Hot debates recently over the roles of men and women, and whether or not a woman should preach. There are many difficult conversations surrounding this topic but I wanted to consider why we believe that women ought not to teach/lead a church. Let’s start with head coverings first. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says men shouldn’t cover his head. Not that a man should never cover his head, but that he shouldn’t while in public worship. The reason starts with understanding that man is made in the image and glory of God, originally and immediately, given dominion and authority. To cover his head would be to cover where the image and glory of God is most illustriously displayed, his headship. Since man is the head of the woman, (as Christ is the head of man), this demonstrates the reason for the difference in appearance at public worship according to verse 10, woman covered and man uncovered.

So why should a wife have a symbol of authority on her head? One reason being that woman, while equal in the image and glory of God with respect to such qualities as righteousness, holiness, knowledge, etc. she came by it secondarily and mediately through man. Another reason being that while man was made for God, for his service and glory, woman was made for man, to be a companion and associate in his endeavors. Woman was made of man’s rib, and took both her name and nature from him; God as the author of her, and man the matter of her being. So, according to Paul, the one who is the glory of God needs to remain uncovered and while the other, as the glory of man, should be covered; especially since, being the first in the transgression, she who is man’s glory has been the means of his shame and disgrace.

So why can’t women preach? According to 1 Timothy women are to be learners and not teachers, in public worship within the church of God. If they should meet with anything that they do not understand or have an objection to they must not speak, but ask their own husbands in private. Submitting cheerfully to the ordinances of Christ; the whole of which is a professed subjection to the Gospel, to its ministers and their own husbands. They may teach other women and in private, bringing their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. However, women are forbidden from teaching in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, which is given to man. Just as the affairs of the family rest on his authority, to feed the church with knowledge and understanding also rest upon him. If a woman takes it upon herself to do this, it would be to usurp man’s role and authority, which is a rejection of not only God’s Word but of Christ’s authority as well.

The reasons for the symbol of authority and restriction for preaching are the same. The lesser reason being that man was first formed, out of the dust of the earth and the breath of life breathed into him by God. His authority and dominion given to him before Eve was yet formed from his ribs. Yet this is the greater reason, the role given to the woman, made to be his helper; for even the beasts came before her and though she was given dominion over them it was given through the one she was formed, granted by God. A women’s subjection to man is according to the laws of nature (roles of mankind in marriage imitate Christ and the Church) and the creation order by God’s design, and that was well before she was brought low by the curse of the fall of mankind.

— 1 Corinthians 11: 2-12, 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-14

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