church nonsense, Light, war on women

Uh oh

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.

Two things:

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.


8 thoughts on “Uh oh

  1. About a year ago, I heard a man teach on the role of women in the church. What he said astounded me. He is learned in the ancient Greek, and he said that the passage in 1 Timothy 3 is actually in the neuter form, so it should/could be read as follows (from the Common English Bible version): “This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor in the church, they want a good thing. So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or be a bully. Instead, they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect, because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church? They shouldn’t be new believers so that they won’t become proud and fall under the devil’s spell. They should also have a good reputation with those outside the church so that they won’t be embarrassed and fall into the devil’s trap.”

    The passage below it discussing the role of deacon is also in the gender neutral form as well. Phoebe was a deaconess in the early church. Priscilla and Aquila were teachers to Apollos, Junia was named as an apostle.

    To me it seems clear that women are equal with men in serving within the body of Messiah, not less than. They should be serving jointly, side by side.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing all that, Sarah. It is very interesting. Surely the man you heard teach is not the only Greek scholar who has noticed that the gender is neutral. It’s such a shame that the majority ignores it.

      Oh that “man up” conferences would take a whole new approach – like manning up to telling the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “What if we entertained the notion that [Paul] is not infallible, that his words do not carry the same weight as the teachings of Jesus?” – dangerous thoughts trb, treading on blasphemy – but a great thought, a respectful challenge to an often broadcasted status quo on the infallible nature of the bible. To those who were taught that “every word of the [entire] Bible is God breathed”, it’s unfathomable to even question the teachings of Paul, ridiculous as they may sound at certain junctions. I agree that we should scrutinise Paul’s scriptures with the ever more critical eye.


    • Great comment pixie. I don’t consider it blasphemy because I don’t put Paul on the level of God. Heresy, perhaps. But heresy is okay. Jesus was considered a heretic, so was Paul, so I’d be in good company.

      For the record, I have nothing against Paul. He was an ordinary human with strengths and weaknesses like the rest of us. He suffered a lot for the gospel and I admire him for that. My problem is with the church elevating him to infallibility because, in doing so, we cannot interpret all of the Scriptures accurately. There is a conflict of interest. The misinterpretation of one verse – “All Scripture is God-breathed…” – has led to the misinterpretation of so many others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well said – you’re indeed in good company. On that note I sometimes question the other books as well – like whether something written in the old testament can be considered as accurate; or Jesus’ teachings – they were written by third parties and not Jesus himself. There could always be misinterpretations of speech, omissions or inadvertent additions. While the understanding is that God guided this whole effort, and thus the bible is perceived to be perfect, my doubt lies with the fact that writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, for instance, were humans and not necessarily perfect in their memories, interpretation, or delivery. The problem is, unlike other books, and scientific publications, the bible is not supposed to be questioned. The forbidding of a critical eye for not only content, but origin of the bible, is worrisome. But perhaps I’m not in scripture academia and not aware of the critical analyses that goes on. At least from a church perspective, that’s not really possible.


        • The fact that the Bible is not supposed to be questioned raises a red flag for me. Why not? Paul told the Bereans not to take his word for it but to scrutinize the Scriptures for themselves.

          I’ve said it before, but I don’t believe the gospel is so fragile that it cannot withstand scrutiny. Daniel was esteemed by heaven for setting his mind to understanding.

          The people who say the Bible is infallible and must not be questioned also say that sin/the fall has corrupted everything on this earth; that there is no perfection this side of heaven. Yet the Bible, written by human authors somehow escaped the effects of the fall.

          God-breathed Scripture is God-inspired but that does not necessarily mean it is God-perfect – since it was entrusted to imperfect human hands. I believe God is perfect and His word is perfect but our translation and interpretation of it is not.

          That doesn’t take away from God and it doesn’t undermine Him, in fact, it challenges the church to roll up their sleeves and honor Him by becoming better ambassadors.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Going There Again | The Reluctant Baptist

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