Harding University and the Role of Women
As I understand it, Harding University is scheduled to hold a board meeting in either late spring or early summer of this year, to discuss “leading our young people into women taking a greater role in leadership in the public assembly,” and that “they will most likely be making some kind of decision,” regarding how to proceed forward therewith.
Part of the problem which, no doubt, helped bring them to the brink of this dark precipice, was when the 1,942-member Downtown ‘Church of Christ’ in Searcy – where many Harding students and doubtless many Harding faculty members attend worship as well –recently decided to join Highland church in Abilene, Texas, and several others of their big-city sister congregations in open defiance of God’s commandments, in order to try to seek to please, appease, and unify those who have allowed Satan to deceive them into somehow thinking that keeping God’s commandments is no longer important or essential to their eternal salvation. Such appeasement of the people, at the total expense of obedience to God and His commandments, has never, ever, even once ended well for those who have tried it. It didn’t for Aaron and the people of Exodus 32; the ten spies and those who followed their lead instead of listening to God in Numbers 13 and 14; King Saul in 1 Samuel 15; the first-century Scribes and Pharisees and those whom they deceived into following their man-made, preferred, and imposed worship practices according to Matthew 15:1-14 and Mark 7:5-13; or, the first-century congregations of the Lord’s church in the Galatian region, according to Galatians 1-6.
FACT: The context of I Corinthians, chapters 11-15, is the Sunday/first day of the week worship assembly. It is not in reference to just an assembly, some assembly, or any old assembly, but is in the very specific context of and reference to, THE worship assembly (en ekklesia – 11:18; 12:28; 14:19, 28, 34 + 35); THE Sunday worship assembly wherein the Lord’s church comes together to do the things addressed therein: to take communion, celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means to/for us (11:17-34; 15:1-58); to listen to instruction from God’s word (14:1-32); to sing and pray together (14:14-15), and to give of our means (16:1-2). A very simple reading of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16:2 will easily confirm these eternal truths. It is within the context of that Sunday worship assembly that we find the commandments contained in 1 Corinthians 14:33-37.
FACT: First Corinthians 14:33-37 contains instructions for “all the churches of the saints” (vs. 33). “All the churches of the saints” obviously means exactly what it says. These instructions are for “all the churches of the saints” – for all of the Sunday worship assemblies of the saints, in all times, places, cultures, and locations, from then on and forevermore.
Secondly, we see that in those very same and specific Sunday worship assemblies, the women are to keep “silent” (vs. 34). The Greek word translated “silent” therein is “sigao,” meaning “without sound.” If they have any questions, they are to ask their “husbands” (or more literally, their males or men-folk; Gk. “aner”) at home, because it is (currently – meaning it is,was, and always will be), “shameful for a woman to speak in church” (en ekklesia – verses 34 and 35; in THE worship assembly). The Greek word translated “shameful” here is an adjective, derived from a noun meaning: shame, disgrace, vile passions (Ro. 1:26), and/or dishonor (1 Cor. 11:14).
Thirdly, the Apostle Paul then goes on – almost as if in His divine providence and omnipresence, God knew exactly the kind of pride and ego-driven assault that some of His people would seek to make upon His divine directive – to assure us without question, that this divinely-dictated and demanded silence of women during the worship assembly is not merely some ‘take it or leave it’ suggestion, but a straightforward ‘trust and obey it’ if you love God commandment, for every saint who ever wants/wanted Him to be with them (Vs. 37; see also John 14:15, 21-24).
FACT: There is another passage with a much broader scope and application than just simply the Sunday worship assembly when it comes to faithful and God-fearing Christian women’s roles. That passage is found in 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The fact that the instructions in this particular passage are for anywhere and everywhere else – as well as, and in addition to the worship assembly – can be easily discerned from verses 8-10. Not only does the Apostle Paul, by divine inspiration, come right out and use the word “everywhere” in verse 8, but consider the following… Should Christian men be “lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (vs. 8) only in the assembly, or all the time, “everywhere?” Obviously everywhere. Should Christian women “adorn themselves in modest apparel” (vs. 9) only in the assembly, or all the time, “everywhere?”Again, obviously everywhere. Are Christian women called to “continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (vs. 15) only in the assembly, or all the time, “everywhere?” Once again, the obvious answer is quite obviously “everywhere.”
It is also sandwiched into the very heart and soul framework of that “everywhere” context, wherein we find the God-breathed instructions and commandments (2 Tim. 3:14-4:4) that a woman is to “learn in silence with all submission,” and not to “teach or to have authority over (that is, to lead over) a man, but to be in silence” (vss. 11-12). The Greek word rendered “silence” in this passage is not the same one as used in 1 Corinthians 14.It is not the “sigao,” “without sound,” “silence” commanded for women in the worship assembly, but is, instead, the Greek word “hesuchia,” meaning a gentle, quiet, peaceable, undisturbed, ‘keeping one’s seat’ kind of spirit; a “tranquility arising from within” type of attitude (See 1st Peter 3:3-4 for another and further example of its usage).
Going far beyond the Sunday worship assembly alone, this Second Timothy passage applies to anywhere and “everywhere” wherein Christian men (“the men… lifting holy hands…”) and Christian women (“women who profess godliness… and who would therefore continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control”) are together. This includes all such events as: youth rallies, teen devotionals, summer Bible camps, in-home Bible studies, lectureships, church-building Bible classes, small group meetings, and on and on and on… again, anywhere and everywhere that Christian men and Christian women are together. In all such circumstances, God has clearly commanded that the faithful Christian woman is not to “teach…over a man,” or, to “have authority (lead)…over a man” (such as leading singing, prayers, classes, and etc.).
Now of course that does not mean that she cannot ask a question, add to the discussion, and/or supply additional information or illustrations in those cases and classes as appropriate! Because although a Bible class is an assembly of sorts, it’s not the assembly – the first day of the week assembly – wherein the entire church comes together for communion, singing, learning from God’s word, praying, and giving of their means such as we see in 1 Corinthians 11-16. If it were, then God would have used the same word for “silence” as He did in addressing the assembly issue in 1 Corinthians 14. But He didn’t. Instead, when speaking of events everywhere else (other than in the worship assembly), He used a word which meant gentle, peaceable, or submissive – but NOT complete silence! God made a definite distinction between these two situations just as we must therefore do as well; or else we’ll come to a totally erroneous and disobedient conclusion.
Please notice that this passage concludes with God letting us know exactly why this is the case in verses 13-15. In verse 13 we see that this divine directive has absolutely nothing to do with one gender being superior to the other and/or etc. It is simply because of #1). God’s divine order of creation; and #2). Because of the order in which they fell into transgression.
Additionally, by taking us all the way back to the beginning, God also makes it incredibly clear that this instruction is to forever supersede all times, ages, generations, cultures, and/or personal or societal pressures and preferences. God’s instructions as seen here in Second Timothy Two, are completely in keeping with His divinely-established order as evidenced in other Biblical passages as well(See: 1st Cor. 11:3, 9; Eph. 5:22-33; & etc.).
In the conclusion of this text, we see clearly that if “she” (woman; the female gender in general) is to be saved (vs. 15), it will necessitate her humbly and faithfully continuing forward in fulfillment of the same role, place, position and provision for which the Lord her God originally designed and created her… (This truth is also consistent in keeping with God’s instructions in other places, regarding other beings who also defiantly rejected and abandoned their Creator’s divine plan, place, and purpose for them – See Jude 6-8).
We live in a very confused world; a world which has largely, somehow become so dumbed down that it can no longer tell the difference between a boy and a girl. This, even though in the beginning God made it very simple; He simply created them male and female – no third option, no queer combination, no crossover or corruption, and nothing else or other (Gen. 1:27). The only way anyone could ever miss that very simple, very singular, and very straightforward fact, is by being foolish enough to deny the absolute truth – and to therefore incur the absolute wrath – of almighty God (Rom. 1:18-32).
But while almost any Christian who knows anything about their Bible at all will therefore at least pay some sort of lip-service to the fact that homosexuality, physically speaking, is, was, and always will be a soul-condemning sin (1 Cor. 6:9-10), apparently some Christians seem to have no problem whatsoever with blurring the lines between the genders when it comes to their spiritual roles and responsibilities. In other words, some of these same Christians seem to be okay with creating gender-confusion and a satanic sort of spiritual transgenderism in the Lord’s church. God forbid (Rom. 6:2KJV)!
The fact is, you can’t have it both ways. In the beginning, God either designed and created them male and female just as He said – designed and created them differently; designed and created them for different roles and different purposes in both their physical as well as their spiritual roles while here on earth – or He didn’t. His word says He did, just as we covered previously in this article. His word also says that His dictates are “forever firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89 ESV); meaning that passages such as 1 Corinthians 14:33-37, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, and every other word of Scripture is far above and beyond any preachers, teachers, elderships or college board’s ability to change and/or tamper with (2 Cor. 4:2 ESV), no matter how many years of ‘careful prayer and study’ they may have sought to devote to doing so. His faithful, who want to remain in and maintain His favor, both believe in and obey His word no matter what the people want (1 Sam. 15:1-23).
Therefore, I would like to lovingly urge Harding University not to continue down the same path of peril as some of those who are clearly “mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt 22:29) have previously done. I would like to strongly plead with Harding’s board not to treacherously commit the same spiritual adultery and defiant disobedience as some of your sister colleges and congregations have done (See: Jer. 3:7-10). Please, I beseech you; do not surrender up your allegiance and obedience to God, simply because of what a few uninformed, misinformed, untaught and/or unfaithful to the word of God others might seem to want.
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). Our prayers are with you.