Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Woman's roles (in the CHURCH)

A friend asked me what the bible said about woman's roles. Now someone else wanted to know. So I am putting part of the email I wrote in this blog.

The bible says woman are evil. They won't even be in heaven (Revelation 8:1)

HAHAHA Just kidding!!!! Phew!
Ok seriously.

The main text for the role of woman in church is given in 1 Tim 2:8-15:

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." 1 Tim 2:8-15

Now speak to any female pastor on this text and ALL OF A SUDDEN they will teach you some solid hermeneutics (art/science of interpretation) - "Ah, but it was written in a different culture and time!" That is very true. So why do the conservatives insist that this verse is non-cultural but 1 Thess 5:26 IS a cultural verse? CONTEXT. The REASON that Paul gives is counter-cultural: because EVE was deceived and became a transgressor. That was 4000 years before Paul's culture. The context of the verse takes it out of the cultural bias argument.

Just a side note for a cool lesson in Genesis. The curse of the woman is "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen 3:16) Part of the curse is that her 'desire will be for the husband' - that doesn't mean she wants to be with him, rather that she wants his position. Part of the CURSE in Genesis is that woman will want to be in man's role, but he will rule over her.

But before we get fundamentalist and start saying that woman cannot have ANY authority, let's get it straight. It's authority over a man in church. The letter to Timothy is a PASTORAL epistle, written to a leader of a CHURCH. In the conservative opinion (which I follow because it is the biblical opinion), woman may teach woman and children (Titus 2:1-6). It is where there are grown men that woman are not given a position of scriptural authority.

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled."
Titus 2:1-6

Now why does he say "working at home?" CONTEXT in king yet again. While some might take it literally, no one in our church condemns a woman working outside. What Paul is saying is not a direct commandment from God, unlike 1 Tim 2. What is he saying then? Well, in Jewish culture (and most of Gentile culture in those days) the woman would stay at home. So Christian wives are to make themselves USEFUL. Don't just sit on your butt and watch the candles burn down! 'Don't be a lazy wife' is the instruction there.

If you were to ask me "Are men and women equal?" I would say no. But that does not raise the one above the other. This is not a mathematical operation. Men and Women have different roles on earth that compliment one another. I am a complimentarian.

UPDATE 5 MARCH 2009: Here are some additional links:
Got questions: Woman Pastors
CARM: Q&A on Woman Pastors


Mike the Tike said...

It pains me to read this. I can't believe that this comes from an educated man and a friend. Is everyone (including Pauly Paul) forgetting that Adam was also deceived?
"Tough luck, Eve - you shotgunned the apple, but I shotgunned preaching, authority and everything else."

I think what has gone on here is that Paul had an opinion that was based on his time period (that women are inferior to men) and he found a scripture to back his position.

This is the same guy who said "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church."1 Cor 14:34-35". The Law says it? Sounds like a cultural argument to me. There is no mention of Eve here. To me it seems that Paul had his mind made up on the woman issue long before he found a scriptural backing for it.

Josh Gelatt said...


Do you believe all of the bible is the inspired word of God, or not? You demonstrate a shockingly low view of the writings of the apostle Paul. Your view of scripture places you outside of the orthodox Christian view of the last 2,000 years. Simply put, your view of Scripture is not Christian. Interpretation issues aside, the idea that Paul "used scripture to back up his personal bias" is humanistic and secular.

Quintin said...

Hi Mike,

You know that my intention in writing on this blog is to present a particular view of scripture. I am fully responsible for what I write here, but I do hope and pray that if I err, I may be corrected by manner of scriptural argument.

I do consider you a friend (one of my best), but not at the expense of scripture. I think we both know that our theological view is very different. What we have to maintain is that we are fully allowed to disagree, but it is my fervent wish that we do so agreeably.

Mike the Tike said...


Frankly, no, I don't believe that the bible is "the infallible word of God". I believe that what happened back then happened and the guys wrote it down so that other people could hear about it. It's much the same as you guys are writing about your experience.
I would say the Bible is God inspired, just like your blog is Bible inspired.
Is everything you write in here correct? No. But I can still find truth in what you say.
If you have a dumb idea like Paul had, then I can discount it as a dumb idea. If you have an opinion that I can clearly see is your opinion, then I won't apply it to my life.
The disciples had their own opinions on children which Jesus rebuked. Why can't Paul have made the same mistake?

Josh Gelatt said...


OK. Then I think the virgin birth is a dumb idea. The cross is a dumb idea. Holiness is a dumb idea.

So is the 10 Commandments, and the need to assemble for worship. I think the concept of "spiritual gifts" is dumb, so is the idea of angels. Heaven is really dumb, and so is sin. For that matter, so is the idea of loving my enemies. Jesus probably never said that---that was just Matthew's view of what Jesus said. Then again, the idea that Jesus is really God is dumb---that was just the opinion of four guys.

Obviously I speak tongue-in-cheek. Think about the logical implications of your view. What grounding do you have?

Scripture claims to be "God-breathed". You say it is simply the product of well-meaning individuals.

Christianity says this is God's Holy Word. You say it is little more than the ancient version of a John Ortberg book.

Logically, you are then left with nothing.

Mike the Tike said...


I think your comment was a bad idea, so I'm discounting it.

You're not thinking clearly here. There is a big difference between Paul saying that you should not let woman speak in church is very different to him saying Jesus died on a cross. The one is a testimony to something that happened and the other is a command, an opinion or an idea.

You say:
Scripture claims to be "God-breathed"

By this I assume you are referring to 2 Timothy 3:16, where Paul says "All scripture is God breathed". (I could only find the term "God breathed" in the NIV. The KJV and NKJV have "inspiration of God")
I agree with Paul there. I don't think he is wrong at all. The thing is, which scripture is he talking about? The whole new testament didn't exist when Paul said this. Half of it wasn't even written.
This letter (2 Timothy) certainly isn't included in the God breathed scripture since in the verse before Paul says Timothy has been reading the Scriptures since he was a child.

So, the New Testament doesn't claim to be God-breathed.

Christianity (which I noticed doesn't include me) says that it is God's Holy Word. I'm not sure what kind of proof this is, but I believe it is a testimony to God's Word. That is, the bible is a testimony to the Word of God: Jesus.

Getting back to the women in church issue. Why this rule in particular? How many members of your church have sold all their property and moved in together like the early disciples? How many have given all their money to the church and used all their money together? Hypocrites!

Quintin said...

Mike, I would like to ask you what you perceive the term 'God-Breathed' to mean?

In the Greek, 'theopneustos' is two words combined, theo meaning God, and pneustos literally means 'divinely breathed in' (Probably where we get our English term 'pneumatic'). But what does that mean about the Old Testament? Is it the infallible, inerrant word of God?

A sub-point here is that the New Testament is making this claim (that scripture is God-breathed), and if it itself is not scripture, does it have the right to make such a claim?

Secondly, Paul's letters are claimed to be scripture by Peter:
"And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." 2 Peter 3:15-16

Secondly, Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-4) were told that they did not have to sell all of their possessions. However, I assume God would be very pleased if His disciples did so today, but there is no law stating that we must do it. Jesus, upon dealing with the rich young ruler, was showing the man the true desires of his heart (wealth), not saying that we have to sell everything. That would be salvation by works.

Mike the Tike said...

To be clear, here is my argument:

I am saying that Paul decided that women should not be teachers on his own (whether he thought God told him to or not). He then found things in scripture to back his opinion up.
I am saying that this is Paul's idea with he incorrectly (but probably honestly) believed was God's idea.

From your side, I can see this is hard to grasp because you believe that this part of scripture in particular is inspired by God and therefore it is God's idea directly.

To back up my claim, let's look at Paul's claimed commandment from God. Why does he use two different arguments in his letters? (No, really, if you have an answer here, I'd like to hear it) It sounds like he came up with the idea first and found backing later.

In Corinthians, Paul claims that the Law (which may also mean the current custom) backs his male only teaching policy. Before Paul gives his Eve theory in 1 Timothy, Paul says that the Law is for evil doers and mother-strikers.

The second argument (although it might have occurred earlier chronologically) is the one you've noted in your blog. The Adam first, Eve second argument. The punishment that God hands out to Eve is certainly that "he will rule over you.". I don't see any command to us here.
Last time I checked, God didn't need any help dealing out his wrath. God is handling Eve's punishment and he never asked for any help. If you're going with Paul's logic, you better get to burning all the unsaved people in the world.

This just in: Paul commands us not to allow serpents to walk in church.

The whole idea doesn't seem very Christian at all. I can't picture Jesus ("my yoke is easy", "love your neighbour as yourself", "let the children come to me") saying these words.

I think Paul missed the point here. I'm not saying all of Paul's teachings are wrong, just this one.

Quintin said...

Unfortunately I carry no heuristic for denying scripture. I can't just disagree with scripture even in one point. I find the more we debate on this topic, the more I wish I could just agree.

If I were to fight pro-woman preachers, I probably would argue something like this:
1. The word "Law" in 1 Corinthians can definitely mean "Norm" (that point hit me really hard Mike)
2. Galatians 2:28 claims that gender is no longer an issue 'in Christ.'
3. Paul says "I do not permit a woman to teach" making it a personal rule rather than a command. Paul's rules of marriage where much the same.

However, Galatians is talking about salvation, not church offices. I wish we were arguing over interpretation, but the fact is we are talking about the sufficiency of scripture.

The big question is: Are these letters scripture or not? How is it that God would inspire one part but not the other and then expect us to know the difference? Do we change our interpretation or, even worse, the authority of scripture as changes in culture occur?

I think the main issue here is that is seems I am being divisive. To tell the honest truth, I am. But I have no quarrel in doing so, nor am I going to force woman to join just to tell them to submit. I just will not submit to the authority of a Church with female leadership.

There are a lot of things to think about. Also this is not a hill I wish to climb much longer. The debate is good for me though because it is forcing me to think about the issue in great detail.

Mike the Tike said...


I appreciate your answer. The reason this issue in particular rubs me the wrong way is that it doesn't sound like you at all. You're not looking deeply into the origin of the New Testament at all. Paul claims that all scriptures are God inspired and Peter claims that Paul's letters are scripture. You know that would never fly as a proof in academic circles but you've turned a blind eye and allowed yourself to be convinced (tried hard not to use deceived here) by other people's opinions.

I just ask that you take a holistic, objective view at things like you would academically.

Quintin said...

Mike, I can't. I have to be unreasonable with scripture, otherwise the very words of scripture mean nothing.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
[Isaiah 55:8]

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
[Proverbs 3:5]