Let her learn….or not?

Let her learn….or not?

In our continuing discussion of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36, we come to the problematic area of learning.

1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home…

What can we pull out regarding “learning” in this verse?  We can see that if a woman has a desire to learn, she isn’t encouraged to do it in church.  Where is she supposed to learn?  Her learning is to be done under her husband’s permission and it is to be done at home.

The requirement that a woman is not to learn in public is not a Christian regulation but a part of the “law” of the Jews.  Women were not to be taught the scriptures according to the oral tradition of the Jews.  Why?  Because she was not allowed to touch the scriptures and so she didn’t need to be a rabbinical student and publicly learn.  She also would have no one to teach the scriptures to since the men were considered to be the ones who had the responsibility to handle and teach the Torah.  Women need not learn.  They were not qualified to learn.

In previous posts we have been listing the markers in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 that prove that Paul was quoting from the Corinthians and then refuting their claims in verse 36.  The wording about women learning at home (v. 35) instead of in the assembly once again ties these verses into man-made tradition.

But this isn’t Paul’s way nor is it God’s way.  Paul had just told us in verse 31:

1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted

Not only were all allowed to prophesy in the assembly, but the public prophesying was so that all may learn in that public assembly.  The learning was done by all just as the prophesying was done by all.  All may learn publicly.  Paul does not relegate women to learning at home.  He allows them to learn in the assembly since it is the body of Christ (not just a woman’s husband) who are responsible for helping her to learn.

Up to this point, I probably have most complementarians saying amen along with me.  Yes, most will say, it is God’s will for women to learn.  Then I ask, why don’t some complementarians let her learn?

John MacArthur is one such example.  Although his sermons on 1 Timothy 2:11 make it clear that Paul is taking a counter-cultural move by instructing that a woman is to learn, there are some problems.

1 Timothy 2:11 Let a woman learn…..

So why does John MacArthur teach that it is so important to let a woman learn and then he doesn’t let women learn?  In John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, he will not enroll women and let them learn.  Now some might say that this is understandable because John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary is for the training of pastors and all the learning that is done is directed towards a pastoral ministry.  So?  Let women learn.  But some may say, if they learn they may want to do the work of a pastor.  So?  Let them learn.  Where does it say in scripture that we are allowed to stop women from learning?  Where are men allowed to take upon themselves a God-given right to stop women from learning?  Please provide chapter and verse for a restriction on women’s learning.

The Jews through their oral traditions stopped women from learning in their assemblies because women were not allowed to handle God’s word.  They didn’t believe there was any use in teaching a woman the Torah because she was not allowed to use it.

John MacArthur will not allow women into his seminary to learn.  Is his seminary afraid to teach a woman in the seminary because she is not allowed to handle God’s word authoritatively and if they instruct her how to teach in an authoritative manner, then they might also be responsible if she does something illegal with the Word of God?  So she is stopped from learning because of what she might do with her learning?  Doesn’t this sound like the Jewish tradition?

Let her learn?….or not?  What do you say?

7 thoughts on “Let her learn….or not?

  1. It was Bilezikian who first helped me to understand that Paul was quoting Jewish law back at the church so to teach them that the law says one thing but the Lord quite another. He helped to free me so that I am now at theological college ‘learning’ how to one day preach and teach God’s word.

    Joy and blessings to you and him and the Lord above for helping to reveal to me the beautiful promises from God’s beautiful book.
    love Rachel at Re vis.e Re form

  2. Good point, some are violating a EXPLICIT GENERAL COMMAND to learn (albeit to a specific woman, but the principle still applies).  Jesus discussed the possibility of faulty exegesis leading to breaking of the Torah (God’s instruction) and we see an example right here.

  3. Rachel,

    You are a testimony to the truth of God’s word!


    You have properly evaluated the command to learn.  MacArthur and others would agree with you in principle.  They just don’t do it in practice.  This is a serious concern since their actions don’t follow their assertions.  We need to be consistent with what we believe.  The world sees our inconsistencies and we bring dishonor and shame to Christ when we remain inconsistent.

  4. “The world sees our inconsistencies and we bring dishonor and shame to Christ when we remain inconsistent.”

    YOu know, I have never thought about it like that before. It is a chilling thought.

  5. And this is all the more ironic and distressing if you consider, as I do, that it was Christianity that brought freedom to study to women to start with.  I see egalitarianism as a blessing of the New Covenant.  Our inconsistencies in this area do challenge our witness as the Church universal to the world.

  6. “Our inconsistencies in this area do challenge our witness as the Church universal to the world.”

    Absolutely. How would a female unbeliever who has not been filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore ‘truth’, see the difference between Christianity as taught by the masculinists and Mormonism? Or, JW?

    They wouldn’t.  

  7. BTW: Our SBC seminaries are allowing women to learn. That is good but it is also hypocritical in a way. They will take their money but not allow them to use their gifts in a meaningful way even outside the Body. The firing of Dr. Klouda is evident of this. And she was only teaching male students Hebrew. First they take her money and award her a PhD. Then they hire her to teach Hebrew. Then she has excellent reviews and then is fired for being a woman because the new president Paige Patterson says she is not allowed to teach male students.

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