Church of Christ
Mission USA

As The Young Men Rejoiced, The Old Men Wept

(women speaking out in worship)

by Perry Sexton

         The preparation and building of the first temple is recorded in 1 Chronicles 28; 1 Kings 5:1ff, etc.  It was truly a great and beautiful building (Isa. 64:11), but after about 400 years it was destroyed.  And now we come to the building of the second temple and read this of that occasion: “But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house [temple], when the foundation of this house [temple] was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:” (Ezra 3:12).  Those who had seen the glory of the first temple wept upon the occasion of the laying of the foundation of the second temple, because in comparison to the first temple the second was “as nothing” (Hag 2:3).  Those who rejoiced had not seen the first and therefore did not know any better: they did not know of the glory of the first temple.

         A lot of changes have taken place in our country and in the world in the past 40 years or so.  Some good changes and some bad changes: I think anyone with godly morals will attest to the fact that there has been a great moral decay.  The sad thing is the younger generation does not perceive this as the older do.  Now I speak only of the older who have godly morals.  Many of the older have helped bring about the moral disintegration and rejoice in it. Surely much of the blame of the decay of the country can be placed on the shoulders of the church.  One way is by the church and its members not speaking out as we ought.  The church can do much to save the nation from moral decay, but not when the church joins the world.  Think about the worldliness (immoral speech, dress, etc.) of some church members; the apathy; members of the church voting with greed as the motive and not godly morals, etc.  All of this is contrary to God’s Word!

         We can see a lot of changes have taken place in the church in the past 40 years or so.  Some good changes and some bad changes: I think any member who has been in the church for many years and with godly morals (if they are truly a Christian there is no question about their morals) will attest to the fact that there has been a great decay in many places.  Many of the older have helped bring about the evil changes and rejoice in it.  Some entire congregations have abandoned the faith.  Others have taken on denominational and worldly practices to varying degrees.  Of course, a lot depends on where one attends as to what they have seen and do see. 

         Let me give just a few statements from others.  About two years ago I was visiting at a congregation and preached; after services a visiting member from another congregation whispered in my ear, and with tears in his eyes said he had not heard preaching like that in twenty years.  Well, that is a shame because I believe I preach doctrinally sound lessons, and yes I preach doctrine (2 John 9).  I know many, even in the church, do not like doctrinal sermons (cp. 2 Tim. 4:2ff), but that is not my fault!  I wish all had a hunger and thirst for God’s complete Word (cp. Acts 20:26,27).  Just a few weeks ago I heard an older brother (not a preacher) make a short talk about the fact that doctrine is not being taught much in the church as it once was, and that we (in many places) have gotten more like the denominations in wanting to please the people.  And therefore our people know very little Bible, especially doctrine.  I full well agree.  What has happened to wanting to please God???

         In fact, I have run into long time members of the church who did not know on which day we are to worship (Saturday or Sunday), and other members who do not understand why we worship on Sunday.  I wonder how many can give the plan of salvation with book, chapter, and verse.  Brethren, there needs to be a great revival in the church.  Preachers need to fear God more than losing their jobs!!!  God has not changed and neither has His Word!!!  Yet there are many preachers who will not preach the whole council of God (cp. Acts 20:26,27).  I have heard others speak of the ungodly dress of church members in public, casual dress for worship, the lack of order in worship, lack of reverence, etc. and I have seen much myself.  But let us remember, we all shall give account unto God (Rom. 14:12; 11:22)!

         A lot of the younger generation, who perhaps have not known better, think everything is fine because they have not seen how it should be and have not been taught.  This is true with the nation as well as the church.  More and more congregations are taking on denominational practices and perhaps do not even know it, but they should know it is not according to book, chapter, and verse (BCV).  I suspect that some of it comes by “converting” denominational people and then they introduce a “new thing or things” (maybe perfectly innocent themselves not knowing better) and some of us, not wanting to offend them (it seems no thought is given to offending God) go along with the “thing(s).”  After all, we do not want to be “nitpickers.”  What should happen is that we teach the new convert why we must not do certain things, not join him in his error!  One main problem, however, is the age old problem of wanting to be like the nations about us.  Many in the church have no idea what that is in reference to because they have not heard those great lessons of old which are for our learning (Rom. 15:4).

         One growing problem which I have seen in the past few years is women speaking up during worship.  I am sure this is done in innocency.  I do not believe they do so to be disobedient or rebellious to God.  This is done during worship whenever the preacher (and others) addresses the audience in such a manner as to encourage a response.  The worship service is in progress: songs have been led and a prayer(s) has been addressed to God; perhaps other acts of worship have taken place such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  Then the speaker gets up and greets the audience in such a manner as indicating he wants a response, and the audience (including women) responds with a reciprocal greeting.  Did the women speak?  Yes.  Was it during worship?  Yes.  Do we have any word from the Lord on this matter?  Yes, 2 Timothy 2:11,12.  It is just that simple!  And it is a matter of attitude toward God and His Word!  Is this greeting and response of the “old paths”?  If so, where is BCV?

         Furthermore, in worship: 1) Do we have a command or a statement approving reciprocal greetings?  2) Has God implied such?  3) Do we have an example to do such?  On all three accounts, I know of none.  Brethren, we have just covered the three areas of how God authorizes.  Let us never forget Colossians 3:17.  Let us hold on to the old truth, which is the good way: that we must have authority for everything we do in religion.  I know this is not very popular with some (perhaps many) in the church, but I would rather have favor of the Lord.

         Are reciprocal greetings according to “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40)?  “Decently” has to do with decorous which is “characterized by propriety and dignity and good taste in manners and conduct” and “correct or appropriate behavior.”  “Order” has to do with “official dignity” (see addendum).  Do we come to worship to please one another? to entertain one another?  Do the mutual greetings fit what God wants (see paragraph above)?  Consider this: During worship the preacher greets the congregation and the congregation answers back.  Can the song leader do the same?  Yes, if the preacher can; and some song leaders do.  Can the ones offering prayer do the reciprocal greeting?  Can the ones serving the Lord’s Supper do the same?  What about the ones taking up the collection?  Brethren, if one can with God’s approval, then they all can.  In fact, why could not every member stand up one by one and do the same?  If you say no to this you say no to all.  We must not forget the purpose for which we are to assemble ourselves together: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  Where in the book of truth is this mutual greeting during worship to be found?  It is not there, it originated with the denominations not the “old paths.”

         Brethren, there are many other things that could be brought up concerning this matter, but I believe this will suffice for those who truly want to be careful to do all things according to the Father’s will.  Two noteworthy things: 1) Some women I have spoken to about this admitted they had never thought of it as not being silent.  I am sure most don’t and they need to be made aware of it, kindly.  2) I know of one congregation which stopped this practice because they were made aware of it by some speaking out against it.  You also can make a difference in preserving the old paths if you will.

         No, the younger generation has not seen the way it should be (who are not of a truly sound congregation), but they can know by book, chapter, and verse.  By divine edict it is in order for us all to examine all that we do in worship and the authority behind it (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21).  There are many among us who want to change the “old paths” (Jer. 6:16,17) of God and be like the denominations about them.  Let it never be so with us.  “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psa. 89:7).  Let us remember this and a host of other Scriptures from God when we assemble ourselves together in His name.  ♥


         After I finished this article I was looking at the beautiful pictures in an old “Country Extra” magazine and read a story of an author when she was a little girl and went with her daddy to the “sale barn.”  I had to add her statement to this article: “You didn’t go into the sale barn and start yelling and hollering wildly.  You conducted yourself quietly and in a dignified manner.”  Brethren, compare that to some Wednesday night “song services” and other meetings of the church in some places.  Read again Psalm 89:7.    {see “Some Sound Reminders” in bulletin 1-2010 for more}
 2010, 1 SW   Some Sound Reminders