Philippians 3-4; I Timothy 1-2
I am a teacher. And I am a woman. And years ago I taught a Sunday School class of women… and men. But knowing that, my take on the subject might surprise you.
I recently was part of a conversation with some friends about whether or not women should be allowed to teach men in the church. I honestly can say I see both sides of the argument.
On one hand, Paul said he didn’t permit women to teach. On the other hand he didn’t say God gave him that order. On one hand there were women like Miriam, Deborah, and Anna described as prophets. On the other hand I don’t believe there is an instance when these women, or any other women, took part in the actual teaching of their prophecies during Temple worship. On one hand we see Priscilla teaching Apollos the truth about Jesus. On the other hand, she went with her husband to meet with Apollos privately, her teaching was not public.
On one hand we hear Paul say women should be silent in church. On the other hand, we understand the climate of the day and, in context, could interpret that as saying women shouldn’t interrupt the service by asking questions, rather than forbidding them to be the teacher. But, like one of my friends said, who determines which Scriptures we should blow off because of context, and which Scriptures should be applied today?
Besides, in the same paragraph Paul says he wants women to dress modestly without braided hair or jewelry, and he wants men to pray with their hands raised. Yet I don’t hear those things being talked about nearly as much as the phrase, “women should be silent.” And it’s all part of what Paul is talking about in I Timothy.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think the issue is a matter of heaven or hell. Even though I spent a year as a teacher of a co-ed Sunday School class, I still prefer a man behind the pulpit. I see in Scripture that God places a hierarchy in the church, and He put men in positions of authority over women. It doesn’t mean women are less than men, or not as important in ministry. Jesus had a lot of women disciples who enhanced His early ministry by their support. I don’t think He’d describe them as less-than or unimportant.
I love teaching. And having the privilege of teaching women is such a blessing to me. If I never teach another co-ed Sunday School class, I’d be ok with that, but I am not apologetic for teaching a co-ed class in the past. I guess I would say according to God’s hierarchy, men should teach men. But I really don’t think a man will be punished for sitting in a classroom taught by a woman.
Let me say something to men. Some of you need to step up. Sometimes, as was the case that year I taught Sunday School, the number of men willing to take on that responsibility is lacking. If God has given you the gift of teaching, you need to be teaching. Period.
And women, there are so many ways we can use our own gifts of teaching. Are you being obedient?
I pray for teachers of God’s Truth. It is a heavy responsibility. But it is also a glorious privilege. May we all, men and women, be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading not just in who we teach, but what and how we teach it. That’s the issue. I said earlier the “who” of who we teach is not a matter of heaven or hell. But the WHAT we teach is.
May God find us faithful.