A few weeks ago, I was watching Elisabeth Elliot teach a group of people on some topic that I don’t remember. I think it was about being a godly woman. In the class, I noticed there were men and women. When her talk was done, she said her next teaching will be to men on how to be real men. It reminded me of her speaking to men and women in our chapel service at Westmont College many years ago.
This had me wondering about this, so I researched what she thought about women preaching in a church. Here’s what she said in an interview when asked about it:
JBMW: “What precautionary measures do you take in your itinerant ministry to protect yourself from violating the commands of 1 Timothy 2?”
EE: “When I’m invited to speak in a church service on Sunday morning, I decline. If I am invited to speak in a mixed Sunday school class, for example, or a Sunday evening service, I will do so with one very clear understanding – that meeting (must) be under a man who is a leader and who then turns over to me for this limited period of time the podium. There’s nothing in the Bible that says that’s okay. The Bible doesn’t talk about Sunday school classes and evening church services; it talks about men, in general, being the leaders of the church and the women are to be subject.
“I just want it to be known that I’m not, in any way, trying to usurp authority; I’m simply testifying. So it is clearly understood that I am under the authority of this man who has just introduced me, and under the authority of this church. And it is for this limited time I am speaking.”
I listened to another video of hers in a large church filled with men and women, and her talk was over an hour. No, she wasn’t just giving her testimony. She was “testifying” or teaching as she admits.
Nancy Wolgemuth believes the same thing as stated on her website:
“What does Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believe about women teaching when men are present?
“She believes that the words found in 1 Timothy 2:12 still apply to women today, and that women should not be the spiritual leaders of men, as pastors or even as the primary leaders of mixed-gender Sunday school classes.
“At the same time, Nancy does not believe that occasional teaching by women in mixed audiences is inappropriate, as long as two things are clear. First, that it is taking place under the headship of male spiritual authority. (The word translated have authority means ‘to exercise authority on one’s own account; to domineer over—one who acts on his own authority; to have dominion.’) And, second, as long as the woman involved is not put in a position of ongoing responsibility for the spiritual direction of men. (The word translated to teach in 1 Timothy 2:12 is in a tense that indicates ongoing instruction.)”
I don’t agree with either of these women’s positions since they seem to have conveniently left out these verses: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 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. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)
Undoubtedly, women will ask about me, “You’re teaching men! What about that?” For one thing, I have never stood behind a pulpit in a church service and taught anyone. I am quiet in the church gatherings, even in the Sunday School where men are present. Yes, men learn from me biblical womanhood. They comment on my blog and social media sites, BUT they know that I am not teaching them due to the subject matter that I teach. I have never told a man how to live his life or God’s role for him. This is not my ministry. God is specific with my ministry, so I try very hard to stick with what He has commanded that I teach to women.
Did Elisabeth Elliot pave the way for female preachers? I believe she did. I actually love listening to her teach and I love what she teaches, but I also believe that her teaching in churches and classes where men were present and teaching specifically to men at times was wrong. If she can teach a Bible study class or in a chapel full of men and women, why can’t Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer do the same? And they have, and both are clearly false teachers.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
1 Timothy 2:11