Can Women Preach In Church?

(NOTE: The video referenced below has been set for private viewing only by its owner since the day it was originally posted and I wrote this article.)

This video is making the rounds through social media among brethren in churches of Christ.

After watching this very talented and passionate young woman preach before a church on Sunday morning and share her beliefs, the legitimate question some have is whether women can preach in church.

As with all things of a religious nature, all I’m interested in is what the Bible teaches.  Here’s why.  Jesus said the following:

The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

John 12:48

The Word of God – the Bible – is what will judge us on the last day.  Our penitent obedience to the Word of God is what determines whether we’re saved eternally.

And being made perfect, (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

Hebrews 5:9

Jesus promised that many religious people would receive a rude awakening on the day of judgment.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

Matthew 7:21-23

I don’t want to be a religious person who gets a rude awakening on Judgment Day.  I want to go to heaven, and so I will do my best to obey the Word of God.

So what does God’s Word have to say about women preaching in church?  Consider the following with an open heart and mind:

…As in all the churches of the saints, 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.

1 Corinthians 14:33b-35

Granted, the Greek translated “women” in this passage could also be translated “wife,” which seems to be more fitting since Paul speaks of these women as being married (“let them ask their husbands at home”).  Contextually, a case could be made that Paul was speaking to the wives of the prophets to whom he had given earlier instruction about speaking to the church assembly while using their miraculous gifts (14:27-33a).

So what does this mean for single women, or women who aren’t married to prophets?  Again, consider the following with an open heart and mind:

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.

1 Timothy 2:11-12

The context reveals that Paul was writing Timothy about how Christians should conduct themselves in the church.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

1 Timothy 3:14-15

Despite what the senior minister in the above video said, there’s no indication in Scripture that Paul’s directives to either Corinth or to Timothy concerning women were designed to be temporary in nature.  Read all of 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.  There’s no clear, scriptural indication that these commands would be temporary in nature, as is the case with other sections of Scripture like the Law of Moses (cf. Heb. 8:7-13).  Rather, they are woven into the fabric of the overall biblical message, the entirety of the scriptures which God breathed out in order to teach us, reprove us, correct us, and train us how to be righteous so that we are complete and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  If 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 no longer apply to us today, what about John 3:16?  Does that no longer apply as well?  If not, how can you tell?

You see, this conclusion that the passages prohibiting women from teaching or exercising authority over men in the church are irrelevant today is reached only through personal supposition, not concrete scriptural data.  When we walk in the footsteps of this young lady and the senior minister and follow our suppositions and feelings rather than what God actually commanded in the Bible, we are walking on very dangerous ground.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 14:12

The fact of the matter is this.  Despite what this young lady and the senior minister theorize, what Paul wrote was actually from Jesus.

If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:37

It was Jesus, not Paul, who ultimately decreed that women should not preach in church to men in the church.  So if you have a problem with this, take it up with Jesus.  Personally, I don’t want to take it up with Jesus.  You see, Jesus died an agonizing, humiliating death on the cross which he did not deserve, and he did that so that you and I could go to heaven rather than burn in hell like we deserve because of our sins.  That is far more important than our tender sensibilities being miffed because his commands concerning women preaching to men are not politically or socially correct.

Do you truly love Jesus and God?  That’s a claim that’s easy to make with great sincerity.  This young lady made it, and I’m glad she did.  However, here’s what Jesus says about loving him.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

John 14:15

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.  And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

John 14:21-24

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

John 15:9

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says, “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 John 2:3-6

Plus, if one keeps reading the Bible, it becomes clear that Jesus recognized that women have much to offer for the good of his kingdom and in no way prohibited them for utilizing their gifts in numerous ways.  For example, notice this passage:

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 Timothy passage specifically prohibited women from teaching men in the church.  It said nothing about teaching other women or children.  In this passage, Paul (and ultimately, Jesus) is both commanding and encouraging women to teach other women “what is good.”  Every congregation I’ve been a part of has either directly or indirectly promoted women teaching other women and children in Bible classes, “Ladies’ Days,” etc.  Ladies, do you like this young lady in the video have a gift of public speaking?  By all means use it in the church!  Just keep it within the parameters Jesus laid out for you in Scripture!  If you truly want to follow God, that’s what you’ll do.

Also, remember that the prohibition of women teaching men was limited to within the church (cf. 1 Tim. 3:14-15).  Christian sisters, do you know any man, woman, or child who is outside of Christ, a lost soul who has not yet been added to the Lord’s church through faithful, penitent baptism into the body of Christ?  They’re not in the church, so what’s stopping you from teaching them?  Absolutely nothing (cf. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15).

Remember this also, sisters.  Yours is not the only gender on which God laid certain prohibitions concerning certain actions in the church.  If you keep reading 1 Timothy, you’ll get to chapter 3 where God laid out certain qualifications which one had to meet in order to be an elder or deacon.  As many men in the church can attest, not all of us meet all of these qualifications; therefore not all men can serve as a bishop or deacon in the church.  Yet there are plenty of other ways men can serve the kingdom, just as there are plenty of other ways women can serve the kingdom also.

Yes, there is much that women can and must offer in service to the kingdom of God!  Some of the hardest workers I’ve ever observed in the church are my sisters in Christ, who in many cases do far more than many men!  Yet, while serving God in all these varying and needful ways and being a huge blessing to the church and the souls of many, they never stray from following what God commanded them NOT to do as well.  In that way they serve God even more, and provide even more of an example of a proper, humble walk with God to the rest of us.

I recognize that what’s been pointed out from the Bible here is not popular with many.  I’m probably going to get some “strongly worded” comments from this.  That’s okay.  It’s to be expected (2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10-12).  Again, all I’m interested in is what the Scriptures say, the holy Word of God which will judge me and you into eternity.  If 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 weren’t in the New Testament, the covenant which the Bible says we are currently under, then you wouldn’t hear anything from me or others about what this young lady is doing.  We would give her complete props and support.  However, since those passages ARE in the Bible, and since we are commanded to defend the faith delivered to us once for all time (Jude 3) and speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:24-26), and since we care about both her soul, the senior minister’s soul, and the souls who are not familiar with biblical teaching and thus might be easily persuaded by feelings to follow after the error promoted in the video (Hos. 4:6; Acts 20:29-30; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3-4), then we’re compelled to point out what the Bible actually says about this.

Whether you choose to heed it is up to you.  It’s between you and God now (cf. Ezek. 3:17-21; Acts 20:27).  He will judge us, not me or anyone else.  All I’ve done is point out what the Book he will be using to judge us says about this.