“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” Now the Corinthians were not the only people in the world who had descended from Adam and Eve. All nations, kindreds, tongues and tribes have descended from Adam and Eve. I trust that the people of Atlanta, and especially the members of the First Baptist Church, have not ceased to believe that even they are descendants of Adam and Eve. I entreat these female apostles of the new Gospel and new dispensation to permit us to hold on to that much of the old Bible.
If we have descended from Adam and Eve, then Paul’s law forbidding women to speak before mixed assemblies was not local, and is binding on the women of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta.
“Adam was first formed.” The man was formed out of the dust of the earth. The woman was formed out of the man. She was formed for him, for his help and companionship. Here lies the strength of the reason which the apostle gives for the divine law that the woman shall be in subjection to the man. She is to be in subjection to the man not so much because she was made after the man, for she and the man were both created after the beasts of the field, but because she was made out of the man and for him.
So the woman’s subjection to the man is according to the laws of nature and creation.
Now, Paul says that when a woman goes into a church and teaches or preaches in the presence of men, she reverses God’s order and violates the laws of her own nature and creation. “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man.” Teaching implies authority over those who are taught, and as a woman has not, according to God’s economy, authority over man, she is not permitted to stand up in a public assembly and teach him. God knows that millions of women have the ability to teach men; but he does not permit them to do it, at least in a public way, because it has the appearance of authority.
The second reason which Paul had for prohibiting women from speaking in mixed assemblies was “That Adam was not deceived: but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” If that was a sufficient reason for not permitting women to speak in the church in Corinth, it is a sufficient reason for the same regulation in the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. The women to whom I speak to-day are just as much involved in the consequences of Eve’s conduct as the women to whom Paul spoke and wrote.
“Our mother took the poisonous cup and tainted all our blood.”
“Adam was not deceived.” This positive assertion is to be taken without any limitations or qualifications. Adam was not deceived at all. He was not deceived by the serpent with whom he had not talked, nor was he deceived by his wife. He knew what he was doing. He knew what would be the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit. He understood God’s law. He knew that the violation of it would bring death to him, to Eve, and all their countless posterity. He ate because his wife had eaten it and become mortal, and he loved her so well that he would rather die with her than be left alone in the world.
Inasmuch as he sinned wilfully, and against light and knowledge, without any deception, his sin was greater than hers and his punishment more severe.
But the woman was deceived. She really thought the serpent spoke the truth, and that she and her husband should not die if they ate of the fruit.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not die: for God doth know that in the day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” That was what caught the dear woman. She wanted to know as much as God, so that she might be independent of him. That was what caught her, and there she has shown her weakness ever since. She wants to know too much. She is restive under a sense of her inferiority to any one. Out of this natural weakness grows her insubordination to Paul.
She was caught not only by what she heard, but by what she saw. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof and did eat.”
When a woman looks upon a thing and is pleased with it, charmed by it, she believes it to be right, no matter what the authorities say about it. Bear with me gentle sisters while I suggest some of the natural infirmities of your sex. The infirmities of your brothers are much more serious.
In these latter days, when, according to prophecy, all manner of strange things must occur, it has appeared unto some women that it would be pleasant and beautiful for them to step out of their divinely appointed sphere, and do some of the things which God has committed solely to the hands of men. Some invisible artist has set before their mind’s eye pictures of women in the pulpit, women on the rostrum, women at the ballot-box, women on the judge's bench, and women in the halls of congress.
These pictures have charmed them, bewitched them, and thus deceived, they have reached the conclusion that the Bible and God's order need amendment: and one of the amendments which they propose is, to strike out from the Divine Book Paul's words forbidding a woman to speak in the church.
Paul bases this law upon the fact that the man was not deceived but the woman was deceived. Well, what has that to do with a woman's preaching? It has a great deal to do with it. Basing his prohibitory law upon the fact that she was deceived, he means that a creature who can be made to believe that a law signifies something radically different from its obvious meaning, or that it is wise and good in some things to disobey the Almighty, cannot be safely intrusted with the office of the Christian ministry.
The danger is that she will misconstrue God’s revealed will, or set it aside altogether where it does not harmonize with her feelings and ambitions. It was one of the old Rabbinnical sayings, “Burn the Book of Law rather than put it into the hands of a woman.”
There were three parties concerned in the first transgression—the Serpent, Adam, and Eve. They were all punished, but not in the same way, nor in the same degree.
God said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed. * * * Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life; and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The curse that God put upon the serpent in the garden of Eden is upon him to-day, and will continue with him to the end of time.
“Upon thy belly thou shalt go.” For six thousand years that has been his only method of locomotion, and he can never go in any other way.
The enmity which God put between the serpent and man in the garden lives to this day, and will live unto the end of the world. The serpent hates man, and it is a human instinct everywhere to hate and to war against the serpent.
The perpetuation of this curse upon the serpent is one of God's living witnesses to the fall of man.
God said to Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it’; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. * * * In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” That was God's curse upon man. It has never been removed. It remains with him to remind him that his first parents fell from a state of innocence.
God said unto the woman, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
That was God’s punishment of woman for the part that she took in the first transgression. Has it been removed? Is it not just as real to-day as it was thousands of years ago? It remains, and will remain till the end of time, to remind woman how the devil beguiled her and robbed her of her innocence.
Now Paul says that his law forbidding women publicly to teach men, is based upon the sentence which God pronounced against woman in the garden. Has that sentence been revoked? I understand that some of our female evangelists and apostles say that it has been revoked. If it has been annulled, who did it, and when and where was it done?
The curse upon the serpent remains. The curse upon man continues. Why should woman’s curse be removed?
What evidence have we that the disabilities imposed upon her in Eden have been cancelled? The Bible contains no such doctrine. Jesus Christ and his apostles did not teach it. Woman's sorrow has not been removed, and the law putting her in subjection to man has never been repealed.
Under the old Jewish dispensation there were no female priests, and women were not allowed to speak in the synagogue in any capacity. Christ did not interfere with this regulation. In organizing his own dispensation he said nothing, and he did nothing to warrant a departure from the Jewish doctrines and practices in reference to women. He chose twelve apostles. There was not a woman among them. Among the seventy whom he commissioned to preach there was not a woman.