1 Timothy 2:12-14 Doesn’t Mean Women Can’t Teach At All

Regular readers of this blog know that I have very strong objections to women teaching men in the things of God. Unlike other Christian bloggers (many of whom I hold in high esteem), I generally don’t want men reading The Outspoken TULIP, lest I violate God’s command in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14.

12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.  (NASB)

Verse 13 appeals to the order of creation, which demonstrates the principle of male leadership. I have no problem wrapping my head around that idea. Indeed, I think it’s beautiful that my husband leads in our marriage, and that godly men lead our local church. The design of male leadership in no way makes me feel inferior! One of the things I like best about my marriage, in fact, is watching John protect me by making the final decisions. Lately, I’ve noticed that decisions I disagree with usually turn out to be better than the directions I wanted to pursue.

But verse 14 bothers me a bit.

I’m thinking about verse 14 because I plan to write a series of articles profiling female Christian bloggers and teachers whom I recommend. Contemplating this series makes me think a lot about the qualities that we should look for when choosing to sit under a woman’s teaching.

Sadly, most popular evangelical women teachers should be firmly rejected, and I appreciate discernment ministry leaders who do the dirty work of researching them and bringing their errors to light. I’ve done that thankless work myself — it isn’t fun. So I want to offer wholesome alternatives to the corrupt teachers, believing that real discernment leads us into God’s Word.

With the goal of directing you to women who present solid Biblical teaching, I found myself wrestling with 1 Timothy 2:14. Is Paul saying that women are categorically more easily deceived than men are, and therefore more likely to teach error? I know of a blogger (ironically, a woman) who repeatedly makes that very assertion.

In discussing this verse with my husband and prayerfully going through Scriptures on my own, I’ve thought about a few reasons to reject the notion that women can’t be as discerning as men. Firstly, I’ve known male teachers and pastors who had exceptionally poor discernment. I’ve sat under their teaching and I’ve worked with them in parachurch ministry. Some of them even directed me to counsel men who struggled with homosexuality. Deep down, I knew when these men were off base, but I allowed myself to accept the deception, telling myself that I was “submitting to male authority.”

Ladies, men can be deceived as easily as women. We shouldn’t see ourselves as pretty little things who can’t use our brains. Those of you with children know that you need to be expert micro-managers just to get one child through the day. And your kids will try to deceive you, so you learn pretty fast how to distinguish truth from falsehood. I certainly remember knowing that I could put one over on Daddy much more easily than on Mom!

Most convincingly, Paul wrote to Titus that older women should teach younger women:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB)

Now, let’s think about this passage a bit. To begin with, notice that older women are to teach younger women what is good. Surely this teaching encompasses more than marriage, child rearing and housekeeping techniques! The foundation of even these basics must be the Gospel. Therefore, older women can legitimately teach the Bible.

But we direct our teaching to other women and to children rather than teaching the general church population. God designed us to be under male leadership, and thus teaching men would deny that order. Although we seem “limited” to teaching women and children, the Lord has really blessed us with the wonderful freedom to teach His Word. Saying that women cannot serve as pastors or elders in no way prohibits us from using whatever gifts of teaching that He may have given us.

John brought up the point that women are sometimes deceived into thinking that we should have the same opportunities as men. This deception isn’t much different than the deception Eve experienced when Satan enticed her to eat the forbidden fruit. Perhaps that is the point that Paul tried to make in 1 Timothy 2:14. I appreciated that perspective, and wonder if we should consider it.

Meanwhile, women definitely have permission to teach God’s Word. In doing so, we may have a different audience than men do, but that doesn’t mean that we are forbidden from teaching altogether. Don’t be deceived into thinking that you can’t teach unless you teach men as well as women. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 never prohibits a women from teaching.

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