Question: Women in the Church

Why does the Bible forbid women to teach or even speak in a church? Surely this is unfair.

First, see the study on ‘Leadership in the Church’ to see what leadership really means in the Bible. Then see the studies on ‘Worship’ to see why worship is nothing to do with speaking out loud.

God’s way is always best and we’ll know it if we will follow it ...

First, let’s quote the scriptures concerned:

“Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for it is not permitted to them to speak; but to be in subjection, as the law also says. But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman to speak in assembly” (1 Corinthians 14: 34-35).
“Let a woman learn in quietness in all subjection; but I do not suffer a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over man, but to be in quietness” (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

This seems quite unusual. Why would women remain silent when the church is together for service to God? We might struggle with these instructions and, indeed, many churches have disregarded these sections altogether however this is a dangerous thing to do. We cannot judge God’s Word or say which bits are relevant or not for then we are judging God (see the studies on “The Word of God”). God’s Word is to change us but we cannot change God’s Word.

God has made man and woman equal in the Church/Assembly. They are saved the same way. They are given many of the same responsibilities. They are both clothed in Christ. They will both be part of the bride of Christ. They are both sons of God. However, God has told us to be subject to Him. A man is subject to Christ. A woman is to be subject to God’s ordering. This in no way reduces a woman’s value before God. If the men are truly in the spirit of God, then the women will feel valued and will grow spiritually. A subject woman is not subservient but has placed herself voluntarily in subjection because she knows it will please the Lord and she is really being subject to Him not man. Likewise, a man places Himself in subjection to Christ seeking only to please Him and love others as God has loved us. If he is married he should love his wife as much as Christ has loved us and died for us (see Ephesians 5:25). There is no greater love than that!

God Himself has set this order in the Church/Assembly. Brothers and sisters are both equal before God but they have been given different responsibilities. Many great servants of God have been the result of years of patient service by a mother. God sees in secret (as the Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:4-18) and He rewards. Proverbs 31 tells us of the ‘woman of worth’. This woman does no public service but her testimony to others and the effect of her service are felt far and wide. God knows hearts and therefore there are many secret services that God will reward in a greater way than many of the public services we have seen.

God’s desire is for us to worship Him, not take on public service. If we are worshipping then our own desire and feelings pass out of sight and God’s glory is all we are concerned about. This is why a Christian delights in being subject to God even for their own suffering. Worship is from the heart and it does not need to involve words (see the studies on worship). If we are worshipping God then He will show us what He wants us to do for Him and when He wants us to do it. Whatever we do should be for God's glory and not ours. We can only do this by obeying Him in the way that He wants us to serve Him.

We can’t always understand why God’s ways differ from ours. We know that He says “My ways are higher than your ways”. If a sister in Christ is subject to these commands and remains silent then we can be sure that she and the whole church/assembly will experience greater blessing than could ever have been experienced by ignoring His command. This has been the experience of many.

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