Have you ever found that your discussions with hierarchists goes nowhere fast because they say they have heard the egalitarian arguments before and they are not willing to listen to what you have to say? Perhaps we are missing an opportunity to engage them because we are wanting to teach them first instead of letting them teach us. What would happen if we let them teach us by asking them the “right” questions?
Those who believe in the hierarchical view which has restrictions on women that forbid women from teaching the bible to men, base their belief primarily on one verse – 1 Timothy 2:12. Instead of debating with them what this verse means, why not take one step back and ask them two important questions? First of all ask them if 1 Timothy 2:12 is a law of God that forbids godly women from teaching biblical doctrine to men? When you have established that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a law of God forbidding this activity, ask them when this “law” came into existence? Did it come into existence before Paul wrote it to Timothy or did it come into existence at the time that Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2?
Let’s consider the ways that this question could be answered.
1. If they say that this “law” came into existence at the time that Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2, then it means that there was no “law” prior to the its creation with Paul. This means that women prior to New Testament times had no restrictions on teaching the bible to men. Does this make sense? Is it possible for Old Testament women to have more freedom than those women who became believers in Christ through Paul’s ministry? This doesn’t seem logical. Why would God allow women for thousands of years the freedom to teach the bible to anyone without regard to gender and then suddenly this bible teaching becomes a sin? If it was a sin, how would the women believers who were there before Paul wrote the “law” in 1 Timothy know that it was a sin? Priscilla apparently had no idea that her teaching the bible to Apollos and her correcting his doctrine was a wrong thing to do. Priscilla taught the bible with authority by correcting error.
2. If they say that the “law” that stopped women from teaching the bible to men was created before Paul wrote it down in 1 Timothy 2, and Paul was merely referring back to a “law” that already existed, where is this “law” written down? There is no such “law” in the Old Testament that could possibly be linked back to. If they try to say that the “law” was recorded in Genesis 3:16 with the phrase “he will rule over you”, remind them that this could not possibly be a “law” that forbids women from teaching the bible to men. After all if Genesis 3:16 was really God’s will that wives were to be ruled by their husbands, then women would have to obey their husband’s command to teach the bible to men. My husband, for example, has been very strong in encouraging me to teach men and women alike with the gifts that God has given me. If I am to obey my husband I will teach men the bible instead of turning them away.
So instead of quibbling about whether there is a “law” that forbids women from teaching the bible with authority, why not ask them when this “law” started? See if they can figure it out.
Today I had the opportunity to read a blog where Bob Cleveland posted a comment that I really appreciated. It is located here.
If a woman has the gift of teaching she oughtta teach; to anybody who wants and needs to benefit from her God-given gift.
This really touched me. It puts the onus on the one who wants and needs to benefit from her God-given ability. I believe that this is why scripture tells us to submit to one another. We cannot take authority over someone else and force them to listen to us. The power is in the hands of the one who submits. The submission is not so that we can be under someone’s thumb. The submission is so we can benefit from what God has given as a gift to them for our benefit. When God has given his precious gifts of teaching and insight on the scriptures to a woman, we should honor God by submitting to learn. Do you want to benefit? Don’t accuse a godly Christian woman of being in sin because she has been given insight into the bible. This gift from God through her is given freely to anyone who is willing to receive it. If you want it, you should be able to freely receive.
Scripture also tells us that all of us are “needed”. God has placed his children into the body with a special gift given to each one for the benefit of the body. We are not allowed to say that some members are not needed for our benefit. Each one has been placed in the body and each one is to function for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you“; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
When a man turns away from learning the bible because it is being taught by a woman, he is not really rejecting her but God who gave her what is needed for the health of the body. He is saying that others may need her, “but I don’t need her”. By refusing the good gift, he is refusing to submit to receive from God and he is judging God because of the vessel that God has himself chosen to use. Such a one has broken a direct prohibition of God given in 1 Corinthians 12:21.
If there are any complementarians or hierarchists reading this who would like to answer these questions, please feel free to interact on this post. I believe in treating brothers in Christ with respect even if they disagree with me on these secondary issues. Each of us is a member of the same body, bought by the shed blood of our precious Lord and Savior and I desire to honor other members of the body of Christ who are not the same as myself.