Apples And Pulpits

betty-portrait-paintedHave you ever noticed the parallel between Eve’s temptation in the Garden and women who qualify (or flat-out reject) 1 Timothy 2:12? I don’t remember where I first read about this parallel, so I can’t properly give due credit, but I must acknowledge that this notion didn’t originate with me. That said, I believe we need to consider the possibility that women who seek to teach men or who aspire to pulpit ministry commit the same sin that Eve committed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Eve and her husband had been given full access to every tree in the Garden, with only one exception (see Genesis 2:15-17). She should have been thankful for the Lord’s abundant provision, but Satan twisted God’s Word so that she questioned God’s goodness…or at least her understanding of His Word.As I’ve studied arguments for the ordination of women, I’ve  noticed the same type of Scripture twisting.

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) 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 (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. Like Eve, such people fall for Satan’s question, “Did God actually say…?” Despite all the wonderful ministries the Lord opens to women (including the joys of teaching other women and children) they want to also teach and lead men, unwilling to accept the only restriction that Scripture places on them.

As a redeemed woman, I trust God’s wisdom in “denying” me the right to teach men. Maybe men could learn something from me. But that’s really beside the point. Unlike Eve, I choose to appreciate all the wonderful ways the Lord does permit me to serve Him, realizing that He has every right to withhold certain spheres of service. May I serve, not by coveting ministries that He assigns exclusively to men, but in gratitude for the wide variety of opportunities He gives me.

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Author: DebbieLynne

Most importantly I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondarily, I'm married to my wonderful husband, John. We've both used wheelchairs since childhood (he from Polio and me from Cerebral Palsy). I type with a headstick because I can't control my hands. I enjoy reading, creating digital art, and exploring Boston with John.

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