Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Paul's take on women in 1 Timothy

Normally, when we read 1 Timothy 2:11-15, we would skip it as an out-of-date passage about keeping women down, but the pastor this week took a deeper look into the culture and the original meanings of the passage, giving it new life.

"Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing --- if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control."

First, this passage was actually encouraging women to learn at church. In a time when women were allowed in the synagogue but were not encouraged to be there, telling women to learn was actually progressive. And the fact that they were to learn quietly in the original text simply meant to not be unruly. That seems fair enough.

The phase "in all submissiveness," meant to fall in line. It wasn't a demeaning phrase for women. In fact, those same words were used in Titus 2 when talking to a congregation and also in Philippians for how we are to follow Jesus.

The pastor also noted that when we look at the world, the places where women are actually valued and can go places are the places where the gospel has reigned. In places where Christianity is not prominent, women are covered, treated as property, used as sexual slaves, have no rights. Christianity is what has valued women through the generations.

The next part of the Bible passage about women not being able to lead and teach, well, that apparently is still self explanatory even in the original text. However, it was meant only for family and church life. Women are allowed to lead at work, in home Bible studies, in women's and children's ministries and can contribute through prayer and other service work. It just means pastors and elders are off-limits, and I think that is just fine. Well, it doesn't matter what I think if that is what God directs.

The question always comes up when women are limited of "Why is this so hard? Why do we rebel against these directives?"

Because that is what sin caused.

When sin entered the world, woman was cursed with pain in childbirth as well as "your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." Women have had to deal with the desire to lead their husbands since the beginning, but that is not what we were created to do. We were created to be helpers. So as much as we desire to rule, that's just not who we were created to be.

There was a lot to unpack in these four verses, and I think they are verses we often gloss over, thinking they are out of touch with the world today. But when we look a little closer, we see so much more value.

How much are we missing in our Bible on a daily basis when we just gloss over verses?

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