A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:11-12)
Are you aware this passage of scripture is often a subject of debate? Is grass green? I will admit I am conflicted.
On one hand, Paul could not be any clearer in his message. He was asking that women not teach or have authority over men. Instead, they should learn in quietness and full submission. It simply is what it is.
On the other hand, it is my observation that societies where women are not allowed to speak, receive higher educations, and hold positions of authority are often oppressive, not just toward women, but toward everyone they perceive to be weak. One of the first steps emerging democracies take toward freedom is the inclusion of women in governmental process.
There are two possible interpretive lenses through which this passage can be viewed, which some have put forth as a solution to this dilemma. First, some have suggested Paul’s directive was cultural. In other words, in his culture women who did not follow his instructions were viewed with suspicion. Therefore, Christian women should not see their faith as an excuse to throw off social norms. Instead they should show their husbands proper respect and, if change needed to take place, pursue it with great care and humility.
Secondly, there is the thought that Paul was addressing a specific problem in Ephesus. Perhaps there were some women who were stirring up trouble at the prompting of Hymenaeus and Alexander. Could it be they were circumventing the authority of leaders and misleading the body?
Aside from these two lenses, there are those who have tried to manage Paul’s words by defining manhood. They propose a woman can teach a boy, but not a man, placing the age of manhood somewhere between 12 and 18. Others have said this only refers to believing men, which means women can teach adult men on the mission field. Of course, I know a lot of unbelieving men in American culture, but I have never heard anyone mention them in this discussion.
I think it is important for women to respect men and for wives to respect their husbands as leaders. And I think it is important for husbands to love their wives and respect other women. I also believe it is wise for men and husband to listen to what their wives and other women have to say.
We can hold the kingdom back by not involving women in ministry, yet I also think it is true women can hurt the cause by being disrespectful to men. My observation is that most men respond to disrespect by withdrawing. And now, more than ever, we need confident men leading the Lord’s work.
Maybe it is good I am conflicted. This is a serious subject that directly impacts the progress of the gospel. More than anything we should all approach it with a desire to do what is best for the sake of the mission.
Oh…and by the way…in our next devotion we will study a passage that raises even more questions. So stay tuned…
Dear God, give me clarity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.