The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.
I normally don’t answer submitted questions on my blog until the new Friday feature of my blog, but this question could also be dealt with on my “Recent Reading Thursday” theme. So here goes.
A question was submitted to me recently: “Since the Bible does not allow for a woman to have authority over a man in the church (I Tim 2:12), would that forbid a man from reading a book written by a woman that is giving biblical instruction? In other words, if she is teaching through her literature, is that a violation of Scripture for a man to read it?
The quick answer is, “A man should enjoy the freedom to read book(s) from women and be edified and instructed by them.”
It is important to keep in mind that the authority Paul is forbidding is one of church leadership and instruction in the local church – “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (I Tim 2:11-12). Paul is not forbidding a mother or grandmother from teaching their male children. Paul is not forbidding a female Sunday School teacher from even instructing her boy students. Paul is not forbidding any woman from encouraging or exhorting a man in his walk with the Lord.
What Paul is forbidding is for a woman to fulfill the office and role of an elder or pastor. He is forbidding women from exercising authority over men in a teaching role. A key word in I Timothy 2 “men” and not children. The group being forbidden to lead or teach is adult men in the assembled church. And the silence of woman referring to in vs. 12 is to be a silence or absence of teaching those men.
And the context is the church. When the church gathers for worship and equipping, the women are not to be leading those gatherings. Men are to lead those gatherings.
Book reading outside of the church is not the same thing as women teaching men when the church assembles.
Now, I would probably caution a church small group ministry or Sunday School class that has male attendees from using a book writing by a woman. It may be a “gray area,” but I would ere on the side of caution there. You don’t want to offend a brother who might not agree with such usage of such material.
But if a man chooses to read something written by a woman in the privacy of his own home, I don’t see any reason he can’t do that. In fact, I would exhort husbands to be knowledgeable of the reading material their wives are digesting. A part of your role as a husband is to shepherd your wife in her thinking, biblical interpretation, and application of truth. So men, read the books your wives are reading.
I am currently reading two books by women: Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and Marriage is Hard by Susan Black. And the next book on my reading list is a book co-authored by two women – Word-Filled Women’s Ministry by Gloria Furman and Kathleen Nielsen.