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Question:  

I was very interested in your practice of women wearing veils and not teaching over others. Could you give me a rundown of your scriptural reasoning for this, elaborating on apostle Paul's teaching on this in his various letters. We don't practice it ourselves, but I'm interested in learning more about it. Certainly, it is a heated debate going on, i.e., women's roles in the church and has caused much debate and division in the church, including ours. What is your reasoning for what women's role in the church should be?

Answer:

With regard to the woman's role in the church, we believe that the epistles represent the apostles doctrine for the church age. We believe that what was written in an epistle was written to a group of Christians just like us or was written to individual or collective groups of Christians just like we have today. Thus, we let the epistles explain the rest of the Bible. If the epistles tell us that a practice pleases the Lord then we feel that if we are going to please the one who saved us, we should do it. Not out of duty but out of devotion. We do not see the principles applying to the church age changing over the last 2000 years except that 1 Cor 13 tells us that some of the miraculous aspects of the early church will cease or fail (there is disagreement as to when). We believe that when the church moves from the infant stage to the mature (adult or perfect stage) these things ceased that are mentioned, however, we do not have those kinds of statements with regard to the women's role in 1 Cor 11:1-16, 1 Cor 14:34-35, and 1 Tim 2:11-12. 

In 1 Cor 11:16, some say Paul is setting aside what he has taught in the earlier verses. If that is true why did he even teach it, and again, this is for the contentious and we are among those who want to be devoted not doing what we "have to" but what we "get to". 

The question that seems to arise is when do head coverings apply? Mennonites say all the time (but the men aren't uncovered all the time), some say whenever woman are taking public part (but this could not be in a church meeting according to 1 Cor 14:34-35), some say in the communion service that is discussed later in the passage and some say that this was cultural and does not apply to our day. Now as a man I have to be careful since I am the leader but I am telling woman how to be devoted when I don't have to do something similar that isn't cultural. However, wearing a head covering at all times certainly doesn't violate what is written here but probably is not what was intended by Paul. Wearing it in the meetings of the assembly (church) makes sense since this is a church epistle. I believe our women should be covered to show reverence and subjection whenever the church is gathered for a public meeting. When men pray, they are leading the congregation in prayer and thus the woman are praying as in 1 Cor 11:5. I think the praying or prophesying of 1 Cor 11:5, means whenever she is involved in public praying or prophesying which would include all of the meetings of the church. In 1 Cor 14:34-35, being silent is the opposite of what the prophets do (speak). She is not to do what the prophets do (speak). This prohibition is quite clearly in the church in 1 Cor 14.  Since the silence of women in the church does seems to allow for her to teach a woman's Bible class where the whole church is not meeting, I think she should be covered in that situation. 

The question is often asked, does the prohibition against women teaching men in 1 Tim 2 go beyond church meetings. The point of the epistle is that we might know how to behave in the house of God (1 Tim 3:15), so it at least applies again in the teaching of the church. I think it is clear that God intended for woman to be silent in the public teaching in the church. But she obviously has a real teaching role in the home and with other woman. But not in the church. It seems to me we have to start picking and choosing which parts of the Bible we are going to believe if we set this aside. Then how would I know that the promise God has made in John 3:16 or 1 Tim 1:15, hasn't changed and how could I be sure I had God's Word for the fact that Christ died for my sins? Anyway, in a nutshell, we know it is not popular but we believe it is devotional to practice these things even though there may be some disagreement as to just how far to go with the practices.

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