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.
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.