‘Pope, In New Decree, Allows More Roles for Women in Church’

Artist’s interpretation of Mary Magdalene


Should women be able to preach sermons in church services?

Years ago, the old The Journal: News of the Churches of God had the following as part of its paid advertising by Tina Engelbart:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Here are the two verses in the King James Version. “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience [Gr. hupotasso], as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame [Gr. aischros] for women to speak in church” (Emphasis added).

First, some observations: The italicized phrase “they are commanded” was an addition by the translators; it is not in the original Greek. Further, hupotasso is more correctly translated “submission” rather than “obedience.” And the word translated as “shame” in verse 35 is the Greek word aischros— the same word translated as “ filthy” elsewhere, as in “ filthy lucre” (1 Timothy 3:8).

Most churches, and most Churches of God, and Mr. Mokarow say this means women must be silent in the church. UCG specifically said in their paper The Biblical Role of Women: “Women should not speak,” that is, preach or teach before the congregation (emphasis added). It is interesting that women are allowed to sing before the congregation, which is not exactly being silent. …

There is only one law that specifically forbids women to speak in the assembly — and that is the Oral Law of the Jews, later written down and known as the Talmud.

What a shame that our churches, in imposing the silence injunction on our women, are actually following the dictates of the Talmud instead of the Apostle Paul!

Let me make a few points.

First, while Tina Engelbart is entitled to her opinion about what she thinks the Greek means, the reality is that there is no record of Christian women preaching in either the New Testament nor in early Christian writings. While it is possible that the apostate Simon Magus may have had a female preach, and maybe some of the other apostates did, people who understood koine Greek at the time apparently did not feel that the Apostle Paul was allowing women to preach.

Second, 1 Timothy 2:11-12 also confirms women are not to do this. Hence, even allowing for a different translation of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 does not change the biblical reality (this is not something only to be derived from the Talmud as Tina Engelbart indicates).

Third, UCG is correct that women should not be preaching (as was the late Art Mokarow who I both heard speak and spoke to in the past). It is also a historically accurate position as the early COG did not have women preaching in services.

Fourth, as far as the Talmud and the Jews go, Tina Engelbart needs to consider that the Jews DID allow women to sing and hence the prohibition they had related to women speaking before the assembly did not include singing. That is the same in the Christian church as well.

Why bring any of this up again now?

Well, today, Pope Francis decided his church should push the limit for women to have them be public readers of various ‘spiritual’ parts Roman Catholic church services (normally referred to as mass):

Pope, In New Decree, Allows More Roles for Women in Church

January 11, 2021

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis, in another step towards greater equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church, on Monday changed its law to formally allow them to serve as readers at liturgies, altar servers and distributors of communion.

In a decree, the pope formalized what already has been happening in many developed countries for years. But by introducing the change in the Code of Canon Law, it will be impossible for conservative bishops to block women in their diocese from having those roles.

But the Vatican stressed that these roles were “essentially distinct from the ordained ministry,” meaning that they should not be seen as an automatic precursor to women one day being allowed to be ordained priests.

“The pontiff, therefore, has established that women can accede to these ministries and they are attributed by a liturgical function that institutionalizes them,” the Vatican said in an explanatory note.

In the decree, called “Spiritus Domini” (The Spirit of the Lord), Francis said he had taken his decision after theological reflection.

He said many bishops from around the world had said that the change was necessary to respond to the “needs of the times.” https://www.voanews.com/europe/pope-new-decree-allows-more-roles-women-church

January 11, 2021

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis changed church law Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, granting them access to the most sacred place on the altar, while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests.

Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: that women can be installed as lectors, to read the Gospel, and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made. …

Phyllis Zagano, who was a member of the pope’s first study commission, called the changes important given they represent the first time the Vatican has explicitly and through canon law allowed women access to the altar. She said it was a necessary first step before any official consideration of the diaconate for women.

“This is the first movement to allow women inside the sanctuary,” said Zagano. “That’s a very big deal.” https://apnews.com/article/europe-pope-francis-3bdcad94325be16ee2993f61eb17c5a0

Needs of the times?

The Bible teaches:

3 … to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, Douay-Rheims)

While many moderns who do not truly believe scripture applaud the pontiff’s move, the true faith is not supposed to change with “the times.”

At this time, let’s look at how a Roman Catholic Bible renders some passages in the New Testament:

34 Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. 35 But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Douay-Rheims)

11 Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11-12, Douay-Rheims)

Pope Francis clearly has authorized something that even his church’s rendering of scripture prohibits.

The Church of Rome is clearly NOT contending for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints as Jude 3 says should be done.

Now, I would add that instead of focusing on what women should not be doing, it is important to understand what they should be doing. For some details, here is a link to a written article titled: Women and the New Testament Church.

In the Continuing Church of God we do not believe that women are to preach nor to read services (although if there are no men available, they can read announcements, etc.).

Women have other roles. Some are deaconesses. Some, for the CCOG, edit, manage websites, manage Facebook pages, do translations, assist with festival planning and coordination, maintain our online radio presence, and/or host groups where we have no males. They also sing, provide music, help put together items related to the Study the Bible Course, and do some writing.

We also have the following sermon on women’s roles at our ContinuingCOG channel:


What roles, rights, and responsibilities do Christian women have? Did Jesus break Jewish traditions related to women? What did various women do in the New Testament? Can women be prophetesses or deaconesses? What about pastors and preachers? Do women have the same spiritual potential as men? Are women listed in the Book of Life? Will women be subject to persecution prior to the start of the Great Tribulation? Will women be wives or kings and priests in the coming kingdom of God? What are some of the roles women have in supporting the work in the Continuing Church of God? Dr. Thiel provides answers to those and other questions.

Here is a link to the sermon: Women’s Roles in the Church.

While there are biblically approved roles for women, having them reading church services really is not one.

Sadly, less and less people these days (including Pope Francis) take the Bible seriously enough.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Women and the New Testament Church What roles did women play in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles? Did Jesus and the Apostle Paul violate Jewish traditions regarding their dealings with women? Do women have any biblical limitations on their role in the Church? Were there female prophets? Do women have any special responsibilities in terms of how they dress? What does the New Testament really teach about women? Here are links to two related sermons: Women’s Roles in the Church and New Testament Women.
True Womanhood: A Lost Cause? Is there still a place for being feminine? Here is an article from Herbert Armstrong about his thoughts relating to women and womanhood.
What was the Liturgy of the Early Church? Were early church services mainly scriptural, emotional, or sacramental? Who follows the basic original liturgy today? A related video is also available: What were early Christian church services like?
Veils and Other Head Coverings Do women need to wear veils or similar coverings while praying or attending church services? What does the Bible teach about hair length? What about going around bald? Here are some scriptures on that subject.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What happened at Fatima? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Eastern/Greek Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers? Here is a link to a YouTube video Marian Apparitions May Fulfill Prophecy.

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