The 3 P’s
I have been asked the following very important question on many occasions: Can a woman in an assembly of the Church answer a question if she is asked one by the preacher? The thrust of this question revolves around whether or not a woman can speak during an assembly of the Church.
The short and simple answer to this is “Yes!” But how is this exercised?
The primary guidelines for the participation of women in God’s kingdom are established in I Tim. 2:9-15. Below I have listed the guiding principles:
1) Woman is not to usurp/exercise authority over a man.
2) She is to receive instruction with submissiveness.
3) Her remaining quiet is tied to her not teaching or usurping.
The concept of silence from I Tim. 2 is not silence. Rather, it is the attitude of quietness or submissiveness if you will. It is an understanding that the woman is not in control or the authority of a scriptural setting involving males.
We know how and to whom authority has been given in the church and Bible (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22, Titus 2:4-5, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Titus 2:15) but again, how is it exercised in person?
It is my belief that an individual can attempt to exercise authority in at least 3 ways – The Three P’s.:
1) By Pitch – There is a clear distinction in someone speaking for clarification and speaking to establish their point. This is one of the problems of sin I believe that is rampant among many churches. Women in and out of classes take tones that are most certainly not of submission. Abigail approaching David would be a good example to follow.
2) By position – Standing up in front of the congregation and addressing them to make a point. Leading singing. Leading a prayer. Leading the Lord’s supper. Making the announcements. All of these require the person to be a leader. In the setting of women and children, this is acceptable in the eyes of God. In a setting involving males, this is not acceptable.
3) By presence – One can establish presence without saying a word. This can be accomplished by body language, by proximity, or by volume or duration of interaction. In other words, attention can be focused upon you as having the higher ground or stance.
If a woman is asked to read a verse in any context of the Church – husband and wife, meeting of Christians in a home, Wednesday night study, Sunday Morning Bible Class, or Sunday Worship and she establishes by pitch, position, or presence an authority that she does not have, it is sin.
I say directly, that any verbal output that does not take the form of above is acceptable. That would make “amen’s” ok. Quiet repetition of the words being spoken/read (as I have seen in many congregations) would be acceptable. Reading of scripture when in the pews. Answering questions that are not requiring her to establish her teaching or interpretation of scripture. It is my contention that none of these are taking any authority from any man. Only if one of these actions is a disruption to the service, would there be an infraction upon the word of God (See I Cor. 14 in regard to organization).
Having said all this, in answer to my question, a woman can answer a question given to her in the church and assembly. She may indeed speak. However, she may not speak in areas or in a way which would allow her to exert improper authority.
Here is my rule of thumb in regard to this subject. This personally goes for men and women. If you do not have to speak, don’t do it. If you do speak keep your commentary brief. Men for organization, women so that you do not assume authority by presence. I have seen women in classes (the church) talk for 35 min of a 45 min. class. I believe this is completely inexcusable. Questions can always be asked after services, class, etc.
By being aware of female behavior in regard to the 3 P’s, a woman can help guard her soul and others from inappropriate behavior. This will ensure her continued example of feminine holiness.