Saturday, May 15, 2010

Male Authority

Going back to Genesis to look for answers concerning male authority over women is critically important, because here is where the order of authority is established and given directly by God to Adam and Eve, which we all must abide by, which, btw, He does not change all throughout the entire Bible. God does not establish male rule and authority over women initially, then come to the church age and establish yet a new world order. The order of hierarchy is commensurate with the church age as that which was established from the very beginning. God is consistent. Men take responsibility over women from the clear passages of Genesis, and it is equally true and clearly spelled out in the rest of Scripture, that that domain and exercise of power is to be IN the home as well as IN the body of the church.

It is very apparent that God calls those in authority, in this case man, to be wise and loving to those whom he has rule over. In fact, men are supposed to love their wives as themselves. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself (Eph 5:28).” Men are also told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph 5:25).”

If we take into account what it means to have genuine agape love for someone, anyone, be they our brothers and sisters in Christ, our neighbors or our husbands and wives, it means that we esteem them as greater than ourselves. The Bible tells us that, “…love does not seek its own (1Cr 13:5).” So, to truly be a leader and loving simultaneously it is imperative to have wisdom. Wisdom to know that it is impossible to Lord anything over anyone, because “Love does not brag and is not arrogant (1 Cor 13:4).”

More later...


halo said...


I am reading, thankyou!

I'm complementarian btw, just most complementarians do not think women should be silent in church due to 1Cor11:5. I won't tell you what my view is just yet, I just wanted to know what led you to your conclusion that silence is intended in 1Cor14:34 and did you have difficulty accepting that?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Hi Halo:

You ask some very good questions. :)

I am also a complementarian. I just did not get a chance to explain my "blanket" statement (which I have a tendency to make on occasions) on silence. There are of course times when women are allowed to speak. Women are allowed to teach children and other women.

What led me to believe that 1Cor 14:34 is true? I believe the way we interpret Scripture is to do it systematically. We need more than one passage on any subject to help us understand the total picture of what God is saying to us. We must look to the whole counsel of God for answers. That is why I started with man’s authority over women, which I hope to finish.

1 Cor 14:34 is backed up by 1 Tim 2:11-14. “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law (1 Cor 14:34).”

There is so much more, but I would be interested in your perspective.

God bless.

halo said...


thanks. I think most complementarians would say that the silence spoken of in 1Tim2:12 is with respect to teaching only, not everything, since that is what was mentioned in the context.

Also the main argument against total silence in 1Cor14:34 is 1Cor11:5 which seems to suggest women did at least pray and prophesy in church.

I'll tip my cards - I agree with you that 1Cor14:34 is a comprehensive silence, the argument that it is only referring to judging prophecy (Grudem/Carson) just does not seem like a very natural reading of the text.

I don't think Paul has women joining in the congregational singing in mind though, just any kind of speech that addresses or leads the congregation (i.e. what is mentioned in vs 26, plus asking questions out loud (vs35)).

Apart from perhaps John MacArthur I don't know of any prominent complementarians who take 1Cor14:34 at face value - which I think is one of the main weaknesses in the complementarian case - others see us doing gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of 1Cor14:34 and it gives them silent permission to do the same with other texts.

It was quite difficult for me to accept though, I remember one day about a year ago praying about it because it seemed like such an offensive verse in the Bible - how could God really say this? Can't women even give the announcements???

It came to my mind that the silence of women in church is actually a truly beautiful thing that adorns them with great dignity and beauty. Totally in the spirit of 1Peter3:4 which speaks of 'the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God''s sight is very precious.'

So the reason I asked you the question was that I was surprised to find someone who also takes the text at face value because most complementarians don't. I think it will be a point in the complementarian case that God will deal with in the future.

Don Carson has made the main objections to this view in RBMW. After I came to my conclusions I came across this amazing article through the Monergism site that shows why the face value meaning is the best one (talks about the 1Cor11:5 objection):

So do you really keep silent in church? What do your sisters in Christ think of it? Or does it not come up?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Dear Halo:

I am still in the process of reading the article you gave a link too: so far, so good. I will post an article, which I have received permission to post, written by the brilliant George Mattern of Shepherd’s Fellowship.

George, I feel, reflects the truth of the way I perceive the whole issue. He also has a brilliant commentary on head coverings for women.

After this (as right now I have company) I will give you my personal thoughts as to how I, and many other women I have discussed this with, feel.


Btw, I am a Cessationist. I have been skimming the comments on the current article at teampyro. :)

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

This may take a few posts.

There are situations in which a woman may instruct a man, and others in which she may not. As Pierre stated, the context of Paul's prohibition of women teaching men is the church (thus excluding the compromise practiced by the church you mentioned above). In another passage on the same issue, Paul stated explicitly, "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive" (1 Cor. 14:34). This principle of authority also applies to the family--"Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:24).

It is obvious that a woman could teach and instruct other women without violating this restriction, but is there a Scriptural warrant for a female to teach a male under any circumstances? There is, indeed.

-----First of all, women are encouraged to teach their children, including males: "Hear, my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching" (Prov. 1:8; also 6:20). This would include the teaching of anyone's minor children in Sunday School or a Bible Study (such teaching cannot "usurp the authority" of a boy because he could not have such authority until he is an adult).

-----Secondly, women are permitted and even encouraged by God to teach or instruct men in the following circumstances:
1.....To lost men, Evangelistically. Although not permitted to hold the church office of "Evangelist" (the modern equivalent of which is "Missionary") for reasons that were stated under a similar topic heading, women are not prohibited from personally evangelizing the lost, such as neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc. The Scriptural precedent for this is the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well and, after being confronted and convinced by Him, "left her waterpot, and went into the city and said TO THE MEN, 'Come, see a man who told me all the things I have done'" (Jn. 4:28-29). This personal witness may also have been the essence of the ministry of Philip's "four virgin daughters, who were prophetesses" (Acts 21:9).
2.....To saved men, Correctively. If a Christian woman were to encounter a fellow believing man (again, in a personal setting and not within the realm of her church) and perceive that he was mistaken about some aspect of his doctrine, she could offer Scriptural correction to him. It would be ideal if her and her husband could do this with a unified testimony, in the same way that "Apollos," although "mighty in the Scriptures" (Acts 18:24), was still deficient in his understanding and thereby merited the kind attention of "Priscilla and Acquila," who "took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately" (vs. 26).

So then, it is lawful for a woman to do good by proclaiming the truth to both males and females. But, it is absolutely necessary that the authority of male leadership in the specific context of the church--and, more importantly, the authority of God in establishing it that way--must always be carefully preserved and respected.

George Mattern 1/20/2010 3:32:59 AM

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I'm certain there are numerous "less-than-ideal" circumstances that arise on the mission field, in varieties and permutations that we can only imagine. There may be situations in which a woman is the only Biblically-informed believer capable of instructing an individual or group in the ways of the Lord (perhaps as the wife of a missionary husband who was hindered from progress in his travels, or stuck down by a debilitating disease). I would think that an acceptable allowance could be made--with the following understandings and caveats:

First, such a situation would only be appropriate if the woman was fully persuaded and accepting of the normal Biblical restrictions imposed upon women in pastoral ministry. The practical effect of such a Scriptural conviction would be that the woman would understand that any necessary forays into an otherwise male teaching responsibility would only be temporary, and would cease as soon as a qualified male missionary or teacher became available (I would also presume that she would be forthcoming to her audience about the fact that she was making an exception to the normal standard). A woman in this situation should not be an opportunistic person siezing upon a chance to escape from Biblically-imposed restrictions agaisnt which she has always bristled. She must be a sincere Bible-believing, Bible practicing person, eager to see the Lord's work done in the Lord's way, to the best extent humanly possible.

I think the principle that would apply in such an extremity is similar to the one Jesus mentioned in Matthew 12: "Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?" (vss. 3-4). Now, even in that historical situation, the exception to the normal rule was not irreverent or casual. In 1 Sam. 21, the historical account of that event, the priest insisted that the men who partook of the bread must "have kept theselves from women" (vs. 4)--that is, refrained from sexual relations for a time (see Ex. 19:15). Also, the bread given to David had already been "removed from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away" (vs. 6). The priest did not give David the bread that was in the tabernacle itself at that moment--the bread given to David was what the priests were going to eat, and it had already served its function as the "bread of the Presence" in the Holy Place. So we see that even though an exception was made for the sake of an extreme need, it was not an utter overturning of the whole institution of the Lord's Showbread--it was an exception with careful restrictions, and it was a temporary, one-time concession to an acute necessity.

It is in that cautious and reverential spirit that any such exception to the Biblical pattern should be made--with much prayer, fear, and trembling, knowing that holy ground is being traversed...

Continued below...

George Mattern 1/22/2010 12:57:05 AM
Continued from above...

There is also an absolutely beautiful account in 2 Chronicles 30 of a Passover celebrated by Hexekiah. It was deficient in many ways--it was a mnth late, and not everyone had prepared themselves adequately for it. But God showed mercy, according to the good king's prayer on behalf of those who "ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the good Lord pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.' So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people" (vss. 18-20).

That doesn't sound too much like the angry, hateful ogre that many people presume the God of the Old Testament to be! Actually, the fact that ANYBODY even survived the Old Testament times is amazing proof of the manganimous, merciful quality of God in all ages!!!

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I've heard of situations in which, for whatever reason, there were no mature Christian men in a group or church, and one of the older women prepared a sermon but had one of the men read it. This kind of practice can be fraught with much difficulties and problems--I know of one group that was basically ruled over by a domineering matriarch who functioned as a sort of "female pope" (would that be a "potpourri", maybe...?). The group was very cultic in the way it functioned, and Her Royal Highness--Ma Barker--would write sermons and have one of the young men read them )in order to pay the minimal homage to the Biblical requirement). Sombody once asked this woman if it was okay to give a French-speaking person a copy of the Bible in his own language--to which Ma Barker responded, "Only if it's King James."--!!!!Another practical consideration would be if a woman found it necessary to "evangelize" or otherwise give instruction to a Bible Study group or some sort of fellowship that was not a duly constituted church. This would be different than a usurpation of an male office within a church organizational structure, and would be applicable according to the example of Prisciolla and Acquila noted above. But, I would want to see a very humble and careful approach taken to anu situation like this, with much importunity to the Lord for His provision of suitable leadership wherever it might be needed.

We men must always remember that BOTH men and women are thus made in the image of God--"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). Women have been given a "subordinante" position to men in the structure of authority and submission designed by God for human existence, but "subordinate" does not mean "inferior"--in the same way that ***"God is the head of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:3), and yet Jesus is completely "equal with God" (Jn. 5:18) in every way.***

George Mattern 1/22/2010 1:23:18 AM

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Women are such a wonderful blessing from the Lord--or, perhaps it is more accurate to say, the division of humanity made in the image of God into complementary male and female genders is a wonderful blessing. That acknowledges that the creation of women was not an afterthought, after God "failed" to find an animal suitable for Adam (I speak as if insane--we know that ADAM is the wone who failed to find a suitable helper amongst the animals, but God know what He was going to do all along!).

So often, it is easy for a man to read "Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22) and stop there, glorying in his exalted position but not reading a few verses further where it says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (vs. 25). "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required" (Luke 12:48)--if a man finds himself exalted into the privileged status of family headship, let him acknowledge and "submit" to the heavy responsibility that accompanies such a position!

Oh, and by the way--my suggestion above about a POSSIBLE exception to the normal Biblical standard of male teaching authority was not intended to be set in stone--it is merely my supposition of what a conscientious believer might be able to do in the extreme circumstances that were suggested by the question. However, never having been in such a circumstance, I can only go so far as to say the above-offered hypothetical scenarios are theoretical only, and my reasoning may not necessarily be valid, depending on the particular circumstances (that's a high falutin way of saying, "I'm just trying to make my best guess. I hope it's a sound, Biblically-educated guess, but it's still only a guess").

What is certain is that if such an exception were ever to be made, it must be done with fear and trembling, accompanied with much prayer and importunity to God for the provision of a teacher or leader in closer accordance with His established pattern. And each time it happened, the issues would need to be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. I say that because almost as powerful as "tradition" is the compelling force of "precedent" in fallen human nature (it's almost like a forward-projecting "peer pressure" from the past to the present), and we love to sieze upon exceptions to rules we are encumbered with and then take advantage of such exceptions to justify further departures from the established rule or law (the Supreme Court has masterfully practiced this artifice to effectively mutilate the Constitution, all the while claiming to act in defense of the Constitution!). Even though God graciously allowed Hezekiah's fouled-up Passover, that certainly did not excuse any laxity in future observances of that holy celebration. Also, because the priests gave David and his men emergency provisions from their designated food supply, that did not mean that David could consider the holy Showbread of the Lord to be constantly available for his every meal or whimsical snack from there on...

George Mattern 1/24/2010 12:14:31 AM

halo said...


thanks, those pieces by George Mattern were very good and I agree with a good deal (if not all) of it.

I would be very interested to see his article on head coverings - that is another issue on which I find myself leaning towards it being applicable for today as I read 1Cor11.

A few quick questions:

1) Who is George Mattern and what is the Shepherds Fellowship? Is it anything to do with John MacArthur?

2) Why did you tell me that you are a cessationist!?!? What are you getting at?:)

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...
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Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Hi Halo:

As you can see I posted George's comments on head coverings for women, with his permission. All things by him are with his permission.

Who is George Mattern, you asked? He is the Bible answer man for Shepherd's Fellowship, a true theologian in his mother's eyes (without the title), and a lover of God's most precious holy Word. He posts at SF or used to. He is working on some other projects right now and will soon be doing something which will bring his writing back into view. (Do not feel at liberty to say more).

I have some errands to run and will be back later with more answers to your questions.

And, yes, SF is a forum run by John MacArthur. I posted the head covering article because you may have had a hard time finding this article on the forum.