What Saith The Scripture?
"Understandest what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30)
James W. Adams
"A Woman Treasurer?"
Is it scriptural for a woman to serve as a church treasurer and sign her name to all checks given by the church even though she is working under the authority of the elders? If so, where do the elders get the authority to give her such a position? E.L.A., Arizona.
The scriptures indicate that churches in the apostolic period had treasuries; that is, members of congregations pooled their resources placing them under the oversight of the duly constituted superintendents of the work of the church. They also indicate that these funds were expended for benevolent and evangelistic purposes. (Acts 2:42 - 47; 4: 34 - 5: 11; 6: 1-8; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8; 9; Rom. 15:25-27; Phil. 2:25, 26; 4:15, 16; 2 Cor. 11:8.)
There were no public banks (other than the heathen temples which the Christians of the apostolic period would not have used) where these funds could be placed. We are not told whether the apostles or elders designated some particular person as "treasurer" to hold in safekeeping and disburse these funds under their direction or "authority." Whoever kept these funds and disbursed them would have been a "treasurer" whether he was so called or not.
Since the New Testament says nothing of a "treasurer" or the "signing of checks," we must depend upon general principles which are set forth in the New Testament by precept, approved apostolic example, and necessary implication to decide such matters as concern our Arizona querist. The apostles were all men. The elders were all men. The deacons were all men. Women were forbidden to occupy any position in the church in which they would "usurp authority over the man." (I Tim. 2:12.) It would appear, therefore, if a congregation has men qualified to perform the work of a "treasurer," scriptural precedent would suggest that a man be given this task. The handling of the benevolence mentioned in Acts 6:1-7 by men chosen of the church and appointed by the apostles would suggest as much.
But, would it be unscriptural or a violation of scripture for a woman so to serve? I think this would be determined by the degree of authority which she was delegated with reference to the funds placed in her care. Ordinarily, a treasurer can write only such checks as are authorized by the church through its duly constituted overseers. Our querist indicates that this is the case in the church to which reference is made. In such case, it would seem that the "woman treasurer" exercises no authority over anyone, man or woman, hence would not in the discharge of her responsibilities violate I Tim. 2:12. However, if she were chosen for this task when there were men in the congregation capable of performing it, and it seems from our querist's letter that such is the case, it would appear that she was given precedence over men in public church service. This could well constitute a violation of I Tim. 2:12 - if not in letter, certainly in spirit. It would also be contrary to the general policy of the apostolic church in the matter of her public servants-apostles, elders, deacons, and such like. I would say, therefore, that if the selection of a woman for church "treasurer" under such circumstances is not technically unscriptural, it is at best highly questionable.
Too, such a procedure is sure to be questioned and opposed by many. This could well result in strife and division. Why, therefore, should such a course be taken by a group of elders with the best interests of the Lord's cause uppermost in their consideration?
P.S. I continue to receive letters asking for replies by mail to certain questions. I cannot do this. I do not have a secretary nor do I have the time to comply with such requests. Please do not ask!
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 28, pp. 9-10