Women In The Church - Question and Answer
Derek Prince
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Women In The Church - Question and Answer

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Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

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We are going to make a proclamation from the epistles of Timothy—we’re not quite sure whether it’s 1Timothy or 2Timothy, but Ruth will check. 2Timothy 2:10:

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

So that’s a motive for living and serving the Lord. The “God’s chosen” those He has chosen for Himself, “may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus.” We have it, but there are millions and millions of people whom God wants in His kingdom, who do not yet have it. To minister to them takes endurance. You have to go through a lot. Face a lot of discouragements, opposition, sometimes persecution. But if you’re determined, you’ll endure.

Now we are starting with the questions. I need to begin by quoting a little bit from 1Corinthians 7:25 where Paul is writing to the Corinthians and he says:

...I give my opinion as one who has obtained mercy of the Lord to be found faithful

There are some things about which I do not make dogmatic statements. I simply say I give my opinion. But having known the Lord for 56 years, and been in “full-time ministry” for more than 50 years, I think I can say that I have obtained mercy of the Lord to be found faithful. Believe me I am conscious every day that it’s only through the Lord’s mercy that any of us will be found faithful. We need the Lord’s mercy desperately everyday.

I have to begin by explaining that I didn’t communicate as clearly as I would have wished to do about the things I said about teaching. I think partly because most of you don’t think in the same mode that I think. I’m very conscious of the fact that government or ruling is an extremely vital issue in the church of God. It’s something that’s very close to God’s heart. So, God, in a sense, sets a hedge around government, ruling. First of all, if there is no rulership, there’s chaos, confusion. That’s one reason why there’s so much confusion in the world, because there isn’t real government. That’s one reason why there’s so much confusion in the church, because there isn’t real government.

I don’t know whether you know, but the last of the certain churches in Revelation is called Laodicea. To me it’s pretty accurate picture of the church at the close of this age. They thought they were rich and increased with goods and prosperous, and Jesus said, “You’re poor and blind and miserable and wretched and naked.” The amazing thing to me is that people could be poor and blind and miserable and wretched and naked and not even know it. But why I say that is the meaning of the word “Laodicea” means “peoples’ rights.” It’s the democratic church. It’s the church in which everyone has his own thing to say, and there really isn’t any divine authority or discipline. That is very, very much like the church in many parts of the world today. Not least in the United States.

So I believe government or rulership has much greater importance in the sight of God than is attached to it by many Christians today. What I was talking about as teaching, I called governmental teaching. That means teaching which implies the exercise of government. I said that is fenced around with God’s protection. It is not open to everybody. But that doesn’t mean that all other teaching is closed to everybody. That’s what I didn’t communicate clearly and I apologize for it. When I was talking about certain limitations on teaching, I thought I had established it but I hadn’t. I meant governmental teaching—teaching which includes or implies the exercise of government. Much of what I said about teaching, I think, some of you applied in your minds to any form of teaching. I didn’t meant that. It isn’t what I understand.

So now with that said, I’ll try to answer some of these questions. Ruth, if you have anything to add, just jump in.

QUESTIONI heard some say that elders in the church can be ruling elders or ministering elders. If this were true, I suppose a woman could be a ministering elder and leave the governing to the ruling elders. I do not see this in the Bible. Can a woman be an elder in the church or a deacon/deaconess worship leader.

ANSWER – DerekBasically I agree with whoever wrote that question. I don’t see this distinction in the eldership which means that a ruling elder is one kind of person, a ministering elder is another. I think all eldership in the New Testament implied governmental authority. For that reason, I do not believe that it would normally be Scriptural for a woman to be an elder. However, there are exceptions as we pointed out.

For instance, in the CIS (former Soviet Union) in a congregation that’s directly the product of our ministry, there was a young woman of about 20 who was a prostitute. She got gloriously saved and just went round telling everybody what Jesus had done for her. She didn’t have any personal ambition. Before she knew what was happening she had about 200 people looking to her for leadership. So she became their leader. Now I say we owe all honor to a woman does that. We respect her. We’re grateful. However, it isn’t a position that would be healthy for her to occupy for the rest of her life. She was very wise. She was instructed that probably it would be better for a man to take over. One or two men came along whom she didn’t trust. Then after about two years, the right man came along and she handed over the pastorship to him. I think that is a pretty good model of what should be done in such a situation. But so far from criticizing the woman who had been a prostitute, we have to give her all honor for what she did. But all honor also for the grace to step out when the time came.

Now with regard to can a woman be a deacon or a deaconess, you have to know that some of our terms are rather artificial. The word for deacon or deaconess means one who serves. There are all sorts of different ways of serving. But I think, probably and I think most theologians would agree, that there were in the New Testament church both and men and women who were recognized as appointed to serve. As I see it, their primary service was to assist the apostles and the leaders to make their job easier. Also they became, in due course, it became understood that they would minister the charitable functions of the church. They also apparently were messengers who were sent with messages from one church to another.

As for a woman being a worship leader, I don’t that there’s anything in the Bible that says she shouldn’t be. There may be, but I am more comfortable when a man is leading worship. But if there is no man capable of it, well then lets have a woman. But lets not make a pattern of it.

When I was in Africa as a missionary and principal of a college for training teachers, most of the worship was led by African women. They did a very good job. But I still think in a way, it would be healthier where possible for a man to lead worship.

ANSWER - RuthI agree with Derek. I am a worshiper. Wherever we travel I simply close my eyes when I come into a church or a meeting and worship the Lord. But I am much more comfortable when a man is leading the worship.

QUESTIONThis is a very sharp and perceptive question, several questions. Re: deacons. The institution of the office of deacon in Acts 6 sets three qualifications for chosen men. 1) Men 2) Full of the Spirit 3) Full of wisdom. Is this a governmental position?

ANSWER - DerekNo, it’s assistant. I’ve just said the real function of the deacon is to make the job of the apostle or the church leader easier. The word “deacon” in the original language means “a servant.” So I wouldn’t call it a governmental position, but it’s a very honorable position. It’s a very important position.

QUESTIONAlso what do you say about pastor/co-pastor, husband/wife leading a church?

ANSWER - DerekWell, first of all I think it’s extremely desirable that husband and wife should be in complete unity and work together as one. However, I believe the husband is the head of the wife and he is the ruler of the family, and I personally would not wish anybody to call my wife Pastor Prince. However, let’s be charitable. There are some wonderful couples that are doing wonderful work. They’ve chosen that route. Let’s not quarrel with them.

QUESTIONYou mentioned that Phoebe was a deaconess, however, the qualification for a deacon like an elder must be the husband of one wife. Please explain how this can be.

ANSWER - DerekYou have stumped me! I can’t explain!

QUESTIONYou mention that leading as not being a ministry for women Romans 12, but later you mention that they could be involved in administration. Aren’t these two areas essentially the same?

ANSWER - DerekNo. A person can be an administrator in a church under the leadership of the elders and the pastors. Administrating can be service, and very useful and very necessary. Now I have to be careful I don’t give anyone’s identity away.

QUESTIONI am a single woman and run my own business, a Christian bookstore. But I don’t want any leadership role in the church. I don’t enjoy supervising employees. Is it okay for women to run businesses but not to lead in the home or the church? This seems contradictory.

ANSWER - DEREKI don’t see it as contradictory. I think a woman who does a good job running business is not out of her place, provided she isn’t taking unscriptural authority over men, which apparently this woman is not doing.

ANSWER - RUTHI mentioned this afternoon that the Proverbs 31 woman obviously was a good businesswoman. She was a good administrator, because she gave tasks to her maidservants. She couldn’t possible do all the things she’s described as doing unless she knew how to administer the entirety and delegate authority.

QUESTIONFor that matter, how about a woman who leads a mixed sex prayer group or other small meeting?

ANSWER - DEREKI don’t think the Bible has anything absolutely definitive to say about that. Basically the principle is, if possible leadership/government should be in the hands of men. When it comes down to small home groups, it isn’t always possible. But wherever it’s possible, I would like to see a man leading. For instance, if it’s the home of a married couple, it’s not really very desirable that the wife should lead and the husband either not be part of it, or be under his wife. I think that’s unhealthy. We don’t have everything the way it ought to be exactly, so we have to live with situations that are not perfect. How many of you know the church is not perfect? How many of you know if you found a perfect church you couldn’t join it? Because after you joined it it wouldn’t be perfect.

QUESTIONIs there an office of prophet that is governmental which is not open to women?

ANSWER - DEREKIt’s a big question. I don’t see any clear picture of the office of a prophet in the New Testament. It does speak about prophets. It speaks about prophets who travel together, who went to churches and delivered messages. I don’t think that the women who prophesy that are spoken of in the New Testament, would be in that category. I would say it’s a borderline issue. I’m not too happy with having people established in the office of prophet. Maybe because I’ve seen so much abuse of it. I’m really very reserved about what I call “Charismatic Fortune Telling.” I’m probably slightly prejudiced about this. I have reservations about people who go around and say, “I’m a prophet and I have a word for you.” Because you’ll get all sorts of weak and unstable Christians who come running for a word. Let me point this out that the first principle direction and leading is from the Scriptures. That’s where we get our primary leadership. Anybody who ignores the Scripture and does not submit to the leadership of the Scripture but still seeks the leading from a prophet, is out of order. He doesn’t qualify to receive the leading that he’s asking for. I feel rather strongly about this because I’ve seen so much harm take place. I could go on from experience, but I won’t.

QUESTIONCan the office of prophet be held by a woman?

ANSWER - DEREKWell, there were women in the Old Testament at any rate to whom kings and others went for supernatural direction and counseling. But they were not included in the same category as the priests or the Levites. So I think there are some things about which I wouldn’t like to make an absolute definitive rule.

QUESTIONCan a woman hold a prophetic office or just prophesy?

ANSWER - DEREKWell, what’s the difference? There may be a difference, but if a woman is prophesying how do you know she isn’t holding the office of a prophet? Of course, I realize that there are some congregations in which people are officially appointed as prophets. In which case, they would have to decide whether to appoint a woman or not. It wouldn’t be my problem, because I wouldn’t do it. There’s a lot about this business, and I’m glad it’s all coming up.

QUESTIONYou say that prophecy is a legitimate gift for women, but teaching is not. However in 1Corinthians 14:31 connects the two, “for you can all prophesy in turn, so that everyone can be instructed and encouraged.”

ANSWER - DEREKNow my understanding of that is completely different and I’ve used that Scripture in many places all over the world to encourage people to learn to prophesy. So my understanding is people can be encouraged and instructed to prophesy. I’ve done it for thousands of people in different countries. So I don’t understand that as a case of instructing.

QUESTIONThe verse about women keeping silent in the church is also in that context. I live in Puerto Rico and there are a very large percentage of women prophets in the church. Many of their prophesies are false and seem more like Christian Spiritism than words from God. [To which I say “Amen. Let’s get rid of them. At least let’s put them in their place.”(Derek)] I am more inclined to think that prophecy should be reserved for men because it is such an authoritative gift.

ANSWER - DEREKWell, that’s a very sensible comment. I just have to say I think it’s marginal.

ANSWER - RUTHWith regard to that last comment about being such an authoritative gift, we know from the New Testament that women did prophecy. So it is Scriptural for women to prophecy. But it needs to be done under authority, and all prophecy should be judged.

DEREKI think that’s extremely important. All prophecy should be subject to judgment. There should not be a situation in which anybody gives a prophecy and is not willing to have it subjected to judgment. I had a falling out with the Full Gospel Businessmen years ago—more than 20 years ago. They were encouraging people to exercise the gifts of the Spirit. People, mainly women, were prophesying and coming up with some of the screwiest things that you could think of, and nobody said anything about it. I went to the leaders and I said, “Listen, if you let other people who are not instructed think that that prophecy was from the Lord, you’re letting people be deceived.”

I’ll give you an illustration of my own experience. Years ago I was part of the leadership of a church in Chicago. I was on the platform with one or two other leaders—I wasn’t the pastor. One Sunday morning a man came in somewhere near the back and in the middle of the service he stood up and gave a very loud unanointed prophecy which was almost totally condemnation. So I waited to see what people would do and nobody did anything. Well there happened to be a group of college students sitting right at the front on my right, and I could see from the look on their faces, they were saying, “This is ridiculous. I don’t believe it.”

So I thought to myself, “If we, in the leadership, let them think that we are deceived by that they will not respect anything we say or do.” So I stood up and I said, “Now, the Bible says that prophecy should be judged. So those men here who are qualified to judge prophecy, I want you to say whether you accept that prophecy as being from the Lord or not.” And one by one about three or four men all stood up (respected in the congregation) and said, “We don’t accept it as being from the Lord.” Well, that squelched that man which is what he needed. But if nothing had been done about that a lot of people would have been misled. I feel very strongly that prophecy has always to be theoretically subject to judgment. Not that everybody always has to judge every prophet.

Another thing happened in Jerusalem where we are good Anglicans and attend the Anglican church, Christ Church, which is probably known to some of you. The pastor is a close friend of ours. One Sunday, somewhere at the back on my right, a man stood up and gave the same type of condemnatory, unappealing prophecy. So the rector stood up and said, “I want you to be quiet. We don’t accept that as from the Lord.” The man went on prophesying. So the rector said, “If you won’t be quiet, get out of the church, in the name of Jesus.” And the man left. Well, we all heaved a sigh of relief. Thank God somebody did something. Afterwards the rector said, “I’ve never done that before in my life.” But it was a real example of the necessity of judging prophecy.

RUTHDerek said we’re good Anglicans. I think we might say that we attend an Anglican Church, but there are a lot of things that are wrong in the Anglican Church. They have gone very, very liberal and we don’t subscribe to those. But when we are in Jerusalem we are regular attendants of Christ Church, which is not directly in the system of the Anglican Church.

QUESTIONCan a woman have a title of reverend or pastor and lead a ministry, if her ministry is under another ministry, and she is submitted first to God and Christ and then submitted to the ministry. She is single. The fruits of a woman sold out to God, walking in grace, and humble.

ANSWER - DEREKI respect such a woman. I just don’t see why she want to be called reverend. Actually, there’s nothing that I know of in the Bible that corresponds to the phrase or title reverend. It upset me terribly when I came first to the United States, because it wasn’t used in England. I said, “Reverend, means to be revered, to be almost worshiped. I don’t want to give that title to anyone.” But I got used to being called Rev myself.

QUESTIONWhy are women asked to teach if they are not supposed to? What about Marilyn Hickey? Ruth, why didn’t you study Deborah?

ANSWER - RUTHActually, I did study Deborah and I think she was a remarkable woman in a very difficult situation. I believe Derek said, in his talk, that she stepped in because there was no man capable of judging Israel at that time. I think it’s tragic that there was no man capable. I believe she’s an exception. I studied all the women in the Bible. I only gave examples from those I thought were relative to my role, and I have a very capable and godly husband. I don’t have to take leadership.

ANSWER - DEREKI will say something more general about that. The problem is, especially in the United States and other Western nations, women are much quicker off the mark then men spiritually. If it’s a question of everybody being lined up at the starting line, the women will take off much quicker than the men and be far ahead of them. But that isn’t desirable. We don’t blame the women. We respect them. But in the long run, it’s going to lead to an unhealthy situation. I think it would be very gracious on the part of some women if they would deliberately move men forward in ministry, as my first wife did as Ruth pointed out. My first wife was much older than I was. She was an experienced ministry. She had a reputation of establishing a successful work in a very difficult situation, and she was a very lively speaker. Everybody wanted to listen to her. If she had wanted to go ahead and do her own thing, she would have out shown me. I would never have made a start. But she had the grace to step back and watch me make my mistakes, do some things that were pretty foolish, without trying to take the reigns out of my hand. I think in the long run, her decision paid off. Whatever I am, I would never have been if my first wife had decided to take the leadership. So I honor her and thank her for it. I think a lot of really consecrated women who are gifted and able to minister should look at the long-term effects of their ministry and ask themselves, “Is it more important for me to establish my ministry, or is it more important for us to patient and self-effacing and raise up men in ministry?”

RUTHI wanted to mention the Salvation Army, which was started by General William Booth and he gave women, essentially, equal place. His wife and his daughter were greatly used by God, but today the Salvation Army is almost entirely run by women and men don’t desire to come into that situation. So it has not continued the strong work that it could have been if men had taken leadership throughout.

The other thing I would like to say that when I came to the Lord and came into the church and saw that women were doing things that men should be doing as I understood it, I began to pray that God would raise up strong men. I continue to pray that God will raise up strong men, and I see Him doing it.

DEREKYou know the word “assembly” which is probably the correct word for “church” means a gathering of like people. That’s the basic idea. So it’s very important in building an assembly what you start with. What you start with is probably what you’re going to get. For instance, if you start with a lot of saved addicts, that’s wonderful, but the people you get will be of the same type—saved addicts. Wonderful, praise God. But they don’t constitute a solid assembly. Or if you start with young people, you’ll get lots more young people. Praise God for that, but it’s not a complete assembly.

In my simple way of thinking, the best thing to start with is a married couple, because then you can get everybody. This is just a principle that I am unfolding. But I have seen it again and again. If you start with a certain type of person, that’s the kind of person that will come in. Now in my ministry, which I’ve not really pastored many times, but when I have I’ve always ended up with a majority of men in my congregation. The reason is because I’m a man, and because I have certain qualities that men want. I’m fairly logical. I’m not excessively emotional. And you see, we have to look to the future. It’s not just getting started, it’s what are we going to build that ultimately matters. All God’s people are incredibly valuable. But to get the results that we want, we have to go God’s way.

I point out another to you that is difficult to apply today, in the New Testament basically salvation was a household experience. It wasn’t a lot of individuals. Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household.” And society was so ordered at that time that if a married man with a family became a believer, normally his family would follow him. That’s the healthiest way because you are getting families. I know some pastors who don’t count the number of members in their church. They count the number of families, and it’s a very revealing story. You see, we are in a time of disintegration. Society is breaking down. Families are breaking down, and the church is afflicted by a similar type of disintegration. But, so far as possible, we should not be carried away by that. I hope you won’t consider this a rather unflattering comparison, but what is the difference between a live fish and a dead fish? The answer is a live fish can swim against the current. A dead fish can only float with it. We cannot afford to float with the contemporary current because it is anti-God and anti-Christ.

We have to be different. I had two teeth filled yesterday by our lady dentist, whom we greatly appreciate, and she’s a real sincere believer. She was asking me about our experiences in Cuba. I said in Cuba there’s about 11 million population, and they say there are about 3 million Christians, which is more than a quarter of the nation. But I said they are under tremendous political and social pressure. Then I said casually, perhaps the biggest mistake Satan could make at the moment is to institute persecution of Christians in America. Because then there would be a price to pay for becoming a Christian. “That’s my remark for the day,” she said. “Every day some patient makes a remark that becomes my remark for the day.”

But you see, how willing would we be to face the persecution? One thing Paul did when he was an unbeliever, he purified the church. I mean, only real believers were there when he finished. What I am trying to say is, we cannot afford to accept the standards of contemporary culture. And, this is not included in the question, do we really have standards? Do we? Ruth, to the best of her ability, set out some standards for Christian women. How many people really take that seriously today?

When I was a missionary of school work in Kenya, we had people there who were studying science and had never seen a railway engine. They had never eaten with a fork. So you’ve got this gap between their intellectual study and their lifestyle. As I considered that I said, “What can we really help these people with?” I came to the conclusion one thing we could do for them was give them standards, because they were really without any standards that applied in our contemporary world. I think standards are something tremendously important. That goes a little bit beyond.

QUESTIONWhat is the difference between explaining Scriptures while evangelizing and teaching?

ANSWER - DEREKI don’t see anything wrong in evangelism that’s teaching. I believe that’s not governmental teaching. I don’t know if I succeeded in communicating this distinction. I think it’s very real and very important. I think it’s perfectly in order for a woman to teach on such subjects as healing, or intercession, or sexual purity, or a whole host of other things. That is not exercising government. I think women are gifted evangelists, myself. I think the history of the church in the last hundred years proves it. I agree with what Ruth said that the Salvation Army made a big mistake when it gave women equal leadership roles with men. Because as a result it is almost inevitable you will get nearly all women. Men will look for some other place. Mind you, I respect the work that the Salvation Army does.

QUESTIONWhat’s the difference between teaching and preaching?

ANSWER - DEREKThat isn’t relevant. The question is what is the difference between teaching that implies governmental authority and that which does not?

QUESTIONDoes an evangelist preach and not teach? What about a woman pastor to women and children?

ANSWER - DEREKI think those are all irrelevant, if you can understand what I was trying to say. If you can’t I don’t blame you.

QUESTIONThe next part of the question, Is women Sunday School teachers to children, when is a boy a man?

ANSWER - DEREKI don’t think I have an answer to that.

QUESTIONCan women teach by writing a book?

ANSWER - DEREKI think that has already been answered.

QUESTIONWhy did Ruth teach the Bible stuff to the complete congregation?

ANSWER - DEREKRuth was not exercising governmental authority. I think she did a good job. God is a Spirit and He created man, male and female, in His image. He says, “Eternally, spiritually, there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free.” I don’t really see the connection between God being a Spirit and the second statement, because God created men and women who were not mere spirits. The statement, “...there is neither Greek or Jew, male or female, bond or free,” is found in Galatians. It’s the only one of those lists where it says, “...both neither male or female.” Other lists it says it says, “...neither bond or free, Greek not Scythian,” but it does not say male nor female. If you turn to that passage, the context makes the meaning clear. Galatians 3:26,

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. [Incidentally that means women are sons as much as men..] For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

To me, the issue is their inheritance. The difference is none. There is no difference in inheritance between Greeks or Jews, men or women, slaves or freemen. But to say there is no difference between male and female in any respect is to make nonsense of much of the rest of the New Testament. So we have to take one Scripture with another.

QUESTIONI understand submission, as we submit to God and to one another, but I don’t understand why women can’t teach or lead. I do understand the danger of Jezebel. [That’s good that she understands that. I hope we all do.]

ANSWER - DEREKI think it’s very interesting that where it speaks about submission and it must be in Ephesians. This goes a little bit beyond the topic, but if you turn to Ephesians 5 and start at verse 18,

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

This is a very interesting passage because it gives you the distinctive marks of people who are truly filled with the Holy Spirit. The first one is “...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” So a life on continual praise is a first proper outworking of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

The next verse says, “giving thanks always for all things...” The second mark of being filled with the Holy Spirit is being continually thankful. So let me pause for a moment and ask how many of you could honestly say, “Those are the indications in my life of being filled with the Holy Spirit? My life is a continual paean of praise, and I’m continually thankful. Remember every time you cease to be thankful you’re leaking out. Then the next thing is, “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” The third mark of being full of the Holy Spirit is submissiveness. But notice the first submission is one to another. So all of us need to be submissive to one another.

Then it goes on, “wives submit to your own husband,” but that’s the fourth mark. In other words, all of us as Christians should have a submissive attitude to one another. I may not succeed, but I seek to cultivate it. I know I have a strong personality. I’m senior in age. To a certain extent I could bulldoze my way through. I never want to do that. I am afraid of it. I’d rather go to the opposite extreme and back off rather than assert my authority. However, the first specific example of submissiveness is “wives to husbands.”

Let me relate a little story which is a rather good illustration of this. Years ago I was fellowshiping with a very well known Baptist preacher, whose name is well known today. He was at that time still pastoring a church, and I was invited by him to speak. I discovered there was considerable tension between him and his wife. The wife said, “One night in our bedroom we were having an argument, and he was saying, ‘You have to submit to me.’” She said, “Well, I’m not prepared to. You don’t have such a good record.”

She said at that point it was like a cold wind blew through their bedroom. The words came, “Submitting one to another in the fear of God.” You see, without the fear of God, it doesn’t work. This is an expression of the fear of God in a persons life. I think that’s all for that one.

QUESTIONShould women wear a head covering today? [From a single woman] - should I wear a head covering? I am willing.

ANSWER - RUTHMany of you who are part of Good News Church have heard my testimony already know that the reason I cover my head is because when I was a very young believer I was in a church. I was not under human authority, so I understood that Jesus was my Head until I found my place. I was in a Sunday morning meeting. I had just stood and given a prophetic word that God gave to me, and I sat there and as the pastor was teaching from 1Corinthians 10, my eye went across the page to 1Corinthians 11:5,

But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head,...”

I thought, “Oh, Lord Jesus, have I dishonored you by prophesying with my head uncovered?” I could not go back that evening to the service without getting something to cover my head, because I felt this so strongly that I needed to have my head covered. I studied the chapter there which Paul deals with that. Further on in verse 10, it says,

For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Today I wear the covering as a symbol that I’m under my husbands authority and this phrase, “...because of the angels.” I like to be in services where the angels come. I’ve heard them once or twice, and I would not want to do anything that would offend an angel. That’s one reason I cover my head. It says that woman is the glory of the man in verse 7. So that’s another reason that I want to be as much as I can, in Biblical authority.

Derek was asked this question when we were in Germany, where he had just made a statement in passing about women covering their heads. So when there was a question and answer session, they asked and Derek spoke at length on the subject. I hope he will do so tonight. But what I wanted to continue to say was that for a while I was in a church where the leader did not believe in women covering their heads. So had I covered my head I would have implied that I thought I knew better than he did and therefore, I would have been in rebellion. So I didn’t cover my head in that situation. But when Derek came into my life and when we realized that God was putting us together, I asked him, “How do you feel about head coverings?” And he said, “I believe the Bible means just what it says.” I said, “Thank God.”

I think I need to share a little bit about culture, because I grew up in a time before World War II as Derek mentioned last night when things were different. Women always wore hats. If I went shopping in the city I wore a hat. I would feel I was not complete without a hat. But I’ll go back even further. So much has changed in this century that those of you who are younger cannot really understand it. My mother first had her haircut about 1920, and she said she did it, she had four little children and women were then cutting their hair. She said she wept when she cut it because women did not cut their hair for all the centuries until the 20th century. Women did not go bare headed until the mid-twentieth century.

I was in the synagogue when the style was changed. When women stopped wearing hats. I remember very well coming in bare headed and the men who stood at the door to hand out the skull caps to the men, said to we women, “If you don’t wear a hat you can wear one of these.” Of course, we looked very silly, so we put our hats back on. Now I am sorry to say that that has changed in the synagogue today, or in much of the synagogue today, that they have also followed the world. But you see what has happened is the world’s styles, fashions have influenced the church and we women have gotten away from the standard of the Bible. I don’t think we have to look weird, but I think we can look nice with our heads covered whether it’s a hat or whether it’s something else.

ANSWER - DEREKI’d just like to go on from there. Paul says in the verse we’ve quoted, “Every woman praying or prophesying with their head uncovered dishonors her head.” When a woman prays she’s speaking to God. When a woman prophesies she’s speaking for God. So God has said, “When you speak to Me or when you speak for Me, I want you to have your head covered.”

Now you might say, “God, why?” I’m not sure that God is obligated to tell you why. Let me give you a little example. Every June the Queen of England has a garden party in Buckingham Palace and certain people are invited. It celebrates her birthday which is not in June. That’s irrelevant. Now, suppose you were invited to the Queen’s tea party and the invitation said ladies are requested to wear hats and not to wear pant suits. Would you say, “The Queen has got no right to tell me what I should wear.” I don’t believe anybody of you would go against that requirement. It would really be an insult to the person who invited you.

Well, God says, “If you pray to Me or prophesy from Me, I want your head covered.” Are we able to tell God, “God, I don’t agree with that. I think it’s out of date.” See, there’s very, very vital issue. The real basic question is your respect for God. Or do you think God has changed His mind. This is the cultural argument. Well culture has changed so we don’t have to do it. I don’t believe that. There’s no statement in 1Corinthians about culture. It’s not based on culture. It’s based on God’s requirements. I say let God be God.

I don’t want to appear one sided, but I think it’s a much more important issue than most contemporary Christians realize. The basic issue is our respect for God. You say, “Well, I don’t understand.” Well maybe you don’t understand why the Queen doesn’t want you to wear a pant suit, but if she doesn’t you won’t do it. If you respect the Queen of England how much more should you respect Almighty God? What Ruth says is perfectly true, is the church has changed fashions with the world. You don’t have to wear a hat. Ruth doesn’t wear a hat. I think she looks nice, personally. I don’t think she looks silly. In fact, to tell you the truth I think she looks nicer than a lot of women that don’t have their heads covered.

I’m inclined to think that one of the things that will really release the blessing of God into the church, is a respect for God that takes His word seriously. I’m not up tight about this. I’m a rather relaxed person about dress. As a matter of fact when I married Ruth our African daughter said to Ruth, “I hope you’ll do something about the way my father dresses.” So it isn’t a matter that I’m the old British stiff-upper-lip type, it’s a question of how seriously do I actually take the Scripture. I don’t think we can say more about that.

Well, let’s say it all while we are about it. Paul says a woman’s hair is her glory. Is that out of date? Is it said in a way that implies it only applied in the Roman Empire? There’s no suggestion about that. So you cut your hair. You know what you are doing? You are cutting off your glory. I’m not saying how long hair should be, but I’m saying bear in mind, your hair is your glory. I tell you, I’m being very frank, it costs Ruth quite a lot of labor to keep her hair long. It’s more bother to wash it. It’s more bother to take care of it. It takes more time and more effort. Why does she do it? Because it’s her glory. It’s interesting when she goes to have her hair cut or trimmed or whatever. Both in Israel and here in Fort Lauderdale, she goes to a very high class hair dresser. In fact the one who does our hair, does mine too, used to be a top hair dresser for Elizabeth Arden. He does it now as a favor to us. He’s formed a relationship with us. And each of them when they look at Ruth say, “Thank God for a woman that isn’t a carbon copy of every other woman.” Okay? Now keep on loving us.

QUESTIONThis is from the same person, the single person, I think. She says, how can I know that I am under divine authority? Maybe I am not in the local body where He wants me to be.

ANSWER - RUTHHow can you know that you are under divine authority? I think you have to take a step to put yourself under authority. You have to say to a home group leader or to a pastor, I would like to be under authority, and let them show you what you need to do from there on. Then she says, maybe I’m not in the local body where He wants me to be. Ask God to place you where He wants you. He will. If you are sensitive to Him and willing, you may have to visit a few places, but He will show you.

QUESTIONWhat could I do to help working wives?

ANSWER - RUTHI don’t know anything about this person, what she might be able to do. But I can think of things people can do to help working wives. They can offer to grocery shop for them. They can help them, if they have time, perhaps give them some help with their children after school. Perhaps there are errands they can do for them that people who are home in the daytime are able to do. If you sincerely want to help working wives and single mothers, there are things to do. Don’t just say, “If there’s anything I can do let me know,” because they will never let you know. But what you have to do is offer to do something specific, and take it from there.

I think I’ll just mention one thing that comes to mind. A woman in Jerusalem, who is a good friend of mine, told me how God spoke to her two years ago, a little more than two years ago I guess. She said she woke up one morning and my face was right before her. God said to her, “Be her friend.” She said and I’m sorry she thought this way but she said, “But she’s Derek Prince’s wife, how can I be her friend.” In other words, she didn’t think she qualified, which is unfortunate if she had that impression. That evening she met us somewhere and we were just in the process of moving out of our house and into an apartment. She just came to me as we were leaving and she said, “Is there anything I can do to help you, Ruth?” She said, “You pulled out your organizer, looked at it and said can you be at such and such a place tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock for me?” She said, “Of course.” And she went. Today she really is my friend and she does a lot of things for me—small things—that are really important. So just be sensitive to the Lord and He’ll show you whom you can help and He’ll show you the things you can do.

ANSWER - DEREKI think I’d like to add to that something that I wish I had said more fully on the original tape was there is a desperate need in the body of Christ for helpers. Ruth and I are often handicapped by the fact that we do not have the people we need to help us. Actually, I just sent out a message to our main co-workers saying, “Please pray, because unless we get suitable help, Ruth’s health is breaking down.” I can’t express the gratitude we have for people who’ve been our helpers, and are our helpers. They’ve got just as much share in our ministry as we have. Because without them we couldn’t do it.

One thing we really didn’t speak very much about is opportunities for single women. But if I were a single woman, which I’m not, I think I would say, “God, is there someone in your service to whom I can be a helper? If so, please show me.” Sometimes I actually cry because of our desperate need for helpers. Every other person wants their own ministry. They want to have a name, a label. I tell you, without the helpers that God has put in the body of Christ, nameless unknown persons, namely women but not only women, if they were withdrawn the whole work of God would grind to a standstill in 24 hours. They are absolutely essential. One of the evils of the present culture is that people are given the impression that. “If I’m a servant I’m inferior. I’m second class. I ought to be doing my own thing. I ought to be making my own career.” It’s a deception of Satan.

I just want to say, any of you who feel you’re unfulfilled, you don’t really know if you are doing the right thing, ask God. Say, “God, I’m willing to be a helper in a ministry somewhere if You will show me where. I don’t want the glory. I don’t my name in the headlines. I just want to be useful somewhere in the body of Christ.” Amen?

QUESTION- (RUTH)You’ve answered another question here, because this one was how do women find their calling, and you have just said, “Cry out to God to show you what your calling is.”

ANSWER - DEREKAnd I would add, obey the Scripture anywhere it applies in your life. One step of obedience will lead to the next. But if you are not already obeying what God has already shown you in His word, He won’t show you any more.

ANSWER - RUTHAlso make your availability known to the leadership of the church of which you are a part. Maybe they will help you find your calling.

QUESTIONA lot of emphasis is put on higher education and careers for young girls, by society and the church. Should we be instead preparing them and stressing marriage and motherhood?

ANSWER - RUTHThat’s a very difficult question because in the present society, so many single women have to support themselves. So it is necessary to have higher education and a career. As Derek has said we live in an imperfect world. We live in a fall world and imperfect society. The second part of the question is “Should we be instead preparing them for and stressing marriage and motherhood?” I would like to say that I think it’s essential that marriage and motherhood be stressed first. After that higher education. But I think girls ought to grow up to know that their first preferred calling would be marriage and motherhood. It may be that they will end in a career also.

ANSWER - DEREKI want to add to that. As Ruth mentioned sometime recently, we were in the “Fast and Pray - 1996 Conference” in St. Louis, and we heard a number of remarkably powerful speakers. One of them was the head, or the former head, of a very well-known Christian College. If I mentioned the name you would all know it. He said, over the years, and most of the people that are sent there are sent by Christian parents. He said, “Over the years I’ve often asked my students, have your parents ever told you that the most important thing is life is to serve Jesus Christ.” He said, “I’ve never had a student whose parents said that.” In other words parents, what are you directing your children to? Are you giving them unbiblical standards? It’s more important to be a lawyer then to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t mean that lawyers can’t. But what priorities are you instilling in your children or your grandchildren. That has really shaken me, that statement. I ask many of you here, what impression are you giving to your children growing up? What is the first priority in life? What should they direct themselves to?

QUESTIONThere is a Scripture in Isaiah that says, “Men give not your strength to women.” I’d love to hear you elaborate on the meaning.

ANSWER - DEREKWell, I think that is—well I’ve never thought about it—but when a man lets himself be manipulated or controlled by a woman. You know, after this I won’t be popular, but one main way that women seek to control men is by the way they feed them. There is a certain manipulation in providing food. I can think of men I know whose lives, who went through terrible problems in their lives because their mothers trained them to eat too much. “Eat it up. Eat everything that’s on the plate.” They were slaves to gluttony for years. The desire to control people is not a Biblical desire in that sense. So anything we use to gain control of people is probably wrong.

QUESTIONWhat do you make of the Scripture in Jeremiah 31:22, “The Lord will create a new thing on earth, a woman will surround a man.”

ANSWER - DEREKI have preached on that particular Scripture in Israel in the presence of people whose first language was Hebrew. I’ve said that to me it suggests the incarnation. A woman will compass a man. The word for man there is not the usual word. It means a man of distinction. A significant man. I’ve had no adverse reaction to that teaching. So I am no expert in Hebrew, but I still think it probably means the incarnation—a woman compassing a man. Which certainly was a new thing. It never happened before. I’m not saying my interpretation is necessarily correct, but it does make sense.

QUESTIONIn Genesis 3:16 where God states that “From now on women’s desire will be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” This implies that before this curse was placed on woman for disobedience, her relationship with God was different or God would not have made that statement. We must look into what was woman’s role and relationship with God before this curse came upon her. What was her role originally meant to be?

ANSWER - RUTHI thought about this a lot. Why did God create people at all? And I came to the conclusion that He wanted fellowship. He wanted people in His own image and likeness that could think, and reason, and have emotions, and relate to Him. I believe that He wanted to have fellowship with man and woman together. Because if we look at what happened when they sinned and hid, He came walking in the garden and apparently that was His custom. And He called out to Adam and said, “Where are you?” I would imagine He would have probably called man because man was the head. But the next part it was obvious the woman was right there because she explained why she had eaten the fruit. So I think God really wanted fellowship, and I think that was His original intention. Also it says in Genesis 1:26, that He created them male and female, and gave them to rule over the earth.

ANSWER - DEREKIt implies that before her disobedience their relationship with God was different. That’s true and I agree with what Ruth said. It seems to me it also implies that there may have been a different relationship between Adam and Eve. But we are not told what it was. We’re simply told that they were to rule. To me this is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ ruling in eternity with His bride, the church. I don’t think we can go beyond that because we don’t have sufficient basic Scriptures.

QUESTIONWhat if a married couple does not agree about tithing? The husband gives in the offering, but does not want to tithe, or his wife to tithe. Should she tithe anyway?

ANSWER - DEREKThat’s quite a common question. It’s interesting to know, or it would be interesting to know, how they arrived in that situation. Because if they followed the Biblical pattern of marriage they wouldn’t end up in that situation. But in the circumstances, I would say that if the husband does not want the wife to tithe, and the income is the husband’s, she should not tithe. If she has income of her own, it would be probably more in order for her to tithe from her own income.

QUESTIONIf a Christian husband needs deliverance, what can a wife do using a quiet and gentle spirit to get him to that place?

ANSWER - DEREKJust keep on, I think is the answer to that. There’s no time limit set. It doesn’t say if you are a model wife for five years, that at the end of that you can be sure your husband will come around. Sometimes there’s no time limit set. But after all it’s much better to be a quiet and gentle wife whether your husband comes around or not. I don’t believe we have any absolute time limit set on getting answers to our prayers.

You’ve heard of George Mueller, the head of the Bristol Orphanages in the last century? He was a man of persistent regular prayer. He prayed for 50 years for two men to get saved. When he died, neither of them had been saved. After he died, both of them were saved. But he prayed 50 years. Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray and never to give up.” If you’ve prayed six years and it hasn’t come. There’s two reactions. You can say, “Well, obviously God isn’t going to do it.” Or you can say, “My answer is six years nearer than when I started to pray.” The first case you are praying out of unbelief. Second case you are praying out of faith.

QUESTIONWe have two more questions which are not directly related to the afternoons sessions, but they are important. What about the plague of domestic violence, particularly spouse abuse? What is God’s solution?

ANSWER - DEREKWell, those of you who were here last night, I think it’s simply a specific example of what I preached from 2 Timothy chapter 3, “In the last days there will be fierce times.” It’s part of the situation we have to live with. We don’t have the details of the situation, we just know it’s one of the things we have to face.

QUESTIONDerek, could you please give us your Biblical opinion of Promise Keepers.

ANSWER - DEREKI have to say, I’m not well informed on current situations in the United States, because I spend relatively little of my time here. The main part of my ministry at this present time is in other nations. But from what I have heard about the Promise Keepers, I would say thank God for them. I would say particularly to the women, you better thank God for the Promise Keepers. For every one movement or organization that reaches men, there are about ten in this country that reach women. I’m a little bit tired of women’s conferences. I don’t go to them obviously. I don’t even speak at them. But you can, if you read the periodicals you’ll find they’re advertised month after month after month. I always wonder what you have to do when there are two such important conferences you can’t afford to miss, either of them, and they’re both at the same time. I never have found a solution to that. But, as far as I understand the situation in America, Promise Keepers is one of the most hopeful things that’s come along to adjust the imbalance in the church between men and women. May God bless them, encourage them and help them.

So let me quote with a little Scripture to encourage you, “The race is not for the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

So God bless you. You’ve endured.

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