Index by Subject

The Worthy Woman of 2011

A Study of Proverbs 31:10-31

Proverbs 31:10-31 sets the tone for God’s expectation of women for all time.  While there is much to be said about a man and his duties in the home this study examines the wife and mother.  Proverbs 31:10-31 serves as a commentary explaining Paul’s admonition for women to “rule the household” (1 Timothy 5:14) and be “workers at home” (Titus 2:5).   The chapter expands upon and removes the cloud of uncertainty as to what being a “help meet” is all about (Genesis 2:18).  Keil and Delitzsch remark that “The housewife is depicted here as she ought to be; the poet shows how she governs and increases the wealth of the house, and thereby also advances the position of her husband in the common estimation, and he refers all these, her virtues and her prudence, to the fear of God as their root” (Keil and Delitzsch volume 6, page 480).  The worthy woman is a rare person among humanity because she aids the man in every aspect of the home.  Not many women have the desire, grit, health, physical strength, and stamina to do what this woman does.  To examine the worthy woman of God in the scriptures is to embark upon a journey that leaves a man at awe in relationship to this person’s faith, work ethic, love, devotion, and trustworthiness.  This article shall serve to identify the worthy woman as revealed in God’s divine revelation. Continue reading » The Worthy Woman of 2011

Delicate Power

Often, by puberty, young ladies are not as physically powerful as their male counterparts, whose muscles tend to develop larger. Yet every female possesses a physical power in her shape and form that can overwhelm or renew a young man. There is power in dressing to be drooled over, but that is an abuse of God’s gift. Modesty has its own delicate power that brings glory to God and no cause for stumbling to men.

The Bible is filled with beautiful women who are acknowledged to possess a gift from God in their physical appearance that we would be foolish to deny. Both her husband and her Egyptian suitors recognized that Sarah was a beautiful woman (see Genesis 12:11-14). Her daughter-in-law, Rebekah, was likewise a beautiful virgin when Isaac first laid eyes on her–it was love at first sight, as they say (see Genesis 24:16, 26:7). Sadly, Leah was not so attractive, but her sister, Rachel was “beautiful of form and appearance” and Jacob was naturally drawn to her (see Genesis 29:17). Abigail was not only of beautiful appearance, but she was also of great understanding (see First Samuel 25:3); unfortunately like too many such women, she had chosen poorly for a husband, Nabal the fool. King Ahasuerus of Persia was too proud of his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, but eventually replaced her with the stunning Esther of the Israelites. While all these women and others possessed great beauty, we remember them more for their character, and most of them had great character.

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Third Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

The responsibility of the negative in a debate is to follow the affirmative and answer his arguments. I have done this and Vance’s proposition has failed. My three affirmatives will follow in a privately printed book which can be obtained from GOT.

Fellowship: Vance labels as sinful the practice of elders making decisions. Will he fellowship what he considers sinful? His views will divide brethren in local churches.

Leadership & Authority: Collectivities (congregations, families, etc.) require decision-making to reach a common mind, whether by elders or church votes. Leadership and authority are inherent in decisions. Evangelists and Bible class teachers have no authority but elders do (1 Pet. 5:3). This oversight includes private decision-making (Acts 6, 11, 15, etc.). I refuse to debate Luther Blackmon or any other than Vance. But if Christ has “all authority” (Matt. 28:18) without delegating any, explain why resisting authorities (magistrates, fathers, husbands, elders) is to resist God (Rom. 13:1-5; Eph. 6:4; 5:22; Acts 14:23).

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Third Affirmative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

Fellowship. Had I wanted to debate fellowship, I would have put it in the proposition.

Leadership & Authority. The argument that leadership requires private decision-making for others is wrong. Many leaders (e.g. evangelists, Bible class teachers) don’t privately decide collective activity. Negative assumes leaders privately decide everything, and since elders are leaders, they must be an exception to the pattern of including the whole church. He must prove this assumption. He has already denied it by granting that spiritual leadership doesn’t necessarily infer private decision-making in collective judgment (Titus 2:15).

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Second Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

My worst fears are being realized in that, as the debate advances, Vance is progressing deeper into error, affirming a position with dreadful consequences of feminine equality and denial of eldership oversight which some will accept. The negative requires that I answer his material yet not allow him to side-track me into debating other men or affirming a non-existent “GOT” position. I fear he confuses criticism of a public position with persecution (Matt. 5:11).

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Second Affirmative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

Observations: 1. Tom agrees Acts 6 and 15 both show a church deciding a matter of judgment (Q. 1). But Connie Adams, Guardian of Truth 3/3/94 p. 4, said “In both instances divine revelation resolved the problem at hand.” 2. Tom agrees women were present in some business meetings in the NT (Q. 1). But Mike Willis, GT 3/18/93 p. 185, said “the desire of women to be present at these meetings” is “a usurpation of the authority God gave to men.” Bobby Holmes, GT 12/2/93 p. 723, said “The inclusion of women participants in business meetings thus violates her role given in I Timothy 2:12…” (ital. in orig.). I commend his courage in breaking with GT on these issues. Perhaps he will receive the blessings of Matt 5:11, as I have.

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First Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

This debate is important because Vance suggests a radical departure from the practice of the NT and makes his unscriptural “pattern” a test of fellowship. As one who serves as an evangelist and an elder in a local church, I deny his affirmative as both unscriptural and impractical. Our difference is not personal nor is his honesty or sincerity impugned.

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First Affirmative

On Women in Business Meetings

This debate initially appeared in Guardian of Truth magazine in 1994.  It is reprinted here with the permission of the authors.

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

Proposition: “The scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).” I ask each reader to join me in affirming this proposition.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in my articles are my own and are not intended to represent in any way the views of the elders or members of my congregation.

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Editorial: Issues in this Issue

The Debate

In this issue of Watchman there appears a debate between Tom M. Roberts and Vance E. Trefethen which was originally published  in Guardian of Truth magazine in November 1994.  The debate is reprinted with the permission of both authors, and we are gratified to have had a part in making it available in electronic format.

In a recent email to me, brother Roberts indicated that the debate came about in response to material brother Trefethen had published in a booklet entitled “Confusion or Consensus.” In that booklet he affirmed “There is no pattern for men-only business meetings and a clear pattern for congregational (men and women) decision-making assemblies” (p. 12).

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May Women Speak in Bible Classes

I will never forget the time that I had just begun to work with a new local church, and was waiting, on a Sunday morning or afternoon (I cannot remember which) to deliver one of my first sermons.  Immediately before the worship began, I was herded and pinned in by a group of older men who had all grown up in a certain part of Kentucky.  They asked me whether I believed women could speak in Bible class, and, practically before I could utter a word, they inundated me with their own arguments why they thought women could not.  One of them even went so far as to say something to the effect of, “I would rather have musical instruments than women speaking in Bible class, because the Bible doesn’t say not to have them, but it does say women can’t speak.”  After having been thoroughly, verbally assaulted by these men, meaning well no doubt, I was hardly in a frame of mind to deliver a good sermon!  But, the fact that this question meant so much to these men made me realize that it is not merely some intellectual, theological question, but a valid question which local churches must study and answer.  To merely ignore or avoid the question is to have congregations where women do not know what to do, and some are afraid to speak, and some feel that they have something worthwhile to contribute to the class, while some men sit fuming, believing these women to be in sin.

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Contending for the Faith: Texas Baptists Vote “No”

Did you see where Texas Baptists voted against the wife’s subjection to her husband? Well, they did. I have been asked what I thought about it. Here are my comments:

First, it matters not at all how the Baptists or any other sect votes on any issue or doctrine. All the edicts of all the ecclesiastical bodies of the all the earth count for nothing and mean even less. What is changed by their vote? Are the resolutions of men bound upon the word of God? Can they alter what God has said? No, not one syllable! As Jeremiah said when men sought to challenge and change the word of God, “all…shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs” (Jer. 44:28).

Second, does Ephesians 5:21-33 still teach that men are to unselfishly sacrifice themselves for the good of their wives and to love their wives as their own bodies (5:25-28)? Does the text still say that men are to love their wives and surrender their lives on her behalf (5:25-29, 33)? Does the passage say that the wife is to submit to her husband “as unto the Lord” (5:22)? Do those verses still say the wife is to be subject to her husband as the church is subject to Christ (5:23, 24)? If so, what does the Baptist vote mean with respect to our duty before God (“Study to show thyself approved unto God,” not unto the Baptists!)? Continue reading » Contending for the Faith: Texas Baptists Vote “No”

The Distaff: The Role of Women in the Local Church

The work of women in the local church must be defined by gospel standards and not by our culture. The way we live is vastly different from New Testament times but God has permanently set the pattern for work and organization of the church outside of time and human influence. Regardless of how much more social freedom women have today, the work of women in the church is the same as it was when Priscilla traveled with her husband, when Dorcas made clothes for the needy, and when Phoebe was serving the church in Cenchrea. To learn our role, we must go the Bible and follow its examples and commands. This article will attempt to study all of the positive roles that women played in the New Testament.

Women with JesusBefore the church was established, women assisted in the life of Jesus by providing for his needs from their substance. Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other who helped him this way (Luke 8:1-3). Domestic duties, from clean clothes to good meals, help workers to do their job whether they are carpenters or evangelists. These women were blessed that they were able to serve Him and the disciples this way.Mary Magdalene stayed with Him to the cross as did his mother, aunt, and Mary the wife of Clopas. After his death, these women may have helped Joseph and Nicodemus prepare his body. Mary Magdalene was still visiting his tomb on the first day of the week and she wouldn’t leave even when she discovered his body was missing. I’m glad the two angels and Jesus himself appeared to her there. She was a woman of great devotion (John 19-20). Continue reading » The Distaff: The Role of Women in the Local Church

Queries and Explications: Christian Women Working Outside the Home

QUESTION
“What does the Bible teach concerning Christian women working outside of the home? Is there a pattern for women to work or not to work, or is it a subject that is in a grey area? I appreciate your response to this question.”

 

REPLY
I am assuming that our querist is asking with respect to married women who are mothers. A woman is not generally forbidden to be active in work that is not necessarily related to the home (Acts 16:14; 18:3; Rom. 16:1-4; Phil. 4:3). The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31 was very active and may have had business interests of some kind (vv. 16, 24). Continue reading » Queries and Explications: Christian Women Working Outside the Home

Solid Food: Does Acts 6 Authorize Women in Business Meetings?

To set the issue of women in business meetings clearly and precisely before us, there first must be a basic understanding about what we mean by our terms. Some might jump to unwarranted conclusions anytime it is suggested that women participate at any level in a “decision-making” process (whether business meeting or not), assuming that any activity of women in such a capacity is radical feminism. On the other hand, others might be as quick to assume that a denial of women in any kind of participation relegates women to second class citizenship in the kingdom and degrades them as compared to men of the church.

In order to avoid this pendulum swing of extremes, we should be very sure that we understand our terms and that they have a firm foundation on the word of God. What we believe and practice must not be either a position based on ancient cultural traditions or a reaction against a more modern, liberalizing culture. Contrary to what some teach, the Lord’s people can establish a scriptural practice outside the constraints of time and tradition, solely upon a “thus saith the Lord,” independent of and separate from any other consideration. The question is, “What does God authorize?”, not “What is cultural at the moment?”, or, “What was cultural in New Testament times?” Women’s Liberation concepts must not be allowed to influence us; male chauvinism has no place in our deliberations. It is inspiration from God alone that guides our thinking. Continue reading » Solid Food: Does Acts 6 Authorize Women in Business Meetings?

The Distaff: Why Women Should Come to the Lord

Did you see the pictures of the women in Afghanistan on the evening news recently? They were literally covered head to foot by heavy gray veils. Even their faces were covered because their country has fallen under the control of a militant Islamic group. These women have lost all of their basic human rights: they cannot have a job (only beg) and they cannot have any health care. This horror is brought about by a religion. In Saudi Arabia, a woman who had seven babies was not allowed to come home by her in-laws because a western reporter had photographed her. She is the victim of her religion. These cases made me think about how our Lord treated women while he walked with us, what he offers in this life, and for eternity. Why should women come to the Lord? Continue reading » The Distaff: Why Women Should Come to the Lord