Weldon E. Warnock
Bowling Green, Ky.
Some brethren believe that when a boy, regardless of age, is baptized, a woman can no longer teach him in a Bible class. The thinking is that the youngster must he taken out of the class of his age and put into a class where a man is the teacher, even though the students that the man teaches are much older than he, and the subject material is above his mental capacity.
The Proof Text
The scripture used to try to substantiate the foregoing position is I Tim. 2:12. Patti wrote, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." In other words, the apostle is declaring that a woman may not teach over man, nor usurp authority over man. By what stretch of the imagination, therefore, does this scripture prohibit a woman from teaching a boy, even though he has been baptized? The passage would have to read, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man and baptized boys, .but to be in silence." The passage simply does not say what some brethren try to make it say.
Definition of Terms
The word "man" in I Tim. 2:12 is from the Greek word "aner," and is defined as follows by Thayerk Greek Lexicon, page 45, "with a reference to sex, and so to distinguish a man from a woman ....with a reference to age, and to distinguish an adult man from a boy." The Analytical Greek Lexicon, page 29, states, "A male person of full age and stature, as opposed to a child or female." Vine writes, page 34, that aner "stands (a) in distinction from a woman... (b) as distinct from a boy or infant."
We must conclude from the preceding definitions of these widely recognized and highly esteemed scholarly works that a boy in no way fits into the scope of the Apostle Paul's limitations and prohibitions placed on women in the text under discussion. One who so advocates such a notion is doing it arbitrary, without any scriptural basis whatsoever. Actually, one who espouses the idea is putting himself in the position of legislating or making laws where God never made any. No person on earth has this right, regardless who he is, whether elder, preacher, deacon, teacher or any other member of the church.
At the age of 12 Jesus is called a child. Luke 2:42 gives the age of Jesus as 12 when he went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. Verse 43 calls Jesus a child -- "the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem." The word child in verse 43 is from the Greek word, "pais." It means in this passage, as defined by Thayer, page 473, "A child, boy, or girl." The Analytical Greek Lexicon. Page 298, states, "A child in respect of age, either male or female, and of all ages from infancy up to manhood, a boy, youth, girl, maiden." Hence, at the age of 12 Jesus was not yet a man. He was still a child.
In view of the above declarations and deductions, the inevitable conclusion would be that a woman may teach boys in a Bible class. We have seen that there would be no conflict with I Tim. 2:12 as the apostle prohibits only the women from teaching over men. Since boys are not men, and "man" in I Tim. 2:12 excludes boys, as seen by our authoritative definitions, the theory under consideration falls flat on its face because it has no Biblical support on which to stand.
Baptism Does Not Alter Age
The fact that the boy has been baptized does not alter the situation one iota. Baptism does not make a man out of a boy. Baptism simply changes the spiritual relationship. You had just as well argue that no male becomes a man until he is baptized as to argue that a boy becomes a man after he is baptized. Such is absurd. The implication of such fallacious reasoning is that a woman may teach men if they have not been baptized. On this basis, a woman could buy a tent and conduct gospel meetings ii the brothers in Christ would stay away.
Really, what is the difference between having a baptized 12 year old boy in a class taught by a woman, and having an unbaptized 12 year old boy in the same class? Not a bit of difference. Neither one is a man. Both are boys, although one has been baptized and the other one has not. Furthermore, how long could the woman continue to teach the unbaptized boys? Till they are 14? 15? Truthfully is not this a matter of common sense and good judgment?
We should also notice that I Tim. 2:12 states "man." It does not read, "A man that is a Christian." Paul's prohibition is not just limited to Christian men, but includes all men.
In conclusion, let me say that we need to be careful what we bind and promote. We ought to make sure that our religious convictions and ideas are based on a proper interpretation and understanding of the Word of God. When we require 8, 9, 10 or 11 year old boys to go into a junior high school class because they have been baptized, we are doing them an injustice, and we are binding something that God never bound.
But the reply comes, "We Ought to play it safe." Can you be "playing it safe" and enforce a rule that God never enacted? The "one-cuppers," the "anti-class," "anti-literature," and "anti-women teachers" brethren say the same thing. Are they playing it safe? Let's play it safe by just walking in the realm of divine wisdom.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 46, pp. 12-13
October 1, 1970