1 Timothy 2:11-15 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (NKJV)
I had a psychotic episode yesterday and answered the question, again, about whether or not women should be Pastors, Elders, etc and hold positions of church leadership that include authority over the men. Well, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; or the father of daughters and granddaughters who are scorned; or husbands married to women who are scorned… or anyone who knows a woman who “God has called” to be a [pastor, elder, apostle, deacon, evangelist, preacher, ________] who thinks they’ve been scorned.
More than a few readers discontinued their free subscription to my daily message yesterday and probably more will join them today. The common thread in the fiery responses were:
- That’s just your interpretation
- You’re ignoring the Old Testament where there were woman judges and prophets
- It doesn’t matter what you or I think if a woman is “called” by God to be in authority and leadership
- It was a cultural directive not meant for today
- You are the typical male evangelical zealot that wants to devalue, degrade or otherwise step on the neck of women because you love being the “ruler”
Let me try to give a reasoned response to each of these but before I do, let me state categorically that I’m NOT trying to, nor doubt that I WILL, change anyone’s mind. This is one of those “get thee away from me O Truth” issues… it’s feelings and political correctness that matter. So I offer this response more for my own spiritual exercise, for the benefit of those who might want to know how to answer these objections, and for the miniscule chance that someone whose “mind is made up” might decide that the Bible is our authority – not our feelings and opinions.
That’s Just Your Interpretation
Okay, lets see how many ways this can be interpreted: “…I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man..“. Why is this instruction given? “… so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God…” (1 Tim 2.12; 3.15)
I am the first person to say that “the Bible interprets Itself”. Unless there is some other portion of Scripture that negates the obvious, or redirects us to an alternative conclusion, it’s a little hard to “interpret” this command in any other way except what it obviously says. Many people say that because of the Old Testament, there IS other Scripture that affects the interpretation. So that brings us to the next point.
You Are Ignoring the Old Testament
The logic goes like this: “there were women judges and prophets in the Old Testament; these woman had authority over all Israel; so obviously it’s okay with God for this to occur.” To which I would respond, under the Old Covenant, you are exactly right. Does this mean I’m picking and choosing which parts that suit my “interpretation”? Hardly. It is those who propose the “what about the Old Testament?” argument that are not being consistent because we could rattle off dozens and dozens of things that are “different” in the New Testament compared to the Old: sacrifices, the priesthood, feasts, Levitical law, gentiles in God’s family, just to name a few.
When Jesus, Paul or the Apostles give us a commandment or directive, we cannot go to the Old Testament, find something contrary, and say “they must have meant something other than the obvious, because God (dis)allowed it before Christ.” That we are under a NEW covenant and new instruction is a basic understanding. For those who still want to do the Old Testament comparison, they are being logically hypocritical if they do not follow ALL THE OLD TESTAMENT, rather than just picking out parts that suit an argument. Either you believe ALL the Old Testament is still applicable in principle and practice, or none; we can’t pick and choose. As for me, I will accept Paul’s words that we are under a new age of grace.
Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
Hebrews 8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
It Doesn’t Matter What You or I Think If a Woman Is Called By God
The first part is exactly correct. It doesn’t matter what you or I think. It matters what God thinks and has commanded. However, the last part of that statement effectively says, “it doesn’t matter what you or I think, it matters what a women thinks who thinks she has been called by God to be something that God has said she cannot be.”
First, there is no Scriptural or definable method to determine who is “called” by God to spiritual leadership or authority today. We do not Apostolic authentication or appointment like the Paul and the Apostles. In reality, what we mean by “calling” is that we feel in our hearts that God is leading us to a certain effort, gift or ministry. This feeling may often be correct, but we do ourselves no favors by treating it as MORE than what it really is because there is no “calling” as such anymore in the same manifestation of how David was called to be King, or Paul was called to be an Apostle.
Most of the time this “calling” is only borne out and verified AFTER faithfulness to that calling has been demonstrated for a period of time. I cannot count the number of people who have told me they were “called by God” for this or that (usually something public and exciting like a preacher or singer; very few ever tell me they felt “called” to humbly and quietly serve the poor or needy of the church until after they have done it for a quite a while) only to find later that it didn’t “work out”.
This “calling” is effectively nothing more than FEELING (from God or not) until it is instantiated by providential opportunity, and substantiated by faithfulness and humility. Do I believe in God “calling” us to ministry, service and leadership? Absolutely. But again, it is not a verified calling unless 1) it is Scriptural, and 2) it is authenticated by faithful obedience to it.
God’s Word is still true even if there is not
one single person in the world who believes it.
What’s more, it is categorically foolish and illogical to believe that God would “call” anyone to something He has said they should not, or cannot do. It doesn’t matter if the ENTIRE world says that something is “okay” or “unfair”… God’s Word is true even if no one believes it.
It Was a Cultural Directive Not Meant For Today
There are things in the Scripture that were cultural such as the “holy kiss” or the head covering. It certainly takes great discernment to determine the difference. Even so, I don’t have a problem with people who still want to practice any cultural directives if they do so with a clear conscience. If there was only this one passage to consider (1Tim 2.11-15) and nothing else, then it might be just cultural. But consider the very next verse:
1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (NKJV)
That certainly takes it OUT of cultural context. Paul is saying in effect, “I write this to you because of something that started all the way back with Adam and Eve.” It’s not cultural. It transcends culture. It is something that deals with all humanity starting in the Garden of Eden. What’s more, other patterns in Scripture speak to the issue: Christ is head of the Bride; the husband is given responsibility and authority over the wife. It applies to much more than a simple cultural circumstance of that era. Which brings us to our last point….
You’re Trying to Devalue, Degrade or Rule Over Women
The common response is that anytime we talk about authority or submission and the “female question” in Christianity, it’s just a bunch of uptight men who are scared that women might be better than them. This betrays a total lack of understanding about the ENTIRE issue. It is further proposed that men who preach Biblical submission do so in condescension and seek to relegate women to second class status (de-value them).
We are not talking about VALUE,
We are talking about ROLES
The need for roles started with creation of man and woman and was determined by God Himself much to the chagrin of Rosie, Hillary, Gloria and Hollywood:
Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (NKJV)
Things were PERFECT at that point as man and woman lived in perfect love and fellowship with each other and with God. Then Adam and Eve sinned (men, note that Eve was deceived while Adam willfully sinned). That introduced the sin-curse into humanity and forever inflamed the evil TENDENCIES of men and women among which were man’s tendency to rule and dominate without compassion, and woman’s tendency to control and usurp authority (meaning to gain more and more control, ironically proven by the very presence of this debate). That these tendencies are true are evident even to the unspiritual (don’t believe me? listen to any stand up comic talk about marriage).
So God gave us ROLES to help us restore some of the lost fellowship, and to protect us from our natural sinful tendencies. Men are commanded to rule with compassion, humility and self-sacrifice protecting them from becoming overbearing dictators because of their physical strength (notice that in most unGodly cultures women truly ARE “second class”)and lack of sensitivity. Women are commanded to be submissive, and excluded from certain leadership ROLES to counteract their tendency to control and usurp authority. These are not the sole reasons, but part of the overall picture.
In the long run, it is simply the consistent picture of Scripture that God ordained men to the leadership ROLES.
Notice I keep putting ROLES in upper case. It’s because it has NOTHING to do with the VALUE of a person. By accepting our ROLES, we obey God and we help ourselves deal with our natural tendencies of sin. It has nothing to do with VALUE or saying that women “aren’t good enough” or “are not capable” of serving in these roles. It has nothing to do with value, capability or class. It has to do with arranging things the way God has commanded, and the way God knows is best.
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Most people reduce this question of women’s roles to one of feelings, politics, gender warfare or value of the person. These are all straw men that ignore the real issue: obedience. God knows what is best for us and He has clearly answered this question. We are most blessed to simply trust God’s Word and His love for us. God has determined roles for us that best fit our gender, help us deal with our sin nature, and give us the most healthy relationships possible. He VALUES us all equally which is why He gave us the ROLES He knows are best.
Before going, I’d like to say ‘goodbye and bless you’ to all the readers who will stop reading my daily message after today. It is only my intention to teach God’s Word as I honestly understand it. Would you have me rather violate my conscience in order to teach something more popular? That would make the rest of my teaching worthless.
Lord God, help us to simply obey with a clear conscience what we read in Scripture, even when it doesn’t fit our feelings or society. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: It’s not about value, it’s about roles. It’s not about capability, it’s about obedience. It not about feelings, it’s about accepting God’s plan as better than ours. The simple fact that we fight against the roles God determined for us proves the very reason why God implemented them.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?