Thirty-One Days of Proverbs, Day 15
Recently I heard someone say that we should be careful of getting doctrine from women and that women should learn the scriptures from men; most notably ordained men. Admittedly, this statement angered me. Not because I don't agree somewhat with the first part of the statement, but because that second part is patently unscriptural. Yes, women should not disrupt the church by asking endless questions, and should discuss questions with their husbands at home (1 Corinthians 14:35). I couldn't possibly argue with that. And a woman should be actively discussing things with her husband before disputing things with any other person; after all, a woman's head is her husband and her husband's head is Christ. Therefore, assuming the husband recognizes Christ as his head, the husband and wife should be able to figure out answers to most problems concerning scripture.
But if we stop there, we ignore other important verses about teaching, especially those that state that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and guide us into all truth. (John 14:26, John 16:13) So do these verses only apply to men? To believe that women cannot learn anything on their own through the Holy Spirit or to assert that they must go through a man to learn is disturbingly similar to what the Catholic church teaches its people; that Catholic people can't possibly learn the Bible on their own, they must be taught by a priest. Only the teaching described above is worse, as it's only directed at women.
The next thing I had to consider was and pray about after hearing this statement was that if such a teaching were true, does that mean that women - because their doctrine must always be highly scrutinized (and possibly even rejected) - should refrain from doing what I'm doing here on my blog? Should they (should I) refrain from writing about and sharing publicly the things they have found in their personal studies?
Praise God, reading today's chapter of Proverbs has set my mind at ease about this subject. As usual, the Word of God comes to the rescue! Today's chapter offers a few verses that link the lips/tongue and knowledge (a correction to my written statement in the photo below), and I'm not finding that any of these verses are directed at one gender over the other. The verse that I specifially take note of is verse 7: "The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so". What more needs to be said? God wants us to disperse knowledge if we're wise, not shut it up or funnel it through another gender. (Unless we're going to go so far as to say that women can't be wise.) In fact, God says the fool does not disperse knowledge. Does this mean that it is foolish to keep knowledge to oneself or does it mean that a fool has no knowledge to share? I'm inclined to think that both interpretations hold true.
God, while clearly laying out that there are different roles for men and for women, has also shown through the examples of numerous women in the Bible that He respects women, their wisdom, and their knowledge. After all, was not Deborah appointed as a judge over the Israelites and given the title of prophetess? Did not Abagail save her family because she was wise (a woman of good understanding) and her husband Nabal was foolish? (His name even means "fool".) What about Priscilla who, in the face of tradition, is always named along with her husband, and of the seven times the couple is named in the Bible, five times Priscilla's name is mentioned first? Did not both Priscilla and Aquila teach Apollos? What about Esther, what about Ruth, what about Phoebe (who some argue was a deacon)?
This is what happens when we cherry pick verses in God's word and become dogmatic about those verses without considering the whole of God's word. We ignore all the other places in the Bible where there are contradictions to those few verses we've cherry picked. If there are contradictions, it means we are misunderstanding God's word, not that God's word contradicts itself. If I find a place where women are clearly teaching men (would not a judge of Israel be in a position to teach a bunch of men?) and are clearly in a spiritual place of authority over men (like a deacon or a prophetess) then maybe we shouldn't be so quick to suppress the voice of women simply because there are a couple of verses that seem to tell us we should. Maybe those other verses are really talking about a particular problem that was evident in the historical context of the verses and the Godly principles that should be used to handle the same problems in the future? Maybe those other verses are simply reiterating that first, a woman should show her husband, if she has one, the respect he deserves by seeking out his knowledge before causing contentions in a public arena, especially among the brethren.
While I understand that there are a lot of women out there today (and in the past) who are clearly false teachers, to point this out ignores the fact that there are also a mountain of male false teachers as well. Are we really to think that God thinks less of the intellect of women than He does of men? Isn't it strange, then, that when wisdom is spoken of in the Bible, it is always given a female pronoun? Hmmmm. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it. (I'm kidding, please don't smoke!)
Ladies, I think it's clear that there is a hierarchy established in God's word. God, man, woman, with God at the top. Women are to submit themselves to their own husbands (not necessarily to anyone else's husband). (Ephesians 5:22) If we are not submissive to our husbands, we are in rebellion. With that in mind, if our husbands believe that God has given us the intellect to study on our own, and allows us to, I think we should not worry about what anyone else, but God, has to say about that. After all, the Holy Spirit is above all and He is capable of teaching us all things. Stick with God's word, read/study it prayerfully and regularly as a child, submit to your husbands and share your learning with him so the two of you can be of one accord, and don't allow someone else's husband to tell you that you're not capable of rightly dividing and sharing the word of God. If you do not have a husband, then search the word for Godly examples of unmarried women to see how God uses their lives and guides them. Pray to God to show you all truth and wisdom, and as Proverbs 15:7 says, feel free to disperse your knowledge. Just don't go being disrespectful to men, especially your husbands, in the process. Do all things in love, lowliness, and meekness (advice for both men and women) and try, when it's possible, to let men teach the men. After all, they know the man's mind better than you do. But if it's not possible, I think there are plenty of examples in the Bible where God allows for "a woman" (singular) to teach "the man" (singular) (using the wording of 1 Timothy 2:12) even if there is only one verse (1 Timothy 2:12) that says otherwise. (Notice how the plural of the preceding verses in 1 Timothy 2 is changed to the singular in verse 12? I think there is a lesson to be learned there and it's probably one that will challenge the "accepted" interpretation of these verses. I am inclined to think, due to the change of tense and because of Ephesians 5:22, this verse is saying that wives should not teach their husbands, especially wives who are prone to disputations. And from my personal experience, this is sound advice.)
I'm sure, in the minds of some who read this article, I will be thought of as a rebellious Jezebel. So be it. If that is a true evaluation of my character and understanding of the scriptures, then I sincerely pray that God will rebuke me and create in me a clean and more discerning spirit. But if that turns out to be an untrue evaluation of my character and understanding, then I pray that God will teach the truth of this matter to those who are making such conclusions.
Here is the text for today:
1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
5 A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.
7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.
11 Hell and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?
12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.
13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
14 The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
16 Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
19 The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain.
20 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.
22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
25 The Lord will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.
31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
You can read the entire 31 daily Proverbs devotional series by clicking here.
Do you know, if you were to die today, whether or not you'll go to be with Christ after you die? Are you 100% and completely assured of your salvation? If not, please take the time to read this salvation message today. There is nothing more important than giving your life to Christ and securing your place in eternity. I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to a personal relationship with Christ today, and I pray that you follow where the Holy Spirit leads you.