Meet another 10 Church of Christ congregations that do not prohibit women from speaking in their worship assembly.
Churches of Christ are nearly alone among Christian groups in completely prohibiting women from speaking in their worship services.
Departing from this tradition, however, a growing number of Church of Christ congregations, after closely studying scripture, no longer do so. Most of the colleges affiliated with the Churches of Christ relatively recently lifted their prohibition on women speaking in their chapel worship services, too.
An article last month introduced 10 of those congregations and their published resources. This article introduces another 10 Churches of Christ that have broken from the tradition (there are many more).
(Be sure to take the short quiz at the end!)
Another 10 Congregations Breaking With Completely Excluding Women from Speaking in the Worship Assembly
Below are excerpts from the congregation’s materials, not their complete reasoning. The links provided take you to a fuller discussion provided by many of the ten.
11. North Lake Church of Christ (Atlanta, Georgia)
“… Paul was concerned that certain activities were creating a barrier to the gospel. … This concern is the context of the two prohibitive texts on gender (1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2). Men and women were acting in ways that hindered the gospel message. Following Paul’s example, we believe that our practice of restricting women’s roles creates a barrier for the gospel today. …
[W]hen we work our way through the New Testament we also discover examples of women who are praying …, prophesying …, teaching …, co-working, serving, and leading congregations …. Since we believe that we must hear all of what Scripture has to say on a matter, our commitment is to hold the breadth of these wide claims together and seek for a “common sense” understanding.
After much study and prayer, we have concluded that Paul made his restrictive statements to specific and limited circumstances.”
12. Broadway Church of Christ (Lubbock, Texas)
“… 1 Timothy 2:9-15 was directed to a specific group, with a specific set of problems, in a particular place in the early church. Their problem was in particular misinformed domineering teachers, who were overstepping traditional roles that were likely to bring the church into disrepute in the community. In an honor/shame society the actions and attitudes of these women would have been perceived as immoral and dangerous. Had Paul wanted to make it clear that women were not to exercise “authority” over men there was a perfectly good word that Paul in fact uses at 1 Corinthians 7:4 (ἐξουσιάζω – exousiadzo), a word that is not rare and subject to being misunderstood. …
Women, that have been properly instructed can speak and teach the same as a man who has been properly instructed, both should do so in a manner that is appropriate and brings honor to the name of Jesus.”
13. Stamford Church of Christ (Stamford, Connecticut)
” … the principle of selectivity we have used to justify not washing one another’s feet, not greeting with a holy kiss, not laying on hands, women not wearing veils, women disregarding injunctions against braided hair or expensive clothes, while still insisting women be silent in our public worship? …
When we pick and choose …, we are not being objective, reasonable, or consistent. We … are trying to find a consistent principle of interpretation so that we will not simply be picking and choosing on the basis of personal whim, masculine bias, or cultural tradition. …
[And is] it, in fact, an authority role for anyone to pass collection or communion trays …, offer a prayer, lead a song, make a Sunday morning announcement, or read scripture? …”
14. Dayspring Church of Christ (Edmond, Oklahoma)
“… we are blessed to be able to call on OC Bible professors to teach fine classes for us year after year. … Dayspring Church has always been gender-inclusive throughout its 34-year existence. We have had female deacons and full participation in public worship for over 20 years. For the last 4 years, we have also had female shepherds (elders). … [W]e studied the issue extensively over the course of two years in the early 1990s. … [T]he matter of gender became an utter non-issue in the congregation. …”
15. Sugar Grove Church of Christ (Stafford, Texas)
“… [M]en and women are both equal and yet, distinct in their perfect design. … [T]his perfect design of equality was distorted by sin, but is restored through the cross and that women and men now find their identity in Christ alone. … [I]t takes both men and women to reveal to the world the fullness of the person of Jesus, as each submit to one another and to Christ.
… [T]he New Testament implies that the distinct leadership role of elder is reserved for men. The elders of Sugar Grove Church of Christ affirm that in all other roles and positions of leadership, women and men are scripturally qualified, spiritually blessed, and directly called to use their spiritual gifts to build the kingdom of God.”
16. University Church of Christ (Malibu, California)
“…. In 1998, the elders conducted a retreat. A number of issues were addressed that led to an initial set of actions that the elders believed the church could accept and implement. In March 1998, a group of faculty women at Seaver College composed a draft entitled an “Affirmation for Women’s Inclusion.” This document was e-mailed to a large portion of the University’s faculty and staff that created a challenge for the leadership of the church. On May I7, 1998, a statement of change in the use of women in the worship services was read to the congregation in a combined adult Bible class. …”
17. Monmouth Church of Christ (Monmouth, New Jersey)
” … the issue in I Corinthians is the manner in which the women were speaking in the assembly and the disruptions it was apparently causing. …
- … “women” or “wives” should not “speak up” and disrupt what is going on, but ask their husbands at home if they have a question ….
- The word translated “silent” is used 3 times 14:28, 14:30, 14:34, and means to “become still” or “stop talking”. The idea is not a prohibition against ever talking, but rather know when to “stop talking”. ….
Notes on I Timothy 2:11-12
- Women are to learn in “quietness” or “stillness” (literally), and not “domineer” (literally) or “take control” over men. This is not a prohibition against speaking, but rather against domineering over men.”
18. Highland Oaks Church of Christ (Dallas, Texas)
“[A] process was established that included significant prayer and study of Scripture by the elder group, the provision of resources for our church family to read and study, the collective study of Scripture in our Sunday morning Bible class period, the opportunity for all members to express their thoughts and opinions in small group settings, and extensive time spent by the elder group in prayer and discernment. …
As one body, our conclusion is: The Bible teaches full equality of men and women in status, giftedness, and opportunity for ministry, and the church is best served when men and women share responsibilities and serve together as complementary partners.
… Although we affirm full equality of men and women, we are also mindful of the flock. As such, the elders have agreed that (1) those who serve as elders and (2) the preaching minister are to be male only. Following the model of Acts 15, we have deferentially chosen to withhold these two roles for the sake of unity in our church family….”
19. Brookline Church of Christ (Brookline, Massachusetts)
“God created humankind as equals—“male and female he created them”. Sin shattered Eden and the Christian faith holds that the course of holy history since has been the recreation of the connections between God and human beings…. Over the course of history barriers have slowly fallen in accord with Paul’s summary in Galatians 3:28: “There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus.” The issue is not the “rights” of anyone, but recognizing the unfolding will of God.
… lst Corinthians 14 and lst Timothy 2 … are to be understood in the context of their communities. The writers … had specific concerns when they wrote … and where the circumstances are not replicated the admonitions do not hold. Paul’s word to the Galatians, we are all one in Christ, remains as the final word. …”
20. Alum Creek Church of Christ (Lewis Center, Ohio)
“Don’t be afraid. … Talk. … You want to be Biblical. I want to be Biblical …
… 1 Cor 14:34 … “For it’s disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church ….” Now, that’s something we don’t typically like to read every Sunday…. I love to ask the teens to read that. You just can’t imagine how foreign this is to them …. 1 Timothy 2 … “I want women … not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes ….” I saw a couple of women take their rings off while I was reading that. … “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. …” …
I understand that those of you who uphold the more traditional understanding of male leadership, I know that these are really hard passages to get beyond …. And to be honest, I’m not really sure what they mean. I mean they certainly don’t mean exactly what it sounds like they mean. … They can’t. A woman can’t talk? We sing. It can’t mean what they say …. It’s got to be something different.
… you don’t have to go very far to find out that the Bible itself seems to contradict itself on this issue. …
How about some humility? … no matter where you are coming from, there’s some things you’ve got to wrestle with. … What about these others passages? … instead of throwing up our hands and saying “the Bible is clear.” …
I’ve heard 1 Corinthians 14 shoved out of people’s mouth so fast, as if that’s the final word on this. But it can’t be. … The Bible is 66 books long ….”
Here’s a short, six-question quiz on the topic for you to take —-
Is the psychological and spiritual health of young girls in a congregation
(a) harmed or
by completely excluding them, their mothers, and all other females from speaking in the assembly?
Hint: See recent study.
Is the spiritual health of people in the congregation helped by hearing any of the following people read scripture or pray out loud in church:
(i) a high-school girl soon to leave home for college who is at church nearly every time the doors are open
(ii) an adult woman who has struggled with some of the same things with which other women in the church have struggled
(iii) an elderly woman who everyone loves, has attended and served the church for years, and is very ill?
Does a congregation completely excluding women and girls from speaking in the assembly make it
(a) less likely or
(b) more likely
that non-believers will want to visit and join the church?
Does the church excluding women and girls from speaking in the assembly (i.e., inside the church) make it likely that the daughters of the church will face,
(a) more sex discrimination, or
(b) less sex discrimination
in employment and education outside the church for the rest of their lives, since hopefully men and boys apply lessons learned inside the church outside?
Is there an age at which a young girl subconsciously realizes her and her mom are being discriminated against by her church because of their sex and it negatively impacts her outlook of herself relative to males?
(a) scripture does not completely prohibit women and girls from speaking in a worship assembly, and
(b) God asks both females and males to speak, teach, love (worship) God, love (serve) others, use their gifts, etc.,
is it sex discrimination, immoral, and a sin for humans to completely prohibit and block women and girls this way?
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Comments are welcome.
Sources and Notes
Sources: See the prior article.
In addition to the discussion in the 20 congregations’ materials linked above and in the prior article on 10 Churches of Christ in which women speak in the assembly, scripture on this issue, including 20+ Bible passages in which God asks women to speak to, teach, and have authority over men, in an assembly and elsewhere, is discussed here. How the 1-2 sentences used to bar women from speaking have been misperceived and used to support a tradition of exclusion is also discussed here, here, and here. Scripture regarding female elders is discussed here.
Praise God that some are seeing the light. A poor understanding of the passages in question has been bound on us for over 1,000 years. Thank God some are considering different options as to how to understand scripture.