Mary Kassian wrote an article at Desiring God entitled Women Teaching Men — How Far Is Too Far? In it, she addresses recent discussions about what women can do in the church. She gives the guidelines she uses, some of which I found helpful. She also affirms that women asking this question are doing so from a heart of faithfulness to the Scripture, a point I appreciated as well.
May women ever teach from Scripture when men are in the audience? Should men even be reading this article? How far is too far?
It’s a question being asked by scores of women who want to be faithful to the Bible and want to exercise their spiritual gift of teaching in a way that honors God’s pattern of male headship in the church.
My problem with the article comes primarily from the analogy she uses to explore this question.
The discussion surrounding the boundary reminds me of another how-far-is-too-far issue: How physically affectionate should a couple be prior to marriage? Should they hold hands? Kiss? Kiss for five seconds, but not fifteen? Lip kiss but not French kiss? How far is too far?
Well, the Bible doesn’t exactly specify. Trying to put together a list of rules about permitted behaviors would be both misleading and ridiculous. But we’re not left without a rudder. The Bible does provide a clear boundary. Sexual intercourse prior to marriage crosses the line.
Here’s the major problem I have with this analogy. The Bible specifies a lot more about women teaching/prophesying/proclaiming in the church than it does with foreplay before marriage. What if the Bible told a story of Boaz and Ruth french kissing without judgement before they were betrothed? What if Paul affirmed in I Corinthians young men in the church holding hands with women not yet their wife? If the Bible affirmed some form of premarital foreplay, then the line for premarital foreplay would be a reasonable analogy for acceptable forms of women teaching men in the church. But the Bible doesn’t give examples of acceptable foreplay outside of marriage.