What is the Role of women in the Church? How should a woman behave in the church? what should be her role? How should she relate with the opposite gender in the church? These are questions that have bugged the church for many years.
Over time, many bible scholars have relegated women to the background. They have taught women to see themselves as inferior. Objects subject to the male species by every standard. These scholars have used several controversial scriptures that limit the growth and role of women in leadership.
In this article, we will also point out the controversies and state our thoughts on them.
The Role of the Women in the Church: Clearly Defined Roles
- Women are to Edify Others
Christian – male and female – are to edify each other. A spiritual edification that comes from the indwelling of the holy spirit. Women as well as men are to give words, spiritual songs, among other things to ministers strength and comfort to other believers.
This responsibility is expressly stated in the scripture:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ( Col.3.16 ). Furthermore, 1Cor.14.26 states that: What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
These verses are clear instructions to the entire body of Christ and women are not exempted from this.
- Women are to Ensure Proper and Correct Teachings
There are several arguments on whether a woman should teach in the church as a minister. Many pastors believe that women are to remain quiet in church. However, the bible does not share such personal believes.
The book of Acts states that a woman was instrumental in ensuring that the right doctrine was taught. Priscilla, alongside her husband were recorded to have taught Apollos the truth of God’s word more clearly when he came to their midst.
The need to pay attention to the word of God by both men and women was repeated several by Paul as he considered it necessary for spiritual growth.
- Ensure Proper Conduct
Another role that is defined expressly in scriptures is ensuring that individuals live the right life. Paul addressing the church in Corinth rebuked the entire church for not correcting the wrong conduct of another who was sleeping with his Father’s wife. This shows that everyone, women inclusive, have a role to play in the church. Every one in the body have to ensure that proper conduct and character are found among Christians.
Paul gave an instruction to the older women in the book of Titus that helps to illustrate and prove this role:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ( Titus 2:3-5)
The verses point out that Paul expected older women to train younger women to have impeccable character.
Both gender are to pray for the progress of the church. They are to pray for their leaders and other Christians. This role is defined clearly and mentioned several times in the scripture. In the Gospel, Jesus said that Men ought always to pray. Men in this case refer to both genders.
Another scripture that emphasis the role of prayer is Timothy:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior ( 1Tim 2:1-3).
The Role of Women in the Church: The Controversies
There are two passages in the Pauline epistles that have generated heated controversies over the role of women in the church
The first is in 1 Cor 14:34-35:
The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
The second is in 1Tim.2.11 – 15
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Addressing these controversies
In addressing scriptures we must realize that most of these letters were written to specific people with specific cultures and having distinct problems. taking a look at the background of the letters written to the Corinthians and to Timothy (the pastor of the Ephesians) we realize that:
The churches at that time had specific issues relating to women – heresies, and unruliness. Hence Paul was giving these instructions to specifically address these situations and not stipulating some discrimination against women. After all, he himself stated that in Christ, there is no man or woman or Greek or Gentile.
The only place were Paul sets a hierarchy is in marriage.
We see women all through the scripture play important roles in ascending the work of Christ. We are convinced that even today, women have a lot of advantage to the body. There’s no limitation to the role of women in the Church. The Bible clearly encourages everyone to give their best for Christ irrespective of the gender. In many instances we have seen God give women leadership position. We have seen Him use women mightily.
Do you think women should be relegated to the background?