"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Artemis and the End of Us: Evangelical Errors Regarding Women


Artemis
Cultish behavior gives me the heebie-jeebies. A cult is defined as a group of people who follow a particular system of religious behavior established by an authoritative or revered person. Lest someone argue that Christianity is a cult, remember that Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Jesus frees people, cult leaders bind people. Jesus speaks truth to people, cult leaders lie to people. Jesus empowers people, cult leaders oppress people. Christianity is not a cult nor is Jesus a cult leader. He saves His people from systems that bind.

Some Christian men, however, have set themselves up as authorities in the institutional church and implemented systems of control that turn pockets of evangelicalism into cultism. This is what gives me the heebie-jeebies. The most prominent example of cultism within evangelical Christianity is the system of behavior imposed on women within the ekklessia (assembly) of Christ. Christian women are told by some authoritative church leaders that "women must never teach men; women must be silent in the assembly; women  must not have any authority over men, and women should seek to be passive servants to, and receivers of, male leadership, but should never exhibit characteristics of vibrant leadership when males are present." This system of behavior for women is cultic; for it is definitely not Christian nor is it consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

The Scriptures and the Freedom of Women

The New Testament gives many examples of women teaching men (cf. Luke 2:25-38; Acts 21:9John 4:28-29). Women served as deaconia in the early church (cf. Romans 16:1-2). Women were co-laborers with men in Christ's kingdom (cf. Romans 16:3) and at least one of Christ's apostles was a woman (cf. Romans 16:7). Males and females accompanied Jesus throughout His earthly ministry (cf. Luke 8:1-3).  Gifted men and women spread the good news of the kingdomGod first used women to preach (proclaim) the resurrection of His Son (cf. John 20:1-2). Male disciples later proclaimed the resurrected Christ in the same manner female disciples first preached Him (cf.  Luke 24:1-11). Women in the upper room at Pentecost received the same Spirit and the same gifts as men (cf. Acts 1:14-15). God is emphatic that in the days of the New Covenant both males and females will prophesy of Him (cf. Acts 2:17-18). The Apostle Paul encouraged men and women to teach, to pray and to fully participate in the assembly (cf. I Corinthians 11:4-5 and I Corinthians 14:23-24).

God clearly reveals to us that Christian men and women should serve as they are gifted by the Spirit. Any imposed restrictions on women speaking, teaching, or leading in the assembly of Christ is contrary to inspired revelation of God's word. So if the New Testament teaches that men and women are gifted by the Spirit to do the work of the kingdom, why do some put a system of restrictions on women, a system totally contrary to the overall tenor and explicit teachings of holy Scripture?

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Several years ago I was called by the Tulsa Police Department to a home where a young man committed suicide by cutting of his right hand with a pocket knife and bleeding out. We found him dead with his head slumped to his chest and a pool of blood at his feet. Before the young man died he laid his pocket knife on the middle of an open Bible with these words underlined: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown in hell" (Matthew 5:30).

I will never forget the gruesomeness of discovering the young man's right hand in a trash can, nor the words of the lieutenant as he walked around the room muttering under his breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." We were later told that the man had struggled for years with pornography and masturbation. The man took the words of the Bible and obeyed them. However, there is something mighty stupid about a man who reads Scripture and acts on words without taking time to look at their meaning, particularly when the overall tenor and teaching of Scripture is opposite of the action he is compelled to take!

If anybody ever tells you that women should never teach men, or that women should never be in leadership over men, or that women should be silent around men, then you should mutter under your breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." These people, well intentioned as they may be, are committing spiritual suicide by acting on words of Scripture without looking at their meaning. The system they seek to impose is opposite to the overall tenor and teachings of Scripture on the subject of women (see above). Here are the words some commit spiritual suicide over:
"In like manner also, see that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."( I Timothy 2:9-15: emphasis mine)
I recently had a Christian man paraphrase for me  I Timothy 2:9-15 and then tell me, "I will never have a woman lead me, teach me, or allow myself to be in a position where women usurp my authority over them because I believe the Bible!My friend has the problem of reading words of Scripture and acting on them without taking time to understand their meaning.

Until you understand the problem Timothy faced (the man to whom the words in I Timothy 2:9-15 are written), and until you are familiar with Ephesus (the place where Timothy lived), and until you have a working knowledge of the Amazons (the warrior women that the ancient Greeks believed founded Ephesus), and until you comprehend the influence of the cult of Artemis and the Temple of Artemis which was in Ephesus, the meaning of the Apostle Paul's words will never be rightly understood.  F. F. Bruce once wrote, "Subjugation of a woman is a system of man's fallen nature. If the work of Christ involves... breaking the fall, then the implication of His work for the liberation of women is plain." Jesus Christ came to liberate subjugated women. The cultism in evangelicalism regarding women's behaviors will only be broken when people lay aside stupid, false obedience to I Timothy 2:9-14 and realize the meaning of Paul's words to Timothy.

Ephesus and The Temple of Artemis

Rachelle and I will be with a group of friends in ancient Ephesus (located in southwest Turkey) next month. One of the reasons I am excited to be there is because Ephesus is the location of the most magnificent of the Seven Wonders of the World--The Temple of Artemis.

This is the first temple in the world made completely of marble. The richest man in the world in his day, King Croesus (595-547 B.C.) of Lydia (modern Turkey), ordered the Temple of Artemis be constructed in honor of the Greek goddess Artemis. Work on the Temple of Artemis began in 550 B.C. and took over a century to complete. King Croesus lived long enough to stuff the foundation of the Temple of Artemis with tens of thousands of gold coins to serve as talismans, ensuring the Temple's protection from destruction. Generations of people, even in America, have used the phrase "Rich as Croesus" to describe wealthy people in their day. King Croesus is given credit by many historians as the inventor of cold and silver coinage. His wealth is legendary, and he gave his riches to fund the building of the Temple in Artemis.  Croesus was a contemporary of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Cyrus was the king who defeated the Babylonians, freeing the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, enabling them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon's Temple.  Therefore, the Temple of Artemis and the Second Temple in Jerusalem were built during the same time period (the 6th century B.C.).

However, it was only the Temple of Artemis that became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World because of its stunning beauty. The Temple of Artemis was a temple dedicated to the power, beauty and strength of women. Marble artesians from all over the world carved Amazon women into the base of the 120 columns. Amazons were "warrior women" from an area north of Ephesus and the Black Sea (modern Ukraine). These Amazon women were known for their fierce fighting ability and had been made famous by the Greek poet Homer in his portrayal of them in The Iliad.

Homer (c. 750 B.C.) also gave tribute in The Iliad to Artemis, the Greek goddess of women and of war. Artemis is called by Homer "Artemis the Hunter, Queen of the Wild Beasts" (Iliad 21.470). Artemis is also presented as the goddess Phosphorous or Light (Strabo, Geo. 1.9.). If worshipped properly and prayed to during childbirth, Artemis promised to deliver women from death while giving birth. For this reason, women in the ancient world revered and worshipped Artemis. Likewise, men worshipped Artemis during times of battle and war. Since the ancient world was always at war, Artemis was often on the lips of men during times of battle. The Greek men (and later the Romans) prayed to Artemis (the Romans called her Diana), not Apollo in time of battle. In Greek mythology, Zeus fathered the twins Artemis and Apollo through the Titaness Leto. The Artemus cult taught that Artemis was superior to Apollo because she came (was born) born first.

When men and women entered the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, the women would wear fancy hair braids, bedeck themselves with jewelry and ornate clothes as they prayed to Artemis. Heliodorus said, "Their locks of hairs carry their prayers." There were no sacrifices in this Temple. The women worshipped Artemis with their clothing, jewelry, and their words. Artemis, in turn, gave them their sexual prowess over men and their deliverance during childbirth. Likewise, men came to Artemis, acknowledging their need of her strength during time of war. The men would hold up hands, palms up, just above their waist as they prayed for victory in battle. Not surprisingly Ephesus, above all other places in the ancient world, celebrated the power, strength and beauty of women and their ability to use their sexual prowess to manipulate and dominate men. The Temple operations, which included prostitution and craftsmen who sold gold and silver idols of Artemis, drove the economy of Ephesus. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the city annually.

Paul and Timothy's Presence in Ephesus in the Midst of the Artemis Cult

Acts 18:24 through Acts 20:1 records for us that Paul and Timothy spent three years in Ephesus (c. A.D. 55-58), by far the longest time Paul spent in any one city during his three missionary journeys. Paul almost lost his life during a riot in the city because silversmiths who made little statues of the goddess Artemis were upset that Paul and Timothy were cutting into their business by winning converts to Christianity. Paul would later write in I Corinthians 15:32 that he "fought wild beasts at Ephesus."  Did he fight lions, tigers and bears? No, the wild beasts were the people of Ephesus who were devoted to Artemis, "The Queen of the Wild Beasts."  When Paul left Ephesus in A.D. 58, he traveled south for about 30 miles to the island of Miletus and then called for wise leaders of the church in Ephesus to join him at Miletus where he said to them, "After I leave, savage wolves will come among you and will not spare the flock. Even some among you will arise and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them" (cf. Acts 20:29-30).

Sure enough, less than five years later (A.D. 63)  the Christians in Ephesus were in trouble. There were some women or maybe even a single woman, most likely a new convert out of the Artemis cult, who had begun to teach false truth in the assembly at Ephesus. Timothy is sent to Ephesus to help the church and give some correction. Timothy sends to Paul a letter from Ephesus, giving Paul an update on what is happening and asking some specific questions about how he should proceed (a letter that is not extant). The Apostle Paul sends a response to Timothy, a letter we now call I Timothy. It's important to remember (as we have seen) that nowhere in Scripture does Jesus, Paul or any other apostle restrict women in the assembly. In fact, when a false teacher nicknamed Jezebel begins to have influence among believers in the city of Thyatira, Jesus does not reprimand the church for having a female teacher, but rather He upraids the church for not doing anything about her false teaching (cf. Revelation 2:24).

The Meaning of I Timothy 2:9-15

Now, let's put up I Timothy 2:9-15 again in order to discover the meaning of the words in light of what we know about the Artemis cult in Ephesus:
"In like manner also, see that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."( I Timothy 2:9-15)
(1). "Let the woman adorn themselves in modest apparel" (v. 9).

Obviously, there were women coming to the assembly of Christ in Ephesus similar to the way they used to go to the Temple of Artemis, dressed to kill, with braided hair, gold, pearls and fine clothing. Paul is letting Timothy know that this mode of dress, particularly in the city of Ephesus, was not conducive to the worship of Christ. What Christ desires is the beauty of goodness toward others, not the drawing attention to oneself in public.

(2). "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection" (v. 11).

The reason I believe the problem in Ephesus is a particular woman who is in a teaching position within the assembly of Christ is because the noun "woman" is in the singular, not the plural. In verses 9 and 10, women is in the plural, but in verse 11, Paul switches to "the woman" or possibly that woman about whom Timothy has written Paul. It can't be a universal prohibition for all time against all women ever teaching men in the assembly because (a). That would violate the tenor and teaching of the rest of Scripture where women frequently taught men, and (b). Paul has elsewhere encouraged men and women to teach, to pray and to fully participate in the assembly as they are gifted (cf. I Corinthians 11:4-5 and I Corinthians 14:23-24).

Further, the word translated silence is hesuchia (quietness). It is used in I Timothy 2:2 to describe what the character of every believer should be, both males and females. It never means "don't speak," but addresses the character of humility. This woman in Ephesus, coming out of a society saturated with the power, strength, abilities and even domination of women through the Artemis cult, needed to realize that she had a great deal to learn about Christ and His kingdom.

(3). "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (v. 12).

This is the key phrase. First, the phrase translated "I suffer not a woman to teach" is literally in the tense of "I am not now permitting a woman to teach." Again, the woman not now permitted to teach is in the singular. It is the same woman of verse 11. This woman needs to learn in quiet humility before she ever presumes to teach, because she is still too influenced by Artemis cultic beliefs. This verse can NEVER be used as a proof text for women never teaching men or having "authority" over men.

(a). Deborah gave counsel and taught men and women about the Law of God (cf. Judges 2:16-19; 4:1-5:31). Huldah prophesied to Israel the word of the Lord and led the men of Israel (2 Kings 22:14-20). Priscilla and Aquila explained more perfectly to Apollos the way of God in Ephesus (cf. Acts 18:19-26). Most importantly, when Jezebel was teaching error to the church in Thyatira, Jesus never once told the church they were wrong for having a woman teach or lead them; He simply said they were wrong for not rejecting her false teaching (Revelation 2:18-29).

(b). "I suffer not a woman .... to usurp authority over the man" (v. 13).

This phrase "usurp authority" translates one Greek word authentein. This word is used only one time in all of Scripture--let me repeat that again--this word authentein is used only once in the entire Bible, right here in I Timothy 2:12. This word was used, however, in classical Greek literature and it meant "to murder someone." Paul could have chosen nearly fifty Greek words to speak of the ordinary exercise of authority, but he chose a word that more represents someone "dominating, controlling, or subjecting one to harm." Of course, this is precisely what the Artemis cult taught women to do. Artemis was the female goddess of fertility and war. Women in Ephesus were taught to use their voices, their charm, their sexuality and their beauty to dominate, control and subjugate men. It seems that this woman in Ephesus was causing trouble in the church by behavior in the assembly of Christ that was way too similar to the ways of the Artemis cult from whence she came.

(4). "For Adam was formed first, then Eve."

Timothy, tell the woman causing problems that her notion she should always have the floor and direct the assembly because she believes women are superior to men--since Artemis came first and Apollo came second--is a misguided belief. The truth is God created man first then He formed Eve from Adam, so it is very appropriate for her, a woman who considers herself a descendent of the Amazons, to sit quietly and learn from those who are older and wiser, even if they are males! Artemis taught the power of women to dominate men through sexual prowess, but Christ teaches that men are equal to women and there's nothing wrong with a woman learning from others (even men) before she begins to teach men.

(5). "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (v. 14).

And Timothy, remind her that the Scriptures teach that Eve was decieved. Contrary to what she learned in the Temple of Artemis, males are not always her problem. To be deceived and in need of correction is just as much a possibility for her as it was for Eve. She must move away from her belief in female superiority, a belief reinforced by the Artemis cult.

(6). "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety" (v. 15).

Timothy, tell this woman that she will be okay during childbirth, even if she totally and fully renounces her trust in Artemis. Yes, she lives in a culture that teaches Artemis alone saves a woman from death during childbirth, but the truth is Christ holds the keys of life and death. When women continue in faith, hope and love--avoiding the sexual immodesty and looseness on display in the Temple of Artemis and the worship of the goddess of fertility and war--it will be the one true God who delivers them from death during childbirth, not Artemis.

(7). And finally, Timothy, I wrote this letter to help you with the problems in the assembly in honor of "Him who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see" (I Timothy 6:16).

The people of Ephesus called Artemis the goddess of Light. The men approached Artemis in the Temple with hands raised above their waist praying for victory in battle and in war. Paul reminded Timothy in this same chapter that Christian men should approach Christ in worship with their hands raised and pray for peace with all men, not war. (Timothy 2:5). Christian women, come before Christ with a sense of modesty and humility, realizing that the ways of Christ are opposite of the ways of Artemis. Paul's entire personal letter to Timothy was an encouragement to him to "fight the wild beasts of Ephesus" and be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and correct the errors brought into the church by "savage wolves" who were remaining under the influence of Artemis theology.

In Conclusion

I recently read a comment from a reader on Wartburg Watch named HoppyTheToad, a female believer in Christ who commented about a previous church experience she and her husband had:

"We spent five years at a church filled with gender role nonsense. It has a way of making women paranoid about their actions, lest they be perceived as being a domineering woman. One of the chuch elders took Mr. Hoppy aside one day while at work. He wanted to know about that status of our marriage because I seemed too interested in discussing theology on our church email loop. Women were completely forbidden from speaking in the (very participatory) service, including the one day that all the men except one were at a retreat. (We couldn’t even make announcements about the church garage sale.)
While women were allowed to discuss theology elsewhere, I guess I must’ve broken some unspoken rules. I would often be the only women in a group of men standing around discussing theology. Occasionally joining a discussion on the church email loop somehow led this elder into assuming Mr. Hoppy must be very displeased to have such a “domineering wife.” He defended me as best he could. By the time we baled out of that church, yes, the elders were sitting around at lunch with their wives discussing what a “domineering” wife I am."
Mrs. HoppyTheToad, I have a solution for your dilemma should you find yourself in a similar situation again:

(1). Walk around the church seven times and shout "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid."
(2). Print this blog post and ask your pastor if you can read it before the assembly.
(3). Realize that by understanding the meaning of I Timothy 2 spiritual suicide is prevented in those assemblies who desire to place cultic restrictions on women.

A lack of understanding of Artemis may well be the end of western evangelicalism's effectiveness, but the rivers won't run and the sun won't shine before I let that happen within my small sphere of influence.

64 comments:

DT Boy said...

Does this mean that there is no position of leadership that a woman can or shouldnt serve in? What about as a lead/senior pastor?

I have been working through this issue for years and would love to hear your thoughts.

Wade Burleson said...

DT Boy,

As I tell our staff, "pastor" is a verb, not a noun. People should serve as they are gifted, and if a local ekklesia finds a gifted person to shepherd them, whether that person is male or female is irrelevant.

I think the bigger issue is the unbiblical (but secular) ordination (licensing) of ministers. Should women be ordained? My position is the ekklesia should inform the state (because law requires it) who it is that will serve as officiants for weddings. The state requires ministers to have legal authority to officiate weddings, etc... but it seems to me that service in the kingdom of God is not the same thing as recognition by the state.

So... to answer your question, there is no leadership that a man can have that a woman cannot. Culturally, some people will make an issue gender, but biblically, there is none.

Wade Burleson said...

In other words, I don't think ANYBODY should be ordained, because being ordained is something the New Testament is unfamiliar with. :)

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Wade,

Thank you for this excellent post! There was a time when I felt great despair because I thought my gender would prevent me from using my gifts for the glory of God.

You have help to reinvigorate my faith walk, and I am so grateful.

Wade Burleson said...

Wanda,

You are welcome!

:)

Thank you for your ministry!

Wade

David (NAS) Rogers said...

Wade,

What are the sources you used for discovering the historical, social, cultural background for Ephesus in the first century, especially with regard to the influence of the Artemis cult?

Thanks.

Wade Burleson said...

The bibliography would include the primary sources of Homer's Iliad, Herodatus' Histories, Antipany's description of The Seven Wonders of the World. Contemporary books would include Justin Pollard's Wonders of the Ancient World: Andquity's Greatest Feats of Design and Engineering and Jon Zen's and my book (Forword) What's Up With Paul and Women. There is a superb appendix by Dr. Frank Ames entitled The Ephesian Social World Providing the Backdrop or Paul's Teaching in I Timothy and on page 135 you will find a list of 55 additional sources for Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis and the influence of the Artemis cult on the Ephesian asssembly.

Susan Stilwell said...

Hi Wade,

So glad I came across your blog. GREAT article, and a timely one since I'll be teaching 1&2 Timothy in my co-ed (gasp!) Sunday School class. Your background on worship at the temple in Ephesus brings Paul's teaching into the light. Thank you.

Susan in VA

Wade Burleson said...

Susan,

Tell all the Oklahomans at FBC Roanoke hello for me!

JnC said...

Wade -

Thank you for taking the time to share these details as well as to cite your sources. It is evident that a great deal of study and time have been spent in learning the context of these truths. Would that all of us when handling Scripture and Christian teachings be so responsible and diligent AND have the courage to proclaim the truth we discover.

You continue to be an inspiration and encouragement to us through your teachings.

JnC

Anonymous said...

Wade, what's your response to one of the qualifications for elders as being a one woman man? thanks, ken

Wade Burleson said...

Ken,

My response is the same as a deacon being a one-woman man.

Deacon Phoebe (female), from Cenchrea, carried "in the folds of her robe" Paul's epistle to the Romans as she went by ship to Rome. She left the port at Cenchrea (on the isthmus of Corinth, south of Athens) and made her way over dangerous waters of the Mediterranean to Rome. You and I study Romans on Sundays because of deacon Phoebe. I am quite confident deacon Phoebe was not a "one-woman man," yet she is termed a deacon. The qualification for deacon is the same as that of elder - "a one-woman man." So, do we argue with Scripture's designation of Phoebe as a "deacon?" Do we say change the word "deacon" (as it is in holy Scripture) to "servant" so as to hide the fact she is a deacon (as KJV translators did)?

Or, do we realize that qualifications of a deacon and an elder are CHARACTER QUALITIES and not gender specifications, and as such, a "one-woman" man or a "one-man" woman represents a character of fidelity and loyalty to one's commitments?

Of course, I believe the qualifications of an elder (a wise and old member of the assembly to whom others should listen) and the qualification of a deacon (a servant of the assembly) are qualifications of CHARACTER.

Hope that answers your questions.

Rex Ray said...

"And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression"

Question: Did Paul know more about Eve than we do? Did he put all the blame on Eve?

It seems to me Paul's words are the same excuse Adam told God...'The woman you gave me...'

I don't believe God agreed with Adam, so why should he agree with Paul.

Which is the 'worst' sin; to be deceoved or eat the fruit without being deceived?

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

The cult of Artemis believed it impossible for women to be deceived.

I agree with you. The culpability is greater for the person (Adam) who ate with eyes wide open.

Ben from PA said...

Wade,

Thanks for the great post.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 14:34 as this has a similar focus yet is directed to a different city.

Wade Burleson said...

Ben,

I will devote an entire post to I Corinthians 14:34 in the very near future (maybe the next one).

The principle stands: If the overwhelming teaching and tenor of the New Testament goes one direction, and a VERSE seems to say something different than the rest of Scripture, then the VERSE that seems to say something different ("if they right hand offends thee CUT IT OFF") should be a verse that we take time to discover the meaning, because Scripture would never contradict Scripture (as you know!). :)

David said...

Wade,

I have heard and read a number of these points in various books, blog posts, etc., so it was super to find them all put together in one post, clearly explained, supported by references (at least alluded to in the comments, that is).

And you last comment (above mine) is exactly what I've thought: The overwhelming teaching and tenor of the whole Bible goes one direction of women being able to teach and lead, yet there is that "one verse" that seems to say something different than the rest of Scripture and everyone seems to have the tail wagging the dog as a result. They'd rather uphold I Tim. 2 than accept the plain teaching of all the examples in the rest of the scripture.

One would say, "but you're reading a cultural context into the Bible" if you add all this background info, but I say that it's clear that Artemis and all the culture around her ARE in scripture because they are mentioned in Acts 18-20 (so glad you mentioned that). It's there. One should not read Paul's adventure in that section and not say, "yeah, yeah, Artemis whatever, let's keep with only these words in this book, that's all we need to know about all this".

I couldn't agree with you more, it's stupid what people come up with if they don't take the time to look at the background and meaning of a text, or isolate it from the rest of scripture.

Would that more women be liberated in Christ to be free to teach, and that men would rejoice in their freedom. At least I cherish my wife in that manner.

Blessings to you, Wade. You bless my wife and I with your writings and courage to speak the truth.

Ben from PA said...

Thanks Wade. Look forward to that post!

(Agreed on that principle too - which is why having Paul repeat the "silence" thing in multiple books has made this passage particularly difficult, at least for me. I'd rather it not even be in there, but it is and I don't want to ignore what God is telling me simply because I don't like it. I want to change me, not the bible!)

Diary of an Autodidact said...

All my life, I have heard various preachers grapple with the "saved through childbirth" line, and never was the Artemis connection noted. But now that you have done so, it seems glaringly obvious. How did I miss it? I guess perhaps even those of us familiar with the Greco-Roman myths tend to compartmentalize that knowledge, and forget that they were the cultural context of the ancient world.

Thanks for another excellent post.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
While I am agreeing as I am reading... I am still learning.

But one thing I believe is that I do not think it is New Covenant Christianity for any... man or woman to exercise authority over their brothers and sisters. That is why he gave us the Holy Spirit and appointed us as priests and kings in the New cov.

I believe that this is what Jesus was trying to get across to his disciples when he told them in Matthew 23:8-11

"8. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant."

Will have to read this again.

Jeff Rogers - Colorado Springs... Still missing all of the beloved at Enid Emmanuel.

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 14:34 as this has a similar focus yet is directed to a different city."

There is a lot more to it, but consider that Paul was contradicting himself since he also wrote chapter 11.... if he was really saying they had to stay silent in chp 14. The question in chp 11 is should they prophesy with their heads covered or not in the Body? He would not tell them a few papyrus later to be silent. :o)

There is some evidence 34-35 is a quote as Paul quotes things in this letter they asked. The wording in that verse is very similar to working in the Talmud/Mishna about women in worship. And asking husbands at home.

Thing is, Paul refutes 34/35 in verse 36:

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

It reads more like, What! Are you kidding me? YOu cannot be serious. Paul is using some sarcasm here.

the focus is on orderly worship. Look at what he says in verse 39:


39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Wade Burleson said...

Diary of an Autodidact,

Thank you!

Wade Burleson said...

Jeff,

I know you will continue to research because you are a teacher at heart. And, a hearty "Amen" to your New Covenant understanding that nobody, male or female, "lords" authority over anyone.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I ought to have you write my post on I Corinthians. :)

Anonymous said...

Forgot to say thanks for your response, Wade.

I did a little poking around about the issue how a 'one woman man' could allow for a women to be elders and found that the comps tend to categorize ministries in the 'official' or 'positional' mentalities. Once you do that it appears much easier/convenient to argue against women in those positions.

I like what Zens always says - the body of Christ is a family with older elders of both sexes, not a corporation or business.

I also stumbled across your participation in the e-church at Wartburg. Thank you for this as well! Ken

Kristen said...

May I offer a link to my blog post on "one-woman man"?

Husband of One Wife?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kristen, for the applicable/helpful thoughts. The idea of monogamy does seem more fitting/natural than to insist Paul was excluding women. Ken

Wade Burleson said...

Kristen,

Well done! Great article.

Ken Colson said...

Thanks Wade. Sharing this link on Facebook page. Ken

Laura said...

Thanks for this well written biblical defense, and for your great humor too! Off to march around the church 7 times saying "stupid, stupid, stupid"! : )

Marg said...

Hi Wade, I also believe influences from the cult of Artemis were playing a part in the heresy and problems in the church at Ephesus.

I'd just like to point out that the Greek goddess Artemis/Diana "The Huntress" is different to Artemis/Diana of the Ephesians.
http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/1-timothy-212-in-context-2/

Have a great time in Ephesus!!!

Wade Burleson said...

Marg,

Thank you for the link. The characteristics of Homer's Artemis the Hunter and the warrior Amazons were adopted by the Lydian culture. Prior to the Greeks arriving in Lydia, King Croesus and the Lydians had another female goddess (multiple breasts, etc...), but in time, Artemis the Hunter merged with the older Lydian female deity. So.... I am not as convinced as you in the differences. I undertand the differences between the two, but I'm saying by the time of Paul, the Greeks and Romans goddess Artemis had merged with the ancient Lydian goddess.

Wade Burleson said...

By the way, Margaret, you have written an excellent article.

Wade Burleson said...

Margaret,

Here is an illustration of the sources I use in believing the Anatolian fertility goddess, or "The Lady of Ephesus" (a fertility god of the east represented by a statue with many presents) became "Artemis and/or Diana" the Greek and later Roman goddess (the Warrior/Hunter goddess) while at the same time having the "sexual" connotations of the fertility gods.

"In around 550 B.C. Lydian king Croesus (595-c.546 B.C.) captured Ephesus. He put his wealth to us e in completely rebuilding the temple of the eastern fertility god of Ephesus called "The Lady of Ephesus." By now the Lady of Ephesus was associated by the Greeks with their deity Artemis (the Roman goddess Diana) and so this buidling became known as the Temple of Artemis." Justin Pollard, The Wonders of the Ancient World pages 49-50.

So, technically, you are correct about Ephesus being founded upon the goddess of fertility (not Artemis of Homer's Iliad), but by the time of Cyrus the Great and the building of the GREAT TEMPLE of Artemis, the goddess of Ephesus was known as the Greek and Roman goddess Artemis, with all the characteristics of her hunting and warrior power (notice the Amazon women on the columns), while maintaining the purely sexual overtones you so eloquently write about in your article.

Again, thanks for your comment.

Wade Burleson said...

That should be "the statue with many breasts" in the second sentence above.

Smile.

Anonymous said...

Great article. As a member of the Church of Christ (which is about as "conservative" as possible on most issues, including the role of women...this is a very refreshing and eye-opening article. Will need to read it thru several times. Thanks.

A. Amos Love said...

Wade

I also believe the qualifications are, as you say...
“qualifications of a deacon and an elder are CHARACTER QUALITIES”

My concern is - I’ve noticed, most I’ve met, who desire to be known as a “leader,” a “pastor/elder/overseer,” male and female, tend to “Ignore” or “Twist” the “Qualifications” in 1 Tim 3:1-6, and Titus 1:5-9, so they can obtain for themselves this “Position” of pastor/leader/overseer causing this concern about their character and integrity.

It was after I left “the Abusive Religious System” of today that I recognized, and had to admit, I “Ignored” these tough qualifications to obtain this “Position” of Power - Profit - Prestige.

Why does Paul give such very tough “Character Qualifications?”
1 - Must be blameless. 2 - Just. 3 - Holy. 4 - Rule well their own house.
Just to name four of over 15 “Character Qualifications.”

Which “Character Qualifications” are NOT important?
Which ones can we “Ignore?” Before our character is questioned?

A. Amos Love said...

Wade

Here is the first character qualification I did NOT qualify for. :-(

Titus 1:5-8 KJV
...ordain elders in every city.
If any be *blameless,* the husband of one wife,
having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
For a bishop “must be” *blameless,* as the steward of God;
not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker,
not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality,
a lover of good men, sober, *just,* *holy,* temperate;

1 - For a bishop (overseer) “must be” *blameless.*

That *must be* is the same Greek as - You *must be* born again. John 3:7.

*Must Be* - Strongs #1163, die. - It is necessary (as binding).
Thayer’s - necessity established by the counsel and decree of God.
Seems “must be” is a small three letter word but very important. Yes?

1 - Blameless - Strongs #410 anegkletos; unaccused, irreproachable.
Thayers - that cannot be called into account, unreproveable, unaccused.
Dictionary - Without fault, innocent, guiltless, not meriting censure.

1 Tim 3:2 ASV - The bishop therefore must be without reproach...
1 Tim 3:2 NIV - Now the overseer must be above reproach...

How many, pastor/elder/overseers, who honestly examine themselves,
seriously considering this one Character Qualification, Must Be Blameless,
can see themselves as *Blameless,* without fault, above reproach,
and thus qualify to be an pastor/elder/overseer?

And if someone can see them self as *blameless:* Is that pride?
And no longer without fault? Oy Vey! ;-)

Aren’t ALL the Character Qualifications important?
Which one’s can be ‘Ignored

A. Amos Love said...

Wade

Something else I’ve noticed - Most believers find it hard to admit...
Their pastor/elder/overeer/leaders do NOT meet these tuff qualifications.

Here are two more Character Qualifications from Titus for elder/overseer that most who want to be a pastor/leader/overseer today tend to *Ignore* or “Twist.”

2 - Just
Strongs #1342 - dikaios {dik'-ah-yos} from 1349; - Innocent.
Thayers - righteous, observing divine laws
upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God
innocent, faultless, guiltless
used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting
is wholly conformed to the will of God,

3 - Holy
Strongs #3741 - hosios {hos'-ee-os} - intrinsic or divine character.
Thayers - 1) undefiled by sin, free from wickedness,
religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious.

Now that’s three tough Character Qualifications for pastor/elder/overseer.
1 - Must Be Blameless. 2 - Just. 3 - Holy. -- Yes?

Makes an interesting study - Checking out ALL these tough Character Qualifications for pastor/elder/overseer. Then checking out those who say they are pastor/elder/overseers compared to the qualifications. :-)

Psalm 40:4
Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust,
and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies

A. Amos Love said...

Wade

Could this be ...
One of the reasons so many believers are leaving the Institutional church?

One of the reasons for the moral, professional failure, of so many pastors?

One of the reasons there is so much “Spiritual Abuse” by pastor/leaders?

Pastor/Elder/Overseer/Leaders...
Who do NOT meet these very difficult Character Qualifications?

And most believers just look the other way - And remain silent.
Because - This is the way it has always been done - Don’t make waves...

No - If you know you do NOT meet these tuff Character Qualifications.
Go do something else - Quit - Save you and your family a lot of heartache.
Be a good example to the flock.

And let Jesus build His Church. Jesus is the “ONE” Shepherd.

Maybe that’s why Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called leader...
For you have “ONE” leader - Jesus - Mat 23:10 NASB.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
John 10:16

One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice - One Leader

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

Sheldon said...

If this was the reason for Paul's words, then why was there not a more specific explanation given by Paul in the text?

Certainly, if the Bible was inspired by god, then wouldn't he have known that Christians from later cultures would not have understood the reason for this command, and given an explanation to Paul to prevent later confusion?

I'm not arguing against women being church leaders, in fact, I have no personal stake in the matter since I'm agnostic now (though I do think churches should be more accepting of women in leadership roles).


Alex said...

This is a classic example of interpreting Scripture by knowledge and not by Scripture. It is a hermeneutical failing that eventually turns the Bible as our guide into the Bible as the cover of our guide.

The Artemis detail enhances the text, it does not explain it away. The direction of the Bible is to the New Jerusalem where the Bride figure is in an equal-but-different (and led) relationship with the Bridegroom Christ. This is exactly the same kind of relationship as that with which the Bible begins.

You are wrong. It is out of God's order - as the Bible plainly states - for a woman to have authority over a man. This does not make her oppressed. Nor is variance from this a sin. Sometimes it is a necessity (Deborah). It should never be a human design and you have fallen far short of making that case with your cleverness here.

Victorious said...

Alex,
This does not make her oppressed.

...and you would know this how?

Wade Burleson said...

Alex,

You are wrong. :)

Nobody in Christianity, man or woman, is to "lord" authority over another.

Your focus is on authority, and you are violating the very words of your Lord when you argue a man should have authority over a woman, but a woman should never have authority over a man.

You err not knowing the Scriptures. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Sheldon,

This is a LETTER sent to Timothy in response to a LETTER Timothy sent to Paul.

Sure, it is the inspired and infallible, but in properly interpreting the text of the letter, you must understand the person who wrote it, to whom it was written, the context in which it was written, etc...

David said...

Alex,

"Sometimes it is a necessity (Deborah). It should never be a human design and you have fallen far short of making that case with your cleverness here."

Deborah was legitimate, yes. And so was Huldah, Miriam, Priscilla, Junia, and so many others. Some will teach that Deborah was an aberration because "no man stepped at the time". Oh really?

So the God who can raise up people for Himself and moves in people's hearts was impotent to move no one so that Deborah had to step up?

That's the problem. Everyone says I Timothy is the capstone for the issue when there is clear evidence as laid out by Wade and many others that all these women (who are never called out by name as being "out of place" in the Scriptures). So the tail wags the dog here if I Timothy is the standard, and it flies in the face of our Lord's word as stated by Wade a few comments above.

Priscilla was not only serving snacks while Aquilla taught Apollos. It's very doubtful that Junia was only sent to prepare the women to make the potluck dinners ready for others. You can't explain these things away by saying "they have to mean this because I Timothy says that".

Don't explain this away with stupid explanations that contradict our Lord's actions and so many other examples. If Deborah led, she led. If Priscilla taught, she taught. If Junia was an apostle, she was an apostle. And so on...

All you have to do is ask "Why was Artemis worship such an issue?" if you read Acts. A lot happened because of it. The LETTER to TIMOTHY is in a cultural context. That was reality for that situation. Every reader of the Scriptures should be willing to understand the context of that situation when reading.

If I Timothy was some kind of a universal standard, then the Old Testament should collaborate with that. But it doesn't. A dozen legitimate examples of women leading and teaching should be reason to question why I Timothy is written the way it is.

And since we're not to lord over each other, as Jesus said, there's even more reason to look into all this.

Victorious said...

Years ago I came to the conclusion that I couldn't stop the irrational teachings about women in the church, but neither did I have to submit myself to them. I knew from scripture that God is not limited by concrete walls and the need for ministry is greater outside of them than inside.

As an example... one Sunday morning I decided to go to the local Walgreens earlier than I would have normally gone out and about. As I walked thru the door, there was a young girl at the cash register. As I reached for a shopping cart, I heard her holler something to me. When I turned to her, she said, "would you mind being my mother for a minute?" I said I would try.

That young girl proceeded to tell me stories of abuse by her boyfriend. Having a background in that area, I was able to minister to her right there at the cash register at 7:30 a.m. in the drugstore. Before leaving, I gave her the number for the local shelter and 24-hr. hotline and she immediately picked up the phone to make some calls.

Women can minister wherever God leads and it's the church's loss if they limit them to certain areas ignoring their giftings.

You cannot supress the talents and strengths of 1/2 of the body and expect it to be healthy. But until the church recognizes that valuable principle, I encourage women to remember to watch for ministry opportunities in their day-to-day life and you will be surprised at how creative our God can be!



Anonymous said...

Wade, would you comment on the book "Women in the Church" edited by Kostenberger, Schreiner, & Baldwin? They address much of what you've written and seem to make a very sound case against women as pastor/shepherds.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I have not read the book so I cannot comment. I will do my best in the mid-term future to read it.

Mary said...

Thanks for this! It makes a lot of sense. I hope you don't mind if I link like crazy. :)

Dawn said...

I am a recovering daughter of patriarchy. I continuously struggle with Paul's words. If I didn't truly love Jesus and find hope in His treatment of women, I would have left the faith long ago.
This post was incredibly pertinent to me as my pastor preached from the passage in Acts about the silversmiths of Diana just this past Sunday, and I found myself torn, feeling as though the Christian women had sacrificed the empowerment and protection of Artemis for the shackles of hierarchy. I struggled inwardly like you cannot imagine. I took communion, focusing on Christ and His grace, all the while begging God to show me that He *was* better to women than Artemis.
Your words here are a salve to my bleeding soul. I am SO weary of constantly being viewed as "less than" because I lack the correct genitalia or worse yet, because my gender introduced sin into the world.
Please pray for me. Pray that I will find the courage to print this and give it to my husband. He thinks that my anguish over past spiritual abuse is nothing more than an unwillingness to accept my "lot as a woman".
Thank you. Form the bottom of my heart.

Dawn said...

I am a recovering daughter of patriarchy. I continuously struggle with Paul's words. If I didn't truly love Jesus and find hope in His treatment of women, I would have left the faith long ago.
This post was incredibly pertinent to me as my pastor preached from the passage in Acts about the silversmiths of Diana just this past Sunday, and I found myself torn, feeling as though the Christian women had sacrificed the empowerment and protection of Artemis for the shackles of hierarchy. I struggled inwardly like you cannot imagine. I took communion, focusing on Christ and His grace, all the while begging God to show me that He *was* better to women than Artemis.
Your words here are a salve to my bleeding soul. I am SO weary of constantly being viewed as "less than" because I lack the correct genitalia or worse yet, because my gender introduced sin into the world.
Please pray for me. Pray that I will find the courage to print this and give it to my husband. He thinks that my anguish over past spiritual abuse is nothing more than an unwillingness to accept my "lot as a woman".
Thank you. Form the bottom of my heart.

Darcy said...

Thank you so much for this! I passed it on. :)It's nice to have all that information in one place, instead of linking to a bunch of different sources when having a discussion. I really hope to find a church someday that doesn't tell me and my daughters that our service to God is limited because we are female. I was raised like that, and I refuse to allow people to teach my daughters that way. Thus we haven't been to church in a while......

Anonymous said...

I now believe we have truly entered the time spoken of by Paul:

2 TIMOTHY 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (NKJV)

Unfortunately, it's going to get MUCH worse before it gets better...

Heather said...

I'm very new to your blog, but I've heard your name. I went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for almost 2 years. It seems so strange to me that I was taught in Hermeneutics class how important it was to look at the historical context of the text. Yet in the teaching on gender roles, any mention of the historical context was pretty much just not mentioned. I always heard that the reference to Adam and Eve proved that this was God's original created order, so there was no way it could be culturally based. I have changed a lot since I was at Southern. I am truly grateful for my time there, but I'm reexamining some of my previously held beliefs. This blog is exciting to me. It's comforting to realize that there *might* be a legitimate interpretation of gender passages that doesn't make me into a second-class citizen of the Kingdom of God.

Anonymous said...

Thanking the Lord for your wonderfully examined writing regarding women. Our friends in Christ shared your blog with my husband and I. The Holy Spirit illuminates our minds to understand better. Praise to Him for working through you to help people to understand in the context of that time/people. For way too many centuries and physical/social/etc. differences make it difficult for us (in America) to "get" the principle that was meant. Am very grateful for your work for Christ. God bless you!

Gio said...

Wow. Bible teaching, history and solving something that never made sense to me.

Think I am going to love this blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Why only deal with the NT (except when mentioning Deborah and Huldah, of course)? In the entire context of God's people, God certainly had a habit of choosing males as spiritual leaders. He could have chosen both male and female descendants of Aaron to be priests and priestesses, but he did not. Why? He could have created Adam and Eve at the same time but didn't. Why? Jesus could have chosen a female disciple or two, but he didn't. Why? I think the context of the entire Bible is more important than the context of extra-biblical sources. I don't really have a dog in this fight. I lean toward not allowing women to be head pastors, but I don't speak against or fight against it as I am not certain about the issue and a woman leading wouldn't bother me as much as other things that go on in the church. But every time I read an article on this topic, it always sounds like an attempt to dig for (fabricate) evidence that supports an already held notion rather than a quest for truth.

Harry S. Johnson said...

How do you explain away 1 Cor. 14:33-40? Getting back to 1 Tim. 2 Paul bases his instructions on creation and the fall, not the cultural norms of Ephesus in Paul's day. Jesus' submission to the Father does not make him a second-class deity, nor does a woman submitting to her husband and this particular scripture make her a second-class Christian. A warning about calling your fellow believers "stupid, stupid, stupid": read Matthew 5:22

Diann said...

First, thank you, Wade, for this wonderful, illuminating post. I would like to reply to Anonymous' questions,

"God certainly had a habit of choosing males as spiritual leaders. He could have chosen both male and female descendants of Aaron to be priests and priestesses, but he did not. Why? He could have created Adam and Eve at the same time but didn't. Why? Jesus could have chosen a female disciple or two, but he didn't. "

May I share my thoughts with you? It is true that God did often (but not always!) choose males as Spiritual leaders in the Old Testament, however, God did this with His wonderful plan of salvation in mind. You see, God always knew He was going to send His only begotten Son. Therefore when we read "And [insert father here] begat [insert son here], God wants us to recognize not that men aremoore special in His eyes than women, but rather, that the father-son paradigm is of paramount importance. When the Lord Jesus came to this earth, He came as the Spiritual fulfillment of the Father-Son paradigm, and, as the Seed of the woman, He came as the fleshly-paradigm breaker, too!

All believers have a priesthood today. Their is not a believer in the Lord Jesus who is incapable of coming before His throne and petitioning Him. This too is foreshadowed in the tribe of Levi; Aaron's rod, a dead tree, miraculously blossomed, picturing our Great and High Priest, Who ever lives to make intercession for us! Since the Lamb was sacrificed equally for men and women, we are all to offer ourselves as living sacrifices!

As to why God created Adam first, Scripture answers this, too. Jesus is called the second Adam. The first Adam had no idea that he was going to sin against His Heavenly Father. But God knew the first Adam was going to do so; God knew there was going to be a need for a Second Adam. Isn't it amazing that the first Adam had his bride's body taken out of his body, but the body of the Bride of Christ, the church, is composed of those who are "in Christ"?

Jesus not only chose female disciples - He commended them! The woman who anointed His feet with oil: commended. Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet instead of cooking for the guests: commended. The woman who touched them hem of His garment: commended. The Syro-Phoenecian mother who begged Jesus' help: commended. The woman named Mary who Jesus was born of: commended. And to every woman who has since heard and trusted in the Great Lover of their souls, there is no condemnation.



Wade Burleson said...

Diann,

Well stated. Well done.

Arun Gavali said...

...what their itching ears want to hear. None of the passages cited were represented correctly. Anyone who takes these words, claiming what scripture says, without checking scripture to make sure it actually says what the commentator claimed it says... their blood be on their own head.

David said...

Arun,

One can easily see the historical references mentioned above, read the source materials and clearly see the connection in the passage of I Timothy. This is not "itching ears". This is discovering meaning in context of the society of the place of the letter written.

Look at it this way: if I Timothy is the standard for all ages, then the many references of women leading and teaching have to be explained away with things like "men didn't step up" or "it was an exception in this case" or other nonsense. I'd rather believe with a sound mind that the "saved through childbirth" references are part of a complete refutation of Ephesian theology, and not some strange list of Christian prohibitions that have made for some very weird sermons and interpretations.

Gary said...

(Arminian) Evangelical Christianity teaches that my salvation is dependent on MY decision to accept Christ, and my assurance of salvation is dependent on MY feelings of his continued presence in my heart.

But what happens during times of hardship and trial when I don't feel saved? Answer: I repeat my born again experience again and again until I finally feel absolutely certain that I am saved!

Thousands, maybe millions, of Evangelical Christians struggle with doubts and fears regarding their salvation and eternal destiny due to this faulty theology. They have no sure assurance of salvation! They are praying the Sinner's Prayer again and again as if it were a Rosary.

The Sinner's Prayer:

"Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for
Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen."

http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/12/arminian-evangelicalisms-dirty-little.html