Can Women Preach?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hi J____,

Thank you for your question. I am thankful that you enjoyed the paper on the law.

You ask why Paul refers to the law in reference to the role of women in the church. Here is the verse to which you refer:

1Co 14:34 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.

“As also saith the law” is referring to the law of Moses, with which the Corinthian readers would have been very familiar. Not every word of the law has been contradicted. But every word of the law of Moses, which we are here discussing, has been superseded by “the law of the spirit of life.” Christ said the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” has been superseded by His “But I say unto you that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Christ did not change the law to “Okay, now it is all right to commit adultery.” The law also says ‘don’t commit adultery’ as any of God’s elect would agree and teach that the law says. It is still to this day “the law [which] brings us to Christ.” It is “the law [which] is not for a righteous man but is for the lawless and disobedient.” And it is that very same law for the lawless and disobedient which God uses to bring us to Christ as “a schoolmaster… as a tutor and a governor.”

Here is that same phrase in an earlier chapter of this same epistle:

1Co 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
1Co 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
1Co 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1Co 9:10 Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

The fact that the law of Moses says anything does not in and of itself mean that what the law of Moses says is wrong. The rich young ruler quoted the law when he said “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…”

Deu 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

You and I can tell people to “Love the Lord thy God” today, and we can add “as also saith the law.” But whenever the “but I say unto you…” law of Christ does contradict the law of Moses, and it does so many times, then we are to “obey God rather than man [Moses – law for the lawless and disobedient].” Pointing out that the new does not always contradict the old does not make the old equal with the new or place the old over the new. The fact that many of the things Christ taught did indeed contradict the law of Moses does not mean that this is always the case. Just because Moses required “all thy males” to appear before God “three times in the year” does not mean that under the law of Christ women can now be heads of the household or be teachers and preachers in the church.

Exo 23:17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

Women were not even to “appear before God” under the law of Moses. Does not the law itself tell us that Eve was made for Adam and not Adam for Eve? If indeed women can teach men, then I can teach Christ. If it is permissible for a woman to lead her home, then indeed she can lead the church. But that is the exact opposite of what we are told:

1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
1Ti 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

Are we now, just because we are not under the law of Moses, to be teaching that since “we are all one in Christ and there is neither male nor female” that now we can all share the same restrooms and bishops can now be the wife of one husband? Can we now all go around in ‘drag’ because there is neither male nor female, and we are all one in Christ? Saying ‘there is neither male nor female, but we are all one in Christ” is not to be understood in that way. The way it is to be understood is that even though we are all given differing gifts and differing roles, we are not over one another. We are a body which is happy and thankful just to be a part of that body. We are all one body in Christ. And what is expected of men is given us in God’s Word. What is expected of women is also given to us in God’s Word.

If women can preach and “take care of the church of God”, then they can certainly “rule [their] own house and have their children under subjection.” And if a woman can do these things, then she can also be the “husband of one wife.” But a woman cannot be the husband of one wife any more than I can be the head of Christ.

The very best witness a Godly woman can have is to be of a “meek and quiet spirit” in this flesh. That is what God is looking for in a Godly woman. All of the great sermons by all of the great women preachers of this world do not change these words of God’s Word:

1Pe 3:1 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;
1Pe 3:2 While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear.
1Pe 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
1Pe 3:4 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.

1Pe 3:5 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:
1Pe 3:6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well,

Does any woman want to be “of great price in the sight of God?” God leaves us all with no excuse. He makes His will known. The question He poses is:

Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

I hope that this has given you a better understanding of a woman’s role under the law of Moses. Under that law women were not even to “appear before God.” I hope you see that when Paul or Christ or anyone else appealed to the law of Moses, they were appealing to what is expected from “the lawless and disobedient” and not what is ideal or excellent or commendable. It is no doubt hard for a woman to hear men teach lies and not take it upon herself to straighten out those deceits. But whenever a woman preaches, she is really showing how little she regards “these sayings of Mine.” Her preaching and straightening out of the worthless men around her is about as productive as me trying to drag people to Christ. It cannot be done. And a woman cannot be of “great price in the sight of God” while she is without a “meek and quiet spirit.” The law of Moses just happens to agree with this New Testament Truth. The word ‘silence’ is a bad translation and should be ‘quiet.’ “A meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price.” It is the simple Truth of God’s ‘Is, Was and Will Be Word.’

Other related posts