October 21, 2017

Should Women Teach Women?

beth1.gifSome thoughts on women teachers, an issue that continually puzzles me every time I see a Lifeway stocked with Beth Moore Bible studies for sale to Southern Baptists who can’t say enough about women not being pastoral teachers.

I Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

I am part of a Bible study that’s been going through I Timothy verse by verse. It’s been quite stimulating and enjoyable for me. I don’t agree with everything that’s come along in the interpretation of the verses, but I’m just taking notes and thinking some things through.

This morning I was reading an ad in our school newsletter advertising a Bible study at a local church, designed for our women and taught by one of our ladies. This goes on every year at our school, but it struck me this time that having women taught by women raises some questions for the literal interpreters of these passages.

My understanding of the common interpretation of these verse- and others- relevant to the subject is that women are not allowed to be in the pastoral office because that would put them in an official teaching capacity.

If we take Paul literally, however, women are to be silent. They are not to teach. In fact, in I Corinthians 14, the lines are even more clearly drawn.

33b As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Women are to be silent in the church. They are not permitted to speak at all. They can ask questions of their husbands at home.

What kind of creative exegesis is it that allows a woman to stand in the church, open the Bible and teach women? Is there something less than real “Biblical teaching” going on in that women’s Bible study? Is Beth Moore, and the leader of our Ladies’ Bible Study, violating Paul’s plain words that women aren’t to teach at all? If not, why not? How are women sitting under the teaching of scripture different from men sitting under Bible teaching? Why can a woman teach only women?

It seems to me that allowing women to open the Bible and teach other women constitutes a clear violation of these passages if you follow the literal meaning of the grammar. I am allowing that women may communicate in non-teaching ways (such as mentoring or testimonies), but these verses clearly prohibit a woman teaching Sunday School or teaching other women in any way that is actual “Bible teaching.”

Now…I don’t believe in the literal application of these verses. I’m a mediocre egalitarian of some kind and have no problem at all with gifted and properly trained, accountable women teaching anyone in the church. For example, having a female Old Testament scholar teach in the church seems completely normal to me. (The question of women and the pastoral office is another question that I leave to churches in their particular cultural contexts.)

So complimentarians, how do you navigate this one? The Bible says my church shouldn’t have a woman teaching. At all. Can you- from the text- defend your allowance of women standing in the church with a Bible teaching other women?

Comments

  1. “Now a certain Jew named Apollos… knew only the baptism of John. …When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18.24-26)

    Uh-oh. Priscilla’s teaching again. And apparently Aquila wasn’t reminding her to be silent; he’s right there with her. I’ve even heard it preached that Aquila was a weak husband, and the reason Priscilla’s name comes first in a few scriptural references to the couple was because he allowed her to usurp his manly authority. What the….?

    Which reminds me: 1Ti 2.12 is more accurately translated “usurp authority [afthenteo] over a man,” (according to Strong’s) implying that the woman is not acting under God-given authority, but is disregarding the God-given authority given to a man in that particular circumstance. Had she been given such authority, it wouldn’t be right for a man to usurp it from her either — Barak may have been the general, but Deborah was the prophet.

    Speaking of women prophets, 1Co 14.33-35 is best understood in the context of the whole section, which is about prophecy in the church, and which likewise includes the roles of women prophets. (1Co 11.5) The word for speak, laleo, has a sense of babble (according to TDNT) and Paul’s statement “if there’s anything they desire to learn” indicates the context of this statement — the women in the church service are jabbering, or they’re talking to their husbands during the service. This is bad enough when they’re next to one another, but at this point in history, men sat in front and women sat in back. (In synagogues, there was even a wall, a mechitzah, separating them.)

    Considering the typical under-education of women at the time, it’s understandable that they’d have a lot of questions befitting their new status as coequal to men in Christ Jesus. (Ga 3.28) But the service was the wrong time for such questions. So the prohibition is about disrupting the service, not about suppressing women speakers.

    Thank God for women preachers; if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have been led to Christ, nor adequately discipled in Sunday School. I think the real question is whether men should teach women; often these passages are taught so as to domineer women not because the male expositors truly want to understand the scriptures, but because they want to keep their positions of authority.

  2. I’m a wussy egalitarian as well in that in my complementarian Church I don’t make waves.

    My take on these passages is that
    1) The literal interpretation of the 1 Cor 14 passage can not possibly be correct – it would be in conflict with Paul’s advice about women’s participation in public worship back in chapter 11, as well as conflicting with the general thrust of chapter 14 (everybody should participate in worship in an orderly fashion). Additionally the text has some sort of gloss – some versions have these verses at the end of the chapter… My solution which allows me to take literally the verses without doing violence to the text is to add quotation marks around verses 34-35 (remember – no punctuation is in the original). Paul then is rejecting the quotation (another pattern of his in 1 Cor) from the message and letter he received from Corinth that prompted the Epistle.

    2) 1 Timothy 2 is a little harder and centers at least partially around the much debated authenteo. I’d lean towards some of the explanations that locate the admonition in a context of combating Goddess/fertility cults (I don’t permit women to teach that they are the originators of men, etc). I really haven’t heard somebody do an exegesis that I fully like, however, and I’m just not comfortable saying “v12 clearly teaches that women should not lead but nobody has any idea what v15 might mean”.

    Strike those two texts and you’re left with a NT with a clear pattern of women exercising more authority and leadership than the culture would tend to allow (female diakonos and apostles, etc). That’s why while out of tradition and culture I’m uncomfortable with female ministerial leadership, I’m not sure that my discomfort is actually rooted in the text and I’m gradually becoming more vocal in egalitarianism…

  3. Kevin Huckabee says:

    I see nothing wrong of a woman teaching a woman. In fact it is necessary. Men are not wired the same, therefore do not respond or understand the same. This is the same reason why a woman should not fill the Pastorate. Women are not prepared for the Battle that may come their way. God sees men protecting women from that battle, and we should follow his lead. Putting a woman into the leadership role in a life and death battle is note only fool-hearty, but amounts to throwing the beautiful soul of a woman to the wolves. Men, nor women have that right anywhere in the Bible. I was Baptist most of my life, love the people still, but hate the legalism movement towards “reformed” churches. Having been a part of that what shattered a growing church, then finding a Church that preaches Grace, and nothing else outside the True Message of Jesus Christ our Lord–is/was a life saver for my family and myself. Keep on teaching women–help your soul mates, and please help us learn to lead you and put you on a pedestal as God would put His Church. You are God’s most wondrous creation, and we fear/love you the same. Fear that we will fail, and love all that is a woman.

  4. Women teaching women is commanded in Titus 2:3.

    And “speak” in 1 Corinthians is laleo, which could be “speaking in tongues” or “nattering”.

  5. Well, I think it is simply a fact that even those who claim to hold to a literal reading of the Biblical text don’t. (Actually, the ones claiming strict literalism for themselves are in the minority; even strict complementarians realize that taking the Bible literally leads down numerous dead-ends; they will rather claim to read each passage as it is intended to be read.)

    So, there is always a degree of interpretation going on, and the interpretation which allows women sunday school teachers, and women leading ladies’ Bible studies, is this: When Paul says in 1 Tim 2:8 “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,” the “over a man” applies to both “teach” and “exercise authority”, and that is clear from his reasoning WHY this is so: because man was created first, and thus has primacy, and because woman once already lead man astray and that is enough. By reading the passage this way, there is no problem with women teaching children or other women.

    In the Corinthians passage, the interpretation I have come across most frequently is that “in the church” in this passage means “in the worship service of the church”, i.e. the meeting on the first day of the week, which is pretty much borne out by the context. Thus such complementarians will not let a Beth Moore or some other lady preach on a Sunday morning, or to any gathering which is addressed to both men and women, but they have no problem with women teachers teaching women.

    Generally I believe that the differences between the complementarian and egalitarian positions are not differences between literal and non-literal readings; but rather the question is this: to what extent is what Paul says on this subject universally normative, and to what extent does it merely reflect the culture he lived and ministered in and can thus be modified/discarded by us living in a different culture.

    Personally I am uneasy both about legalistic complementarianism and legalistic egalitarianism; much of the polemic on both sides of this debate is severely lacking in charity and thus needs to face Paul’s question: Who are you to judge the servant of another (i.e. God’s servant)?

  6. Do I take it from the question that you are not wanting an egalitarian interpretation of this issue here?
    If so I’ll leave it at saying that the two passages quoted are some of the densest writing in the New Testament and few Greek scholars seem to be able to agree on a reading, let alone an interpretation. Most biblical scholars I’ve heard on this seem to start with “this is a particularly cloudy passage an a clear interpretation is therefore hard to achieve…”
    My suggestion would be that a ‘literal’ interpretation of these passages is therefore impossible.

  7. Ever tried to staff the children’s Sunday School or VBS with only men?

  8. I guess I’m an egalitarian, but like Wolf I hesitate to claim either as my cut & dry viewpoint. And to be fair I’ve done very little of my own hashing-out, but a few things stand out to me…

    My understanding of the women speaking out in church had to do with women yelling out questions from the women’s section, disrupting the service. So Paul instructed them to talk things over with their husbands at home afterward (as KW Leslie said). As for 1 Tim 2:8, it seems that Paul clearly said “I do not permit…” rather than “God does not permit…” Am I oversimplifying, or was Paul plainly offering his opinion based on a specific situation?

    My thing with both women AND men is that everyone be accountable to someone. Women who happen to be good teachers can teach anyone when they are in submission to, say, a group of elders. Women, left unchecked, can wreak havoc and get all power-trippy. Ditto with the men, though. Checks and balances and all.

    Kevin seems to have the very best intentions but I’ll admit that my toes were stepped on there. Why am I not equipped for leadership in a life & death situation, and what is the ‘capital-B-Battle’ that we’re talking about? My husband is a strong leader and has no problem with me exercising my strengths while respecting him and submitting to his. I don’t think I want the pedestal.

  9. I’m no Bible thumper and am nowhere near as eloquent as all of you but here is my thought:

    Two thousand years ago women were not treated the same way they are now in the U.S. It seems though that Paul and other writers attempted to change the normal way that women were viewed but they may have been limited to the vernacular of the time. Indeed they were making big steps towards the treatment of women but still worked within the context of the time.

    What do you think?

  10. bookdragon says:

    Cor 14
    33b As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

    Actually I’m kind of interested in how a literalist could even let a woman sing in church based on this set of verses. Afterall, the bit of Law Paul refers to here is probably the prohibition on women singing/chanting in worship because a woman’s voice was considered so distracting (i.e., arousing) to the men that they wouldn’t be able to keep their minds on worship.

    Of course to me, it raises questions that are a lot more interesting. Like, why is Paul appealing to the Law here (esp. halachah that isn’t in the Torah explicitly but comes from rabbinic dictate), when he has spent so much ink on how Christians aren’t bound by far more important bits of the Law like circumcision and keeping kosher? And, read with the rest of the letter, verse 35 is just odd. Afterall, this is one of the letters where Paul advises young women and widows NOT to marry. So, just who are those women supposed to ask in private then?

    Kevin:

    You say “This is the same reason why a woman should not fill the Pastorate. Women are not prepared for the Battle that may come their way. God sees men protecting women from that battle, and we should follow his lead. Putting a woman into the leadership role in a life and death battle is note only fool-hearty, but amounts to throwing the beautiful soul of a woman to the wolves.”

    Um, just where are you getting this from? Because it certainly isn’t biblical. In fact, the story of the Judge Deborah, for instance, jumps right out as contradicting it. Not to mention Jael, Miriam, Judith, Esther – all certainly no fainting daisies in either worldly or spiritual battle.

    You may think you are elevating women here, but frankly I really doubt you come up with a theological statement anymore patronizing than this. Keep the pedestal. I’m a person, not a piece of porcelian.

  11. I have heard the heard the same passages preached many times. I have even, briefly, found myself accepting the authority of men to lead and to teach, even though I had been a Christian much longer, and at least once older as well.

    I never heard this irony explained.

    If women are more easily deceived, then why are they allowed to teach the most vulnerable of people; children and on the mission field. It’s in those places where correct doctrine taught understandably is needed the most.

  12. I recently posted on the same 1 Tim 2 passage. No startling insights, but if you are interested…

    http://meditations-on-an-eyeball.blogspot.com/2007/08/women-and-word-pauls-position.html

  13. scott shaffer says:

    First time commenter.

    Regardless of where you fall on this issue, you have to interpret this passage in light of other passages. For instance, as mentioned by one other commenter, Paul instructs Titus, another pastor, that older women should teach younger women, and then he gives some guidance as to what should be taught.

    So we have some tension between the Corinthians and 1 Timothy passages which appear to teach that women were to remain silent in the first century churches, and the Titus passage where Paul exhorts women to teach other women. We can also toss in the Acts passage that describes a woman apparently teaching a man, or that Timothy was taught from youth by his mother and grandmother. The bottom line is that in the first century context there were certain situations where women teaching was acceptable and others where it wasn’t. It seems we first have to determine where it was okay and where it wasn’t, and then we have to bridge the gap to the 21st century.

  14. All I’m saying is that Beth looks a little nutty in this photo. Clearly there is some sort of demonic influence at work which demonstrates (get it? DEMONstrates) the point at hand. If God had intended women to teach he would have made them less wild looking…like Gene Scott and Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. That’s all I’m saying.

  15. As long as we’re at it, it seems Paul wasn’t being entirely truthful when he wrote that “Adam was not deceived.” Maybe he wasn’t the first to act on the deception, but he certainly was the second, and shouldn’t get a pass just to preserve an overly patriarchal world view.

  16. Yeah just to back up what was said earlier, 1 Co 14 “speak” is a loaded term in context. 1 Co 11:5 and 11:13 talk of women prophesying and praying in the assembly. So either Paul is talking about a specific kind of “speaking” in ch 14 or he’s contradicting himself a few paragraphs later…since I believe in inspiration I can’t believe the latter option.

    Also remember the words for man and woman in Greek sometimes mean wife and husband. Some commentators believe that is the definition intended in the 1 Timothy passage.

    I’m fine with a woman speaking or teaching, as long as she doesn’t hold continual authority over all men, and I’m a complimentarian

  17. bookdragon says:

    Just wanted to throw in a quote one of the Church Fathers living and writing only a couple generations after Paul:

    “Why also did it not prefer to make its attack upon the man instead of the woman? And if thou sayest that it attacked her as being the weaker of the two, [I reply that], on the contrary, she was the stronger, since she appears to have been the helper of the man in the transgression of the commandment. For she did by herself alone resist the serpent, and it was after holding out for a while and making opposition that she ate of the tree, being circumvented by craft; whereas Adam, making no fight whatever, nor refusal, partook of the fruit handed to him by the woman, which is an indication of the utmost imbecility and effeminacy of mind. And the woman indeed, having been vanquished in the contest by a demon, is deserving of pardon; but Adam shall deserve none, for he was worsted by a woman,-he who, in his own person, had received the command from God.”
    -St. Irenaeus (Asia Minor, Gaul; ca. 140 – 203 AD)

    I find this interesting not only because I think he makes more sense than Paul does in 1 Tim. , but because here is someone who is a church leader and has the scriptures and traditions of the early church at least somewhat in context, yet his interpretation is pretty different from Paul’s.

  18. Something I have always wondered about….How much does a biblical author’s personality influence the text?

    Paul never married and is the most vocal about women and their limitations. I don’t remember Peter, John, James, or the author of Hebrews coming anywhere close to these types of statements.

    Anyone else ever think about that?

  19. p.s….much prefer the new pic for internetmonk…as opposed to the weird devil-guy. 🙂

  20. David Whyte says:

    Internet Monk – just found your blog via Subversive Influence…

    I have 3 daughters and a wife, and they are smarter than a lot of guy’s – OK I am biased !!!!

    However that verse in Timothy concerned me…. So I went back to the Greek words. Then listed out all the possible meanings of each individual words. As most Greek words have more than one meaning… Then I looked at all the various means of the words and re composed them into various sentences.

    It turned out that one valid interpretation was that women should teach men, that men should listen to it, however women should teach without a lording over attitude, but one of humility (like all teachers should I might comment). I found this very fascinating to say the least !

    Now I know I not even anything close to a a scholar, and sure that we presented this work to a learned person there would be many faults. However I found this a very interesting exercise!

    Unfortunately this was before blogging, so I didn’t record this electronically, and I don’t remember what I did with the notes…..

  21. I was told that the passages in question were addressing false teachings that were spreading through the church, including things like:
    1) Eve was made first, and therefore women dominate men
    2) Eve did not sin, but brought about enlightenment

    But I’m not an expert in first century heresy, so there’s always the chance that someone was making stuff up…

  22. I wonder how much problems these verses even caused in any century other than the last two. I know I keep reading them, looking for a “way out” of their obvious readings. It does appear that Paul “referent” is “the Law” and by that “Law” he is referring to Genesis (since he basically quotes it) and not some sort of oral law tradition as noted. Or if it is an oral law, it is an interpretation commonly given to the Genesis passage.

    I know the Second Temple had a division between the court of women whereupon women could go no further inside. It also had a court of Gentiles with an even more explicit segregation. Neither of these divisions appears to have been made in either the Tabernacle or even the first Temple, as least as I read them. So somehow, a more divisive cultural setting appears to have developed in Israel by the time Herod expanded the Second Temple. It is cultural and not “Biblical.”

    So is Paul giving some sort of nod to the oral law interpretation of Genesis that perhaps founded this cultural limitation? Does he not want women speaking for fear of causing a division between Jew and Gentile in his churches (since Gentiles would have been very comfortable with women priest in their religions)? Is Paul himself showing his own enculturation in this interpretation (again, not entirely founded on the text)? Paul was human and our bible is inspired by God and written by men. Besides, at that time and in that culture, Paul may have been entirely, 100% correct. To do otherwise may have crippled the church from ever growing and limited the men from taking on the responsibility they need to shoulder for the church to grow.

    (One might acknowledge it is difficult even today to get men involved in doing much of anything in the church.)

    I think the Bible is inspired and the Word of God, yet this is a living, active word that speaks to people in their times and places. Not all verses are “timeless truths” on the same level. We are not for slaughtering Ammonites. We do not restrict cripples from attending church. In some cases, we are not as picky about food and blood the same way even Acts demands that we do. Yet we do not deny the validity of those verses in those days and times. Maybe these verses about women are on the same order.

    Yet again, I think we need to at least regard the spirit of these verses. As I already noted, the church needs its men to step up–perhaps today more than any other time. They may need to be forced into it. A wife asking questions of her husband forces HIM to get into the text more to answer her. I have found it is a rare man who will do it on his own without such incentive.

    Like you, I wrestle with these verses. I walk away , like Jacob, with a limp.

  23. Nicholas Anton says:

    First, what is the church (ekklesia)? The early church model is the Jewish synagogue, and the term, ekklesia, which is Greek, designates the calling of all free citizens of the Polis for state affairs.

    Second, the New Testament church did not have “official” versus “non official” leader/teacher status in the church. One did not have to be an “official” teacher to teach in the synagogue nor in the early church. Note; Matt.13:54; Mar 6:1-4; Luke 4:15-24;
    The church was an organism, not an organization, structured around tribal, patriarchal concepts. The women’s place in that context did not include public synagogue/church centered teaching/leading. Historically, her place was in the home, and not as a public teaching/leading, possible sex symbol. As Paul states in 1 Tim. 2:15; “…she shall be saved/made whole in childbearing…”, thereby indicating that her fulfillment is to be in the home, in bearing, caring for, and mentoring her children. As in any patriarchal society, the older women were also to teach the younger women Titus 2:3-5. Formal teaching and leading of the entire church are not included in the list of possible responsibilities.

    Anna A
    “If women are more easily deceived, then why are they allowed to teach the most vulnerable of people; children and on the mission field.”
    Nowhere does Scripture teach that women are more easily deceived than men. It simply states that the woman WAS deceived. Let us not read into Scripture that which it does not say.

    According to Scripture, can a woman teach other women and children? Definitely, yes. Can she take her place as a teacher leader in the synagogue/ekklesia, which traditionally was male dominated? Absolutely not. Can a woman inform outside that context? Yes.

    Understanding the church from a patriarchal rather than a democratic or autocratic basis resolves the many seeming problems and contradictions that we see within the contemporary institution.

  24. In both passages on of the key points that gets over looked and abused is the concept of women submitting.

    As a result of the fall a negative side affect was the desire of the women to take the lead and foget the role of being a partner with her husband. So here the women are instricted that they are to willingly submit to God’s authority.

    In 1 Peter and 1 Timmothy it was a way for a women who claimed to be Godly to show it.

    And one more thing that has to be removed out any discussion in this matter is the word ability. No where and I repeat no where will you find in scripture that women have no ability to teach or to lead. In fact there were times when God used a women to lead.

    What is listed here is the responsibilties that God has delegated apart from ability. We have the ability to please God and do good things from him so, inherent ability is not in the equasion at all.

  25. I note that in the Beth Moore videos they show on James Robison’s TV show there are men in the audience that she is teaching. Perhaps it’s OK if Life Way has enough money to be made or maybe there is a different standard applied if the woman teaching is a genuine Christian star.
    BTW–I like Beth Moore and occasionally watch for a few minutes here and there.
    Oh, I even read one of her books. Does that mean I sat under her teaching?

  26. But I’m not an expert in first century heresy, so there’s always the chance that someone was making stuff up… — Matt S

    Sounds like First Century Feminism (i.e. groundwork for Female Supremacist Cult) to me.

    Either that or the problems addressed at ChurchForMen.com (Why Men Hate Going to Church) have been going on for a LONG time.

  27. Terri,

    You state that Paul never married. However, it is possible – even likely – that he WAS married (probably before his conversion). Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, a group to which membership required marriage.

    It is possible that Paul’s wife had prviosly died, or parhaps even left him when he converted. Unfortunately we do not know what happened to her.

    Some might like to suppose that this prior relationship may have influenced Paul’s writing. But I’m not really willing to go that far without good evidence.

  28. bookdragon says:

    Yes, as a religious Jew over the age of 18, Paul should have been married (of course by that token, Jesus too!) since the commandment to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ required it (most commandments were taken on at bar mitzveh, but this one was, quite reasonably, deferred until manhood, i. e., when a man could support a family). And, he would have had only a little say in it since marriages were, in general, arranged by the parents.

    It is entirely possible, given the rather high likelihood of dying in childbirth or by fever or infection back then, that he was widowed young. Or that he divorced her for some reason (only men were allowed to initiate divorce). Of course, his wife could leave him, but unless he gave her a bill of divorce, she was stuck moving back in with her parents until he died.

    However, it is also possible that he was not married because he was considered unsuitable for some reason. Given that he was the student of a prestigious rabbi, he would normally be considered a pretty good catch though. So the only reason I can imagine for his not being married would be that the ‘thorn in the flesh’ he describes somehow made him ineligible, in which case, given his other pluses, it would have to a severe disfigurement or something that would have prevented him from fathering children (which would perhaps explain a disconnect with women?)

  29. Nicholas Anton says:

    Insofar that there is neither a Biblical nor historical reason to suggest that Paul was married, and likewise, since there is no Biblical nor historical reason to assume him to have been a member of the Sanhedrin, why then speculate on the possibility.
    In Acts 7:58, Paul is listed as a “young man”, which generally in itself would disqualify him from being a member of the Sanhedrin (He is not listed as a younger elder, [members of the Sanhedrin were elders]).
    Paul neither states nor implies that he himself had been nor currently was an elder, neither does he state or imply his emissaries, Timothy and Titus, were such. Yes, he does send and delegate them to install/affirm/ordain/appoint “elders”, but not to make elders out of non elders, but rather to delegate elders/SENIORS(male) to superintend and shepherd (but not to rule in the English sense of the term 1 Peter 5:3).
    Though gender distinction is part of the patriarchal system, age distinction is of greater significance. The Third Commandment does not say, Honor Thy Father and the Older Brother, but rather, Honor Thy Father and thy Mother. I can find no evidence in the Bible, neither The Old or New Testament, that a son can surpass his mother in honor according to Biblical teaching. That is why both elder(male) and elder(female) have/should have distinctive though separate roles in the affairs of both the church and the home.
    If I err, please show me from Scripture and first century history.

  30. the idea of women should be allowed to teach men in church springs from christian feminists.the scripture they hold basis for this is women and satan are natural enemies in the curse god pronounce on serpent(see genesis).god says to serpent u and the WOMEN shall be enemies always and her descendent will crush ur descendents head and ur descendent will bite his heel.this is a prophecy of what christ accomplished on cross as we all know.but who is the women in this scripture.catholics consider it to be mary.protestents have varying ideas like church,israel all women.but what is the true interpretation.this WOMEN is the holy spirit the feminine part of trinity.we know jesus didnt come frm marys ovarys.holy spirit gave birth to jesus.mary was used only as a vehicle.misinterpretation of this single scripture has resulted in great tragedies.islam was born out of misinterpretation that christians consider mary to be third person in trinity.hence they discarded whole concept of trinity and instead started worshipping god the father only.christian women who want to teach men base themselves on this particular scripture saying women here mens whole womenkind making them spiritually superior to males.but we know the women is holyspirit and not women of this eart who err many a times and are influenced by satan many a times.

  31. Jason,

    I have some information for you. First, the idea that women can/should preach come from the New Testament. Paul writing saying that there is neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female, neither slave nor freeman in Christ. All are one in Christ Jesus. The second Scripture is where Pricilla and Aquila are teaching. Her name is always listed first which implies that she was more of the teacher than he was.

    A question. Where did you get the idea that Mary’s ovaries had nothing to do with the incarnation. Catholics and Orthodox believe that she was very much involved in the Incarnation of Jesus the Christ. That is why she is considered the Mother of God, because she did provide His human nature.

  32. bookdragon I don’t see a disconnect with Paul and women. This being one of many examples.

    Philippians 4:3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

  33. Jason,

    What version of Church History have you been reading? According to the Council of Chalcedon Jesus was fully man and God. That means Jesus came from Mary in everyway a normal human being is formed in the womb. He went through puberty, had to “find” himself as every adolescent does. He probably had wet dreams, he sweated, bleed, went to the bathroom, ate food, had to learn Scripture. If one denys any of these they are in some form of psuedo-Docetism/Monophytism. St Augustine said something like “The flesh of Christ is the flesh of Mary”. On all of this I would recomend EP Sanders or John P Meier.

    And Islam was NOT born out of the fact they understood Mary to be the Third Person of the Trinity. Like most heretics or non-believers they struggled with the idea of the Incarnation (for a wonderful patristic idea of the Incarnation see Athanasius’ “On the Incarnation” which does not have any of the dour notions of depravity and atonement that later Fathers had).

    God becoming man, you have to admit, is quite ridiculous. If anything (ask the Orthodox this) the idea of Mary being a member of the Trinity is an idea inherited from the West’s acceptance of the Filoque, the subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son. And since Islam grew out of Eastern Christianity and Arabic cults, it is obvious that it did not come from some Western notion of Mariology. For this I find Vladimir Lossky’s distillation of Eastern philosophy and theology extremely illumining, “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church”

    Mary was not merely a vehicle for Christ’s birth, but the women who raised him, who taught him, kissed him good night. She was not some machine, or pawn of God. On this I can recomend another later Father “The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ” by Maximus the Confessor, who had his tongue cut out for maintaining orthodox notions of God.

    And I can agree somewhat of the notion of the Holy Spirit being the feminine member of the Trinity. Although one has to remember that anything we can positively about the nature of God has to be negated by apophatic theology, because words are can never propely describe any notion of God, because he transcends all our notions of diety or sexuality. (For apophatic theology again see Lossky or Kallistos Ware “The Orthodox Way”). Lewis also talks about sexual difference in “Perelandra” as well.

    Maybe this will help you to not stray into some strange interpretation of Genesis, and then a stranger interpreation of women. Gender roles are culturally conditioned and therefore relative. This does not mean there are not “roles” so to speak, just that one cannot be overly dogmatic on issues such as this.

  34. Nicholas Anton says:

    The physical Jesus could not simply have been exclusively of the genetic pool of Mary in that He is male and not female. According to normal genetics as I understand it (I am not a geneticist) a female alone cannot beget a male. The concept of the Deity of Jesus as having been formed from Mary (human), and thus the concept of Mary as being the mother of God, does not conform to Scripture.
    Jesus Himself rejects Mary as His mother.
    Mat 12:47-50;
    “Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
    Joh 19:26-27;
    “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

    I do not reject Mary as the birth mother of Jesus, nor as the source of part of the gene pool of physical Jesus (the other part was of the Holy Spirit; Mat 1:18; “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”), nor her virginity at the time of Jesus’ birth, but I question the concept of Deity as having been passed on by Mary. Through Mary? Yes. By Mary? No. Note what the author of Hebrews states;
    Heb 2:16
    “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” (Not Mary)

  35. Many Christians seem to believe that women should not teach men and use Scripture, such as the one you mention, to justify this position. Additionally, some churches actually prohibit women from leadership functions in churches.

    Have we forgotten that a number of women were apostles? They’re listed in the NT. This means they would teach and those they teach would include men and would most like have run churches at least for a short while before moving on to plant others. Additionally, Paul himself commends a number of women about their ministries and contributions to churches.

    We would be making a mistake of canonizing the first century – as clearly they made many mistakes as we know from Paul rebuking Peter!

    It would seem, to me, that distinctions become erased in Christ – no slave nor free, no jew nor gentile, no male nor female – but maintained by the cultures we’re in. Remember, when dealing with women covering their heads in prayer Paul is a man who would actually have needed to cover his head in prayer like most jews do. He actually ends the passage saying, “We have no such custom here”. Hence, though the aim is toward no sexism (yes let’s include women as leaders and teachers) let’s also respect the cultures we’re in (so perhaps we won’t let them teach or lead just yet depending on where we are), but (like Paul) let’s subvert our cultures and make every opportunity to empower, promote, and deploy women as leaders and teachers.

    Has anyone read Plato and others on women? Let’s not forget that Paul instructed men to educate their women, which is a step ahead of his culture and time as women were generally not educated or considered worth educating.

  36. woman can not teach, its plain and simple. Jesus chose 12 men to trave, teach, heal and all. Not one woman. Its says elderly woman can teach the young and were to share our faith and make diciples but not to run a church. Adam was made first, manis head of the household, and the church. I’m a woman and even I can appriciate that.

  37. Hello to all
    It is sad that women not only teach in churches but they also do not cover their heads as the Word tells us.
    It seems like we just do not want to obey those scriptures and it is God’s Word —so if you dont want to listen to certain scriptures because it hurts your feelings then just give up the whole Word of God
    Sarah

  38. God gives a reason, women are not to teach “in any gathering, where Christian men are present.
    1 Corinthians 14 34:38, 1 Timothy 2″11-15.

    I have asked, and received great revelation as to exactly what the deception is, BECAUSE I FORST BELIEVED GOD, and I see t in every woman (Just as God said).

    I will make NO attempt to use arguments.

    The choice is yours. Believe God’s word JUST BECAUSE He is God, and be under His wings.

    Or allow the “father of lies” to seduce you, like he did Eve, to believe God is holding you back.
    When you take a stand against God’s word, GOD says He WILL give you over to your own vain imaginations.

    The answer, repent, and believe God’s word even though it makes NO sense.
    That’s exactly what FAITH is!

  39. looks like Copeland is fighting back with a website of his own. I can’t say that I blame him. This article recently came out in Dallas Star Telegram..
    http://www.star-telegram.com/northeast/story/671754.html

  40. Wow. I am a frequent reader of this site, but this is my first time posting. I just wanted to note that this discussion thread is still going on nearly nine months after iMonk’s original post. A testament to the struggle many of us have in understanding the meaning of Paul’s words in these verses.

    I teach an adult Sunday School class in a medium sized SBC church, and I find the discussions on this site fascinating, and a useful tool in my journey. I personally thank you all for your insights. I find all of them, even those I disagree with, illuminating.

    I too have struggled with these verses. I have come to the conclusion that there is a dual danger when trying to interperet Paul’s words from our “modern” perspective. Just as we can fall into the danger of revising our view of scriptural truths due to influences from our modern “enlightened” way of thinking, we have to remember that there is an historical context, and also remember that while God is speaking to us through Paul’s words, he was also addressing serious matters at hand. This was a critical time in the growth of the church, and any and all heresy had to be addressed quickly.

    While I am a firm believer in the inerrency of scripture, I also know that what appears to be true from the quick read in the English translation (even ‘gasp!’ the KJV) is often a bit more complicated when viewed from the basis of the subtle possibilities in the Greek.

    I believe that in light of Paul’s other words regarding the value of women in the church, which we all (I hope) believe to be God breathed, I cannot hold to the view that Paul was advocating that Men do all the talking and women all the listening. God help us if such were the case. My wife and I both believe that I have a God-given role to lead our family. She submits willingly to that authority, and I rely heavily on her as an equal partner in our marriage (a confusing little paradox to some!)

    That said, there are many, many, women in my church that are much more knowledgable about scripture than I and are much more eloquent in their ability to explain doctrine. I look forward each Sunday to their input into our class discussions and look forward to the day when our church leadership sees fit to allow women to teach “mixed” adult classes.

    I agree whole-heartedly with those who stated the obvious: try filling all the teaching slots in a church with only men and see how far you get….VBS would be cancelled indefinitely.