Of True and False Preachers and Teachers

Few things strike a bigger blow to the idea that women should be preachers than a woman who has been exposed as a false preacher. When a man is exposed as a false preacher, he’s just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Jesus and Paul both told us that they would arise from among us and wreak havoc. He is considered as an individual who is not fit for the position, his gender is not counted against him and he is not counted against his gender.

But when a woman is exposed as a false preacher, it’s a mark against all woman-kind. “See? That’s proof then and there that all women are easily deceived and have no business of being preachers. That’s why God ordained men are preachers.” Never mind that if you were to create a list of false preachers the gender would be overwhelmingly male given that men are given legitimacy just because they’re men. Women haven’t had nearly the time or opportunity to be false teachers to the degree that men have. Even starting from the oldest of heresies – men were mostly the ones who thought them up.

It’s not that I want both men and women to be false preachers – I want both men and women to be true preachers and teachers. The argument “women can’t be a preacher because she’s easily deceived and she would deceive everyone who hears her teach incorrectly.” Seems rather weak given that the history of the vast majority of false preachers are men who deceive and are deceived even though they aren’t women.

It’s creating this environment where women are given less access to sound materials that causes some of the problems in the first place. Women’s bible studies have a tendency to be considered ‘fluffy’ – light on theology and overly focused on arts and crafts and recipes as well as appeals to emotion and fixations on relationships. Men’s bible studies are usually considered ‘meatier’. If men and women were both educated to the same level and permitted to act as checks and balances then our faith wouldn’t be so askew. Somehow, it’s okay for a man to correct a woman, but it’s not okay for a woman to correct a man. Rather, a wife has to support her husband even if she knows what he believes is wrong.

Really, what would be so wrong if the religious marketplace was a forum where men and women were on the same level ground and respectfully listened to each other as they made their arguments for what they believed? What if gender really had nothing to do with one’s spirituality? What if a little girl could grow up to be a preacher and nobody had a problem with that?

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9 thoughts on “Of True and False Preachers and Teachers

  1. Well said!
    Woman was not created to be second fiddle to men. Right out of Genesis, men have misconstrued scripture to their own benefit. Then, we have a few chosen Pauline lines that have ruled the Church for centuries (one of which is highly suspect as a scribe add-in), but only because context is ignored.
    I did a series a few years ago called, Equality or Equity. I tried to explain what I believe the Lord was showing me concerning His view on women, along with some inserted paragraphs from a friend of mine (his portions are long, but there are good points in them). It all started when the question was posed, “Why did God put men in charge?” So, I set out to find out what I really knew…He did not put men “in charge”.

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    1. So many start at Genesis 2, they miss that in Genesis 1, men and women together take care of the stewardship of the world, they both occupy the same task. These days, Genesis 2 causes the interpretation to be skewed, so that men are in charge alone and women lose their original position. No longer are men and women side-by-side, but men stand in front and women are just behind them.

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      1. That’s just it – they stick with the English: “help-meet”. So many bloggers introduce themselves as “my husband’s help-meet” and not as “a strong helper, a military aid, a corresponding help” … so they don’t really know what it means in the original.

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  2. Jamie! I’m beginning to feel like a heretic already. I long for God, but everywhere I turn I’m told a woman’s place is in the home, I’ve studied, prayed and sought counsel, but this stuff doesn’t seem or feel right. I’ve discovered that a lot of these scriptures are misinterpreted. I try to write and reference this “headship” stuff in a way that I don’t sound like a woman “outside authority”. Last time I contributed what I thought, i was told that my western and feminist approach to the gospel was a tool from hell. Some said the Devil is trying to lead women to abandon their God-given destinies as huusewives.

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    1. When people tell me that a woman’s place is in the home, I remind them that Phoebe, a deacon, hosted the church in her house – that Priscilla and Aquila together taught Apollos – that Junia, an apostle, had Paul’s respect. And that’s not counting Grapte who taught the women in the orphans in her church or Marcella who told the elders who were referred to her how to understand a tricky theological point and that’s only part of the story of how women contributed to Christianity once the pages of the Bible were finished – the desert mothers are a fascinating part of the ascetic movement within early post-Bible church history.
      The Bible was written in a culture where it was rare for women to work, but Lydia sold purple cloth and seems to be the head of her household and also hosted a church in her own house. In our culture, women work outside of the house all of the time – and for them the work doesn’t stop when they get home because they have to pull double duty catching up the housework. A woman’s place is wherever they are to be found, a woman’s work is whatever they happen to be doing – it’s modern Christian teachings that try to make ancient codes apply to today that’s causing so much tension. But so few know what that ancient culture was like for women – basically living in seclusion and segregation. They say that’s God’s will, but Jesus wasn’t known to rub shoulders only with men. He had a set of women who were his patrons – effectively putting himself in their debt by allowing them to provide for his ministry with their own money.
      Much of the true story isn’t told, or it’s changed to support complementarian ideals about a woman’s role as a wife and mother who submits and obeys – but this teaching doesn’t come from the lips of Jesus – he once told Martha that only one things is necessary and that Mary had figured it out.

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      1. There are churches (denominations) in which women can be Priests or Ministers. First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA, where I found your comment under Dr. Jim Somerville’s post, is one of those. There are also some churches, these days, – such as St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church of Richmond, Catholic Churches on Saturday evenings- which offer services at times other than the Sunday morning services. Some churches have singles ministries as well. I am a Christian yet there was a time when I strongly questioned the church and Christianity. God easily withstood and answered my questions and still does. Anyway, as I have objectively observed Christianity over the years, I have often seen that sometimes there is too much focus on leadership and power and precious little (got that phrase from Claude Raines’ Prince John character in Robin Hood ;>) focus on servanthood. on “followship”. Jesus Christ, the God incarnate, Virgin born, crucified, risen, living Son of God, is the Head of the church (ALL denominations), King of Kings and Lord of Lords (and Presidents, etc. as well) of all time. In whatever we do our focus should be on FOLLOWING HIM. May God bless and guide you. May God bless and guide us all.

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      2. I find it so disheartening to know that there are so many who view a woman preacher as an insult to the profession, a sin against God’s design, a curse against the men in the congregation who are too weak to teach that their inferior had to step up and expose them to all manner of heresy because as a daughter of Eve, all women are easily deceived. This whole thing – it’s nothing like Jesus said: “call no one “father” or “teacher”, you are all brothers and sisters” … We’ve gotten so far away from what Jesus wanted, it’s a wonder we still dare to utter his name in our hallowed halls.

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