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January 17, 2005

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  • Women and Voting in Church?

Women and Voting in Church?

READER QUESTION:
I have been getting your newsletter for a while now and I was wondering what your scripture-based opinion is concerning the role of women in church matters. ITim2:11,12.

I have done some study on the matter and conclude that it is talking about wives, not women in general, and they are not to contradict or speak against their husbands and what they are teaching or speaking about, thus undercutting his authority. Silence - not meaning that a woman cannot open her mouth to utter any words, but quietness in not speaking above/against the husband. The wives are under subjection to their husbands, not the church. What is a woman's role when she has no husband? God knew there would be women with no husbands in the church.

My church fellowship is proposing a change in our constitution to a vote of the members. They use this verse along with some others that are similar to back up their assertions. This change will exclude women members from voting or even voicing an opinion on church business. I can see changing it to one vote per family, but what about the woman with no male head of household? Is she now considered a non entity? I believe this would violate the way that the Lord would want women treated. We already have MALE trustees to be the oversees of church business. I would appreciate your take on this difficult subject.

VW ANSWER:

    Re: "I was wondering what your scripture-based opinion is concerning the role of women in church matters. ITim2:11,12. I have done some study on the matter and conclude that it is talking about wives, not women in general,"

VW: The Greek word in the N.T. means -both- woman and wife, equally. Where Jesus addresses His mother as "woman" (Jn2:4) is the same word as "wives" (1Pt3:1), other than grammatical indications like singular/plural, etc. Obviously, Mary was not Jesus' "wife". Thus, we must understand which it is referring to from the context.

Also, the word "man" and "husband" come from the same word, so they must be understood according to the context.

When Scripture speaks of the female with relationship to -HER- (own) "husband" (1Pt3:1, Col3:18-19, Eph5:24), does not the context suggest the female in that case is the "wife"?

But 1Ti2:11-12 does not make the husband association. It does not address the "man" in the -possessive- case. Depending on how your translation renders it, it might say "a" man, or "the" man... not "her" man. Thus, "women" must be understood, as you say, "in general".

Notice how Paul speaks in 1Co14:34 of women keeping silent "in the churches". Again, using the -broad- reference to church[es] (plural), he is making a "general" statement. And when he then tells the women to ask their husband at home in vs35, he is addressing two things: 1) Women should not be leading and outspoken in the church assembly, but their 2) submission is to their "own" husbands. In other words, 1) a woman is not to usurp leadership over the men, 2) nor is she under the authority of the (general) men, 3) but she is under her "own" husband.

Unmarried women are under their fathers. (Numbers 30)

In the N.T. church context Paul speaks of the older women teaching the younger ones. (Tit2:3-5)

Back in those times there was a lot of 'cultural' heritage that came into play, too, so a lot didn't need to be said in Scripture. Culture, as a whole, tended to have the men congregating together, and the women together....like in earlier centuries of our English-speaking cultures, when people met at church, the men sat on one side, and the women on the other, etc.

But we also see in the O.T. how it appears that they came 'together' (men, women and children) when they appeared before Ezra to confess their sins. (Ez10:1) And a similar scene as they come before God because they faced an overwhelming enemy. (2Ch20:13)

    Re: "and they are not to contradict or speak against their husbands and what they are teaching or speaking about, thus undercutting his authority. Silence - not meaning that a woman cannot open her mouth to utter any words, but quietness in not speaking above/against the husband."

VW: Perhaps you will recall the Q/A from last June: "Women can't talk or do anything?"

    Re: "My church fellowship is proposing a change in our constitution to a vote of the members. They use this verse along with some others that are similar to back up their assertions. This change will exclude women members from voting or even voicing an opinion on church business. I can see changing it to one vote per family, but what about the woman with no male head of household? Is she now considered a non entity? I believe this would violate the way that the Lord would want women treated. We already have MALE trustees to be the oversees of church business."

VW: Voting? Hmmm....well...I have a problem with the whole concept of 'voting'. Do we obey God by "majority rule"? What if the majority are wrong?

In Acts they would "become of ONE MIND" (Ac15:25) which agrees with Paul's exhortation in Rom12:16, 1Co1:10, etc. But how does a group come to "one mind"? It takes a group where they are all Believers.... who are in tune with the Holy Spirit. I don't know how many such groups actually exist today.

In the O.T. they would "cast lots" for different things. (Le16:8, Josh18:6, 1Sa14:42, 1Ch24:31, 25:8, Ne10:34) And that's what they did in Acts to choose Mathias as replacement for Judas. (Ac1:26) But it seems obvious that -God's- choice was Paul. And we don't see the casting of lots anymore after that in the N.T., after the Holy Spirit comes to indwell at Pentecost. (ch2) When they chose the first seven deacons in Acts ch6, they sought out and "chose" seven men, set them before the apostles, and laid hands on them. Israel was a nation based on "signs and wonders" (Is8:18), thus the casting of lots might be considered a type of 'sign'? But the Church is based on the Holy Spirit declaring the things of Jesus Christ to the Believer's heart. (Jn16:13-14) Thus, when people were chosen for certain ministries, it says, "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Ac13:2) That was not by "vote" or "lots".

Heb13:17 says to "obey those in authority over you" and Paul speaks of "appointing elders" (Ac14:23, Tit1:5) Of course, in those days the apostles were the ones in chief authority, and they would appoint leaders in the churches they established. And the rule was that those authorities would further-appoint other leaders. I've heard of some modern-day groups that follow this to the extent where a pastor will even appoint his own successor....and such pastors appoint the congregation's eldership/leadership. And if such a method is Scriptural, then, no voting is involved at all....and Heb13:17 then exhorts the membership to submit to those having been thusly-appointed.

Such a scenario totally removes any consideration of whether or not 'women' vote or not....because -nobody- is voting....and the women are subject to their own husbands.

When things are led by the Holy Spirit, and the membership are all Christians, there -is- agreement....and voting is not necessary. But I would expect this to be a difficult concept for people living in the world's democracies to understand.

I know....this answer has gone a totally different direction from your questions. But I believe is Scriptural.

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