Now I want to move to some biblical examples of meekness.
Let’s start with Moses
I think sometimes when we think of Moses we think of a harsh judge. That’s, in one sense, a right way to think of Moses because Moses received and communicated the law of God to the people of Israel, and we know there’s no saving efficacy in the law itself. So, to speak of Moses is to speak of the man through whom God delivered His condemning standard of holiness. However, Moses, though not perfect, is a shining example of meekness. Numbers 11:1-3 says:
Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the LORD, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the LORD had burned among them.
When the people cried out, what did Moses do? Imagine the situation. Moses is a faithful man. He’s seen what God has done in the past and he grasps the magnitude of grace shown to the people of Israel. Can you imagine coming through the red sea—walls of water on either side (who knows how tall)? Can you fathom watching the destruction of Egypt’s army after the Jews finished crossing. And these same people—the people who witnessed all these wonders—now come before Moses grumbling. They’re complaining. What would you do? What did Moses do?
Moses prayed. The people complained, the Lords wrath was burning hot, and before the Lord’s fire spilled forth in holy anger, Moses—as a faithful intercessor—prayed. He prayed! He didn’t return the people’s complaints with insults. He didn’t return the people’s complaints with snarky impotence. He prayed. What is this but exemplary meekness toward God and neighbor? Moses is trusting in God for the sustenance of the people, and he’s loving the people by interceding for them.
The second example is Solomon, son of David
Solomon was known for many, many sins. Among them were adultery, covetousness, and idolatry. Yet, Solomon managed to demonstrate meekness. In Ecclesiastes 7:9, writing in his older years, he says, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.” What’s the elder Solomon’s advice? It’s meekness. It’s the humility which, like a firehose, dousts the flames of unrighteous anger. To be meek is to imitate God in humble long-suffering. Nahum 1:3 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked.”
The third and most primal example is that of the Lord Jesus Christ
Matthew 12:14-15 says:
Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
Here was Jesus—He had just healed a man on the Sabbath, and it was witnessed by the religious elite. This point in the text represents a tipping point in the tension between Jesus and the surrounding religious leaders. We need to notice two things about this situation. First, at this juncture, the Pharisees began plotting against Jesus, how they might destroy Him. Second, Jesus found out about the scheme. Now Jesus had two routes available to Him. He could’ve taken an offensive posture and reviled the Pharisees, inciting all kinds of violence against them. Or, He could’ve retreated, without retaliation. And in fact, that’s exactly what He did; and Matthew makes it clear to us that this was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4, when it says:
“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory…
This is the example for the Christian. Christ perfectly defines what it means to be meek in His interaction with the Pharisees. He does not recompense evil for evil, and when He does sharply respond to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes, it’s in the interest of the sheep, so that they would no true religion from false religion, true faith from false faith, authoritative teaching from man-made teaching. Jesus is the very perfection of meekness.
Should women be preachers? The Scriptures answer that question resoundingly. But, before I get into the text, I want to disclose the reason for which I write. It has become popular, yet once again, to neglect the Scriptures in favor of emotional responses and unsupported claims of divine calling. Beth Moore said in a recent tweet:
I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus—and Jesus alone—all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!
The burden is on Moore to prove she was called by God. No child of God is obligated to listen to someone who can’t ground their “calling” in the Scriptures. How do pastors know they were “called” by God into the office of elder? Is it because they had an experience? Is it because they heard a “still, small voice”? Is it because they feel like it’s right?
It’s because they desire the office of elder; and it’s because they meet the qualifications for it given in 1 Timothy 3. It’s not a passing feeling, it’s not an emotional impulse, it’s an unquenchable desire which is totally informed by—and made subject to—the holy Scriptures.
So, if someone desires to preach or teach, should they do so merely because they want to? Should they do it because they feel like it’s the right thing to do? Why don’t we put the touchy-feelies aside for a moment and ask the question that’s currently not being asked, What does God say?
Here are five biblical reasons why women (insert Beth Moore) shouldn’t preach:
I. The Law Forbids It
Or, at least, that’s what the apostle Paul says.
In 1 Corinthians 14:34, Paul says, “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says (NASB).” Now, admittedly, it’s not clear exactly what portion of the Law Paul refers to, but that’s quite beside the point. An apostle, writing under the inspiration of God the Spirit, says that the Law of God commands women to keep silent in the assemblies. It’s possible he’s cryptically referring to Genesis 3:16, where God says the husband will rule over the wife. The Westminster Reference edition of the KJV also cites Numbers 30 as a possible cross reference. While Paul’s Old Testament interpretive method may not sit well with many, the New Testament clearly grounds this ecclesial practice of female quietness in the Law of God, not in some cultural phenomena.
A possible objection may be that Paul is speaking about the civil laws in Corinth. This would be historically impossible. In a town where the Aphrodite cult was at large, primitive feminism was nothing new. It was normal, in Corinth, for women to usurp the role of men. First Corinthians 11 serves to clarify the Corinthian Christian’s understanding of gender roles within the context of a debauched society where it was no big deal for a woman to “remove her covering [husband]” and act on her own self-perceived authority.
Oddly, there is a push for women in the church to begin doing the exact same thing. Perhaps they align themselves more closely with the Aphrodite cult of first century Corinth than they do biblical Christianity.
II. The New Testament Forbids It
First Corinthians 14, already cited above, demonstrates that women are not to speak within the assembly. Surely this would preclude preaching! Another place where this is clearly seen is 1 Timothy 2:11-15. There, Paul writes to Timothy:
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
The word for let at the very beginning of the passage is in the imperative mood which means Paul is issuing a command. Verse 12 is even more enlightening. Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” The word for teach could also be rendered instruct. Is preaching instructing? If not, what is it? Isn’t preaching the instructing of an assembly in the things of God? If it is, then it’s not lawful for women to preach. The word for silence means quietness, and Paul uses it twice in this passage. A woman who obeys God and learns in silence adorns the Gospel and rightly understands Christian worship (Paul’s words, not mine).
III. Preaching Is the Duty of Elders
We have seen that women are not permitted to teach. But, if not women, who? According to 1 Timothy 3:1-7, men who are able to teach—among other things—are rightful candidates for the office of elder. This is one of the clearest linkages of the act of teaching to the office of elder in the Scriptures. Deacons are not required to teach, elders are. Men who desire to be elders must be able to teach. According to the New Testament, elders, or those who would become elders, are the only persons duty-bound to teach. There is no such thing, within the church, of a teaching or preaching ministry apart from eldership. If you write a blog, you’re not doing ministry. You’re writing a blog. If you have a podcast, you’re not doing ministry. You’re hosting a podcast. If you’re pulpit supply, that’s great. But, formally, you’re not doing ministry. Ministry happens within the church according to two offices: elders and deacons. The requirements for elders and, therefore, teachers, are found in 1 Timothy 3.
They must be qualified men.
IV. Caretakers of Souls are Men
In Hebrews 13:17 it is written:
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
The word for those is a masculine particle. These rulers are men who, as we know from 1 Timothy, are qualified leaders or elders within the church. These are men who are tasked with shepherding Christ’s flock. These rulers are intimately connected to the care of souls under the ultimate headship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do preachers preach for the sake of souls? If they do, shouldn’t they be men? Hebrews 13 seems to indicate that they’re men. Elders are men, teachers are men, rulers of Christ’s flock are men. We have no other example. To the contrary, we have commands in Scripture telling us that only men should be preachers and teachers in the church (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:11-15). This should be clear enough so as to ward off any controversy.
V. Creation Bears Witness
One thing I did not cover in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is Paul’s grounding his words in the created order and the fall: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Paul is saying, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence… [because] Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Adding to that, he uses the fall of man to bolster his point. It wasn’t Adam who was deceived, it was Eve. Satan aimed his attack at the woman because she was the most vulnerable part of the Eden family. Adam’s sin consisted (at least in part) in not loving his wife enough to protect her from such threats and, rather than lovingly correcting his bride, he capitulated to her behavior.
Instead of leading Eve away from disobedience, he followed her into it.
Women should not be teachers precisely because Satan’s crosshairs lie upon them. He will play on their tendency to nurture in order to soften their minds and their hearts, making them evermore vulnerable to corruption. This is no insult to women. But, it is a testimony to the differing roles and responsibilities God has infused into the created order.
Women are not meant to be pastors, and they’re not meant to act like pastors. They have another calling. Beth Moore claims to be called by God; but she couldn’t have been called by the true God of the Scriptures. That God has already spoken, and Moore stands corrected by divine words.
The slavery engaged in during the transatlantic slave trade was evil and unbiblical. Full stop.
It was evil, however, for reasons you may not have considered. Most people think slavery in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was evil because it was slavery. This is incorrect. The gross immorality of the transatlantic slave trade is to be found in the man stealing that enabled the trade in the first place (Deut. 24:7); the de-humanization of many slaves by their owners (Gen. 1:27); the murderous abuse that followed (Ex. 20:13); and the selection and generational continuance of slavery based on race or skin color (Deut. 10:19). These are the biblical reasons upon which the condemnation of American slavery, and the transatlantic slave trade in general, must stand. For these reasons, we can say that the slavery we most often hear about was a terrible tragedy, a truly unbiblical travesty.
Slavery, however, by itself, is not a wicked practice, nor is it condemned in the Scriptures anywhere. Now, before you jump my case, let’s define our terms. Slavery, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is simply defined as follows: (1) To reduce to the condition of a slave; to enslave; to bring into subjection. (2) To treat as a slave; to employ in hard or servile labor. (3) To practice slavish imitation. (4) To toil or work hard like a slave (Compact Edition, 2858). Uses (2) and (4) are probably the most enlightening and most relevant to our discussion here.
You will notice that nothing in this definition necessarily entails all the characteristics of American slavery. A slave is simply someone who is in subjection to a master (a boss) for the purposes of performing hard labor. The definitions above do not even prohibit a slave from being compensated for their labor monetarily. So, let’s stop debating whether or not slavery is wrong altogether and talk about the kinds of slavery most people are okay with.
According to the above definition, a member of the military is a slave. They meet all the requirements. They’re subjected to masters and, often times, they’re subjected to hard labor. I mean, contractually, the Department of Defense owns military members in almost every sense of the word. Military men and women are property. I should also mention that military members are obligated to work without pay if the government should experience a shutdown. I know this because I was in the military when a shutdown almost occurred—we were briefed accordingly. That’s a kind of slavery most everyone is okay with. It could even described as a necessary slavery for the purpose of defending a nation.
Factory workers are slaves. After all, they’re employed in hard labor, sometimes under other-than-desirable working conditions. Indentured servants, though often contrasted with slaves, are in fact slaves according to the above definition! I would argue that most American employees are slaves, or at least are trained to think like salves. Most Americans are eye-deep in debt and are contractually obligated by a bank to pay that debt off. That’s a kind of self-induced slavery. They’re not free, they belong to the bank until their note is paid in full. We must remember that anything that obstructs freedom is a form of slavery. On the spiritual side of the coin, that looks like bondage to sin or, more positively, submission to the Lord Jesus—in whom we are freed from our “freedom” to sin. On the earthly side of the coin, that looks like forfeiture of inalienable rights or the submission of oneself to a master. Yet, most of these obstructions of freedom are perfectly acceptable in American society, and, many of them are biblically permissible, excepting bondage to sin and perhaps the pursuit of debt, depending on what the debt is for, of course.
It’s not unbiblical for a person to work at a factory. It’s not unbiblical to serve in a military. Indentured servitude isn’t unbiblical. Yet, according to the most accurate and historical definition of the term I could find in the English language, those three forms of employment would constitute some form of slavery, albeit not the chattel slavery of the antebellum South.
Now, I must qualify what I’ve said, lest someone accuse me of actively pursuing a return to any form of earthly slavery. Biblically speaking, earthly freedom is preferred to earthly slavery. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:23, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” If slavery is not your current station, do not seek to become a slave. Be content with where you are. This goes, probably most explicitly, for debt. In a day and age where anyone can buy just about anything they want, so long as they have the credit, slavery is rampant. “Do not,” says Paul, “seek to become a slave. Be content with where you are in Christ.” However, as we know with Philemon and Onesimus, Philemon’s slave, if slavery is your station, and there is no injustice being done you, then remain content in Christ. First Corinthians 7:21 says, “Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.” Be content in Christ. If freedom is lawfully available, take advantage of it to the glory of God.
In closing, we should remember that Christians are slaves of King Jesus. Ephesians 6:5-6 says, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” This shows us, at the very least, that slavery cannot be intrinsically evil. It’s certain kinds of slavery that are evil, but not all slavery. I, for one, am blessed beyond measure to be a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. For He is a kind, caring, and gentle slave Master.
— J. S.