Tag Archives: 1 Tim 2:12

Important Clarification and Brief Subject Change

I hope you’ll forgive my long absence. I’ve had a lot of stuff to do, and not much lent itself well to writing of any kind. And sometimes ideas have to roll around in my head for awhile until I fully understand them enough to be comfortable discussing them on an intellectual level. Most of what I read or come across merits an emotional response, but I never want that to be my only response. I don’t believe that is a wise way to approach matters of Biblical truth — unless it is an actual emotional matter, and even then I’d want to analyze it a little first. I’m just not good at quickly turning out an emotional response (or any response, it seems). I want to be able to back up my reasoning, or at least leave the door open to further understanding, and not just leave a flash-bang reaction and have to apologize later for going off unprepared.

That said, there is something I need to clarify once more, especially since social politics have blurred the definitions and boundaries of the subject to the point where there needs to be new distinction made.

I’ve described myself early in the creation of this blog as a “Christian Feminist”. I also sought to define it more specifically in another post. Since then, I’ve learned more about secular feminism (specifically “third-wave feminism”, which seems to have grown more obnoxious in recent years) and how its terms and conditions have pervaded the egalitarian movement and begun to destroy what has been a great thing with distasteful ideals that I, personally, want to distance myself from immediately.

I joined an egalitarian group on Facebook awhile back, mostly out of curiosity, but also out of a desire for blog fodder and like-minded camaraderie. I did find some like-minded individuals with great things to say. I also accrued some blog fodder, but not in the way I was expecting. I realized after a few days that there appeared to be a prevailing attitude among a majority of the posters that smelled very much like the “us vs. them” mentality of secular third-wave feminists. I would find myself reading a post, in full agreement with the pleas to allow women to work alongside men in the churches — until it turned back on itself and began throwing around terms like “patriarchy”, “toxic masculinity”, and “misogyny” — in their colloquial context — and generally tearing down men in order to build women up in their place.

I finally left that group after being accused of being a traitor for saying that we shouldn’t be badmouthing men and having an attitude that is exactly what Paul was warning Timothy about in our Very Favorite Prooftext, 1 Tim 2:12.

A traitor. Okay. But a traitor to whom? Not all my Christian brothers actually seek to “oppress” me; many of them are just steeped in church culture. Many of them, like me, grew up with the beliefs that women and men had different roles in the church, directed by God and never to be questioned or changed. Men do wonderful, powerful things in the church. Imagine what they could do with women helping them carry the burden of leadership and teaching, and not just in a subservient role! I would never want men to take a backseat to let the women drive — especially not the women who unironically fling around terms like “toxic masculinity”, and take “patriarchy” tritely out of its historical context.

I have more to say on this matter, and I’ve been researching the difference between Egalitarianism and Complementarianism (including the beliefs of the Discipleship movement). There are some really deep and frightful differences and non-scriptural traditions and beliefs held by Complementarians that just make my heart ache for those women who are like me (leadership-oriented, self-teaching, and all but outrightly called to dig into scripture with adults), who are trapped in that kind of faith tradition.

However, I’m going to swerve off into a different direction for a moment…

Leaving the traditional Church of Christ has had its ups and downs for me, I’ve discovered. I’m so happy to have the freedoms I do now, to volunteer or be asked to lead the adult worship or teaching time. But my absolute favorite tradition of the Churches of Christ is their a capella* song service. I miss it so very much, I cannot rightly express it in words. And I don’t even miss the version I left a few years ago as much as I miss the skill and spontaneity of the singing in the church I grew up in as a little kid. We brought hymnals to every gathering, and we could sing any song at any time, anywhere — in four-part harmony, with gusto. It was an ultra-conservative, legalistic church — but did they ever know how to sing! Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been revisiting some gorgeous arrangements of favorite a capella hymns, and trying to figure out ways to gather a group together to sing them again. I have a few friends from our previous congregation who I’m sure would be happy to do so, since I don’t think they have regular singing services anymore, either (other than the songs normally incorporated in the regular worship time).

I have mentioned before, I believe (but am not sure), that I find the subject of instruments in worship 100% based on preference and not scripture, so I do not believe our instrumental singing time at the church we belong to now is wrong or sinful. However, I am one who prefers more investment in the worship time by everyone involved, and the louder the instruments, the softer the singing, or the less participation by the congregation at large. Loud instrumentation gives people an excuse not to participate (which, to be honest, is sometimes a good thing for people who do not prefer to sing, but still find listening to the music a transcendent form of worship — that’s just fine if that is actually true for that person). It can make the worship time more complicated if those instruments (or the people who play them the most skillfully) are missing — because no one else learns melody or rhythm that may not always exist without the instruments. I won’t even get started on converting radio songs for the worship service right now, because I am far too emotional about it today, and that subject kind of requires a whole other post on its own.

But before anyone from an a capella tradition looks at that and thinks, “Well maybe that means the a capella way is the best way, and the reason God meant for us to worship in that fashion,” I would suggest taking a good, hard look at the song-leading skills in your own congregations, and what happens when the church does not have a good backup song leader for the one who has the skill, or even maintains a teaching program for future [male] song leaders. I have been to more congregations (even large ones, like the one I left) whose leaders cannot carry a tune or rhythm to save their lives (and the women sitting in the pews, who aren’t allowed to lead, occasionally end up leading the singing from the pews, because they know the songs better than the men and can hit all the notes in their part). At least a guitar or piano in the right hands has the capability of holding a pitch and maintaining a rhythm. Just sayin’ — there are pros and cons to both forms of worship.

Anyway, it’s been ages since I’ve posted, and this draft has been sitting here for waaaaaaayyyy too long. I’m gonna post it now, even though it’s still kinda messy, and try to be more intentional about posting again sooner rather than later.

May your day be filled with blessings and music!

*I feel the need to italicize “a capella“, because it looks wrong without it. It doesn’t look any more right with it, but it looks…less wrong? I don’t know. I’m doing it, and I reserve the right to change my mind later. Shutting up and posting now!

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Interesting Find

This Sunday, we visited my parents’ church. We actually made it for class — which is kind of a miracle for me — and it’s a good thing we did. I probably would have noticed it eventually, but the teacher of the adult class read a passage from Philippians, and as I was skimming around, my eyes lit upon 4:2-3, which reads:

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil 4:2-3, NIV)

I read it over and over again, and the more I read it, the more it occurred to me that this language is about as unambiguous as you can get. Yet again, it’s another passage I’ve always just kind of skimmed over, like Roman’s 16. After all, it has no bearing on today’s church, and it’s talking about women, besides. Women didn’t do anything important in the epistles, right? Other than hold churches in their houses, that is. Just hosting, not leading… We’re supposed to believe Paul didn’t like women taking part in services.

Except that these two forgettable verses totally blow that belief out of the water.

Let’s break it down:

1. Paul pleads with two women to agree on spiritual matters. This is not a plea for them to agree over the children’s curriculum, how to conduct the women’s ministry, what flowers to place on the pulpit, or what food they would make for the love feasts. The disagreement of these two women — if, indeed, it even is a disagreement — appears to be making waves big enough for Paul to gently ask his fellow “companion” (unnamed in this particular verse, though some believe it is either Epaphroditus or someone named “Syzygos”, which literally means “companion”) to “help” them. We don’t know what their dispute is, and we don’t know what kind of help Paul asks of his friend, but we know the dispute must be making an impact on congregations in that area, and if so, those women must have some ministerial clout — otherwise, why would Paul waste time on it?

2. Paul does not tell the recipient of his letter to command them to be silent. Even women members of churches that do not allow female leadership can cause divisions and strife, but if they are to be subject to male authority, wouldn’t Paul be telling the men of Philippi to shut their women down, as he supposedly told Timothy to do in Ephesus? No, these women were special to Paul. It’s fairly clear they have a special place in the ministry. He is not asking them to sit down, shut up, and learn in silence and humility from the men — as we think he does for every woman, if 1 Tim 2:12 is to be taken literally for time and eternity. Why not? Did Paul change his mind by the time he wrote to Timothy, or…is it possible that the passage in Timothy might have been — dare I say it — cultural? No, he is asking his companion to help them — either mediate their dispute or just be there for them — but not silence them. Why? Because…

3. These women are “co-workers” with Paul, and have worked “by his side” for the cause of the gospel. (Quotes added to emphasize literal terms taken from the verses.) I suppose we could stretch that out, like some have stretched the reference to Philip’s four daughters, to say that they only taught the women and children. But Paul doesn’t say that here, and he mentions Clement — a male — in the same reference. He uses the same language (“in the cause of the Gospel” and “co-workers”) in the beginning of the book, referring to men we recognize readily as church ministers or deacons. It seems foolhardy to attribute any other occupation to these women than teaching the gospel as Paul taught it — to anyone and everyone who would listen.

These passages are vignettes into the early ministry of the church, but have been excluded from serious consideration by the adherence to the “pattern of the church”. It’s amazing to me how I could read the same book over and over, and not ever pick up on little important tidbits like this one until I start opening my heart to what the New Testament really says about the early church, and stop using it as a God’s New Law for Christians.

Here is an article providing a little more insight on the topic: http://newlife.id.au/bible-study-notes/philippians-4_2-5/

BONUS:

My parents’ church is one that doesn’t allow women in the pulpit or active ministry during the worship services — not even for scripture readings, song leading, or plate passing. However, with the exception of leading them, women can fully participate in adult classes before or after services, or during the week. They still can’t lead prayer or be a speaker with men present, but they can read aloud and take part in the discussion.

The adult class was pretty large this Sunday, but few were participating, even though the teacher asked for people to read passages aloud. I assume not as many were volunteering, because he was asking for them to read entire chapters from Ecclesiastes, and they had to be loud, but it was really odd to me just how quiet everyone was. No one jumped on the chance to read aloud by the third chapter he was asking for, and I hadn’t been participating fully because I was kind of a visitor and didn’t need to draw attention to myself when I hadn’t been there for most of the discussions — but I love reading aloud. I volunteered, and he called on me. I read Ecclesiastes 10 out loud, and no one batted an eye (that I know of).

1 Tim 2:11 says, “A woman (or “wife”, and I am both) should learn in quietness and full submission.” Those who have interpreted this to mean women (or wives) can’t even be allowed to stand in the pulpit on Sundays and read scripture upon pain of disapproval or condemnation have no trouble with this practice outside of the corporate worship service. But why? Paul isn’t specific about when or where. He does say learn, so wouldn’t that also apply to Bible classes? Couldn’t I, interpreting that verse as church law (which is what it has become), have “usurped” the “authority” of another man in the group to read the Bible aloud, even when no men were rising to the task? Shouldn’t the teacher have picked one of the able-voiced men to read, so the women wouldn’t get any ideas?

To be fair, this church is solidly centrist, all things considered, so there is a great deal more freedom there than in other churches I’ve been to. It just seems to me they (and other churches who still believe as they do) are working from a double standard. If they believe that God commanded through Paul for time and eternity that women cannot participate in services, even to read scripture or silently pass plates down the aisles (an activity which is even less scriptural than female participation in it), it would follow that women should be forced to keep to themselves in Bible classes, also.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful I’ve been allowed to participate, because it’s hard for me to keep my mouth shut on some topics, but it chafes that the same scriptural knowledge or talent for reading aloud that I’m allowed to show in class cannot be used for good in the worship service, as well.

Just a thought for today. God be with you!

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There is Still SO MUCH…

…But I’m going to leave you with some stuff I found, before I can update again:

So, how DID we get so anti-woman in our translations? Good ol’ Augustine, following trusty, dusty ol’ Plato! This post contains a great Power Point (and PDF of it, if you don’t have the requisite software) outlining just where some of this reasoning came from: https://godaslove.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/platos-spectacles-how-greek-philosophy-has-distorted-our-view-of-women-in-the-bible/

When Paul uses the form of authenteo in his writing in 1 Timothy 2:12, what is he referring to? Here is an eye-opening description of the temple worship in Ephesus, which the newborn church had to contend with, and it is NOT pretty (this is where the study of culture makes SUCH a huge difference in our interpretation of Paul’s letters): https://apostleswarning.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/idol-worship-in-the-old-testament-and-the-new-implications-for-biblical-equality/

And an interesting, mistranslated passage from Isaiah 3:12 that does not jive with the Old Testament scriptures the New Testament Greeks quoted from. This is cool!: https://godaslove.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/a-biblical-view-of-men-and-women/

(Along a similar vein, Joel 2:28, where “your sons AND DAUGHTERS will prophesy” has often been overlooked, because the next two lines don’t mention women at all (not that they mention anything the churches believe men are doing nowadays). But in the Septuagint, the word “men” isn’t even present. It’s essentially, “Your old will see visions and your young will dream dreams.” This passage is all-inclusive!)

I’ve been neglectful of my blogs, but I need to get back into it. In the meantime, check out those blogs I posted from above, and also The Junia Project, which I discovered while reading a couple of Facebook pages, where I got those other blog posts: What the Bible Really Says About Women and Let My People Go: A Call To End the Oppression of Women in the Church

I hope you enjoy those references as much as I have! 🙂

[CORR: I originally wrote “2 Tim 2:12” instead of “1 Tim”, so I’ve gone back and fixed that, and the tag.]

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