Women Teaching "Youth"

Does Scripture Prohibit (explicitly or implicitly) a Woman From Teaching (exegeting Scripture):

  • A mixed-gender adult Sunday School class

    Votes: 12 100.0%
  • A mixed-gender high school Sunday School class

    Votes: 8 66.7%
  • A mixed-gender middle & high school "Youth Group" ('at church' on the Lord's Day, if relevant)

    Votes: 7 58.3%
  • A mixed-gender middle school Sunday School class

    Votes: 4 33.3%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 1 8.3%

  • Total voters
    12

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
Should women be permitted to teach mixed-gender groups of middle and/or high school youth in the context of either Sunday School or Youth Group?

I've seen several threads here addressing the issue of women teaching Sunday School, but mostly in general terms. This thread addressed this topic with respect to women teaching high school students, though only briefly and back in 2002. I am presently reading through some related reports and position papers (ARP, PCA, OPC, RPCNA) on women's roles, although I wanted to post this question here as most of those tend to address women's roles as a whole rather than this particular question.


Some areas that might be addressed in answering this question may be:
- the distinction between the categories of children, youth, and adults (our Session has determined that "all mixed-gender adult classes (not being team-taught) should be taught by a man," but "women may teach classes of children of mixed gender," emphasis added)
- Is there an age connotation for the word "man" in 1 Tim. 2:12? (Raised in the thread I linked above, but never answered)
- The distinction between preaching and teaching or the relationship of Sunday School or Youth Group to God's prescriptions for corporate Lord's Day worship

I've read a number of internet articles addressing this issue in particlular (DG, Vern Poythress's blog, 9marks, ect.) but you are certainly welcome to share any articles, reports or resources you think would be helpful.

Looking forward to any discussion as well.

*Disclaimer- This is a question of Biblical fidelity/men and women's roles rather than a question about a women's ability to teach.
 
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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
In the OT the minimum age for military service was 20. So I tend to look at age 20 as roughly the age of adulthood for men. Back then girls were generally married before then though.

Back when we took our daughter to CCEF the counselor stressed that 15 or 16 is a normal developmental age where kids want to be independent and make their own decisions, and conflict with parents at that age is typical. The Jewish Bar mitzvah is around 14.

Personally I'd like to see men doing teaching by at least high school in formal settings, but it seems hard to say adulthood is earlier than 20 based on the OT definition of the age for military service. Of course people vary hugely in maturity.

The best youth group leader my kids ever had was a woman. Her husband was very involved but officially she was in charge. They had a teen son killed in a car crash years before, and just poured out themselves for the kids. The worst youth group leader we ever dealt with was a guy fresh out of college. Given the biblical uncertainty on this I wouldn't make gender the main factor. Its just not the same as ordaining elders in my opinion.

Edit to add that I was thinking of mid week youth events. On Sunday I'd think the older youth should be in with adults hearing the sermons.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Seems to me, if you can expect a high-school age young man to sit respectfully and learn in a grade school from a woman teaching him English lit, he should be able to submit to a S.S. teacher, even if she's a lady, in loco parentis. If she's the best person available, skilled at teaching and a "Priscilla" in modern terms, then he should be an "Apollo."

I take the strictest of lines on Paul's injunction against women "teaching" in the church, 1Tim.2:12. It is forbidden. But I also take that stand on a precise and narrow (and unassailable) position. Paul speaks unequivocally and unambiguously in this regard as it is affixed to officer-bearing in the church. So, as far as a church restricts or limits the authoritative teaching of the church to those who are ordained, thus far stands Paul's absolute constraint.

It applies the same to males as it does to females. If ordination is required to fulfill a certain teaching task, then NO ONE who is not ordained may lawfully perform that task. And, as a corollary, if ordination is not required for a certain teaching task, then wisdom (and not a law of Scripture) as exercised by them ordained to that deliberation, will determine who, or what qualifications that person needs who is asked or tasked.

The fact that some churches erroneously or falsely extend ordination to women is not germane to this position. If a church has taken that lax a stance on biblical interpretation they will allow such a thing, there is no point in any one of them maintaining any kind of Scriptural standard on whether a woman may teach a Sunday School class. By ordaining, they removed every restriction upon that person for exercising the duties of the ordained.

Problems (in my estimation) arise in many "conservative" settings because 1) these traditionalists on doctrine and biblical authority may yet be embarrassed by having to admit any law-bound limit, and so they rush to eliminate any sign of such ideas everywhere except in the formal call; or 2) in pursuit of extreme "consistency" they press the rule to the maximum, and find "teaching" in nearly everything, thus radically closing women off. The former tries so hard to prove the church is more "reasonable" than they might sound, ergo the world should find them generally acceptable. The latter runs the risk of forbidding (by law) what may be allowable according to wisdom, by not disciplining to the limit of the law and no further.

I see both being driven by fear--being too strict, being not strict enough--and not by confidence in a tight conformity to Scripture. My position rests the whole argument on the matter of ordination. In the face of the unpopular-in-America (but biblical) notion of imposed authority, and the fact that pastors and elders wield authority delegated downward from Christ (not upward from the polis or the congregation), as Presbyterians we must maintain the truth of the offices of the church's ministry, the government of Christ.

This ends the argument that "talent" or "gifts" (be they belong to a woman or a man) are either sufficient or decisive to validate one's desire (or many's) to enter this role or that. The idea that God may have bestowed a certain "gift," and therefore the church must conclude that this person is on that basis suited for any task that uses such a gift, instead rests all the question purely on the question of a subjective determination, as if "talent" was everything. Many unqualified people as judged on a wide array of considerations have "talent" for achieving a public bearing and exercise of authority.

I think there are women with gifts the church (of men and women, old and young) could benefit from. These women may not according to Paul lead in public worship, because they may not exercise authority as ordained persons and sit in the session or diaconate as part of the official ministry. Their gift does not open a door which Christ has closed. The public worship of God is the responsibility of the ordained.

So, if I'm correct that the church (as a whole, not just specific closed parts) could yet benefit from some woman's knowledge and insight, and a man is not too proud to learn from her, he ought to take advantage of it in those venues where opportunity abounds, and there is no God-established limit or restriction.

Every legitimate allowance made by the word of God for any good is liable to abuse. The fact that such an allowance as I've argued above could be misused and biblical limits transgressed again, is no reason alone why it should be reined in. Should alcohol be banned, because some men get drunk? No. Must all Psalm singing be done in monotone chants, because some are given to ostentation (showoff) re. their vocal prowess? No, even if such would force a "limit" that would prevent such prideful display.

The same goes for teaching by a woman. No one is obliged to go to Sunday School class (in the manner they are obliged to attend stated worship). Her class is not teaching of the same kind as that done by means of and in virtue of office. One of either sex can hear and profit of her with a clear conscience, only if she gives a faithful word. I know some will dispute me, but I do not believe such to be "authoritative" teaching in the Pauline sense, so it is not subject to his prohibition; and I think that those of another opinion are in difficulty trying to find a biblical limit for males to hear women instructors such as "20yrs old," which has only an appearance of a biblical standard and law for the church.

All the same, the ordained servants who are dutiful about the organization of Christian education under their oversight will not be careless in taking opportunity to exercise their "apt to teach" gift. And in encouraging men especially in regular teaching roles available, because these (only!) are the future ordained servants of the congregation. And in encouraging the mothers in Israel to build up the faith of the tenderest youth.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Should women be permitted to teach mixed-gender groups of middle and/or high school youth in the context of either Sunday School or Youth Group?

I'm one of the increasingly rare birds that believes part of the reformation needed in our churches today is to recover a theology of the family and a move back towards an age-integrated model for how we make disciples.

My starting point in thinking through the question posed isn't to consider the roles of women, but to consider whether or not age-segregated programs and groups should exist within the church to begin with. I would say no they should not and I sincerely intend no disrespect to anyone who disagrees. I'm in the minority today and some may even believe my stance is extreme or antiquated, but ending age-segregated programs in the church is the easiest way to end the endless debate on whether or not women can teach in this capacity.

Just my take is all...
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Seems to me, if you can expect a high-school age young man to sit respectfully and learn in a grade school from a woman teaching him English lit, he should be able to submit to a S.S. teacher, even if she's a lady, in loco parentis. If she's the best person available, skilled at teaching and a "Priscilla" in modern terms, then he should be an "Apollo."

I take the strictest of lines on Paul's injunction against women "teaching" in the church, 1Tim.2:12. It is forbidden. But I also take that stand on a precise and narrow (and unassailable) position. Paul speaks unequivocally and unambiguously in this regard as it is affixed to officer-bearing in the church. So, as far as a church restricts or limits the authoritative teaching of the church to those who are ordained, thus far stands Paul's absolute constraint.

It applies the same to males as it does to females. If ordination is required to fulfill a certain teaching task, then NO ONE who is not ordained may lawfully perform that task. And, as a corollary, if ordination is not required for a certain teaching task, then wisdom (and not a law of Scripture) as exercised by them ordained to that deliberation, will determine who, or what qualifications that person needs who is asked or tasked.

The fact that some churches erroneously or falsely extend ordination to women is not germane to this position. If a church has taken that lax a stance on biblical interpretation they will allow such a thing, there is no point in any one of them maintaining any kind of Scriptural standard on whether a woman may teach a Sunday School class. By ordaining, they removed every restriction upon that person for exercising the duties of the ordained.

Problems (in my estimation) arise in many "conservative" settings because 1) these traditionalists on doctrine and biblical authority may yet be embarrassed by having to admit any law-bound limit, and so they rush to eliminate any sign of such ideas everywhere except in the formal call; or 2) in pursuit of extreme "consistency" they press the rule to the maximum, and find "teaching" in nearly everything, thus radically closing women off. The former tries so hard to prove the church is more "reasonable" than they might sound, ergo the world should find them generally acceptable. The latter runs the risk of forbidding (by law) what may be allowable according to wisdom, by not disciplining to the limit of the law and no further.

I see both being driven by fear--being too strict, being not strict enough--and not by confidence in a tight conformity to Scripture. My position rests the whole argument on the matter of ordination. In the face of the unpopular-in-America (but biblical) notion of imposed authority, and the fact that pastors and elders wield authority delegated downward from Christ (not upward from the polis or the congregation), as Presbyterians we must maintain the truth of the offices of the church's ministry, the government of Christ.

This ends the argument that "talent" or "gifts" (be they belong to a woman or a man) are either sufficient or decisive to validate one's desire (or many's) to enter this role or that. The idea that God may have bestowed a certain "gift," and therefore the church must conclude that this person is on that basis suited for any task that uses such a gift, instead rests all the question purely on the question of a subjective determination, as if "talent" was everything. Many unqualified people as judged on a wide array of considerations have "talent" for achieving a public bearing and exercise of authority.

I think there are women with gifts the church (of men and women, old and young) could benefit from. These women may not according to Paul lead in public worship, because they may not exercise authority as ordained persons and sit in the session or diaconate as part of the official ministry. Their gift does not open a door which Christ has closed. The public worship of God is the responsibility of the ordained.

So, if I'm correct that the church (as a whole, not just specific closed parts) could yet benefit from some woman's knowledge and insight, and a man is not too proud to learn from her, he ought to take advantage of it in those venues where opportunity abounds, and there is no God-established limit or restriction.

Every legitimate allowance made by the word of God for any good is liable to abuse. The fact that such an allowance as I've argued above could be misused and biblical limits transgressed again, is no reason alone why it should be reined in. Should alcohol be banned, because some men get drunk? No. Must all Psalm singing be done in monotone chants, because some are given to ostentation (showoff) re. their vocal prowess? No, even if such would force a "limit" that would prevent such prideful display.

The same goes for teaching by a woman. No one is obliged to go to Sunday School class (in the manner they are obliged tattend stated worship). Her class is not teaching of the same kind as that done by means of and in virtue of office. One of either sex can hear and profit of her with a clear conscience, only if she gives a faithful word. I know some will dispute me, but I do not believe such to be "authoritative" teaching in the Pauline sense, so it is not subject to his prohibition; and I think that those of another opinion are in difficulty trying to find a biblical limit for males to hear women instructors such as "20yrs old," which has only an appearance of a biblical standard and law for the church.

All the same, the ordained servants who are dutiful about the organization of Christian education under their oversight will not be careless in taking opportunity to exercise their "apt to teach" gift. And in encouraging men especially in regular teaching roles available, because these (only!) are the future ordained servants of the congregation. And in encouraging the mothers in Israel to build up the faith of the tenderest youth.

Rev. Bruce if I read you correctly you are saying it is OK for a lady or unordained man to teach Sunday School. Correct me if I read you incorrectly. Now if I read you correctly my question would be, would those in times past when Jesus walked the earth allowed to teach in the synagogue?
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm one of the increasingly rare birds that believes part of the reformation needed in our churches today is to recover a theology of the family and a move back towards an age-integrated model for how we make disciples.

My starting point in thinking through the question posed isn't to consider the roles of women, but to consider whether or not age-segregated programs and groups should exist within the church to begin with. I would say no they should not and I sincerely intend no disrespect to anyone who disagrees. I'm in the minority today and some may even believe my stance is extreme or antiquated, but ending age-segregated programs in the church is the easiest way to end the endless debate on whether or not women can teach in this capacity.

Just my take is all...
I don't go that far but approach your position. Half a dozen age groups isn't helpful. I don't see a problem with two say 14-15 and above including adults and an under 14 group. The older kids learn by helping to teach the younger. I've expressed this over the years and have seen some progress in that direction. Who knows...
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Rev. Bruce if I read you correctly you are saying it is OK for a lady or unordained man to teach Sunday School. Correct me if I read you incorrectly. Now if I read you correctly my question would be, would those in times past when Jesus walked the earth allowed to teach in the synagogue?
If you will allow me, to sharpen the focus a bit:
Typical conservative churches already allow ladies and unordained men to teach S.S.; only, they will often impose an arbitrary (varies from place to place) "comfort ceiling" on the topmost age where those teachers instruct. I wouldn't actually pass judgment on such a choice of how to conduct their business. One reasonable position (in my view) that many take, which is that if a child (a male specifically) is bound to submit to the authority of his mother, he may be expected to submit to the instruction of other "mother" figures, such as a S.S. teacher.

The OP raised a question that seems to focus on the transition between female instructors over the most youthful classes (of undifferentiated sex), and older classes of youth. There is a commonly held view in our circles that classes of mixed adults ought to be taught exclusively by men: thus, either ordained persons or persons who could possibly be ordained, admitted they have other qualifications in addition to their sex.

That concept isn't (is no longer) persuasive to me. My position is now: either a particular teaching setting is suited exclusively for the ordained (restricted to men); or else the choice of person to fill a teaching position that is not exclusive to the ordained must be made according to wisdom from beginning to end. At no point is it appropriate to say, "This person is automatically disqualified because of her (or his!) sex," like biology made some sort of baseline.

It might well be inappropriate for a particular woman or for any woman to teach a certain S.S. (youth or adult) class, or youth group, or Bible study, etc., any of which is here regarded as not-exclusive to the church's ministry. But it won't be because her feminine nature rendered her unfit according to Scripture. Maybe her feminine nature was judged a decisive criteria for which she was not considered according to wisdom. And yes, in the world's estimation that rejection is often called "discrimination," and is derided as backward and unjust. This is the result of rejecting wisdom in order to favor outcome. Pragmatism over Principle.

So, it may be that some lady or unordained man is authorized (by order of ordained leadership) to teach S.S., whether of the most youthful, or of some older group, mixed or unmixed, through adult level; this authorization need not contradict Scripture limits.


Now, for the question: "would those [a lady or unordained man] in times past when Jesus walked the earth [be] allowed to teach in the synagogue?"
I judge "teaching in the synagogue" to be formally equivalent to "teaching in church," i.e. OT worship vs. NT worship. If the latter is in settings that are limited to the ordained office, then the former should also be regarded by a similar rule.

Perhaps you have in mind some kind of less-formal religious instruction that might have taken place around the synagogue, in pattern similar to our S.S. settings and suchlike. I think it awkward and anachronistic to try to read-back our conditions into the past; but suffice to say that I can imagine a situation where the wisdom of the eldership in Israel might authorize it. And leave it at that.

The reality is: we don't live within a generally patriarchal or male-dominated society, which the ancient world definitely was. Our individual families, to the extent that we honor the husband/father head-of-house concept, preserve a kind of natural order (without having to exhibit dictatorship). And the church, to the extent it honors strictly biblical regulated government, preserves the divine-kingdom order designed to highlight the Servant-Mediator-Lord construct.

Secular society is mainly occupied with the question, "Who has power?" the better to achieve some will or desire through control of not just one, but many combined. In times less advanced (whether technologically or organizationally), control often comes down to brute force, even violence; and this favors a pattern of male-dominance (based on relative physical strength).

If various factors reduce that noteworthy "power-disadvantage" of the female, secular society moves toward regarding every human as interchangeable "human resources." We could even see irreducible biological distinctions forcibly minimized, in order to accelerate this trend (crazy, right?). But the fundamental issue of the exercise of POWER remains essentially unchanged. Law is more and more viewed positively as an instrument of CONTROL.

That little digression was only to set up this observation: that ecclesiastical decisions as to how to employ the variety of gifts among the membership is almost always affected or impacted by the reality of the social-setting around us, even when the church resists external control. If secular society is patriarchal, then the wisdom-decisions of the church will be influenced by the inevitable social conditioning on the decision makers. It isn't even necessarily an evil thing, it's just a fact of life. But to mitigate its influence, it has to be recognized and understood.

The genius of careful attention to Scripture alone, is how this commitment makes the church adaptable to a wide variety of secular-society contexts that surround it. Commitment to male-only ordained ministry is not "tradition," but the plain teaching of Scripture. That is law; it's given down from Christ. There are certain non-delegateable tasks that are the duty of the church's ministry. This is the reason why we refuse to call the pulpit declamations of seminary students or licentiates "preaching" per se, but "exhortation." Because preaching properly so-called is an exclusive duty to one ordained to office.

Our pastors and elders ought to be teaching Sunday School classes. In the nature of the case, this means there are fewer such "slots" for others, men or women. Wisdom must then determine from the available assets--with due concern for suitability in person, in gifts, in regard to scandal, or any other factor--how to fill those remaining vacancies; or whether to do away with those vacancies. Because we do not operate generally in a wider social context that is patriarchal, we might be found to have additional options, not contrary to Scripture, that a patriarchal context would render unsuitable.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I don't go that far but approach your position. Half a dozen age groups isn't helpful. I don't see a problem with two say 14-15 and above including adults and an under 14 group. The older kids learn by helping to teach the younger. I've expressed this over the years and have seen some progress in that direction. Who knows...
Children at vastly different stages of development require different kinds of teaching. Having too many of them together makes it much more difficult for the teacher to teach effectively.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
In the OT the minimum age for military service was 20. So I tend to look at age 20 as roughly the age of adulthood for men. Back then girls were generally married before then though.

How is age for military service the best metric for measuring adulthood? Would not the typical age of marriage be a better barometer? Especially since men and women's marital roles (and a women being "saved" through childbearing) are the immediate context in 1 Tim. 2 distinguishing men and women.

That all, however, is assuming that somehow there is a prescriptive age for adulthood that the Bible sets forth, which I am not sure we can prove.

Personally I'd like to see men doing teaching by at least high school in formal settings...
On Sunday I'd think the older youth should be in with adults hearing the sermons.

I agree on both counts. Our Sunday School is a separate function from the Lord's Day worship service.

...part of the reformation needed in our churches today is to recover a theology of the family and a move back towards an age-integrated model for how we make disciples.
...consider whether or not age-segregated programs and groups should exist within the church to begin with. I would say no...

I mostly agree, but I think there is a place for some age specific programming. I just think most churches have gone to unhealthy lengths with it.
ending age-segregated programs in the church is the easiest way to end the endless debate on whether or not women can teach in this capacity.

Even if this were true, practically it would be putting the cart before the horse. It would be massively controversial in many churches to end these programs altogether (whereas I'm convinced a gradual shift in people's hearts and minds via preaching and other means is probably more pastorally responsible in most cases), but there is a need right now to address Biblical fidelity with respect to women's roles and - certainly in my context - some consensus and action being taken is more immediately attainable.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
ZackF, nice to see you here. I grew up in Wichita and went to Manhattan (KS) Pres (PCA)!

Rev. Buchanan, thanks for your contribution. You say:
...if you can expect a high-school age young man to sit respectfully and learn in a grade school from a woman teaching him English lit, he should be able to submit to a S.S. teacher... If she's the best person available, skilled at teaching and a "Priscilla" in modern terms, then he should be an "Apollo."
Sure, a HS male may be capable of submitting to the authority of a women teaching Sunday School, but my question is regarding Scripture's commands that may speak to whether he should. I'm also not convinced that a women teaching a SS class of men (and, let's say, including women too) is very analogous to Priscilla and Aquila (a married couple) "taking Apollo aside" from the gathered congregation and more accurately explaining things of God to him (Acts 18:24-28).

Concerning whether men should submit to the authority of a women teaching Sunday School (read "from God's Word on the Lord's Day), it seems your central argument is that this woman's "authority" is "not authoritative." Lest I oversimply, and to be clear, I know you're referring to "authoritative teaching in the Pauline sense" and that you believe such authority only corresponds to the tasks of 'ordained (male) ministers - the office-bearers in the church.
Where do you see this in the text? Paul's appeals to gender roles more broadly make me question the presence of a specific emphasis on offices here.

...if I'm correct that the church (as a whole, not just specific closed parts) could yet benefit from some woman's knowledge and insight, and a man is not too proud to learn from her, he ought to take advantage of it in those venues where opportunity abounds, and there is no God-established limit or restriction.
Insofar as we are within God's established parameters, I wholeheartedly agree with you that men should not be so prideful that they believe they cannot learn from women!

No one is obliged to go to Sunday School class (in the manner they are obliged to attend stated worship). Her class is not teaching of the same kind as that done by means of and in virtue of office. One of either sex can hear and profit of her with a clear conscience, only if she gives a faithful word. I know some will dispute me, but I do not believe such to be "authoritative" teaching in the Pauline sense, so it is not subject to his prohibition; and I think that those of another opinion are in difficulty trying to find a biblical limit for males to hear women instructors such as "20yrs old," which has only an appearance of a biblical standard and law for the church.
May it be that - though Sunday School less of an obligation or seemingly less authoritative than the sermon - a women is still teaching authoritatively (in the Pauline sense)? It is hard for me to see a woman exegeting a passage of Scripture on the Lord's Day morning, right before or after the worship service, to be so significantly less authoritative.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
If you will allow me, to sharpen the focus a bit:
One reasonable position (in my view) that many take, which is that if a child (a male specifically) is bound to submit to the authority of his mother, he may be expected to submit to the instruction of other "mother" figures, such as a S.S. teacher.
This is seems a reasonable philosophy, albeit irrespective of Scripture.

There is a commonly held view in our circles that classes of mixed adults ought to be taught exclusively by men: thus, either ordained persons or persons who could possibly be ordained, admitted they have other qualifications in addition to their sex.
This is where I tend to land.

That concept isn't (is no longer) persuasive to me. My position is now: either a particular teaching setting is suited exclusively for the ordained (restricted to men); or else the choice of person to fill a teaching position that is not exclusive to the ordained must be made according to wisdom from beginning to end. At no point is it appropriate to say, "This person is automatically disqualified because of her (or his!) sex," like biology made some sort of baseline.
This, and your explanation which follows, also seems reasonable, though I'm not sure I agree.

ecclesiastical decisions as to how to employ the variety of gifts among the membership [are] almost always affected or impacted by the reality of the social-setting around us...
The genius of careful attention to Scripture alone, is how this commitment makes the church adaptable to a wide variety of secular-society contexts that surround it. Commitment to male-only ordained ministry is not "tradition," but the plain teaching of Scripture. That is law; it's given down from Christ. There are certain non-delegateable tasks that are the duty of the church's ministry.
Amen!

Our pastors and elders ought to be teaching Sunday School classes. In the nature of the case, this means there are fewer such "slots" for others, men or women. Wisdom must then determine from the available assets--with due concern for suitability in person, in gifts, in regard to scandal, or any other factor--how to fill those remaining vacancies; or whether to do away with those vacancies. Because we do not operate generally in a wider social context that is patriarchal, we might be found to have additional options, not contrary to Scripture, that a patriarchal context would render unsuitable.
Astute concluding thought.

I really appreciate your response, Rev. Buchanan, and the level at which you've engaged with my post. I'm certain you have a lot of wisdom I can profit from and I ask these questions in earnest that we all might know with greater clarity how to be faithful in our ministries.

And I would gladly welcome any newcomer's opinions on this thread as much as we can stay focused on the question-
Should women be permitted to teach mixed-gender groups of middle and/or high school youth in the context of either Sunday School or Youth Group?
Rev. Buchanan is providing a thoughtful case as to why one might answer "yes."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Thank you for kind words. I commend your investigation and willingness to determine all questions of faith by Scripture. And if you don't end up accepting all my proposals and arguments, I can live with that (Rom.14:4).

Paul's appeals to gender roles more broadly
I simply don't agree that Paul makes a broad appeal to sex-roles in the context of 1TIm.2:12; I don't think Paul argues greater-to-lesser, or from general to particular, to support his argument in 1Tim.2:13-14. I think he makes sophisticated exegetical arguments, not simple appeals to nature (as some might say he does for example in 1Cor.11:14).

May it be that - though Sunday School less of an obligation or seemingly less authoritative than the sermon - a women is still teaching authoritatively (in the Pauline sense)? It is hard for me to see a woman exegeting a passage of Scripture on the Lord's Day morning, right before or after the worship service, to be so significantly less authoritative.
I think significant portions of the Protestant church need to recover a special, high regard for the spiritual transactions that are unique to the public worship of God. I think if that were the case, among the spiritual (Gal.6:1) there would be little mistaking one setting for the other. All biblical instruction is "authoritative" in the sense that the Bible is inherently authoritative. So, every setting regardless of formality/informality is marked by this authority, and the speaker may justly be regarded as bearing said authority.

Thus, it is not temporal proximity to the service of worship or the day of worship that is decisive (to my view); but the nature of the setting itself, and the official bearing of divine authority. If I tell you, as a private citizen to STOP at this stop-sign, the law itself is being authoritative and I am authoritative as a witness to the law. But if a Policeman tells you STOP at this stop sign, he is significantly more authoritative because of his ordination to the office. And if the Judge in his courtroom tells you to STOP at all stop signs in the future, that is maximally authoritative due to the setting.

Just because you go out his door and into a classroom in the basement of the courthouse, where a professor of law (a woman even) tells you something similar, and even shows you books of law, goes over cases, exegetes the texts for you, covers the blackboard with evidence (of facts, and her mastery of them), doesn't make her authority equal to the Policeman or the Judge who are office holders. She's not sworn the oath to the constitution, taken its badge or claimed the courtroom as hers. Is she authoritative? Yes, but I can tell the difference between her kind of authority, and that of the officers. Can you?

This is seems a reasonable philosophy, albeit irrespective of Scripture.
Judges 5:7 calls Deborah, "a mother in Israel;" Paul calls Rufus' mother "mine;" make of these what you will.

Perhaps other comments I've made on the PB are potentially helpful (oddly, all from the same thread)
A comment on 1Tim.2:11-15 https://puritanboard.com/threads/review-of-rgm’s-ba-s.102900/page-5#post-1249506
A comment on 1Pet.3:7 https://puritanboard.com/threads/review-of-rgm’s-ba-s.102900/page-5#post-1249476
A comment on why men might be appointed for ordination to the exclusion of women https://puritanboard.com/threads/review-of-rgm’s-ba-s.102900/page-6#post-1249680
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
My own thoughts are that if elders must be able to teach it's best to have them teach. The estate of a church that has so few learned and godly men that it must look elsewhere for the instruction of the youths strikes me as somewhat sad. That said, I wouldn't go so far as to say that in a church with no elders for want of qualified men it would be immoral to have the women teach children.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Youth are young adults and if Parents and the Church have been doing their jobs, then I see no reason why teenagers are not able to hear and take in the same food as the adult SS class material. We expect as much when the full congregation sits under the ministry of the word don’t we? I am not sold on the 100% age integration model, but the modern church certainly needs more age integration and not less.

I generally am a fan of children’s ministry because in many of our communities the parents are just absent, coupled with this being a vital time to help build and support a solid foundation with scripture and catechisms. In this case, I am not opposed to a women in good standing to teach children. However, I am generally not in favor of “youth groups” as it mostly turns into an extension of having lower maturity standards and seeking to find ways to make Christianity “fun”. If a youth group, does exist, it seems it might be better to have it gender segregated so allow Older Women to teach the Younger Women and Older Men to teach Younger Men because in my mind that is what Youth are, younger men & women. This also helps provide a larger hurtle to the all to common Youth Minister student adulterous fling. Both children’s ministry and youth ministry are quick to be abused by enabling parents to “check-out” of their own required duties and lay the majority of the responsibility on the ministers to “train up their children”. This is a weakness to be constantly considered. I think teaching classes in the church and teaching a secular English class are very different things. I would be against a women teaching and leading a gathered assembly of the body that includes young men and young women.

Generally, I do agree that the Elders (TEs and REs) are the best to have doing all teaching for the gathered body. I think this is the safest way to interpret Paul’s charges. I am not sure we have any scriptural examples positively prescribing a women being a teacher in the publicly gathered body. But, I would also agree with the qualifying statement given by Charles, as sadly, this is becoming more and more common.

Laslty, if decisions on SS and/or youth group cause devision, it may be worth considering dropping it altogether, because neither are required.
 
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Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
...significant portions of the Protestant church need to recover a special, high regard for the spiritual transactions that are unique to the public worship of God. ...there would be little mistaking one setting for the other...
Thus, it is not temporal proximity...that is decisive (to my view); but the nature of the setting itself, and the official bearing of divine authority.
That makes sense. I agree that a) we ought to regard public worship more highly and b) doing so would draw a sharper and more helpful distinction between the worship service and other Lord's Day functions.

Your analogies to illustrate different tiers of authority also seem reasonable and I do see distinction in them. I just have trouble seeing that distinction so clearly in the Scripture. I will take a look at your other posts and continue to study this, however.

if elders must be able to teach it's best to have them teach. The estate of a church that has so few learned and godly men...
Quite so. I pray we will continue to encourage more elders in their aptness to teach.

...I see no reason why teenagers are not able to hear and take in the same food as the adult SS class material.
I see no reason either, though just because they are capable of taking in the same food, doesn't necessarily mean they should. I've used a middle-high school Sunday School curriculum from One Story Ministries that is phenomenal. It takes youth through theology, Scriptural surveys and other areas in a wonderfully systematic and faithful way over those formative years.

I am not sold on the 100% age integration model, but the modern church certainly needs more age integration and not less.
Agreed.

If a youth group, does exist, it seems it might be better to have it gender segregated so allow Older Women to teach the Younger Women and Older Men to teach Younger Men because in my mind that is what Youth are, younger men & women. This also helps provide a larger hurtle to the all to common Youth Minister student adulterous fling.

Both children’s ministry and youth ministry are quick to be abused by enabling parents to “check-out” of their own required duties and lay the majority of the responsibility on the ministers to “train up their children”. This is a weakness to be constantly considered.
We separate like that in our small groups. I appreciate what you say about Children's ministries and catechisms. Parents are the primary disciplers of their children- Scripture makes this clear (whether parents are aware of it or not!). Youth ministry should never be an excuse for them to check out, but a tool to encourage them in their ministry and spur their children on to know Christ.


I would be against a women teaching and leading a gathered assembly of the body that includes young men and young women... the Elders (TEs and REs) are the best to have doing all teaching for the gathered body. I think this is the safest why to interpret Paul’s charges. I am not sure we have any scriptural examples positively prescribing a women being a teacher in the publicly gathered body. But, I would also agree with the qualifying statement given by Charles, as sadly, this is becoming more and more common.

Laslty, if decisions on SS and/or youth group cause devision, it may be worth considering dropping it altogether, because neither are required.
Thanks for sharing your opinion so clearly. I'm curious to hear any rebuttals of this. Not sure that some division warrants ending the programs entirely, but yes, it is worth being thoughtful about how they serve their purpose when they are not spelled out in Scripture.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for sharing your opinion so clearly. I'm curious to hear any rebuttals of this. Not sure that some division warrants ending the programs entirely, but yes, it is worth being thoughtful about how they serve their purpose when they are not spelled out in Scripture.
Your welcome. To be even more clear, I think SS can be a big blessing to the body. In my church life I have been blessed with opportunities to teach all ages. Oftentimes, they provide additional time for digging into technical matters and are better environments to receive direct questions. So these class settings can be helpful but are not categorically necessary compared to, for example, Word & Sacrament.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
I see no reason either, though just because they are capable of taking in the same food, doesn't necessarily mean they should. I've used a middle-high school Sunday School curriculum from One Story Ministries that is phenomenal. It takes youth through theology, Scriptural surveys and other areas in a wonderfully systematic and faithful way over those formative years.
I don’t deny there is still some potential benefit. After all we need to teach everyone biblically faithful theology. I think to rephrase my point more clearly is by rephrasing to say you could likely feed 2 horses with 1 scone (PETA approved).

I’ve used One Story and it is solid material. Some circumstances may cause us to deem it wise to divide and conquer, but I think the modern church pulls that trigger too quickly.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks for sharing your opinion so clearly. I'm curious to hear any rebuttals of this. Not sure that some division warrants ending the programs entirely, but yes, it is worth being thoughtful about how they serve their purpose when they are not spelled out in Scripture.

One thing to consider when thinking about this is if the leader is actually doing the teaching, or if a book that is being used and discussed (or video material) is the main teaching.

5 kids later I care about the books. I've seen a youth group go through the simplified Grudem ST, and a catechism type study with discussion. I've seen no books at all where a youth leader speaks or occasionally gets the kids to "preach" (midweek evening). I've seen Piper books used, other books, and sometimes just the bible, like say going through a book section by section.

A really off the wall leader of either gender can botch the bible or a catechism if they really try, but generally it is decent. We had one allegedly Calvinist youth leader who preached instead of using other materials, and after 5 years got heavily into telling the kids how beautiful and wonderful they were to the point of almost word of faith speaking it into being, and we had to go to the pastor about what was happening. It wasn't just trying to encourage, it was blatant denial of people being sinners who need a savior. ( He left and ended up pastoring far away somewhere).

So, a woman leading youth with a good book, like for example Ferguson's The Christian Life, or an RC Sproul DVD series, can be great discipleship. Teaching can really be by men via a book or video, even if a woman is in charge of the meeting.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I don’t deny there is still some potential benefit. After all we need to teach everyone biblically faithful theology. I think to rephrase my point more clearly is by rephrasing to say you could likely feed 2 horses with 1 scone (PETA approved).

I’ve used One Story and it is solid material. Some circumstances may cause us to deem it wise to divide and conquer, but I think the modern church pulls that trigger too quickly.

Do you have a link? Is it just one set, or are there different ones for different ages? Thank you.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
...SS can be a big blessing to the body... they provide additional time for digging into technical matters and are better environments to receive direct questions... but are not categorically necessary compared to, for example, Word & Sacrament.

We need to teach everyone biblically faithful theology... you could likely feed 2 horses with 1 scone (PETA approved). I’ve used One Story and it is solid material. Some circumstances may cause us to deem it wise to divide and conquer, but I think the modern church pulls that trigger too quickly.

[consider] if the leader is actually doing the teaching, or if a book that is being used and discussed (or video material) is the main teaching... A really off the wall leader of either gender can botch the bible or a catechism if they really try, but generally it is decent...
So, a woman leading youth with a good book, like for example Ferguson's The Christian Life, or an RC Sproul DVD series, can be great discipleship. Teaching can really be by men via a book or video, even if a woman is in charge of the meeting.

I think we all agree that Word & Sacrament, as we gather to worship by observing them each Lord's Day, are specifically God-ordained and absolutely vital to the Christian life. Also that God has ordained certain qualified men (not women nor every man) to lead our partaking of those means of grace.

Sunday School may be edifying depending on the context but should be distinguished from the central partaking of God's grace as His Word directs us. Lynnie suggests that a woman may lead youth effectively via adhering to a reliable Reformed curriculum or Catechism- I agree, though again, that does not speak to the permissibility of it or whether she should.

Teaching can really be by men via a book or video, even if a woman is in charge of the meeting.
Interesting. This seems akin to the idea that 'Session may delegate authority for women to teach (even adult) Sunday School, thereby legitimizing them.' The idea is that even though a woman is apparently leading, the authority really comes from a man (or men, be it the elders or the curriculum author). Obviously there are various shades of this 'leading' (perhaps at the most basic level a woman might merely open the facilities and play the video). At that point it seems more 'hosting' than leading to me. At any rate, I'm not sure I fully grasp the idea of this delegated authority or am convinced by it (particularly when a woman is exegeting scripture authoritatively or essentially preaching). Rev. Buchanan's framework might render that a moot point though.
 
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