God forbids women to speak the lessons in church. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-38. Those who say that God doesn’t forbid women to speak the lessons in church (or read the readings, as people today say) appeal to current theologians in our synod to say that this is an open question or adiaphoron. I don’t need to appeal to all the true Christian men and women until the 20th Century who support my position to refute them. I appeal to the Scriptures alone, which the LC-MS in the 2nd Article of her constitution makes the sole rule and norm and source of our doctrine.
They argue against the clear Scriptures who say that it is not clear whether God forbids women to speak the lessons in Church. Here are a few of their arguments. 1. That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office. 2. That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church. To this some add the boys in the early Lutheran schools learning to speak the lessons at Matins and Vespers. 3. That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord. 4. The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations. 5. Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.
- That God’s prohibition for women to teach and his command that they remain silent and learn in quietness and all submission refers only to preaching, or only to the pastoral office itself. To this they add that the Church has had laymen speak the lessons to prove that it is not essential to the pastoral office.
This denies the authority and clarity of the Word of God. The lessons that are spoken to the whole congregation are what is taught. It is not just a part of the teaching. It is the foundation of all the teaching the pastor does.
God’s Word is clear that women are to be silent in the churches. No such prohibition is given to men. While most confessional Lutherans consider laymen speaking the lessons to be unwise and confusing these days, having laymen speak the lessons is not sinful and not forbidden, and in fact reinforces the teaching of Scripture that men are the head of their homes and as fathers are specifically told to teach their children. The early Lutherans were free to train young men to lead devotions in their homes, as seminaries are free to have students read the lessons before they are ordained. (Ephesians 6:4)
- That women singing in Church or girls reciting Scripture at a Christmas pageant means they are also allowed to speak the lessons in Church.
This argument does violence to the Scriptures. Paul would not tell Mary not to sing her Magnificat, or forbid Hannah and Deborah theirs songs of praise, or exhort Miriam to stop singing with Moses. Paul would not tell parents to stop teaching their children Scripture, as Moses commanded parents to do in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Paul’s words that women are to be silent and not teach, but learn in quietness and all submission, do not do away with Scripture.
God’s Word is clear and it is only ignorance of the Scriptures that would confuse this issue.
- That letting women speak the lessons in Church helps them get involved and gives them an opportunity to serve their Lord.
This illustrates the exact problem very well. Women should be involved in their homes teaching God’s Word, with the husband leading the devotions, as we see in Ephesians 6:4. Having the women read the lessons publicly contradicts this very order of creation that God has established.
We should not listen to those who tell us that this is a good way to make a woman feel welcome or to get her involved. It is not a good way because God tells women to learn quietly and in all submission. A woman speaking the lessons is not learning quietly and in all submission. We have to repeat this Word of God to them. We have to speak God’s Word in 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14 out loud and not be ashamed of it. We need to say not ashamedly, but clearly, with gravity, and with fear of God. We dare not explain God’s Word away. You cannot hurt Christ’s Lamb by speaking Jesus’ Word. Christ’s sheep hear His voice and follow him. (John 10:27-28)
Look, brothers, at the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers. We all see it. The broken families. Children denying the faith in droves. The husbands apathetic to the Word of God. The pious wives struggling to teach their children with lazy husbands who gladly obey the feminist goddess who tells them not to rule over their wives with the love and mercy with which Christ rules over us. (Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Pet. 3:7) They need men to speak the lessons at home!
The carnage of lost souls alone must wake us from our stupor. Now is not the time to politick. Now is not the time to wait for the right people to gain leadership, and gradually lead people to accept God’s Word through power plays. Now is the time to visit families and speak boldly what God says and trust that His Word will not return to him empty. Now is not the time to trust in princes but in the Word of God. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Remember, “In season and out of season!” (2 Tim. 4:2)
- The Synod has declared, pursuant to a CTCR document, that the Scripture is not clear and that this issue ought to be decided by the congregations.
The Word of God to which the Synod and all her pastors pledge undying loyalty cannot be changed. The 2nd article of the LC-MS constitution says, “The Synod and every member of the Synod, accepts without reservation: 1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the written Word of God and the only rule and norm of faith and of practice.
This Word of God is clear. Women are not to teach, they are to be silent in the Churches and to learn in quietness and with all submission. That is the Word of God that cannot be changed. This is why this 2nd article of the Synod’s constitution cannot be changed. God’s Word cannot be changed.
When people say that the Word of God is not clear here they are ignoring the pure Word of God and setting up man-made opinion in place of the Word of God. It does no good to appeal to synodical theologians who disagree with the Word of God. They are not allowed to teach as doctrines the commandments of men. God forbids it. (Matthew 15:9)
- Our condemning women lectors is divisive and asserting personal opinions as the Word of God.
Pastors, you are not allowed to allow women to speak the lessons in Church. It is not loving to allow them to speak the lessons. It can be cowardice, pride, apathy, or wrong affections, but it is not love. Hurting their feelings will not hurt their faith because the Word of God cannot destroy the faith of God’s children. That is impossible. God telling wives to submit to their husbands doesn’t destroy their faith any more than God telling Eve that her husband should rule over destroyed her faith (Gen. 3:16), or any more than God telling husbands to love their wives destroys theirs. God telling women to be silent in the church and not to usurp authority over men does not hurt their faith. Neither does it destroy the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:3) The unity of the Spirit is created by the Word of God. Destroying the unity of the Spirit happens when we disregard the Word of God, as when pastors do not obey their Lord when he tells them through His apostle that women are to be silent in the churches.
Those who have women teach and speak the lessons are causing division among us by setting up a practice contrary to the doctrine we learn in the Bible. False doctrine and practice divides the Church. In setting forth the above arguments, they are creating disputes and schisms that the Church has never entertained or been troubled by except by Montanists and other heretics. And that raises the question, from where do these arguments come today?
They come from feminism, which denies that command which God gave to man when he spoke to woman, “Your husband shall rule over you.” Some feminist theologians even argue that because the Son is subject to the Father when he submits all things to Him on the Last Day (1 Cor. 15:28), the word “submission” no longer means the willing service and obedience Sarah gave to Abraham when she called him her lord – 1 Peter 3:5-6), because this would apparently deny the equality of the Father and the Son. But Christ Himself came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) In making this argument, feminism assaults the final obedience of Christ when he hands all things over to His Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28). It assaults the lordship of Christ and the example he leaves for husbands and wives in how they ought to live with one another Eph. 5:22-33)
These are the lengths some go to in order to deny the order of creation. Feminists assault the Unity of the Godhead and the lordship of Christ all in order to avoid teaching the order of creation. And we see all over our churches the results overturning this order has caused.
But there are people telling you that you need to be patient, as if patience means not teaching and continuing to ignore God telling women to be silent in the churches. When God tells pastors to be patient, he tells them to be patient in teaching (2 Tim. 4:2). When a pastor doesn’t teach that women should be silent and thus not read the lessons, he is not being patient. He is letting the devil teach Christ’s sheep that women should not be silent in the churches, as we hear all around us today.
We live on every Word that comes from the mouth of God. There is a final argument some make, namely that this issue is not something we should worry about while there are other greater issues at stake. What other issues? Closed Communion? We practice Closed Communion to protect Christ’s flock from the evil leaven of false doctrine (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:6). If we allow the evil leaven in we are not practicing Closed Communion.
What other issues? Is it that we cannot speak this Word of God until we speak other words that are more important? But Jesus teaches us to keep all things he commanded us (Matthew 28:20), and we not only do not keep Jesus’ word when we have women speak, we are teaching against his Word, and opposing Christ Himself. I beg you to think soberly on this.
Is there another issue? What of the broken families I mentioned above? This is in large part caused by the spirit whose denial of the order of creation leads to having women teach and speak the lessons. What of the Biblical ignorance we see all around us? This is caused so often by the Word of God being softened so that people learn to ignore it and think it irrelevant to their lives, as it is being softened and downright ignored in the issue of women speaking the lessons. What of the worship wars, and our attempt to get people who have adopted the worship forms of sectarians to adopt any sort of traditional order for the sake of Christian discipline and good order (1 Cor. 14:40; Eptiome FC X.3-5)? But it is precisely in the context of forbidding women to speak in the Church that Paul in 1 Cor. 14 tells us to do all things decently and in good order. If we cannot get this right, what order do we have?
Or is the issue that we would lose members if we speak God’s Word on this? Because we know, as the children of God, that the remnant that remains when the Mammon is gone, when our institutions have utterly collapsed, when the walls of Jerusalem have, as it were, fallen, this remnant will obey God, and out of love for women, children, and God himself, not allow women to read the lessons. The remnant’s men will declare the works of God to the generation following, with their women and baptized children speaking beside them and blending with their voice in a harmony that the devil can’t divide because God’s Word cannot be broken. (Isaiah 40:8; John 10:35)
As the feminists hate us when we say, “Man up!”, so I exhort you, “Be men!” (1 Cor. 16:13) Tell our seminaries that you require them to teach this to our future pastors. This is not an open question. This is not something up for each congregation to do what is right in its own eyes (Josh. 17:6) This is not something we ask the CTCR to give an opinion on. We know the answer. God’s Word is clear. Our unity is not based upon the decrees of men, but on the Word of God that has so often shown us our own errors and led us out of darkness into the light of the truth of the Gospel.
We must obey God rather than men. We must learn to love as men who obey God, who rule over their wives as Christ does, with love, and therefore do not permit Christian women to rule over other wives’ husbands. Women are to be silent in the Churches. God says this. He forbids them from speaking the lessons in Church. Excusing this by saying that it was a part in a dramatic reading or with good motives or whatever else the devil conjures up to sully the simplicity of our faith is not to be tolerated or defended in the Church which submits to Christ in everything. (Eph. 5:24)
Preach the Word, and risk all for it. All we have is the Word of God. Suffer for it, and you will love Christ’s flock. Do not reduce God’s Word to a false gospel that does not give you a delight in the Law of God. You are pastors, and God commands you to speak His Word on penalty of death. That’s a threat, and not from me. (Ezekiel 3:18) But hear also His blessing, “Those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12:3) Therefore, brethren, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16).