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In Style With The World Or In Step With God?

Somebody, a man no doubt, once observed, "They keep trying to tell us that women are smarter than men, but did you ever see a man wearing a shirt that buttoned in the back?" Whether they are smarter or not, the simple truth is women can do a whole bunch of things better than men! The majority of wives and mothers "manage the house" and "make the home" (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:5) by juggling a score of roles and responsibilities ranging from chef to chauffeur to counselor to comforter to cleaner to clothier. While the debate rages on about "what women can do in the church," observation has convinced me most sisters in Christ don't need more to do — at home or in the church. Those who dare to say women don't or can't do anything at church are way off the mark. Every time the church assembles, they can "worship God in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). As members of the holy and royal priesthood, they draw near to God through our High Priest Jesus Christ and offer up spiritual sacrifices to the honor and glory of God (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Hebrews 3:1; 4:15-16; 10:21-25; 13:15-16). In public assemblies on the Lord's Day our dear sisters in Christ worship by teaching and admonish others in singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), praying with a faithful man who leads in prayer (1 Timothy 2:8), remembering Jesus' death in the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23ff), giving as prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and examining both themselves and the preacher's message as he preaches the word (2 Corinthians 13:5; Acts 17:11).

Women have plenty to do in public worship. But some want us to believe women don't actually "do" anything significant in worship unless they "lead" prayers, singing, communion, preaching, etc. And that we are hopelessly behind the times if we resist our sisters serving in those capacities. What many either don't realize or don't want us to remember is that the first century church had a discussion about women directing public worship, and in the words of Buster Dobbs, "learned it was improper for them to do so"(Firm Foundation, 7/88, p 2: Women's Participation in Public Worship). Read the following Scriptures that concern the role of women in public worship as well as a woman's relationship with her husband: 1' Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:26-40; Effusions 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The problem is not that these Scriptures can't be understood. The problem is they say things that run counter to our culture's increasingly liberated thinking. James Baird wrote, "As the instrumental controversy proved, when a religious practice becomes common-place, rejection of that practice becomes more complex for the church. We dread being out of style" (The Christian Chronicle). While there are hundreds of good works God instructs women to do in the church, leading in public worship is not one of them. One of the church's greatest challenges in every generation is to remember: obeying Scripture will cause us to be out of style with the world, but it will always keep us in step with God.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ