Women in the Church
GOD'S HIGH CALLING FOR WOMEN
1 Timothy 2:9-15, 1 Peter 3:1-7
by Cooper P Abrams III
All Rights Reserved
The modern feminist movement has brought into a sharp focus the role of Christian women in the church and home. It has caused a great controversy; many denominations have changed their positions regarding the role of women and now have women preachers and deacons. Many justify their change in position, claiming that the Bible discriminates against women and states that Paul's writings reflect his anti female bias. Many just argue that what the Bible says is outdated and not in line with modern thought and was only a cultural restriction that too applied in Paul's day. The result has been that some have reinterpreted the passages that deal with women in Scripture and by ignoring sound biblical interpretation, have given these scriptures a meaning in line with the feminist movement.
All these are basically man's attempts at forcing the Bible to conform to worldly modern thinking. Certainly, there are specific statements in the Bible, which are cultural and apply only to those to whom it was written in their day. Behind every instruction of God was a principle which is unchanging throughout the ages. For example, Deuteronomy 22:11 says not to wear a garment made of both wool and linen. This restriction was directed at separating Israel from the idolatrous practices and the influence of their pagan neighbors. Today, in this the Church Age, wearing of clothes made from a blend of materials has no religious connection; therefore, the prohibition would not apply to us. The principle behind God's instructions to the Hebrews would apply today. That principle is that believers are to be separated from sin. They are not to do anything that in appearance links them with evil or sinful practices. God says Christians are to flee from idolatry of any kind. (See 1 Cor. 10:14, Col 3:5)
There are other specific commandments of God that are transcultural and apply in practice in all ages. What God said in Paul's day about the role of men, and women are as valid today as it was in the First Century. It presents God's plan in creation for both men and women. We need to reaffirm the biblical roles of both men and women in churches today, not ignore them, or attempt to make them fit current trends in thinking that is contrary to God's word.
No passage in Scripture is more direct and comprehensive in addressing the role of women within the churches than 1 Timothy 2:9-15. We need to understand also, that this important subject does not fall into the so-called "gray" area of Scripture, but is very clearly stated. We need to commit ourselves to believing God and accepting what he has said as the truth. We must reject any philosophy of man, which disagrees with the teaching of Scripture. When God's principles are ignored, the results will always be destructive and will bring, confusion and heartache.
Paul was writing to Timothy, who was the young pastor of this church, shortly after his first imprisonment in Rome. Things in Ephesus were not as they should be, although Paul had earlier spent three years teaching there. (See Acts 20:27-31) Paul had warned them that error and false teachers would come from without and within the church.
For three years, Paul declared the truth and the entire Word of God. What he feared would happen in their church did happen. The Ephesians had fallen into doctrinal error and ungodly patterns of living. In fact, the leadership at Ephesus became corrupt and needed to be replaced. Two of the corrupt leaders, Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul not only personally rebuked, but " . . Delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." (1 Tim. 1:20)
Paul had left Ephesus and now was instructing Timothy to straighten out these problems. This letter included instruction and encouragement, to help him to complete the task. 1 Timothy 3:14-15 states this fact clearly.
It is important that we understand that the Bible gives the highest standards and positions for women. In contrast, the feminist movement has degraded women, exploited them, and taken away their femininity and God-given role in the home and society. The movement has caused great confusion as to women’s God-given position and role of being a helpmeet to her husband. It has misled women into believing that God has looked on a woman as a lesser creature. The movement is based upon a lie, and Jesus tells us that Satan is the father of all lies. (John 8:44) God has always held women in a special and honored position. As Acts 10:34 plainly reveals, "God is no respecter of persons." (Also see Rom. 2:11, Eph. 6:9, Col. 3:11. 1 Peter 1:17)
One problem in Ephesus was the role of women in the church. In 1 Timothy 5:3-16 Paul addresses the situation of widows in the church and gives important instruction and guidelines to discern whether widows were godly women or not. The context determines qualifications for a widow to receive help and substance from the local church. From his statements, we can learn principles that describe what is a truly godly woman. In verse, six Paul says that a woman "who liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." This is not condemning having pleasure in one's life, but is addressing living in such a way that having pleasure was the driving force and motivation for what that woman did.
Paul condemned a woman who lived solely for pleasure. He states that a woman who was godly and had a good testimony was one that 1 Timothy 5:10 describes:
1. She was known for her good works.
2. She raised her children well.
3. She was charitable in helping those outside her family who had needs.
4. She was a humble woman in contrast to living in pride, in that she showed her humility as she washed the saint’s feet.
5. She showed her love for God by showing love to those that were
"afflicted." Afflicted means those in various types of trouble. She tried to relieve their suffering.
6. She diligently went about doing every type of good work, which showed her devotion to the Lord.
These attributes typified the lifestyle of a godly woman who was a blessing to all who knew her and was a testimony in her family and church.
1 Timothy 2:8 instructs that the believer is worship, "Lifting up holy hands" (1 Tim 2:8) Lifting up holy hands, was an act of public worship. It does not mean waving one's hands into the air in a worship service, but has a far different and greater meaning. The context of the statement explains this. It pictures a child of God, whose hands are pure through obedience and service to the Lord, coming into the presence of Jesus Christ and being able to lift up pure hands. The worshiper’s life (hands) is separated unto the Lord, being holy. It refers to lifting up hands that have been busy serving and honoring the Lord. Therefore, worship is coming before the Lord and presenting to Him honor by one’s godly life. It is similar to a person coming into the king's presence and bringing a gift. Standing before the king, the subject would take the gift in his hand and lift it up so that the king could see it. This is the picture here.
The gift or worship was not done through necessity or force, but something was willinglyoffered in gratitude from one's heart, a "pure heart" in faith. In other words, the widows at Ephesus were told they should be trusting the Lord in faith, living godly lives and coming before the Lord "without wrath," and without murmuring and disputes.
What a contrast between how the Pentecostals and Charismatics interpret this verse, claiming it pleases God when church members sing songs and wave their hands in the air an emotional stirred-up service referred to as a "praise" service. It certainly does not mean that at all. This false interpretation completely misses the important truth of the passage and erroneously portrays the idea that God is impressed with people waving their arms in the air and singing two or three-line choruses. What honors God, is a holy life, lived in faith from a pure heart and true worship from a godly child of God.
1 Timothy 2:9
The phrase "In like manner" connects what is about to be said with that which preceded it and directs the focus of this discourse toward the conduct of Christian women. Paul turns our attention to what "lifting up holy hands" means in reference to women in the church. Verse eight addresses the whole of all believers in living for the Lord, and this brought up the need to address the conduct of Christian women, which apparently was a problem for the Ephesus church.
In verse 8, the phrase "I will" carries apostolic authority, meaning that this instruction was coming from God. Paul is not saying, "I wish" in the sense that it was of little importance, but I will, which said, "I command." Paul is commanding men and women to worship the Lord with "holy hands." This passage gives a strong condemnation to the Sunday morning Christian, who lives an impure life during the week. It is clearly addressing the everyday life of a believer. . . of both men and women.
The word "adorn" means "to arrange or put in order." He is giving standards for dress in services, meetings and public life. "Modest" means being well ordered, or well arranged and decent. It does not mean to appear plain, but decent. The word "apparel,” refers not only a woman's clothing, but also her demeanor or attitude. It refers to inward as well as outward adorning. The outside and the inside should reflect a correct attitude in the heart. Her spirituality that is made visible in her clothing and outside adornment. A godly woman would neither by her conduct, nor her dress, bring into question her devotion and faith in the Lord.
God says that a woman should dress modestly, with "shamefacedness and sobriety." Shamefacedness refers to humility that both men and women should show. It means she should not be outspoken and bold. She should show respect, reverence, humility and regard for others.
The word "sobriety" means she should conduct herself with soundness of mind and be in control over her emotions. God made women to be more emotional than men. Being more emotionally inclined women are often quick to be offended. Sobriety coupled with shame facedness means she should rein in her passions and desires and exercise self-control.
It is important to understand the cultural situation of the society in which the believers at Ephesus found themselves. It will give us better insight to the situation. Note the writing of extra-Biblical sources concerning the appearance of women culturally in New Testament times:
JUVENAL: A Roman poet of 1st Century writes about the conduct of women in his day: "There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, and when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and stories piled one on another on her head! In the meantime, she pays no attention to her husband."
PHILO, who was a Jewish-Greek philosopher, in his work titled "The Sacrifices of Cain and Abel," described a prostitute bedecked with a multitude of gold chains and bracelets, her hair dressed in elaborate braids, her eyes marked with pencil lines, her eye brows smothered in paint and her expensive clothes embroided lavishly with flowers.
PLINY the ELDER a Roman historian of first Century he described Lollia Paulina, the onetime wife of the Roman Emperor Caligula, who owned a dress, worth by today's standards, at least a million dollars. It was covered with pearls and emeralds, and she carried receipts to prove its value.
Interestingly, in Greece, the mystery religions had stringent rules for women which showed that modestly in women was recognized as showing devotion to a deity. One inscription said, "A consecrated woman shall not have gold ornaments, or rouge, or face whitening, or a headband, or braided hair, or shoes, except those made of felt or of skins of sacrificed animals."
God's instruction becomes clear. God admonishes women not to wear gaudy tight or sexual clothing, which was the style worn by pagan women. This sensually styled clothing was worn to call attention to a woman's sexuality in order to lure and catch the eyes of men. God warned that to wear such clothing was to blaspheme the intent of the public worship service. Further, it was ungodly for women to outwardly dress like worldly women. Devout women showed their godly hearts by their outwardly modest dress.
In addition, this type of dress and behavior degrades both the woman and her husband to whom; by God's plan, she was to be a "helper" (help meet - Gen. 2:18, 20). Dressing to bring attention to one's beauty or sexuality is adulterous behavior. God instructs a married woman to honor her own husband. Flirting with or teasing the opposite sex is an act of adultery, whether done by men or women. Ephesians 5:21 instructs that men, and women are to submit themselves to each another in the fear of God. To fear the Lord means to show Him the proper respect, acknowledging His sovereignty and authority over us. In this case it means to recognize God's plan for the role of men and women. Verse 22 then states the specific application of what God means when He says to submit ourselves to one another. He first instructs the wife; "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Believers are not to divide their lives between sinfulness and righteous living. We are to live holy and godly lives separated from sin. In the same way, God says a woman is to submit herself to her own husband. This would prohibit any conduct in which a woman would show affectionate acts to any other man other than her husband. Because she belongs to her husband and he to her, they are as the marriage vows state; they are to "forsake all others."
Another problem in the early church was poverty. Even so, some wealthy church members used the service as a place to show off their wealth by wearing expensive clothes to the services and causing a stir when they entered. Furthermore, they would wear expensive and elaborate hairstyles. This is totally out of place in a service held to honor and glorify Jesus Christ. The Bible is not prohibiting women from wearing braided hair, gold, pearls, or fine clothes. However, the Bible clearly forbids wearing them immodestly and for the wrong motives, or wearing clothes that entice or cause lustful thinking. Modesty means being modest or not being in excess; like putting on too much jewelry, makeup, or flashy jewelry. It does not reflect godliness for a woman in public or in the church to put on a fashion show or flaunt her sexuality. Christ is to be the center of our worship and of our daily lives. That which brings attention to us overshadows our testimony for Christ. What a person wears and how they wear it reflects upon their devotion to the Lord. The rule is to be modest in dress and attitude. As Jesus stated in Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
A woman who dresses to draw attention to herself is revealing her heart is full of pride. Often, women dress not only to impress the men, but also to impress other women. Some dress to "show off" their beauty, clothes and figure with the intent to show themselves superior to other women. By their actions, such women show their hearts are cold, and they have no love or concern for the feelings of others. God says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:3-5). This is a prideful ungodly behavior and has no place in the life of a Christian woman and child of God.
We come to church to worship the Lord Sunday morning, Sunday night and at Bible Study. Our appearance in public or in church can honor or dishonor God. A godly woman will not bring attention to herself, but dress and live to show her faith in the Lord. Christ is to have the preeminence in her life, and that preeminence should stand out. Her love of the Lord will have the first place in her life, and she will not do things that will destroy her testimony or send the wrong message about her relationship with the Lord. She dishonors herself or her husband by inappropriate behavior that is out of line with her God-given role as a wife and Christian.
Married Women should attract attention to their godly character, not to themselves by her actions or clothing. Her clothes should show, first her love of God, and second her concern for her husband and her devotion, respect and love for him alone. Wearing scanty, tight or revealing clothes in public is dishonoring to herself and shows little respect for her husband or others. Her devotion to the Lord will be reflected in her love for her husband and family and should be on the same level as her devotion to the Lord. God's instruction is clear:
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Eph. 5:22-24)
Single women should consider that it isn't proper or modest to attract men by wearing seductive clothes or bringing attention to herself. Again, her attractiveness should be in her godly character and testimony for the Lord, rather than outward sexual appeal. It does not mean to dress drably or not to wear one's best. Her wearing nice modest clothing will reflect her godly character. The single woman should discern what kind of man would not appearance attract?
Women should ask themselves: "Does my clothing and my actions indicate an inward desire to worship God?" "Does it honor God?" "Does it stand out or is it appropriate for the occasion?" "Does it reflect godliness or worldliness?" "Does it demonstrate that I love and respect my husband, and that I am not interested in other men?"
Peter also addresses this matter in 1 Peter 3:1-7:
1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God,
adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
The use of the word "conversation" in verse 1-2, is not referring to talk between people, but rather to the "manner of one's life" or a person's behavior. Verse two added the adjective "chaste" which means pure from carnality, of being modest, pure from every fault and being immaculate. The verse is instructing women to be in subjection to their own husbands, that they might, by their godly manner of life and behavior, win them to Christ. No one who does not live what they profess has any influence or credibility with someone they are trying to win to the Lord. Actions speak louder than words. If a Christian lives like the world does and is not faithful to the Lord, by their behavior, are telling people they are a hypocrite. They send the message that the Gospel is only something that is to be feigned. They are outwardly claiming to be something that clearly they are not. Their lifestyles, then does not present God's truth and the true life-changing effect of the Gospel. The bottom line is that a woman who, by her actions and outward immodest appearance, has no testimony for Christ and cannot win her lost husband or family to something she does not appear to have.
Verse 2 defines the manner of one's life as being pure and chaste and adds, "coupled with fear." This means women are to revere their husbands. As mentioned earlier, Ephesians 5:21 states that both men and women are to be "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
Specifically, it means that we love and obey the Lord because of reverence for Him and His instructions for us. God knows what is best for us so we live godly lives as He tells us to. We submit to each other, knowing that this is what is best and correct. God says this is right, and He is righteous.
1 Peter 3:3 gave the same instruction that Paul gave to Timothy to the church at Ephesus. Let the manner of one's life “not be the outward adorning” and showing off one's person, but as Verse 4 says, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Clearly, the Lord is referring to our new nature given to Christians when they believe.
Wives (and all of us) are to live guided by the Holy Spirit, which will produce in us a meek and quiet spirit. (Eph. 5:18; 1 Peter 3:4) The next phrase says that this is of great value to the Lord. It refers to the great price that the Lord Jesus paid for our redemption. The manner of our lives should correspond and be influenced by the great cost that Jesus paid to save us when He suffered upon the cross and paid our sin debt. It mocks the Lord's sacrifice for sin when a professing believer lives a life that condones sinful behavior and attitudes. When instructing on the Lord's Supper, Paul shows the need for self-examination to see if there is unconfessed or habitual sin in our lives. Those who sin without considering Christ's suffering are not "discerning" His body. Some in the church at Corinth were sick and others, under God's chastening, had died. (See 1 Cor. 11:27-32)
Peter used the example of women in Old Testament times who trusted in the Lord and adorned themselves to honor their husbands in whom they were in subjection. Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him "lord." This is the same word that is used in reference to God ( kuriov kurios koo'-ree-os). The word amazement, means being "afraid with any sudden panic.” In other words, no wife needs to fear a man when she is doing what is right, and she should not be thrown into any sudden outbreak of temper because an unbelieving husband.
It should be understood that God never tells a wife to stay in a dangerous situation with an abusive husband. She has the responsibility and the right to protect herself and her children. According to 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 gives clear instructions concerning a saved wife living with an unsaved husband.
Verse 7, addresses husbands as well; Christian husbands should dwell with their wives in knowledge, which means with understanding. Men should recognize and support the woman in fulfilling her responsibilities. Men should be appreciative of that God designed the woman, and should act with tenderness and forbearance accordingly, meaning wisely and with wise consideration.
"Giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel" means that both husband and wives are vessels made by God and God gave each a specific makeup and responsibility. Man is weak, but the woman God says is the weaker. Therefore, the man is to honor the woman because God gives honor to the man, giving him the responsibility of leadership and provision for his family.
Both the man and the woman should understand how God designed them and their function in life and in their relationship to each other. The man is to love his wife as Ephesians 5:25-27 plainly states.
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
This means the husband is to put his wife first in his life and protect and provide for her. The love he has for his wife is to be the same as God's love for the sinner. It is to be "agape" love given without being merited. Therefore, man's God-given responsibility is to provide for his wife and family. He is not to love because he is loved in return or because "his needs are met." He is not to look upon her as his servant, but as his helper and partner in living their lives as God intended. His relationship with his wife is to be one of grace, meaning unmerited favor. If both the wife and husband devote themselves to the Lord, living as He instructs, the marriage can be happy, fulfilling and rewarding. However, if either fails to live as God intended, the marriage will be in jeopardy, and their peace and happiness will be lost. Further, the example of the proper role of the man and woman within the family will be lost to the children, and they will grow up with the great disadvantage of not having a biblical role model to follow.
Paul addresses the makeup of a woman in 1 Timothy 2:14 "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." In pointing out that Eve was deceived by Satan, clearly God is saying that a woman is more vulnerable emotionally than the man. The woman's primary source in making decisions is in her emotional make-up, rather than from reason. God has made man to be directed by logic and reason rather than emotion. This is another reason that man has the responsibility to protect the woman. As Eve failed to evaluate Satan's temptation, so women are prone to make unwise choices. If the marriage relationship is proper, the woman will involve her husband, making decisions. She should consult her husband in order to get his perspective. She knows she will not always see things rationally. On the other hand, the man should also confer with his wife, knowing that he needs her insights that he lacks with the emotional element in decision making.
If a man and a woman fulfill their biblical roles the marriage, this uplifts them both and honor their Savior. Further, their relationship is of love and respect for each other. The man does not see himself as superior to the woman or her as his subordinate. He loves her and treats her with respect and care, knowing he is responsible for her. Likewise, the woman does not see her role of being a helper to her husband as being demeaning. She takes great satisfaction in helping her husband to fulfill his responsibilities. The couple, each carrying out their perspective roles, then will live in harmony and is a testimony to others of God's plan for the family. They honor God and each other.
The Lord also addresses the conduct of a Christian woman who has an unsaved husband. It can be difficult for a saved wife who has an unsaved husband. The unsaved man will often have no respect of the godly principles of his wife. He may wish her to do things or go places that are sinful. This puts a great deal of pressure on the godly wife. Once, in a church I pastored, there was a woman who dressed like a Barbie doll. She dressed to the "T" and clothes were tight and revealing. She told my wife the reason she wore such clothes and dressed the way she did was because her husband wanted her to. He wanted to show her off to other men. She was asked, had she considered that in dressing like that she appeared immodest? She responded that she wanted to please her husband. She put her husband's desires above the Lord. It is never right to disobey God's principles for any reason. Paul said, "For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" (1 Cor. 7:16).
No man or woman has respect for someone who professes to be a Christian and does not live a godly life. No woman will win her husband to the Lord by giving in to him and thereby sinning. As mentioned early, God states the principle, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear" (1 Peter 3:1-2). Note that God says wives are to be in subjection to their husband, but He also includes, that the husband will be won to the Lord by their "chaste conversation" meaning godly and modestly life. Clearly, being in subjection to one’s husband does not involve sinning. Being chaste means living a godly life.
1 Timothy 2:11-15
Before we can understand God's instruction on this matter, we must understand God's stated roles for the man and the woman. Paul says that women should learn in silence in the church with all subjection. (1 Tim. 2:11) This is explained in Verse 12, as Paul states that he did not allow a woman to teach, usurping authority over the man, but that in a public service, she should be in silence. Some would respond saying this instruction was given in the culture of that day; however, note that Paul uses the illustration of Adam and Eve. Paul stated that Adam was first formed by God and then Eve and shows their relationship in the beginning when they were created. As Satan did not try to deceive Adam because he knew the man was more rational and less ruled by emotion than was the woman. This reveals the differences in the makeup of men and women as being distinct. This could not be considered cultural. Adam and Eve did not live within a culture. A woman has a different temperament than does a man. Both have strengths and weaknesses, which are accented and complimented by each other’s God-given individuality. Together they are one, as Genesis 2:24 states. There is certainly nothing degrading or belittling in how God made either man or woman.
1 Timothy 2:12, strongly instructs the woman that she should follow the man and his leadership rather than taking that upon leadership upon herself because that is not her role.
God created women to follow the man and to show respect for his God-given responsibility as the leader. This sets the proper order of the organization of the family. To usurp authority over the man is for a woman to step out of her role as God made her. Women are to be the helper of man as expressed as the term used in Genesis 2:18 "help meet." Adam was given the responsibility to lead and provide for his wife and family, and the woman was to assist him in accomplishing this. This shows that man needs the woman, and she needs the man to set the proper order in the family. Each has their respective roles to live in, making a successful life and family. They are to be a team working together. It is not a state, elevating man over women or of demeaning the woman, but rather, each using their God-given abilities working in conjunction with each other.
Therefore, the injunction that a woman is not to usurp or take authority over the man recognizes both man and woman's created ability and responsibility. Some have falsely concluded that this prohibition was cultural and applied only in Paul's day. However, as shown above, this is absolutely a false understanding of the matter. This ignores the biblical principle of God's plan for the different roles of men and women. Paul's statement is clearly transcultural, and it totally refutes the idea that God calls women to be pastors, preachers or deacons in churches. The leadership role within a congregation is given to the man who reflects the man's role in as the head of the family as Christ is head of the church. (Eph. 5:23) As man is the head of his family with the responsibilities of leadership under God, so man is given the leadership over the family of God in the local church. For a woman to be given that responsibility clearly violates God's structure of the family and for the local congregation. God never calls a woman to a position in which she would usurp authority over the man. This means God never called a woman to be a preacher, evangelist, prophet, or deacon. These are roles that God has given to men alone.
In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul gives instruction concerning the matter of the spiritual gifts and in particular, the gift of "tongues" or the speaking of the Gospel by a believer in a language he had not learned. It is important to note that in his closing statements on the matter of those who perverted and abused the gift, he addresses the women's part in this saying:
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (1 Cor. 14:33-35).
Notice that he prefaces his statement that women should keep silence in the worship services by saying God is not the author of confusion. It was confusing and setting the wrong example in the church for women to take a public role in the worship service. Women were falsely speaking in tongues, claiming to have the gift of speaking the Gospel in an unlearned language. However, Paul's prohibition is unambiguous; he says they are to remain in silence. This clearly means God did not give the gift of biblical tongues to women.
Women in leadership over men gives an unbiblical view of the makeup of the family. Men, not women, are given the role of leadership and as providers for the family. In Acts 2, it was men who received the gift of tongues, which was a sign to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. It appears that soon women had begun to practice a false speaking in tongues not patterned after biblical tongues (languages) as presented by the New Testament. Only men were given the gift on the Day of Pentecost and there is no record of God ever giving the gift to women. The biblical gift of speaking unlearned languages was given as a sign to the Jews. In Jewish society, recognizing God's different roles for men and women, the Jews would have never accepted teaching from women.
Women are more inclined toward emotional outbreaks, and they were mimicking the biblical gift of tongues, perverting it into an emotional experience instead. God gave the sign gift of speaking an unlearned language as a witness to the unsaved Jews as 1 Corinthians 14:22 states. The apostles preached God's truth that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and that biblical tongues was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Joel 2:28 prophesied.
There has been much confusion over the statement of 1 Timothy 2:15, “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
Although Eve was deceived and transgressed against God, the verse says she shall be saved in childbearing, if she lives in faith, love, holiness and sobriety.
Some have concluded that the statement means a woman would be brought safely through childbearing or that a woman will be saved in fulfilling her role as a help meet to her husband and in her divinely given role as the child bearer. However, both these interpretations ignore the subject of the statement. What is in view, is salvation from her failure and sin of disobeying God. Being saved in childbirth or fulfilling her responsibility as the child bearer does not save nor address her need for atonement for her transgression. Therefore, clearly this is a Messianic prophecy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Mary, the woman, God chose to come into the world being born as a child. Thus, in the birth of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection, the woman can have her sin forgiven if she believes and exercises faith in Jesus Christ. The proof of her faith and salvation would be seen in her love of God and separation from the world and self-control.
The fact that God inspired the Apostle Paul to write these instructions to Timothy, who was to in turn to instruct the church at Ephesus, shows the vulnerability of women in the areas of modesty and taking authority over men. The root of these failures lies within our sinful or carnal nature, but by recognizing these potential problems. By obeying God's instruction the woman can overcome these temptations.
Husbands, men and churches should honor and hold women in the highest regard, as does the Lord. We should seek through our lives and example to present to the world God's truth and never demean or belittle womanhood. Women also should honor their divinely given role by living godly lives, which reflects their faith and love for the Lord and testifies to the grace and truth of God and His word.
A godly woman will not have any problems with God's instructions as to her role in life and will honor the Lord by living a life that presents God's truth. Sadly, the opposite is also true.
In the Old Testament, both men and women wore long robes. These garments were referred to as mantles, robes, or cloaks. Several passages specifically mention a man’s skirt. The “skirt” [kanpah] referred to the hem or border of a man’s robe. (See Deut. 22:30, Ruth 3:9, Ezek. 16:8)
In Bible times men and women, all wore a long robe-type garment. The priest wore breeches under their robes as an undergarment that reached from the waist to the knees. (Exod. 28:42) The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III shows Hebrew men dressed in long robes that went down to their feet. The Old Testament commanded that they wear tassels or fringes attached to the corners of their robes.
Hebrews bringing tribute to King Shalmanese III
Women’s clothing was mostly like the robes of men, but differed in some respects being tailor to a smaller and femine woman’s body. The Hebrew woman’s garment would have sleeves, made with finer material and more ornamented. Although both men and women wore robes, there were discernable differences.
Some have used Deuteronomy 22:5 as the proof text that women today should not wear pants. The verse says:
"The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God." (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Clearly, the prohibition directed to the nation of Israel was directed against homosexual behavior. God says that it is an abomination to Him for men or women to violate their sexuality and to cross dress. A man was not to wear a robe sewn or adorned for a woman. Of course the principle of the restriction applied as well to men. This is the principle behind the passage. The passage is specifically condemning homosexual behavior. In prohibiting cross dressing the Lord was giving a public standard of conduct that would not promote or condone homosexuality. This command was given to keep Israel free of homosexual behavior and it influence. It had nothing to do with the type of clothing, but prohibited cross dressing and homosexual behavior.
The question is, is it proper for a woman to wear pants? The question is not what is a person’s personal preference, but rather what is biblical. There are two principles that apply.
1. Is the wearing of pants) modest? God says in 1 Timothy 2:9-1, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works" (one Timothy 2:9-10).
1. This instructs women to wear modest apparel. If a woman wears tight fitting clothes of any style that accentuates her sexuality and/or is worn to attract the man's attention, it is certainly not modest. A godly woman would not dress this way. If a woman wearing loose fitting pants, designed for women, with a modest cut that covers her body, and that is modest, it meets God's instructions. Men do not wear women’s pants unless they are homosexuals.
The value of wearing pants by women is certainly an advantage in sports, working, an outdoor environment, and in cold weather. In such activities, modest pants cover the body. Even dresses and skirts, if not worn properly can actually be immodest. In vigorous activities or cold-weather apparel that covers the arms and legs of a woman are protective. Even a woman sits with a dress on can be immodest often unconsciously or by accident be immodest. An ungodly woman can wear a dress or skirt that covers her from head to toe, but because of the activity, cut and style of the dress could be very immodest and sensual.
2. Is the wearing of pants associated with homosexuality? Culturally heterosexual and homosexual women both wear pants in our society, and therefore, the wearing of pants is not a sign of homosexual behavior. How clothing is worn, as well as it's style and cut, can be immodest for both men and women. If we held to a strict adherence to wearing clothes as in Bible times, everyone would have to wear robes. Applying the custom in our day, if we were consistent, because wear men pants today the women should also. It can be seen that applying the letter of the law is culturally difficult. However, if you apply the biblical principle of modest to what people wear, there is no problem, as modest clothing is plainly distinguishable from immodest.
Actually, the biblical issue addresses a woman's modesty and submission to her husband under the directive will of God. There are times when it would be more modest for a woman to wear women’s pants or skirts. An immodest woman dishonors her Savior, husband and family. In performing certain jobs it would be extremely difficult and awkward and even unsafe for a woman to wear dresses or skirts. Other times, such as in church worship services and activities, it would be inappropriate for women to wear any clothing but modest dresses or proper length shirts.
Peter instructed, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Peter 3:1-7)
The context of Deuteronomy 22 was God giving instructions to Israel to make the separate from the pagan nations around them. For example, Deuteronomy 22:11 states, “Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.” In other words, the Israelites were not to sew wool and linen together in a garment. This was the practice of those that worshiped idols and false gods. The reason behind the prohibition was that the one wearing such a garment would identify the wearer as an idol worshiper. This would not be appropriate for an Israelite who worshiped Jehovah God.
Many pastors, churches and your author would not prohibit a woman from wearing modest women's pants in some situations, but believe that when a woman is in church, she should dress nicely and somewhat formally, which would mean wearing a modest dress or skirt. A worship service is a formal affair where believers come to worship the Lord. Pants, because of their informal nature, are inappropriate attire in worshiping Almighty God. Likewise, men should also dress more formally and wear a coat and tie. The modern trend towards casual attire, in worship services, shows a lack of respect for God and a failure to understand what the worship of God truly is. Often the modern casual trend is defended by saying that worship is a matter of one's heart and not outward appearance. Jesus refuted that false idea in Matthew 15:18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man." In other words, what is truly in one's heart will be publicly seen in what a person says and that also implies how they conduct themselves in actions and outward appearance.
That said, we must consider that culturally, such as in the Western United States, western clothes are a part of the culture. Western men and women are "dressed up" and show proper respect for God by wearing a bow string tie or bolo, a nice western cut shirt, coat, and trousers which would include blue jeans. Some condemn blue jeans even to the point of labeling them sinful. There is nothing sinful or unsinful about the material clothers are made of. Nor it is "spiritual" to wear or not wear clothing made from a particulare material like denim. A pastor and church should teach God's word that plainly states modesty and the avoidance of wearing clothes that would associate them with sinful behavior and life style. Anything else is simply one's personal preference.
I often use the illustration that if a person was invited to the White House to meet the President, wouldn't they probably buy a new suit and specially dress for the occasion? Yet, many churches and pastors promote the idea that the worship service is a casual affair, and it is a "come as you are" occasion. That idea is never found in God’s word, and is rooted in a total disrespect for God and failure to recognize who He is. He is the Lord God Almighty, who spoke the Universe into existence. It is He who loved us and suffered and died for our sins, that we might be saved. How then can anyone show such a blatant disregard for His person, His righteousness, power, and grace and pretend to worship Him in a casual and informal way? Such a callous attitude that is blatantly irreverent to God and cannot promote proper worship. This practice today shows what inroads apostasy has made in many churches.
God created us and has set proper standards and boundaries for our behavior. God makes a very revealing and challenging statement in 1 Corinthians 14:37. He says, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." In other words, those that truly are God-fearing and spiritual people will have no problem with God's instructions. However, sadly, the opposite is also true. That unbelievers and the ungodly have no fear of God is clear in their disrespect for Almighty God. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 gives us sound advice:
"But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).
It is my hope that those who read this article will have the mind of Christ and therefore bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior by living as He instructs. It’s the best life possible.
*All Rights Reserved. Cooper P. Abrams, III, 1997, 2012,2013,2015