By Hoyt Houchen
Question: “Is it scriptural for a woman to write an article for Truth Magazine? What is the difference in preaching publicly in the pulpit and writing a public article?”
Reply: There is a difference in a woman writing an article for a journal that will be read by men and a woman and publicly preaching and teaching when men are present. This difference may not be noticeable on the surface but I believe if those who are perplexed about the matter or who object to public articles written by women will carefully consider some points, they too will see the difference.
Women write most of the pre-school and elementary level Bible class material which is purchased and used by congregations throughout the world. Men read this material. Elders in the churches where it is considered for use read it over and evaluate it. We do not consider the woman in this case as usurping authority over the man (1 Tim. 2:12).
A man who is teaching a Bible class may assign an article to a-woman on some Bible subject. The man (the teacher) or some other man may read publicly what the woman has written. She refrains from pulpit preaching, or public teaching in an assembly where men are present; therefore, she is simply teaching in modesty and is not having dominion over a man.
Many of the songs which we sing in our worship, praise and edification are written by women. Several were written by Fanny J. Crosby, a blind woman. If articles which appear by a woman in a magazine are on par with pulpit preaching then consistency would demand of us that we cease singing all songs in our worship, praise, and devotion that are written by women. We would have to check every song to see if it were written by a woman and if so then we could not sing it. Is a woman to be prohibited from writing an article but allowed to write songs of praise and edification? Is she permitted to write in a song book but not in a magazine published by brethren?
There is another point for consideration. The magnificat of Mary (Lk. 1:46-55) is recorded for all to read (men, women, and children); it is recorded in the same book which forbids a woman to “usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim. 2:12). But if the record of the magnificat is accepted upon the basis that Mary was “inspired,” as. some would contend, then it must be remembered that certain women in the New Testament also possessed the miraculous gift of teaching, Philip’s four virgin daughters for example (Acts 21:9). Yet, although these women were inspired, the prohibition of women having dominion over the man, or usurping authority over the man, was in effect. So, whether a woman was inspired or not, she still was not allowed to place herself in such a position that would violate that prohibition. We must conclude, then, that whether a woman is inspired- or uninspired is not the issue: The contention that’ Mary’s song of praise is acceptable because she was “inspired” is not a valid argument.
All of us should desire and strive to do the will of the Lord in all matters. This kind of attitude is appreciated. The question is simply whether a woman’s article or articles which ,appear in a religious. paper is a parallel to pulpit preaching. It is my conviction that it is not for the considerations presented. A woman who writes an article that is published simply makes a contribution to study and edification in her own modest sphere. In the New Testament there were certain woman who helped in the preaching of the gospel without preaching publicly and having dominion over the man which we all agree is prohibited in the scriptures (see Rom. 16:1-3; Phil. 4:2, 3).
I am sure that some readers do not agree with what is set forth in this reply, but I have offered these thoughts and considerations as my own convictions. We should all attempt to regulate our beliefs and actions according to the word of God, endeavoring to be as consistent in our practice as possible but not legislating where the Bible does not.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 33, p. 530
August 21, 1980