From the mailbox: “Just wanted to say thank you for your article on 1 Timothy 2. It was a great reference for me as my 13 yr old daughter asked me about it when she read it during her devotions. I was not sure how to respond to her until I found your article. Thank you!” God Bless, Brian. As long as 1 Timothy 2 continues to be used to restrict women from fulfilling their call to discipleship we will continue sharing good scholarship on this passage. Today’s “long form” post is by seminary professor Patrick Franklin. In it he identifies 3 general reasons and 6 specific problems with using the passage in this way. This is our most comprehensive post on 1 Timothy 2 to date – be sure to bookmark it for further reference.
They are the verses of Scripture used most frequently to silence women in the church: 1 Timothy 2:11-12. I remember reading them as a 26-year-old when first contemplating my call to ministry. God’s voice had been clear, but those three short sentences were not; “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit her to teach or have authority over a man. She. Must. Be. Silent.”
I’d sat there reading the passage over and over; trying to find something I hadn’t seen before. The black and white lettering seemed so stark, so clear; so… black and white. Why would Paul say such a thing? In my church, Paul’s instructions were taken literally. Women weren’t permitted to speak whenever men were present. They couldn’t lead, teach or even pray. Growing up, those words hadn’t particularly bothered me, but now they smarted like lemon juice in an open cut. No matter how I read them, the conclusion was still the same – I couldn’t follow God’s call. As a pastor today, it’s obvious that my understanding of those few verses has long since changed…
I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry. But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She […]
Hundreds of pages have been written on this chapter, with almost as many interpretations, proving this to be one of the least understood and most contested passages of all time. Yet many Christians continue to cite 1 Timothy 2 as the foundation for their belief in male only leadership in the church. In today’s post Gail shares her “elevator speech” about why we need to stop using this passage in the debate.
In doing some research on Genesis 3, I came upon this provocative poem by Carmen J. Bryant:
God said to man, “The earth will bring forth thistles.” Man replied, “I’ll weed them out. I’ll develop weed killers and make my garden a paradise.”
God said to man, “You will work by the sweat of your brow.” Man replied, “I’ll invent tools that will make my work easier: the plow, the hoe, the tiller and the John Deere tractor.”
God said to woman, “You will have pain in childbirth.” Man responded, “Yea, so be it, let her suffer so my quiver can be full. It is God’s will. My work was made hard because of her.”
God said to woman, “Your husband will rule over you.” Man responded, “Of course that’s the way it should be. I am to be her master. I was created first.”
And woman bowed her head and said, “I am indeed under a curse.”
The poem prefaced an academic paper on Genesis 3 and was accompanied by this note…
I couldn’t study. I couldn’t think straight. I was distressed, overset with a spiritual crisis that rocked me to the core. Did God not love me, just because I was female?
I had been, by nature, a well-behaved and compliant child who didn’t really experience the rebellion thing as a teenager (heck, my “rebellion” was trying to find opportunities to go to church twice on a Sunday, which my unchurched family didn’t always appreciate!). “Following the rules” was, as far as I could see it, a big part of “doing the right thing,” and “being a decent person.” And obeying rules was something I didn’t usually find at all difficult. And conflict? Nope…definitely not something I would willingly enter into.
Throughout history, the church has been characterized by a male-dominated social hierarchy. This worldview has been so pervasive that some even consider it to be “God’s created order.” In light of the prevalence of this pattern, some people have asked me, “Has there ever been a female-dominated culture?”
A 1st century B.C. historian by the name of Diodorus Siculus provides us with the following information:
“Beside the river of Thermadon, therefore, a nation ruled by females held sway, in which women pursued the arts of war just like men…. To the men she [the nation’s Queen] relegated the spinning of wool and other household tasks of women. She promulgated laws whereby she led forth the women to martial strife, while on the men she fastened humiliation and servitude.”
in Ephesians 5:24, Greek manuscripts of the New Testament frame male authority or the submission of wives to husbands not as command, but rather as a description.
[In Part 1, Bob showed that some words in the Bible are translated differently when they refer to women as opposed to when they refer to men. Case in point: Phoebe’s depiction as servant and helper rather than minister and leader. Today he addresses the impact of translation on our understanding of 1 Timothy 2:12-15.] […]