Alan Benson: Dr. Horn, thank you so much for the two messages that you have done on complementarianism. I just think they’re so foundational to much of our thinking, both in elevating roles properly as the Bible does, as well as distinguishing roles. And I’ve loved the value of the whole discussion and in particular the way you’ve presented just the biblical positions. The number of texts that you’ve used has been so helpful in letting the Bible speak, and I really appreciate that. Some questions that have come out of that. You did a great job in identifying that the Bible has a clear prohibition. There’s something in particular that a lady cannot do, and I want to follow that up with some questions just for distinction. So, one of the passages said—language, let them keep silent in the Church. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what that—keep silent—actually means?
Sam Horn: Yeah, well. Thank you, Alan. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to this topic because I think it’s a very relevant topic in the Church today. And regarding the question you mentioned a minute ago, there are three primary places in the New Testament that talk about this very issue. One of them is 1 Corinthians 11. The other is 1 Corinthians 14, and then 1 Timothy chapter 2 beginning in verse 8 also frame up the whole idea of what Paul had in mind when he said that he would not suffer a woman, not permit a woman to speak in the Church. And obviously when you put all three passages together, you kind of get an idea of what he’s talking about.
So, he’s not talking about the fact that a woman cannot have any word ministry in the Church. She can pray. She can prophesy. 1 Corinthians 11 makes that very, very clear. She can participate in public worship in 1 Corinthians 14 with proper decorum and in her role as a woman. But at the end of that passage in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is really firm when it comes to the interpretation of prophecy and giving that sort of official this is what that prophecy means and what authority it has over the body—that was a role restricted to those men who occupied an official teaching role in the Church. And that’s really clear in the 1 Timothy 2 passage when he actually says and defines what he means by not allowing a woman to speak in church. And he actually talks there about the idea of teaching, and then he speaks in terms of that teaching having authority over men.
So, the way I look at those passages as I put it all together, what is being restricted there is not a word ministry that women cannot ever have. It’s actually the ministry of the Word through the public teaching and official office that God has restricted to men who are spiritually qualified. And that office is the office of pastor or teacher or elder. So that’s kind of how I would frame that.
Benson: OK, so functionally then, we wouldn’t think of a particular function then that a lady can’t do this or do that all the way up to—Is there a primary function and setting of the Church where one in the office of elder that they have a function that they do that you would say, This is the core of what that office is and that a lady can’t do because it is the office.
Benson: Or is that—is that—?
Horn: Yeah, I would I think, sometimes I think even in my own thinking as I’ve tried to wrestle through this, that question quickly goes to gender. In other words, the office is set up this way and somehow it relates to gender. And I’m not sure that that’s really how the Scriptures frame it. It is an office restricted to men, but I don’t think that there’s anything inherent about the maleness or femaleness of the image bearer that that’s the reason behind that.
I think God set that up because it actually mirrors something that is true about His relationships with the other members of the Trinity, and specifically with the relationship that He assigned to Jesus and the Church. And I think that’s what’s being mirrored there, and I do think that the teaching office that is being set aside is actually the office that sort of sets out, applies and insists on the apostolic teaching that was delivered by Christ through the apostles to the Church. And so, I wouldn’t just say it’s because a woman is a woman or a man is a man. I think there’s something bigger behind that.
Having said that, going to the function of the office is an important way of thinking about that. Because it’s not just the title. It’s what that office is intended to do. That office is actually intended to do something, and that is to put forth the authoritative Word of God in a way that has authoritative implications for the year for the members of the body of the Church. And so, the functions that go with that office should in most circumstances be done by qualified men.
So, can a woman leader lead a choir? Absolutely. Should she be the ordained pastor of worship in a church? That’s a word function, and I think there’s authority that goes not just to what we preach, but in the Word of God as it is corporately presented through music and through worship. And I think that would be a function of that office. And so, that’s why in my personal opinion, and I know there would be disagreement even among complementarians. So, I would see that as a function of that office. So, the things in church that regularly would be assigned to that particular office I think should be reflected in who does them.
Benson: Right. So, it’s not—there’s jobs in the Church that are sacredly set aside that because you’re a woman you can’t do. They can do them with the same giftedness and abilities. But when they’re done out of that particular office that’s the restriction.
Horn: Right. I think the office itself, and then there are things that. OK, so maybe your church gets around it by saying, well, we’re actually not putting this in an ordained role. But that’s really what an ordained role does. I think that’s where there’s some wisdom in thinking through just before assigning that to somebody. These are things that the Scripture seems to put under the authority of the pastors and elders of a church.
Benson: In light of that then, just a piggyback question. Because one of the things that you did a wonderful job on is using the Scriptures to elevate the position the role of women, and that is a whole side of this discussion that actually, I feel, in our circles needs more clarification. I so appreciated that.
So, I’m gonna ask the question this way, and I’ll preface it by saying you did a beautiful job of talking about your own home and your wife’s giftedness and her handling your finances. And my home’s exactly the same way, and me looking at my home and knowing how my wife is, I’d be a fool to say, Nope. I’m doing that. She’s better at it than me. But in light of that, I’ll ask the question this way. Are there things that she should not do in the home just because she’s a woman?
Horn: I would say it this way that in my marriage, I see my relationship to Beth as a team. God put us two together. So, two image-bearers, differently gifted, equally valued. We should, we’re co-heirs in the promises of God, in the grace of God, and we have been matched together. And one of us has been assigned the role to have the responsibility to lead this unit, and that person may not be always the best equipped in every part of that role.
So, I think the way God has designed it intentionally is that there are gifts that He’s given to my wife that I absolutely have to lean on as I lead our family. I’d be absolutely foolish to just see my wife as somehow the junior partner in our relationship or a glorified maid or somebody that’s just supposed to receive and carry out orders. She’s a strategic partner in this, and it’s going to be different for every marriage. I mean, your wife is going to have different gifts than my wife, and her husband—you—you’re gonna have different gifts than my wife’s husband has. So, we’re gonna have to figure out how to work this out together. And she’s going to have to do it in a way that displays the quietness of spirit, the joyfulness of a meek and quiet spirit. And I’m going to have to do it in a way that reflects the gracious servant leadership that God intended for this role to display toward the other.
So, when it comes to—I used the illustration in chapel. When it comes to the finances of our home, Beth is actually better at that. And so, it’s foolish for me to kind of say, Well, because you’re the woman, I’m supposed to manage the money, when she has gifts and abilities and delights in that, and it actually gives her great freedom and security. I would be actually probably overstepping my bounds in just saying, You can’t do that. I would actually be hurting our family. And so, part of being a good leader is recognizing where you’re weak and where the other partner is strong and elevating that and celebrating that.
Now having said that, if the IRS comes calling to our family, and you know, we haven’t done what’s needed to be done or there’s some major financial catastrophe, I don’t get to look at my wife and say, Well, you were in charge of that. It’s your fault.
Horn: I have to bear that weight. I have to bear that responsibility, and I actually think it makes a lot of sense when you see it that way.
Benson: Absolutely. This is somewhat simplistic, but I keep thinking of it this way. We don’t have a home in which we have man jobs and women jobs. We have a job that is leading a home for the glory of God. And how we together in a complementary way do that, that’s what a home looks like.
Horn: Right. Right. I think that’s beautiful.
Benson: Yeah. Well, thank you so much. This has been so helpful.
Read the study notes A Christ-Honoring Practice of Complementarianism