In the course of a year of blogging one goes through a number of topics. I find that the two subjects that receive the most response are women in ministry leadership and homosexuality. I don’t think it is all about scripture. Take the following verse from 1Tim 2 NRSV.

9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.

For those opposed to the idea of a female senior pastor this is the key passage. I respect those who have a willingness to stay true to scripture even when it is unpopular. However I think very few people do this. Almost no one actually takes this passage of scripture literally and directly. I don’t see anyone advocating that the church should restrict women from ministry because they wear jewelry or expensive clothes. I don’t see anyone advocating that women in a bible college should learn in in silence with “full submission.” Why take one passage of this chapter and apply it to one position in our context?

  1. #1 by dan on July 18, 2006 - 6:26 pm

    Leighton, the fact that you even ask this question reveals that you don’t take the bible seriously….

  2. #2 by Kevin on July 18, 2006 - 9:18 pm

    I must agree with Dan.

  3. #3 by LT on July 18, 2006 - 11:49 pm


    Seeing as how you haven’t seen fit to provide any means of personally contacting you I must write this here. I think you should change your approach. What you say is getting more and more inflammatory and personal. I don’t want to debate with people who imply negative things about how I seriously I approach the bible or say that I nothing I hear will change my opinion. I’ve seen this kind of stuff far too much and I am really sick of it.

    If you want a debate about ideas we can have a debate. If you want to demonstrate how something I wrote is wrong go ahead. Please do not imply negative things about my faith or my commitment to scripture.

    If you are wondering why I’m not writing anything to “Dan” it is because Dan is short for Daniel, a woman in church leadership in Australia.

  4. #4 by Rob Kroeker on July 19, 2006 - 11:13 am

    Is this where that whole “mountain out of a mole hill” statement comes in?

  5. #5 by scotty on July 19, 2006 - 12:55 pm

    LT, you take the Bible seriously. I’ve known you for over ten years and of that I am certain. But it is strange when people comment on your blog but don’t bother actually READING what you write or investigating who you are. How ironic that a person can totally misread something you have written today in English and yet the same person knows EXACTLY what somebody meant when they wrote something to one person 2000 years ago in a different language and culture.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. #6 by scotty on July 19, 2006 - 12:57 pm

    Dan, that comment was not for you. I know you were using satire 🙂 .

  7. #7 by Kevin on July 20, 2006 - 8:37 pm

    It would at least be fair to complete Paul’s thought:

    11Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

    Paul does not root his logic in the societal devaluation of women, or any cultural stigma. But rather gives a reason which should be just as binding for us today. He says that in God’s intended order men are intended for headship. He also points out that Eve was lead frist into sin. It is not clear whether he is pointing this out to say that this is what can happen, or if he is saying that women should learn in submission because of their leading humanity into sin. I think the former, but either way the church needs to take this like very other text seriously.

    It is not sufficient to say that we don’t apply other parts of scripture so let’s ignore this or that there are more important ones to deal with. This does not take the bible seriously. God has revealed his will for leadership in the church and the question is whose church is it?

  8. #8 by LT on July 21, 2006 - 12:14 am


    You wrote It is not sufficient to say that we don’t apply other parts of scripture so let’s ignore this.

    This isn’t my point. My point is there is an inconsistency when people oppose female church leaders on the basis of 1Tim 2 but disregard this principle across the board or ignore other passages in the same chapter.

    He says that in God’s intended order men are intended for headship.

    I believe this interpretation is reading a lot in to this text. You might have a case for this looking at 1Cor 11 but there is no mention of headship here.

    Interpreting 1Tim 2 is not an easy task. One of the main reasons is the end of chapter you left out of your quote.

    “11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

    In Paul’s appeal to genesis we see his subject change from “Eve” in v13 to “the woman” in v14 and in v15 “she” and “they”.

    If in the course of a conversation referred to my dead grandmother by the name “esther” and then referred to her as “the woman” and then said something about “she” being saved through childbearing and finally referred to her as “they” it would be very confusing.

    I used to believe in a permissive soft patriarchy a mere 5 years ago. When I took a good look at this verse and realized it really doesn’t make any sense everything changed. Why would Paul switch from “no woman” to “she” and over to “eve” and then “the woman” back to “she” and over to “they?” In the context of grace, where we have died to the old law, how can I enforce such a broad and difficult restriction based on a passage that I’m not sure I understand. Especially in the light of history where women have been leading churches in the Wesleyan and Charismatic tradition for a long time.

    I believe it is more likely that Paul is addressing something specific in Ephesus. There are some startling parellels between chapter 2 and chapter 5. There were young widows causing problems. If this chapter was about them it would explain why Paul would switch from “Eve” to “they.” It would also explain why Paul would say that a woman could be saved through childbearing.

    My old line of thinking on this hit a real monkey wrench at verse 15. There is just no easy to way explain how “eve” or really any woman could receive salvation by bearing a child.

  9. #9 by Kevin on July 21, 2006 - 7:18 am

    This passage is all about headship, or at least spiritual authority which for me is the main part of headship. And Paul is making the case here to be a universal statement about his ordering of teaching authority in the church. If he were saying something specific about a specific situation in Ephesus, why would he begin by saying “I desire then that it every place the men should pray…” and then continue to give a series of instructions on how the church ought to be run?

    Additionally onthe specific question of the role of women, where he says clearly that women are not to have teaching authority over men (I read this to be within the church) he very clearly gives the reason why this is the case, and it has nothing to do with the situation in ephesus. Perhaps even had he left it without justification, you could argue that, but it is as if Paul is guarding his directive from possible misinterpretation and insisting that it has universal application.

    And Again the reason he gives is that God’s inteneded order is man than woman. This could not be clearer in the text. I did not include verse 15 because it brings in another thought which although is related may muddy the waters. It is confusing, and there are a varierty of interpretations, However, its presence cannot disqualify what came before it.

    Finally: “This isn’t my point. My point is there is an inconsistency when people oppose female church leaders on the basis of 1Tim 2 but disregard this principle across the board or ignore other passages in the same chapter.”

    Certainly there are any number of inconsistencies in the church and we are certainly a fallen institution, but that being said, we must always strive to come to love and follow God’s revealed will as closely as possible in order to bring him glory. I must also question the way you use “died to the old law”. This does suggest a certain anti-nomian tendency. Yes we have died to the law, but the purpose of that is to be joined with Christ. This is a higher calling and standard not a more lax one. The shift is from earning our salvation through meritorious works to glorifying God through holiness of life. Nowhere in there is there simply license to depart from the will of God.

  10. #10 by LT on July 21, 2006 - 3:31 pm

    I don’t believe your take on v13 is the only viable one. There is a another place in scripture where Paul brings us back to Genesis but there is no mention of any creation order.

    2Cor 11:3 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

    Paul held up Eve as an example of deception. I believe it is just as possible that he is doing the same thing in 1Tim 2. The issue is not who was “formed first” but who was deceived. Given that deception of women was a key issue he was addressing Ephesus it lends more weight to the argument that he is addressing something very specific.

    I don’t think one can disregard verse 15 while attempting to interpret 11-14. Especially if that verse makes no sense in relation to one’s conclusions about the verse. If “she” or “they” in v15 are a specific person and/or people in Ephesus that changes the meaning of the chapter entirely.

    The strength of a biblical argument can often be tested by the scriptures it leaves out. I have a hard time reconciling a complete ban on teaching by women but the inclusion of women that prophesied. It does not make sense to restrict women from an authoritative teaching role but allow them to exhibit an authoritative prophetic role. They are both public

    We know women prophesied with their heads covered (1Cor 11). Philip’s daughters prohpesied (Acts 21:19).

    I agree that v1 does set a very broad initial scope but things change in v12. Paul uses the word “she”. If he had been talking about all women everywhere v12 would go like this.

    “Let women learn in silence with full submssion, they are to keep silent.”

    If this restriction was consistent with the rest of Paul’s ideas about ministry it would be easier to accept. But Pauls very concept of church seems to be at odds with this. We are all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28). The churches that Paul established were small house churches where the entire church did ministry and meetings had participation from everyone (1cor 14). We have women serving a deacons, and teaching men in acts (with her husband).

    Add to all the force of the biblical text the experience of church history. When someone observes a gifted women minister, especially with the anointing of the Holy Spirit it gets really difficult to argue against it.

    If God created humanity with a divine order (male over female) that would be a pretty big deal. I’ve seen little other biblical evidence to support this. The ordering of women under men seems to be rooted in the fall of mankind (Genesis 3:16). If this was some sort of consquence for the fall then it wasn’t in place in the beginning. Undoing this curse becomes no less biblical than using herbicide or using an epidural during childbirth.

  11. #11 by Kevin on July 21, 2006 - 4:55 pm

    I must disagree on pretty much everything you have said. It is clear that you are committed to this position and are now citing very minor and incidental passages of scripture and setting them against the weight of clear teaching.

    Additionally the historical argument is very limited and as we discussed in the previous post weighs very much against the ordination of women.

    What you are arguing is not historical but experiential. I do not argue that many women are gifted in ways that would better equip them for ministry then a lot of men. But this is no different than a divorced man. Yes they are gifted but that does not mean that God intends for them to exercise public ministry.

    It is very dangerous to proceed along these lines of arguing against the plain interpretation of scripture. Setting aside this issue, it removes the confidence that your uneducated lay person has in trusting their read of scripture. If 1 Timothy 2:12 does not mean what it seems to, how can I trust that John 3:16 means what it seems to say.

    I think we probably have said all we can and still fundamentally disagree.

  12. #12 by LT on July 21, 2006 - 5:23 pm

    Can explain to me how 1Tim 2:15 is clear teaching? You haven’t even attempted to explain how this passage fits in to your interpretation.

    How can you determine which scriptures are “minor and incidental” and which ones are “clear”. To me Gal 3:28 is abundantly clear. I take all scripture very seriously and never regard any of it as minor or incidental.

    I don’t think the entire Wesleyan tradition (Methodists to Nazarenes and Salvation Army) as well as the mainline protestants and charismatics can hardly be regarded as my “experience”.

    In 1Tim 2 there is no reference to public ministry. I believe you are reading our traditional church context in to the text. Paul was speaking to a house church where the bulk of ministry happened one to another or in an interactive group setting.

    I don’t think it is dangerous at all to take scripture seriously and be honest about what it is really saying. Personally I think it is more dangerous to proclaim certain passages as “clear” and the ones that don’t fit with my perspective “incidental.” I don’t want to face God and explain to him how I didn’t bother examining the whole testimony of scripture so I ended up opposing ministry that He inspired.

  13. #13 by Jadon on July 22, 2006 - 2:42 pm

    But this is no different than a divorced man

    Well, yes and no, Kevin. A divorced man is disqualified because of marital status, whereas a women would be disqualified simply because of her gender. It reminds me of an Anglican priest who said that it’s one thing to disagree with female ordination because of tradition, but it’s another because they are women, as it makes it more personal. Sometimes it’s easier for us men to discount women too easily, including by Scripture.

    Reading I Tim. 2 fully, it would seem obvious that the thrust is about being peaceful and quiet (v. 2, 11-12). It is implied that there was some conflict (v. 8) stemming from status issues (v. 2, 9). Paul seems to be asking for generosity of spirit by all (v. 1, 3-4) because Christ mediated for us (v. 5-6).

    As for the part referring to women, it seems evident that the emphasis is on good works (v.10) instead of posturing. Jealousy by the women, particularly from lack of control or good intentions (v. 14-15), would not benefit others. There appears to be no teaching in this passage about what positions women could or could not fill, but it seems more about attitude. (The allusion to the Fall reinforces the point that women are not immune to this problem.) This fits with the main theme of chapter 2.

    So, Kevin, to suggest that I Tim. 2 is about women’s role in the church seems slightly premature, to say the least.

  14. #14 by Kevin on July 22, 2006 - 4:18 pm

    It is hard to imagine being premature in one’s interpretation of a text when one stands with 1900 years of universally agreed upon interpretation.

  15. #15 by Jadon on July 22, 2006 - 9:37 pm

    True enough Kevin. It may not make it complete or correct though. Remember that slavery was condoned at some level for centuries by the church, using Scripture, but we know that it was overturned later. After all, how it plays itself out should count too.

    I can understand the confidence in agreeing with precedent, since reappraising some things can appear to weaken our roots of faith or challenge our Christian walk. Staying with past interpretations may not convince others though, and that matters as well. Otherwise, it just seems more like a preference instead of truth.

  16. #16 by LT on July 23, 2006 - 8:31 pm

    I wonder how history would have played out if Luther had thought “who am I to challenge centuries of biblical interpretation by the church?”

    The church did not have universal agreement on place of women in church leadership for 1900 years. There were Anabaptist groups that had women teaching in the 1500’s. Methodism started in the 1700’s and the church in Ireland had female leaders and apostles. They didn’t begin to come in line with the Roman church until 641. The only time there was universal agreement in the church on female leadership it was about 900 years in an era we call the dark ages.

    Who are we to challenge the traditional position of the church when its most prominent theologians regarded women as inferior? I don’t blame Calvin, Luther, Augustine and Aquinas because they were products of their culture. We all are in many ways. We are fools to think otherwise. Is it really such a stretch to think if they got their theology on women wrong that they could get their theology on women in ministry wrong as well?

  17. #17 by Paul Johnston on July 24, 2006 - 6:46 am

    Late, I know. I’m a slow reader…lol

    With regards to the Catholic church and the ordination of women, there is but one canon(1577) that deal specifically with this issue. Citing Christ’s precident and Church tradition, not scripture…

    1577- Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination.Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in their priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.

  18. #18 by dan on July 24, 2006 - 5:19 pm

    Man. This whole discussion got all serious after my flippant remark. From one female leader married to a previously divorced minister, it seems that I don’t take the bible seriously. However, I just believe that God can forgive my Hub for his divorce, just as he can forgive me for being a woman…..

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