Men, Women and the Church

Reflections on 1 Timothy 2

God, through Paul, is working through a cultural framework in which men are esteemed in general, and women are opressed. The fact that Paul allows women to publically learn at all is stunning given the societal restraints of the times. These verses give validity to women to be a part of the public religious community. Even though Paul does not allow women to have authority over men (we could speculate several valid reasons based on the Roman Empire's idolatry), he still allows them to participate silently - whereas it was more typical of that age for men to learn in the synagogues and then teach their wives in the seclusion of their own homes. Paul is moving the church forward, and though it seems he is making an abstract truth-statement about the absolute position of women to men, he is not.

Yes it is true that Adam was made first, and it is true that Eve sinned first - this is a good place to start. But, it is also true that Adam did nothing to stop Eve from sinning, then sinned himself, and then went so far as to blame God. Adam heaped sin upon sin and ultimately caused the whole mess by remaining silent when he should have spoken Truth into the situation. The garden paints for us a picture of what happens when men and women don't work together as partners, and as much as Paul is right for not allowing women to have authority over men in his time, it is just as right for us to allow women, in partnership with men, to have authority over men in our time.

But if a man will not allow a righteous woman to spiritually lead him, then whom will he follow? If a man cannot discern righteousness, then will he not be tricked onto the wide path of destruction? what I mean is, whether male or female, one should consider the righteousness of a leader, and allow that to be the weight, rather than their gender. What is better, is for a man and a woman to lead a congregation, because men and women can accomplish much more together than men alone and women alone.


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