a woman teaching

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Helen, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    This is not the same as the other threads, because I want to describe what happened to us this weekend and get some feedback on it from the folks here, please. So, please, read through the whole post...

    Barry and I usually speak on his work as a team. Because his work supports a reading of Genesis 1-11 as real history, Bible is definitely involved in our presentations to church groups. We have made this presentation to a number of churches and Bible colleges and the fact of our teamwork has not only not been criticized, but we have received a number of letters, emails, comments, etc., that our relationship as we worked together was as much of a testimony to God in our lives as anything we ever said.

    This past weekend, we were the only speakers at a retreat for a church at Lake Tahoe. Barry's presentations were scheduled for 7:30 on Friday evening, 2.5 hours between breakfast and lunch on Saturday, 7:30 Saturday evening, and then the sermon on Sunday morning. First of all, that's a heavy schedule when presenting different speeches each time. Secondly, I have often been his 'interpreter' for lay audiences, putting some of his science into simple lay terms and pictures. He is right there, standing next to me, to correct me if I get something wrong. And yes, that has happened...grin.

    Very often, I will open the particular hour with a ten or fifteen minute introduction which reviews the part of the Bible we are discussing, some of what we have discovered in this area, and leading up to Barry's main presentation. Twice this past weekend I was asked to "interpret into stupid" some of his work and spent a little time at the beginning of the following lecture attempting to do that. I also help out with the question and answer sessions which follow.

    Friday night seemed to go quite well, as we introduced reasons Genesis 1 could be believed to be actual truth. Saturday morning was the difficult time, as there was only a few minutes break between the two halves of the long presentation, and, noticing that Barry was wearing down a bit toward the end, I stepped in a bit more than I usually do (we had driven about 8 hours to get to the conference and needed to drive home Sunday after the service, eight hours again).

    After the Saturday morning presentation (Genesis 2-8), the 'assistant administrator' of the church and his wife informed us that they were extremely uncomfortable with me 'teaching', as the Bible forbid it. They didn't mind me 'teaching' the science, but I should not be reading Bible when men were in the room, or explaining anything theological in mixed company, etc.

    We were a bit stunned, for I was certainly not only under my husband's authority, but he was maybe two feet away from me during my parts (we work off of the lecture notes that Barry has prepared) and only when there were slides (his slides) to be used during my part would he be sitting down changing them on the overheads.

    This couple didn't just mention their distress about me being up there, they emphasized it. Barry asked me to go back to our room, and I did, and he confronted the other man, saying I was doing exactly what he asked me to do, that the material was his, and that we were in full agreement regarding anything I presented. He told the man to choose: either we continued or we drove home at that time. I was rather stunned to know Barry had given them that choice.

    The pastor came to talk to us and while he softened the rhetoric a bit, the point was still the same. I, as a woman, was not to present anything biblical to a mixed group.

    Barry and I prayed about it and the clear message from the Lord was to stay and continue, because there were more people there than those three, even if they were at the head of the church (there were maybe 80-100 people there). So we continued and I modified my role a little to avoid problems. Still, I was there for some and for questions and answers.

    Sunday, after Barry had given the sermon and then we both were available for questions and answers regarding his material, a number of the people came up to us (as they had, actually, after every presentation) and thanked us very much for being there. One woman was in tears, telling us words were not enough. Others seemed unwilling to let us go. I'm so glad we stayed.

    So that is what happened.

    Now, here are some of our thoughts on this matter of women teaching.

    1. An actual teacher has authority over his/her pupils. They can be put out of the class; they are tested; they pass or fail, etc. I had no authority over anyone and I was, in fact, under the authority of not only my husband, but the pastor of that church at that time. He had previously agreed with us that my presenting with Barry would not be a problem.

    2. The Bible does not say WHAT a woman is not to teach. (Can a woman not teach cooking to a man?) Is she not to teach anything, if you take that part of that sentence in 1 Timothy in the way the three people at the conference did?

    3. Consider the many men who preach Mary Baker Eddy's material. Because they consider her an authority, it is therefore a woman's 'teaching.' Does this not hold if I present my husband's material that it is therefore a man's 'teaching'?

    4. What amused us was that it was fine for Barry to present the results of my research (which is part of one of the lectures), but, somehow, not OK for me to present the results of his....at least if the Bible was involved!

    Barry has checked this post and asked me to add a couple of things, which I did. We are both interested in feedback here. We both feel that my working with him as a team in no way violates Scripture, as I am not taking any authority, but simply acting as a mouthpiece for him at different times, and he is right there with me. I am under his complete authority and headship, there, in the home, in all aspects of our life.

    Thank you.
     
  2. donnA

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    I hate to be the first one to post on this, but here goes.
    When you have guests in your home do you want to them to follow your household rules, or do what they think in right, or OK for your home?
    If you are a guest at someone else's church or place of worship then you go by their rules, unless there is scriptural evidence against those rules, then you just leave, otherwise it is disrespectful. Whether you agree with them or not.
     
    #2 donnA, Oct 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2006
  3. Not_hard_to_find

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    Helen, you will receive a number of differing opinions and most will be with specific scriptures.

    Women are teachers, I Timothy 2:12 not withstanding. Women teach other women in Sunday School, ladies meetings, conferences, public, private and Christian schools. Those "exceptions" are not found in this verse. And, pity the poor congregation that holds to the letter of legalism and does not allow women to teach in these and many other situations! Do they really want a man teaching teenage girls? Rhetorical question, no answer requested. As an aside, the wording reminds me of 1 Corinthians 7:12

    Returning to the situation you described, you were delivering specific information in a conference upon specific instructions from your husband -- submitting to him. So, the confronters did not take all scripture into consideration. Surely they did not expect you to dismiss his requirements? Again, rhetorical.

    Your husband and you were correct in providing researched material as promised. It is a blessing to hear of positive responses. Thank you for sharing the experience.
     
  4. thjplgvp

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    Helen,

    I think the best thing to do would to let the host know up front that you are going to speaking from an authority position since the info has been researched and collated by you primarily and your husband.

    Every pastor has the biblical mandate to govern his sheep fold as he deems proper else how could be held accountable.

    While it may seem an injustice to you many, including my self, would have much difficulty in your decision to assume a greater role with out seeking the hosts suggestion on what to do. He may have choosen to remove a segment rather than go against his strongly held beliefs but you did not give him that option.

    Thjplgvp
     
  5. donnA

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    Does scripture mean as long as your under your husbands authority you can teach men?
     
  6. Helen

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    folks, first of all, we had cleared with the pastor ahead of time that I co-present with my husband. So that was not an issue about disobeying their church's requests. It was not until the 'assistant' and his wife were upset that the pastor said anything to us...

    Second, I had NO authority over anyone in that room! I think the idea here is what 'teaching' means in regards to Paul's instructions to Timothy. Does it mean simply sharing information or does it mean taking authority?

    Now, let me present you with a little more, if a woman is not to share information, even with her husband there with her --

    This same couple led the music. They are VERY good. She sings with him. Is this not the same thing, set to music? If she sings a verse with the women and the men wait and sing the next verse, is this not exactly the same thing Barry and I were doing, only not with music?

    Does this mean we should avoid Fanny Crosby's hymns, or condemn Gladys Alward for her work in China?

    Barry's mother was a Salvation Army officer and, back in the thirties, she held down several of the gold-mining towns in west Australia by herself as a single woman, under the authority of the Salvation Army. She brought hundreds of people to Christ.

    Was that wrong?
     
  7. thjplgvp

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    "Second, I had NO authority over anyone in that room! I think the idea here is what 'teaching' means in regards to Paul's instructions to Timothy. Does it mean simply sharing information or does it mean taking authority?"

    Anyone who teaches has authority because authority at its core is influence and as we all know we teach to influence to cause change, to impart facts that will cause others to consider and change accordingly. You cannot say you had no authority, you were in fact speaking from an authoritative position, an expert if you will, in your field.

    Again the answer is in stating upfront that you will be doing much of the teaching. This way the decision is made prior to the invitation to come and present your info. No one gets offended and everyone is happy.
     
  8. Amy.G

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    Helen, I have read many of your posts before I joined the BB and I really enjoyed them and you are a wonderful teacher. I am in no way as knowledgeable as many on this forum, but in ancient times wasn't it a fact that women had little or no knowledge of the scriptures? What little they may have had it was taught to them by their husbands only? You would know more about this than me so please correct me if I'm wrong. Is it possible that Paul did not allow women to teach because of their lack of scriptural knowledge? It would be sort of like a student teaching a class instead of the teacher. The teacher naturally has the authority in the classroom because they have more knowledge than the students. Just a thought.
    Blessings,
    Amy
     
  9. donnA

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    If the pastor had already given permission then there should not have been a problem, and he should not have backed down on his word.
    I do agree with thjplgvp though, teaching or presenting information is authority over the listener.
     
  10. mcdirector

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    Well, I'm sure my jaw would have hit the floor. You were both there as presenters.

    But this made me think . . .

    I teach at a Christian school and most of the teachers are women and Bible is one of our core courses. When does this issue become an issue? It seems to me that for most of the boys in HS, that a woman shouldn't be teaching them Bible as a core course -- or is there some dividing line I don't see?
     
  11. James_Newman

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    1 Timothy 3:14-15
    14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
    15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

    You are in the clear, your Christian school is not the church.
     
  12. Helen

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    Barry just spent an hour tracking Greek words and their meanings which Paul used in 1 Timothy. The word for 'teach' -- which women were not allowed to do -- was didasko, from which we get our word 'didactic', which mean to take absolute authority as an instructor. This has NOTHING to do with teaching in terms of sharing information, and Paul links the bit about not teaching with "or take authority a man" -- which is the literal translation. The "over" is inserted by the translators and is not the intended meaning. The intended meaning in the Greek is that a woman should not take the authority of a man or a man's authority. This is linked to the teaching -- didasko -- another indication of taking authority.

    Therefore a woman, according to Paul, is not to teach didactically, as a final authority on a subject, and is not to take a man's authority in any other way, either. So when I was standing there, presenting some of my husband's research, and mine, with him right there beside me as my authority, I was well within Scriptural guidelines.

    If THAT is seen as the meaning in the Greek, then the idea of women not being permitted to share knowledge in a mixed group is absurd.
     
  13. Helen

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    Amy, women were as varied then as now! Some were remarkably learned and some weren't. Some loved learning and some didn't. We haven't changed a bit!

    What was different then was that women were seated apart from their husbands in the early congregations and this was the first time in Jewish history women WERE allowed in with the men! There is some evidence from letters from the time and such that the women were not very good at being quiet, and would tend to chatter and gossip during the time together. Paul said they (we) must be quiet. Don't holler a question across the room to your husband and don't discuss the latest recipe or baby with your neighbor.

    The major problem with our understanding of the 1 Timothy verse as Barry and I see it has to do with our current understanding of 'teach'. To teach, in the older times, meant to take authority over a group and had NOTHING to do with the sharing of information per se. That is why Paul used the word didaskos -- the word meant to take authority over a group of people and be responsible for what they learned.

    Today we use 'teach' in a much, much broader sense. Any sharing of information can be considered 'teaching' today. It has nothing to do with taking authority unless (and hopefully) the setting is a formal classroom.

    For instance, this past weekend, there was nothing preventing anyone there from walking out the minute I started talking. I had no authority whatsoever over any of them. I could not have told them to go or stopped them from going. I could not test them, pass them, fail them. "Didaskos" was about the farthest thing from what I was involved in under my husband's authority and presence.

    Even when I was a teacher, I had a principal I was responsible to. I was not the final authority in any classroom, as a result. In fact, truth be told, the parents were the final authorities as they could pull their kids out at any time. I was far more the servant, with some delegated authority which could be withdrawn at any time.

    And that is biblical, too. For the parents are responsible, in the long run, for the education their children get.
     
  14. Amy.G

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    Thanks Helen! When I said there were more knowledgeable people on this board than me, I wasn't kidding!:laugh:
    I would have loved to hear your presentation! :thumbs: Do you have a website?
     
  15. Helen

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    LOL, thank you. My husband's website is www.setterfield.org

    I'll try to get the "Why you can believe Genesis 1-11" material up from his notes in the next days/weeks. We have been presenting it for long enough now and have incorporated the answers to the most commonly asked questions so that I'm pretty confident we can put a complete version up on the web.
     
  16. Humblesmith

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    it seems to me that you were within biblical grounds, and handled it well. But that church probably also had a right to say something, if that's what they believed...........

    I take it that the admonition is for women not to teach in the church, and the command does not apply the same way in a school. If a woman were head pastor, a church member would have no place else to go, and the woman would then be violating the biblical command. But in a school or as a one time conference speaker, under the authority of your husband, I think you were safe.

    But what it comes down to is whether the seminar was more important than getting this issue correct.......if the church had an issue with it, then in the spirit of Rom. 14, you should meekly agree and let your husband teach.

    in the future, you might find a gentle way of slipping a statement into your talk that you're just presenting what your husband has agreed with. Leaving him on the platform is a visible sign of this.

    So I think you did right. Forgive them and move on.
     
  17. Helen

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    thank you, Humblesmith. We have searched our souls and cannot see where we went wrong. The pastor knew ahead of time that we would co-present and said that was fine. Barry mentioned during the first and second presentations that I would be doing some of the presenting. I even mentioned the health reasons for this (he is a porphyriac and tires very easily. There was one time, in the middle of a presentation in New Zealand when he stopped, and looked at me with totally blank eyes. I finished the presentation for him. Within an hour he was running a fever...).

    It is his material, although I have helped with some of the historic research.

    It is not a matter of forgiving; that is a done deal. It was, rather, a matter of soul-searching and Bible study and we both appreciate the input we have had here. Thank you.

    One thing we have sort of decided now is that we will not be doing any more conferences where we have to travel. He is totally exhausted right now and had to go to the observatory to teach his astronomy class tonight. I think we will concentrate on the videos explaining his work and on the three books he is working on. That's enough for any reasonable human being, I think.

    It can be a man's voice on the videos, and no one will ever know where I contributed!
     
  18. TaterTot

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    I cant see where you did anything wrong at all. You just got caught in a sticky web that many find themselves entangled in.

    Keep up the good work!
     
  19. LeBuick

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    I agree, as long as your presenting the Word only the devil will get mad.
     
  20. John of Japan

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    You called them "boys," right? You are not teaching men but boys, and the Bible says nothing about that.

    We told our son that when he was able to stand on his own financially, etc., then he would be a man. Now we can't even get him to borrow money from us to buy a needed car! :laugh: :love2:
     

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