Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. And a woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
1 Timothy 2:9-15
Yesterday I worked a half day starting at 7:20 am. Given the choice, I would like to start working at 7:00 every day, and get off by 4:00 or earlier. Anyway, I got out of work at 11:30, leaving me the rest of the day to enjoy. My major errand involved loading my bike into the car and hustling it off to the bike shop to have the shifting system readjusted, since lately shifting has proved difficult. Also my bike occasionally gets into its head to downshift on the front gears for no reason, but it refuses to shift back up afterwards. So I wrestled my bike into the car through driving rain, only to arrive at 12:30 at the bike place and find a sign telling me they would be closed until 1:15. Fortunately, my new favorite bookstore, Bearly Read Books, is a short hop back down Route 20.
I love Bearly Read Books for this reason: When I walked in, two college-age looking people in long velvet cloaks stood at the counter talking with the proprietor. When the left, I went up and told her, “I need a book. I have eclectic taste, but lately I’ve been bogged down in bad fantasy. I’m looking for something well written.” She pulled out The Time Traveler’s Wife. I started it while waiting for the bike shop to open, and wow. Compelling.
Discussion of Day’s VerseSometimes I hate being a Christian and a woman, both. Let me clarify, before you get the wrong idea: I love God, and my relationship with Jesus Christ forms the basis for who I am. Likewise, I rarely think about my gender; I received life with two X chromosomes, and I take the good and the bad together without too much complaining. Until Christianity starts apparently conflicting with what women can—and, I think, should—do with their abilities.
For a modern girl, the phrases “entire submissiveness,” “do not allow a woman to teach…over a man,” and “women will be preserved through the bearing of children,” sound almost insane. Surely Paul can’t mean what he’s saying? Surely we can pass over this section as much as we do the instruction for women to avoid gold or pearls. Yet as Dave pointed out, male leaders absolutely dominate in the Bible, with the occasional woman thrown in as a remarkable anomaly. Jesus chose twelve male apostles, and it doesn’t seem he aimed at credibility in choosing those—he picked unpopular people, tax collectors and fishermen, not men with power or authority. He could as easily, perhaps, have chosen six men and six women to show that men and women have equal authority in the church. Why does God fill the Bible with examples of men leading if He intends women to play an equal role in the church?
I started to write a long, thoughtful blog about the role women should play in the church, but somehow it petered out. After three hours of discussing that very topic with Dave and Sharron Smith last night, I have little oomph left right now, although I still think the topic deserves discussion and thought. Basically, despite the above verse, I see no reason why women should not serve as lead pastors, or in roles over men, in churches. If God has given a woman the ability to lead in that way, why should we stifle that ability by insisting she remain in a submissive role? In short, if God has filled women with the same Holy Spirit and the same gifts as men, why should the church restrict its leadership to only males? In short, are women human and created in God’s image? Does He give women gifts, even gifts of leadership over men and women both, and intend for women to use those gifts? Then why should they not use them despite this passage in 1 Timothy?
I step onto that slippery slope and say that Paul wrote for an audience in which women had no education and would only lead people astray by taking a leadership role; on top of which, women in leadership in that culture would have repelled more people than drawn them. Today women can receive a full education and lead as well as men. Christians are wrong when they do so.