Baptism, Women, and Peripheral Reasoning
Peripheral Reasoning: The insidious idea that we can somehow circumvent the actual, factual, specific, contextual, cornerstone teaching on a given subject, by utilizing examples that only might, or in some cases, do not even apply to said subject at all – and still come to an accurate conclusion on the topic under discussion. An everyday illustration of such “peripheral reasoning” would be if one were seeking to learn about American football, and were given a booklet on the game and rules of American baseball, under the guise or premise that, “Well, after all, they’re both American sports, and they both require a ball, an offense, a defense, a team, a field, and uniforms.” But we all know that any conclusions regarding the rules of the game of football, gained from instructions specifically devoted to the rules of baseball, would be extremely suspect at best, and completely confusing and erroneous at worst.
The absolute essentiality of avoiding any such peripheral reasoning at all cost, is profusely and infinitely magnified and multiplied when exploring spiritual topics and commandments, which have eternal life and death implications (2 Timothy 2:14-19; 2 Peter 3:14-18). This is not a game! Eternal lives are on the line! Eternal souls stand to be lost! And yet, tragically, such peripheral reasoning on certain essential spiritual subjects, topics, and commandments abound today – to the total deception and destruction of any who might seek to justify their own, personal, pride and/or agenda driven deviation from God’s divinely inspired and eternally settled in heaven truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:89).
One prime example of such deadly, spiritual, peripheral reasoning, would be when one who has convinced themselves (in support of whatever personally-driven agenda they are seeking to promote, and despite what God’s word so clearly, concisely, and consistently states to the contrary) that water baptism has absolutely nothing to do with salvation – and then they bring up texts like John 3:16 as supposed “proof” of their point! Really? John 3:16 cannot be used to make any real, legitimate, scriptural point regarding baptism, as the subject itself is not even seen, mentioned, or remotely under consideration or contextual discussion therein! If one wants to truly understand the subject of baptism from God’s perspective, then they must begin with a thorough examination of the rock-solid, concrete, cornerstone texts which actually mention the word and/or specifically address the subject! They must begin with texts that were actually, literally, specifically written to instruct us about, and/or at least might include some form of the word “baptism” – or else they’re seeking to learn about ‘football’ from instruction on the rules of ‘baseball,’ and will wind up both completely confused and then finally, ultimately deceived.
Why are such people so afraid to begin with a thorough examination of the texts in Scripture that were specifically written to instruct us on baptism? Because those God-given (2 Timothy 3:16-17), eternally settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89), divinely-inspired and dictated texts (2 Peter 1:20-21) such as: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41, 22:16; Romans 6:1-23; Galatians 3:26-26; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:8-12; 1 Peter 3:21; and etc, all confirm the absolute essentiality of this act of faith known as baptism, without and before which, no sinner on earth can be saved under the new covenant according to the word of God.
And so, either in their biblically-ignorant lack of the knowledge of God and His righteous edicts (Romans 10:1-3), or else in their attempt to advance their own personal agenda, they begin with verses, reasonings, and applications that actually neither mention, nor have anything whatsoever to do with the specific subject under consideration! Now, perhaps in some cases, and in order to give themselves some semblance of the appearance of credibility they might possibly at least give a passing mention to a few of the cornerstone verses that were actually written to specifically address the subject at hand. But then they will usually move on very quickly after only a cursory glance, before the total, entire, and glaring truth of those texts has a chance to be seen, explored, emphasized, and obeyed.
Nowhere in the church today is such presumptuous, pride-driven, personal agenda promoting peripheral reasoning more prominent, than in the discussion of women and just exactly how God designed both them and their place to be within His Son’s one, New Testament church (Ephesians 4:4-6; Romans 16:16). This will be made very clearly and obviously evident from the upcoming discussion of just such an attempted defense of more female leadership in the church, in direct defiance of, and disobedience to, the divinely-inspired and required, written commandments of God. But before we get to that specific list, we will start out by seeking to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and therefore begin with a brief (due to article length and space considerations) exploration of the actual two texts in the New Testament which do contain almighty God’s specific, exclusive, written and all-authoritative instruction, regarding this particular topic.
First Corinthians 14:33-37NKJV states: For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
Now, one of the first things some will do who do not want to have to deal with the simple, straightforward, and clearly stated scriptural truths that this text contains, is to seek to throw up a sinister smokescreen of questions that it doesn’t quite as clearly answer, so as to blur and/or circumvent all of the exact truth, that it does so clearly state. But it’s forever… firmly fixed the in the heavens (Psalm 119:89 ESV) truths are unavoidable, indisguisable, and irrevocable for those whose first, only, and absolute top priority is to please and serve God, instead of anyone or anything else. And at least three of those crystal-clear and inarguable truths are these:
- This instruction is for all the churches of the saints; that is to say, in all regions, all ages, all cultures, and all times from then on forward and on into the future forevermore, just as is the one faith, once delivered, for all the saints prior to the end of the first century (See Jude 3). The only exception being congregational singing, simply because God – who Has all authority – said so (See: Ephesians 1:1, 5:19; Colossians 1:2, 3:16).
- And although we do not, and cannot, know exactly what specific “law” he refers to when it comes to women remaining silent in the churches (i.e., “en ekklessia” in the Greek; literally, “in the assemblies,” which is what he has been addressing since about the middle of chapter 10), what we do know for absolute certain, is that they are still to keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive…, just as both that law, PLUS the commandments of God, unquestionably state here.
- And lastly, it is an indisputable, eternal, and inarguable fact, that these requirements are not based on, or biased by, anyone’s personal opinion, preference, or peripheral reasoning, but are absolutely and inarguably the commandments of the Lord. And both Matthew 15:1-9, as well as Mark 7:1-13, also make it abundantly clear, that to “lay aside,” “reject,” or make “of no effect” “the commandment of God,” in order to practice man-made and preferred traditions, renders any and all such resulting worship, as “vain.”
Our second, vital, essential, divinely-inspired and eternally-settled in heaven cornerstone text which is also specifically devoted to this particular topic, comes from 1 Timothy 2:8-15, wherein almighty God, through His divinely-inspired and Holy-Spirit driven instruction (John 16:7-15; 2 Peter 1:20-21) states: I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
While some of the “smokescreen questions” regarding this text will be answered and cleared away in the upcoming discussion, several of this text’s eternally settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89) truths are also unavoidable, indisguisable, and irrevocable as well.
- First off, we see that males leading (or lifting up holy hands) in prayer is in an everywhere context and time-frame as well.
- Secondly, we clearly see that God directed the Apostle Paul to state that a woman [is not] to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. To have authority over is obviously to take the lead over. Therefore, when women lead prayer, lead singing, preach, teach, or take the lead in any form or fashion over a man when it comes to these things, they are in direct and obvious violation, rebellion, and disobedience to this God-given, designed, and required pattern.
- And perhaps the single most important and vital aspect of this entire text for our discussion today, is exactly what it does so clearly state in those last three verses, wherein God – appearing to anticipate today’s whole man-made ‘cultural’ argument and excuse for non-compliance with His commandment – lets us know in no uncertain, and certainly unmistakable terms, that this instruction ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT FLUXUATE WITH, NOR DEPEND UPON, ANY ERA, AREA, ARENA, AGE, OR CULTURE. He does this by taking us all the way back to the very beginning and showing that this order absolutely, unmistakably, and irrevocably transcends all ages, cultures, times and desires! Notice again, verses 11-15: Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
How can this point possibly be missed? From the very beginning, God both created, designed, desired and determined two different genders (Genesis 1:27). And in His complete perfection, He also therefore designed, desired, and determined, incredibly different, exclusive, certain and specific roles for each of His two created genders to fill! This is true in both the physical, as well as the spiritual realm. And any violation of either of these divinely-designed and determined differences, is an utter abomination before Him (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 14:33-37). (This also means that any congregation or individual that would seek to justify breaking down God’s divinely designed distinctions between men and women in the spiritual realm (or church), must also be prepared to accept, defend, and justify breaking down God’s divinely designed distinctions between men and women in the physical or sexual realm as well, or else be found to be lost and floundering in total and hopeless hypocrisy.)
In addition, Jesus said “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Therefore, any new doctrine, conclusion, or peripheral reasoning, which either confuses, contradicts, compromises or seeks to circumvent in any way, shape, or form, even the slightest portion of these two, divinely-inspired, cornerstone texts dealing very specifically and contextually with women in the Lord’s church, would be in direct violation of the commandments of the Lord and exactly what He specifically commanded regarding women, in all the churches of the saints, learning in silence, and not teaching or having authority over the men assembled there. And this, those who respect and revere God, dare never do (John 14:15-24; 2 Corinthians 4:2).
Neither are the above conclusions, which are gleaned from simply and sincerely reading and submitting to God’s commandments “just [our/my] interpretation,” as “no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). But they are instead, the rock-steady, rock-solid result of diligent study, resulting in “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
I was recently made aware of yet another list of “peripheral reasonings” seeking to somehow circumvent the commandments of the Lord regarding women’s roles in the church. I must say that they were by and large not all that much different than what have surely been encountered, biblically addressed, and put to rest many times before on this subject… but the answers remain the same, because the Scripture does not, has not, and will not change. And so, please notice that in the below examination of said list, the original points will be first quoted, with the biblical responses found in light blue shaded backgrounds for your convenience…
(NOTE: To view this entire study, including a point by point biblical breakdown and response to the 20-plus, furnished, “scriptural proofs” supposedly supporting more female leadership in the assemblies of the Lord’s church, please see the newly-posted “Peripheral Reasonings And Women’s Roles In The Church” PDF under the “Contemporary Worship Errors Corrected” section of our “Bible Studies” tab at www.clevelandok.church, or, www.clevelandcoc.com.)