As I’ve studied arguments for both the ordination of woman and the evangelical acceptance of homosexual relationships (and I’ve studied both issues separately many times over), I’ve noticed that advocates of both practices use similar types of reasoning. First, they’ll claim that the passages that prohibit these practices reflect cultural biases, and therefore God didn’t really mean for them to dictate 21st Century behavior. Then they’ll twist Scripture by taking it out of context and/or reading things into it.
Currently, I want to limit my discussion to women in church leadership, though at a later date I anticipate addressing the typical relationship between the two issues. To open our discussion today, let me show you just a couple examples of how professing Christians try to explain away 2 Timothy 2:11-12.
11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
The website for Brethren In Christ Church (I find amusing irony in the sexist name of the denomination in light of their position on gender issues) offers this explanation:
Paul’s seemingly prohibitive statement about women in public ministry is likely a response or plan of action to deal with women who were new Christians, talented, and endowed with spiritual gifts of leadership, but not yet trained and seasoned for leadership in the congregation. These new Christian women likely were also mixing pagan practices and Christian doctrine. One must keep in mind that prior to this time, only the men had the privilege of learning through formal study. Paul’s assertion in verse 11 that “women should learn” was indeed a new day for the believing woman.
Responding to the women’s lack of training and maturity, Paul therefore declares, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent (2:12 NRSV). The literal translation from the Greek is, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach or to have authority over men….” The verb used is present active indicative. It was never intended to be a prohibitive statement or a prescription for all times, places, and cultures. If it had been written for that purpose, there are Greek verbs and tenses which would have been used to clarify the intention. (Source)
The appeal to Greek verb tenses almost convinces me, except for the fact that the apostle Paul based his restriction, not on 1st Century custom, but on God’s original order of creation and Eve’s vulnerability to deception (for this, please see 1 Timothy 2:13-14). And as for “mixing pagan practices with Christian doctrine,” might I suggest that “Christian” feminism pretty much does the same thing by adopting worldly standards?
A website called Circle Of Christian Women evaluates 1 Timothy 2 in the context of wives and husbands rather than women in general:
1 Timothy 2:12 is not a blanket rule for all women of all churches. If it were, then the women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.
If all women had to keep silent in church, then that would be promoting disobedience to God, for they could not prophesy, pray, testify, sing, exhort, do personal work, or even get saved.
Whenever an interpretation to a verse contradicts the rest of the teaching of the Bible, we know this interpretation is incorrect, for the Holy Spirit will never contradict His own Word.
This is the chief verse that is used to oppose women preaching and yet it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. But, on the contrary, this verse is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, “And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that the woman should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.
This verse still applies to us today. It is wrong for a woman to usurp authority over her husband (in church, home, or any place else) as was the case in Paul’s day. She should not try to teach him or speak words that would cause discord and confusion, but should rather be silent and in subjection to her husband.
It is also to be understood that if anyone, whether man or woman, is usurping authority over the God-given leadership of the church, she or he is to be silent, and not to teach, or act in such a way that would create discord in the assembly.
Um, no. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, if anything, places further restrictions on women in church, and certainly doesn’t soften the impact of 1 Timothy 2:12. This argument just makes no sense, and it completely ignores the context of the verse.Furthermore, their appeal to the “Holy Spirit” makes me suspect some sort of extrabiblical revelation as opposed to believing that He speaks through Scripture rather than in addition to it.
1 Timothy 2:11-12 flies in the face of 21st Century views on gender roles, prompting professing Christians to find intricate ways of explaining that they don’t really mean what they say. Essentially these arguments, much like the arguments favoring homosexuality and same sex marriage that currently circulate among evangelicals, reject the fundamental truth that the Bible is both inerrant and authoritative. Of course, they don’t want to openly admit their rejection of God’s Word, so they cleverly bend it to their agenda.
These are only two examples of how “Christians” manipulate God’s Word to justify the worldly practice of women in church leadership. Rather than remaining faithful to Scripture, they twist verses to fit the 21st Century attitude that we must avoid any type of gender distinction (thus tying in with the homosexual and trans gender agenda). And God created binary gender distinctives to reflect Christ’s relationship with His bride, the Church. For that reason, we must stand firmly against their human reasoning.
But even more importantly, my beloved sisters in Christ, we must stand for the authority of Scripture, especially when our culture assails it. In our Tuesday posts about the Reformation, we will look at how the Reformers stood for the restoration of God’s Word, even though the Roman Catholic Church preferred their traditions. Now we must stand against a compromised church that prefers politically correct attitudes on gender. We must imitate the Reformers’ faithfulness.