Should Women Be Allowed to Preach?
Should women be allowed to speak in church?
If Paul meant that women could never speak in church, that would be a contradiction to his own words. (1 Corinthian 14:34-35, NIV; 1 Corinthians 11:5, NIV) Paul was dealing with outburst from women, possibly usurping and undermining their husband’s authority.
Paul addressed this by stating ‘if you have questions, ask your husband at home.’” Paul not only addresses women speaking in church, but speaking in tongues and prophesying. (1 Corinthians 14:27-28a, NIV; 1 Corinthians 14:29-31a, NIV)
The undertone of the whole message was that the church service would be descent and in order. God is a God of order, not confusion. There are times to speak up, and there are times to be quiet.
God’s Design (1 Timothy 2:11-15, NIV)
This text, along with many others in scripture, is an admonition to realign to God’s design, His original intent, that got messed up in the garden. The design is that the husband would lead his wife in the fear of God, and that the wife would come alongside him as his helper and submit to his leadership as he submits to the Lord.
Young boys and young men are no longer taught to honor and respect women. Young men are no longer taught to live a life in submission to God and lead by example.
It is not the preaching of this message that produces toxic masculinity, it is the lack of this message being preached that produces toxic masculinity.
Should women be allowed to preach in church? (1 Timothy 2:11-12, NIV)
Yes, women are allowed to preach, but there are biblical boundaries and liberties in regards to preaching. God by His design has limited women from exercising governmental authority over a man within the church.
A woman should not be in the role of lead pastor. A woman should not determine the direction of the church. A woman should not be the one who establishes the doctrine of the house.
Through scripture, we believe that the male has been given spiritual authority over the church and the household. For a woman to be in position and hold that type of authority, that would be assuming authority over man. In the right time and right place women could preach under the covering of their spiritual authority without usurping a man’s governmental authority.
Sermon Video Transcription
Richie Thornton (00:00):
My name’s Pastor Richie. I’m excited to continue this series 2020 investigation, and in this series we’re covering some of the most controversial topics that you ask. And let me tell you, you all asked some good ones. I promise you. This morning I’m going to try to tackle just a few of them, but before we jump into it this morning, I want to give a big shout out to Pastor James. Will you all give him some love this morning. Thank you Pastor, just for your leadership and your guidance and thank you for trusting me, giving me this opportunity to preach this morning. And I also want to thank Miss Debbie, thank you so much for just supporting our pastor and the strength and encouragement that you bring to him and this body. And I also want to thank my family and my wife for allowing me to do this as well and I couldn’t do this without them.
Richie Thornton (00:57):
So, this morning as we jump into it, I want to try to tackle three questions or three topics that you ask are brought up. The first one is this toxic masculinity. The second one is should women be allowed to preach. The third one is should women quote unquote speak out in church? Question Mark, Amen. Or public prayer? That’s how I got them. And so that’s how I’m going to address them. I love that I always get the easy ones. So I’m really excited for this this morning, but I want to spend most of my time dealing with the question, should women be allowed to preach? And I truly believe this, that in the process of building that case for or against, we’ll see. I believe that we’ll deal with these other two questions very well. And so let’s jump right in. Should women be allowed to preach?
Richie Thornton (01:54):
You know, I believe this, that this is right at the top of the list of controversial topics. Would you all agree? I mean, if you can think back, not very far, just a couple months ago, many of you saw the upset in the media as a very prominent pastor who if I said his name, you would know John MacArthur. Okay. He was asked the question at a conference, you know the deal was this, they said, we’re going to say a name And when we say that name you say the two words that come to your mind. And so he said, okay. And he played ball. And so they said Beth Moore, to which he responded, go home. And so man, let me tell you in that moment we saw a split. In that moment we saw a divide. I mean you had, when he said go home, essentially what he was saying is this Pastor was taking the stance that this woman was being unbiblical in her ministry and it would be better for her to go home.
Richie Thornton (02:52):
Well, I mean you saw an instant divide. All of a sudden you saw half the church lining up with him who believe in stance and the other half lining up with her saying, no, she’s within the biblical bounds in her ministry and God allows this. And then you have some that are just kind of in the middle of life. I don’t know. But I know I need to choose a side. And so, the reason I bring up that story this morning is to prove my point that this is a controversial topic, not only in the world, but in the church as well. I mean, I’m talking about amongst believers those who we call brothers and sisters in the Lord. It’s a controversial topic, but let’s bring it a little bit closer to home. Okay. What does Journey Church believe? Where does Journey Church stand?
Richie Thornton (03:40):
Now it’s closer home. Now it’s a little closer to the chest. Do we believe that women should be able to preach? And if I can answer this real quick and then we’ll jump into it. The answer is yes. It’s not a flat yes. Let me bring some clarification of that. It’s a yes, but that yes does have some boundaries which I believe are outlined in scripture and today with God’s help, I’m going to try to present the biblical boundaries, as well as the biblical liberties that women have in regards to preaching. And so are you all on board with that? Okay, let’s get into it. So, if we’re going to do this topic, any justice, I believe we have to go right to the heart of the matter. And so, there are some, when we start talking about the prohibition of women preachers, there are a couple of scriptures that people love to go right to.
Richie Thornton (04:33):
So, if we’re going to do this topic, any justice, I believe we have to go right to the heart of the matter. And so, there are some, when we start talking about the prohibition of women preachers, there are a couple of scriptures that people love to go right to. So, if we’re going to do this any justice, we’ve got to deal with those scriptures. Amen? And so the first one that I want to deal with is found in 1 Corinthians 14. I can tell I’m going to make some friends today and I’m going to make some enemies today. But, I hope that all my friends have my back. You all get ready. So, 1 Corinthians 14:34,35 it says this, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. If we take these scriptures at face value, isn’t it easy to conclude that, hey, women are just supposed to come into the church and shut up, right?
Richie Thornton (05:27):
It’s easy to look at those scriptures and to conclude that, well, that’s just what the Bible says. So sorry ladies, you all be quiet. Just be quiet. No, but, but that’s not what I think. It’s easy to conclude that. However, don’t believe that Paul is making it an absolute prohibition to all women for all time, from ever saying in anything in the church, forever. I don’t believe that’s the point that he’s making. The reason I don’t think that’s the point that he’s making is because if he was, he would be contradicting his own words. In 1 Corinthians 11:5, let’s read it. It says, but every woman who prays or prophesies, let me ask you something. If a woman is to pray or prophesy in the church, she’s probably speaking and making some noise. Amen? And so he says, but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors the Lord.
Richie Thornton (06:21):
In other words, and that’s a whole cultural thing in itself. Women no longer wear head coverings here in America, but what that showed at the time and in the culture, was it was a point of respect and so it showing that if she wore the head uncovered, it was a sign of dishonor and disrespect. So, already you can see how we’re beginning to veer away from this original command. Are you all seeing that? Paul wrote this in reference to how are we supposed to conduct ourselves in honor, both to everybody present in the larger congregation, but also to the Lord. And so to me it appears that Paul isn’t prohibiting women from praying or prophesying during the service because he isn’t prohibiting them from praying or prophesying in the service. He’s not for all time, for all women, making a prohibition from any speaking being done in the church. Is that clear? I know that was a little hard for me to get out.
Richie Thornton (07:21):
Here’s the thing, the question that Paul is really addressing to the church of Corinth. What’s the question he’s really addressing? I think it’s clear what he was addressing by the solution he gave within the command. Can we look at it? If I seem to be bumbling and fumbling, you come preach this. Okay, so let’s pray. Lord, I don’t stand in my own authority. I stand in the authority of you and your scripture. So Lord, I pray that you anoint me by your spirit and help me to preach your word, that it will edify your church and the believers in Jesus name. Amen.
Richie Thornton (08:19):
First Corinthians 14:34,35 I’m trying to ask you, what is the question that Paul is really trying to get to the bottom of what is Paul really trying to accomplish? He said, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission. As the law says, listen, if they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. And so by the solution that Paul gave in the scripture and in the command, I think that we can infer that the problem was probably this. There were a bunch of loud women and chatty Cathy’s in the congregation saying, well, what’s that mean? Well, what do you mean by that pastor? And this thing was happening so much that it was becoming a tremendous distraction. So how does Paul handle it? What’s the antidote? He says this. He says, look, I’m going to give you a simple solution. Ladies, if you have any problems, if you have any questions, don’t bring it up in the middle of a service. Wait until you get home and ask your husband. I believe that is the problem that was going on And Paul addressed it. Simply.
Richie Thornton (09:06):
Paul doesn’t just simply address women speaking in the church. Guess what he also addressed speaking in tongues, verses 27 and 28 it says this, if any, speak in a tongue. Let there be only two or three at the most each in turn and let someone interpret but listen to this. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church. Was Paul saying that, Hey, no one can ever speak in tongues ever again in the history of the church. No, he’s saying there’s a time and a place to do it. He doesn’t only address that. He touched on prophesying in the church.
Richie Thornton (09:57):
Verse 29 through 31 he said, let two or three prophets speak and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent, for you can all prophesy one by one. Was he saying that there’s absolutely no prophesying allowed church? No. Once again, I make the same point I just made. He said there’s a time and place to do it. There’s a time and place to be silent and there’s a time and place to speak up. And it’s the same with women in the church. He was making a point, Hey, he was making the point that God is not the author of confusion, but God is the God of order. And when we come to this place of worship, when we come into this setting, if each and every person is doing their own thing and saying their own thing, it gets out of line real quick. And so he’s trying to establish the order of the church. Do we agree up to this point?
Richie Thornton (10:46):
Come on. I don’t believe that this was a prohibition from women ever speaking in church. So the next scripture we really need to deal with is found in 1 Timothy 2:11,12. Here I believe we see the same principle being echoed by Paul, except I do see a blatant prohibition in this scripture. I don’t see any way around it. I believe he’s echoing the first principle we just dealt with, but then I do see a blatant prohibition, but we’re going to deal with it. 1 Timothy 2:11,12 it says, a woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I feel like we dealt with that. Verse 12, I do not permit a woman to teach or assume or usurp authority over a man. She must be quiet. Now, when I read this passage, a lot of people automatically jump on the culture bandwagon. Well, you know, he was just speaking a culture and we’ve already had some of that dialogue, and I agree with that up to a certain point, but I don’t believe it was totally rooted in culture. The reason I don’t buy that is because of this. Let’s look at the text.
Richie Thornton (11:54):
1 Timothy 2:11-15, a woman should learn in quietness, full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man. She must be quiet. Listen to this. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not the one deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But the woman will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. So, do you see the reason that I don’t believe this was just a cultural problem, is because Paul didn’t reference the culture. He said, Hey, this that we’re dealing with right here. He drew a line and traced it all the way back to creation and the fall. So, it’s not rooted in culture. The problem was rooted in the garden and in the fall.
Richie Thornton (12:39):
Here’s the thing, once again, we see Paul setting straight a problem that he perceived in the church. And this was a problem that started all the way back at creation when Eve ate the fruit that God commanded her not to eat of. And to quote Pastor James, I love how he says this. Eve ate the fruit and her wimpy husband stood by and allowed her to do it. And am I right? So here was the thing. This text along with many others in scripture is an admonition for us to realign to God’s model and God’s designed the way that he intended it to be at the beginning, but we lost it at the fall. What was God’s, what was his intentions? What was God’s design in the very beginning? Well, he created Adam. He gave him the command. He put him in the garden. He told him to subdue it. To be fruitful and multiply, multiply to fill the earth. And what man was supposed to do when his wife came on the scene was he was supposed to lead her in the fear of God. He was supposed to lead her in the commands of God. He was supposed to lead her in the truths of God. He was supposed to walk in fear of God. He was supposed to submit unto the Lord and love his wife as Christ loved the church. She was to come alongside him as his helper and submit unto him as he submitted unto the Lord. But all that got thrown out in the garden when they blew it.
Richie Thornton (14:04):
So, now it’s this constant power struggle. It’s this constant power struggle of men don’t know who they are and they try to take their place, but, but women don’t know who they are and they try to take that place. And all of us have trouble submitting to God, and it’s this constant power struggle. And so what Paul is doing yet again is he’s saying, look, I know we keep missing it, but this is God’s motto and his design. And he’s seeking to push us back to that model and say, look, this is the way that God established things. Get back to it. Paul has taken the same design, this same principle that was instituted in creation that was instituted in the garden. He said, Hey, this is the model, this is the design for the home. And guess what is also the model and the design for the church as well.
Richie Thornton (15:32):
You know, someone raised the topic of toxic masculinity, toxic masculine masculinity. Let me try to jump on that for a minute. Can we be honest? You know what I mean? Isn’t that one of the fears of this message? Isn’t that the fear? Because you’ve, you’ve known bad men and I’ve known bad men, am I right? We’ve known bad men that come and sit in a church pew and say, woman, you submit to me because this is what the word of God says and they aren’t any closer to Jesus than Mohammad. I’ll hear something for that, I’m sure. But, I think that’s really the fear, isn’t it? That you know, if we preach this message, isn’t it going to create toxic men and toxic masculinity that they just think that they’re God’s gift to earth and that all women have to submit to them. And they go on power trips and they mistreat women and all this and that. I think that that’s the fear. When we preach this message, but my argument is this this morning, I don’t think this message produces toxic masculinity. I think it’s the lack of this message that has produced toxic masculinity.
Richie Thornton (16:11):
Why do I say that? Because young men and young boys are no longer taught to be responsible. Young men and young boys are no longer taught, Hey, you need to rise up and you have a responsibility by God to be a leader. Young boys and young men are no longer taught, Hey, you need to walk in the fear of the Lord and you need to lead by example. They’re no longer taught to commit. They’re no longer taught to guard the hearts of their Christian sisters in the Lord, and I got to jump on this for a minute. I believe that the feminist movement has done a lot of good, but it’s also done a great deal of harm. You want to know why? Because the culture got right behind these guys and said, you know what? You don’t have to commit. Women need no help. You don’t have to get a job. Women don’t need no help. You don’t have to lead the family. Women need no help. And so now young men are taught, Hey, I don’t have to commit. I can do whatever I want. I don’t have to rise up. I can do whatever I want. And so what the world sought to do to bring equality, it actually drove the divide even further.
Richie Thornton (17:20):
What am I, what do we have to do? Young men and young boys need to be taught to rise up. Young men and young boys need to be taught to honor and respect women. Young boys and young men need to be taught that, Hey, guess what? God’s model and God’s design is for you to find one woman and make her your wife. And then you consecrate the wedding bed. Amen? You’re called to submit to the Lord. You’re to work. You’re called to provide for that household, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. You’re called to submit unto the Lord in reverent fear of God. And then your wife is called come alongside of you and be your helper and submit unto you as you submit to the Lord. We’ve gotten away from that message, and that is why I believe we’re struggling with so much toxic masculinity. We’re left with a bunch of guys who don’t know who they are. Who walk around in a strength and a facade of masculinity, but it’s just a shadow of what God really has for him. Now we’re left with a generation of guys who don’t honor, who don’t respect women, who don’t know who they are, but we’ve got to get back to our identity in Christ. Amen?
Richie Thornton (18:34):
The question is, this order, we’re talking about the order. We’re talking about God’s design. Men submit unto God. Women submit unto your husbands, does God’s design absolutely prohibit women from preaching forever? In other words, should women be allowed to preach? And more importantly, does God’s word give Liberty for women to be preachers not pastors? Hear me, I think that’s not the message that I’m preaching. I hate to even get in it. I think it’s a no, but does he allow him to preach at all? As I stated in the open, I believe the answer is yes with boundaries, and so let me talk about those boundaries. Our text, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, a woman should learn in quietness, full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume or usurp authority over a man. She must be quiet. The word I want to hone in on is that word authority. In the Greek.
Richie Thornton (19:32):
This word is exousía. There’s a term for this. It’s called a hapax legomena. It means that this is the only time this word in the Greek appears in the entire Bible. This is the only time that this word appears and so I’m not that smart. I had to rely on other biblical scholars, reputable scholars to say, Hey, what does this word even mean? And as far as I can tell, most scholars agree that this authority that they’re talking about right now represents a governmental authority within the church body, because that is the context in which it was written. A governmental authority. What that means is God, by his design, has limited women from exercising governmental authority over a man within the church. Practically speaking, that means that a woman should not be the lead pastor. How many of you believe that the lead pastor, if he had zero authority to make governmental decisions, would struggle be in the pastor? Some of you have been in those churches.
Richie Thornton (20:44):
What does, what does governmental authority mean? Governmental authority is, Hey, this church is about to go this direction. Governmental authority says, Hey, we’re about to plant a campus in Alexandria. Governmental authority means, Hey, we’re going to take this portion of the budget and we’re going to put it here, and we’re going to take this portion of the budget, and we’re going to put it over here. Is that making sense? Governmental authority. In other words, you’re, you’re choosing the direction and the order of the house. Governmental authority would say, Hey, this church and this body stands by this doctrine. That would be governmental authority and through scripture. The scripture that I just read, it prohibited women from stepping into that role as governmental authority. Here’s the argument that I’m trying to make this morning. Is it possible for a woman to preach without stepping into that role of governmental authority? I believe yes, because I’m doing it right now.
Richie Thornton (21:53):
Not that I’m a, I could see how that could be taken wrong. Not that I’m a woman. What I mean is right now I’m not exercising any governmental authority. If I were to say we’re about to plant a church in Florida. You all would look at me crazy because I don’t have that governmental authority. In fact, this message that I’m preaching right now, I had to submit it to my authority and my spiritual covering to even make sure that I could deliver it to you this morning. I’m not, number one, I stand in the authority of the all mighty God. Number two, I stand in the authority of Pastor James, as an extension of the authority that he has allowed me to stand in. Does that make sense?
Richie Thornton (22:44):
I’m standing up here preaching, but I don’t even have governmental authority. And so the case that I’m trying to say is this, is it possible for a woman to do to do the same, to be an extension of Pastor James’ biblical authority without usurping any governmental role of authority? I think yes. So, how does that play out in this context? Well, the way that it plays out in our context is guess what? Women are allowed to lead Sunday school classes here. Under their spiritual covering, which is pastor James and or their husband, if they’re married, they can lead serve teams. Under their spiritual covering. And I believe in the right time and in the right place. Women could preach under the spiritual covering and authority of their pastor and their husband if they’re married, as an extension of the authority of the pastor without usurping the governmental authority that we’re talking about.
Richie Thornton (23:41):
This message may have not made everybody happy. It’s, more a thinking message, you know what I mean? It’s just like, it’s real. It’s something that, that we’ve got to is something that we’ve got to deal with. You asked the question and so I said, yeah, I guess I’ll try to take that one on. And so that’s what I’ve tried to do. But, if I can be honest with you this morning, like I’m not trying to convince anyone, I’m just trying to make a, you know, I’m trying to stay true to the word of God. I’ve got a properly divide the text and the scripture. I’ve got to remain true to him and I’m also trying to give some grace too. I don’t think you know, here’s the thing, we’ve either all got to be quiet women or guess what? That’s not really what he said in there. There is some room for me to minister and I’m trying to say that I believe he did give some grace. Here’s the thing, this is not really one of those hills that I’m ready to die on. Whether you’re for or against it. You know, you may be in here this morning. You say this was way too liberal and lenient of a message for me. There may be others in here that you say, you just missed it. This is way too conservative of a message for me.
Richie Thornton (25:00):
Here’s the thing, we can talk about toxic masculinity. We can talk about whether or not women should be able to speak or preach in the church. We can talk about all these things, but at the end of the day, I believe they are peripheral issues, they really are. And I think that if the church isn’t careful, we get more caught up in the side issues than the truth. Come on. The one thing about keeping the main thing, the main thing, and I hope that we can all agree on this this morning, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Come on, that Jesus Christ is Lord and we may disagree on that or that, but we can all agree on this, that there’s one way to the father and that’s through Jesus. That no man comes to the father except through the son and his name is Jesus. I think we all can agree on that and that’s what brings us together this morning. I want to ask you that. That’s the most important thing that I want to talk about. Do you know him? Let’s push that other stuff to the side for a moment. Do you know Jesus? We talked a lot about submission. Are you submitted to Jesus this morning? Do you know him as your Lord and your savior? If you come under that submission. Have you submitted your dreams to Jesus?
Richie Thornton (26:16):
You know, maybe you are a woman in here and you feel like you’re just limited for some reason. Have you submitted those dreams to him? Maybe you’re a guy in hear and you’ve got a dream and it just seems to, the farther you push towards it the farther back it gets. Have you submitted those dreams to Jesus? Maybe you’re in here, your marriages is in shambles. Have you submitted your marriage to him? Maybe you’re in here, you’re confused, you’re weighed down and you’ve got these problems. Have you submitted those problems to Jesus this morning? Just like the testimony we just saw, she tried everything else. It wasn’t until she submitted to Jesus that she had breakthrough. Are you submitted to him this morning? Have we submitted our life? Let me tell you this morning, there’s nothing too hard for the Lord to handle. What is impossible with God shall not be. What is impossible with man is not impossible with God except that which we refuse to submit to him. Have you submitted to him? It’s my prayer that whatever you’ve come in here with this morning, as the Pastor says, don’t leave the same way that you came in. Will you submit to him? I want to pray, will you stand with me this morning.
Richie Thornton (28:07):
Lord, this was a little tough this morning, Lord, we’ve talked about a controversial topic and and we may agree and we may disagree, but Lord, that’s not what brings us together. Lord, it’s you that brings peace. And so Lord, right now I pray that we could push that stuff aside, because right now the conversation that we’re having with you and about you is the most important thing that we’re going to talk about all morning. Lord, I pray that those who are not submitted to your authority, Lord, that those who have not made you Lord of their life. Lord, I pray that those who have not submitted their marriage, that those who have not submitted their life, that those who have not submitted their dreams, those who haven’t submitted their hurts, habits and hang-ups. Lord, that this morning would be the morning to submit unto you. Lord is the most important thing we’ll do. So, Lord, right now, I pray that you would pull the hearts towards you this morning. If anybody needs to respond, I pray that you do it in Jesus name. Amen.
Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.