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Our elders have been working on a statement explaining the roles God has given to women in the ministries of our church. (The short answer is, “Many!”) That statement is still in the works, but our recent invitation to have Elyse Fitzpatrick share during weekend services has led some to ask whether we believe a woman can preach and teach in the mixed-gender gathering of the church. While we are working on the more comprehensive statement, we thought it prudent to take a moment to address that particular question.

Introduction of the Issue

In 1 Timothy 2:12 the Apostle Paul commands that a woman is forbidden to “teach or to exercise authority over a man” in the church. Some suggest that Paul only had one situation in one church in mind, where the women were unruly. But the reasoning Paul uses—that man was created first, then Eve, and that she was deceived first while he overtly rebelled first—excludes such a possibility. Paul bases his rule for Timothy’s church in the created order, which means it applies to all churches.

The grammar Paul uses indicates that he has in mind two things he wishes to forbid, teaching and authority (We find Andreas Köstenberger’s grammatical analysis compelling here). In other words, Paul was not only saying that a woman could not rule as an elder, but that there is a certain kind of teaching she must not do in the assembled church.

But it is clear, however, that women are given the gift and responsibility to teach in God’s kingdom. Certainly, as Paul commands in Titus, they are to teach other women (Titus 2:3–5). Throughout the Bible, however, we see women instructing and exhorting mixed audiences also, both publicly and privately. In the Old Testament, Deborah dispensed wisdom to Israel by her tree (Judges 4:4), and both Miriam’s and Deborah’s songs were given publicly to instruct and edify Israel (Exodus 15; Judges 5). In the New Testament, Priscilla, together with her husband, tutored Apollos (Acts 18:26). Women prophesied publicly in the New Testament church (Acts 2:11, 17; 1 Corinthians 11:5; 14:26), and the whole congregation, men included, learned from those prophecies (1 Cor 14:31; Romans 15:14). Furthermore, Paul commands the congregation to admonish and teach one another, and these “one another” commands are given without gender distinction (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19–20;[1] 1 Cor 14:28).

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Your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Book Recommendations of the Week

Ten Books to Read This Summer, Trevin Wax. It’s almost summer time, which means (1) it’s time to seek parking spaces based on shade, not location, (2) many cows will nobly lay down their lives for the sake of American cookouts, and (3) you may find yourself looking for books to pack into your beach bag (or beach Kindle?). We can’t help much with (1) or (2), but Wax gives some help for that last category. Not a bad little collection, this.

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Divorce affects a lot of people in our community. Many people in the church have been through it themselves. Some are in the midst of divorce right now. And many people know about divorce from a different angle, growing up with two homes—one for mommy, and one for daddy.

Sadly, many Christians talk about divorce as if it’s the unforgivable sin, the one line in life that once you cross it, you can never really recover from. Many divorced have been told—and believe—that their divorce means condemnation. They think that God has given up on them. It’s as if you are wearing a Scarlet D that demonstrates to God and the world that you are a divorcée, and a second class Christian.

I feel the need to be abundantly clear on this: divorce is not the unforgivable sin. As a Christian, the only scarlet God sees on you is the blood of Christ, which covers your sins and presents you before God as his blameless child.

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