Biblical roles of women in the Church

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satz

Puritan Board Senior
Fred,

I think i get the point you are trying to make, but...

Whilst it is true that there is a sense in which the government is a 'bigger' or 'higher' authority than the employer, i think the bible does present the role of the 'Master' or employer as just as legitimate and God-ordained a realm of authority as the government. Now there are practical reasons why the government has 'more' authority ( you generally can't resign from your nation), but the authority of the employer is no less real.

In any case, i am not sure what difference it would make to the question of 'is it SINFUL for women to hold authority'. Take the passage from 1 TIm that was much discussed in this thread. It say women are not to ursup authority from men. If we hold that it applies to all of life, i do not see how we could consistently say it applies to government but not the workforce.

However, if we ask 'it is not sinful, but is it WISE' then i think you may have a point. Government does have a bigger impact and bigger responsibilities (generally) as compared to employment. I read though the article from VF that andrew posted above and the idea of God lamenting that his people are led by women and children is something i did not consider whilst participating in this thread.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by satz
Fred,

I think i get the point you are trying to make, but...

Whilst it is true that there is a sense in which the government is a 'bigger' or 'higher' authority than the employer, i think the bible does present the role of the 'Master' or employer as just as legitimate and God-ordained a realm of authority as the government. Now there are practical reasons why the government has 'more' authority ( you generally can't resign from your nation), but the authority of the employer is no less real.

In any case, i am not sure what difference it would make to the question of 'is it SINFUL for women to hold authority'. Take the passage from 1 TIm that was much discussed in this thread. It say women are not to ursup authority from men. If we hold that it applies to all of life, i do not see how we could consistently say it applies to government but not the workforce.

However, if we ask 'it is not sinful, but is it WISE' then i think you may have a point. Government does have a bigger impact and bigger responsibilities (generally) as compared to employment. I read though the article from VF that andrew posted above and the idea of God lamenting that his people are led by women and children is something i did not consider whilst participating in this thread.

Mark,

The point I am making is that I am questioning whether it must apply to "all of life" or nothing. It appeared to me (after some reflection) that the authority of an employers (while nevertheless real) was different in kind rather than in degree.

In simple terms: one cannot choose one's magistrate. One can choose one's employer. One cannot renounce the jurisidiction of the government; but one can with an employer - simply find another job. The employer's authority is limited to the specific sphere of the job (e.g. do this task, do it in this way) and is a contractual relationship (I pay you for following my instructions). Whereas the magistrate's sphere is much broader - and does not involve compensation.

While I am not abandoning my convictions, I am seeking to come to better clarification of the issues. This is not nuancing to win an argument or make a point, but to see where the real difference lies and how large the difference is. (NOTE: I am not accusing you of anything, but simply making the point so readers can understand my motives)
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Fred,

I would agree with you, that for the reasons you posted, there is a difference between a magistrate's authority and employers' authority.

However, i need to think more about how exactly that would affect this particular issue.

Let's see what others have to say?

(NOTE: I am not accusing you of anything, but simply making the point so readers can understand my motives)

Understood!
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by satz
Fred,

I would agree with you, that for the reasons you posted, there is a difference between a magistrate's authority and employers' authority.

However, i need to think more about how exactly that would affect this particular issue.

Let's see what others have to say?

(NOTE: I am not accusing you of anything, but simply making the point so readers can understand my motives)

Understood!

Good!

I hope that others chime in, because I am thinking through this rigorously for the first time as well. I have been influenced by the arguments regarding Proverbs 31 and the other aspects of women's authority over servants, but I still see that as different from magistrate roles.

There are obviously many issues involved here, and I am hoping to pursue one of them.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by fredtgreco
I have been influenced by the arguments regarding Proverbs 31 and the other aspects of women's authority over servants...

(begin Emporer Palpatine voice)

Excellent. Things are going exactly as I have foreseen.

(end Emporer Palpatine voice)

:bigsmile:
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by SolaScriptura
Originally posted by fredtgreco
I have been influenced by the arguments regarding Proverbs 31 and the other aspects of women's authority over servants...

(begin Emporer Palpatine voice)

Excellent. Things are going exactly as I have foreseen.

(end Emporer Palpatine voice)

:bigsmile:

(begin Yoda voice)

Brash, this young Jedi is!

(end Yoda voice)

:)
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Consider though whether or not the conditions of employment were different in Biblical times compared with today. Does that lend anything to the arguments being put forth?

Servants in Biblical times were often bought and paid for slaves and did not have the right to choose to leave. In Jewish culture there was an opportunity to leave willingly after the year of Jubilee or a seventh year release (which if refused meant the bond-servant could never leave this service, but in the Roman world I don't recall any such provision.

That being said, a Jewish woman would be managing the house and the slaves/servants and they were under her authority and could not choose to leave.

Just thinking.....

Phillip
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Phillip,

I don't think so, considering that even free children had some measure of authority over slaves in the household.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Fred,

When you posted the new thought on a distinction between magisterial authority and employment authority it was 2300 Monday and I had to hit the rack. It really got my wheels turning though.

I think most of us admit there are different categories of authority. Authority of a wife over her husband is prohibited within a household but not necessarily authority of a woman over a man (in the case of servants within that household).

Authority of a woman in an eldership role within the Church is prohibited. That makes sense not only because the husband of a female elder would have to submit to her ordained authority. Paul also says that it was Eve who was deceived. Is that because women might be more prone to being led astray or is it a form of the curse that they will not be granted it? I don't know. I've certainly met plenty of women who are more circumspect than men I've met.

So within the Church and family we already recognize there are distinctions on where authority by a woman might be appropriate and where it would not.

When you asked about the difference between employment and magisterial power, I think you made a great distinction. I don't think I would object to the idea that the magisterial role might be restricted. Paul calls them God's ministers. Magistrates rule in an absolute sense with the power of the Sword. They protect or prohibit the free exercise of our beliefs.

It also reminded me of the original language of the Westminster Confession of Faith where magistrates are given the authority to enforce matters of the faith. Was that original language primarily Anglican or Presbyterian in its influence, or a bit of both? I ask because you can see why Knox and others, who are quoted here, would object so vehemently to women magistrates, seeing a more clear connection between the magistrate and the purity of the Faith than we do today. Their view of the role of magistrates helps me contextualize their concern.

[Edited on 2-6-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by pastorway
yet another flaw in the state church construct.....
American Presbyterians would agree, which is why that portion of the role of Civil Magistrates was removed from the WCF.

I'm more interested in the context of Knox's (and others) understanding as relates to their concern of women in roles of magisterial authority as relates to this discussion and less interested in the fact that their Church-state view was erroneous.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Err... I have to say your speculation regarding the psychological grounds of Knox's view on female authority is way off historically. Your understanding of the historical presbyterian view of national establishments and the circa sacris power of the state is also way off. During the last years of Knox's life the Scottish Church was beginning its continuous and defining battle for the church's independence. The circa sacris view does not confuse magisterial authority and ministerial authority, they are clearly defined and distinguished. Seperation of Church and State is THE doctrine of the Scottish Church. When the State again began encroaching upon the perogatives of the Church the ministers of the Free Church split, yet they continued to hold to the principle of national establishments.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by fredtgreco
I hope that others chime in, because I am thinking through this rigorously for the first time as well. I have been influenced by the arguments regarding Proverbs 31 and the other aspects of women's authority over servants, but I still see that as different from magistrate roles.

There are obviously many issues involved here, and I am hoping to pursue one of them.

Fred,
I'll grant that you may be on to something concerning your distinction between the authority of an employer and the authority of a magistrate.

But I still think you're splitting hairs or at least missing the forest for the trees. The bottom line question is: is it against nature, God's moral law, or whatever, for a woman to be in a position in which a man must either 1) be taught by a woman in formal periods of instruction, or 2) be in submission to a woman.

Don't diminish the amount of authority an employer does in fact have over a person... in fact, in many ways their authority is much more tangible than that of any elected official!

If it is ok for a woman to be in a position of leadership over a man in one's place of employment, then I truly believe that you have granted the principle.

:2cents:
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by satz
Fred,

I would agree with you, that for the reasons you posted, there is a difference between a magistrate's authority and employers' authority.

However, i need to think more about how exactly that would affect this particular issue.

Let's see what others have to say?

(NOTE: I am not accusing you of anything, but simply making the point so readers can understand my motives)

Understood!

Good!

I hope that others chime in, because I am thinking through this rigorously for the first time as well. I have been influenced by the arguments regarding Proverbs 31 and the other aspects of women's authority over servants, but I still see that as different from magistrate roles.

There are obviously many issues involved here, and I am hoping to pursue one of them.

Where does Prov 31 say she has authority over male servants.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
Originally posted by Peter
The circa sacris view does not confuse magisterial authority and ministerial authority, they are clearly defined and distinguished. Seperation of Church and State is THE doctrine of the Scottish Church.

Ah yes... the Church and the State are "separate," but the Church expects the State to enforce "true religion," which, of course, is the religion of that Church.
Sounds nice and separate... :chained:
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Peter
Err... I have to say your speculation regarding the psychological grounds of Knox's view on female authority is way off historically. Your understanding of the historical presbyterian view of national establishments and the circa sacris power of the state is also way off. During the last years of Knox's life the Scottish Church was beginning its continuous and defining battle for the church's independence. The circa sacris view does not confuse magisterial authority and ministerial authority, they are clearly defined and distinguished. Seperation of Church and State is THE doctrine of the Scottish Church. When the State again began encroaching upon the perogatives of the Church the ministers of the Free Church split, yet they continued to hold to the principle of national establishments.
Peter,

I didn't speculate, I asked a question. There's a reason why American Presbyterians ammended Chapter 23 to remove:
III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.
Did Knox agree with this statement? If he did, that's OK. I'm not judging him or playing psychological games. Nevertheless, the overlap between the magistrate and the Church is greater if you include this paragraph than if you exclude it. It may influence one's opinion on the propiety of women in the magisterial role if one agrees with that paragraph.

It's not meant to be an argument for or against but to understand Knox and others in the context of their understanding of the role of the magistrate as relates to the Church.

[Edited on 2-7-2006 by SemperFideles]
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I imagine Knox would have. You should check the Scots Confession. I know Knox did desire monies confiscated from popish properities to be given to the salaries of the ministers and promoted laws enacted against popish idolatry (though no papist died for their faith in scotland). Also I think you misunderstand the intent of the confession. The Scottish Church adopted the confession with a clarification on the magistrates duty to call assemblies as only in a church in an unsettled state for the purpose of reforming it.

But, if your point is to say that Knox's view on women possessing civil authority is b/c he confused civil power with ecclesiastical then you are mistaken. As I said, the tenet the Church fought most ferociously for was its independence from the State, that the State had no power inside the church. The State has power about religion, that is merely an outward, arranging and ordering power, but no power *in*, ie, to appoint officers, to determine doctrine, worship, or practice. So there is no overlap. The powers of Church and State are clearly delineated. The church's power is purely spiritual and the state's is purely corporeal. The church's power is excommunication, and spiritual censures; the State's is the secular sword. This is the view of the original confession.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Where does Prov 31 say she has authority over male servants.

Well, it doesn't really. But how about..

1 Sam 25:
18Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.
19And she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold, I come after you. But she told not her husband Nabal.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Mark. While it alone does not prove your position (as 1Jo 2:2 doesnt prove universal atonement), it is worth consideration.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Peter
I imagine Knox would have. You should check the Scots Confession. I know Knox did desire monies confiscated from popish properities to be given to the salaries of the ministers and promoted laws enacted against popish idolatry (though no papist died for their faith in scotland). Also I think you misunderstand the intent of the confession. The Scottish Church adopted the confession with a clarification on the magistrates duty to call assemblies as only in a church in an unsettled state for the purpose of reforming it.

But, if your point is to say that Knox's view on women possessing civil authority is b/c he confused civil power with ecclesiastical then you are mistaken. As I said, the tenet the Church fought most ferociously for was its independence from the State, that the State had no power inside the church. The State has power about religion, that is merely an outward, arranging and ordering power, but no power *in*, ie, to appoint officers, to determine doctrine, worship, or practice. So there is no overlap. The powers of Church and State are clearly delineated. The church's power is purely spiritual and the state's is purely corporeal. The church's power is excommunication, and spiritual censures; the State's is the secular sword. This is the view of the original confession.
Peter,

Let me just say "Chill out Dude". :) Try to listen to what my concern is here. You're playing a tight man to man defense against shots I'm not even trying to take.

I didn't say Knox would approve of women in Magisterial power if he didn't hold to that paragraph. That much is clear from what you posted earlier. I was only getting some perspective.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Here's Gill's comments on the passage

but she told not her husband Nabal; neither the danger he and his family were in through his conduct, nor the preparations she had made to prevent it; knowing his perverse and obstinate disposition, that it would take up too much time to reason with him, and persuade him, and bring him into proper measures; and which may be observed to excuse the conduct of Abigail in doing what she did, and taking and disposing of her husband's gods, without his knowledge and leave; the case required haste, and it was done to preserve him and his family from imminent ruin; and besides, he might not be in a fit condition to be spoken to, being drunk with passion, or with wine, or both, see 1Sa_25:36; and no doubt she was directed by the Spirit of God to do what she did; and this being an extraordinary case, is not to be drawn into an example.

My interpretation would be that under ordinary circumstances Abigail should have persuaded her husband to destroy the images but because of the urgency of the situation she did not sin in what she did.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Originally posted by Peter
I imagine Knox would have. You should check the Scots Confession. I know Knox did desire monies confiscated from popish properities to be given to the salaries of the ministers and promoted laws enacted against popish idolatry (though no papist died for their faith in scotland). Also I think you misunderstand the intent of the confession. The Scottish Church adopted the confession with a clarification on the magistrates duty to call assemblies as only in a church in an unsettled state for the purpose of reforming it.

But, if your point is to say that Knox's view on women possessing civil authority is b/c he confused civil power with ecclesiastical then you are mistaken. As I said, the tenet the Church fought most ferociously for was its independence from the State, that the State had no power inside the church. The State has power about religion, that is merely an outward, arranging and ordering power, but no power *in*, ie, to appoint officers, to determine doctrine, worship, or practice. So there is no overlap. The powers of Church and State are clearly delineated. The church's power is purely spiritual and the state's is purely corporeal. The church's power is excommunication, and spiritual censures; the State's is the secular sword. This is the view of the original confession.
Peter,

Let me just say "Chill out Dude". :) Try to listen to what my concern is here. You're playing a tight man to man defense against shots I'm not even trying to take.

I didn't say Knox would approve of women in Magisterial power if he didn't hold to that paragraph. That much is clear from what you posted earlier. I was only getting some perspective.

Thanks for your patience with me but I guess Im not getting what you're saying then. Chillin :cool:
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by satz
Peter, obviously you and i are pretty much in disagreement on this topic, but this is an honest question and not a challenge.

How did Knox and others explain the fact that grown sons were still under the authority of their mothers?

I dont think grown sons are under the authority of their mothers, or fathers. Children are to reverence and honor their parents all their life but that does not mean they are to remain their inferiors.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Peter
Originally posted by satz
Peter, obviously you and i are pretty much in disagreement on this topic, but this is an honest question and not a challenge.

How did Knox and others explain the fact that grown sons were still under the authority of their mothers?

I dont think grown sons are under the authority of their mothers, or fathers. Children are to reverence and honor their parents all their life but that does not mean they are to remain their inferiors.

Thanks.
 
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