hello Mr. Gardiner,
Interesting article… I understand you to be highly educated in many subjects/aspects of academia (that’s awesome!) I therefore expected/supposed incorrectly, perhaps, that you would have done certain specific things in your articles…namely, use appropriate/proper Bible terms and correct English grammar. When you refer to scriptures, it should been “are”, instead of “is”. If you have done any amount of research concerning the church of Christ, you would have understood that you are talking about the spiritual body, bride of Christ, whom Jesus Christ, man in the flesh, Son of Almighty and brother to all true Christians, died for! This is a very austere matter, indeed. One particular scripture, John 4:23, requires that those who do worship, worship FatherGod in spirit and in truth. Some thoughts need to be determined here…especially about chapel, which does include a more orderly worship, if that’s what is deemed by the particular institution…We would be amiss to ignore this fact, as that is what the entire premise of your article rests upon. The powers that be, making decisions for the chapel service, if it is a worship service, are then held by the same biblical principles all true worshippers are held to, otherwise, there would be no point to make. I believe, as is the problem in almost all churches of Christ, this is a problem concerning submission, and/or the lack thereof. Most folks proclaiming Christianity have never studied what a submissive/servant attitude is. Until that is done, there really is no capacity/capability to understand true, unadulterated worship, as Holy God and Father would have it. The Creator is to be worshipped, as He, the worshipped One sees fit, not the created, as mankind sees fit. Hope this helps just a bit, if you are truly attempting to get to the bottom of all this. Blessings for your research to delve into this deeper.
Mrs. Kimberly H.
The Lord’s church does not receive its pattern for worship from any earthly policy making body. Each takes its rule of faith and practice from the Scriptures only. We are un-denominational, not non-denominational; un-, since the New Testament church predates Protestantism by approximately 1500 years, Catholicism by approximately 570 years. Non-denominational is generally accepting of all denominational teachings.
With that being said, the “exclusion” of women in the leadership roles is limited to the corporate worship service every first day of the week, and in the Bible class setting. The apostle Paul took this all the way back to Adam, from which we can all learn the consequences of what happens when men do not fill the role God gave them.
Any college or university seeking to properly prepare not only young men, but also young women for a full and rich Christian Life, should teach what the Bible teaches, speaking the truth in love. It in no way implies that women are inferior, but only that doing this pleases God.
The Churches of Christ has not always interpreted scripture the way you say: ““the “exclusion” of women in the leadership roles is limited to the corporate worship service every first day of the week, and in the Bible class setting.” (and many don’t now)
You can read about David Lipscomb’s and Alexander Campbell’s interpretation that the exclusion of women applies also to the workplace and government, for example, discussed in my earlier articles (link below).
And the CoC have not always interpreted it to apply to the Bible-class setting, either. This is discussed in the notes section of that same article.
I am sure that the 7 colleges that don’t generally exclude women also view themselves as “teaching what the Bible teaches, speaking the truth in love.”
Saying excluding women “no way implies that women are inferior” seems like empty words.
Just to touch base, as to the church’s past interpretation, I must ask, that if a sister in Christ has the opportunity to teach an unbelieving man the gospel, should she keep silent? 1 Corinthians 11 through 14, including verses 33-34, where women are forbidden to speak, is in the setting when the church is assembled together (see ch. 11: 17-18, and 14: 26).
As for Campbell and Lipscomb, I view these to be great men in the history of the Restoration movement, but they are not inspired men. I don’t weigh what the Bible says against what these men think, but vice versa. They, just as we, are fallible, but whatever one teaches, it must harmonize with the scriptures, and the scriptures must not contradict themselves.
I, also, think those colleges think as you said, but colleges have boards that can be more concerned about the bottom line than being scriptural. The precedent they are setting seems to have already spilled over into some of the churches. There seems to be a lot of viewing the scriptures as “empty words” on this and other subjects within the church.
In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns us of the dangers within.
Good talking to you,
Hi Keith, Thanks for your follow-up.
“if a sister in Christ has the opportunity to teach an unbelieving man the gospel, should she keep silent?” No, she should not keep silent.
On the CoC’s past interpretation, I read Lipscomb to say that he interprets scripture to mean that women can teach men in private (e.g., in her house, in another’s family house, and the like) but not in “public” (the worship service, a seminar, the workplace, in government, etc.). He seems to use Priscilla teaching Apollos in Acts 18:26 as a “carve out” from his general rule, but I haven’t looked closely at his approach on that.
The question on the in-the-assembly limitation isn’t so much 1 Cor 11-14 — the main question on that front relates to 1 Timothy 2:12. Is it limited to the assembly or not? The CoC answer to that question appears to have changed over the past century.
My point re Campbell and Lipscomb wasn’t that they are inspired, but that the CoC has not always interpreted scripture to limit the exclusion of women to the assembly. It once viewed the exclusion of women as applicable to the public sphere (workplace, government, etc.) In other words, CoC interpretation of scripture on this issue has changed at least once and it can change again.
Christians of goodwill think that it is not scriptural to exclude women from actively serving in the worship assembly, so I don’t think chalking it up to a financial motive on their part, claiming they view scripture as “empty words,” or calling them false prophets (Matt 24:24) is the way to go.
On the other hand, **saying** women are equal (“not inferior”) while **treating them** unequally is textbook “empty words.”
One doesn’t have to look far to see some of the reasons lots of Christians view it as unscriptural to exclude women from the assembly— for example, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. …” (1 Cor 14:26 (NIV))
I set out some other scripture to consider at the beginning of the article I link at the end of this one (the God’s Girls article).
Good talking with you, too.
Where two or three are gather in my name….
My daughter just graduated from freed hardeman university (2018)… with a degree in bible! And she absolutley loved the campus/students/faculty. Not participating in the chapel services did not in any way diminish the quality of her education. Furthermore to say that men should fill certain rolls and women should not does not does not devalue women. If a say forks are for eating spaghetti and spoons are for eating soup I have not valued one over the other. Christianity does not devalue women and I for one am tired of hearing that churches of christ are bad because they devalue women.
Thank you for your comment. Congratulations to your daughter! I hope things go well for her. What are the job prospects like for women with a degree in Bible graduating from Freed this year when compared to men with a degree in Bible graduating from Freed this year?
Do Churches of Christ that hire from Freed value women with Bible degrees equally as males when looking for someone to hire?
Do they value someone with experience preaching, leading singing, etc., or is the quality of one’s application not diminished in any way by not having that kind of experience?
To be brief… you and I both know the folly of speaking on behalf of someone else so for me to comment on what other churches value when choosing to employ people is wasted effort.
However, to my original point… the educationally opportunities are the same for women and men at FHU (and likely the other schools who restrict women’s rolls in public service). In fact at FHU there were multiple professors who encouraged my daughter to continue her education beyond a bachelor’s degree and were even wanting to provide her recommendations should she choose to attend the Hebrew Union (which I dont know much about that but from what I understand is an exceptional place to go if you want to continue your studies of Jewish culture and language). If FHU really did treat women as inferior that opportunity would not have been offered to her.
Thank you for your response.
Commenting on the enormous difference in employment and service opportunities for young women who work very hard (and just as hard) to obtain the same level of education in the Bible as their male classmates is not wasted effort.
Unfortunately, the paths available to young women Bible majors to use their gifts in the CoC environment are severely limited due solely to their sex.
We all ought to be commenting on that.
The educational opportunities are plainly not the same for men and women when women are barred from the regular opportunity to lead singing, lead prayer, speak, etc., in chapel. That experience can be formative and is valued by potential employers, too.
It is great to hear about your daughter being encouraged to continue her education. I hope that works out well for her.
Does FHU hire female professors on the tenure track to teach Bible or hemeneutics? If there were two candidates for a tenure-track Bible-teaching position, each with the same resume, one male and one female, would one of them be less valuable to the school and ranked lower in desirability for hiring?
Does FHU treat women the same or does it treat women as less valuable to the school or rank them lower in desirability when hiring for Bible-teaching positions (see inferior)?
Heibenstein, well spoken. Agree completely. I find teaching like the author of the blog to be a far cry from what scripture teaches, but anyone can make their itching ears hear what they want them to hear.
The old testament was a place and time that God showed how he structured his kingdom prior to christs’ coming. He had kinds over the people, judges, Moses talked to God, not everyone else. The tribe of Levi had priviledge over other tribes.
Why is it sir that you feel the scriptures of submission of a woman in her marriage do not carry over to similar concepts of worship? Scriptures don’t say “husband, obey your wife”, they say “husband love your wife”. Scriptures don’t say, “wife, love your husband”, they say “wive, obey your husband”.
God is over Jesus, Jesus over the Church. He put structure in place for his reasons. Not social justice reasons as I see you write in your blog.
I think you can explain away women preaching if you choose. Scripture can be minced anyway you want it to be for sure.
Hi Joe, Thank you for your comment.
There is a lot more to the Old Testament than you mention.
• Genesis says *both* women and men are to “have dominion” over everything (Gen. 1:26-31)
• Women were public leaders in the kingdom of God in Old Testament times, including leading, prophesying, ruling over, and teaching men, like
+ Miriam (Exodus 15:20)
Named alongside Moses, Aaron as leading Israelites out of Egypt (Mic 6:4; Num 12:1-15)
+ Deborah (Judges 4:4-24)
Judge, Chieftain, leader, prophet, teacher
+ Huldah (2 Kings 22:11-20)
Taught priests and leaders; prophet
As you know, Christ ushered in a new era: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)
On equating marriage, when you say “scriptures don’t say ‘husband, obey your wife’” you seem to be forgetting quite a bit, like:
• Ephesians 5:21 — “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
• 1 Cor 7:4 — Husband “does not have authority” over his body—his wife has authority.
Paul and Peter tell us God wants women to use the gifts of talents God gave them—and specifically name speaking, teaching, and others:
• “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8 (NIV))
• “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Perhaps this will enable you to see that people who point out that God not only does not exclude women from serving in the worship service, but that God encourages them to do so, are honoring scripture.
My impression is that folks are depending on what someone told them a long time ago and haven’t looked at the issue themselves for any extended period of time in a very long time, if ever.
Thank you for being bold enough to make the CoC as a denomination! What a breath of fresh air to see someone being honest about that.
Women’s roles in the church is a particularly difficult one. Especially when it comes to an educational setting. I appreciate you taking a deeper look and providing plenty of food for thought. God bless
Thank you Lambert.
Correction: NAME the CoC as a denomination!
First I would like to say that the church of Christ isn’t a denomination, since none existed until 1500 years after her founding in the first century.
Decond, I just wanted to ask, if you are confident enough to stand before the Creator of all things and demand to be counted equal with His Son?
Thanks for your comment.
The church of Christ (note the small c, broadly speaking, the group that includes all sorts of people associated with all sorts of different denominations, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.) is not a denomination, but the Churches of Christ, sometimes called Church of Christ, (note the capital Cs) are. The latter is what I am referring to in my article.
No, I don’t plan on making any demands. I do have some requests, though.
In your last response, I couldn’t help but notice that your definition of the church of Christ is inherently flawed, as it fails to take into account both the biblical and historical aspects.
When I look into the scriptures with the intent of “seeking first the kingdom of God”, I look for the church Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16: 18); that was born 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 2); that Jesus will deliver up to the Father on the last day (1 Cor 15: 24); that is his bride (Rev 19); and that he loves (Ephesians 5: 25) as a husband should love his wife.
Your definition of his church (“c”) as being made up of the denominations of men, does the bride of Christ a great dishonor. None, not one denomination existed, until the Protestant Reformation, which began with Martin Luther’s nailing his list of reforms to the door of the apostate Catholic church, the apostasy spoken of by the inspired apostle Paul in his letter to the church of Christ in Thesslonica (2 Thess 2: 3). If the Bible taught what you said, then you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.
How can one possibly reach that conclusion while reading Jesus’ prayer in John 17? How can so many differing teachings wearing so many different names possibly match Jesus’ prayer that all of his followers be one? It’s impossible! Not to mention Paul’s admonitions for all to speak the same thing, to have the same love and be in full accord and of one mind (Philippians 2: 2)? Also impossible!
The New Testament church of Christ has never been nor will ever be made up of the teachings and denominations of men! The churches of Christ (Romans 16: 16) Paul wrote to in the first century were not the denominations that came from the Catholic church, and neither is the Catholic church the New Testament church.
I am encouraged that you see the futility of demanding to be counted equal to Christ. I think we can agree that such a demand would not even be considered by the Father. It is my hope that you will use the same discernment when studying the role of women in the Lord’s church. The inspired apostle Paul began his discourse on orderly worship in 1 Corinthians 11 with these words;
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”
(1 Corinthians 11: 3)
He makes it clear to whom he is speaking in ch. 14, when he begins with “brothers” (vs. 6, 20, 26). However, in v. 34, he directs his message to the women. In v. 28, the “brothers” were to “keep silent” if there was no interpreter. In v. 30, if a “brother” revealed a prophecy to another and not to the church, he was to “keep silent”. The context determines the amount of limitations and is true of v. 34, where the context prohibits a women from exceeding her gender role in the corporate gathering of the church; women are to “keep silent” with respect to the teaching and speaking (in a preaching role), when men are present. This is also in harmony with what Paul wrote to Timothy;
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet”. (1 Timothy 2: 11-12)
The churches of men will allow women to fufill those roles designated for men, because they base their teachings on the doctrines of men. Those who are striving to follow the New Testament pattern will humbly base their doctrine and teaching on the Bible alone. The inspired apostle Peter wrote that there are those who are ignorant and unstable, and will twist the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3: 16).
It is my sincere hope that you may begin a search for the New Testament church, rather than following the present course of trying to change the church of Christ into a denomination. I will be praying for you.
Thank you for your reply.
You misrepresented my definition of the church (small c) in your reply.
I said it ”includes all sorts of ** people ** associated with all sorts of different denominations, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.”
You said I said it is ”made up of the denominations of men,” and then went on to repeat assertions of those who argue that the people in the Church of Christ denomination are the only ones in the (small c) church of Christ, the (big C) CoC represents the one true church, the people in the CoC are the only ones who have it right, the CoC is “the” Lord’s church, the people in it are the only true Christians, and whatnot.
Those who argue such things are way off base and the number who do are, fortunately, dwindling, as such things are nonsense and shove people away from both the CoC and the coC.
You are badly misinterpreting 14:6, 20, 26. It’s basic Bible that the Greek word used in 1 Cor 14:6, 20, 26 — adelphoi — is literally translated “brothers,” but the Greek language used the word adelphoi/brothers to *mean* either “brothers” *or* “brothers and sisters.” In other words, adelphoi was used to mean either a group of people of the male sex or a group of people of both sexes. It seems odd to us in the 21st century, but that is the way the Greek language worked then.
The word “adelphoi” or “brothers” was used roughly like a lot of people use “guys” today, referring to either a group of males or a group of males and females (I suppose some people use guys to refer to a group of all females, too, but that’s not what I’m referring to).
This is well known among those who have spent much time studying the Bible.
As far as I know, the only people who claim 14:6,20,26 refers to only an all-male group of people, like you did, are fundamentalists working to justify a tradition of excluding women (in your words, a doctrine of man).
Even conservative / evangelical translations that translate to provide *meaning*, like the NIV and the NLT, translate it as “brothers and sisters” in 14:6,20,26, and the Middle-Ages based translations use the word “brethren” to signal the dual nature of the word (KJV does this). Some of the translations that lean “word-for-word” or literal translation there will use “brothers,” expecting you to know that it is *required* when using such translations that you have to know more about the Bible to figure out the *meaning* of the word or phrase.
You quoted a couple of other verses in English without figuring out the verses’ *meaning* too.
If you really want to do what you say, base doctrine on the Bible alone and not on the traditions of men, then you would not advocate restricting women the way you do.
Thank you for the reply.
I have to say that you are correct on the usage of the Greek “adelphoi”. It can be used as you said. However, there has to be something that determines how the word is used in the passage. If you just “cherry pick” the scripture, it is very easy to apply the “brothers and sisters” meaning. In this case, Paul set the determining precedent at the beginning of chapter 11;
“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11: 3)
The context is the determining factor and one striving to “rightly handle” the Word will recognize this. Paul was letting them know he was shifting his subject to the roles of men and women (as determined by God) in the worship service of the church of Christ.
Anyone with any knowledge of world history during this period will understand that this was also a touchy subject in the first century. I will refer you to Acts 19 and the riot that ensued from the pagans who worshipped and profited from false feminine deities. Also, Acts 16 when in Philippi, Paul cast the divining spirit out of the young slave girl, who by the way was not a disciple, and definitely not allowed to speak for the apostles. If that were to happen in this day, lawyers like you would be tripping over each other to represent this girl.
I have had to ask myself from the first time I read this article, is this man a member of the church, and what is his reason for writing this article? There is nothing in the description that indicates that you are. As for reasons, if you are a member, then you must be writing in revenge mode for something someone said or did that you disagree with. If you are not a member, the only reasonable conclusion, evident from not only the article but also your comments, is that you are pushing a political feminist agenda. As your article was dealing with chapel in the colleges and universities associated the church, your comments go far beyond that, as in them you will only be satisfied when not only the colleges fully shift to female leadership, but also ALL the congregations.
However, in the description, it does say of you;
“His general approach is to present both sides of an issue so that your group can have a better understanding of the various views, rather than advocate a particular conclusion…”
From what I have read here, you are advocating a particular conclusion, that being putting women in leadership roles designated for men.
So, in closing, I would like to admonish you not to be prematurely rejoicing over the “dwindling numbers” of those who believe in the one true church, because Jesus did say;
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
(Matthew 7: 14)
In 1 Corinthians 11: 18-19, Paul wrote this;
“For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”
We ALL must do as James wrote in ch. 4: 10;
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Take care, my friend.
Hi Keith, Thank you for your comment.
The reason it is very easy to apply the meaning “brothers and sisters” to adelphoi in 1 Cor 14:26 is that “brothers and sisters” is what adelphoi means there.
It’s why translations expressing meaning there (as opposed to closer to word for word) express it as “brothers and sisters” or something similar. Even conservative / evangelical translations like the NIV, NLT, CSB, NET, etc., express it as “brothers and sisters.”
Your assertion that the supposed subject of 11:3 means that adelphoi all the way over in 14:26 means something different than what these translations say is irrational. 11:3 doesn’t mention adelphoi. Under your argument, 11:33 tells only men to wait for each other for the Lords Supper, chapter 12 is directed only to men, and chapter 13 (the Love chapter!) is directed only to men. Ridiculous!
And Paul says right up front in his letter that he is writing his letter to all the people in the church, women and men (1 Cor 1:1-2).
Your assertion that 11:3 is Paul “letting them know he was shifting his subject to the roles of men and women (as determined by God) in the worship service of the church of Christ” is surprising. Given your assertion, you must view 1 Cor 11:5 as Paul referring to women praying and prophesying in the worship service of the church of Christ since you say Paul had “shift[ed] his subject” to that just two verses before, in 11:3.
Most all the rest of your comment are an ad hominem attempt, the strategy of folks who don’t have it on the substance, and unjustifiably trying to categorize your unscriptural exclusionary approach as part of the “few” on the way to “life” etc., and I’m not going to respond to those besides noting that the attempt shows you ignore or don’t understand context and that you alter quotes to fit the meaning you want to convey instead of what it actually says.
You both chopped off the end of what I said in what you quoted —chopping “and the session(s) can be tailored to your group”— and ignored the sentence before what you quoted (“He is available to teach or speak about any topic discussed in his blog articles to Sunday School classes, church small-groups …”), both of which indicates what you quoted applies to my in-person sessions and that you altered the quote and quoted out of context to try to apply it to my writing and comment responses, when it obviously doesn’t.
Since you do that with a single, short, very easy-to-understand web-page, I can only imagine what you do with scripture to get it to meet your desired outcome!
With all due respect, I would suggest you re-read and study again the line of reasoning Brother Pitts put forth. Your rebuttal to his arguments does not make sense. I am convinced it may have been clear in your mind what you were meaning to convey but it did not translate into your text. I found Brother Pitt’s argument to be thorough and easy to follow in his explanation of 1 Corinthians 11-14 and find your explanation to be confusing and conflicted.
This is an important topic which deserves a close examination and I am interested to see more of your thoughts. I have read your other articles, related to this topic, you have referenced in previous comments but still find the body of evidence lacking. I am not interested in what any other churches/denominations practice, or whom is in the majority, I am interested in seeking the whole truth on the matter.
Historically speaking, the leadership role of women in worship is a relatively new phenomenon, even in denominations, and I wonder what new revelation has led to this change, or have all denominations just been doing it wrong for the past 2000 years?
In all things, I pray His will be done.
Hi Mr. Allen,
Thank you for your comment.
You would need to say something specific about what I said that “does not make sense” and whatnot for me to be able to address your concern. What specific sentence or part of what I said did not make sense to you?
Also, please let me know, do you view 1 Cor 11:5 as Paul referring to women praying and prophesying in the worship service of the church of Christ since you found Keith’s claim that Paul changed topics to that subject in 1 Cor 11:3 “thorough and easy to follow”? I am curious if you read parts 2 and 3 of this series and whether you disagreed with any part of Mary’s conclusions, and why?
On your historically speaking question to me: there weren’t “all denominations” over the past 2000 years.
The human quashing of Christ’s and the Bible’s direction for women to be fully involved in the kingdom of God, including in the assembly— e.g., Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”) (NIV); 1 Cor 14:23-25 (When the “whole church”—women and men–comes together, it is great “if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while ** everyone ** is prophesying.”); 14:26 (“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each—“every one” (KJV)—of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. …”); 14:31 (“For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”); Eph 5:18-20 (“…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit ….”); Col 3:16 (“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God ….”; 1 Peter 4:10-11 (“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. ….”); 1 Cor 11:4-5, 13-16 (women praying and prophesying in the church); Acts 2:15-21 (“… God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, …”); John 20; Matt 28 (Jesus directing women to “go and tell” the likely-assembled men of his resurrection and what to do); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna praise, teach, prophesy re Jesus to men and women in Temple); Acts 21:8-9 (Philip’s daughters had “gift of prophecy); 1 Cor 11:4-5, 16 (women prophesying in the assemblies); Romans 16:7 (“Greet … Junia, … prominent among the apostles …”); Acts 12:12 ( Peter “went to the house of Mary … where many had gathered and were praying.”); Col 4:15 (“greetings to … Nympha and the church in her house”); Romans 16:1-2 (“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, … and help her in whatever she may require …”)—did begin early, unfortunately, and obviously, as we’ve seen, continues today. Women were still leaders in the service of Christ through the centuries, and of course the evidence of matters contrary to the majority/rulers is incomplete and spotty and men dominated. A good place to begin is this article — https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-30/women-in-medieval-church-did-you-know.html).
I think the main thing you are missing besides the scripture above is this: It was virtually all the Catholic Church until after Luther kicked off the Reformation about 500 years ago, in 1517. It took some time for that to spread. The interpretation of scripture was what the human powers in the Catholic Church said it would be until then and the Catholic Church still dominated for a long time. Keep in mind that the literacy rate and access to scripture by the non-leaders were comparatively very low over those centuries. The printing press was invented not that long before then. Scripture became accessible to the masses, the non-already-leaders eventually, combined with the Reformation kicking off, and then ….
There were female preachers beginning at least in the 1600s. In the U.S. (est. 1776), Quakers, the Restoration Movement from which the CoC springs (look up Clara Celestia Hale Babcock, for example), and others ordained women at least by the 1800s.
All things considered, this was super-fast after Reformation kick-off. I’ve oversimplified here by necessity and it’s incomplete—2000 years!—but I think you can see some of the reasons here.
Historically speaking, “the leadership role” (your term) of women in worship is not a “relatively new phenomenon”—it was there in the 1st century (see above), returned in notable ways relatively not long after the Reformation began, and has returned in most every other U.S. denomination (in many in an incomplete way yet, though) except for the CoC and comparatively small number of other denominations.
I hope this helps you to see why, in part, we are where we are.
Thank you for your reply. The confusing part to me is that you are essentially referencing every scripture that mentions females and assemblies. I don’t believe anyone is arguing that women should not be present at the assembly, nor are they saying women should not participate in the assembly, nor are they saying that women could not have had spiritual gifts from God or be teachers. In fact, women play a crucial role in worship, study, and evangelism in the church.
However, the scripture plainly states that the hierarchy of leadership is God-Christ-Man-Wife (1 Corinthians 11:3). It also plainly states women should keep silent “in the churches” and should be “in submission”. (1 Cor. 14:34) and that they should not “teach or to exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12).
As I believe all scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), therefore cannot be contradictory, and that God is not a God of confusion, mentioned in that same chapter (1 Corinthians 14:33), we have to square all those verses you referenced with these verses. One would therefore have to conclude that the women were instructing women, children, or non-believers which we do have a specific examples of in the New Testament (Acts 18:24-28).
To make it simple in modern day terms, if I as an employer of a mixed group, told the group as a whole, “We need to travel from point A to point B” one would assume we could travel however we wanted and anyone could drive. If I later stated in the instructions, “We are traveling in cars on this trip and the men will to do the driving.” That excludes certain types of transportation and certain drivers. One could not reasonably argue that because I said “We” and “travel” in my first sentence that my latter, more specific instruction, is invalid.
I pray God blesses you in your continued study of this subject and as always, His will be done.
Hi Mr. Allen,
Thank you for your follow-up.
You didn’t answer 2 of the 3 questions I posed at all (“please let me know, do you view 1 Cor 11:5 as Paul referring to women praying and prophesying in the worship service of the church of Christ since you found Keith’s claim that Paul changed topics to that subject in 1 Cor 11:3 “thorough and easy to follow”? I am curious if you read parts 2 and 3 of this series and whether you disagreed with any part of Mary’s conclusions, and why?”) What do you say to those?
And your response to my other question didn’t really respond to the question.
Your original communication said “I found Brother Pitt’s argument to be thorough and easy to follow in his explanation of 1 Corinthians 11-14 and find your explanation to be confusing and conflicted.”
In response, I asked “What specific sentence or part of what I said did not make sense to you?”
Instead of pointing out a specific sentence or part, your answer was that I am “essentially referencing every scripture that mentions females and assemblies.”
Well, such scripture would be good ones to reference when discussing females in the assemblies!
And they tell women to speak and teach in the assemblies. They seem to be confusing and conflicting to you because they don’t say what you were expecting them to say.
The rest of what you say—that certain scripture “plainly” states, etc. — is obviously off. And it is what I covered in part 2 of this series (please see it) and the subject of one of the questions you didn’t answer. No one with credibility who has given meaningful thought to 1 Cor 14:34-35, for example, says that 1 Cor 14:34-35 has its plain meaning and just quotes it when considering what it means (unless you insist that women cannot sing in the assembly; or say “Amen”; or go up during the invitation to ask to be baptized; or translate from English to Spanish or vice versa for the assembly; or present her confession before the assembly; or …. She must remain “silent in the churches” after all.).
When you have (a) a set of 3 verses that do not have their “plain meaning” (1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:12) and (b) a set of multiple verses that (i) tell women to speak and teach in the assembly, (ii) are consistent with Christ’s direction to women to “go and tell” the men (likely assembled) the good news of his resurrection and directions about what to do next, and (iii) are consistent with the Greatest Commandment, the Great Commission, direction from Peter and Paul to use one’s gifts, etc., etc., etc., then how can you possibly assert that “we have to square all those verses you referenced with these verses,” i.e., that we have to divert from the plain meaning of the (b) set of verses to fit your intepretation of the three non-plain-meaning verses in (a)?
Are you suggesting giving non-plain-meaning interpretations to the scripture in the (b) category to square them to a plain meaning of scripture in the (a) category? Is it your view that the English translation of 1 Cor 14:34-35 that you quote has its plain meaning?
Twisting and turning the (b) set to, as you said, “have to conclude that the women were instructing women, children, and non-believers” makes no sense, particularly in such a scenario. Plus it is easy to refute, as women were instructing men: See, e.g., 1 Cor 14:23-25 (When the “whole church”—women and men–comes together, it is great “if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while ** everyone ** is prophesying.”); Eph 5:18-20 (“…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit ….”); Col 3:16 (“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God ….”; 1 Cor 11:4-5, 13-16 (women praying and prophesying in the church); John 20; Matt 28 (Jesus directing women to “go and tell” the likely-assembled men of his resurrection and what to do); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna praises, teaches, prophesies re Jesus to men and women in Temple).
To make it simple in modern-day terms, as you said: The employer you made up told women multiple times to drive in the first place, you are ignoring large swaths of what the employer said in the first place, and you are misinterpreting what the employer said later. Plus, the way you are interpreting your employer, your employer just committed sex-discrimination that probably violates at least one law by excluding women from employment roles based on their sex.
I really cannot understand why we can’t just accept that God has given men and women different roles in the church. It’s not about exclusion. That is a lie told to us by Satan. This is causing division and not unity in the churches of Christ. It causes me personally anxiety and sleepless nights worrying about the direction the church is heading. In churches of Christ who start with women’s roles changing and becoming more visible, about 15 years later are now seen questioning the sin of homosexuality. I mean acting on the sin. Before you judge me, I do believe if someone struggles with homosexuality they should be allowed in worship. We should love and treat this particular sin the same as any other sin. But, as with any sin, if you are actively and continually participating in sinful behavior of any kind, I would hope an elder/shepherd or a good Christian friend lovingly and kindly redirects you to truth. However in churches of Christ that have allowed the disobedience in scriptural roles of women and men, fast forward 15-20 years later, some who attend those churches, now accept active continuous homosexual lifestyle as not a sin. Some support homosexual marriage. What I’m saying is when you first start to disobey scripture with what some consider to be minor, or a cultural issue with regards to women’s role, many years later it leads to disobedience or disregard of lots of scripture. This is Satans plan. But then again I have heard church of Christ preachers argue if there really is a satan, and if the book of genesis is legit or a book of stories. It’s also slowly trickling into a few members in the church of Christ that there is no hell. Looking back over the past 20 years or so of changes that have been made in the church of Christ, the small changes do not stop. New generations of kids having been raised to question the authority of scripture, are now leaders in the church and are questioning all authority. I know some now who question anything the Bible says unless it’s from the four gospels. It’s a dangerous slippery slope we are on and it scares me. But nobody cares about those of us who want to follow scripture and please God. We are seen as a problem and legalistic, when really all I want is to serve God and get along. But I can’t purposefully, intentionally, and continually disobey the word of God and that is what I am being asked to do when a man asks me to lead a group in prayer. Which has happened to me and I still feel guilty for not saying no. That was seven years ago and I wish I could go back and tell that man I’m not comfortable disobeying the word of God. And trust me, I’ve done all the studies and read all the reasons why some do not feel the means what is says when women are told to remain silent. But then again, I’m a rule follower by nature. I like following rules although I’m not perfect st it. I do mess up at times, but we do have grace and I am so thankful for God’s Grace!!!
Thank you for your comment.
Part of the point is that God has not “given men and women different roles in the church.”
In the Bible, God asks both women and men to speak, teach, lead, have authority, etc., in an assembly and elsewhere. Here is a link to 20+ scripture passages in which God does so: https://authentictheology.com/2018/09/03/20-scripture-passages-telling-women-to-speak-teach-lead-and-have-authority-over-men-in-the-assembly-and-elsewhere/
Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Prohibiting women and girls from fully serving in the assembly blocks them from what God asks them to do. Prohibiting her blocks her from loving—worshiping—the Lord her God with all her heart and with all her soul and with all her mind, as Christ asks her to do. And it blocks her from fully loving her neighbors—her congregation—in the assembly as herself.
And subjecting a young girl to years and years and years of discrimination based on her sex and having her watch her mother and her female friends also be discriminated against based on their sex for years and years and years is also harmful to that girl.
Prohibiting her is immoral and a sin.
Part of the point is that the Churches of Christ is reading 3-4 sentences out of context rather than paying attention to the whole Bible on this question.
Very, very few Church of Christ members have studied the question of whether they should go along with such sex discrimination against their daughters and their friends’ daughters. And virtually all of the few that have studied it have only studied resources that affirm what they already believe. The vast majority of them have not looked at resources that explain why the Bible does not exclude and have not discussed any lingering questions they have with someone who has a different view. They just keep discriminating instead.
You say you’ve done all the studies, etc. So I’ll ask you: When did you do them, who participated, who put them on, and what resources did you use?
This is why most of the CoC schools and a growing number of CoC congregations, when they study the scripture on this issue, realize that they’ve been following a tradition contrary to God’s word and they change.
Over 90% of Christianity is less restrictive on this issue and interpret the scriptures on this issue differently that the CoC. The only religious bodies of any size that I know of that exclude women from speaking at all in their worship service is the Churches of Christ and Islam.
And did you know that the current CoC interpretation is different from the CoC interpretation on this issue from 100 years ago? In the 1800s and through at least well into the 20th century, the general CoC interpretation was that women could not speak in public to a man, she could not teach a man outside the home setting, and she could not have authority over a man anywhere at all (in the workplace, in government, etc., not just in the church).
In other words, 100 years ago, you would be writing to say how Satan was causing women to think they could supervise a man at work or to think that they could be a judge …..
Here is some of that view, in the words of David Lipscomb, one of the most influential people ever on the Churches of Christ:
– “It is wrong for a woman to become a leader or public teacher of men in any place or on any occasion.”
– “As a rule,” a woman speaking in public “is wrong, hurtful to the moral, religious, and physical well-being of the human family.”
– “[A]ll public teaching and speaking on any subject at any place puts woman out of place, out of her God-given work.”
– “All the teaching of the Bible is against women speaking in public.”
The CoC has been practicing and defending a remnant of this doctrine since around the mid-20th century. It still holds in some places.
The remnant is not scriptural either, once you actually study it and look at the whole Bible. The practice of the remnant is a sin and immoral. It is very much like the practice of racial discrimination.
The 20+ scripture passages article I linked above is a good place to start.
In those scriptures you reference, 1 Cor 11 and 14, when you look at the Greek it is a masculine noun. Some biblical translations have taken the liberty to change it to say brothers and sisters, but when you look up the original Greek, it’s a masculine noun. I have read and researched judge Deborah, Lydia, phoebe, Chloe, Priscilla, Anna, and other women mentioned in the Bible. Timothy had four daughters who were prophetesses. In the scriptures where you reference women prophesying, there is no evidence men are present. When the Bible discusses that all were present and praying and prophesying, it seems to me that it’s saying we are one in unity. Meaning when we all come together to pray, although one person might be leading the prayer, all are praying/prophesying together. That could be what is being said. 2 Tim 4:3 says a time will come when men will no longer endure sound doctrine…… you know the scripture. I’m actually a very outspoken woman and I work outside the home, I have been in management roles in the workplace and I have been in leadership roles in the church for women’s ministries. My husband and I have lead mission trips etc. I’m not trying to tout anything I may have done, I’m just saying that I’m not one to shy away from leading and yet I cannot support your opinion about the scripture when the Bible says women are to remain silent. I believe God has asked this of women because of Eve. Sarah considered her husband Abraham as as lord and it was credited to her as righteous. I have never felt any of the negative discrimination that you have said women feel. Maybe this feeling is sent to us as a delusion so that we will believe the lie -2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. I don’t think I’m going to change your mind, so we will just have to agree to disagree. Do you know a Christian apologist named Ravi Zacharias? He’s not church of Christ and I really appreciate what he has to say about women in the Bible. Here is his link. I agree with what he says. https://youtu.be/MD3CsFfLxlo
Thank you for listening to me and if we still disagree I hope we can remain kind and respectful of one another. Blessings—Rachel
Thank you for your response.
You said “In those scriptures you reference, 1 Cor 11 and 14, when you look at the Greek it is a masculine noun. Some biblical translations have taken the liberty to change it to say brothers and sisters, but when you look up the original Greek, it’s a masculine noun.”
I think you are referring to the Greek word adelphoi.
It is a masculine noun, but that doesn’t tell you whether it refers to just brothers or brothers and sisters.
It is basic Greek that the Greek language used adelphoi, which has the *form* of “brothers,” to **mean** either “brothers” or “brothers and sisters.” In other words, adelphoi was used to mean either a group of males or a group of both sexes.
adelphoi is a bit like how ‘guys’ is used today, either a group of males or a group of both males and females. The *form* is “guys” but the **meaning** is either male folks or both males and females.
This is not “taken the liberty to change it”— this is what it has been recognized to mean since the beginning.
Even conservative, evangelical Bible translations that provide original ** meaning ** (as opposed to just form), like the NIV, NLT, CSB, NET, etc., translate it to mean “brothers and sisters” in those verses I referenced.
You can look this up and see it in most any Greek text book.
I hope that helps.
You said “In the scriptures where you reference women prophesying, there is no evidence men are present.”
No, that is not true at all. Here are some examples:
(1) The Apostle Paul said, to women and men, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy … so that the church may be edified.” (1 Cor 14:5; see also 1 Cor 1:1-2; 11:5; 14:23, 26, 39-40) Speaking in tongues included prayer. (e.g., 1 Cor 14:14 (“For if I pray in a tongue ….”))
(2) The Apostle Paul said, when “the whole church comes together … if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin ….” (1 Cor 14:23-25; see also 1 Cor 11:5, 14:6, 20)
(3) Paul said “you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” (1 Cor 14:31; see also 14:23, 26, 39-40; 11:5; 1:1-2)
(4) Joseph and Mary “marveled at what was said about [Jesus]. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel ….’ There was also a prophet, Anna …. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:25-38; see also 1 Cor 11:5, 16)
(5) The King’s men came to Huldah for prophecy and instruction about scripture: “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest [and others of his men]: ‘Go and inquire of the Lord … about what is written in this book that has been found. ….’ [They] went to speak to the prophet Huldah, …. She said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me … [teaching of prophecy given].” (2 Kings 22:11-20)
(6) “Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. … She sent for Barak … and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him. … Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot.” (Judges 4-5)
You said “When the Bible discusses that all were present and praying and prophesying, it seems to me that it’s saying we are one in unity. Meaning when we all come together to pray, although one person might be leading the prayer, all are praying/prophesying together. That could be what is being said.”
No, Paul isn’t saying “one in unity.” He’s saying he want each and every one of you to prophesy and says it multiple times (re everyone one, whole church, …) (side note: he already knows there are women prophets among them (see 1 Cor 11:3)).
He says this explicitly, for example: “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy … so that the church may be edified.” (1 Cor 14:5; see also 1 Cor 1:1-2; 11:5; 14:23, 26, 39-40) Speaking in tongues included prayer. (e.g., 1 Cor 14:14 (“For if I pray in a tongue ….”)) …. And The Apostle Paul said, when “the whole church comes together … if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin ….” (1 Cor 14:23-25; see also 1 Cor 11:5, 14:6, 20) … And … Paul said “you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” (1 Cor 14:31; see also 14:23, 26, 39-40; 11:5; 1:1-2)
No one (except maybe God) is demanding that you speak.
The problem is when you insist that other women cannot speak. That’s the part that is immoral and a sin.
P.S. 100 years ago, the CoC would use all this same scripture to which you are pointing to say that you are sinning by working outside the home and by having management roles in the workplace (if ever over men). Some men and women went to work and spoke out to make sure that the CoC understood that you weren’t sinning by doing those things.
I’m sorry, but you are saying that a young girl who is discriminated against for years and years and years growing up, and sees her mom and her female friends discriminated against, all by a group of people saying they love them, and are told that God considers it disgraceful for them to speak in the church, …. You think that their feelings might be sent to them as a delusion!?
If you had a daughter being discriminated against in school, would you think it is wrong and say anything? If you were being discriminated against in the work place, would you feel anything?
If you would think it is wrong and go do something about your daughter being discriminated against in school, why don’t you think it is wrong in church?
Do you think that if you were being discriminated against in the work place, that your feelings would be delusional?
Don’t you think it is more likely that you have been exposed to discrimination within the church or taught that sex discrimination in the church is OK for so long that you think that it is a normal thing? That seems like a problem. It is not OK.
I think I must obey God without questioning His role designed for me as a woman. And yes I am aware that 100 years ago women in the churches of Christ were told to stay home and it was a sin to work. Lots of religions did this 100 years ago. Actually I am a fan of women staying home. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home when my children were young. I have talked with marriage and family therapists and they will tell you marriage works better and the family unit is better if children are raised in a home where the wife and husband observe the roles as designed by God. And no, I’m not saying your children are not fine if both parents work, I’m merely saying family does better if one stays home.
Please do not twist my words. There is a difference in believing a delusion and being delusional. Delusional is a mental health issue.
The Greek word I’m referring to is adelphos not adelphoi. And please do not assume from this small amount of dialogue we have been able to engage in means I am forcing my interpretation of the scriptures on other women. If a lady wants to go, what I think to be against scripture, then please, go ahead. I’m not trying to stop anyone. I’m just offering a perspective different from yours. I am not forcing any woman to do anything, so why must I be forced to disobey scripture. I actually have women friends of various denominations and family members that disagree with me, however we get along fine and are happy interacting with one another. We choose to respect each other’s differing beliefs. I thought maybe we could do that, but I’m guessing not. Again blessings to you sir.
Thank you for your reply.
You’ve expressed that you want to follow scripture.
When I pointed out 20+ scripture passages that contradict your view,
your response was “In those scriptures you reference, 1 Cor 11 and 14, when you look at the Greek it is a masculine noun. Some biblical translations have taken the liberty to change it to say brothers and sisters, but when you look up the original Greek, it’s a masculine noun.”
Since the only word in 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14 translated “brothers and sisters” that I know of is adelphoi, I addressed adelphoi, pointing out that its literal meaning in Greek includes women and men and very conservative translations translate it as “brothers and sisters” in 1 Cor 11 and 1 Cor 14, so they refer to women and men prophesying.
Your reply ignored that and oddly said you weren’t referring to adelphoi, but that the word you were “referring to is adelphos not adelphoi.”
Where does adelphos appear in 1 Cor 11 or 1 Cor 14?? And what biblical translations have taken the liberty to change it, a singular, into the plural brothers and sisters, as you said?
I didn’t twist your words.
You said “It’s not about exclusion. That is a lie told to us by Satan.” & “I have never felt any of the negative discrimination that you have said women feel. Maybe this feeling is sent to us as a delusion so that we will believe the lie -2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.”
I asked you “I’m sorry, but you are saying that a young girl who is discriminated against for years and years and years growing up, and sees her mom and her female friends discriminated against, all by a group of people saying they love them, and are told that God considers it disgraceful for them to speak in the church, …. You think that their feelings might be sent to them *** as a delusion!? ***”
And I asked “Do you think that if you were being discriminated against in the work place, that your feelings would be *** delusional? ***”
Your reply ignored the questions altogether, asserting I twisted your words, and asserting “There is a difference in believing a delusion and being delusional.”
But a look at the dictionary shows that’s not right ….
Delusion means “ something that is falsely or delusively believed …”
And delusional means “having false or unrealistic beliefs ….”
So I am curious about your answers to those questions.
You said “please do not assume from this small amount of dialogue we have been able to engage in means I am forcing my interpretation of the scriptures on other women.”
But your very first post said: “I really cannot understand why we can’t just accept that God has given men and women different roles in the church. …. This is causing division and not unity in the churches of Christ. It causes me personally anxiety and sleepless nights worrying about the direction the church is heading. In churches of Christ who start with women’s roles changing and becoming more visible, about 15 years later are now seen questioning the sin of homosexuality. … However in churches of Christ that have allowed the disobedience in scriptural roles of women and men, fast forward 15-20 years later, some who attend those churches, now accept active continuous homosexual lifestyle as not a sin. Some support homosexual marriage. What I’m saying is when you first start to disobey scripture with what some consider to be minor, or a cultural issue with regards to women’s role, many years later it leads to disobedience or disregard of lots of scripture. This is Satans plan. ….”
(d) Referring to your friends, you said “We choose to respect each other’s differing beliefs. I thought maybe we could do that, but I’m guessing not.”
I respect that you say you want to do God’s will. I believe that. I respect that you relied on a tradition of a church to guide your way in doing God’s will, and you expected that tradition to be a solid interpretation of the Bible. I did that, too. I respect that it is hard to learn that that church was way off on this particular doctrine. I respect that you want them to be right for reasons besides discriminating against women.
**** Here is the problem: What do you do when you find out that your belief on a particular doctrine might be wrong? What do you find out that the CoC’s view on a particular doctrine might be wrong? (it has been wrong before, I think you acknowledged that)
Answer: It appears to me that nearly everyone these days does absolutely nothing or close to it, even when it involves the spiritual, physical, and psychological health of their daughters and their friends’ daughters and other girls and women.
Or, they find something that will confirm their already held belief and go no further. They don’t want to study the issue using a source that advocates contrary to their view, they don’t want to ask questions and discuss with a person who has a view contrary too theirs, they don’t want to risk rocking the boat at their congregation, they don’t want to risk some other adult leaving the church because they get offended that someone’s daughter gets up to read scripture, ……… They do essentially nothing.
EVEN THOUGH we are talking about the spiritual, physical, and psychological health of their daughters and the daughters of their friends.
When is the last time you studied the issue closely? (whether scripture prohibits women from reading scripture, leading singing, etc., in the assembly or teaching adult mixed-class Sunday School …) When is the last time your church did? Who was it with and what resources that advocated the opposing viewpoint did you use?