Is It Really the Epitome of Honor to Teach Men?

I’ve always known the world at war – Vietnam, racial, gender, culture, war on terrorism, mommy wars, and wars within the church, both denominational and local.

The Psalmist speaks for me in Psalm 120:5-7 when he says:

“Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!”(ESV)

That verse is my heartcry, too, but I had no idea what it meant to “sojourn in Meshech” or to “dwell among the tents of Kedar,” so, I looked it up on Chuck Colson’s website and found this:

“Meshech and Kedar were both far from Jerusalem and populated by those hostile to the faith of Israel. To say that one is living in these places is to say that the attacks he is experiencing are so severe that it feels like he is living in the midst of hostile barbarians. Even if he dwells within the boundaries of Israel, it doesn’t feel that way.”

Well, that I understand! That is often how it feels in the church (or in the office), when it comes to discussing gender roles or any gender-related issues.

In my twenties, I wrestled with the question of my role as a Christian woman. I have the gift of teaching and believe I have this gift for the building up of the body of Christ.

Throughout my college years, some devoted believers told me that I was grieving the Holy Spirit if I didn’t take this gift and pursue the pastorate. At the same time, other devoted believers said that there were limits to the expression of my gift and that I should be careful to observe them.

Still other, immature and misinformed believers told me that “God wouldn’t give a woman the gift of teaching,” that “the gift of teaching was a waste in a woman,” and that I was “selfish, ambitious, and ungodly to even think I had the gift of teaching.” (Yeah, that was nonsense.)

At one point, I took an entire summer to spend evenings alone with God in prayer and study the matter. One night during an extended prayer session, I had a mental image that I was literally following Jesus.

I kept my eyes low to the ground and watched his sandaled feet and the hem of his robe as He walked, following closely behind. All at once, His feet disappeared and a door slammed in my face. I looked up and saw that it was the door of a men’s room.

I burst into laughter and I heard Jesus say, “Would I ever lead you someplace you cannot go?”

“Of course, not.” I replied. I know Him better than that. Then, I sensed Him ask me a question –

“Are you following a role, a career path, a stereotype, or me?”

I answered that I’m following Jesus.

“Then,” He answered, “Stop fretting over this and just fall in behind Me.”

This didn’t end my exploration of the topic and it doesn’t answer every question but it gave me a secure starting place – the person of Jesus.

The trust I have in Him is complete. I’ll follow Him wherever He leads. He’s always up for adventure but He also, always remains in perfect obedience to the Father.

When I bring up challenging topics, I’ve no desire for those who differ from me to be wrong and for me to be right.

I don’t want you to be wrong – I want you to know Jesus.

Neither do I believe that when I arrive in Heaven, God will turn to me and say, “Lori, since you figured out all your theology absolutely right – you can go wait over there with the others who got it perfectly straight while I correct everyone else.”

That’s not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean I’m not responsible to study and try to understand things the best I can. Not so I can be right but so I can know Jesus and obey Him as an expression of my love.

It does mean, though, that I shouldn’t come to a discussion like this with my fists raised or my pride dialed up high.

The only way to dialog about gender is to be willing to disarm and come to the conversation as followers of Jesus with a heart of love for all those in the discussion.

If you care more about being right than you care about the others in the conversation, or if you have a need to condemn “those other people,” then, you need to go back to your room and spend more time alone with Jesus before you speak.

Loving debate honors God. War destroys relationships and obscures the truth.

Jesus comes first – even before my allegiance to my gender or to my own identity. The Bible says that in Jesus, all things hold together, so if you break me down to my smallest parts, you’ll find a Christ-follower.

A lot of things bother me about the war over women’s roles in the church, and I’ve found some answers for myself which I’ll share along the way. Still, one question sticks in my craw: how is it that people who say they are all about women feel it isn’t privilege enough to “only teach women?”

I love men but I’d feel like a gender traitor if I believed it to be the “epitome of honor” to be allowed to teach men. How can a woman say that teaching women isn’t honor enough? What’s up with that?

Are all the women and the children in the world so well-taught and discipled in Christ now that there are dozens of bored teaching women with nothing to do? I know I’m being a smart-aleck but my point is that sometimes we’re all guilty of aiming at the wrong target.

I do think there are times when it’s appropriate for women to teach men but often it isn’t. Still, that certainly shouldn’t restrict any woman from exercising her gifts. There’s plenty of work to do if the aim of one’s heart is to use the gifts God’s given one for His glory.

I’m still asking questions about this issue and have more to bring up in future blogs, but I want to be clear that my starting point and my goal line are both a relationship with Jesus and a desire to serve Him.

If discussions of gender roles are based on winning and losing or personal fulfillment and ambition, there’s mostly a lot of losing. (The popular photo on this blog is a case in point. I value men and I value women. I don’t want to disparage either in order to have this discussion.)

If they’re based on Jesus, there’s hope and an opportunity for reconciliation. Since our maleness and femaleness reflects the image of God, the closer we get to the truth, the better we see Him.

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    The Conversation

  1. Such great points raised!

  2. Carla Anne says:

    I, too, have the gift of teaching. Like you, I was told and believed for a long time that God must have done something wrong, because he gave a woman the gift of teaching. The only teaching i was allowed to do for years was Sunday School. But you see… children are not my strong suit and I was usually burned out within a few weeks. It took me a long time to understand and work out for myself what it meant to be a teacher as a woman, and feel confident speaking in churches and to groups of people. I have settled it between myself and God and like you… I go where He leads. And that sometimes takes me in front of women, and sometimes in front of both, and other times just in front of men. But God is always the centre and to Him alone goes all the glory.

  3. Great point, Carla. I go a little nuts teaching small children but I love teaching teens and adults. I do think there are forms of “teaching men,” teaching that doesn’t involve or imply authority are fine. I’m sure there are men who read my blog posts and I dare say that sometimes they learn something but I am not in a position of authority over them. That probably sounds stupid but I think that makes a difference. I’m still working it out. Love what you shared.

  4. Erynn says:

    I just love your heart. Great conclusion. That’s what it’s all about.

  5. Megan says:

    I like your blog Lori but I would be careful with this one. I think you best just stick with what the Word says and don’t overthink it. There is plenty of room for teaching women. It comes down to the woman was the one deceived by the serpent, not the man. The man took the fruit knowingly because he loved the woman so much. A woman can be easily deceived, that is why we are not to be in authority over a man. It is for our protection, not because God is a killjoy. I hope you can see this as written in a spirit of love, not condemnation, but something I have been taught that goes against the world’s way of thinking.If you study it out, I think you will see it for yourself in the Scriptures.
    In Him,

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Not sure why you think I wouldn’t agree with that, Megan. The passage to which you refer in 1 Timothy 2 does say that “the woman was deceived” but Paul doesn’t say that all women can be easily deceived or that the instruction is for women’s protection. I do believe this passage sets a limit on women teaching with authority over a man, so on that, you and I have no disagreement. Not sure why you’d think we would. I do try to stick with the word whenever I write. I think it’s important to stick with the words of the 1 Timothy passage, too, and not expand on it or assume things it doesn’t say.

    • Megan says:

      Hi again Lori,
      That is wonderful that we do agree on most of it. I am sorry if I misread your words then. The only point I wish to make is, on the whole, I think, yes, we women are easily deceived, not just “some” of us. True some a lot more than others, depending on how much of the Word is in your soul. That is why our husbands are our covering and why our society started going downhill with the advent of women’s lib. I am very blessed with your blog and didn’t mean to be critical, just that we have to be very careful, the enemy is looking for every opportunity he can to catch us when we don’t stay under the authorities that God provided for our protection.
      Blessings, Megan

  6. Interesting blog. First let me say I am a member of the Church of Christ. They do not believe in women holding position in the church or preaching. They can teach, Sunday school. The church I was a member of for years recently closed the doors due to attrition. No young people. I was about the youngest. I am 65. Anyhow towards the end it got to a point that in some services the women had to serve communion. There were no men in the service. I used to agree with them, but the Lord cleared the matter up for me one day and I no longer have a problem with it. When I drove a truck I believed in something I called the “Harmony of the Spirit” Being out on the road I went to the church of the 80 foot parking lot often. That is how much space I needed to park. Anyhow when I went in if the preaching was on what I had been reading before I went there or it was in harmony with the Christian sermon I was listening to before I went into the church it gave me a kind of peace. Sometimes the preacher would pick up right where the message left off. Also so sometimes I turned off radio preachers for the same reason. Well one day I heard a woman preacher and she was stepping all over my toes and it hurt, but she was totally in “Harmony with the Spirit” I had been reading before I started listening to her. So if I am going to follow that standard for a man, the same must apply for a woman. The woman Billy Graham’s daughter. I did not believe her because of who she was, but who confirmed her Words. So yes I always look for Jesus in it and I see women “Preachers” who are full of it, but it ain’t Jesus. So the key is measure what they say against the Word of God male or female. That is my view on the matter. Sorry I have not been around lately, but I have been on a bit of a Quest. It has been fun, might read my latest blog to see what I am talking about.