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Are Women Lectureships Wrong?

Recently Regena was asked to speak at Christian Home church of Christ at a “Women’s Lectureship.”  This lectureship was devoted to a study specifically applied to women.  All the speakers were women and all those invited to attend were women.  Regena received a phone call from a person attending another congregation with some questions about “what was going on” at this lectureship.  I commend the person for calling those involved with her questions.  Too often people start criticizing those involved without talking to them first.  Regena explained that before she accepted the invitation she asked those setting this up if the elders at that congregation were OK with the lectureship.  She was told yes.  After Regena decided on her topic, she developed an outline and sent it by email to one of the women that asked her to speak.  Later on, Regena was told the elders had looked over the material and did not have any problems with the outline.  Therefore, all the way through the process of setting up, scheduling, and developing the material for the lectureship the elders of that congregation were involved with and had no problems with the lectureship. 

Yet some may wonder if such a lectureship is scriptural?  The Bible plainly teaches that the role of the woman is to be in submission to her husband and she is not to exercise authority over a man.  1 Corinthians 11.3, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”  1 Timothy 2.11, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”  Other passages such as Ephesians 5 teach the woman to be in submission to her husband.  Does 1 Timothy 2 teach that a woman can not teach at all? If so, then what do you do with the following passage.  Titus 2.1, “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things-- 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”  Notice that Paul did not tell Titus to go and teach the younger women, but to have the older women to teach the younger women how to love their husbands, and so on.  Was it wrong for Lois and Eunice to have taught Timothy the scriptures, see 2 Timothy 1.5?  Obviously the point made in 1 Corinthians 11.3 and 1 Timothy 2.11-12 is that the woman is not to take authority over a man. 

What does this mean when it comes to teaching classes and our worship? It means that a woman is not to teach a class where a man is present.  It does not prohibit her from asking a question or making a comment if the teacher allows such to occur. It does mean she is to not take control of or dominate the class.  A woman is not to take a leadership role in the worship service.  To be a song leader, lead in prayer, preach, wait on the Lord’s Table by definition are positions of authority and leadership, therefore, a woman could not do such if a Christian male is present.

I know brethren react not to what is happening, but to what may happen in the future.  In the case of women getting together to have a Bible study, some will see the role of women in the denominations around us and see this as a step toward that apostasy.  I myself have warned brethren about the “natural conclusion” of some activity or teaching.  At the same time we need to see what the Bible teaches and allows.  Can women get together to have a Bible Class?  Can they get together to pray?  How about women getting together and sing some spiritual songs?  I think most would say all of the above would be scriptural as long as there are no men present.  What if the women decided to do two or three of the things I just mentioned?  What if they decide to sing a song, have a prayer, and then have a Bible Class?  Is it all right as long as you do only one of those, but it becomes unscriptural because you have two or more? 

What if a congregation was made up of only women?  Could they meet together on the Lord’s Day and have a Bible Class and worship God?  If not, why not?  Obviously if the congregation contained men, then the men would take the leadership role.  In a congregation with no men then a woman would have to lead the class, lead in prayer, and be the song leader.  If a male Christian visited, then such would not be permissible. 

The problem some would have is the purpose and location of the lectureship.  If some are having a women’s lectureship in order to “open the door” to women taking a leading role in normal worship services, then I would say it should not happen.  However, if the purpose is to have older women to teach the younger women, then it would be scriptural, see Titus 2.1ff.  If this lectureship is intended to replace the time when all the members come together to study and worship, then I would again say it would be wrong.  However, it was never intended to do so.  Some may have a problem with the lectureship being at the church building.  However, those arguing such will need to explain why Titus 2.1ff allows women to teach other women, but not in a church building.  This sounds very similar to those that argue against separated classes in the church building.  They maintain that Titus 2.1 can be done in the home, but not in the building.  Why?  I do not know.  Older women can teach the younger women even in the church building.  

The ladies of this congregation meet in various homes to study the Bible.  What if the elders here decided a special class needed to be taught dealing with Titus 2.1-5.  Would it be proper for the ladies to have their own class with a woman teacher?  Keep in mind that Paul told Titus to have the older women to teach the younger women. Such would be scriptural as long as there were no men in the class.  -- Dennis Tucker

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