Sunday, September 27, 2015

What about a woman who blogs? Is she violating scripture by teaching men?

My ministry is to women. I exhort for women to achieve a higher standard of biblical literacy and knowledge of the Lord. I exhort for women in their lives to walk in submission to the Word. I also use my blog as a personal platform to teach women the scriptures and HOW to think about the scriptures. Finally, I use my blog to proclaim Jesus and to praise Him. I'm unashamed and unafraid and I love using the blog to perform these ministrations within the body of Christ. This is because the Spirit groomed me lifelong as a writer then upon salvation dispensed the gifts of teaching and exhortation.

It gives me the greatest joy possible to hear back from a woman who has sought His word and gained insight through submitting her mind to the Holy Spirit. I cry tears of joy when a woman contacts me and says she had followed through with listening to a recommended sermon from John MacArthur or Phil Johnson and is now frequently listening to them or the other men I'd recommended ... or has read the essay by Lloyd Jones, or followed the link from Challies. Connecting women with solid and credible male teachings is sweet. When a woman says she has ignited her prayer life, or has learned to trust her husband more, or has established a pattern of consistently reading the Word, I praise the Holy God for raising up women and for using me in the gifts He has dispensed in that task.

Sometimes I receive the question, but what about if a man reads your blog, aren't you violating scripture by teaching men? This essay is my response.

I consistently advise 4 things: for women who read my stuff to be faithful in personal prayer, persistent in asking for wisdom from the Spirit as James 1:5 says, constant personal bible reading and checking what I say against scripture, and to discuss these matters with their husband, or pastor or elder if they are single. I do a lot of referring back to the husband, Some women are looking for an excuse to rebel and use female bloggers as their loophole by asking leading questions and overly-relying on my answer. I'm not having it. LOL, once I pointedly asked a woman "What does your husband say about this?" and she wrote back in perplexed confusion, 'I honestly never thought to ask him about it or discuss these kind of things with him.' And therein lay the problem.

I remind often that the husband (or pastor or other family member if single) is the spiritual authority. I'm just the Sister with some thoughts and elder advice as per Titus 2:4. I do the same in real life at my local church.

But that isn't the real question. Isn't a Christian woman who writes about theological issues on her blog actually teaching men if a man reads her blog, in violation of the scriptures? (1 Timothy 2:12). The scriptures say women cannot usurp authority over men in the church, taking their God-ordained positions of preaching, teaching or leading (as in deacon) for themselves. This is what I believe because this is what God has said explicitly and implicitly through His Word.

This is not the actual question, though. When someone asks "is a woman Christian blogger violating scripture by possibly teaching men on her blog' it isn't the real question. The real question is, "Should women speak of or teach theological/spiritual/discipling issues in the public square?" Blogs are the public square. The public square is also the break room at work, the living room of a home where a women's ministry is being conducted, the cafe at Borders Books, a blog, Facebook wall or messaging, bible study in a living room with other women, or any other place where women of faith may congregate apart from church and men might be present and spiritually impacted by what they hear or read from a woman's insight.

So we ask the same question but place it in different situations and venues.
Is a woman violating scripture by having a female bible study during lunch in the work cafeteria where men are also at nearby tables? If two women are engaged in a discipling relationship and working out a theological issue at a cafĂ©, and Christian men happen to be at the next table, are the women violating scripture if the men listen to their conversation? If a woman writes of theological issues on her blog and a man happens to read it, is she violating scripture? What if a woman authors a theological book, and a man buys it and reads it? Did she violate scripture? Did he? The question can be taken to silly extremes.

Not that the issue of women teaching men is silly. We have far too much of that inside the structure of the congregational church these days. Just yesterday I ran across a youngish female "pastor" of a strangely named "church" called "Guts Church" and I commented on her rebellion against the 1 Timothy verse, but she deleted my comment. My friend Jeff Isaiah on Twitter writes,
If your church's pastor is a woman—you don't have a pastor, and you don't have a church. Leave. (See 1 Timothy, chapter 2)
However, the real question as I noted is, can a woman speak theologically, disciple or teach other women in the public square - and to what extent? In the Bible we read of Dorcas, who led a ministry of women and discipled them through her sewing/clothing works. If male workers or house residents were about and heard their discussion, then did Dorcas violate scripture? Did Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, violate scripture by teaching Timothy of the good news at home? Did Lydia who contended in public at Paul's side in public? Did Philips' daughters who preached/prophesied in public with their father?

I simply don’t worry about it. I aim to reach women and I say so. I take my role seriously as an elder women coaching the younger in being strong in the word and submissive to male domestic and church authority. If a man wants to read my blog, that could also be a good thing. Why? What of the women I’m engaged in a discussion with in the comments section or via email, and I urge her to discuss further with her husband? What if the husband then comes to my blog to investigate me. It is GOOD that he reads it, first so he can protect his wife against heresy I may be spouting. (We all know there are plenty of those kind of blogs online these days). Pastor and noted blogger Tim Challies often reviews books on his site that are aimed at women. He wrote in his essay Book Recommendations: Books for Women
Because I am a husband, I try to read at least the occasional book that is meant to encourage or equip my wife. Here are some of the best of the books I’ve read for women.
Now THAT makes me feel great and I can only imagine how good it makes his wife feel to know he is looking out for her.
Husbands, love your wives, AND protect themfrom the monstrous
regiment of women spouting heresy online. Rev 2:20
Therefore, what if a man reads my blog a few times and likes it and decides that he will pass it on to his wife? That also is a good thing. Did he violate scripture in reading my work enough times to get a feel for whether I’m genuine? What if he learned something in the process, or gained an insight? I do not believe these are violations.

Remember, the question is not that women bloggers are usurping male authority in the church in violation of 1 Tim 2:12, the question is can women teach and speak of theological things in the public square, (like blogs) especially if they intend to teach a female audience. John MacArthur has some stances on that.

By the way, if females teach scripture online and/or exposit it, then his own website would be in violation. Many, many women are listed on the gcc.org site with .pdfs and other resources, even sermons- and they are so labeled. Judy Luenebrink’s sermon and bible study expositing Genesis 3 is online. Is she violating scripture by teaching the Bible if a man reads her work? No in my opinion, and obviously not in the good pastor's, because it is clear she is teaching to women! I assume that a man in the church provided oversight before Mrs Luenebrink's sermon was even posted.

While Dr MacArthur does not mention blogs specifically, here are his thoughts on women teaching outside of the authoritative structure of the church proper. Inside the church, too many women are filling male roles "because the men won't." This is not an excuse, as MacArthur begins his essay. Here are the excerpts from his essayActive Submission:
But God has established the proper order and relationship of male and female roles in the church, and they are not to be violated for any reason. For a woman to assume a man’s role because he has neglected it merely compounds the problem. God has led women to do work that men have refused to do, but He does not lead them to accomplish that work through roles He has restricted to men.
That doesn’t mean, however, that God never permits women to speak His truth in public:
"Paul spoke with various churches and synagogues during his missionary journeys, answering questions from women as well as men (cf. Acts 17:2–4). I see nothing wrong with a woman asking questions or sharing what the Spirit of God has taught her out of the Word during informal Bible study and fellowship.
Women can proclaim the Word of God except when the church meets for corporate worship. The Old Testament says, “The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11). The New Testament gives examples of Mary, Anna, and Priscilla declaring God’s truth to men and women (Luke 1:46–55; 2:36–38; Acts 18:24–26).
Women can pray in public. Acts 1:13–14 describes a prayer meeting where women and men, including Jesus’ apostles, were present. But leading in prayer during an official meeting of the church is, as we’ve already seen, a role ordained for men (1 Timothy 2:8)."---end JMac
For another take on the question, here is Tony Miano on the question. Miano attends Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church) and is in submission to Phil Johnson in small group. He says things I agree with.Christian Women Bloggers: Maintaining God-Intended Femininity

Here is Phil Johnson on women discernment bloggers. He notes that many female bloggers who specialize in discernment wind up simply having a sharp tongue and use it negatively. I agree with this also. Johnson said there are some personalities which are predisposed to snark and bitterness and they USE blogging as the excuse to let the flesh run rampant. I look to Pastor Justin Peters as my positive role model here. I have listened to his discernment seminars and sermons for many years and I admire the way he continually submits to the Spirit and thus maintains his gentle composure, even when saying the harshest of biblical things.

The Johnson comments come from a Youtube video event hosted by Todd Friel. Start at 25:00 go to about 30:00. I also agree with Johnson that many women discernment bloggers presume to teach but do not display a rational understanding of doctrine. Oftentimes this is why their unfeminine harridan side kicks in. The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Discernment Divas

Sewing circle, 1952. Wikimedia commons
So that’s it. As for me personally regarding the blog, several men whom I trust read it and occasionally touch base with me privately to ask me a clarification question to check for my understanding, they encourage me, or they reprove me. Sometimes they comment openly and I always appreciate the male perspective. I also appreciate the fact that they are 'out there', but we're 'together in the Body', jointly performing our gifts and roles. I personally believe that they are taking their leadership seriously by monitoring me and nurturing me. And I’m grateful for it.

I am fully submitted to the concept of women not teaching in the church- unless it is to children or other women only. And no female pastors or deacons. And no women interrupting male-led bible studies or co-opting lessons held in the church with their own insights etc. Submissive and orderly is the command and I am firm on that!

As for women writing books, blogging, discipling, or speaking of theological things in the public square, I follow Philip's daughters, (Acts 21:9), Eunice and Lois, (2 Timothy 1:5), Lydia, (Acts 16:14),  Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and other women who restrict their ministry to women, submit to the men in their lives, but unashamedly proclaim the glories of this wonderful Jesus whom we share and whom the dying world needs to know.


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Resources:

Woman to Woman: Answering the Call of Titus 2

Biblical vision for Pastors discipling men and women

The Titus 2 Challenge

Going Beyond Titus 2: Gospel-Centered Whole Bible Discipleship

8 comments :

  1. Well said. And you are the first woman to echo what I've said for years, that a woman who leads a church isn't a pastor. I think I've even used quotation marks around the word, just as you did.

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  2. The scriptures say women cannot usurp authority over men in the church, taking their God-ordained positions of preaching, teaching or leading (as in deacon) for themselves. This is what I believe because this is what God has said explicitly and implicitly through His Word.

    And that is the real point. The teaching from Scripture is in regards to the assembly, not individuals outside the assemble saints.

    I have found your blog to be an excellent resource over the years I've followed it. Keep up the good work!

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  3. Thank you for writing this post. I'll share it with my husband and get his feedback.

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    1. Hello Sister Karen,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I'm thrilled that you have read those mentioned series about Beth Moore and Jesus calling. Test all against the Bible.

      I appreciate your grace-filled comment so much.

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  5. Once again, an excellent article. As a pastor, I read from a variety of source so that I can make recommendations to all the folks in the church. I recently discovered your blog and have been so pleased to have a resource to suggest to the ladies of the church. Your reviews aided our ladies in their selection of materials for their weekly study. I am grateful for websites like this one that I can point others to read (always in the manner of the Bereans). SDG

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    1. Pastor William, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comforting and relief-inducing comment. I appreciate the oversight and I'm humbly thankful that you took the time to let me know that anything I write here helps women meet the goal of a stronger doctrinal life and greater discernment. The Spirit has worked through me for His glory and since the chief end of man is to glorify God, I feel great relief and peace to know that this has occurred, even once.

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    2. I am glad to offer some comfort and relief. I have a great appreciation for godly women who use their gifts to God's glory according to his word. The woman who conducts our women's group is gifted and finds great joy in ministering to the women in our congregation. I was so happy to be able to point her to your website. She was happy to get pointed. There is a shortage of authors like yourself that adhere to solid biblical teaching for women by a woman. Thank you for putting your gifts to work.

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