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Vol.  9  No. 6 June 2007  Page 4
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T. Pierce BrownFuzzy Questions

By T. Pierce Brown

    We just received a letter from a dear brother who had been asked, “Where in the Bible is there authority for a Christian woman to teach a Christian man, or any man in public?” Part of my response to him was, “If a person asks a ‘fuzzy’ question, he can not expect anything but a ‘fuzzy’ answer.” First, what does he mean by “in public?” If a man sees a woman on the street corner and asks her, “What does a person need to do in order to be saved?” are they “in public” and can she properly tell him? If an unsaved neighbor moves into the community, and a Christian woman invites them over for dinner and the man asks her the same question, are they “in public” or can she talk about anything the Bible teaches? If they are in a Bible study in the church building, and both the unsaved person and the Christian woman are students in the class and the teacher asks the question, may the Christian woman answer? If they are engaged in the “worship service” and the Christian woman is obeying Colossians 3:16 which commands her to teach and admonish, and she has as her visitor her non-Christian friend, is she disobeying some other command which prohibits her from teaching “a Christian man or any man in public”?

    In our judgment, the simple Bible answer to all of these questions is that all Christians are to be involved in teaching others, both men and women, Christian and non-Christian what to do to be saved and to live the Christian life. The Great Commission, as well as such passages as Colossians 3:16 involves all of us. So, the Bible gives the authority to do so. The only limitation of which we are aware is that in the church, she is not to “teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12). It does not forbid her teaching a man, whether Christian or sinner.

    To illustrate: If there is a Bible class in a congregation, there is nothing that forbids a woman to teach it. However, if a man is in the class as a student, and she is teaching, she is teaching over a man, which she is not authorized to do. If she is in the class as a student, and there is a man in the class who needs information, and she makes a comment about a Bible passage that teaches him, she is not teaching over him, for the teacher of the class is the one who has authority in the class to raise questions, limit discussion and be in charge of the class in general.

    So, any person that forbids a woman to teach what God authorized and commanded her to teach has gone beyond what God has taught and should repent of his error. Our experience has been that it is very difficult to get any person who is teaching that false doctrine to study more deeply into the subject and forsake his error. However, it is our responsibility to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), preach the Word with longsuffering (1 Timothy 4:2). Elders, especially, have the responsibility to “exhort and convince the gainsayer” (Titus 1:9). If he cannot be convinced, his mouth is to be stopped (Titus 1:11), but all that is done should be done in love.
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