Paul, women, and the true message of Christianity

In his recent post, I Do Not Permit a Woman, Dan Wilkinson does an exceptional job of explaining how to read and understand 1 Timothy 2.12, wherein Paul writes “I do not per­mit a woman to teach or to assume author­ity over a man; she must be quiet.” By extension he shows us how to treat any Bible passage that at first read seems morally problematic.

Dan asks, “How do we under­stand the words of Paul? What ones do we choose to apply to our mod­ern Christian prac­tice and what ones do we dis­re­gard — and more impor­tantly, why?” And then he doesn’t just answer that question, he nails the answer to that question. What Dan concludes about Paul, and why, is perfect. He writes:

Any under­stand­ing of 1 Timothy 2.12 that reduces it to a uni­ver­sal restric­tion on women’s roles in the church is, con­sciously or not, pro­mot­ing a misog­y­nis­tic and harm­ful view of women. But any under­stand­ing that sim­ply dis­misses the pas­sage as being a prod­uct of an ancient cul­ture that now has no rel­e­vance to our mod­ern life has also run roughshod over the text. The com­plex­i­ties of the issues raised by this verse and its sur­round­ing text are enough to fill vol­umes. We must be con­tent with a less-than defin­i­tive con­clu­sions about this pas­sage, but that also shouldn’t pre­vent us from com­ing to any con­clu­sion at all. … Given such uncer­tainty regard­ing this text, women should have full inclu­sion in all aspects of church min­istry. To set­tle for any­thing less is to fail to fully embrace the true mes­sage of Christianity.

Read the whole post.

And as a strong complement to that post, read also Dan’s Junia the Apostle. Bookmark both these posts for the next time anyone wants to talk to you about why women shouldn’t be allowed to be, say, bishops.

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