Can women teach men? As a vocal critic of Merie’s unbiblical leadership in the formative years of the Stanton churches, my opinion might surprise some. I have not been critical of her teaching as a female–only of the actual things she taught. I do think it’s fair to point out the hypocrisy of how Stanton teaches that women should be absolutely silent “in the church,” yet when the closing prayer for the “worship service” is done, all bets are off. They can teach in whatever capacity they want, because it’s outside the times 10:00 to noon, or whenever their churches meet.
I do believe women can teach men within very broad Biblical boundaries, which I’ll offer my thoughts on here. But women being “silent” during Sunday morning “worship” is yet another Pharisaic loophole—an exercise in cherrypicking verses to arrive at a predetermined conclusion.
Let me be clear. I believe the legalistic doctrines and oppressive tactics Merie used would have been just as wrong had they been implemented by a male. It was the content of the teaching that I find Biblically offensive, not the sex of the person who taught it.
I will admit up front that I have a cultural bias against women preaching from the pulpit, yet I am hesitant to try to take that and force the Scriptures to justify it. Honesty demands that I acknowledge the difficulty of reconciling various Scriptures that address the subject. Nevertheless, I know this: I have to start with what the Scriptures actually say, not what my biases want them to say. So thus, I must let my opinions flow from that point of reference.
First, I will point out that we have examples of women praying and prophesying (proclaiming or teaching) in the public assembly, and in very the same letter that Paul later instructs women to keep silent in the churches. That is extremely important, and is our first clue that maybe something is getting lost in the translation in the more restrictive passages.
Merie reconciled these verses one way: women are to be silent for the lawfully determined period of timed called “Worship Service.” Before and after that fixed period of time, women can teach men in whatever capacity their talents afford.
I reconcile these verses quite differently. I’ve noticed that the prohibition against women teaching seems to occurs only in the context of talking about married women usurping the authority of their husbands or otherwise disrespecting or humiliating them in public. This is what I want to pay more attention to as we try to unpack what Paul is saying.
The following passages of Scripture are the ones brought up by Bible writers—primarily Paul—to support the idea of women being silent or being prohibited from teaching men. I will show in each of these cases that the subject under discussion was definitely women in a marriage relationships, and definitely not all women in general.
This passage is very clearly defining the marriage relationship, not the relationship of all women to all men. We can be sure of this because the writer says “Therefore” shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” Sexual companionship is exclusively for husband and wife. So any New Testament verses that use this passage as their justification have to be referencing the marriage relationship.
Eve’s curse was also specific to the marriage relationship. We can be sure of this because: (a) the command she broke came through her husband; and (b) her punishment was that her husband would rule over her and she would experience pain in childbearing. There is no part of the “curse” that applies to unmarried women. Also important, the “curse” is stating a fact—the way things are—not stating the way God wanted them to be. Godly men should not “rule” over their wives as kings, but relate to them as godly and compassionate leaders of the family.
The context of this passage about head coverings is clearly a wife’s respectfulness toward her own husband in the first century culture, not every woman’s respectfulness toward every man. We know this because: (a) the entire discussion is based on the headship of the man, which the same author taught in Ephesians 5 was specific to the husband/wife relationship; (b) Paul uses as a reason for his conclusions the idea that the woman was created for the man, a clear reference to Genesis 2, which is only about the husband/wife relationship; and (c) Paul further uses as a reason for his conclusions the idea that the woman is the glory of the man. A woman is not the pride and joy, or “glory,” of anyone but her husband.
The context of this passage is clearly about a wife’s respect for her husband. We can be certain of this because: (a) Paul says that they are to be under submission “as the law says.” NOTHING in the law suggests the submission of ALL women to ALL men. This is only parallel to the marriage relationship, as it is part of Genesis 3 (“and he will rule over you”), Ephesians 5, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, and elsewhere; (b) Paul specifically says the women being addressed should “ask their husbands at home.” It couldn’t be any clearer that Paul is talking about women who were pushing the boundaries of a healthy marriage relationship.
The context here is definitely a wife’s submission to her husband. We can be certain of this because: (a) he again refers to “full submission;” (b) he prohibits a woman “usurping” authority over a man, and authority can’t be usurped where none has been given. Men have “authority,” in this sense (not in any absolute sense), over their own wives, not over other women; (c) he invokes Genesis 2 when he says that the woman was created for the man, which is the basis for the sexual companionship of a husband and wife; and (d) he further invokes the Genesis 3 “curse,” which was only given to married women.
So what do we do with these facts?
First, I don’t claim to have the perfect answer, Biblically, politically, or otherwise. The answers I would give arise out of my own studies and life experiences, but I recognize that others have different, sometimes valid, points of view. I’m blessed with a wife that has chosen to bless me with honor and respect out of her own choice, and tries to defer to my leadership of the family. Others’ views aren’t formed with that experience as a backdrop. So I’m not saying everyone’s right, I’m saying everyone’s imperfect and we’re all doing our best to understand this subject as honestly and sincerely as we can.
Second, I don’t believe the Scriptures were intended to be a legal document, legislating rules and regulations on aspects of life. I have learned to accept that there are some aspects of this question, and others, that remain unanswered, and God has his own reasons for that. If we are going to live by the maxim of speaking where the Bible speaks—and I’ve done that by speaking the truths of Scripture above—then we also need to be silent where the Bible is silent.
The hard truth for traditionalists concerned about that is that there is no requirement to have a pulpit in the assembly in the first place. I’m pretty sure the first century church did not. They usually met in homes, and the custom was to sit on the floor in most cases. If we met more like the first century church did, sitting around our couches praising God, edifying one another, and discussing the Scriptures amongst ourselves in a more relational manner, I think it would be easier to see how women, married or unmarried, fit into God’s perfect plan for church. I think in that context, women could teach men just fine without humiliating their husbands and causing chaos in the church.
Hmmm…I'm not sure either, but you make a convincing argument. Food for thought.However, I most definitely agree that Merie's coc teachings on women not speaking (or ANY form of communication) in worship to be quite the stretch. If Sunday worship is the only assembly in which this is the rule, then maybe it's the only assembly that's actually an assembly, so all the other classes can be skipped? 🙂 Anyway, right before I left (about 2 months ago) there was yet another situation that really annoyed me. One of the Spanish speaking sisters kept having audio issues with her translation… Read more »
It's unbelievable the lengths they'll go to to make and follow petty rules made by men, while ignoring the weightier matters of the law.
Wow.. Just wow, on the Spanish Sister! I understand the women being silent part but that is really almost laughable… How SAD the minds of some.. My mind could never be at peace with all this crazy overthinking! Someday when I have the time to write a mini novel I will have to tell my story.. Sigh…
A mini-novel…I bet you could write a trilogy at least. HAHA
Anyway, one other thing that came to mind is another Spanish-speaking sister. She has serious health issues. Anyway, she doesn't have kids but she'll ask prayers for others, including her niece. Since she only speaks Spanish, it has to be translated, and is usually by a male preacher. It's kind of funny when you see how uncomfortable one is translating a prayer request for a person who is not a Christian (seeing how we're not supposed to pray for non-Christians and all). Now THAT actually was laughable! 😉
I'm still laughing at the no wearing of the "candies" brand shoes for ladies…as it was sexual? I have read every word of this blog… I spent many hours/days reading… Feeling so sick inside… I felt so grateful to find this blog.. When I saw where they used to tie children's hands behind their back when they slept I asked a now current member of the church about this as soon as I read it as I was so disgusted… Their reply to me was "well haven't you ever made a mistake"? .. Shaking my head…. to me that is… Read more »
Anon 5:44 I'm right with you. It made me sick too. I couldn't believe I was affiliated with such an off church. My mother began reading it she quickly said sounds like a cult to her. I knew as I read after determining my baptism was no good I'd never get baptized in this place. I'm going to make sure as many as I know and can read this blog as well. It's a wealth of information. I'd never of gave this so called church a sniff if I knew what they taught. Never would've been baptized in the first… Read more »
Craig.. I probably know you.. I was in the Portland church for awhile…i was withdrawn from approx 8 years ago or so.. I can't remember the exact time right now… then we figured my baptism was not good (for a specific reason I'll go into sometime) funny thing is everyone assumed I was not being truthful about my baptism not being good so I could stay in contact with a member.. Assuming something when they knew nothing.. It all had to do with my boys if they got pulled in.. I know now I'm safe when it comes to them… Read more »
Anon 7:51 hmm I'm going to have to do something thinking. I was preaching at that time. Imagine that a nonmember preacher. Portland probably leads the league in nonmember preacher or teachers. Go figure. Lack of a leader, horrible example of a preacher. Spent six years under him as a nonmember support preacher. May 2013 I began raising concerns about him. Been after me ever since. He was the source of issues between Portland and Tacoma for a few years. Tacoma wanted to get close. Portland preacher who knows teacher too didn't seem to want to. Lots of inside stuff… Read more »
Wouldn't suprise me for this cult to mark and avoid me next. A nonmember. I'll step my game up. What after that tell my wife to leave or divorce me.
Anon, wow, you sound like me 6 weeks ago when I found this blog. Disgust. Incredulity. Fear. Sadness. I couldn't believe it, yet due to my close connections to a member 30+ yrs in, I had heard whispers and inferences, so I did not doubt them. Leave and run to a church where you can find God and mercy and Christ's love! There are churches out there; don't let their brainwashing get you in that regard as it did me years ago.Craig, please be careful. After I left, I was a little upset that my husband still went and also… Read more »
Seeking thank you just letting the truth be known I no longer fear them or will allow them to intimidate or bully me.
I'm from Tacoma and we've met with Portland a lot.
I would love to have been fly on the wall after I left and heard what must have been said.
Seeking.. They always say something bad when a member leaves or withdrawn from… and the amount of everyday gossip and false judgement/accusations make me sick…..they never see that it is THEM at times.. For them to say there are lies on this blog blows my mind..they hide things from members.. That is sooo obvious! I was bitter because of the way they treated people.. I don't even treat my so-called enemies the way they treat people..their nastiness towards the wordly people is disgusting.. I knew so much about the church before I even went in.. But that's part of my… Read more »
Yes it's true about the gossip. So sad I participated in that. We're naturally that way so talking down others for the sake of "edification " is not good.One main reason I left was just seeing people who were weaker get mistreated. I typically spoke up for myself or didn't get counsel if I wanted to do things according to my conscience. But I started to resent how others were treated and shamed and guilted into doing certain things. I wish I could have helped others but first I had to get out to save myself and our family. Enough… Read more »
Yep gossipers they are. So sad I got sucked into it as well. Being a support preacher I heard way to much of members business I should not of been privy to. Its even worse when members business is shared with other members who are not even in a teaching capacity. Putting members in a bad light is done this way. For myself I sat myself down from preaching and all responsibilities in 2015. It was the second happiest day of being amongst Merie's followers. No longer would I have to listen to the preachers murmuring and gossiping. Oops I… Read more »
I saw the same thing in Phoenix, the Preacher from Albuquerque would stand with the USMC drill instructor and point and stare at the member they were talking openly about, no attempt at discretion, just open discord about the member they disapproved of. Funny thought the USMC drill instructor had been fallen away for ten years then returned and started accusing members very quickly of "not doing" this and that but he forgot that he himself had been doing nothing for the last ten years being fallen away total hypocrite and was quickly promoted to preacher aka "the accuser of… Read more »