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Question and Answer

Women Teaching Men

Question:

Could you please let me know what your position is on women teaching in the local church? Any info you could give would be helpful, as I seek to understand the true teaching of the Scripture concerning this. Thanks for your time.

Answer:

In accordance with the Word of God, the OPC ordains only males to the offices of minister, evangelist, teacher, ruling elder and deacon. The Bible teaches:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (1 Tim. 2:11-12)

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 Cor. 14:34-35)

Here are the relevant sections from the OPC Form of Government. Concerning the minister of the Word, chapter VI, section 3 states:

3. He who fills this office shall be sound in the faith, possess competency in human learning, and be able to teach and rule others. He should exhibit holiness of life becoming to the gospel. He should be a man of wisdom and discretion. He should rule his own house well. He should have a good report of them that are outside the church.

Chapter XXV states the process for electing, ordaining, and installing ruling elders and deacons:

1. Every congregation shall elect ruling elders and deacons, except in extraordinary circumstances. Those elected must be male communicant members in good and regular standing in the church in which they are to exercise their office.

In his infinite wisdom our Lord Jesus Christ chose only males as his 12 apostles, commissioning them to go into all the word, preaching and teaching his gospel. Those who represent the Lord Jesus Christ in teaching and ruling his church must be men of good character and understanding. Women may teach other women or children but they may not teach men in any official capacity in the church. This has nothing to do with giftedness or worthiness but with obedience and headship. Though it may be unpopular in our egalitarian age, the OPC has chosen to be faithful to the Word of God in this matter.

Christ is the only king and head of his church, ruling it by his Word and Spirit. The church is not permitted to practice anything contrary to Scripture. The Word of Christ forbids women to teach, or to usurp authority over the man (1 Tim. 2:12). This necessarily forbids women from holding church office.

Now I would add something to what you asked. If anyone, man or woman, teaches as a part of the program of a church, the elders of that church have oversight to be sure that their teaching is according to the doctrinal standards of their church. Even pastors are under the oversight of their ruling elders. If, on the other hand, their teaching is in the home, it's a different matter: the church does not have oversight of teaching outside the church, though the elders of her church would be disturbed if she was teaching false doctrine. But, of course, the Bible is our standard for all teaching. And whoever teaches Bible classes needs to be sure he/she is able to expound the Word of God accurately. But I hasten to say women are not inferior to men in their ability to be knowledgeable in Scripture.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

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You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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