It is terribly unfortunate when people who call themselves Christians depart from the Lord’s teachings, but we have come to expect this. Still, it brings great angst when a group of men think they know more than the Lord and thus alter His word. These same men will deny they are altering the Lord’s teaching, but that is exactly what they are doing (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:13-15). Let me illustrate.
Not long ago I received a link from a brother who shared the teachings of a church concerning the role of women in the church assembly. This church is in the Atlanta area (www.northlake.org). It is with great disappointment that we read, “Thus, with confidence in God’s leading, we affirm that both men and women who have the desire to serve should be permitted to fully participate in our assemblies, including activities such as reading Scripture, serving communion, teaching or offering prayers.” To make this very plain and nonnegotiable they further state, “As a living community, ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people’, we can do no less as we embody the truth of the gospel (1 Pet 2:9.” The implications of this last remark are clear.
The role of the female in the Lord’s church has been clearly defined and outline by the Lord Himself. Since that time, brethren have been addressing the issue because of wayward men and churches such as we read above. Here are the primary reasons (arguments?) set forth by the elders of this local church: 1) God’s truth must meet the ever-changing context of “contemporary life.” 2) The restrictive passages by Paul were the result of men and women hindering the gospel message. From this it is extrapolated that preventing women from serving is also a hindrance of the gospel message. 3) This is a matter of judgment, not doctrine. 4) The church has failed to reckon with cultural realities and this has hindered the message of God to this new reality. 5) There is historical precedence.
In further explication the document states that the “gifts” of I Corinthians 12 correspond to the “gifts” people have today. Thus, “[t]o allow some to use their gifts and others to be restricted runs counter to the inclusive nature of the gospel message.” These “gifts,” however must be understood in relation to the restrictive passages of Paul, the next paragraph states. With some brief consideration, they opine, “After much study and prayer, we have concluded that Paul made his restrictive statements to specific and limited circumstances.”
For men and women dedicated to the Lord’s teaching and staying with that, there is nothing new in this document. The general points thrust upon all who read it are as old as the life of the one reading my remarks. In fact, these justification points have been around a good deal longer. However, just as they have in the past, they still fail to make the biblical case for the altering of the role of the female in the church assembly. Let me encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2; be sure, when you read, that you consider the whole context of the subject and even the book. After having done this, ask yourself this question: where did Paul limit his words or, better yet, where did the Holy Spirit limit His words to “specific and limited circumstances”?
There is more to be said, but on this post my words will be adequate. Perhaps others will take a look at the document and write more.