A sticky situation...

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by ScottEmerson, Sep 17, 2005.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    Hello, friends,

    I wanted to ask for your perspective on an issue that's hitting our church. We have co-ed classes that are team taught by married couples in Sunday School. Many of our classes are all one gender, but a few are co-ed. Some of our deacons all of a sudden are now making a big fuss about the situation, and have brought it up to the deacon body.

    Now, the pastor and the entire staff (of which I am a part) are in agreement: As long as the woman is teaching under her husband's authority (and the authority of the pastor), there is no problem. That was clearly given to the deacons. But this was not good enough for the band of three who are causing the fuss. The deacons have called a special meeting to vote on this issue tomorrow.

    Now, here's a question: Are the deacons going outside of their Scriptural responsibilities in usurping the pastor's authority? While we could argue on the Biblical evidence of women teaching/not teaching, this isn't the place. That's another issue all together that our staff has prayed over, searched the Scripture, and decided upon.

    I guess I'm wondering if any pastors or other staff members have had to deal with a deacon body run amuck...how did you handle this? The entire ministerial staff (11 of us) will be there to support our pastor tomorrow. Many of the deacons have spoken out in favor of the staff. To be honest, if the pastor gives in to these three men (and whatever support they may have gotten during this week), not only I, but over half of our staff, have stated that we will turn in our resignation letters over this. Am I overreacting? Thoughts?
     
  2. StefanM

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    I think the deacons are overstepping their bounds. I do not think that they have authority to override the staff without a clear mandate from the congregation at large.

    This would be justifiable if they were elders, but as deacons, I don't see that kind of authority.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    The staff has dropped the ball if they are permitting women to teach mixed classes. The deacons are right to bring it up and immediate action should be taken to rectify the situation. If the staff refuses to make a change, the staff should be brought before the congregation for correction and removal if necessary. If they are unwilling to do this biblically, they should turn in your resignation letter immediately. There are many deacons that are "run amuck." This simply is not one of them. The pastor does not have the authority to disobey Scripture or to direct others to do so.

    The Bible's teaching on women in this role does not deal with whose authority she is under. It deals with who she is over in authority. The Bible is clear that she should not be in authority over a man. The argument that "she is under her husband's authority" is not a scriptural argument. In a day of increasing laxness to the biblical ideal for church and ministry, it is tough to hold the line. But it is necessary if we are to honor God.

    The easy solution is to follow the Bible and have the men teach the class when men are present. Have the women teach women.
     
  4. Brother Ian

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    Pastor Larry,

    What Scripture reference are you citing,

    "The Bible is clear that she should not be in authority over a man?"

    Thanks.
     
  5. Pastor Larry

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    1 Timothy 2:12 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
     
  6. Brother Ian

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    Pastor Larry,

    I think this is an overly strict interpretation of this passage. The word for woman in 1 Tim. 2:12 is the greek gune meaning wife. It is the same word used in 1 Tim. 3:2, 11 and 12. Each time "wife" is used in 1 Timothy, it is the Greek word gune meaning wife. It would seem that the translators took the same Greek word gune and translated it woman in 1 Tim. 2:12 only. In the context of 1 Timothy, it makes more sense that the word means wife and not woman.

    I would agree that a wife should not be in authority over her husband. For example, I was once interviewed by a pulpit committee whose chairman was a woman. Her husband was on the committee as well. In that position, she was over her husband. I think that is clearly wrong according to Scripture.

    A woman teaching a man in a Sunday School setting is not an issue for me based on what I read in Scripture.
     
  7. Brother Ian

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    Based on what I said above, the deacons are outside of the boundaries established in Scripture.

    No where in Scripture do we find deacons as a ruling or governing body. They were, and still are servants.

    I would recommend speaking with the three deacons who are making a fuss and find out what the real deal is behind their objections. That will give you an idea of how to proceed.
     
  8. gb93433

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    Think about the context of that verse.

    The context of that teaching was never in a Sunday School class. Therefore according to you Sunday School is clearly in violation of scripture. Also think about when a male became a man in scripture.

    Furthermore a man sitting with his wife in church is in violation of the historical context of scripture. Therefore it should not be allowed either.
     
  9. StefanM

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    Regardless of one's position on the issue, I think the method is still wrong.

    If a deacon has a problem with the issue, then he should discuss it with the leaders. This seems to be the case.

    If there is no agreement and the deacon still feels that it is wrong, the deacon should bring it to the church--not some pseudo-deacon council.
     
  10. Magnetic Poles

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    Brother Larry's position, IMO, is what kills many churches. We all know that churches are hurting for want of good teachers, and when pastors and deacons reject what God has raised to edify the body, they destroy the heart of the church and the spirit of service of those they unfairly reject.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    You are wrong. The passage says what it says.

    THe word gune means wife or woman. The context determines the meaning. Just look it up ... you can see for yourself. Of course, that would cause problems for what you want to believe. It is translated "woman" in many instances in the NT. If you read the context, "woman" makes perfect sense because "wives" weren't deceived, women were. Wives weren't created second; women were.

    Wow ... So you think something not stated in Scripture is wrong, and think something clearly stated in Scripture is right. STrange, to say the least.

    So your Sunday school classes don't involve teaching? The only way that this is not an issue is if your Sunday School classes don't involve teaching or having authority. If they don't, just cancel them. Otherwise, obey God.

    I have, long and hard, for many years.

    The context is church. Do SS classes take place in the church or not? I have no problem if you object to applying this verse to a company workplace. There, it has no bearing. But if you are involved in church, in teaching hte Scripture, it has great relevance.

    Secondly, there is nothing about SS that is a violation of Scripture. Can't imagine what you were going after with that.

    Completely irrelevant. Where in the world did this come from? A male becomes a man when he is making decisions for himself. AS a general rule, it starts around the age of 12 or 13 or so, which is the Jewish observance.

    Again, completely without merit in this discussion. What was going through your mind when you replied?? This has nothing to do with historical context in the least. Paul reasons go back to creation, not to the first century. That has been an old tired argument that only works when people don't think and read.

    I think the key word (or letters) there are "IMO." What you state is your opinion. What I stated was Scripture. You can disagree with Scripture if you like. I don't mean to be overly heavy here, but this is not a disputed passage about what it says. It is extremely clear, beyond clear.

    I agree totally. But you believe God would call a woman to do something he has expressly forbid her to do. I disagree. God never calls us to disobedience. The church is not hurting becuase of women teachers. The church is hurting because men won't be the men God has called them to be. When you ask a woman to disobey God to teach a class, you are being very unfair to her. You have no right to ask a woman to disobey God, and no right to permit it.

    Folks, this is a clear biblical issue. It should not be up for debate with anyone who holds Scripture in high regard. This was not a first century problem. It was a creation problem that Paul was addressing. He did not speak unclearly or in uncertain terms. He said exactly what he said. What right do we have to say that he was wrong? Why should we disregard God, ask women to be disobedient, and then flay a deacon who loves God enough to want to follow the Bible? That makes no sense to me. If we say the Bible is the authority (which we should), then this is a completely dead issue. It was answered 2000 years ago by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Paul.

    [ September 17, 2005, 09:50 PM: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  12. Brother Ian

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  13. Pastor Larry

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    Clearly? Hardly. Paul is not talking about husbands and wives. He has talked about men and women. Vv. 9-11 talk about women, not specifically wives. The context carries right on through. It doesn't change all the sudden.

    Because words mean things. I have taken the words, and done the study. I have done so with no bias whatsoever. The text says what it says.

    "Usurp authority" is weaker than it should be. It makes it sound different than it is. The word is authenteo and means to domineer or have authority over. It means exactly that ... To have authority. A woman is not to have authority over a man in the church, including the authority of teaching.
     
  14. Jacob

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  15. ScottEmerson

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    Question: Do all of the men in your church raise their hands while praying, Larry? Does your church forbid braided hair and jewelry? These two issues immediately precede the passage in question. Why is it that those two passages are ignored or explained away culturally while still holding on to the part about women teaching.

    FYI, the NT is filled with women who serve, lead, and teach. Phoebe, Junia, Priscilla, and many others are mentioned by name as church leaders.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    I have no problem if men in the church raise their hands. That is a traditional thing. I don't mind it at all. The emphasis there is on receptivity and worship from holy hands. It is not the raising of hands that is the issue necessarily. We can pray in all kinds of position. I, for one, wish we were more of a hand raising church. I plan to hit that in an upcoming series on 1 Timothy.

    Braided hair and jewelry again, is a cultural thing. If you have a PhD in NT (which I think you said you did, or were getting) you should know this. Certain types of hair and jewelry were brazen and sensual. And yes, I forbid that.

    But you miss the biggest issue of all about the cultural issue. The reason Paul gives for his command is not a first century cultural issue. It is an issue that goes all the way back to creation. Therefore, his command had nothing to do with the first century, or the 21st century. It had to do with God's created world. If you want to argue that v. 12 doesn't apply today, then you hvae to argue that 1) men were not created first, and 2) women were not deceived. Do you want to argue that?

    You see, this isn't about tradition and culture, as many would have us believe. It is about God's created order, the world that he made. He is the one who gave the commands. It is up to us to submit to it.

    FYI, none of those women you mention has any teaching role or authority role in the church. Phoebe was a servant to the church, something I encourage every member to be. Last night, we had some wonderful servants who stayed after our church picnic till about 9:30 to clean up. Praise God for people like Phoebe. Junia could have been man (as most believed between teh 13th and 20th century) or woman (as most believed before the 13th century and probably now). She was probably the wife of Andronicus who was jailed with him. There is no indication in the sole mention of her name of any teaching or leadership role. You don't get to add to Scripture to try to make your point. There is no indication that Priscilla taught, and certainly not in the churh. She is mentioned with her husband as the people who took in Apollos and explained more fully the way. Again, you can't just add to Scripture.

    So far you are 0 for 3 on your attempts. THere is no indication that any of these women had authority or taught men in the assembly. And why would there be evidence of that? Why would God call someone to disobey his clear, timeless command? This is a simple issue that can be settled by looking at Scripture. Were it not for feminism, I doubt that anyone would have ever applied that differently than what it says. I haven't studied the history of interpretation of it, but it would be interesting. In any respect, the words of the text are clear, and there is no cultural reason attached to the command. Too often, in our haste to be culturally "relevant" we are willing to ignore or recharacterize the teachings of Scripture. There is no need to do that. Let's not abuse women by asking them to disobey God. Let's not let our men off the hook because they won't step up and do what God has called them to do. Both are equally wrong.
     
  17. Brother Ian

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    Clearly? Hardly. Paul is not talking about husbands and wives. He has talked about men and women. Vv. 9-11 talk about women, not specifically wives. The context carries right on through. It doesn't change all the sudden.

    Because words mean things. I have taken the words, and done the study. I have done so with no bias whatsoever. The text says what it says.

    "Usurp authority" is weaker than it should be. It makes it sound different than it is. The word is authenteo and means to domineer or have authority over. It means exactly that ... To have authority. A woman is not to have authority over a man in the church, including the authority of teaching.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I find it interesting that I have done the same thing as you Pastor Larry in studying and allowing the words to speak for themselves, but somehow I have come to the wrong conclusion, while you are certain you are correct.

    It would seem your mind is absolutely made up and there is no opportunity to reason together.

    We must agree to disagree.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    But that's just it. You haven't done that. If you think "I do not permit a woman to have authority or teach a man" means anything other than "I do not permit a woman to have authority or teach a man," you haven't studied and allowed the words to speak for themselves. You, so far, have questioned what "woman" means. That is not allowing a word to speak for itself. YOu have questioned what "authenteo" means. It is good to question words, but not to redefine them.

    My mind is made up because of the study of the Word of God. Where God speaks, what kind of "reasoning together" should we do? Debate whether or not God meant what he said? "Reasoning together" is not always a sign of good things. There are things about which we can and should "reason together." But the clear explicit statements of Scripture are not among them.

    Here again, the authority of God's word is at issue. Do we believe what God said? There are certainly cultural issues in the interpretation of God's word. But there is no legitimate way to make this one of them. Paul did not give first century reasons for his injunction. He gave creation reasons, and those reasons are still in effect today, as I pointed out to Scott. Here is the question: What do we lose from doing it God's way? (I know I have just prejudiced the question.) But seriously, what do we lose? I say we lose nothing. We can call men to be what God has called them to be. We can allow women to do what God has called them to do. And why wouldn't we do that?
     
  19. exscentric

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    "Some of our deacons all of a sudden are now making a big fuss about the situation, and have brought it up to the deacon body."

    "Fuss" seems to be your word to demean what they want to do. If you agreed with them would you use "fuss?"

    Does the constitution forbid deacons discussing concerns with the other deacons? If it does how do they ever get anything done? If deacons can't discuss things......

    "Now, the pastor and the entire staff (of which I am a part) are in agreement:"

    Does the consitution give the paid staff total control over the church without input from the deacons or the people?

    "As long as the woman is teaching under her husband's authority (and the authority of the pastor), there is no problem. That was clearly given to the deacons."

    Seems to smack of total dictitorial control by the paid staff (I assume paid, if not forgive.)

    Is this constitutional?

    "But this was not good enough for the band of three who are causing the fuss."

    Are not members if not deacons allowed to disagree with the "staff" and or bring up concerns? If the "staff" is so shaky in their beliefs, that a little discussion is going to bring the church down then why not get onto some solid ground before making pronouncements to the congregation.

    "The deacons have called a special meeting to vote on this issue tomorrow."

    If this is unconstitutional, stop it, if not get a life and allow them to carry on with church business.

    The church is a body, not "us versus them," seems the hierarchy is getting a rattle and probably rightly so from the way this has been presented.

    That is my comment on the actual question, though I disagree with the "staff" position as well and I'd guess the staff is more upset with the "disagreement" rather than the doctrinal difference. If you don't allow for some doctrinal difference you are going to be a lonely staff soon because I doubt anyone in the church agrees 100% with "the staff."

    Read the constitution and act on it as it sets forth direction would be my thought. If all that is going on is allowable in the constit. then allow the thing to unfold as it will.

    If you act against the constitution you will have even more problems.
     
  20. ScottEmerson

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    I Timothy says pretty specifically here, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." You remark that this is a traditional thing, and then you isolate "holy" when Paul clearly uses both "holy" and "hands." If we are to take this passage literally, then it's pretty evident that if we're not praying with our lifted hands we are sinning.

    The PhD was going to be in Marriage Counseling, but now I'm back on the seminary track. All too slowly I might add. This is a question that few people can adequately respond to. How do we KNOW it's cultural? How are we so sure that the admonition to women wasn't a cultural thing? As one of my eleventh grader asked, "How do we pick and choose what is cultural and what isn't?" It's a very good question.

    Is it your position that all women are more likely to be deceived than all men? Or are some more predisposed to it? In God's created world, do you believe that Eve was created as an equal? (As Otwell puts it:

    Does our sin make all women more deceived than men? Is this important in the understanding of I Timothy 2? I would say that it is incredibly important.


    No - the inferiority that you are specifically talking about here comes because of our sinful natures - not because of God's creation.

    So you would agree that deacons have no right to rule, but are instead required to be servants? If this is true, then we are in agreement here. (Phoebe is listed as a deaconess, of course.)

    Junia was an apostle, and as such had apostolic responsibilities. Is that leadership? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. It is interesting as you say that up until around the mid-13th century, all of the church fathers believed that she was, indeed, an apostle.

    She taught Apollos Scripture. That's quite clear in Acts. As Paige Patterson writes in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, "“no legitimate question exists with reference to either the adequacy or the acceptability of a woman serving in some teaching roles. Apollos profited not only from the instruction of Aquila but also from that of Priscilla."

    Because the command that you speak of is not timeless. It was perhaps specifically to the church at Ephesus. It could be that he was speaking of one person (which is why Paul changes from men and women to 'the woman.') I Corinthians 11 states that women were allowed to pray and prophesy in the church. I also see different women who taught and were church leaders. So I understand I Timothy 2 in light of those Biblical truths. You, apparently, work the other way around. And that's okay. The infallible Scripture has no contradictions, and sometimes we have to work and study to figure out how it all works out. And that's okay, too.
     

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