Women Teaching Men: What Does the Bible Say?

I recently hosted the “Jerry Johnson Live” radio program here in Dallas, Texas. Recent news reports about Dr. Sheri Klouda’s departure from Southwestern Seminary provoked our conversation about what the Bible says about women teaching men in the church. In the midst of taking calls from listeners, I interviewed Dr. Randy Stinson, the executive director of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

I spent a lot of time trying to explain Paul’s meaning in 1 Timothy 2:12. But certainly there is more to this topic than this verse and what can be covered in a one hour radio program. So I was surprised that most of the listeners agreed with the controversial position that I defended: that Paul prohibits women from teaching Christian doctrine to men. My view is that the implication of Paul’s instruction applies even to seminaries.

One caller phoned in to say that he believes Paul was “arrogant” to make pronouncements on a subject that Jesus never addressed. He said that Paul’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12 is fallible because Paul himself is a fallible human being. Of course, I took issue with that characterization of the Scripture, but I don’t think I convinced him to change his view.

Anyway, if you are interested in listening to the show, you can download it from this link, or you can sign up for my podcast.

Story: Channel 8’s coverage of Dr. Klouda’s departure from Southwestern Seminary

Postscript: The Southern Baptist Texan recently surveyed the President’s of the SBC seminaries concerning their policies on hiring women to the faculty. The Texan found that “None [of the seminaries] has women teaching theology or pastoral ministries courses.” Dr. Albert Mohler says “when we were seeking to bring our hiring policies completely in line with what we believed were the rightful expectations of Southern Baptists, we did this before there was a 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. It was clear where Southern Baptists stood on this.” –“SBC seminaries show similarities, diversity regarding female profs”- Southern Baptist Texan


  • Josh R

    I enjoyed the show. Seemed like a pretty partisan crowd, I am surprised that you didn’t get some tougher questions.

    I do not think that women should seek, or be placed in authority over men. Often however I see Godly women who have effective teaching ministries. The fruitfulness of their ministries attract men who are hungry for the Word of God. — Kinda like the Deborah example cited on the show.

    Some websites for example say that we should not participate in Bible Study Fellowship classes because the ministry was founded by a woman, and much of the literature was written by the founder. As a participant, I do not see their practices as a problem, as the Men’s classes are taught by Men. I also don’t see this class as having any authority over me. It simply encourages me to explore the bible, and submit to Christ in the way that the Holy Spirit teaches me through my study.

    For a real monkeywrench, how about 1 John 2:27

  • Brittany

    If I’m understanding you correctly, learning Biblical languages is not simply a foreign language study; since it directly influences how a student will interpret Scripture, its teaching should be restricted to men, as its nature is peripherally (or even essentially) theological. Yes?

    I have a difficult time trying to follow that idea through. Quite a few things will influence one’s interpretation and reading of Scripture, whether learned in a classroom or not. (As an example, I am an English major/philosophy minor at my school. What I learn in these classes – for example, in literary theory or poetics or whatever – has had an influence on the way I interpret my own spirituality as well as Scripture itself.) In addition, I noticed that the 1 Timothy 2:12 passage does not limit the idea that “women should not have authority over men” to church/parachurch/theology/spiritual (i.e., seminary) issues. It’s a general statement; women should not have authority over men (“at all” is the implication). Out of curiosity, why do you limit it to church/parachurch issues? Why let women teach adults in a university in any subject area?

    Please understand – I’m not trying to put words in your mouth or be deliberately inflammatory. I’m just having trouble understanding your position.


  • dennyrburk

    Dear Brittany,

    The langauge of the OT is Hebrew, and the language of the NT is Greek. When Greek and Hebrew are taught in seminaries, the Bible is being taught.

    For instance, I teach Greek. On Monday evening before I opened the Greek grammar textbook, I opened the Greek New Testament with my students. I showed them a text in 1 Timothy and walked them through it. I was teaching the students Greek by teaching them from the New Testament.

    There is no neat separation between teaching Greek and teaching the Bible. In a seminary setting, when you do one, you will be doing the other.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Denny Burk

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