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July 1973 · Vol. 2 No. 3 · pp. 84–87 

The Preaching Lab

John Regehr


  1. The December 12, 1972 issue of The Mennonite carries an article entitled, “A woman becomes pastor in Illinois.”

    One paragraph reads thus: “Emma Richards is using her preaching talents now as pastor of the Lombard Mennonite Church in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.”

  2. I find it impossible to reconcile such arrangements with the explicit instruction of God’s Word in I Tim. 2;12, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men.” Whatever else Paul may be saying which has cultural dimensions, the principle is clear. The thrust of that principle is further sharpened in verses 13 and 14.

  3. Yet, by implication at least, Paul, according to I Cor. 11;5 and 14;26 does allow women to make contributions at least in the smaller house church. The assumption I am making is that in I Timothy 2 the apostle is addressing himself to a situation in which the church community had become more structured, having copied significantly from the Jewish synagogue.

  4. The fundamental order of society is to remain intact (cf. I Tim. 2;13; I Cor. 11:7). Yet the woman does have contributions to make to the church which are helpful, perhaps essential, and which are not limited to “a cup of cold water” and “washing of feet” (See I Tim. 2:10; 5:9-10; Acts 16:14-15; Rom. 16;1-2; but cf. Acts 18;24-26; 2t;8-9).

  5. This is not the place for a lengthy discussion regarding the place of the woman in the church, but I will yield to the temptation to say a little about I Tim. 2:11.

    A missionary (an unmarried woman) from Jordan said not so long ago that she could understand Paul perfectly. She reports that when the church gathers in some of the areas in which she has served, the men congregate in one place and the women in small knots on the periphery. Discussion goes on among the men. At times the women will interrupt with questions or with heated debate. If worship and learning is to occur at all, the women will have to stop disturbing the proceedings.

    Let me tell a personal experience. It was during the graduation exercises of a local Jewish parochial school. A student of mine from public school was graduating, and she had invited me. The guest speaker was the president of the University of Manitoba. I seated myself unobtrusively near the middle of the small auditorium. That was a mistake. I’m sure it was precisely where in the ancient synagogue the wall dividing men and women would have been. The persistent jabbering, and the criss-crossing of bodies and communication was most annoying. Paul’s injunction would have been utterly appropriate: “She is to keep silent!”

  6. On the other hand, my wife has much to say which is helpful for me in terms of understanding myself, other people, and the dynamics of inter-personal relationships in the local body of believers. Therefore, when some time ago I was asked to address a group of ministers and deacons, together with their wives, on the subject, “Husbands, love your wives,” I decided it would be the better part of wisdom to ask my wife to speak on behalf of women and tell us what they consider to be the practical dimensions of our love to them. The following is an outline of our combined address. You will notice that I reserved for myself the task of dealing with the biblical texts.

    Perhaps this attempt can serve as one possible model for team preaching.


  1. A. Introduction (John)
    1. Taken from Ephesians 5, but reaches back to Genesis 2;18-25; 1:27, 31a.
      “not good!”
      “very good!”
    2. At times we may wish to be single again. (I Cor. 7;25-26, 32-34a; Matt. 19;12—cf. v. 10, ref. to vs. 3-9). But there’s no pulling out now! And the orders remain intact, “Love your wives!”
    3. “Dear, will you accept some responsibility for our ability to love?”
  2. (Mary) “Yes, the wife must accept some responsibility in making her husband a man who can love.”
    1. The woman usually assumes greater responsibility for the marriage relationship.
      “A woman must be a genius to create a good husband.” In a psychological test a man scored 12 and his wife 92. Yet he had been full of confidence when they were first married.
    2. Since there are basic differences between man and woman, it follows that each is to complement the other. Thus each is responsible for making it easy for the other to function in his role.
      Some differences:
      woman: personal—interested in feelings, takes things personally, an “at oneness” with people and situations.
      man: abstract thinking, logical, basic principles, views things from “outside.”
    3. The danger is that in trying to help our husbands, we intuitively set about making them over in areas where we see deficiency. This often backfires on us.
  3. (John) Certainly you do not kindle our love by your persistent efforts to make us over. It would be easier to love if the wife were always intensely loveable.
    1. Adam was overjoyed when he first met Eve (Gen. 2:23-24).
    2. Remember Prov. 31:10-27? If she could be like that always, loving her would be easy.
    3. “Could you make it a little easier, dear?”
  4. (Mary) There are things we can do to be loveable, and thus make it easier for our husbands to love us.
    1. A genuine, unselfconscious femininity. Not the magazine type. Emotionally mature enough not to be too aggressive or domineering. A womanly concern for others which does not become a control over them.
    2. Strong capacity for love (agape) and a broad sweep of love (children, people, nature, life, God).
    3. An informed intelligence. Not necessarily formal education, but learning from listening, reading, etc.
  5. (John) Yet the command to love is not conditional.
    1. Not “love if. . .” but “love as. . .”
    2. What does it mean to love as Christ loved the church?
      1. It does not mean to relinquish his role, or function, or leadership (v. 23—head, saviour).
      2. It does mean this:
        1. give himself (v. 25)—total handing over of self for the sake of the other.
        2. cleanse (v. 26)—make clean, and start all over again.
        3. sanctify (v. 26)—set her apart as only his, and cause her to want it that way.
        4. present to himself (v. 27.)—accept the union as permanent) the sure belonging allows her to become all she can be—without spot, beautiful.
        5. nourish (v. 29)—help her mature through the meeting of all of her needs.
        6. cherish (v. 29)—a “motherly concern” because he regards her as a treasure (word originally meant to brood out)
        7. joins (v. 31)—total union; fully one; glued together as with mortar.
  6. (Mary) “If love means to meet our needs, let me tell you what we think those needs are.”
    1. Need for security. Requires a husband who has self-confidence and who takes an interest in the things that concern us (e.g. the home).
    2. Need to be treated with gentleness and to be cared for.
    3. Need to be praised, complimented, and reassured. When we ask, “Do you love me?” we are not asking for information. Our sense of identity depends largely on such reassurance. We are prone to develop serious trouble if it is withheld (depression, emotional unresponsiveness, resentment which is directed at the children).
    4. Need to have the little things treated as big things (birthdays, anniversaries, supper dates, etc.)
    5. Need for togetherness.
    6. Need to have fluctuation and the validity of moods recognized. A small thing will make us soar or slump.
    7. Need to be regarded as unique. Don’t categorize us (“Oh, just like a woman! All women are. . .!”) Try to understand us as individuals with our own set of needs.
  7. (John) Now I have a problem; What if what you think are needs, are not really so?
    Maybe we can detect the more basic needs underlying your wants. Maybe to meet these basic needs, it is necessary to thwart what you think are needs.
    Is this not what the text means when it speaks of cleansing, sanctifying, and nourishing?
  8. (Mary) Hopefully we will remain open for dialogue when such situations arise. There is room here for a caution to wives. There are wrong, ways of dealing with a husband who does not love in a way which meets our needs (real or imagined).
    In a bid for genuine attention we may resort to all manner of alternative methods: accusations demands, anger, depression. What we are really saying is; “’I want love; # I can’t have that, I’ll settle for attention; if I don’t get that, I’ll get sympathy; if that too fails, I’ll get him. where_ it hurts—I’ll have an accident, or a breakdown, or an illness.”
  9. (John). The responsibility is great; the task is monumental.
    1. But we have resources.
      1. Rom. 5:5—love
      2. I Cor. 10:13—providence
      3. Eph. 1:19—power
      4. I John 1:19—forgiveness.
    2. There is glory when this love rules our homes.
      Col. 3:14—love creates harmony.

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