Sarah Palin vs Paul’s Directive for Women to be Silent and Submissive

I spend five or six hours every day exploring Christianity with non-Christians. Doing that—being someone whom non-Christians trust enough to do that with—necessarily means being consistently honest about those aspects or practice of my faith that I have every reason to understand will be difficult for non-Christians to accept.

One thing I never do when talking to non-Christians about Christianity is employ as final proof that something is true the fact that it’s in the Bible. Christian theology desrves better than that; Christianity is, if nothing else, absolutely rationally supportable. Believing in the reality of Christ does not mean checking one’s brain at the sanctuary door. Newton, Erasmus, Descartes, Bacon, Kierkegaard, Pascal, Faraday … it’s just not reasonable to claim that the endless number of such people were Christian in spite of their intellectual prowess.

As Galileo said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Bottom line being: We’re not idiots.

And not being idiots means we can’t shy away from manifest, obvious incongruities about our faith or the way it’s practiced. Doing that would be dishonorable to God; it would mean acquiescing to the idea that Jesus has bequeathed us something of which we need to hide or be ashamed. And of course that’s unacceptable to us Christians; surely each of us holds as our own Paul’s proclamation (at Romans 1:16), “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”

It is in this spirit of honest, forthright engagement with God and his word that I’d like to ask a question that couldn’t help but come to me as I was reading the Bible this morning. I was in 1 Timothy 2, when I read this: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes …. 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.

Now how in this world could I read that and not think of Sarah Palin? I didn’t want to think of Sarah Palin. I didn’t want to think of anything besides the glory of God’s word. I hardly waded into my Bible this morning looking for trouble. But (alas) there it was.

So I’m honestly and truly asking, simply because I don’t understand and want to: How do Christians who embraced and supported Sarah Palin in particular for her adherence to “traditional” Biblical values reconcile how utterly she violated Paul’s injunctions to women to not wear expensive clothes, to stay quiet, to remain submissive, and to have no authority over men? If vigorously campaigning for Vice President of the United States (while, as we all know, wearing expensive clothes) isn’t in direct, overt, purposeful, and sustained opposition to all four of those things, then … then King Kong was a leprechaun. I would think evangelicals and Biblical fundamentalists would reject Ms. Palin for … well, for one, so ambitiously seeking authority over men.

What do I say to non-Christians when they assert that Christians are being blatantly hypocritical and even opportunistically bigoted when they use Paul’s words as justification for the condemnation of homosexuality, and at the same time ignore Paul’s very explicit words when doing so suits their own personal desires and ambitions? How do we use Paul to argue for California’s Proposition 8, but not use Paul to argue against Sarah Palin?

As a believer in the gospel who is constantly engaging with non-Christians about Christ, I’m sincerely asking my fellow believers: What should my answer to that fair question be? I’m pretty good at logic, and at a single thought can be filled with the liberating, redemptive power of the Holy Spirit. But for the answer to this one question I’m afraid I have to rely upon the wisdom of others. Please help out a brother if you can.

(Oh, and please don’t say that 1 Timothy 2 was meant by Paul only as instructions on worship. I know that many of our Bibles say “Instructions on Worship” right before 1 Timothy 2. But that’s an utterly people-inserted title. There is virtually nothing in the text itself to indicate that Paul isn’t prescribing proper behavior for all Christen women at all times.)

Extremely pertinent post o’ mine: Ecclesia Reformatat Semper Reformanda.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://n/a Kristen

    Wasn't that verse being applied to the ministry Paul was involved in that time and therefore specifically referring to women's role in the church? I'm going to be thinking and studying this more before I can offer any well rounded response. My curiosity is peaked, the wheels are churning…. :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Kristen: I use an NIV study Bible. I read the intro to 1 Timothy there, and certainly didn't see anything that would allow me to basically discount Paul's words because of their … ministerial context. And can/would we EVER do that, basically? Moreover, how often do we hear Paul's words quoted to us, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness …"? So I'm not seeing a lot of wiggle room for wholesale dismissal of something Paul states explicity based on a consideration of context. I just don't see how we can justify picking and choosing that way.

  • http://solnushka.wordpress.com/ Solnushka

    Of course, if you'll permit me to be a bit flippant, she was, technically, subserviant to a man in the VP role. Presumably, though, she'd have had to resign if McCain had… um… relinquised his position due to … ah… extreme ill health.

  • richard

    As with all of scripture, context is important. Many christians have a superficial understanding of scripture, which leads to a great deal of misinterpretation and false doctrine. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13). One of the great problems in christian history is that man interprets scripture to suit his own purposes and not the purposes of God. One verse is not the whole Bible. Jesus did not treat women as second class people, and we need to study all of scripture in context to see the truth.

  • http://annaldavis.wordpress.com annaldavis

    No I certainly don't think women should be one way inside the church and another outside. A believer of any gender who has submitted fully to Jesus should act in every arena with both modesty and authentic humility.

    But just as Paul sets forth certain guidelines for elders and deacons that do not apply to the general church members, he also gives these expectations for how women should behave in church. Certainly in Proverbs we see that women should speak out in some capacity "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue… Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works praise her at the city gate." (Proverbs 31:26,31).

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Richard: I absolutely understand that Jesus didn't treat women as second-class citizens. The scripture is clear that just the opposite is true. But we're not talking about Jesus here; we're talking about Paul. And what Paul says here about women is as clear and explicit as language allows. I'm just wondering how I'm going to answer people who ask me why sometimes we cleave with all our might to Paul's words, and other times—when, in this case, Paul's even MORE clear— we get all murky about context and REAL meaning, and then basically let it slide.

  • http://www.northpointcc.wordpress.com Tom

    Interesting conversation. I do believe Paul's comments were directed at the Church primarily and has to do with spiritual authority. I'm not convinced that Sarah Palin would have been in "spiritual authority" over anyone. If we follow the strict reading that I sense some are suggesting, then there would be no women in leadership in any business, government position or charity. I believe Paul was establishing an order in the area of spiritual matters. It isn't a matter of acting one way in the church and another outside of the church but simply recognizing a Biblical "chain of command."

    There is also the assumption that the woman is under the leadership of a man or men who recognize and submit to the headship of Christ. I'm not convinced the crew in Washington qualify.

  • Melinda

    I have to agree with Tom here, I'm a successful woman in business, does that mean I should quit my job, stay home, wear only ugly unattractive clothes and never participate in anything where I might have any authority at all over a man? What about women with male children? I suppose women should also not lead choir, Sunday School or have any role whatsoever in the church besides maybe cooking food for potlucks if that is permissible…

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    I think that attempting to apply these verses to worship (or not apply it) is pointing us in the wrong direction.

    I think the more pertinent question is what relationships does Paul mean for this position of women to be applied. Certainly not between mother and child and certainly not between a woman and a person of lower standing, like a servant or slave. Could such a broad sweeping statement really be coming from the same Paul who admonished Timothy for having been taught the faith by his mother and grandmother? Isn't also the woman in Proverbs 31 praised for both her business and the wisdom she exhibits in teaching?

    I would imagine that Paul writing this to Timothy was establishing a goal, or a high calling, similar to his instructions for Elders and Presbyters, for how woman professing to be Christian ought to behave. It would seem unwise for us to use these verses like a blunt object upon any woman who ever adorns an expensive dress, but as a "general directive" the instruction would seem fairly plain and straightforward.

    Sarah Palin, of course, was in an interesting situation in regards to her expensive clothing.

    When it comes to the teaching and authority, that verse is naturally complicated by the fact that our modern society encourages authority for women. This idea doesn't strike me as unbiblical, and i don't think it would even contradict these verses if you consider relationships in business and government positions to be of a different kind then personal relationships.

    Is it contradictory for a woman to give orders to the men and women that work under her, but yet to submissively take orders from her husband or brother? I don't think so. How then is a the role of President any different?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah, this is all … nice–but doesn't even come close to answering how I tell non-Christians why or how it is that with one hand we functionally ignore these words of Paul's—that, in fact, we enthusiastically embrace a fundamentalist woman who manifestly breaks them all—while, with our hand, we can't cling hard enough to Paul's condemnation of homosexuality. A child would say that it only seems right to either hang onto both, or drop both. How do we justify this choosing?

  • http://www.rbfproject.tk rbfproject

    This certainly is an interesting discussion… looking from an atheistic perspective, it would definitely seem that we are being hypocritical. To us it makes perfect sense theologically, but how do we explain it to our peers?

  • http://www.sisterfriends-together.org anita

    I've not even reading the post yet. I'm just enjoying the title.

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    Well, personally I can't justify it. After all, Paul condemns homosexuality in the same breath as drunkenness and lying and we certainly aren't out there trying to pass legislation on either of those. We also do a fine job of ignoring Gods fairly clear condemnation of divorce in Malachi.

    So, in answer to your question… I don't know? I'm with you, though. Maybe the best answer is, we are just hypocrites who barely understand religious texts and ought to work better at it.

  • Dana

    The Bible can be quite confusing and contradictory. People who claim otherwise are just not being honest, IMO. This is very difficult to explain to non-Christians.

    Here's what I'm finding in my spiritual journey. I'm finding less and less universal rules for being a Christian. In fact, I believe everything can be condensed into love. Love for one another. This is the only factor that has a chance of convincing non-Christians. Even laws that I used to think so universal can be called into question–like homosexuality. Watch the movie "The Bible Tells Me So" and let me know what you think. God condemns same-sex relations and in the same passage nearby condemns shellfish eating. This is all very confusing for people. You can argue that it's unnatural to be in gay relationships, God didn't mean for it to be that way, etc., but these arguments will never convince a nonbeliever. It all comes down to love! If I've accepted Christ as my Savior, allowing Him to enable me to live by the principles in the Sermon on the Mount and in passages like Amos 8 (bringing God's kingdom to earth by taking care of the poor), then that is about all I really need to know. I don't have to protest gay marriage, I don't have to be fearful that the country is going to heck in a handbasket, I don't have to obsess about the church's standards crumbling–it's quite freeing actually! I realize these are controversial statements, so I welcome feedback. The great part is many secular folks are very interested in working for social justice and change, so the above principles are very attractive to them.

    The two primary books that have played into my thinking on this are:

    The Shack

    Jesus for President

    UnChristian–a must-read, BTW. Basically, it points to the fact that if Christians don't do something different–and soon–Christianity will die out completely. We already see this happening in Europe where churches are becoming mere museums.

    Christianity is about relationships. I can make an argument for why everyone–not just women–should engage in a simpler lifestyle and avoid expensive clothes, cars, etc. Again, from the argument of love, we can say that extravagant consumption is hurting our planet and is a poor substitute for healing the hurt in our hearts. Many secular folks would agree with those points. The women keeping silent idea is difficult to explain, but I think we have to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity sometimes. Truth is never revealed all at once…and this is something I share with my non-Christian friends & they respect that. They don't expect me to have all the answers.

  • http://youngadultsindayton.wordpress.com talia kolkerr

    first i feel the need to point out that this passage about women was written during a time when the cult of artemis was extremely popular and attractive to women because it promised them safety in childbirth, which was sadly uncommon, and because it preached not only equality but the superiority of women to men, among other incorrect things. thus the goal of this passage is not to put limits on women, but to correct them. in reality, paul was ahead of his time in writing that women should be allowed to learn and participate in religion for themselves at all. but a large number of women had been drawn away into an extremely attractive cult, and hello, before they could take their place in leadership in the christian church, it's only rational that they should first educate themselves and learn the teachings of christianity so they wouldn't enter false teachings into church tradition. paul was arguing against false teachers, not female teachers.

    second, this is 2008, is it not? women can do anything men can do. and anyone who hasn't accepted that fact needs to grow up. there is still discrimination in many arenas of our lives today, and unfortunately people often seem to label discrimination as the word of god. it is not.

    the third and last thing i have to say at this time is that i am in no way a fundy. but i was raised in a fundy church, so i've been indoctrinated in fundy teachings and i know how "they" think. and with the sermons on sunday morning, you'd think they WOULD be anti-palin, but every christian fundamentalist and/or evangelical (take your pick) i've ever met is in LOVE with her. myself, i disagree with palin on pretty much every single one of her platforms and consequently couldn't vote for her, but i would defend to the death her right as a person and as a woman to participate in politics or anything else she wishes to. you might say that i support her as a woman in politics, but not palin the politician, if that makes any sense.

  • http://ww.sheppardministries.com Greta

    I grew up, cutting my theological teeth on 'clothesline' preaching directed to the women in the church. No 'skin' was the rule! They were to adhere to it and obey it. All the men would nod in agreeance: ….."Go get'em pastor!

    What are you guys going to do with Esther and Deborah in the old testament?. The costly oils, perfumes, clothes made from rich fabrics like linen and wool. (There were no synthetics in those days.) While you put Sarah Palin down for her expensive clothes you don't say a thing about Obama's expensive ties! And buying 5 suits at a time? Tut-tut! But 'he's a man', you say.

    You've got my ire up! Read Romans 16….Paul honors the women who helped him in his ministry. Study church history…find out the culture at the time he wrote that letter to the Corinthians.

    And Pleeeease….read Jesus! In his sermon on the mount, which I beleive is the Magna Carta of the Kingdom of heaven on earth,… Jesus makes no mention about what women should wear. In fact, he didn't talk about outward attire…he talked about the 'thoughts of the heart'…directing his words to men who committ adultery, to those who murder, to those who judge others…. in their heart. Come on, guys and gals…there are better things to do with our time in cyber space than to criticize a woman of the faith for what she wears. If it had been a bikini I could understand your deep concern about Sarah Palins wardrobe. …lift up your eyes, you small minded guys!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, maybe we can … come up with something. I hope so. I need a REASON (besides innate homophobia) why we get all mysterious and contextual about one set of Paul's extremely clear prohibitions, and completely clear and unquestioning about another set of his edicts. It's just not logically supportable. How do I make that NOT sound like simple, ugly bigotry thinly disguised as piousness?

  • http://www.momof2.wordpress.com Lori

    I think we need to remember that this was a letter and as with all letters, they have a person in mind who will be reading it and usually a topic for a certain purpose. As in the letter of 1 Timothy, Paul was writing to a young pastor and he would not be instructing Timothy in the secular matters of the world when as an apostle, he would've been helping Timothy with the work of the church. Because he was no doubt concerned with Timothy's teaching of other Christians, he was instructing Timothy in the teaching of the Christians in the church. While it does not explicitly say this is for behavior in spiritual matters, it does imply that since he was writing to a young pastor.

    Paul's usage of personal pronouns however does indicate a personal preference of his own and not a 'thus saith the Lord' kind of moment. He was telling Timothy that "he did not allow a woman to do…" not that "God says not allow a woman to do…".

    Hope this helps! :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Again: that's fine. I've got no problem with that. BUT HOW DO WE RELATE THAT TO THE WAY WE TREAT PAUL'S EQUALLY CLEAR PROSCRIPTIONS AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY? That's my problem; that's the COMBO that's killing me.

    To quote myself from two or so comments back: I need a REASON (besides innate homophobia) why we get all mysterious and contextual about one set of Paul's extremely clear prohibitions, and completely clear and unquestioning about another set of his edicts. It's just not logically supportable. How do I make that NOT sound like simple, ugly bigotry thinly disguised as piousness?

  • http://www.momof2.wordpress.com Lori

    Don't get all up-in-arms, John…I understand your need for a reason, but understand this, that whatever reason is given whether it's logical in your mind or anyone else's mind or not, it can be rationalized or justified away in any way by anyone who doesn't want to hear the truth.

    If you look back to 1 Tim. 1 starting in verse 8 and following, it starts talking about the Law. What was the Law used for? It was used as a mirror, so that we (as sinners) could see that we were needed cleansing from that sin. Jesus' blood is the only thing that could cleanse us. Just as when we look in a mirror and it shows us we have a dirty face, we don't use the mirror to cleanse us (that doesn't work), but we can see our need for cleansing. Jesus said that HE is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE and that no man could come to the Father but through HIM. – We have our cleansing tool.

    Homosexuality is just one of the many sins that Paul names here in 1 Timothy 1.

    Hope that helped! :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh, yeah, that's right: I always forget that capitals look like YELLING. I still think of them in the Oldye School way, when they meant emphasis/italics.

    But. Right. Sorry. Not up-in-arms. Just … kind of tired of saying the same thing, maybe, a little.

  • Cheryl

    The November 2008 issue of Christianity Today has an editorial entitled "Misunderstanding Sarah" that might help. :-)

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I don't have the m-div, but I'll tell you how I've been taught on the topic…

    My understanding is that Paul was addressing a specific issue in the church at that time. The men and women would sit in separate sections, and the women, sitting in the back, would shout out questions, which was just plain disruptive, rather than a theological issue. So to allow the services to proceed and end at a reasonable time he would have the women wait and ask their questions afterward, when they got home. Hence "I do not permit…" and not "God does not permit…" It's true that all scripture is useful…but it's also true that these were real letters to real people and while I'm not into dismissing it all as a matter of convenience and culture, I think it's worth considering the context, and especially the heart of the issues.

    I think it's also useful to keep in mind the verses about under Christ there is no more male or female, etc…we are equal in Jesus. God gives us all gifts regardless of gender, and I think he intends for us to develop and use them.

    However there is something to be said about roles, as opposed to standing…my view is that when taken altogether our clearest instruction is one of mutual submission, humility, and respect. So Sarah Palin can be a leader, as long as she is humble and accountable in her leadership role. My friend can be a pastor at her church because she's not lording it over people…she is accountable to the other pastors and elders. I can tell my husband what to do in many cases, because he has said "I don't want to decide, please just plan it and let me know." I'm not bossing him around, I'm working in my strengths and he is fine with it. Same thing when he tells me what to do concerning his areas of strength. If one or the other of us was always trying to be the ultimate decision-maker, we'd both be worse off for it.

    So how to I let him be the head of the house? I call him the king all the time. =) Seriously though, think it's true for a lot of (all?) men that they want to feel respected…so I (try to) do simple things, like remembering the fair fighting rules when we disagree, really listen to him when he talks, and so on. In a nutshell, try to treat him with respect. There are many qualities I respect & admire about him…the challenge is to be humble enough to tell him that.

    I'm not even going to tackle the fashion issue…save that one for another time. =) I'll just say that most women like to feel pretty, and it's OK to feel pretty as long as you're not doing it at the expense of your relationship with God. Everything in moderation, blah blah blah.

    OK, end of soapbox. Nice can o' worms, John. =)

  • http://brianjwalton.wordpress.com/ brianjwalton

    "I need a REASON (besides innate homophobia) why we get all mysterious and contextual about one set of Paul’s extremely clear prohibitions, and completely clear and unquestioning about another set of his edicts."

    My best reason is that the time's have called for it. The personal morality of men and women was far more heavily scrutinized in the Puritan era and homosexuality (it surely existed) was relatively left alone. Homosexuality in Greece was a hot topic (see Plato's Symposium) but Paul's letters were still non-existent.

    I suppose that if a women empowerment movement grew up in the church where Palins were the norm then this might be a totally different discussion.

    I know that when I was in college, myself and many of my male friends were becoming increasingly concerned with Paul's exhortation regarding our speech. We considered sarcasm to be a totally harmless pastime, though it seemed that Paul disagreed.

    But why, I ask, isn't the rest of Christianity seeking to fight against the disease of cheeky sarcastic running rampant in our American youth when Paul speaks so clearly against "foolish talk"? My best answer is maybe we should, but just not to the point of alienating Christ. Which, incidentally, is what we are doing in the homosexuality debate.

  • john

    Styles change throughout the centuries, however humility is honored by God. A sexual sin of defiling the temple, which God will destroy those who do so, cannot be seriously compared to a style of dress.

    With regard to leadership: their is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female in Christ. There have been queens before throughout the centuries. Royalty dresses like royalty.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Oh right, homosexuality. Sorry John, I don't have much to offer there.

  • john

    For The Lord made Wonderful variety and divisions each according to their kind on earth.

  • john

    For Eve is the Mother of all of the living; for God is The God of the Living and not of the dead; as in Revelation has The Woman pursued by The Dragon. There is enmity between the Dragon and the children of Eve; the Mother of The Prophets of The Holy City New Jerusalem. For Eve was deceived, not adam. Adam listened to his wife out of 'love'. But true Love comes from God in submission to His Will and His Word. Abel; the first Martyr of The First Resurection; was of this City. Cain was disinherited and cast as a wandering star with God's warning and seal so that The Angels would not kill him. If you do well, for God is patient and kind, won't it be accepted? To give to each according to what was done.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, John: Let it rest, friend.

  • lauren

    Here's what you tell them:

    America has fallen from God.

    =]

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I did make my very specific question, clear, right? I remember THINKING I was writing in English ….

  • Second Michele

    Sometimes the Greek word for man in that text is translated husband.

    Some versions read usurp authority instead of have authority.

    If you consider that:

    * there were women prophets throughout the Bible

    * Solomon advised his adult son not to forsake his mother's teaching

    * Priscilla, alongside her husband, in the book of Acts taught the new convert Apollos

    * The Risen Christ was first preached to 11 men by a woman (Mary Magdalene)

    * many other examples of women in leadership positions are in the Bible

    I THINK we can say that a woman may have both Spiritual and secular teaching positions over men.

    But she is not to usurp the authority of her own husband, whom she is commanded to submit to. (Note she is not commanded to submit to every man)

    Not sure on this one – but that seems to be the most consistant way to interpret that text in light of the rest of Scripture.

    There IS a pretty clear New Testament prohibition against women wearing jewelry, and expensive or immodest clothes.

  • Jen

    What I'm wondering is why you are picking on Sarah Palin specificially? There are MANY other women that you could put in place of Sarah's name….why did you pick her? I'm curious.

    Thanks

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Lovin' the discussion. Well, lovin' is prob not the word. Enjoying. I think we're blinded from serious plank-eye… we just don't know it. We're kinda like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Jen: You could not have actually read the post. I'm not even almost vagueling picking on Sara Palin. All I'm saying (and at this point I'm actually becoming curious about whether or not anyone at all is hearing what I'm saying: if you're one of my thousands of readers who don't ever comment on the blog, comment this ONCE, and just say "yes," so I'll know I'm still in Sane Land) is that there's dichotomy that I'm trying to resolve, which is how it can be that so many of the same people who voted for Sarah Palin because they love how Biblical she is can be the same people who passed Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage initiative in California). My point is that why do we Christians so vigorously champion what Paul says against homosexuals, but so comfortably ignore what he so explicity says about women? It's the simplest possible question.

  • CAcarol

    Yes.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Brian are you serious? You can't be serious. You're a friend of John's and you're teasing, right? No one can really be that presumptuous…or all-knowing about other people's standing with God…can they?

  • wallmein

    yes

  • bartondrause

    Yes. Yes!

  • bartondrause

    Yes. Yes!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Whew. Thanks, guys. I was starting to wonder there….)

    And thanks (as ever) Skerrib.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Whew. Thanks, guys. I was starting to wonder there….)

    And thanks (as ever) Skerrib.

  • http://christianranter.wordpress.com Des

    Paul has written many things that have been conveniently ignored by today's protestant. This is only one of them.

  • http://christianranter.wordpress.com Des

    Paul has written many things that have been conveniently ignored by today's protestant. This is only one of them.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (note to readers of yesterday's blog: the snarky Brian above is NOT the same stunt car driving Brian who would have signed the book I sent you. I hope.)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (note to readers of yesterday's blog: the snarky Brian above is NOT the same stunt car driving Brian who would have signed the book I sent you. I hope.)

  • annaldavis

    I just re-read this chapter and it does appear to be instructions specific to worship, directed at the church. In that context it makes sense that women shouldn’t draw attention to their physical features through flashy clothing or jewelry because all attention should be on God.

    Likewise I view the comments about learning in full submission with silence to be about spiritual matters, rather than political. However, I don’t fully understand if this statement still applies today since back then women weren’t as educated and did not have access to the holy text.

    I cannot in good conscience scrap the whole thing because of cultural changes, though. So on a personal level I do yield to men in a spiritual setting unless with close friends or family (not to be argumentative, but for honest discussion), or unless the Holy Spirit urges me to say something.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Anna: I don’t know, man. It sure sounds to me like the logical extension of what you’re saying is that it’s totally fine for women to act one way OUTSIDE the church, as long as inside they act in a radically different way. That’s a pretty … weak fort to have to defend, yes? It sounds maybe sort of just a slightly tad crazy, right? Or is that just me?

    Sol: I think it’s safe to say the Vice President of America has authority over men, yes?

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Let’s assume for a moment Paul DID only mean in the context of “church worship”, however we define that. Have you seen the videos on YouTube of Palin at church? Some mighty nice clothes. And she’s doing lots of talkin’. To men.

    I don’t get it either, John. Every Young-Earth-Creationist at my church loves Palin, and you’d think those guys would be vehemently opposed to anything outside the literal Word.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, the bottom line is there is virtually no indication in the text that Paul is only meaning to address the behavior of women in church. My NIV Bible has a heading before that section that says, “Instructions on Worship”—but that’s a man-made heading. Paul himself doesn’t say a single word about his directions being meant for women in worship or church. Just the opposite, in fact. Based on the text I have before me, it seems undeniable that he’s prescribing proper behavior for women at all times, places, and situations. If he only means it for church, he’s definitely not saying it.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Anna: As I say, though, the text of 1 Timothy itself in no way whatsoever indicates that Paul is prescribing behavior for worship. We can SAY that’s there, and that’s what he MEANT, but then we can’t blame non-believers from throwing up their hands, and saying how obvious it is that we turn the text of the Bible into whatever we want it to say. If you look at the text again—at just the text, and no people-inserted headings of the text—you’ll see there’s virtually no place where Paul indicates he’d doing anything but prescribing how all women should act at all times. It’s not in the NIV version of the text, anyway.

  • Candace

    John, as a relatively new Christian who formerly harbored a near-pathological antipathy towards perceived sexism in the Bible, I can tell you honestly that — while I love your heart in this effort — most of the time non-believers just have to suspend their disbelief and then eventually come to an understanding of these things AFTER they have gone ahead and trusted the Lord.

    The Holy Spirit's work with me on that topic was profound and unexplainable. No human being ever could have accomplished it. And some of the most amazing Christians one could ever meet tried, for years.

    I know that's not particularly helpful, at least not in the way you'd like it to be. But it's all I've got, and I figured I'd offer it up :-)

  • Pingback: Yeah, What He Said…. « The New Just Rambling

  • http://thereisnogray.wordpress.com thereisnogray

    I had a couple of thoughts as I read this post. Maybe not an answer, but food for thought

    First and most prominent in my mind is this idea that Sarah Palin is somehow a model Christian that we should be striving to emulate. Who put her on that pedestal one step down from God himself? I didn’t. Frankly, if she is there, she’s in the way of everyone who is trying to follow Christ’s example. If Sarah Palin is in your way of seeing Jesus and following his example, move your head.

    Second, the passage in 1 Timothy that you use is titled: “Instructions on Worship.” While I certainly don’t advocate inconsistencies in and out of the church setting, I think we need to keep the passage in context. There are specific issues directed toward men and women in this passage relating to worship and prayer. Redlefty points out certain Youtube videos that show Sarah Palin at church in “some mighty nice clothes,” that begs the question: do we know that they were expensive?

    Finally I am reminded of 1 Peter 3:3-4 which addresses the issue perhaps more succinctly this way:

    “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

    I don’t think anyone is saying you must look drab and lifeless, in fact, I think that some could wear an old burlap sack and wear it with vanity.

  • http://annaldavis.wordpress.com annaldavis

    I understand your frustration with explaining the Bible to unbelievers, as I have tried to do so myself. I echo Richard in saying that context is always important, and any intellectually honest unbeliever should understand that. Sometimes they understand that more than we do.

    You’re right — 1 Timothy 2 does not indicate specifically that Paul is talking about behavior for worship. But the whole book of 2 Timothy is Paul’s letter to Timothy, who he had put in charge of the church at Ephesus. And as a whole the book addresses the order of worship, with directions for church leaders and adherence to sound teaching. Finally, in 1 Tim. 2:10, Paul follows his directives to women with the statement “appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

    Having said that I am not sold on Palin for many reasons. But this passage isn’t one of them.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Gray: But again, that “title” to which you refer (“Instructions on Worship”) is utterly man-made. In the text itself, Paul says nothing whatsoever to in any way signal that he intends for his prescription for the behavior of women to be understood within the context of worship. Just the opposite, actually: clearly, he’s talking to and about all women, at all times. My guess is that we’ve decided to CALL that section of the Bible “Instructions on Worship” as a justification for basically ignoring it.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Anna: Ditto.

  • http://www.myspace.com/justaskrwc ~donna

    yes :o)

  • http://www.myspace.com/justaskrwc ~donna

    yes :o)

  • Candace

    I'm thinking that if people want all the loose ends tied up and dealt with to their total satisfaction, when it comes to faith or to any other aspect of life, they are bound to be disappointed.

    And if we need every question answered definitively in order to believe, then we will never really be able to believe in anything.

    Personally, I don't think it's realistic to expect Christians to be significantly less hypocritical (or bigoted or blind or ambitious or greedy or whatever) than any other humans. We may wish we were (I sure do), we may sincerely try to be (I sure do), but — so far, at least for me — the main difference is that I now I have a deeper understanding and a more peaceful acceptance of how deeply flawed and in need of a Saviour I really am.

    I trust that the Lord will continue to work me toward that which He intends for me to ultimately be. But I do not expect the work He has begun in me to be completed in my *human* lifetime.

    Questions like those you pose in this blog post are useful for provoking thought, John, but I'm not sure anyone here has the answer(s) you're wanting.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, unless I'm missing something—and so far certainly no one has offered up what thing that might be—we Christians have exactly two choices: Either accept Paul at his word, or don't. If we do, then we have to call it a Biblical affront for Sarah Palin to have run for VP (as it was for any believer to vote for her), and we should continue doing everything we can to quell popular acceptence of homosexuality. If we DON'T take Paul at his word, then it's perfectly fine for Sarah Palin to run for office, and there's no problem whatsoever with homosexuality. But for the life of me, I just don't see on what grounds we can justify accepting Paul's condemnation of one class of people, and rejecting his condemnation of another—when he has clearly given them equal weight. It just doesn't make sense. But I'm sure that at any moment a follower of Christ much wiser than I will clear up for me this mysterious theological cunnundrum (sp?).

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, unless I'm missing something—and so far certainly no one has offered up what thing that might be—we Christians have exactly two choices: Either accept Paul at his word, or don't. If we do, then we have to call it a Biblical affront for Sarah Palin to have run for VP (as it was for any believer to vote for her), and we should continue doing everything we can to quell popular acceptence of homosexuality. If we DON'T take Paul at his word, then it's perfectly fine for Sarah Palin to run for office, and there's no problem whatsoever with homosexuality. But for the life of me, I just don't see on what grounds we can justify accepting Paul's condemnation of one class of people, and rejecting his condemnation of another—when he has clearly given them equal weight. It just doesn't make sense. But I'm sure that at any moment a follower of Christ much wiser than I will clear up for me this mysterious theological cunnundrum (sp?).

  • Candace

    John, are you sure you aren't crafting an idol here? I haven't been a Christian long at all, and definitely not as long as you, but it seems to me you are, perhaps, wrangling this question/argument/point into an unsuitable frame of reference. It's beginning to ring of hyperbole to me, and where you find hyperbole, you often find an agenda.

    We need to be sure we are not making God over in OUR image, rather than the reverse. I'm not saying that's what you're doing. But you seem determined to make this a black-and-white-only thing when it really does seem that context matters.

    Are YOU ready to throw the writings of Paul out the window because you cannot reconcile this question?

  • http://fearlessmom@blogspot.com Pam

    It's not really Paul's word that we're concerned about; it's God's word. The question is what kind of women does God want us to be? And to answer that, we need to look at the role models He gave us in the Bible. Was Lydia wrong when she started a church (definitely can't be silent there)? Was Esther wrong when she wore her queenly fashions and had all that power over male Jews?

    Palin is no one's ideal candidate by any means. It really comes down to choosing the lesser of the two evils. Which is more evil: usurping men and spending too much on clothes, or facilitating the murder of innocents and breakdown of families? Should we have embraced Obama because Palin contradicts this passage?

    We didn't choose Palin. We just chose her over Obama.

  • http://fearlessmom@blogspot.com Pam

    It's not really Paul's word that we're concerned about; it's God's word. The question is what kind of women does God want us to be? And to answer that, we need to look at the role models He gave us in the Bible. Was Lydia wrong when she started a church (definitely can't be silent there)? Was Esther wrong when she wore her queenly fashions and had all that power over male Jews?

    Palin is no one's ideal candidate by any means. It really comes down to choosing the lesser of the two evils. Which is more evil: usurping men and spending too much on clothes, or facilitating the murder of innocents and breakdown of families? Should we have embraced Obama because Palin contradicts this passage?

    We didn't choose Palin. We just chose her over Obama.

  • Naomi

    I think it is an issue of worship. In the proceeding verses Paul talks about preaching, teaching and praying. Besides, he is writing to Timothy, a church leader, about church matters. I believe it is Paul’s recommendation. He says, “I want women…” Verse 9 (NAS)

    On the other hand there are several verses through out the Bible that plainly state that homosexuality is a sin. Leviticus 18:22 says it is an abomination. The first chapter of I Timothy lists homosexuals along with “those who kill their fathers and mothers”, well and liars too. Lying is a sin, murder is a sin but braiding your hair or wearing gold is not a sin. A woman speaking or having authority over a man is not a sin.

    Sorry John he is not giving them equal weight. The Bible uses strong words against any kind of sexual sin. It is more than just Paul’s words, it is through out the whole Bible.

  • Naomi

    I think it is an issue of worship. In the proceeding verses Paul talks about preaching, teaching and praying. Besides, he is writing to Timothy, a church leader, about church matters. I believe it is Paul’s recommendation. He says, “I want women…” Verse 9 (NAS)

    On the other hand there are several verses through out the Bible that plainly state that homosexuality is a sin. Leviticus 18:22 says it is an abomination. The first chapter of I Timothy lists homosexuals along with “those who kill their fathers and mothers”, well and liars too. Lying is a sin, murder is a sin but braiding your hair or wearing gold is not a sin. A woman speaking or having authority over a man is not a sin.

    Sorry John he is not giving them equal weight. The Bible uses strong words against any kind of sexual sin. It is more than just Paul’s words, it is through out the whole Bible.

  • Cheryl

    In my mind, they aren’t the same issue. Break them apart and treat them as the separate items that they are.

    Homosexuality–not the only form of sex spoken against in the Bible, even though it is the only one that is railed against in the public arena, or so it seems. I think that’s a critical point. There are specific reasons why sex outside of marriage is not to be and that, in my mind, is the bigger issue.

    As to women being submissive–why is the assumption made that Paul knew he was writing for future generations? Why can’t the assumption be made that he was writing for a specific time and place–such as this church where worship was chaotic and a very bad witness to those investigating Christianity? His letter isn’t going to state that this applies for time eternity–in his mind he wasn’t writing the Bible, he was addressing a specific issue for a specific time at a particular place–as most letters do.

    Just my thoughts. such as they are.

  • john

    I believe that Galileo is partially in error with regard to gnosticism which is Egyptian or Greacian logic as the divine pursuit of the Good Life. Greeks seek Wisdom and Jews look for signs, but We preach Christ Crucified. Foolishness to the gentiles, and a stumbling block to the Jews, but to Us who are being saved it is the Power of God unto Salvation. We are not of those that perceive only the outside of things, for God only looks at what is in a persons heart.

  • http://thesearethecrazytimes-christine.blogspot.com Christine

    "But we’re not talking about Jesus here; we’re talking about Paul."

    Just had to add that this is a brilliant point Johnny boy, and isn't Jesus the example we should take first and foremost??

    I learnt in seminary that where this was coming from from Paul was that he was saying that to the women of the church as at this time women were not educated, not taught to the extent that men were and so therefore not able to teach in the depth and understanding that men could. I today's example I would say that it is the same as saying "People ho have not read the bible, indeed can't read, should not be teaching those who have studied it for years. Yes, have the faith the passion and the love for Christ, but leave the teaching those who know a little more in depth what it actaully says". Hmmmm, actually can think of a few preachers I should say that too LOL

  • http://thesearethecrazytimes-christine.blogspot.com Christine

    "But we’re not talking about Jesus here; we’re talking about Paul."

    Just had to add that this is a brilliant point Johnny boy, and isn't Jesus the example we should take first and foremost??

    I learnt in seminary that where this was coming from from Paul was that he was saying that to the women of the church as at this time women were not educated, not taught to the extent that men were and so therefore not able to teach in the depth and understanding that men could. I today's example I would say that it is the same as saying "People ho have not read the bible, indeed can't read, should not be teaching those who have studied it for years. Yes, have the faith the passion and the love for Christ, but leave the teaching those who know a little more in depth what it actaully says". Hmmmm, actually can think of a few preachers I should say that too LOL

  • Barbara

    What about Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher?? The Queen is supposed to be the head of the Church of England, and Margaret Thatcher was described as “The best man in England” while Prime Minister.

  • Brian

    John:

    I’ve read several of your posts and you seem to be somewhat weak in your biblical theology. It worries me that you are writing for christianity.com and yet claimed Obama is a Christian (previous post) and are now mis-interpreting 1 Timothy. I encourage you to study God’s word and get very comfortable with biblical theology before writing on these things.

  • Stuart

    I suspect that at this point in time, you will not be able to explain away to non believers why the church is inconsistent in what it holds on to.

    I also think people appreciate honesty, so if you can’t explain it to non Christians, just tell them that.

    We ruthlessly pursue homosexuals yet overlook other sexual indiscretions. So it’s going to be tough to explain it away to non believers.

    I personally believe that much of the church just doesn’t have a balanced perspective on what Christ call us to do. Perhaps the logs in our eyes are stopping us from seeing the trees. No wait that doesn’t make sense…….

    Stuart

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Brian: Bethany House Publishers thinks I know enough about Biblical theology to co-author “Being Christian,” an entire book on that very topic, which is their lead title for this publishing season (and doing very well). Instead of doing nothing more taxing than accusing me of being “weak” on Biblical theology, you could instead show off how strong you are at it by answering the question I’ve posed. Step up or step out, Snark Boy.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Brian: Bethany House Publishers thinks I know enough about Biblical theology to co-author “Being Christian,” an entire book on that very topic, which is their lead title for this publishing season (and doing very well). Instead of doing nothing more taxing than accusing me of being “weak” on Biblical theology, you could instead show off how strong you are at it by answering the question I’ve posed. Step up or step out, Snark Boy.

  • Mike

    It's unfortunate, John, that you don't appear willing to listen to the good advice of various commenters to understand the context of a passage–in this case 1 Tim. 2. You continue to assert that in no way is Paul limiting his words to the context of the church, but the church is most certainly in view. This, of course, does not mean there are not applications for outside the church. For a detailed exegesis of this passage and related issues, please see "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (ed. Piper and Grudem; please see http://www.cbmw.org/Recovering-Biblical-Manhood-a…. It's an excellent study of the complimentarian position and will help you see how many conservative Christians reconcile Paul's words about homosexuality and biblical manhood/womanhood by helping you understand sound biblical interpretation (from an admittedly conservative evangelical perspective).

  • Mike

    It's unfortunate, John, that you don't appear willing to listen to the good advice of various commenters to understand the context of a passage–in this case 1 Tim. 2. You continue to assert that in no way is Paul limiting his words to the context of the church, but the church is most certainly in view. This, of course, does not mean there are not applications for outside the church. For a detailed exegesis of this passage and related issues, please see "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" (ed. Piper and Grudem; please see http://www.cbmw.org/Recovering-Biblical-Manhood-a…. It's an excellent study of the complimentarian position and will help you see how many conservative Christians reconcile Paul's words about homosexuality and biblical manhood/womanhood by helping you understand sound biblical interpretation (from an admittedly conservative evangelical perspective).

  • Emily

    Here's a stab at it:

    Let's look at the Bible as a whole.

    Silent women – there are plenty of women in the Bible who defy this rule, yes? And we are meant to revere for their lack of silence, yes? (Lydia, female prophets, woman at the well that told everyone about Jesus.) That could show perhaps Paul's scripture did only speak to certain circumstances we may or may not know about in Timothy's church/community. Therefore, perhaps it is acceptable for women to NOT be silent. Even Palin. *sigh*

    Homosexuality – is there anyone in the Bible that defies this rule and is still meant to be revered? Hm.

    Okay, just a thought. Feel free to point out what holes you find in that reasoning…

  • Emily

    Here's a stab at it:

    Let's look at the Bible as a whole.

    Silent women – there are plenty of women in the Bible who defy this rule, yes? And we are meant to revere for their lack of silence, yes? (Lydia, female prophets, woman at the well that told everyone about Jesus.) That could show perhaps Paul's scripture did only speak to certain circumstances we may or may not know about in Timothy's church/community. Therefore, perhaps it is acceptable for women to NOT be silent. Even Palin. *sigh*

    Homosexuality – is there anyone in the Bible that defies this rule and is still meant to be revered? Hm.

    Okay, just a thought. Feel free to point out what holes you find in that reasoning…

  • Emily

    I just realized the above logic could legitimize polygamy, since there are revered heroes of the Bible that practiced that. Well, why not? (There's a whole 'nother can of worms.)

    And, I'm struggling to find Biblical heroes who broke the shellfish rule. Uh oh. Looks like I have to take that one literally. It will be a sad crawfish season, friends…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Now I'm stuck imagining a guy surrounded by wives who's scarfing shellfish. I blame you, Emily!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Now I'm stuck imagining a guy surrounded by wives who's scarfing shellfish. I blame you, Emily!

  • Other Cheryl

    I've been reading a book about Biblical textual criticism by Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, in which he discusses this passage regarding women in I Timothy 2. The author claims, and a quick Google seems to back up, this quote from the book: "…most scholars are convinced that Paul did not write the I Timothy passage, because it occurs in a letter that appears to have been written instead by a second-generation follower of Paul in his name."

    It is, however, still in the Bible, which presents a difficulty for those who believe that the Bible, as it is presented in our modern versions, is the infallible word of God.

    Many people, Christian and other, believe instead that the Bible is a work was formed and theologically shaped as much or more by human hands as by God — many different sets of human hands over many centuries and in multiple early languages, actually, which explains some of the contradictions. It also invites a question: If the Bible can't even agree with itself, why do Christians continue to insist on its infallibility?

  • http://annaldavis.wordpress.com annaldavis

    When talking with nonbelievers:

    1) As said before, context is important with any philosophy. Imagine taking single phrases from any of the great thinkers you mentioned above –Descartes, Kierkegaard — without following their arguments completely. Believers who adhere too strongly to one Bible verse without considering the whole message are fools at risk for legalism.

    2) The message of the New Testament as it fulfills the law is overwhelmingly a message of love. Love for God, and love for others. This should be a believer's overall tone when talking with anyone, including nonbelievers.

    3) Love never backs down from truth. Jesus didn't stone the adultress, but He didn't send her back without reproach, either. The modern church doesn't know how to love people without accepting their sin. But if we want to be more like Jesus we need to learn how to do this. If anybody has any tips in this area, it would be very helpful! I'm working on this in my own life.

  • http://annaldavis.wordpress.com annaldavis

    When talking with nonbelievers:

    1) As said before, context is important with any philosophy. Imagine taking single phrases from any of the great thinkers you mentioned above –Descartes, Kierkegaard — without following their arguments completely. Believers who adhere too strongly to one Bible verse without considering the whole message are fools at risk for legalism.

    2) The message of the New Testament as it fulfills the law is overwhelmingly a message of love. Love for God, and love for others. This should be a believer's overall tone when talking with anyone, including nonbelievers.

    3) Love never backs down from truth. Jesus didn't stone the adultress, but He didn't send her back without reproach, either. The modern church doesn't know how to love people without accepting their sin. But if we want to be more like Jesus we need to learn how to do this. If anybody has any tips in this area, it would be very helpful! I'm working on this in my own life.

  • FreetoBe

    Yes 8)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ann: This'll sound obnoxiously self-serving, but I, too, was thinking deeply about how to properly love people—how, in other words, to do justice to the Great Commandment—and then I wrote a book about the whole dynamic of communications between Christians and non-Christians, called, "I'm OK–You're Not: The Message We're Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop." I'd send you a copy, but I don't have any left. But you can buy it on Amazon if you're interested at all.

    Good comments here all the way around! Very instructive.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ann: This'll sound obnoxiously self-serving, but I, too, was thinking deeply about how to properly love people—how, in other words, to do justice to the Great Commandment—and then I wrote a book about the whole dynamic of communications between Christians and non-Christians, called, "I'm OK–You're Not: The Message We're Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop." I'd send you a copy, but I don't have any left. But you can buy it on Amazon if you're interested at all.

    Good comments here all the way around! Very instructive.

  • http://thesearethecrazytimes-christine.blogspot.com Christine

    Isn’t it great that as Chritians when we hit a topic we don’t like to keep (women in church etc) it is contextual and has to do with only specific things but homosexuality is rather WRONG!!! No arguments, period. I would like to say that maybe this is issue is about love and what people perceived for themselves as wrong and yuck for themselves so it is so for everyone else. If you want to take the bible literally, take all of it literally, no if no buts. If you want to believe that the context of where when and what was being said is important then do that to all of the bible. You cannot pick and choose what you will believe and how you believe it just because you may not/may like a passage.

    Oh John, opening the can of worms, your fav pastime. Reckon you will hit 150 comments easy

  • Latoya

    This convo is a vicious cycle John. I expect that at some point soon you will repeat the question again. LOL (I definitely do not have the answer)

  • http://christianseverin.wordpress.com Christian Severin

    “I need a REASON (besides innate homophobia) why we get all mysterious and contextual about one set of Paul’s extremely clear prohibitions, and completely clear and unquestioning about another set of his edicts. It’s just not logically supportable. How do I make that NOT sound like simple, ugly bigotry thinly disguised as piousness?”

    Simple answer: you can’t. The bible is a huge set of sometimes contradictory rules, and different sets of Christians manage to live with these contradictions with different degrees of success, by adhering to some rules and explaining others away. I’ve yet to meet somebody that lives by every biblical law.

    Same with every other religion, by the way:

    People, whereever they live and whatever they believe, use their faith to strengthen the social bonds within their group and to justify traditional mores, from clitorectomy to witch burning, from food taboos to sexual prohibitions. And every group is surprised that some other group of the same faith has a totally different world view and wildly different habits, and still dares to call themselves believers.

    Few people truly question the religious background of all these official and unspoken rules of their local faith group, those mores handed down the generations. Most accept them blindly, and accept their justification: “It’s God’s law!”. Travelling, in this regard as in most, broadens your horizon and opens your mind to the possibility that what seems like a question of faith is more of a question of tradition. Since you, John, are more or less fresh from the outside, you have a different world view.

    Logic and bible study doesn’t really help you to solve that conflict, sorry. It’s the eternal question of what millenia-old religious texts mean to humans today — and a bit of common sense and common decency might answer these questions better than exegesis and hermeneutics.

    Sorry for the rant. Oh, and btw: Yes!

  • http://christianseverin.wordpress.com Christian Severin

    Afterthought: faith in politics isn’t so much used on a personal level, to find solace and guidance, as for group identification. I dare say that most people rooting for McCain/Palin don’t do so because they truly believe them to be better equipped to handle the job of President and VP, but simply “because he/she is one of us!”

    From that point on, logic is solely used to find justifications, not to question the decisions of the home team.

  • LeviticusGroupie

    If I read Leviticus correctly, and I believe I do, because SP gave birth to a son, she should have waited 41 days before going to church. Are there any records of her going to church before the 41 days were up? When the 41 days were up, she should have then sacrificed a lamb and a dove (Leviticus 12). I haven't seen any mention of her having done this and, given the intense scrutiny she's faced by the press, I'm confident this would have made headlines. Other "abominations" (Leviticus' word, not mine) that SP has committed include failing to testify at the first troopergate hearing (Leviticus 5), not returning all of the clothes the RNC bought her (Leviticus 6), getting on the planes from Dallas to Alaska and dripping amniotic fluid onto a seat in which others would sit (Leviticus 15), sacrificing poor pregnant Bristol to the god RNC (Leviticus 18), telling lies, such as insisting the first troopergate report that found her guilty of abusing her authority had actually found her completely innocent or insisting Harry Potter hadn't been written while she was mayor (Leviticus 19), gossiping about Obama (Leviticus 19). According to Leviticus, it would appear that God's will is that for these transgressions SP should be cast out, stoned or otherwise smote. At least the majestic moose upon which she feasts has cloven hooves and chews its cud, so she's safe on her dietary choices, as far as that goes (Leviticus 11). Unless she didn't properly drain its blood, in which case it's her bad (Leviticus 17)

  • LeviticusGroupie

    If I read Leviticus correctly, and I believe I do, because SP gave birth to a son, she should have waited 41 days before going to church. Are there any records of her going to church before the 41 days were up? When the 41 days were up, she should have then sacrificed a lamb and a dove (Leviticus 12). I haven't seen any mention of her having done this and, given the intense scrutiny she's faced by the press, I'm confident this would have made headlines. Other "abominations" (Leviticus' word, not mine) that SP has committed include failing to testify at the first troopergate hearing (Leviticus 5), not returning all of the clothes the RNC bought her (Leviticus 6), getting on the planes from Dallas to Alaska and dripping amniotic fluid onto a seat in which others would sit (Leviticus 15), sacrificing poor pregnant Bristol to the god RNC (Leviticus 18), telling lies, such as insisting the first troopergate report that found her guilty of abusing her authority had actually found her completely innocent or insisting Harry Potter hadn't been written while she was mayor (Leviticus 19), gossiping about Obama (Leviticus 19). According to Leviticus, it would appear that God's will is that for these transgressions SP should be cast out, stoned or otherwise smote. At least the majestic moose upon which she feasts has cloven hooves and chews its cud, so she's safe on her dietary choices, as far as that goes (Leviticus 11). Unless she didn't properly drain its blood, in which case it's her bad (Leviticus 17)

  • FreetoBe

    Funny guy right before me!

    I agree with LaToya, I don't have an answer and I doubt anyone can give you one that will satisfy. However, I'm sure not all Christian's think "homosexual = wrong, women teaching/preaching = OK". Your writing causes a lot of people to consider the dichotomy of this situation; I know it does me. Actually, when I was researching this, I found Paul's writings to churches, not just to Timothy, contain these same constraints on women: covered heads, long hair, silent in church (although prophesying is allowed by all believers), questions asked only of their husbands and not at church, etc. (I just had a mental picture of all females in the church with no jewelry, no make-up, covered heads, being "silent"…..men wouldn't know what to do, LOL!)

    Anyway, thanks for the food for contemplation ;)

  • FreetoBe

    Funny guy right before me!

    I agree with LaToya, I don't have an answer and I doubt anyone can give you one that will satisfy. However, I'm sure not all Christian's think "homosexual = wrong, women teaching/preaching = OK". Your writing causes a lot of people to consider the dichotomy of this situation; I know it does me. Actually, when I was researching this, I found Paul's writings to churches, not just to Timothy, contain these same constraints on women: covered heads, long hair, silent in church (although prophesying is allowed by all believers), questions asked only of their husbands and not at church, etc. (I just had a mental picture of all females in the church with no jewelry, no make-up, covered heads, being "silent"…..men wouldn't know what to do, LOL!)

    Anyway, thanks for the food for contemplation ;)

  • Candace

    Christian, having enjoyed your comments and wanting more, I went to check out your blog and was astonished to find that it is not written in English! Is English a second language for you?? If so, you are so impossibly fluent that I despair over my own comparatively mediocre skills in my first — and only — language. Yowza.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    That WAS funny.

    Thanks, Free, for the compliment.

    Red: Yeah, but if she DOES eat shellfish, she'll go up like a bottle rocket.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    That WAS funny.

    Thanks, Free, for the compliment.

    Red: Yeah, but if she DOES eat shellfish, she'll go up like a bottle rocket.

  • Dwayne

    Why even debate or enter into deep discussions on this or other topics with spiritually dead people? The unsaved cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually appraised! Surely we should all remember this instruction from God's Word. Wouldn't it be better to tell them how to become born again and hopefully see them become a child of God?

    Christians will differ on many issues in scripture just as I personally differ from some of the points made on this discussion. I take Paul's points here as referring to spiritual leadership within the church. I may be wrong but I do not recall Lydia having to give up her business as a maker and seller of purple. Now I must admit that I am only assuming she owned this business and therefore most certainly held business dealings with men. I wonder what kind of authority a woman might hold and the kind of instructions (teaching) she might give a man in the business world of that day? Did she, gasp, give instructions (teach)on how to properly care for and clean the garments she sold? Instructions are instructions and teaching is teaching!

    I wonder how many married women became sick and gave their husbands instructions on how or what to make for the family to eat. Again instructions! Taken literally, "not to hold authority or instruct (teach).." would cover a whole world of issues. Is this really saying that in NO areas of life WHATSOEVER can a woman hold authority or instruct (teach) a man? Are we to take this as saying that a man's mother cannot show (teach) him what to do or what medicine to obtain when his first child becomes sick?

    I would enjoy John Shore giving a full list of what teaching or authority a woman is not to have. If a man does not know how to make a Red Velvet cake and would like to learn how to, would it be a violation of Paul's writings for him to ask his wife to teach him how to do so? What if he uses a recipe book but discovers a woman wrote it, did he just violate Paul's writings?

    I am simply asking to what degree and situation or setting does this verse apply? Once again, I personally believe it applies to the spiritual leadership of the church.

    In verses 9 and 10 of I Tim. 2 a careful study of the cultural setting would indicate three positives for women (1) modest apparel, (2) decency, and (3) sobriety. It would seem that Paul is saying women should give silent witness by their modest dress and good works. Next we see three negatives (1) braided hair, (2) gold and pearls, and (3) expensive clothes. All of these seem to relate to the first century church. Many women of this day spent much time preparing their long hair and fastening their plaits with ribbons and brightly colored bows. Rich women would interweave gold, silver and pearls in their hairstyles. Their clothes were quite possibly very expensive and outlandish in style and color, drawing undue attention to themselves. This attention may distract others from seeing her "good works" which are to be her true adornment if she professes godliness.

    In vs 11 and 12 Paul's instructions are nearly identical to those found in his first letter to the church at Corinth (14:34,35)and in this passage the context was the public worship service. Note that in this passage in I Tim. the subject "Women" (nominative) has changed to the singular "Woman," which may indicate Paul was speaking of "woman" in the generic sense. It would seem that this writing was consistent with Paul's former writing which stated that women are not to usurp the authority of men, namely those called to leadership, within the church. There is also discussion that in 5:13 Paul was having to deal with women being led astray by false teachers and going door to door with rumors that may have been hurting the church. There seems to have been some women going around spreading rumors and maybe they were "teaching" men false doctrines that Paul had to confront.

    At any rate, it is an interesting topic. On a side note, since women are responding to this topic with their point of view, doesn't this somehow violate the principle of women not teaching men? Shouldn't their husbands or an older widowed woman be teaching these ladies? I am just saying that for women to be giving their point of view and not asking questions is akin to the teaching or at least attempting to teach. LOL :-)

  • Latoya

    LOLOLOLOL!!!!! You guys are killin me!!!!

  • Latoya

    LOLOLOLOL!!!!! You guys are killin me!!!!

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Well, John, we can certainly see what topic flips people's switches!!

    On the matter of biblical interpretation….

    There is a significant amount of scholarship on the [non] veracity of biblical writings. The reality is that, unless you start with the assumption that the bible is word of God, there is no evidence that it is or could be. Most of the purported authors (Moses, the apostles) are very likely not the actual authors. 'The Word of God'?? No detached person could say any such thing…and it would behoove any believer to dig into what is actually known about about the Abrahamic narrative and the Bible.

    Nova (the PBS science show) has an excellent two hour episode called "The Bible's Buried Secrets" which you can watch on-line at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/program.html. It is not faith-destroying, but very interesting in its framing the characters and timeline.

    As I said in a previous post…If you are having a hard time reconciling scripture with reality or common sense, it is probably because it doesn't make sense. A far simpler explanation is that the books of the Bible are written by some [well meaning] mortal, Bronze Age dudes (most assuredly dudes) and no Gods had anything to do with it.

  • FreetoBe

    @LaToya: I'm sure there are many people that follow Paul's teaching, I'm just saying that in this Southern Baptist state, the men wouldn't know what to do: women teach, chair committees, organize EVERYthing, and even make sure the bills get paid. They just can't be called pastor or minister. :( 8)

  • Dwayne

    Hey, no translation problem here! A simple point to the question of how can we take what Paul says literally in one place and not another? How can we hold tight to what he says in book and not another? Well in this passage in I Tim. how can we separate "hold authority" from "teach?" According to the context and sentence structure the two cannot be separated.

    The later comment about Southern Baptist Churches is true and I should know seeing as how I am a Assoc. Pastor/Youth Minister as well as an adjunct Seminary Prof. In most of our churches the men have totally dropped the ball and, in my opinion, have little room to complain concerning the role women within the church.

    At my church no women teach men but they are on many committee's and help make vital decisions. All of the committee heads are men but it is the women that can be counted on the most. I think we have some incredibly awesome ladies in our church and I am very proud of the role they play in making us what we are.

  • Jen

    Hi John…you are right…I didn't read EVERYONE's posts…so my apologies for that. I read some and didn't read the rest. I still only read a little after seeing your post and don't have time to read it all. I am not one to read blogs…just recently came across yours by becoming "friends" with you on FB….saw your post and responded without thinking. So, no…i'm not one of your thousands who reads your blogs. sorry.

    I'm not by any means claiming to be a long time "christian" and still struggle with many issues in the catagory. So….I'm not going to even attempt to respond thoughtfully about your post.

    I'm also not by any means a HUGE Palin fan….just wanted to wonder why you used her name as opposed to the many others out there. HOWEVER, nevermind….I'm not interested anymore. =)

    Might be AADHD.

  • Jen

    Hi John…you are right…I didn't read EVERYONE's posts…so my apologies for that. I read some and didn't read the rest. I still only read a little after seeing your post and don't have time to read it all. I am not one to read blogs…just recently came across yours by becoming "friends" with you on FB….saw your post and responded without thinking. So, no…i'm not one of your thousands who reads your blogs. sorry.

    I'm not by any means claiming to be a long time "christian" and still struggle with many issues in the catagory. So….I'm not going to even attempt to respond thoughtfully about your post.

    I'm also not by any means a HUGE Palin fan….just wanted to wonder why you used her name as opposed to the many others out there. HOWEVER, nevermind….I'm not interested anymore. =)

    Might be AADHD.

  • Faith

    I was cautious when I learned that Sarah Palin was named as a vice-presidential candidate, because I would never vote FOR her just because she is a woman — if anything, I'm tougher on female candidates because they don't deserve to get a free pass. I wanted to take a measured approach and research her views on the role of government and her political policies, because I do that with all candidates.

    Another part of my caution was based on the fact that Palin has a very full job as a wife and mom, so it would difficult to juggle everything well. Fairly or unfairly, that's a conservative observation on my part.

    However, I began to think of the women in the Bible who had to step up to the plate simply because the men of God weren't doing their jobs or God needed someone to fill a particular role. God used Deborah, Esther, Rahab, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla, and many more — because these unique women were available to him in a particular time, place and context.

    And you know what? God can do what he wants. God's permissive will throughout time and history can trump any cultural context of Paul for that time and place, or a letter to a particular church, or in this case, Timothy — on issues that are of lesser import.

    However, Paul's words on homosexuality cannot be passed off as contextual or cultural — and cannot be trumped — because Jesus himself is very clear on the subject.

    The only one-flesh (sexual) relationship supported by Jesus can be found here in his words in Mark 10.

    6 "But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (NASB)

    Most importantly, all of Scripture confirms how important one-flesh relationships are — how they affect the heart because they are so deep. Over and over again, in the Bible, there is only one place where sex is an option — between one man and one woman, within the safety of marriage. That covenant was made by God in Eden when he created man and woman, and it was confirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. It all holds together.

  • Faith

    I was cautious when I learned that Sarah Palin was named as a vice-presidential candidate, because I would never vote FOR her just because she is a woman — if anything, I'm tougher on female candidates because they don't deserve to get a free pass. I wanted to take a measured approach and research her views on the role of government and her political policies, because I do that with all candidates.

    Another part of my caution was based on the fact that Palin has a very full job as a wife and mom, so it would difficult to juggle everything well. Fairly or unfairly, that's a conservative observation on my part.

    However, I began to think of the women in the Bible who had to step up to the plate simply because the men of God weren't doing their jobs or God needed someone to fill a particular role. God used Deborah, Esther, Rahab, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla, and many more — because these unique women were available to him in a particular time, place and context.

    And you know what? God can do what he wants. God's permissive will throughout time and history can trump any cultural context of Paul for that time and place, or a letter to a particular church, or in this case, Timothy — on issues that are of lesser import.

    However, Paul's words on homosexuality cannot be passed off as contextual or cultural — and cannot be trumped — because Jesus himself is very clear on the subject.

    The only one-flesh (sexual) relationship supported by Jesus can be found here in his words in Mark 10.

    6 "But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (NASB)

    Most importantly, all of Scripture confirms how important one-flesh relationships are — how they affect the heart because they are so deep. Over and over again, in the Bible, there is only one place where sex is an option — between one man and one woman, within the safety of marriage. That covenant was made by God in Eden when he created man and woman, and it was confirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. It all holds together.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    All I know for sure is that if I see a nicely-dressed woman preaching at church who also happens to be a lesbian, she’s definitely gonna burn. Doesn’t even matter whether or not she eats shellfish.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Wow, Dwayne! Way to … type!

    OK, just to be clear, I have no–none, zero, nada—problem with women having authority, or teaching men, or anything like that. What kind of tronglodyte DOES? Not the point of my post. Not. The. Point. Of. My. Post. One. Little. Tiny. Bit. Perhaps. I. Inadvertently. Hit. Some. Kind. Of. Computer. Tranlsation. Button. And. The. Language. Of. This. Post. Was. Translated. Into. Pigeon. Mongolian.

  • Latoya

    Free: “I just had a mental picture of all females in the church with no jewelry, no make-up, covered heads, being “silent”…..men wouldn’t know what to do, LOL!)” You would be surprised to know that its not very far from that in alot of Jamaican churches. My church doesnt allow jewelry nor pants (for women) and I have to wear a hat to church. Only that we have freedom of speech. Also, makeup should not be too much (most times none is worn). Some of our churches have become less stringent on these rules tho.

    John, I really feel a copy and paste coming on very soon following that last comment from Dwayne. LOL

  • Latoya

    Free: “I just had a mental picture of all females in the church with no jewelry, no make-up, covered heads, being “silent”…..men wouldn’t know what to do, LOL!)” You would be surprised to know that its not very far from that in alot of Jamaican churches. My church doesnt allow jewelry nor pants (for women) and I have to wear a hat to church. Only that we have freedom of speech. Also, makeup should not be too much (most times none is worn). Some of our churches have become less stringent on these rules tho.

    John, I really feel a copy and paste coming on very soon following that last comment from Dwayne. LOL

  • saramason

    The Bible is not exclusive in that way. The Bible also says in Genesis 2:18: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ ” That doesn’t mean that men can’t be single and still used by God. The passage you reference also doesn’t mean that a woman such as Palin can’t be used by God. It would then be difficult to explain Queen Esther, a beautiful woman who wore queen’s clothes and was a leader to her people. For further “women’s study,” read Proverbs 31. Now THAT’s a woman.

    25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;

    she can laugh at the days to come.

    26 She speaks with wisdom,

    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

    but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

    31 Give her the reward she has earned,

    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Awesome info Nancy–thanks. Any insight on the passages on homosexuality?

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Awesome info Nancy–thanks. Any insight on the passages on homosexuality?

  • Nancy

    Okay John…here’s what I have found in response/retort to your blog on Sarah Palin vs Paul’s Directive for Women to be Silent and Submissive…fail proof it is not. However, in looking at hermeneutics and intent, it is applicable with recourse from Hebrew translation. This is in congruence with Calvin’s views from an evangelical approach. Gnostic teachings at the time were refuted by Paul in accordance to worship in daily living for those in the church. Gnosticism was very prevalent.

    Gnosticism is a pre-Christian and early Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world, believed in this movement to be evil.

    Paul’s instruction were to men and women leading in the church. With instruction for public worship in and out of the church. When the verb ‘to permit’ (epitrepsein) is used in the New Testament, it refers to a specific permission in a specific context (Matthew 8,21; Mark 5,13; John 19,38; Acts 21,39-40; 26,1; 27,3; 28,16; 1 Corinthians 16,7; etc.) Moreover, the use of the indicative tense indicates an immediate context. The correct translation, therefore, is: “I am not presently allowing” (Spencer; Hugenberger); “I have decided that for the moment women are not to teach or have authority over men” The main concern of I Timothy is to counteract the influence of Gnostic teachers. The Gnostic teachings were of a mixed hellenistic and Jewish origin. Gnostic heresies included dualism, contempt for material things, dependence on knowledge (=spiritual experience), not faith, as a way to salvation, secret doctrine reserved for the elite few and restrictive teachings about

    sexual practice.

    In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

    a. In like manner also: The word also refers back to the statement that the men pray everywhere in 1 Timothy 2:8. Paul thought the principle of 1 Timothy 2:8 should apply in various congregations, and so should the principle in 1 Timothy 2:9.

    b. That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel: This is how Christian women are supposed to dress, especially at their Christian meetings. The words propriety and moderation help explain what modest apparel is.

    i. Propriety asks, “Is it appropriate for the occasion? Is it over-dressed or under-dressed? Is it going to call inappropriate attention to myself?” Moderation asks, “Is it moderate? Is it just too much – or far too little?” Moderation looks for a middle ground.

    ii. The braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing Paul mentions were adornments that went against the principles of propriety and moderation in that culture.

    iii. How you dress reflects your heart. If a man dresses in a casual manner, it says something about his attitude. Likewise, if a woman dresses in an immodest manner, it says something about her heart.

    iv. “Woman has been invidiously defined: An animal fond of dress. How long will they permit themselves to be thus degraded?” (Clarke)

    c. But . . . with good works: The most important adornment is good works. If a woman is dressed in propriety and moderation, with good works, she is perfectly dressed. Good works make a woman more beautiful than good jewelry.

    3. (11-12) Women are to show submission, and yield to the authority of the men God has appointed to lead in the church.

    Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

    a. Let a woman learn in silence: This unfortunate translation has led some to believe that it is forbidden for women to even speak in church meetings. Paul uses the same word translated silence in 1 Timothy 2:2, and it is translated peaceable there. The idea is without contention instead of total silence.

    i. In other places in the New Testament, even in the writings of Paul, women are specifically mentioned as praying and speaking in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5). To learn in silence has the idea of women receiving the teaching of the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of contention.

    ii. Submission is the principle; to learn in silence describes the application of the principle.

    iii. Some have said the reason for this is because in these ancient cultures (as well as some present-day cultures), men and women sat in separate sections. The thought is that women interrupted the church service by shouting questions and comments to their husbands during the service. Clarke expresses this idea: “It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women.”

    b. With all submission: The word for submission here literally means, “To be under in rank.” It has to do with respecting an acknowledged order of authority. It certainly does not mean that men are more spiritual than women or that women are inferior to men.

    i. “Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that ‘rank’ has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability. . . . Just as an army would be in confusion if there were no levels of authority, so society would be in chaos without submission.” (Wiersbe)

    c. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man: Paul’s meaning seems clear. Women are not to have the role of teaching authority in the church. To be under authority is the principle; not teaching is the application.

    i. Paul is saying that the church should not recognize women as those having authority in the church regarding matters of doctrine and Scriptural interpretation.

    ii. Not all speaking or teaching by a woman is necessarily a violation of God’s order of authority in the church. Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a woman must be done in submission to the men God has appointed to lead the church.

    iii. 1 Corinthians 11:1-12 emphasizes the same principle. Women are to always act under authority in the congregation, demonstrated in Corinthian culture by the wearing of a head covering. Therefore a woman in the Corinthian church could only pray or prophesy if she demonstrated that she was under the leadership of the church, and she demonstrated this by wearing a head covering and by acting consistently with that principle.

    Fee, Gordon D. “Issues in Evangelical Hermeneutics, Part 3: The Great Watershed

    Intentionality and Particularity / Eternality: 1 Timothy 2:8-15 as a Test Case.” Crux

    26:4 (December 1990), pp. 31-37.

  • Nancy

    Okay John…here’s what I have found in response/retort to your blog on Sarah Palin vs Paul’s Directive for Women to be Silent and Submissive…fail proof it is not. However, in looking at hermeneutics and intent, it is applicable with recourse from Hebrew translation. This is in congruence with Calvin’s views from an evangelical approach. Gnostic teachings at the time were refuted by Paul in accordance to worship in daily living for those in the church. Gnosticism was very prevalent.

    Gnosticism is a pre-Christian and early Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world, believed in this movement to be evil.

    Paul’s instruction were to men and women leading in the church. With instruction for public worship in and out of the church. When the verb ‘to permit’ (epitrepsein) is used in the New Testament, it refers to a specific permission in a specific context (Matthew 8,21; Mark 5,13; John 19,38; Acts 21,39-40; 26,1; 27,3; 28,16; 1 Corinthians 16,7; etc.) Moreover, the use of the indicative tense indicates an immediate context. The correct translation, therefore, is: “I am not presently allowing” (Spencer; Hugenberger); “I have decided that for the moment women are not to teach or have authority over men” The main concern of I Timothy is to counteract the influence of Gnostic teachers. The Gnostic teachings were of a mixed hellenistic and Jewish origin. Gnostic heresies included dualism, contempt for material things, dependence on knowledge (=spiritual experience), not faith, as a way to salvation, secret doctrine reserved for the elite few and restrictive teachings about

    sexual practice.

    In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

    a. In like manner also: The word also refers back to the statement that the men pray everywhere in 1 Timothy 2:8. Paul thought the principle of 1 Timothy 2:8 should apply in various congregations, and so should the principle in 1 Timothy 2:9.

    b. That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel: This is how Christian women are supposed to dress, especially at their Christian meetings. The words propriety and moderation help explain what modest apparel is.

    i. Propriety asks, “Is it appropriate for the occasion? Is it over-dressed or under-dressed? Is it going to call inappropriate attention to myself?” Moderation asks, “Is it moderate? Is it just too much – or far too little?” Moderation looks for a middle ground.

    ii. The braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing Paul mentions were adornments that went against the principles of propriety and moderation in that culture.

    iii. How you dress reflects your heart. If a man dresses in a casual manner, it says something about his attitude. Likewise, if a woman dresses in an immodest manner, it says something about her heart.

    iv. “Woman has been invidiously defined: An animal fond of dress. How long will they permit themselves to be thus degraded?” (Clarke)

    c. But . . . with good works: The most important adornment is good works. If a woman is dressed in propriety and moderation, with good works, she is perfectly dressed. Good works make a woman more beautiful than good jewelry.

    3. (11-12) Women are to show submission, and yield to the authority of the men God has appointed to lead in the church.

    Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

    a. Let a woman learn in silence: This unfortunate translation has led some to believe that it is forbidden for women to even speak in church meetings. Paul uses the same word translated silence in 1 Timothy 2:2, and it is translated peaceable there. The idea is without contention instead of total silence.

    i. In other places in the New Testament, even in the writings of Paul, women are specifically mentioned as praying and speaking in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5). To learn in silence has the idea of women receiving the teaching of the men God has chosen to lead in the church, with submission instead of contention.

    ii. Submission is the principle; to learn in silence describes the application of the principle.

    iii. Some have said the reason for this is because in these ancient cultures (as well as some present-day cultures), men and women sat in separate sections. The thought is that women interrupted the church service by shouting questions and comments to their husbands during the service. Clarke expresses this idea: “It was lawful for men in public assemblies to ask questions, or even interrupt the speaker when there was any matter in his speech which they did not understand; but this liberty was not granted to women.”

    b. With all submission: The word for submission here literally means, “To be under in rank.” It has to do with respecting an acknowledged order of authority. It certainly does not mean that men are more spiritual than women or that women are inferior to men.

    i. “Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that ‘rank’ has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability. . . . Just as an army would be in confusion if there were no levels of authority, so society would be in chaos without submission.” (Wiersbe)

    c. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man: Paul’s meaning seems clear. Women are not to have the role of teaching authority in the church. To be under authority is the principle; not teaching is the application.

    i. Paul is saying that the church should not recognize women as those having authority in the church regarding matters of doctrine and Scriptural interpretation.

    ii. Not all speaking or teaching by a woman is necessarily a violation of God’s order of authority in the church. Whatever speaking or teaching is done by a woman must be done in submission to the men God has appointed to lead the church.

    iii. 1 Corinthians 11:1-12 emphasizes the same principle. Women are to always act under authority in the congregation, demonstrated in Corinthian culture by the wearing of a head covering. Therefore a woman in the Corinthian church could only pray or prophesy if she demonstrated that she was under the leadership of the church, and she demonstrated this by wearing a head covering and by acting consistently with that principle.

    Fee, Gordon D. “Issues in Evangelical Hermeneutics, Part 3: The Great Watershed

    Intentionality and Particularity / Eternality: 1 Timothy 2:8-15 as a Test Case.” Crux

    26:4 (December 1990), pp. 31-37.

  • http://thesearethecrazytimes-christine.blogspot.com Christine

    "Why even debate or enter into deep discussions on this or other topics with spiritually dead people?"

    Ok, this was posted a little while back from Dawyne but am finding here that unless you read 24/7 you fall behind by at least 1000 replies.

    @Dawyne, I think it is unfair to say that anyone who is not a christian is spiritually dead, and even more unfair to say it on a blog that non-christians read. I am a believer and understand what you were saying but I think saying that is too harsh, there are many non-believers out there who are very spiritually intune just not with what you (or I) believe.

    @Leviticus – one of the many things Jesus did when dying for us on the cross was to free us from the enslavement to the old laws. Looking at how many sacrifices people have or have not performed (really you done any lately?? Does Animal Welfare know) is beside the point and really not the issue.

    @Faith (yes people I read all the posts) – "I’m tougher on female candidates because they don’t deserve to get a free pass.". Why is this?? I would love to know the reasoning. As far as I can tell from history it looks like that men are getting the passes and women haven't so how is being MORE critical of them than men not being sexist?? And yes, you can be sexist against your own sex.

  • Dwayne

    Christine, according to the bible man is spiritually dead until he born again (Eph. 2;1-11)and a spiritually dead man cannot understand the things of God (I Cor. 2:1-16). It is the spiritually dead who seek after false gods and not the one true God (Rom. 3:11). Those who are separated from God may know the scriptures and have the looks and actions of a child of God. Many times they even seem to be more Christian than the truly redeemed. However, much like the Pharisees, they merely white washed tombs (Matt. 23:27).

    I engage in discussions with people who need the Lord virtually every day, and when they want to use some scripture they have learned against me, I try to answer their questions or comments. But what I am saying is this, when we get into debates or arguments with those who are not saved how can we expect them to understand the things of God? Sure, they may have some morals and even my agree with us on some issues but what they really need is not a lecture on some hot bible topic but rather the plan of salvation. I had rather see someone accept Jesus as Savior than to know I "showed them" how much of the bible I know.

    I have read every post since I found this site and have enjoyed all of them especially the ones by annaldavis and Nancy is digging deep and working hard and many others are quite impressive also. So as the Scriptures say "Iron sharpens iron" (Prov. 27:17) so keep that blade razor sharp! :-)

  • Dwayne

    Christine, according to the bible man is spiritually dead until he born again (Eph. 2;1-11)and a spiritually dead man cannot understand the things of God (I Cor. 2:1-16). It is the spiritually dead who seek after false gods and not the one true God (Rom. 3:11). Those who are separated from God may know the scriptures and have the looks and actions of a child of God. Many times they even seem to be more Christian than the truly redeemed. However, much like the Pharisees, they merely white washed tombs (Matt. 23:27).

    I engage in discussions with people who need the Lord virtually every day, and when they want to use some scripture they have learned against me, I try to answer their questions or comments. But what I am saying is this, when we get into debates or arguments with those who are not saved how can we expect them to understand the things of God? Sure, they may have some morals and even my agree with us on some issues but what they really need is not a lecture on some hot bible topic but rather the plan of salvation. I had rather see someone accept Jesus as Savior than to know I "showed them" how much of the bible I know.

    I have read every post since I found this site and have enjoyed all of them especially the ones by annaldavis and Nancy is digging deep and working hard and many others are quite impressive also. So as the Scriptures say "Iron sharpens iron" (Prov. 27:17) so keep that blade razor sharp! :-)

  • Kristine

    John, perhaps the issue at hand in regard to the two edicts of Paul you mention is that in our modern culture we equate homosexuality as a gender or identity and not what it is addressed as in scripture…which is a sinful behavior, like any other sexual sin such as adultery, polygamy, etc. My father is gay, he has a committed partner. They are both wonderful men and I love them deeply. As a committed christian I dont agree with their lifestyle but I love THEM as PEOPLE, and I personally object to anyone who tells gays they are going to hell for being gay. It's not about that, it's about accepting or rejecting Christ…but that's another topic which I believe you've addressed in another blog.

    Therefore I do not see this difficulty between women in church (read in context as suggested by many above) and what Paul says about homosexuality. So unless you can divorce yourself from using "gay" as a gender/identity, you may never find a satisfactory answer to your question. I dont know if that will take this discussion in a different direction but there you go. Blast away.

  • Kristine

    John, perhaps the issue at hand in regard to the two edicts of Paul you mention is that in our modern culture we equate homosexuality as a gender or identity and not what it is addressed as in scripture…which is a sinful behavior, like any other sexual sin such as adultery, polygamy, etc. My father is gay, he has a committed partner. They are both wonderful men and I love them deeply. As a committed christian I dont agree with their lifestyle but I love THEM as PEOPLE, and I personally object to anyone who tells gays they are going to hell for being gay. It's not about that, it's about accepting or rejecting Christ…but that's another topic which I believe you've addressed in another blog.

    Therefore I do not see this difficulty between women in church (read in context as suggested by many above) and what Paul says about homosexuality. So unless you can divorce yourself from using "gay" as a gender/identity, you may never find a satisfactory answer to your question. I dont know if that will take this discussion in a different direction but there you go. Blast away.

  • Faith

    So John, are you any closer to the answer to your question?

  • Faith

    So John, are you any closer to the answer to your question?

  • FreetoBe

    #100!!!!

  • FreetoBe

    #100!!!!

  • victoriouslatoya

    Congrats Free!! John i think he deserves a book

  • victoriouslatoya

    Congrats Free!! John i think he deserves a book

  • FreetoBe

    I do, I really do! 100 is the magic number, right!

  • FreetoBe

    I do, I really do! 100 is the magic number, right!

  • kelly

    Perhaps this is Paul's opinion. When talking about marriage, Paul mentions it is his opinion that is better to not be married. Perhaps the preface did not make it into the text about woman and speaking.

    I will give another example:

    Leviticus 25:44-46: "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." (NIV)

    Is this Moses's opinion or God's commandment? I don't see God agreeing to make someone a lifelong slave even a non Jew.

    Of course, to accept that there is opinion in the bible is not a popular opinion.

  • kelly

    Perhaps this is Paul's opinion. When talking about marriage, Paul mentions it is his opinion that is better to not be married. Perhaps the preface did not make it into the text about woman and speaking.

    I will give another example:

    Leviticus 25:44-46: "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." (NIV)

    Is this Moses's opinion or God's commandment? I don't see God agreeing to make someone a lifelong slave even a non Jew.

    Of course, to accept that there is opinion in the bible is not a popular opinion.

  • kelly

    Perhaps this is Paul's opinion. When talking about marriage, Paul mentions it is his opinion that is better to not be married. Perhaps the preface did not make it into the text about woman and speaking.

    I will give another example:

    Leviticus 25:44-46: "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." (NIV)

    Is this Moses's opinion or God's commandment? I don't see God agreeing to make someone a lifelong slave even a non Jew.

    Of course, to accept that there is opinion in the bible is not a popular opinion.


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