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Women in the Ministry #5

THERE ARE SO MANY CAUSES that people are working for today—“Save the whales!”, “Get back to the earth!”, “Stop pollution!”—but FEW are working for the cause of Christ. We need to get back to God. We need to get back to the way God intended for us to be. And one problem we are addressing in these messages is the struggle we have going on between the men and women in the Church. According to the men, the women can’t do anything in the ministry of Christ; and to support their view, the men use certain Scriptures, some of which we have already gone over. Many women are restricted from really fulfilling a part of God that they are supposed to. Yet we must realize that God puts callings on people, male and female, both, and just because a woman happens to be a woman does not mean that she can’t fulfill the calling that God has for her life.

     Women are a special species, not because they came out of man, but because they came out of the heart of God. Although they came from the side of man in the beginning, they really came out of the heart of God, because it was the desire of His heart to make a male and female side to represent His image and likeness. If we look at the male-female relationship in that light—that we’re looking at the image and likeness of God in the flesh, man and woman—then we don’t have to veer off and get into twisted points of view about our rights and roles in regards to each other.

     This is why we are taking so much time to cover this subject of women in the ministry. It is a tough subject and it needs a forceful approach in order to break through the centuries of ignorance and bondage which have built up.

     What we have today is a widespread reversal of roles. Women, for the most part, have become sick and tired of male oppression, and there has been plenty of male oppression in all societies, America too. In some third-world countries the male oppression is total, and the women will remain in that bondage until the people receive the clear light.

     There are roles for women in the home, such as raising children, but that’s not all that women should be limited to. They have just as much right to Christ and the ministry of Christ as a man does. Let’s not forget that. They have just as much right because God is not a respecter of persons. That means God does not care what sex, color, or nationality you are. And for men to think that they’re the only ones who can bring forth the Word, that they’re the only ones that can be behind the pulpit, that they’re the only ones that can be spiritual, they’re wrong.

     We have seen in many instances, because of the male oppression, women have rebelled and gone overboard, opposing it to such a degree that they went off and presented their bodies in unnatural ways to other women and started hating the male sex. And even the women that don’t turn lesbian have a tendency to develop a hatred towards men. We have churches full of women who are very oppressed and very abused and used and pushed down, and yet they struggle and hang on just so they can be used in the small capacity which they are allowed. How much better would it be if they could be used in bigger and better capacities of which they are capable! But first we need to educate the leaders so they will recognize and understand what Paul was really saying in certain Scriptures where he mentions the role of women in the Church.

     Now I want to turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 3. It says, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” We’ve studied out this subject of headship before and we’ve seen that the headship Paul is talking about here has nothing to do with superiority or superior rank at all. Then it says in verse 4, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.” I wanted to read this Scripture because I want to bring out a point dealing with Jewish traditions in the early Church. It is vital that we understand what part the traditions of the Jews played in the early Church.

     Now just to cut through a lot of confusion, the best way I can explain this verse is to say that the Christians at Corinth were carrying over Jewish traditions into the Church. The Corinthian church was a Gentile church and not so much a Jewish church. It had more Gentile members than Jewish members, but there were Jewish ideas creeping in.

     One way to look at these issues we are talking about is to ask yourself, “Why would Paul be pushing Jewish traditions regarding head coverings and male supremacy onto Gentile converts to Christianity?” He would not! Don’t forget that Paul was a converted Pharisee, and if anybody knew the traditions and customs of the Jews and how they were not part of the New and Living Way, Paul did. And it is because of this very reason that he took so much time in dealing with the new Christians, helping them to keep from being ensnared in the Jewish traditions of men.

     The situation Paul was facing involved Judaizers who were trying to push off Jewish traditions onto the Gentile Christian converts. These Judaizers were the Jewish converts who were still heavily influenced by their Jewish tradition. It wasn’t the unsaved Jews who were causing the internal problems. The orthodox Jews considered all Christians heretics and had nothing to do with them, except to persecute them. It was the Jewish converts who were still full of their past traditions who were trying to push them off onto the others. They thought that the old Jewish traditions and the new Spirit of Christ made a pretty good balance. Well, Paul knew better, and he took on the difficult task of educating the new Christians about the danger of Jewish traditions and the doctrines of men.

     So, if you don’t know this background information, then you’ll never understand the points I’m going to bring out when I get further into this study. You’ll be lost like a ball in high weeds, and many are. That’s the reason so many don’t understand the subject of women in the ministry. They fail to go back and study the historical facts, they neglect to study the customs and traditions that were influencing society at the time when this was written. Instead they just believe what someone has told them and take that for the truth, even though it has kept generations of women in bondage of fear and ignorance, preventing them from fulfilling the purposes that God has for them in the ministry.


“If we look at the male-female relationship in that light—that we’re looking at the image and likeness of God in the flesh, man and woman—then we don’t have to veer off and get into twisted points of view about our rights and roles in regards to each other.”


     Another important point of historical background in the letters of Paul to the Corinthians, which we have already addressed to a degree, was that Paul was answering questions that were written to him via letters from the Corinthians. For instance, in verses 5-6 of chapter 11 Paul is answering their questions regarding the subject of head coverings. We need to understand that he was responding to letters, not laying out doctrine. And if you don’t believe what I’m saying, you can go back all the way to chapter 7 and all the way through chapter 14 and you can find times where Paul refers to something in the letter that someone had written him. He says, “Concerning such and such...”, then it goes on to talk about that subject. And people without this understanding just assume that Paul was laying down laws like the Ten Commandments, when in reality all he was doing was restating their questions and then answering them. But people want to twist these Scriptures around and make laws out of them because it pleases their religious flesh, or because they just don’t know any better.

     As we begin to add up all these points we can start to make sense out of what Paul was actually saying. You might wonder why I am taking so much time to deal with these topics. The reason is that there are still many church people that are deceived and believe that women have no place in the ministry. And another point of contention is the subject of head coverings: whether or not people should pray or prophesy with their head covered or uncovered. These type of things were a big deal back in Paul’s day, and he had to answer their questions concerning these matters. And all the controversy was stirred up when the Judaizers would bring in their traditions and try to get the rest of the Body to follow them. Inevitably someone would say to themselves, “This just doesn’t sound quite right to me. I’m going to write Paul and see what he has to say about the matter.” So it was Paul’s job to straighten out all these difficulties, and God chose the right man for the job. The fact that Paul was a converted Pharisee gave him an advantage against the Judaizers because he could recognize their traditions quickly, and he was well acquainted with the subtlety of religious demons. So Paul was dealing with Jewish traditions which had nothing to do with what God actually has to say about these subjects.

     Something else that we should look at is where Paul talks about women praying or prophesying in verse 5 of chapter 11, and then in verse 34 of chapter 14 he seemingly contradicts himself by saying that women should remain silent in the Church. The latter text reads, “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.” Now I mentioned in the first broadcast and I want to say it again, I challenge anyone to show me one place in the law of the Old Testament where it says women are to be silent. Don’t bother to look because there isn’t one. Then what “law” was Paul referring to? He was referring to the Jewish rabbinical traditions that had come into being and were later collected in the Talmud. These manmade laws were considered “law” by many Jews, and obviously the Jewish converts were using them to back up their claim that women should remain silent.

     Back to the point I was making. Here we have a contrast. If Paul was saying over here in chapter 11 that it was alright for women to pray and prophesy, which obviously entailed speaking out in the congregation and letting the Lord move through them, and then he comes over here in chapter 14 and contradicts himself by saying that women must remain silent in the church, what is going on? Is Paul contradicting himself? NO! Paul is answering their questions, and the way it was translated makes it seem like he was instituting laws.

     Well, Paul was not making a law in chapter 14 that women couldn’t speak in the Church. In fact, he admonishes the Christians, male and female, all through the book of Corinthians to pray and prophesy and speak in tongues. All these things are done in the congregation, and he never once mentions any restrictions on the women. This issue of “silence” only arises in chapter 14 where it is obviously just a case of Paul stating their question which had been written to him, and then answering it. As we have shown before, the proof of this is in verse 36 where Paul says, “WHAT! came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” He is referring back to the statements which he quoted from them in verses 34 and 35 about women being silent. In other words, Paul is asking them, “Are you Corinthians now receiving commandments from God?”, implying that they had fallen into error and thought themselves more spiritual than they really were, particularly since these “commandments” they were receiving were in direct contradiction to what he, as a true Apostle of God, had always taught.

     Here are some of the questions we must ask:

     —Who said women must be silent?

     —Why can’t they speak and why is it shameful?

     —Must they be silent only in church and if so, why?

     —Should they be silent at all times or only on special occasions?

     —Does this restriction include praying, singing, praising and prophesying?

     —Is this restriction binding upon all women for all time or was it a local thing?

—Where and what is the law that underscores this restriction?

     What if the Christian woman’s husband was a practicing pagan?

     What does subjection have to do with silence?

     Did Paul assume all women to be married, and if not, what about the unmarried women?

     These are some very pointed, valid questions that need to be answered before we make a law out of two verses in chapter 14, condemning women to silence in the Church.

     Now I’ve heard people who believe these two Scriptures (I Cor. 14:34-35) to be a cardinal doctrine argue that, “God said it because it’s in the Word of God and I believe it, and that settles it.” All I have to say is go ahead and be stupid! And usually when you run across men that are so pig-headed and so belligerent and so anti-woman, you see they carry an aura of hatred for women, which tells me that they have a lot of problems in their lives that need to be resolved. They are hating a part of God. If you hate the opposite sex to such a degree that you won’t allow women to open their mouths in the assembly, then you’re hating a part of God. And I’ve actually seen whole congregations ruled by this spirit, and I’ve met men who preached this type of mixed-up doctrine about women keeping silent.


“If you hate the opposite sex to such a degree that you won’t allow women to open their mouths in the assembly, then you’re hating a part of God.”


     These Scriptures in I Corinthians chapter 14 bother a lot of people. They bothered me for years, and I’ve studied these Scriptures extensively because my wife certainly has a calling. She has a calling, she prays and prophesies and teaches and preaches. And men get upset with her because she has a greater anointing than most men I’ve ever met. Too many men get jealous and they would like it if she never had anything to say. And I always ask them, “If you are so bothered by a woman ministering, why don’t you get involved in the ministry and preach?” I ask lots of men, “If you think that you’re so big and hot in God, and you have so much in the Lord, then why don’t you have something to say?” Why does God use women in the ministry? It’s because men don’t have too much to say. They do a lot of huffing and puffing, and a lot of boasting and bragging and beating on their chest, but they really don’t have too much to say.

     Now I’m not belittling men or saying that God doesn’t use men under the anointing, because He does. But I’m trying to break through some traditions that plague our churches in America, and plague the Body of Christ around the world. We’re dealing with women on a worldwide basis. Whether they’re saved or unsaved, we’re dealing with women who are oppressed by these Scriptures men have twisted or misunderstood. Even the unsaved pagans use the Bible when they want to oppress their women. How many men use these Scriptures when they want their women to “Shut up, stay home, have babies, cook my food, feed my belly and give me sex whenever I want it!”? That’s the prevailing mentality among men around the world and it’s regurgitating! It’s nauseating to think that men are such dogs and so carnal that they only look at women as a hunk of meat and a servant. And it makes God sick too, because He didn’t create women to be used and abused by men, He created them to be actively used in His work just like everyone else.

     The truth is that God created woman to fulfill the parts that man was lacking and to be a companion for him. When men and women get married they become one flesh. They come into oneness, they become as one, a union to represent God on this earth. Too many men don’t see that, or they refuse to recognize that because they want to remain in the position of authority. They don’t want to share any kind of authority with the woman, because of pride and arrogance and thinking that they are superior. And they use these Scriptures we’ve mentioned to keep the women in fear and bondage, preventing them from fulfilling the purposes that God has for them.

     One of the most common explanations used to account for these Scriptures in chapter 14 is that Paul gave these commands concerning women in order to keep order in the Church. According to tradition, the women and men were separated in the assembly, and when a woman had a question she would disrupt the service by asking her husband across the room. If this were true then obviously something would have to be done to maintain order, and many people believe that Paul was addressing this problem in the two Scriptures we have been studying in chapter 14. However, there isn’t any historical or Scriptural evidence to support this explanation. In fact there is much evidence that totally disqualifies this as a valid explanation. Nevertheless, many people still think that Paul mandated silence upon the women in the Body of Christ, and they use these Scriptures like a club to dominate over the women.

     Now I want to go back over a point I mentioned earlier and have mentioned before. It should be noted that I Corinthians 14:34-35 silences only those women with husbands. Did you notice that? Only the women with husbands were to be silent, thereby excusing the unmarried, the divorced, and the widows. It says, “Let them ask THEIR HUSBANDS at home.” If this injunction was meant for all women, then why did Paul single out the wives? Did he demand or expect all women to marry? If so, why did he strongly recommend in I Corinthians 7:7-8 that the unmarried and widows remain as he was—unmarried. Or were the wives the only ones talking during the service? If so, are unmarried women allowed to speak publicly? These are some difficult questions, yet they are legitimate and need to be considered.

     The problem lies in the fact that nearly everyone assumes this passage on being “silent” was Paul’s own statement. This is what I’m trying to get at. So many people assume that this is Paul’s own statement yet fail to see that if this were true he would be directly contradicting his earlier instructions in I Corinthians 11 where we read that women can pray and prophesy. Logically then, we need to ask the question, “Was this silencing directive Paul’s, or was he questioning someone else? Was this passage a direct command of God through Paul to the women of the Body of Christ, or was Paul questioning Jewish traditions which were troubling the Corinthians and of which they had written to Paul for advice?” Once again, let me repeat myself until we get this down: the answer lies in verse 36. I know we’ve already gone over this but I want to mention it again because our understanding of this whole message hinges on this point. Verse 36 of I Corinthians 15 says, “WHAT! came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?”

     Now, if Paul had just made an absolute statement in verses 34 and 35, dictating silence to the women in the assembly, then who is he talking to when he asks the question, “What! came the Word of God out from you?”? Was he referring to himself or was he referring to the men who had written him a letter asking him about this question? The Amplified Bible says, “WHAT! did the Word of the Lord originate with you [Corinthians], or has it reached only you?” In other words, Paul was asking them, “Did you Corinthians make this up (about women being silent) and are you trying to pass it off as the Word of the Lord?”


“Verse 36 of I Corinthians 15 says, “WHAT! came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” ...In other words, Paul was asking them, “Did you Corinthians make this up (about women being silent) and are you trying to pass it off as the Word of the Lord?” ...Paul was actually refuting the teaching that women should remain silent in the Church...”


     Too often we neglect to examine the entire context surrounding a passage and we get all mixed up with our doctrines. Paul was actually refuting the teaching that women should remain silent in the Church, which was one of the Jewish traditions that was trying to infiltrate the Body of Christ and destroy unity among the brethren. As Christians we need to study these passages methodically and with lots of prayer, asking God’s direction so that we don’t continue to abuse the women in the churches. Amen.