July 21, 2003 Q & A

Women Teaching Women


I would like to know the official stand of the OPC on women teaching other women within the church. Is it considered appropriate for women to have a Bible study which is taught by a woman member of the church? Please may I have Scriptural reasons for or against. Thank you so much—I appreciate your kind attention to the questions of so many. I have read through many of your questions and answers. They are very helpful and presented with humility and clarity!


The "official stand" of the OPC on women teaching other women is that there is no "official stand." With regard to the role of women teaching in the church, the OPC understands 1 Timothy 2:12 and related Scriptures to teach that only men may hold the office of teaching and rule and that only men may teach adult groups of mixed gender. In the absence of a constitutional provision specifically answering your question, I would say that the churches (sessions) must decide such matters based on their understanding of the Scriptures.

Certainly Titus 2:3-5 would be an important passage, establishing as a positive precept that older women should teach younger women (and I would take that to mean by logical extension that women may teach women). If the study is announced as a ministry of the church or enjoys the sanction of the church (e.g., notice in the Bulletin), then the teacher should be someone who has the approval of the elders of the church.

How local sessions understand and apply the Scriptures in regard to your question might vary. I can envision the possibility of a session deciding that only the ordained teaching elder or only the elders may teach officially sanctioned Bible studies of the church (this would most likely be based, not on their view of women, but on their view of office and the ministry of the Word). If there are those who take this position, they would probably argue that Titus 2:3-5 is not endorsing study groups but simply informal and personal ministries of older women to younger. This would be a session decision, as the Form of Government says (Chapter XIII, The Local Church and Its Session, Par.7): "The Session is charged with maintaining the government of the congregation. It shall oversee all matters concerning the conduct of public worship; it shall concert the best measures for promoting the spiritual growth and evangelistic witness of the congregation. It shall ... supervise the activities of the diaconate, the board of trustees and all other organizations of the congregation...."

Since you do not say that your question arises from some particular situation (either women teaching women's groups and you wondering if this is proper, or the session having determined that women may not teach women's groups), I can only surmise that this might be the case. If so and if you have not already done so, I would go to the pastor or other session member with your question. (For that matter, you have not said that you are a member of an OPC.) Feel free to follow up with further questions if you think I might be of further help (assuming this has been of any help).

Grace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ.



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