Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is It Biblical For Women To Preach, Cover Their Hair Or Even Be Pastors?

There has always been controversy whether women should preach, pray with their hair uncovered, teach men or even be pastors at all. Consequently I will divide this lesson into three concise parts. The first part will answer the question “must women cover their hair with a cloth in church.” The second will treat “Is it biblical for a woman to preach or teach”, and the third will answer “is it biblical for a woman to be the pastor of a church”.

"Must women cover their hair with a cloth in church?”
In Israel women kept their hair and men cut theirs. Those who did not shave were only Nazarites. If a woman was accused of adultery, the priest will uncover the hair (In Num 5:18). The root word in /uncover/ is to let loose. That means to spread out the hair. In others words, it confirms the teaching of Paul that her long hair is already her covering (ICor11:15). In the days of Paul, the prostitutes cut their hair and the chaste ones kept theirs.

When the Bible says a woman should not pray with her hair uncovered (I Cor 11:5; 13), it simply means she should not shave because she will look like a harlot. So we all agree that a woman should cover her head. But the question now becomes “with what though”. Those who have hair will use their hair as a covering but those without hair need a scarf, hat, head-tie or cloth for a covering. If it meant using a cloth, scarf or head-tie, then why would the same Bible explain that her hair was given to her as covering (I Cor 11:15)?

However, the Bible is not against women adorning themselves but condemns the outward adorning rather than both the inward and outward person (I Tim 2:9; I pet 3:3). In other words, the same time you spend on making yourself look beautify outside you should do same with the person inside.

"Is it biblical for a woman to preach or teach?”At the same time that the men were asked to provide for the construction and beautification of the tabernacle, the women contributed in building the Tabernacle (Ex 35: 25-26). Even amongst women, there are differences for some were lively and others were not (Gen Ex 1:19). One other factor why women were kept aside in addition to the decree of God after the fall was the wars. After the wars, the virgins were kept for their captors (num 31:35). It was just from there that the abuse began. The women became the man’s slaves and the general status of the woman degraded. There were activities solely for women-they went out to fetch water (Gen 24:11) while men tended the sheep. This is also with most traditional societies.

Those who say that a woman should not preach base their arguments on two passages: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection” (I Tim 2:11), and “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (I Cor 14:34). If it meant so why would Paul praise Acquilla and Priscilla (his wife) for teaching Apollos-a man (Act 18:24-26). Flashing back, Paul did not condemn women who were praying and prophesying in church though at this time, he was correcting the excesses and abuses of the early church (I Cor 11:5). Perhaps we may not include Phoebe (Rom 16:1) amongst the female teachers since she was a deaconess and deacons were over the business of serving tables (Acts 6:2-3). Nonetheless, there were other women like Mary, Tryphena and Tryphosa who labored in the Lord though the nature of their labor was not specified. However, Paul in his epistle to the Philippians clarified that they “laboured with me (Paul) in the gospel” (Phili 4:2). Albeit, we acknowledge that there are various facets of laboring in the gospel. Nonetheless, we cannot discount that they neither preached nor taught the gospel.

There is a close relationship between prophecy and preaching in that both deal with the proclamation of the word of God although prophecy may become more personal to touch an individual’s private life in either forthtelling or foretelling. Therefore, if women could be prophetesses then they could preach since there is precedence.

Miriam was a prophetess (yet that poses a problem because her followers were only women (Ex 15:20). Deborah was a prophetess (Judges 4:9-10). Jeremiah asked the women to hear the word of the Lord and teach their daughters and their neighbors (Jer 9:20). Certainly not all the neighbors were all women.

The Angel praised Jael (“the wife of Heber the Kenite”) for doing the work of God (Judges 5;24-26) while the men lived in fear. It is synonymous to a woman who decides to preach while the men sit to fight for positions in the church. God has the tendency of appearing before the women first and perhaps setting them as avant-gardes of evangelism when the angel appeared unto Manoah’s wife first (Judges 13:6) the same way Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first (Mt 28:7).

The woman at the well left her water pot after hearing the gospel and witnesses to the men (Jn 4:28). After believing, the people tried to downplay her role in their conversion by saying they have heard Him (Jesus) themselves (Jn 4:42). But remember without her going to preach to them they would not have come.

To refuse women from preaching is to limit the call of God or to disregard the Holy Ghost as the giver of spiritual gifts. Jesus said: "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9:37-38). There is no precision for male laborers only. Shouldn't men be thankful they are having help from familiar sources?

The women were not only known to speak for God, they also spoke for the devil like the witch at Endor (I Sam 28:7). Indeed most people who practiced witchcraft were women. That is why it is easy to find in the Bible the word witch than wizard. Having been rejected by men to speak for God they then turned into speaking for the devil. They were converted into instruments of the devil. Therefore, it is expedient how we turn people away because of gender or age. God commanded the widow to feed Elijah while there were men having a council meeting (I kgs 17:9).

"Is it biblical for a woman to be the pastor of a church?”
After the fall, the position that God put the woman was that of subservience before the man (Gen 3: 16). During the Tabernacle worship the women always assembled at the outer court (I Sam 2:22). The reason why women could not go into the inner courts and Holy of Holies was because they were unclean and needed to be purified. With the coming of the Lord; the unclean became cleaned and the woman like the sinner gained acceptance before the Lord that she is now free to go before the throne of grace with boldness. If they can go before Him with boldness then they can serve him for no more do the men become more important than the women.

God created both male and female (Gen 1:27). Jesus emphasizes the same concept of male and female equality (Mt 19:4; Mk 10: 6) and Paul said there should be no inequality when it comes to worshipping and serving God (Gal 3:28). In saving the 8 in the Ark of Noah, God took in male and female because his work of procreation cannot be done by man alone. The woman and the man need each other in the ministry.

Until then, let the women in.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.


“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk).
Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk).

Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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