Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
- 1 Timothy 2:11-15
I think that this has got to be one of the most difficult passages in the Bible for any woman to digest. I finally have some insight on it, though! Before I go on, yes the author of the "insight" is a man. But I'd like to quote something he said before I begin.
This passage is not about male or female superiority. Any honest male knows thatthe grading curve was always messed up by the girls in his class. What man has not been out-thought, out-talked, and out-done by his female counterparts? Your experiences need be no larger than your family to know women who are superior to their fathers, brothers, and husbands.
-R. Kent Hughes
So, to begin, I know many people who like to say that Paul is just flat out wrong here. There is no way that Paul is preaching the word of God right here, no way that what he is saying is not oppressive of women, no way he is not being sexist. And we know God can't possibly be sexist, so Paul is in human error in this passage.
As Mr. Hughes pointed out in the article I read, Paul doesn't claim this on his authority. He uses the authority of God's creation to back up his argument. God created Adam first, then Eve. Adam is the head, not Eve. Then, the touchiest subject of all, it was woman who was deceived and then in turn deceived man.
Ok, so what am I getting at here? Paul thinks we should stay quiet because we are responsible for original sin? No. Paul doesn't want us to teach men or to have authority over them because it is not in the natural order that God revealed through creation. The sin of Adam and Eve was the original debunking of the natural order and the result was death. So, it would seem to me that Paul wants us to avoid death by observing the proper order of creation.
I got started on all this because this morning in my Bible study I came across a woman named Phoebe who was a deacon in a church (Romans 15 or 16, vs 1-2). I was confused, because Paul spoke very highly of her and told the church to help her in her duties. And yet, Paul is the one who said this as well. Why is he being contradictory? After further study, I discovered (largely in part due to Mr. Hughes, though other research played a role) that the "to teach men" was the same word usually used for disciples and meant preaching. Paul did not want women to be in a position where they could create doctrine or enforce doctrine. That role, as I'm sure many would agree, is one of incredible authority and leadership. Those roles are assigned, as Paul points out, in creation.
Now this whole theory on the original sin being the first debunking of the natural order of creation. God created Adam. God created Eve from Adam. God gave Adam and Eve authority over all the creatures. So, the order is God, Man, Woman, Creature. Sin entered the world like this: Creature teaches Woman that she can be like God if she eats the fruit. Woman listens to Creature, eats the fruit, and then instructs Man to eat. Man obeys Woman. Order introduced in original sin - Creature, Woman, Man...where's God?
So, Paul goes on to say, women can be saved through childbearing. Wait...what? I have to have a baby to have eternal life? Some interpret that to mean that they will be saved through the birth of Christ. Mr. Hughes points out that this is a little too abstract for Paul, and mentions that childbearing is the one indisputable thing that distinguishes women from men. Hughes claims that this verse says that women will be saved by recognizing their place in the order of creation. And he's right. Our place in creation is under God and under the authority of the Son of Man. It is only in recognizing that that we can be saved. Its kind of like honoring your father and mother. If you can't honor and respect the physical authority placed above you, how are you going to honor and respect an invisible God? If women can't submit and listen quietly to the doctrine and theology set before them, what makes us think they can submit and listen quietly to God's authority?
To conclude this controversial blog, I'd like to say that women are not without authority in the church. They are simply without authority in doctrine and theology. They are allowed to teach, but must submit to the heads of the church for doctrine. And the heads of the church must submit to the authority of God's Word for their doctrine.
I still don't think women should be preaching.
(The article is here: Living Out God's Order)