Question & Answer Forum

Is it wrong for a woman to pray with other believers gathered in a home?

Two primary passages, 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 1 Timothy 2:12, are likely the reason for this question. The first specifically deals with church gatherings, as the context in the chapter makes clear. The passage in 1 Timothy 2 is likewise in the context of public assembly gatherings. At least three considerations indicate this. First, in the next chapter, Paul clarifies that behavior in the house of God (v. 15) is the focus of this letter. Second, if this injunction in chapter 2 includes the home sphere, this seems to contradict Paul’s statement that older women are to teach younger women (Titus 2:3). If we understand 1 Timothy 2 to be public gatherings and the Titus passage, in keeping with its context, to be private instruction, the seeming contradiction disappears. Third, in 1 Timothy 2, Paul insists that the males pray in every place (v. 8). If the context of this chapter is the home, is Paul excluding women from praying in their closet?

The only remaining concern, then, is a woman’s “usurping authority over the man” (2:11). Strong’s Enhanced Dictionary gives the meaning of this verb as “one who acts on his own authority, autocratic, . . . to govern, exercise dominion over one.” In the assembly where God’s design displays the male’s headship and the woman’s submission (1 Cor. 11:3-16), a woman does nothing that detracts from that display. The prayer in Acts 4: 24-30 is the assembly’s united prayer. Whoever spoke those words in prayer lead the entire assembly in expressing their desires. Thus, in a special way, praying in the assembly leads the entire gathering in the presence of the Lord. Were a woman to pray, she would be publicly leading and therefore limiting the display of male leadership.

Apart from assembly gatherings, a woman’s prayer more particularly expresses only her own burden. Hannah’s praying exemplifies this (1 Samuel 1:11). A woman praying aloud privately, with her husband or children, or with her friends does not affect the public testimony of male headship. She is not leading a united prayer as one does in an assembly meeting. Her praying in the home appears to be consistent with the Bible’s teaching.

D. Oliver

Is a head covering and woman’s silence appropriate for every gathering in the assembly’s building?

While many aspects of the assembly’s testimony centers in its place of meeting, the building is not a church nor is it sacred. The building doesn’t sanctify the gatherings in it. If the believers use the building to met when they plan conference meals or discuss building plans or mail tracts, this is not an assembly meeting. On occasion, such gatherings may take place after an assembly meeting. If the ladies choose to retain their head coverings, that doesn’t make it an assembly meeting. In fact, being without a head covering in that circumstance is as appropriate as it is when a sister is walking down the street.

Biblical injunctions requiring a sister’s silence do not apply to such gatherings, because the Christians have not “come together in assembly” (1 Corinthians 11:18, JND). In such a case, a woman’s wearing a head covering is optional and is in no way at variance with her entering into the discussions.

D. Oliver

Does 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 mean that a woman should not teach Sunday School classes?

Some beloved saints have come to this conclusion. Respecting their wish to uphold the Scriptures isn’t the same as agreeing with them, however.

Women are instructed to teach in non-assembly settings (Titus 2:3), so to require women to remain silent and to refrain from teaching necessitates conducting the Sunday School as an assembly meeting. If that is the case, children cannot say their verses, suggest choruses to sing, nor answer questions. No one should be surprised if the children lack interest in listening or coming to such a “Sunday School.” If the children are saying their verses, “giving out choruses,” and answering questions, then this is no different than when a husband and wife gather the neighborhood children on their back porch, in a rented building, or an available school room. Using the assembly’s building is merely a convenience for the Sunday School and doesn’t impart “church status” to the gathering.

D. Oliver

As a Christian, what is my definition of success?

This is a broad question and many answers compete evenly as expressions of “Christian success.”

Is a Christian successful whose life doesn’t reflect the beauties of the life of our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 4:17-25)? Wouldn’t it be success if the Word of God controlled every aspect of our life (Colossians 3:16)? To live in the power of the Spirit of God, to be “full of the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), would produce true success. If God has a specific purpose for each believer and has given each one potential capabilities to reach that goal (Psalm 139:16), living successfully would mean fulfilling God’s plan for the life. Daily walking with the Lord would be a consummate success in life (Genesis 5:22). Bringing continued pleasure to our Father’s heart (Hebrews 11:5) would make life worth living. Effectively serving others (Romans 13:10) during a lifetime would likewise make life a success. The presence of any one of these in a life would necessitate the presence of all the others.

Were a prospective boss to ask a Christian this question in a job interview, he could simply answer, “Success for me is to express the nobility of good character in every choice I make.”

D. Oliver