“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”-Ecclesiastes 1:9
My friend, Brooks Cochran, gave me a book consisting of a series of David Lipscomb’s answers to reader’s questions from the years 1866 to 1910. Lipscomb was the editor of the Gospel Advocate and the inquiries and replies were published in the magazine over 100 to 150-years ago. The book was compiled by J.W. Shepherd and is entitled Queries and Answers by David Lipscomb1. I stumbled upon a section with the heading, Women Preachers, and thought, “I can’t wait to see how differently they treated this issue a century and a half before social media!” Spoiler alert; it’s the same old song and dance.
“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”-I Corinthians 33-34
What did I find? The same attacks on Paul, the same dismissal of the Bible itself, and even the hot new argument, “Oh you poor rube, don’t you understand? That instruction was only for a specific custom in one local church. None of the other cool kids think Paul’s letters had authority throughout the entire church.” Here are a few of Lipscomb’s rejoinders:
“If that passage of scripture (I Corinthians 14:31-37) can be reasoned away so as not to mean that women should not speak in the churches, I do not know what command of God may not be set aside.”
“The great majority of those who set them aside openly adopt the infidel rule; they are not to be governed by Paul.”
“That is a general proposition. It could not be expressed in terms more general and universal in application. Here Paul speaks of all the churches, the churches, and the church showing the universal application of the principle.”
“All the teaching of the Bible is against women speaking in public.”
Lipscomb quotes a president of Chicago College as saying of the apostle Paul, “’Men are not going to perpetuate a foolish custom, even if an apostle himself advised it.’ To which he retorts, ‘The truth of the whole matter is that many or the churches are infected more or less with a spirit of rationalistic infidelity that does not hesitate to set aside any order of God that does not suit their ideas of things.’”
“There were spiritually endowed women; but their spiritual endowment did not authorize them to overstep the bounds of womanly modesty and publicly speak in the churches.”
[You would think this final quote was written in the last week. Remember, these words were written 100-to-150 years ago. Lipscomb is not referring to Roe v Wade or the 1960’s.-JS]
“The habit of women preaching originated in the same hotbed with easy divorce, free love, and the repugnance of childbearing.”
“Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.”-Ecclesiastes 1:10
A man who feeds on eternal words, expresses eternal truths.