Tag Archives: timothy

“I do not permit a woman to teach” – 1 Timothy 2:12

1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

Sounds clear enough doesn’t it? Actually, no.  The translation has a number of problems. Margaret Mowczko unwraps the passage and throws up a number of questions.  Her exegesis demonstrates why it is not enough to select a few texts in efforts to prove your argument.

Questions about how to implement   1 Timothy2:12

By Margaret Mowczko

Some Christians think that the prohibition of a woman teaching a man, mentioned in 1 Timothy 2:12, is clear and straightforward in meaning, yet the various ways this prohibition is understood and implemented in churches seems to indicate otherwise.

The meaning of 1 Tim 2:12 is, in fact, not clear. We can only guess at the original context, reason, intent and parameters for this prohibition. And the original Greek of 1 Tim 2:12 poses linguistic challenges which hinder our understanding of the author’s meaning, force and scope. The ambiguous context and language of 1 Tim 2:12 (and the verses that follow it) raise several important questions about how we should apply this verse. This article looks at some of these questions.  (much more)


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Love Builds Up

Megan Greulich

Megan Greulich is the editor of Mutuality magazine and the membership coordinator for CBE. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she bakes special occasion cakes and volunteers with her church’s youth group.

“But 1 Corinthians 14 says that women should be silent in churches…right?” It was a shy question from a high school student, in the middle of a church fundraising supper. I had been chatting with this student and his family, and his father mentioned how the Bible passage had come up in discussion at their home a few days earlier. “I believe that women can be preachers. In fact, a woman pastor performed my wife’s and my wedding ceremony more than twenty years ago,” the father said to me as the mother nodded in agreement. “But we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and I didn’t know what to say to my son when he read those verses. Maybe you can help us understand.” The father, mother, and son all looked at me with tentative but curious faces.

We launched into a great discussion about the cultural context of the Corinthian church, about the surrounding verses in the letter, and about Paul’s approval of women leaders in other sections of his writings (check out these resources on 1 Corinthians 14 for more information). I love these kinds of conversations. I was so inspired by this family’s honesty, humility, and willingness to ask tough questions.

As we chatted, I watched the mother. While she said very little, I noticed how her eyes began to brighten. She even gently leaned forward in her chair—a sure sign, in our understated Minnesotan subculture, that she was getting excited. I recognized it because it matched my own response when I first heard egalitarian Bible interpretations. It was hope. And relief.

But then another young man at our table decided to jump into the conversation. Interrupting me, he very assertively declared, “All I know is that God will use women leaders only when the men aren’t doing their job and stepping up.”

His words, delivered in such stark contrast to the kind and gracious manner of our conversation up to that point, surprised me. And they stung. I looked across the table at the mother. “Wait…what?” She said under her breath. She slumped back into her chair. “Where does the Bible teach that?” I tried pressing the man. But he had no interest in dialoguing. “It’s there,” he responded gruffly, authoritatively.

“There is no teaching anywhere in the Bible that women are God’s second choice.” I said this more to the mother than to the young man. Yet the damage had been done, and the conversation was effectively over.

Jesus help us, is the simple but passionate prayer I find myself silently saying whenever I think about this encounter. For whatever reason, our conversation made that assertive man very uncomfortable. So he merely repeated—unquestioningly regurgitated, actually—an unbiblical teaching he had heard at church all his life. In his effort to silence the dialogue, he held no concern for what his words communicated to that mother, or to me, the only other woman involved. His lack of empathy, his lack of love, deflated the mother at our table that night, inflicting a subtle but very real wound on a sister in Christ.

Why is it that so often in our conversations about God we are the most unlike God? It is a humbling realization that we are all susceptible to this lack of empathy in our interactions with one another. I could recount many times in which I responded to a complementarian out of pride and anger, more in an effort to silence a conversation, or be right, than to come alongside and support a brother or sister in Christ who is on a journey. But Paul, over and over, warns about this. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” he writes in 1 Corinthians 8. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love,” he insists in Galatians 5:6 emphasis added. And, just one chapter before those tricky verses in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul so beautifully contends that even if he possesses spiritual gifts, all knowledge and wisdom, and faith that can move mountains, without love he is nothing. These are familiar verses to us, and yet sometimes the most familiar ones are the most difficult to live out.

Jesus help us. Jesus help me. May our conversations, as egalitarians and complementarians alike, be marked by love.


What are your thoughts on paying attention to a few verses in order to understand what Jesus is saying to us today?

Read the rest of this entry »


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How to assess the opposing interests in the W.O. debate

Have you ever felt uneasy when politicians are being interviewed, listening to them ignore the questions and skirt around the issues?  When journalists persist, they often simply say the same thing again and again using different words? Phillip Adams of Late Night Live on Radio National loves to point out the BS that politicians eternally speak to the electorate.  That’s what comes when individuals are obliged to toe the party line.

In contrast, we have the independents who call a spade a spade.  You know exactly what they think and where they stand. It seems to me that the honest, straight-talking manner of  the independent  Nick Xenophon was the reason the electorate voted him into the Australian Senate in the penultimate elections four years ago.  The topical current group of Federal independents also exude an honesty and clarity of thought that is refreshing in the context of the adversarial two-party political system in Australia.

Concerning women’s ordination, where is the truth? Are the arguments equally weighted? Who speaks with more credibility?  I propose the astounding, preposterous notion that only one side in this LCA debate is straight-talking, consistent and calls a spade a spade.    The argument is simple. It has been announced that there is:

“… no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”.

I’m just not interested in the Conservative notion that this does not really apply to women’s ordination.  Such a response is the language of politics.  It is obfuscation. Yes, there are contradicting notions in the Bible, but it was written by humans, albeit inspired by God.  Should we expect perfect works from sinners?  Barbara Moulton, from the Wesleyan Church in Canada, who speaks cogently when considering the call that she has experienced from her early Salvation Army days, explains it like this:

Years from now my children might find letters I wrote to my husband when we were courting. There were things that I wrote to him concerning our faith, our love and our future together which are timeless. They will be edified in reading it. But there are many things I wrote which will have little application because they were written to him at that time and for a specific reason.

Now I know that the Epistles are far grander than my old love letters. I know that God has inspired Paul. But they are still letters. Surely we can discern what is meant to apply for all time and what was written to address specific situations.

Scripture cannot be read for a literal translation. Hermeneutics is no easy discipline but there are many contextual factors contributing to a text that may not apply today.  For example, on the surface, 1 Timothy 2:12 would seem to be clear in prohibiting women’s ordination.

2:11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 2:12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.

Barbara Moulton again:

What was in Paul’s mind as he wrote to the pastor at Ephesus? We can take some of his words in isolation and assume that they are the only truth. Here Paul says that he doesn’t allow a woman to teach. But the facts are that he did. He commended them for their teaching in other passages, called them “coworkers (Rom 16:3), and allowed other men to receive instruction from women (Acts 18:26). That suggests that there is more to what Paul is saying than isolated verses read through our own cultural set of lenses.

Paul, despite 1 Timothy 2:12, allowed women to teach and to share their wisdom.

To further take from Barbara’s simple article, she asks if God would say,

I shall pour out my spirit on a woman and she shall prophesy but be silent?  Contrast with Joel 2.28

I shall tell women to proclaim the message of my resurrection but be silent?  Contrast with Matthew 28:5

I shall tell Priscilla who instructed my servant Apollos to be silent?  Contrast with Acts 18:24

I shall tell Philip’s daughters to prophesy but be silent?  Contrast with Acts 21:8

Again and again we have examples from the New Testament where women were prophesying, speaking up, teaching and leading.

Enough twisting of the text! Enough denying the hermeneutical tools that Biblical scholars have brought us in recent generations!  Enough clinging to the maxims of Conservatism, which suggest that ways of old have inherent value simply because they have been handed down to us!   God is alive and walks amongst us, revealing a new creation and a new revelation of God’s presence on Earth.   What is there to fear?

I worked in a church where the minister told me that he would never tell his congregation that scholars think there were three different authors of Isaiah.  He considered that such Biblical research would threaten the faith of his people.  Fear is alive and well in many shapes and forms, not least amongst God’s people.  If we are true to this Jesus, however, who we witness to as our saviour, and who announced the in-dwelling of God’s Spirit, we are called to face our fear and be open to how God is revealing God’s self to us this day.

Long before the life of Jesus we are given a vision of the work of the Spirit in womanhood (and manhood).

Joel 2.28 “After this, I will pour my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. 2.29 In those days I will pour my Spirit on servants, on both men and women. 2.30 I will work miracles in the sky and on the earth: blood, fire, and clouds of smoke. [cf. Acts 2:17 ff.]

“Your sons and daughters will prophesy!” Scripture is abundantly clear!  Enough of the qualifying clauses!  Enough revisionism.  The Holy Spirit is clearly and unarguably alive in women so that they might prophesy. The debate is over!

So, how to assess the opposing interests in the women’s ordination debate in the LCA?  Look around  you.  Do justice and walk humbly with your God. On your trip you are bound to see the gifts of women rain blessings on all.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in politics, theology


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