Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 16, 1963
NUMBER 3, PAGE 2,10a

Moyer-Bolton Exchange

Bernard Bolton

Dear Brother Moyer:

I have just read your article, "A Woman's Part In Teaching," in the Gospel Guardian. I believe that you have made an orderly presentation of the scriptures which deal with this subject. May I further say in all kindness but with complete candor and frankness that you have drawn erroneous conclusions from the scriptures you presented in order to permit the woman to "conduct a class" (teach) in the church.

You base much of your argument on the bland assumption that "not to teach" (1 Tim. 2:12) is qualified by "over a man." I have been teaching English for ten years, and never had is occurred to me that the prepositional phrase, "over a man," modified anything than that which it actually does modify, the infinitive "to usurp," until I heard it from one of your persuasion. (I have a feeling that this is what "Christian" colleges do for people.) I will challenge anybody to get an unprejudiced college or university professor of English to tell him otherwise.

It might also be noted that the co-ordinate conjunction, "nor," and the commas setting off "nor to usurp authority over the man" are proof positive that "to teach" and "to usurp" are two separate actions, though equal, and that "over the man" cannot modify "to teach." As a matter of fact, brother Moyer, before this passage came under dispute, you never heard of anybody "teaching over a man" or "teaching over a woman." You simply teach men and you simply teach women, not teach over them. But women can usurp authority over men. And men can usurp authority over Christ.

If you will note the same scripture from the two following translations, you cannot possibly make the "to teach over the man" error:

I do not permit a woman to be a teacher, nor must woman domineer over man; she should be quiet. — The New English Bible Personally, I don't allow women to teach, or do I ever put them in positions of authority over men — I believe their role is to be receptive. — Modern English Translation by J. B. Phillips

To be a teacher in the church is in itself to be in a position of authority, as the language indicates. This was one of the spiritual gifts that God appointed to men. "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren.... God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers...." (1 Cor. 12:1,28) ".... and he gave gifts unto men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers...." (Eph. 4:8, 11) Even though conditions are somewhat different today, there is absolutely no scriptural indication that women may now succeed to any of these offices. In fact, Paul told Timothy in his last letter, "And the things that thou hest heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2)

It seems that brethren have come to feel that the church must be patterned after the public school and judicially point to the women teachers in the lower grades as proof that they are better teachers for children. Let this be true or not for the public schools. Certainly no one wants to minimize the role of the mother in teaching the child, as Paul indicated the importance of Lois and Eunice in the childhood of Timothy. (2 Tim. 1:5, 3:15) But remember that Paul enjoined the fathers to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

Brother Moyer, I say without rancor that I have never heard a Baptist make false implications and twist meanings more to get rid of Mark 18:18 than you did in your comments in the latter part of your article to avoid the full force of 1 Tim. 2:12 and 1 Cor. 14:35.

You state: "What a woman can do in a home study she could do in any group study." Where is the scripture or logic to support this statement? Surely anyone can see that in a home study she can "ask her husband at home"; this she cannot do in an appointed public study! Neither can she ask questions of other men in a public study without violating 1 Cor. 14:35 and 1 Tim. 2:11 and 12, your statement to the contrary notwithstanding.

Next you set up the erroneous premise that "not to teach" is qualified by "over a man" and draw five erroneous conclusions from its negative, the opposite of which I herein affirm: (a) She could teach others in other places at other times. (b) She could teach her children. (2 Tim. 3:15) (c) She could teach another woman. (Titus 2:3-5) (d) It would not make sinners of those who did teach. (Acts 18:28) (e) She could sing (Col. 3:18)

Paul is speaking about activities of the church here (1 Tim. 2:12) as can plainly be seen just one chapter below where he says, "These things I write unto thee ....that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:14, 15)

Then you may say that "in quietness" does not demand without speech, which may be true. A woman might speak softly to her child or to someone else near her if the need arose. But "in quietness" (Revised Version), "in silence" (King James), "keep silent" (Revised Standard), "be receptive" (Phillips), "be quiet" (New English), and "keep quiet" (Goodspeed) certainly does demand that she not speak out in public gatherings of the church. Let the woman speak where the Bible tells her to speak, and let her be silent where it tells her to be silent!

Again you say, "But we have already learned that New Testament women did prophesy and teach." This much is so. But can you give one instance where they ever prophesied or taught a group in a gathering of the church? No. Philip's daughters prophesied at home. (Acts 21:8,9) Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos "unto them" (Goodspeed Version says "home"). (Acts 18:20 Public teaching or prophesying is not indicated in Titus 2:3-5 nor necessitated in 1 Cor. 11:3-18. And a woman can labor in the gospel (Phil. 4:3) and be a servant of the church (Rom. 18:1) all of her life without ever being a teacher in the church. Indeed she must! (1 Tim. 2:11,12)

Later you set up a false premise by saying, "Further, this passage (1 Tim. 2:12) does not prohibit a woman's asking a question of a man. For in 1 Cor. 14:35 women were told that they could 'ask their husbands'," carefully omitting the phrase, "at home." (You had already eliminated 1 Cor. 14:35 as not pertaining to this teaching situation.) It would hardly need to be pointed out that there is a vast difference between asking a question of any man in a public study and "asking their husbands at home." Then you conveniently eliminate 1 Cor. 14:35 again and proceed to knock over a straw man about "asking a question" not being "usurping authority" and audaciously come to the conclusion that women may teach and ask and answer questions in the church.

Brother Moyer, it takes just as much trouble and is just as wrong for a Christian to "explain" away one passage of scripture as for a sectarian to do the same to another. One might spend years of preparation and volumes of "elucidation," but the Bible will say in simple language for all: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 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. 14:33-35) And "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." (1 Tim. 2:11, 12)

I know that there are those who are quick to assert that there is "a difference" between coming together to study scriptures ("Sunday school") and "church." But I have not yet heard anyone cite any scripture that says so.

Please believe that this letter is in no way meant to be offensive but is written in the prayerful hope that all men everywhere might come to a fuller understanding and knowledge of and obedience to the divine will of the Lord.

— Rt. 1, New Richmond, Ohio