Yesterday’s post ended with Anne saying:
So I said, “Father, I hear you, I know what you are saying, but I have to ask you one more question and then we’ll just put this issue to bed, but what did Paul mean when he told Timothy, ‘I permit not a woman to teach or have authority over men’?”
And this is what God brought to my mind alright, and there is disagreement on this and I just agree to disagree.
Hold up a minute. God is capable of making Himself perfectly clear. Agreeing to disagree might be an indication that neither party has the whole story. When things don’t add up, there is more to the equation.
But I checked it out with scholars after that, people who know Greek – which I don’t – and they said that my emphasis was correct. [That the emphasis is on authority.]
This is where we often go wrong. A “scholar” gives us a scholarly explanation and we say, “Oh, okay” and continue on our way. But I can’t be satisfied with a scholarly pat on the head if I am going to get to the bottom of anything. So I took a look at the passage for myself. 1 Timothy 2:12-15:
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet”. v. 12
I looked up all the Greek words. I found no emphasis on the authority part. What I did find was a more literal translation:
But a woman is not allowed to teach nor (first occurrence: take her own life or the life of another) act under her own authority, hence she does not meddle in the affairs of others.
There is no “I”. Was it added to give the words the weight of Paul’s authority? Perhaps Paul was just stating the current state of affairs under Jewish law, rather than instructing the church on how things should be.
For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. v. 13
Sorry, but Paul is incorrect. It’s a common misconception, but man was not created first. God created men and women at the same time. On the sixth day. Surely he read Genesis. God created man and woman in His image, at the same time and with the same purpose, then He formed man and then He fashioned woman.
It’s like this: I just hosted Thanksgiving dinner. I spent many happy hours poring over recipes in order to create the perfect menu. The menu was created weeks before the meal was actually prepared. Long before the first potato was mashed and the first rolls were baked, I knew exactly what would be on that table. The point is, God created everything in those 6 days but some of what He created didn’t appear until later. As soon as He speaks something into existence, it exists, even if it cannot yet be seen.
All of mankind – male and female – was spoken into existence at the same time. Woman wasn’t created as an afterthought for lonely man, man and woman were created together for God.
And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. v. 14
As I explained in Winning the War on Women, Eve was deceived and she sinned. She admitted it. Adam was there and he ate, too. Therefore, if Adam was not deceived, then that means he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway. That is rebellion, which carries a more severe consequence. (Luke 12:48) Hmmm, did Paul miss that?
But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. v.15
Okay wait. Paul told the Ephesians that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works so that no one can boast. Remember? So which is it? Saved by grace, not by works or saved by childbearing?
Let’s recap this passage as translated: Women cannot teach or have authority over men, and must keep quiet, because Adam was created first (wrong), because Eve was deceived (and Adam flat out rebelled) and because a woman’s only hope of salvation is to bear children.
None of that squares with Paul’s actions (he co-labored for the gospel with women) and it doesn’t square with things he wrote elsewhere.
So was Paul mistaken, misquoted or mistranslated? Was he trying to be please/appease everyone? Was he merely reporting on the way things were, rather than teaching how they ought to be? I have theories.
But for now let’s get back to Anne:
But this is what God seemed to say to me: That the emphasis is on the authority. And that He did not want me to teach or have authority over men – to teach from a position of authority over man.
Seemed to say? If it wasn’t crystal clear then it might not have been God speaking. Because God knows how to make Himself clear. Dig deeper, Anne.
Furthermore, we were created in His image, male and female. Why would God put a portion of His image in authority over another portion of His image? There is no hierarchy to the trinity – not in heaven anyway. So why would He instill a hierarchy in us?
But that I was not only free, I was commissioned and commanded to go into all of the world to share my personal testimony of who Jesus is in my life and to give out His word. And that he would determine the audience. But that I was to be faithful to the message He put on my heart.
We are free. But we will never be as free as God created us to be as long as we listen to God through the filter of Paul.
What if the church regrouped and put Paul into proper perspective? What if we entertained the notion that he is not infallible, that his words do not carry the same weight as the teachings of Jesus? We twist and convolute our understanding of Scripture to satisfy our insistence that Paul’s words are “God-breathed”, but what if they aren’t? Jesus never said they were. Paul didn’t even say they were. Paul was referring to the Law and the Prophets when he said all Scripture is God-breathed, not to his own writings. What if we turn things around and force Paul’s writings to conform to Jesus? Or would that wreck everything?
My daughter saw this statement on a forum of pastors discussing how they handle the issue of women in leadership: “I allow women to lead worship, as long as there is a man on stage with her.” In case she does what? Mis-sing a song? Assert authority over the men singing the songs?
When we use Paul’s miswhatever writings as a church manual, things can get pretty ridiculous.
Which brings me to tomorrow’s (much shorter) post, the “You’ve got to be kidding me” conclusion.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Feel free to chime in. Respectfully.