Women Teaching Sunday School

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by tangleword, Sep 14, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. tangleword

    tangleword Puritan Board Freshman

    I know this as been discussed some before, but I am looking for resources/articles/sections of books or thoughts from a complementary prospective of whether or not women can teach adult Sunday School when men are present. Wrestling through this issue, and would love information on both sides of it. This assumes that non-ordained men may teach Sunday School. Some say that anything a non-ordained man can do a woman can do, therefore they can teach Sunday School. Some say they can teach it if it is related to practice, but not if it is related to doctrine, and some say they may not teach at all. Looking for good resources, or thoughts on this, to inform a discussion of this topic.
  2. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    The propriety (as in, the nature of it as an "official" thing, not that it's untoward to have teaching on Scripture that is separate from the worship service) of "Sunday School" aside, the discussion might better be framed on the general subject of any non-ordained people exercising ecclesiastical instruction in the church.

    It seems clear to me that Christ's authoritative directive to the Disciples (and, hence Pastors and Elders by deduction, who would be taking up ecclesiastical office) in Matthew 28 was for them to go and make disciples of all peoples, by baptizing them and teaching them whatsoever Christ had commanded.

    This - tied in with the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers), as well as the prescribed means of God's teaching in Romans 10 - necessarily deduces that ecclesiastical teaching in the Church is that which is to be executed by officers in the church, ordinarily.

    This would rule out both men -who have not been called, examined/vetted, ordained, and installed into office- as well as women, for which there are unequivocal and explicit prohibitions of women speaking (1 Cor. 14.34, 35), having authority over, or teaching (1 Tim 2.12), in ecclesiastical function, etc.
    • Like Like x 7
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  3. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    It is beyond question that women are not to teach publicly in the church. This is one of the best articles I have come across, exploring the reasoning behind Paul's prohibition. It is to the church's great shame that women have been allowed and encouraged to teach publicly.
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    You may be interested in these posts. They represent a variety of viewpoints, although they all agree that to some extent it depends.

    I also have found Mary Kassian's 8-part framework for determining when it is and is not appropriate for her to address men to be a helpful list (even for considering when a non-ordained man may speak), though I think I would apply it more stringently than she does.

    It usually is not enough to determine what you think about the roles of men and women. You also have to decide what you mean by an adult Sunday school class. What type of gathering is it, and what sort of teaching happens there?
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  5. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I am finding myself moving more toward this position for a few reasons. First, I am seriously doubting the propriety of the duties of the church -- the teaching God's word and the spread of the gospel -- being taken outside the church. Inside the church, segregating men and women, with women teaching women, creates an opportunity for error without the correction of the overseers. I'm not 100 percent in Joshua's camp yet, but would not be surprised if I end up there.
  6. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Women are not to teach men at all...period. However, I'm not so sure about ordinary men teaching Sunday school. It's not worship. You can't even find "Sunday school" in Scripture. Ordinary men teach their own families at home. So at this point I'm not against ordinary men teaching Sunday school. BTW, I think America made up Sunday School because they didn't want to have 2-3 worship services on Sunday.
  7. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Heidelberg 103:

    "What does God require in the fourth commandment?

    In the first place, God wills that the ministry of the Gospel and schools be maintained, and that I, especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church to learn the Word of God, to use the holy sacraments, to call publicly upon the Lord, and to give Christian alms. In the second place, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, allow the Lord to work in me by His Spirit, and thus begin in this life the everlasting Sabbath."
  8. Parakaleo

    Parakaleo Puritan Board Sophomore

    In the context of the time in which the HC was written, wouldn't these schools be akin to a catechism class? I'm reasonably confident that the modern concept of "Sunday School" with age-specific lessons on theology and Christian living was an invention of the English Baptists in the 19th century, in order to address the needs of the young and the orphans who were religiously illiterate (this quickly spread to America, where it caught on everywhere and for all ages). However, I am totally open to correction this!
  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    This wikipedia article gives some background. SS was an independent movement in the UK, US and Canada. SS as part of the morning worship only dates to the 1930s and evolved from there to be not just children's classes I am guessing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday_school#United_States
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior


    "The maintenance of schools may be embraced under this part of the honor which is due to the ministry; for unless the arts and sciences be taught, men can neither become properly qualified to teach, nor can the purity of doctrine be preserved and defended against the assaults of heretics."
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    In our church, officers primarily teach "Sunday School" (it's normally referred to as "Bible instruction"). Women are not permitted to teach unless it is a children's class. However, those who are being considered for office do teach. Since one of the qualifications of an elder is the ability to teach, occasion for instruction is given to them so that these credentials can be observed by the congregation who will vote for their officers.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  12. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    That doesn't sound like Sunday school to me. Sounds like an education with a Christian foundation. Chris' link on Sunday school is seems to support what I think.
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    If the historical purpose for school on Sunday was to promote good Christian apologetics, I would not separate secular education from religious education. Historically, even in our country, the Bible laid a foundation for education. It is only in more modern times that we've separated the two.
  14. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    With the office of Doctor, commonly held as the fourth office (especially during this time), the context of this particular point is that of education besides (not to the exclusion though) the Lord Day’s.
  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    I take it you mean RE's are allowed to teach? If so do you call them TE's?
  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I agree, though I don't think such a sharp distinction between modern Sunday school and this is necessary. If the purpose was to teach people skills necessary to defend the Christian faith, I would expect the Christian faith to be a part of that instruction.
  17. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    As of now (haven't studied this subject completely yet), I'm not sure if we can make a biblical distinction between ruling and teaching elders as two separate offices. I tend to see all elders as ruling and teaching elders, though some certainly spend more time than others in the Word (e.g. the pastor).
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    I understand where you are at. Start with the title of the elder, ruling vs. teaching, and go from there, with the assumption that the title means something. :)
  19. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Interesting. Per the article, Sunday Schools started more or less simultaneously in Great Britain, Ireland, and the United States during the 18th century. In the United States, the switch from having such schools in the afternoon to having them in the morning dates to the 1930s. I wonder if that was prompted by the Depression?
  20. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    What about the Depression do you think might have been the reason for the change?
  21. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Another socio-economic thing that allowed for Sunday school was more folks getting all day Sundays off.
  22. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    My understanding on this subject would be that per the scriptures, it all depends on what is meant by Sunday School. We have women in our church who teach Sunday school in regards to instruction to children in the children church, but the teaching to the adults is done by either one of the 3 pastors,or else on the teaching Elders.
  23. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Hard to say. The Wiki article didn't explore that question. Maybe it started in rural areas because of farm chores in the afternoon?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page