MAY WOMEN SERVE THE LORD’S SUPPER?

T. PIERCE BROWN

Let us recognize at the beginning of any discussion of this question that if

the Bible had a plain statement dealing directly with a question, that should

end the discussion for all those who are willing to submit to Bible authority.

If it does not, then we must arrive at any conclusion by an examination of

Biblical principles and statements which we attempt to apply to the question

in a logical manner. If one says, “That is merely a matter of opinion, and one

opinion is as good as another,” I must reply, “It is not MERELY a matter of

opinion, and you do not believe that one opinion is as good as another.”

Generally, one assumes that his own opinion is better than others are. If spots

appeared on your face and you wondered if you had measles or chicken pox,

you would not consider your plumber’s opinion as good as your doctor’s, even

if they did charge you about the same for an hour’s work. You therefore value

the opinion of one who has more extensive knowledge and experience in an

area more than you value that of a tyro. Yet you should keep in mind that

even an educated opinion is not the same as direct Bible authority.

 

Let us examine some principles and scriptures that relate to the matter. God

intended for women to have a subordinate role as evidenced by such passages

as 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and others. This does not suggest

that women are inferior in any sense, but that God has unchanging principles

upon which we may depend in striving to answer questions about which He does

not give a direct answer.

 

The question may be raised, “Is not serving at the Lord’s table a subordinate

role that in no way indicates leadership or authority over a man?” This is

harderto answer with a definite and positive yes or no, but my present answer

is, “No”for some of the following reasons. Did anyone ever think that men

serving at the Lord’s table indicated a subordinate role for them? If so,

subordinate to whom, and how?

 

It may be hard to see how standing up at a table or passing a tray from a

standing position is any more a position of authority or leadership than

passing a tray from a sitting position. We admit there may be a fine line,

but if there were not a line in the minds of some, the question would not have

been raised in the first place. We think you will be able to distinguish the

line if you examine and answer some of the following questions. If there is

not a difference in the minds of most persons,why are some asking for the

right to be in a different position than they usually are in the worship? If

women are in a position of prominence or leadership as much sitting in a

pew passing the plate as they would be standing at the end of it passing the

plate, why demand the change?

 

If one responds, “It is merely that women want the same right to serve as men

have,” examination of some facts might prove profitable. Are the women who

are demanding the right to serve those who are really most interested in

service? Are they the ones that would like to go to the nursing homes and

minister to the sick? Are they the ones that would like to go out in the

community and serve in setting up Bible studies? Are they the ones that are

most involved in serving God or their fellowman in any area? My observation

over the past 60 years has led me to conclude that those who are really most

interested in service never are pushing for a position that would make them

more prominent. To wash the saint’s feet in a private home is service, but to

ask for the privilege of serving in a public way when the primary difference is

the visibility and prominence of the one doing the serving is because of a desire

for prominence, or some other desire not worthy of a modest saintly woman.

 

Does anyone, either man or woman, think that a person is looked upon as an

inferior or second class member of God’s family because they are not asked to

preach, lead in prayer, or stand in some position of more prominence before

the congregation? The statement is made that women need to be more involved

in the work of the church. Surely there is no question about that. Most all

members need to. But if you want to see how much this present movement is

concerned about real involvement in the work of the church, try to get those

women who want to lead prayers, wait on the table and take other roles of

more prominence to get more involved in such work that the Bible teaches

they may properly do, and is crucial to the growth of the church, and see how

many are eager to be so involved. To be involved in such tasks that demand

no special effort or spiritual growth, but give them more personal prominence

is the main thrust of this movement.

 

Many of the statements I have made also apply to men. That is, if men were

pushing to be placed in some position of more prominence rather than trying

to make themselves available to serve in whatever area they could properly

glorify God, their motives and actions would also be improper.

 

My conclusion about the question at this moment is this: To the degree that

any role a woman plays in the worship of the church involves her being in a

position of authority or leadership over a man, to that degree the role is

improper. Surely no one who has studied current history is unaware that many

of those who are most active in advocating it are not primarily interested in

women more actively serving God or fellowman, but are interested in breaking

down resistance by getting agreement on a first step, seemingly harmless an

that woman should pass the trays, and take one step into more prominent

positions, why should she be denied the privilege of offering thanks aloud for

the elements, since she is already now offering thanks silently? Is she taking

authority over man by simply standing behind the table? Then, after we have

become accustomed to that, why not ask her to lead the closing prayer?

If she can properly do that, what is wrong with her preaching? The process is

already taking place in some localities.

 

If we were standing by Eve in the Garden, with our present knowledge, and saw

her turning toward the forbidden fruit, we might say, “Eve, why are you turning

in that direction?” She could reply, “What is wrong with that? I intend no

wrong.” As we see her take two steps in that direction, we may warn her again,

but she could reply, “God did not restrict me from walking to the fruit,

smelling of it, and seeing its beauty,” and in her case, she would be right,

legally. But when one examined the motives by which she walked toward the

fruit, desiring to do that which God forbids, we can surely see the parallel

between that those who seek for prominence and position, not for the great

spiritual values they can gain or contribute, but merely for the prominence

they gain.

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