Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 25, 1983
NUMBER 12, PAGE 6-7,11a

Reviewing Brother Moyer On Women Teachers

Bernard Bolton

The March 7, 1963, issue of the Guardian contained an article, "A Woman's Part In Teaching," in which brother Forrest D. Moyer set forth the scriptures dealing with women teachers, adding his own comments and views concerning them. Subsequently, in a letter to brother Moyer (also sent to the Guardian) I challenged as erroneous some of the conclusions which he reached in the article. I appreciate the good spirit in which brother Moyer received the letter and the generosity of the Guardian in allowing it to be printed.

In response to my letter brother Moyer has written a second article, "Reviewing a Woman's Part In Teaching," in which he attempts to clarify and solidify his position while attributing to me "confusion," "missing the point," and "misrepresentation." I am afraid that my brother himself is not at all free from these imputations, as we shall see in pointing out some of the errors in his second article.

Classes In The Church

First of all, brother Moyer has read into my letter a great deal which I neither said nor intended to imply. He seems to think that I have challenged "the right of group teaching or Bible class study" and predicates his whole defense upon that assumption. I did not challenge the use of Bible classes nor do I now do so. That is a matter of judgment or expediency to be determined by each congregation. But I do firmly oppose the misuse of the "group study arrangement" employed by a great many congregations as a shield to hide behind in order to violate God's word with respect to women teachers. The Bible says in no uncertain terms that women are to keep silent in the churches (1 Cor. 14:34, 35; 1 Tim. 2:11, 12) and that they are not permitted to teach in the church. (1 Tim. 2:12; 3:15) But in their zeal to use women teachers many brethren brush aside the forceful teaching of the scriptures or twist them out of their way and inconsistently argue that the church is not the church when it comes together to study the scriptures, but that it is the church at work at ten o'clock and the church at worship at eleven.

Brother Moyer does not endorse a Sunday school because it is an added organization, but when the church comes together to study the scriptures, he is willing to use women teachers in a "group study arrangement." Brother Moyer, is this "group study arrangement the church or an extra organization? If it is the church (what else?) then holy writ forbids the use of women teachers (1 Cor. 14:35; 1 Tim. 2:12); if it is an extra organization, it is not needed.

When a congregation comes together to study the scriptures and uses the group study arrangement, it loses neither its entity nor its identity. Who would be foolish enough to say that a public school ceases to be public or a school or in one place or in cession because its members have left the auditorium and gone to their classrooms? (Let no one read into this illustration a penchant for copying public schools.) Then why must we lose our reason when it comes to matters of the church? It is the same old story of one's calling a lion a rabbit so that he can tweak its nose. The danger of such foolhardiness is obvious.

"Teach Over A Man?"

Again, brother Moyer seems to think that I said "to teach" in 1 Tim. 2:12 is "unmodified." This I did not say. I did say and still firmly maintain that "to teach" is not modified by "over the man" in the same verse. My challenge to obtain competent and unprejudiced authority on the English language to say otherwise goes unanswered. Why? Yet my brother continues to maintain on no more authority than his own assertion that "to teach" must be qualified by "over a man" or the woman could not "teach anyone, anywhere, at any time." If we can make our own rules of grammar, then the sectarians can have a field day with a similar passage in 1 Corinthians 1:17, where Paul says, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." Does this mean that Paul was not "to baptize the gospel"? Or does this mean that Paul could not baptize "anyone, anywhere, at any time', Of course not. There are plenty of qualifications but certainly not in this same verse. Just so in 1 Tim, 2:12. The restriction here on woman's teaching is in the church. To say otherwise is to ignore 1 Tim. 3:15. This is exactly what brother Moyer has done in both of his articles.

Further, brother Moyer maintains that 1 Tim. 2:11, 12 "would apply anywhere." He reasons that since the woman's apparel, adorning, and subjection should be of the same character at all times, the passage would be applicable in all places. (He even rhetorically asks if the childbearing spoken of in verse 15 refers "to the assembly." No, brother Moyer, but let us allow Paul the opportunity of explaining why the woman's role is domestic, while the man is to take public leadership. This is precisely the point he has just made!) I have heard an Adventist use a similar argument in an effort to prove that the ten commandments were to be in effect from the beginning to the end of time. But the fact that it was wrong for Cain to kill Abel does not prove that Cain broke one of the ten commandments which said, "Thou shalt not kill" And the fact that a woman should dress modestly at all times does not alter the fact that Paul is speaking here about the church. (1 Tim. 3:15)

Brother Moyer says that I refer to a "controversy on classes" and says that it is older than either of us. I said nothing at all about classes. What I did say was that "before this passage came under dispute, you never heard of anybody 'teaching over a man' or 'teaching over a woman'." The time of the beginning of the controversy is not necessary to the argument. The point is that our brother and many others continue to use the incorrect and unnatural expression, "to teach over a man," when the scripture uses no such terminology. Those who use this language are forced to do so by the precarious stand which they take on 1 Tim. 2:11,12. All this in order to wrongfully have women "conduct a class" (teach) in the church which is not the church when the church comes together to study God's word!

Teaching With Or Without Authority?

Brother Moyer says that I make a serious error in discernment with reference to the authority of teachers and their positions in the church. He states: "Now he is either wrong in saying that this was a position of authority or in saying that women did not have these positions." I infer from this statement that brother Moyer agrees that a teacher is in a position of authority. If not, how can he teach? But my brother again misquotes me in the last half of his statement. I quoted from 1 Corinthians 12:1, 28 and Ephesians 4:8.11 concerning spiritual gifts and made this statement: "Even though conditions are somewhat different today, there is absolutely no scriptural indication that women may now succeed to any of these offices." Brother Moyer is right in saying that there were some women prophets. (Acts 21:9) But to which present-day woman will he assign the role of prophet, or to which New Testament woman will he give the office of apostle, evangelist, or pastor and teacher? Our brother himself stated in his first article: "Therefore, a woman cannot preach because the preacher must speak with all authority. (Tit. 2:15) " Can she then teach without authority?

Five Erroneous Conclusions

My brother really "misses the point" with regard to the five erroneous conclusions. He had stated that if "not to teach" (1 Tim 2:12) is not qualified by the expression, "over a man," "then (a) Women could not teach anyone anywhere at any time. (b) She could not teach her children. (2 Tim. 3:15) (c) She could not teach other women. (Tit. 2:3-5) (d) It would make sinners of those who did teach. (Acts 18:26) (e) She could not even sing. (Col. 3:16)" The affirmation I made in my letter was that if "not to teach" is not qualified by "over a man" (which it is not), then the woman could do the five things mentioned by the authority of the scriptures indicated. Brother Moyer then responds in his second article: "If my conclusions are erroneous, then so are his." This does not make sense. My brother has surely misunderstood my words again.

Priscilla Teaching A Class?

Brother Moyer puts himself into an untenable position when he mentions the teaching of Apollos by Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26) and says that this kind of teaching may be done in a classroom. Now, really, brother Moyer, does this situation even remotely resemble the coming together of the whole church into a public place at an appointed time when the public is invited and studying the scriptures in classrooms? Remember, if you say "yes," then you are reversing your stand on 1 Tim. 2:12, which you say forbids a woman "to teach over a man." Was Priscilla teaching over Apollos under Aquila in a class outside the church? Or did Aquila and Priscilla simply take Apollos aside and teach him privately? Doubtless, anyone can see that it was the latter.

Philip's Daughters

Brother Moyer's point concerning Philip's daughters is well taken. I cheerfully acquiesce in that the scripture does not state that their prophesying was done at home, though it could have been and the language indicated so to me until I investigated further. I humbly apologize for the blunder, however small or great it may have been. This, of course, does not change the fact that they did not prophesy in a public gathering of the church. (1 Cor. 14:35) This was the whole point.

I invite a more careful reading of my letter and hope that this article will help to clarify any misunderstanding about what it said.

I say along with brother Moyer that it is to be hoped that our exchange will stimulate thinking and a more diligent searching and studying of the scriptures to the end that all of God's children might be "perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

May God bless all who strive to study, teach, or preach His holy word in accordance with His divine will.

— Rt. 1, New Richmond, Ohio

Comments On The Above Forrest D. Moyer

Brother Bernard Bolton and I had an exchange in the May 16th Guardian concerning a woman's place in teaching. Bro. Bolton responds to my review and I am happy to continue our study. May God grant that we shall never close our minds to a study of any part of God's word. Perhaps a little more clarification is in order at this moment, so please consider:

I. Our Points Of Agreement We are agreed upon the following points:

1) The scripturality of teaching the Bible in classes.

2) That a woman cannot teach or speak to the assembly of the church (when the whole church is come together).

3) That a woman can teach her children and other children.

4) That a woman can teach other women.

5) That a woman can participate in a private study with a man.

II. Our Points Of Disagreement As I see it we are disagreed on:

1. What constitutes the assembly. (In my second article I attempted to clarify my understanding of what is meant by the assembly. I stated: "By 'church' we mean an assembly as in 1 Cor. 14:23.") Brother Bolton feels that it is the assembly when you come together in group arrangements and that all the restrictions of the assembly must apply in the group arrangement.

2. Due to our disagreement on the first point, we are therefore in disagreement as to whether a woman could teach a group of children, or other women or ask questions in a mixed group. As I understand his position he believes that such is "the church" and that the restrictions of 1 Cor. 14 must apply.

3. We are disagreed as to interpretation and application of 1 Tim. 2:11-12. He believes that this is limited to the assembly only while I believe that it is applicable anywhere. I believe that the context shows that the teaching under consideration has to do with teaching men. If I understand brother Bolton's argument, he believes that it refers to teaching anyone — even children or other women.

I trust that I have stated our agreements and disagreements fairly. If I have misrepresented his position on any point, it Is purely unintentional.

III. The Church

A fundamental difference in brother Bolton and myself is in reference to our use of the word "church." Wherever and whenever Christians meet for Bible study, they are "called out ones." But I deny that they are "the church" as per 1 Cor. 14:23, 34,35. Now if one can prove that each group that studies the Bible, whether Sunday morning or otherwise, is "the assembly," then I will agree that a woman cannot teach a class nor ask a question in a mixed class. To illustrate: a group of pre-school children gather in a room (Bro. Bolton agrees that it is scriptural). Is this the assembly as per 1 Cor. 14:23? Can a little girl either ask or answer a question? Is a woman forbidden to teach this group of children? In another room some 6-8 year olds are grouped together. Is the assembly of 1 Cor. 14? Do all the restrictions of the assembly apply? In another room there is a group of adults. Is this the assembly? What makes this group the assembly of 1 Cor. 14? If it is not, then the restrictions of 1 Cor. 14 cannot be applied. If this group is the assembly, then this same group of adults would be the assembly of 1 Cor. 14 if it met elsewhere to study the Bible, and the restrictions of 1 Cor. 14 would have to apply.

A discussion of other points will not mean too much until we can settle this point. Hence, I am willing to let the discussion hinge on this point for the time being.

I think that in effect brother Bolton and I are agreed on practically all points but this and the application of 1 Tim. 2:11, 12. But even on that passage he believes it applies to the assembly. So, I suggest to bro. Bolton and other interested persons that we first study what constitutes the assembly (the church) of 1 Cor. 14:34,35.

IV. Some Other Points

I) Teaching with or without authority. Bro. Bolton says that teaching is a position of authority in the church. Yet he admits that women can teach in both of his articles. So, whatever answer we might give to the question of the authority of teachers, we are agreed that a woman can teach under certain circumstances.

2) Five erroneous conclusions. Bro. Bolton says that I have misunderstood his words. Maybe I have for I cannot understand how my five conclusions stated negatively are erroneous when he stated the same five conclusions affirmatively teaching the same thing. Bro. Bolton agrees that the woman can do the five things I stated. If she can, then my statements are not erroneous.

3) Priscilla. In the case of Acts 18:26 we have a small group studying God's word. This type of group study can be engaged in a class-room or a person's home. I do not believe that Priscilla was teaching over Apollos. Will you say that Priscilla could teach this class since you say that 1 Tim. 2:12 does not apply outside the assembly? Can a woman teach a class with men in it outside the church?

I trust that we have pin-pointed the issue in this brief article. May the Lord bless our study.

— 5140 Planet Parkway, Sacramento 23, Calif.