Vol. 5, No. 3
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
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The purpose of this lesson is not to discuss whether a woman can or should teach God's Word. We know from biblical examples and commands that women are required by God to be teachers. The Great Commission was given to all mankind (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16), thus requiring women to be teachers of God's Word. Nor will we spend time discussing when and whom a woman can teach. Many articles have adequately taught the necessity and importance of female teachers within God-given restrictions. The purpose of this lesson is to address some of the avenues in which women teach and discuss some of the positive and negative aspects of these opportunities in the hope that being aware of some negative aspects ahead of time will offset these problems before they arise. A second point of this lesson is to encourage Christian women to step up and seize the opportunities to teach and grow in Christ.
A passage of Scripture directed to women as teachers is Titus 2:3-5.
"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
These verses instruct older women to teach the younger women (through example and with words) how to be loving wives and mothers, to instruct them as to their duties in the home and guide them in moral obligations so that the younger women would not condemn the Word of God by their actions. Thus, we have a biblical command for women to teach women. Also outlined in these verses are subjects that are to be taught. Not addressed in these verses are where and when the older women are to teach the younger women. We know from other biblical passages that this teaching is not to be in a manner in which the woman would have authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12). This necessitates setting a separate assembly for women. This assembly could be a separate Bible Class during the normal Sunday morning or Wednesday evening Bible classes or it could be set on another day. The chosen time is what will work best for the individuals attending the class.
One negative aspect of having a Bible class for women taught by women is the opportunity for the class to slip away from teaching God's Word toward 'gossip,' 'backbiting' and 'I feel" rather than 'thus saith the Lord.' While any Bible class, whether taught by a man or a woman, can drift in this direction, I believe it becomes a greater danger for ladies' classes. In Paul's discussion of widows in 1 Timothy 5, he recommends that younger widows remarry so that they do not have extra time on their hands and become busybodies as they travel about from house to house. This indicates that gossiping and being busybodies are sins that have greater tendencies among women.
Typically speaking, women tend to lean toward the emotional aspect of a topic or situation while men typically lean toward the intellectual. This carries over in the realm of Bible study. Most lessons taught by men are geared toward the intellect while the lessons taught by women tend to be based on the emotion. Women have a greater tendency to think about the emotional teachings and frequently relate to 'I feel' rather than taking a closer look at what the Bible says.
Another negative aspect of having Bible classes for women taught by women is the realm of authority becoming clouded. Some individuals like the prominence that is afforded in Ladies' Classes and all day Ladies' Inspiration Days. While these opportunities will strengthen and encourage us spiritually, if we are not careful we can let this new found strength and courage overshadow God's will for us in worship and in the home. All mankind should desire to use the talents with which God has blessed them. For instance, when women develop and use the talent to lead singing in a setting for women, it may become difficult to sit back and not use that talent on a regular basis in a mixed assembly. Some individuals find it difficult to be able to separate what is acceptable in one situation as unacceptable in another. (Some men have difficulty submitting to the authority of the elders because they have great authority in the workplace.) With this in mind, we need to watch our attitudes as we worship and serve our God.
I can think of no better way for older women to teach younger women than to set a time for women to open their Bibles and study God's Word together. Because women and men think differently, a woman can bring some things to a better understanding for women than can a man. Women are certainly better equipped, then men, to teach other women how to love their husbands and children. One would think that we would automatically know how to love our husbands and children, but God thought it important to tell the older women to teach this to the younger women. For instance, if women would automatically love their children, there would not be the great number of abortions today.
A woman can be a loving wife and mother, show hospitality to friends and strangers, visit the sick and shut-ins, help the needy, do many wonderful works and be a good moral person, but will not obtain a heavenly reward if she failed to study God's Word. We cannot rely on our husbands to teach us all that we need to know from God's Word. We cannot go to heaven on our "husband's coattails," believing he will give us all the spiritual knowledge we need. A Christian woman must study God's Word, learn to apply it to her life and teach that Word to others. Ladies' classes can encourage the older women to study and develop the talent to teach and it can encourage the younger ladies to follow in their footsteps as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Ladies' Bible Classes can be an encouragement to the spiritually weak (Hebrews 5:12-14). A byproduct of Christians gathering together to worship God is the fellowship that is enjoyed among other Christians. Ladies' Bible Classes also offer a time of fellowship. Whether it is the smaller group that is gathered or perhaps it is because only women are present, the fellowship is different than the fellowship experienced when the whole congregation is gathered. Spending time with Christians is an opportunity to grow stronger without the constant battle of the world pulling us away from God. When scheduling a ladies' class be sure to take into consideration when those who are spiritually weak would best be able to attend.
Ladies' classes can be used to teach God's role for women and used to outline all the wonderful work women can do within God's guidelines. After studying God's Word, put into practice the things learned by dividing the class into smaller groups. Since not all women are the same personality (some more outgoing than others) the class could be divided so that an outgoing personality goes visiting with someone whose personality is not outgoing. This enables all Christian women to fulfill the command to "visit the fatherless and the widows" (James 1:27) and not go against the nature of their personality. Over time, we can mold our personalities to change in this regard to become stronger Christians.
The points mentioned here are not an exhaustive list of the negative or the positive aspects of a ladies' class. These points should not be used to condemn all ladies' Bible classes and immediately dissolve the classes that are currently meeting. Nor should the positive points be used to endorse all Ladies' Bible Classes. Serious consideration should be given to each area mentioned and application should be applied where necessary. Christian women need to take heed to the warnings mentioned and make a concerted effort to watch their attitudes. We need to grow in the knowledge of God's Word, to strengthen ourselves and all whom we may have influence, and use the talents with which God has blessed us. All this needs to be done within the framework of the role God has outlined for women. Older women need to teach the younger women, to be the examples they can follow, to be listening ears when they have difficulties, to be encouragers in a times of discouragement and be helping hands to all as we walk along the pilgrim pathway on our march toward heaven.