Role of Women, 1 Timothy 2:12 (2024)

Editor’s Note: This committee was formed as a result of a petition from the floor of the 2021 Conference. This report below was received by the 2023 Conference. A substitute motion/legislation was made from the floor. It did not pass. The majority committee’s legislation was presented and did not pass. The Role of Women minority report was received. Its legislation did not pass. At the 2024 Conference, the study committee reported that they were unable to come up with unified legislation. The committee was thanked for their work and dissolved. 2023 Minutes 2024 Minutes

The study committee reported to the 140th BFC Conference with both a minority and majority report, each with proposed legislation focusing on the prohibition given in 1 Timothy 2:12. Following the study committee’s presentations, the 140th BFC Conference gave guidance and instruction for the study committee to reconvene in order to produce a unified report with joint resolution(s). The various positions represented on the committee were studied and evaluated, and legislative proposals were attempted. While the study committee took up this task with vigor, diligence, and good faith, we were unable to form legislation that received unanimous approval by the committee.

The committee unanimously recognized that 1 Timothy 2:12 is prohibiting women from teaching and leading in the church in some way. We all affirmed the truth that the office of elder is restricted to men. We also affirmed that the local elders must shepherd the flock over which God has given them oversight, being careful and accurate in their application of the prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12. We encourage our elder boards to study Scripture with regards to women in the local church, develop policy for their particular church, and clearly communicate the policy to the congregation so our sisters will be free to serve the Lord with confidence in keeping with their elders’ vision for their particular church. 

We refer the BFC Conference to the majority and minority reports submitted to the 140th Conference for a fuller representation of the areas of disagreement regarding the interpretation and application of 1 Timothy 2:12. These reports appear in the 2023 Yearbook, pp. 154-187.

In summary, a fundamental difference centered around the nature of teaching that Paul is prohibiting women from practicing in the local church. Some members believe Paul’s instruction in 1 Timothy 2:12 to be prohibiting women from authoritatively teaching binding doctrine to the church—which is the sole responsibility of the elders. Public biblical teaching to the gathered church by a woman that is not authoritative and binding, as determined by the local elders, is permitted and should not be legislatively prohibited in the BFC.

Others on the committee believe the instruction of 1 Timothy 2:12 to teach that the ministry of teaching biblical doctrine to the gathered church, where men are receiving the instruction, is to be carried out by qualified men under the direction of the elders. Women are not to pursue or practice a ministry of public doctrinal teaching in the context of the local church but are to learn quietly with all submissiveness. Women are encouraged to exercise their gifts of biblical and doctrinal teaching in other settings. While leaving the understanding and application of what constitutes “the gathered church” to be determined by the local elders, Paul’s prohibition is clear enough to warrant legislation that would help guide and unite the churches of the BFC.

The committee members express their appreciation to BFC Conference for this opportunity. While disagreeing at key points of biblical exegesis, the committee was blessed by the mutual fellowship and study of this important matter.

Study Committee to Codify the Prohibition on Women Teaching and Exercising Authority as Given in 1 Timothy 2:12: Aaron D. Smith, Chairman; Joshua P. Miller, Secretary;  Daniel Z. Krall, John R. LoRusso, Ralph E. Ritter, Rachel Schmoyer, Jocelyn Scott, Dennis W. Spinney, Keith A. Strunk.

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