Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Quick Question

If a group of men at church ask a woman to lead a prayer publicly, is she "usurping authority" if she does or if she doesn't?

(This is just a thought exercise, folks; I'm not trying to be a "change-agent".)

13 comments:

lwillard said...

Would you not have to take the context of the actions? But did Anna the prohetess transgress as she served God with fastings and prayers night and day in the temple? Did Prisilla transgress by teaching Apollos? What was the purpose of Paul expounding the word to Lydia, a seller of cloth, if it was not for her to teach her household or in conjunction with her business as she moved from Asia to Europe? In church, assemmblies, in private studies? Which are you really asking? God's authority or those leaders in that congregation? I'm asked to pray within a household of women but never when there is a group of men. I have always believed those men kept me covered spiritual though I would be agreeing with their open prayers with my only open Amen. In the public assembly in the early church the men and women worshiped in the same gathering, women veiled and under subjecting of the man in I Cor 11. I would question the men's intent or purpose, don't you?

Wendy said...

She is usurping authority in neither. Usurping means "wrongfully seizing and holding by force". If the elders ask her to lead prayer, she is not seizing authority nor is she holding it by force. One also has to ask if leading prayer publicly is exercising authority? What does it mean to "lead prayer? Does "leading prayer" exercise authority or is it s sharing of a spiritual experience? Kent, you would need to demonstrate that saying a prayer out loud while others listen is exercising authority.

If she declines the request, she is not seizing authority either.

If anyone forces their will upon the assembly and dominates without the sanction of the body, then that is usurping authority.

lwillard said...

Awesome defense, Wendy! However, Kent just stated men. Elders imply shepherds over the congregation. The men who asked may not be considering her total responsibility to God. Elders don't purposely lead members to to "usurp authority." Those men were asking her to speak "pray" in the assembly when it is expressed by the apostle Paul that a woman is not to speak. Those men may need additional guidance.

Wendy said...

lwillard, how do you explain 1 Corinthians with the injunction for woman not to pray and prophesy with their heads uncovered? The whole context is of behaviour of the church at Corinth when the church is gathered together.

lwillard said...

Wendy, In I Corinthians 11, Paul reminds us of the hierarchy of God’s family. God, Christ, man and then woman. The woman’s covering was to show honor to a man. An uncovered head showed dominion. Would not a woman leading a prayer, an action, when there were men who were baptized into the faith be a bold statement of rejecting authority of Paul’s, Peter’s and God’s instruction of us being in subjection? I am not saying we are not worthy to pray, however, that our place would be better served to do it in a non-public area. To pray in public in the company of men would display an independence God has not given us. Linda

lwillard said...

Mr. Non-change agent, what were you reading that led you ask this question?

Chyntt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chyntt said...

On the Yahoo!Groups Church_of_Christ email list is a lot of discussion about things that "mainstream" churches of Christ find discussable.
Some in this list recognize that some doctrines in the "mainstream" CofC are not actually Biblical, but are merely traditions, and like Yahshua did, have arisen to challenge the conversion of man-made traditions ("commandments of men") into doctrine. Someone on this list asked this same question, and I recognized it as a question that challenges several traditions - what does "usurping authority" mean? are women prevented from praying publicly, or just when the men object, or what? if the men tell her to pray publicly, should she obey her leaders, or should she "be silent in the church"?

So, to answer your question, I got it from someone else asking the question on the Yahoo!Groups Church_of_Christ email list.

lwillard said...

Thank you, Linda

Sheri said...

A similar question was raised about women reading from the Bible during a Bible Study class. Someone proposed that women are usurping authority over men during class by doing that. Another said it was OK because the male teacher in charge told her to read the verses. And someone else objected that she can't do something wrong with the excuse that someone else told her to do it "just following orders". Personally, I haven't really decided what I think is proper or incorrect.I think that my congregation is inconsistent, though.

lwillard said...

I am normally embarrassed for women who teach and pray in a public forum. My conscience will not allow me to do either unless it is in a one on one situation.
I pray in my "closet." KJV

lwillard said...

Chyntt, Now that I have been absolute in what I believe the scriptures say about a woman "praying", what about a group prayer in church? Is there an example of group prayer being authorized by Yahshua or God? Is a man praying for all scriptural?

Sheri said...

OOOh, good question about whether it is scriptural to have a group prayer led by one man. I haven't seen bcv for that. My next question is: why is it OK for a woman to teach a man who has not yet accepted Christ but not OK for her to teach and newborn Christian man who knows less than she does?