Should Women be Silent… or Prophesy… or Both?

That one topic I was sure I would never address… now here I am, letting all these worms out of a tin, all because someone took the lid off…

Recently a man encouraged me to study the scripture on a woman’s place in the home and in the church. (Well, that was a less than subtle hint at his personal opinion!) He wasn’t being offensive or manipulative–at least I didn’t take it that way–and I didn’t take offense. It was, I believe, done with good intentions. A bit misguided, maybe, but no harm done.

A similar ‘concern’ was brought to my attention by another gentleman not long ago. He, too, was very kind.

And a minister mentioned it as well…

My husband, on the other hand, encourages me to do what I am doing. Oddly enough, he is the only one with the ‘authority’ to speak into my life. And he says ‘do it’. He is my leader. My spiritual protector. And I respect him. From the time God spoke to me and I shared that with Tim, on October 20, 2001, I waited until Tim gave me the blessing to  ‘go ahead’. And that took a long time.

When I first told Tim, he immediately blessed me and affirmed what God had spoken. But he also said, ‘Not now. The time is not right.’ A line he would continue to say for almost ten years.

A week or two after I told Tim what God had put on my heart, I received a phone call. It was Steve Masterson, a mentor, friend and spiritual-father figure in my life, and he asked me if I had ever considered going into ministry.

I stopped dead in my tracks, stunned. We talked about it. I shared my heart, and what God had showed me the previous weekend. He shared how God had laid on his heart a vision for ministry to the abused, as a call on my life.

The two most influential and most godly men and leaders in my life affirmed what God had already spoken. I knew then, without a doubt, that one day it would happen. I also knew that it wasn’t up to me to force those doors open.

It is ironic that I now have people with no authority or influence in my life, encouraging me to reevaluate God’s call. Some boldly declaring that what I do goes against scripture.

One woman, whose husband and two sons have all sexually abused children, gently told me that she fears for my children if their mother is out like that day after day.

Mostly I listen and file those comments. God has spoken, and I will obey. End of story. It will take more than human persuasion to convince me that God has not called me. And most likely if God was to ask me to leave ministry, He would speak through Tim and to me, not random people who have preconceived notions about what I do.

I can hear it already, the criticism: “But how can you say God asked you to do something that violates scripture? Didn’t He say women are to be silent?”

To answer that question, with absolutely no twisting of scripture, I will simply post what my Bible says, and then post a few thoughts and questions for you to contemplate. Too often we take what someone says, or follow what a church’s constitution says, and make it ‘Bible Truth to stand on’, without ever searching the scripture for ourselves. And sometimes the answer is there, in black and white, with no agenda to accompany it. Simply God’s truth, unadulterated by mankind, and with no personal agenda or human control.

Joel 2:25-29

New King James Version (NKJV)

25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,[a]
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.
28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

In the context of these verses, it is interesting to note that the prophetic word, stating that God’s sons and daughters will prophesy, is directly connected to God’s promise to bring healing and restoration…

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The same prophesy is given again in Acts, as this outpouring of the Holy Spirit begins.

Acts 2:17-18

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.

I’ve heard arguments that God merely allowed women to speak, and be in places of leadership in the Old Testament, as though it was some hardship for Him. But on the heels of that is a quick explanation that in the New Testament this is strictly forbidden.

Irony of all ironies, the verses above are Old Testament verses speaking to end times–seems to me we’ve never been closer to the end than we are today. And tomorrow we will be even closer. So to say that the prophesy was not for today is, well, twisting the Word of God into human agenda.  Not to mention that these verses are quoted again after Jesus returned to heaven. Clearly they were not meant for a time prior to Christ. These verses speak prophetically to the role that men and women will have in the end times, proclaiming the truth of God, of Jesus Christ.

How can the idea that ‘women must be silent’ be enforced as a ‘biblical law’ in these last day, and the truth of scripture still stand, rock solid, when the Bible plainly prophesies that men and women will prophesy? Either the verses on end time prophesy must be cast aside, and it be determined that God’s word is not reliable, or we are missing something. The fact that there is room for God’s ‘daughters’ and ‘maidservants’ to prophesy, to speak, is in direct conflict with what many churches teach…

Acts 21:8-9

King James Version (KJV)

8 “And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.”

They ‘did’ prophesy, the author writes. They ‘did’, did they? One might almost understand this to mean that they actually did it. Actually spoke the truth of God with authority, out loud. As women. Females.

The word ‘prophesy’ says it all. The verb means “to speak out of divine inspiration; to give instruction on religious matters; to preach.” Prophesy refers to foretelling and forthtelling. Foretelling is what Jesus did when He warned of what would happen to Jerusalem. And it did happen. But more commonly prophesy refers to ‘forthtelling’, or speaking the truth in relation to present circumstances.

It is 100% impossible to be prophet or prophetess and be silent. Speaking is the key ingredient to prophesying. How do we reconcile this, that a prophetess must speak, and be female, and yet all women must be silent?

I believe that God has designed us with unique purpose in mind, and that purpose is His, not ours. He has left room in His own Word for us to function ‘outside the box’ of what is acceptable, or even enforced, by religion. (And there’s indication that Phoebe, in the early church, also had a role not in keeping with strong religious teaching.)

One of the references given me to consider, by several, was in 1 Timothy 2. So I read it. Again. I’m familiar with it. I embrace it. I believe it. I believe it as powerfully as I believe the verses I quoted previously in Joel and Acts.  To quote those verses, however, I’d like to back track a few verses to verse 8.

1 Timothy 2:8

King James Version (KJV)
8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

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I read that verse and realized that of the men who told me I should be quiet and not speak publicly, not one, to my knowledge or witness, has ever lived in obedience to verse 8. I have not seen one of them lift holy hands in prayer, without wrath or doubting. This is a direct command, if it’s commands we’re looking at, and it directly precedes the command that women in silence. And it even says ‘every where’, a detail missing in the verses addressing women and silence. That’s an interesting biblical fact… (Wonder what a message would sound like where all men are emotionally and spiritually ‘spanked’ for not walking in obedience to this visible, external evidence of obedience to God? But I digress…)

1 Timothy 2:11-12

King James Version (KJV)
11 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

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In verse 11 Paul says women are to *learn* in silence.,(also interpreted as ‘don’t interrupt’ the speaker) and then goes on to say not to *usurp* authority over man, but be in silence. Within context, that’s pretty plain reading. I doubt a prophet or prophetess of God would interrupt honourable men of God while teaching. Only overbearing, and obnoxious behaviour would inspire that kind of rude response to godly teaching.

The word ‘usurp’ means to ‘take by illegal force’ and speaks again of being overbearing, and not functioning in submission to God-given leadership. Overpowering our leaders and demanding they let us have control, stands in stark contrast to releasing control while submitting our vision to the leaders God has placed in our lives. (And when our leaders are not following the Word of God, we best not stay, but run for our dear lives!)

I believe in living a life of submitted vision. I believe in functioning under the blessing of those whom God has given authority in my life. That means there are times that I am silent on topics Tim is not comfortable having me address. It means that I don’t always respond to people who attack or antagonize me. If Tim says, “Don’t do it,” then I don’t do it. He is my leader, my protector, spiritually and physically.

On a church level I have always done ministry under the blessing and leadership of my leaders, elders, pastors and mentors. I believe this is biblical, and if I force my way into what I want to do or fell called to do, without being released by my leaders, then I am in direct violation of scripture.

There have been times when the burden of this ministry has been overwhelming. There have been times when I cried in Tim’s arms and said, “Honey, I just want to quit… I can’t do this anymore…. I can’t take the attacks…” or some other struggle.

I have looked at Tim and said, “You speak the word, and I will turn and walk away from this ministry, and never look back.”  And I have done it at times when we struggled together because of the ministry, because it cost us more emotionally and financially than we felt we could handle. I expected him to say, “walk away”, on at least one occasion.

Instead, every time, he has held me and reminded me what God called me to do, and encouraged me to keep doing it. Only once did he even begin to release me to stop, but in the end we couldn’t. That support has made me stronger, more resilient, and more deeply committed to God and His call on my life than I have ever been.

I live in obedience to Joel and Acts, when I speak out the truth of Christ, prophesying the truth He asks me to speak. And I live in obedience to 1 Timothy when I am silent out of respect for my husband. And God is blessing us for it. We feel His spiritual covering over us. He provides when we don’t have it in us to keep going. And He is changing lives. We’re not doing it. We couldn’t’. He is. And we praise Him for it.

Whether I speak, or am silent, my life is God’s. I surrender myself to Him daily and desire only to lift Jesus high, because when He is lifted up, He draws all people to Himself. And therein lies healing.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to First Blog: September 2010, “Running on Empty”

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

Return to First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Return to the First Post in ‘Abigail’s Story’ Series

9 thoughts on “Should Women be Silent… or Prophesy… or Both?

  1. sineadgleesonroy November 10, 2013 / 8:15 am

    Excellent post, Trudy, and very well explained. God bless you.

  2. cvderstine November 10, 2013 / 11:14 am

    Love this! blessings upon blessings!

  3. Kim Glenn November 10, 2013 / 1:40 pm

    I haven’t read such a well written article on this subject, until yours today.
    Carry on, my friend. God bless you.
    Love and prayers to you. I am learning, just because He calls, doesnt mean it will be easy.

  4. Anna November 10, 2013 / 3:10 pm

    Although I don’t know you personally and don’t presently live in Ontario, I come from one of the communities in which you minister and I occasionally read your blog. It’s obvious that your ministry has been under attack and I’m sorry about that. Thank you for giving of yourself to so many women. I am a member of a conservative Mennonite church and it has been my prayer and vision that God will call more conservative Mennonite women to minister and speak in ways similar to what you’ve described in this post. I know you’re not in a conservative Mennonite church but thanks for speaking truth to those of us who are. Wishing you much comfort and grace…

  5. Ganeida November 10, 2013 / 3:45 pm

    Also here. I am blessed that the Lord very plainly told my husband he was to not only protect my ministry but to enable it, find a platform for it, & honour it. He does all of that ~ plus he encourages me to be all I have been called to be.

    As an aside [in case it’s helpful] Both the Hebrew (Nebrah), and Greek (Proph) used for prophetess means (female preacher). (Young’s Concordance, Pg. 780.)

  6. Heidi November 10, 2013 / 8:29 pm

    Thank you, Trudy. It is exactly this attitude in you which I have appreciated since I met you. I trust you in your ministry, because you do whole-heartedly submit to God’s word. You are a powerful example of how a woman should live out God’s call on her life with bold faith and humble obedience.

  7. Regina November 10, 2013 / 10:58 pm

    Blessings to you and God’s call on your life as you submit to your earthly and Heavenly authority.

  8. KIM November 10, 2013 / 11:50 pm

    Thank you Trudy, for so powerfully presenting this article! You are on target, and I know God is doing powerful things thru your vision of ministry. I absolutely love how Tim is supportive of your ministry and is right there backing you up even when things get hard and your under attack. Know that you are doing a good thing if you face attack because why would the devil try to destroy something that isn’t GOOD! The rewards will pay back greatly if not here , then on the other side of Glory. Many blessings and keep on being faithful to God’s call on your life!

  9. hisprincess60 November 11, 2013 / 12:59 pm

    This is a very well written article!!! After listening to Lisa Bevere, Lioness Arising, I was convicted of the power we as woman have for change and when we have the covering of our man it is a powerful force to be reckoned with!! I’m continuing to pray for you as you enter enemy territory!!! Blessings, and protection to you and your family as you do battle!!! ❤

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