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

Gifted Women in Leadership Among Men and Boys

I will sometimes hear Christians say a woman cannot have leadership in the church or teach men in the church because the Apostle Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet" (I Timothy 2:12).

These Christians fail to understand that Paul's instruction to Timothy in I Timothy 2:12 is a specific and temporary prohibition against a woman in Ephesus instead of a general prohibition against all women everywhere.

Some Christians, however, try to make a distinction between "women in authority" over men "in the church" as compared to "in the world." They say there's nothing wrong with it "outside the church," but "in the church" women can't have leadership.

Using that distinction as a defense in keeping women out of church leadership is bizarre ecclesiology. We are the church, and wherever we go, Jesus is. You can't go to church if you are the church.

Let's be consistent.

So, what does it look like when someone consistently enforces their interpretation of I Timothy 2:12 on women everywhere?

About ten years ago I cam across an Associated Press article on Fox News entitled Female Referee Removed From Officiating Boys' Basketball Game:
Kansas activities officials are investigating a religious school's refusal to let a female referee call a boys' high school basketball game.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association said referees reported that Michelle Campbell was preparing to officiate at St. Mary's Academy near Topeka on Feb. 2 when a school official insisted that Campbell could not call the game.

The reason given, according to the referees: Campbell, as a woman, could not be put in a position of authority over boys because of the academy's beliefs.

St. Mary's Academy is about 25 miles northwest of Topeka, Kansas.
One must admire the administrators of St. Mary's. They are consistent. They take their incorrect interpretation of I Timothy 2:12 and enforce it in their institutional church setting and in the world in which they live.

It's much more courageous - albeit far less admired -  than the inconsistency of Christians who make the artificial distinction of women "in the church" and "in the world."

If Christians continue this artificial distinction, we will look more and more cultish than like the New Testament followers of Jesus Christ we are.

16 comments:

Liesel Polwort said...

Thanks, Wade. For those that comment that the example is 10 years, old. I will testify that it happens. It has happened to me & right now (today) a sweet sister in Christ, a construction project manager, is facing the need to address this in her workplace. Christian co-workers should be a blessing - we should lift each other up. Married Christians should not feel like their marriages are threatened by the need to communicate or collaborate with a coworker of the opposite sex.

Wade Burleson said...

Liesel,

Keep at it! Christ sets His people free to serve as He empowers.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Liesel: You bring up a good point that also keeps women from being able to be more in the church. Jealous wives or girlfriends. If all realized we are women, not automatic temptresses because of our sex. I am fortunate my husband was never jealous or tried to hold me back but just the opposite. We are women who love to serve for our Lord. We are not out to tempt a man, but neither should we be expected to not look our best. I know of churches who taught no makeup or jewelry for women. These were Baptist churches. That was the worst use of scripture and the best way to keep women under their thumb that I have ever heard.

pam said...

"We are women who love to serve for our Lord. We are not out to tempt a man, but neither should we be expected to not look our best."
+++++++++++++++++++++++

nothing like being refused eye contact and treated as invisible. as if you're not even there.
this is what it is to be a woman in many churches.

Bob Cleveland said...

That word "usurp" is "authenteo", which Strong's says is: "One who with his own hands kills another or himself; one who acts on his own authority; an absolute master; to govern, exercise dominion over one."

Since, in the SBC pastors do not "exercise dominion" over people, I see none of the definition which comes close to applying to Pastors and Teachers.

Perhaps their actions betray the thoughts of those who see the passage in Timothy as applying to everyone everywhere in every situation. Which is really interesting.

Christiane said...

ah, St. Mary's is a school from the 'infamous' Pius Ten group :)

Pope Francis has reached out to the Pius Tens in the last few years, and maybe he will be able to help the situation heal so they are less estranged from the Church.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

"Pius Tens" as in "Fundamentalists with Rosaries"?

None of the mainstream Catholic schools in my area would have had a problem with a female referee at their games.

Christiane said...

Hello Headless,
the Pius X's are a separatist-type group, a bit more than 'semi' estranged from the Church, I'd say...... but honestly, Wade's example does make that school sound more like a REAL fundamentalist patriarchal cult entity than even a Catholic pre-Vatican II group like the Pius Tens

?

bit of a mystery there, perhaps it's some kind of cultural conditioning from being in that location (?), or the individuals in charge are 'converts' from a fundamentalist-type background (?) . . . who knows, but it IS very interesting indeed

my Catholic prep school was ahead of its time, but that's another story :)

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Well, old friend, looks like we’ll debate again if Paul refers to one woman or all women in (1 Timothy 2:12).

My biggest ‘hero’ in the Bible besides Jesus is Paul, but he was not God. Sometimes he wrote with a poor memory: “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) (1 Corinthians 1: 14-16 NLT)

Paul wrote of two different occasions he appealed to Cesar:

1.Paul appears before the governor Festus around 59 A.D.
“…no one has the right to turn me over to these men to kill me, I appeal to Caesar!” (Acts 25:11 NLT)

2.Paul speaks to the local Jewish leaders around 61 A.D.
“The Romans tried me and wanted to release me, because they found no cause for the death sentence. But when the Jewish leaders protested the decision, I felt it necessary to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no desire to press charges against my own people.” (Acts 28:18-19 NLT) (There were no Jews or anyone present when King Agrippa said to Festus, “He could be set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” (Acts 26:32)

I believe Paul didn’t want to admit he would be free if he hadn’t appealed to Cesar but put the blame on Jewish leaders.

With that said, I’ll continue.

Paul gave two reasons why he wrote 1 Timothy 2:12:

“For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve.” (1 Timothy 2:13 NLT)
This verse would apply to ALL women and not just one woman.

“And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result.” (1 Timothy 2:14 NLT)
This verse also applies to all women.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

It took me almost 25 years of ministry during which I taught the traditional line on women until I clearly saw that what determines or should determine these matters in the church is not gender but rather gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit and gender is no deciding factor of roles in it. The Holy Spirit uses the Scripture spoken to convict and convince of sin and the need of salvation whether spoken by a man or a woman.

Rex,

Paul was smarter than you allow! If Paul had been set free by the Romans he most likely would have been killed by the Jews. Now,by appealing to Caesar he had a chance to go to Rome as had been his desire for some time (Rom.1:8-13).

Tom Ross said...

Hello

Women do and can think very differently to men and as such they can be/are a threat to men's determined understanding of scripture. It is the threat of male leaders being exposed for their flawed understanding of scripture that often leads to this view that women should not teach others "except women" in the "church."

But this discrimination is not just limited to women. It is often applied to men as well who do not follow the "imposed company line" within an organisation that is focused on a few exercising power over others. "Animal farm" comes to mind where the pigs are more special than all of the other animals on the farm.

Why should churches be any different when "secular power" is the driving force and need of those who desire to hold power over others within the church and servanthood is considered to be demeaning and not desirable.

The issue is gaining power over others by any means and although the initial motive may be honourable, the outcome is that personal gain, power and control over others corrupts the souls of men in leadership. Look to political leaders who have been corrupted by the advantage and responsibility of power. A driving motive can also be jealousy or protection for an insecure person.

Is the church any better?

I have experienced and observed the above "power" dynamics in the secular and church arenas. People who are insecure in their relationship with God in the church will turn to gaining power to control their environment and their relationships of "importance" to them. Insecure people often hid their feelings well of jealousy and envy.

What is the real issue that has been on display in the SBC?

Well, it has not been about women having leadership roles within the church. It has been about something more insidious and debilitating for the church and that is people taking their eyes off of God and His "statutes," i.e. His conditions for a relationship with Him, and satisfying their personal needs driven by influences other than God.

But this is just an observation of what can be seen from the other side of the globe. Distance from the issues can bring clarity. But then what would I know of the "power" plays unfolding in your patch when the world hides it from my view when I am on the other side of it, i.e. the earth.

Shalom

Bob Cleveland said...

1 Corinthians 12 is clear that the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to people as HE wills! Good luck disputing God as to His sovereign choice on who gets what gift.

And remember .. they are given ... to each ... to build up the Body of Christ.

If that's not enough, Jesus Himself told us that, in Him, there is no differentiation between Jews and Greeks or Males and Females. Wonder why He said that......

ps: It's been said that one's position on most matters depends on which proven facts he wishes to ignore. The same thought surely applies to Scripture.

Greek Epigraph said...

Whoa, Rex Ray, so "And Adam was not deceived"? Paul is pretty darn specific in Romans that Adam sinned and all sinned in him and here says "Adam was not deceived" if this passage is primarily about teaching and authority. Well, someone who sins knowingly, willfully and "is not deceived" is usually called a rebel, a cold-blooded rebel against God. If this passage is primarily about who can teach and "have authority", then are you quite comfortable with the Paul saying that the cold-blooded, undeceived, sinned-knowing-absolutely-what-he-was-doing Adam is preferred over the deceived woman for these tasks?

Hmm. Or maybe we should start at the beginning of the passage with "Let the woman learn" - and then Paul is saying that the woman (who hadn't been formed yet, according to Genesis 2, when the command the snake deceived her about was given to Adam) needed to learn a heck of a lot better and shouldn't teach until that had occurred, because unlearned woman had been deceived. So yes, I'd agree that "learn before you teach" is a good, universal principle that applies to men and women. And I'd be really leary of using this passage, which suggests that the rebellious sinner male is a better teacher/authority than the unlearned/deceived female, to determine who is allowed to follow God's gifting and calling. You can teach and train the deceived - the rebellious are pretty hard to reach.

Rex Ray said...

Greek Epigraph,

I’d suggest you read my comment again with the idea that I start by telling how Paul wrote ‘UNTRUTH’ (poor memory and TWO versions WHEN he appealed to Caesar.)

I wrote: “Paul gave two reasons why he wrote 1 Timothy 2:12.” (“I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.”)

The first ridiculous reason Paul gave was, “For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve.” (1 Timothy 2:13).

The next ridiculous reason Paul gave was, “And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived and sin was the result.” (1 Timothy 2:14)

Greek Epigraph, you’re right that Adam’s sin was ‘worse’ than Eve’s. He even blamed God: “…it was the woman YOU gave me…” (Genesis 3:12)



Aussie John,

“They asked Fetus as a favor to transfer Paul to Jerusalem (planning to ambush and kill him on the way).” (Acts 25:3)

“Then Fetus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?” (Acts 25:9)

“But Paul replied, “No!...I appeal to Caesar!” (Acts 25:10-11)


It was God’s plan for Paul to go to Rome, [God used ignorant and evil men to do it]

“The Lord said, Go for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings…I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16 NLT)

Romans killed Paul, but the study of how/why that happened would be the oldest ‘cold case’ in history. The main clue is some of the last words Paul wrote: “At my first answer [trial] no man stood with me…I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” (2 Timothy 4:16 KJ)

His prayer is the same he heard Stephen pray. I believe the same crime had been done by those he trusted most.

Jacque said...

Bob Cleveland! I dont know you but I like you!

Hmm. Or maybe we should start at the beginning of the passage with "Let the woman learn" - and then Paul is saying that the woman (who hadn't been formed yet, according to Genesis 2, when the command the snake deceived her about was given to Adam) needed to learn a heck of a lot better and shouldn't teach until that had occurred, because unlearned woman had been deceived. So yes, I'd agree that "learn before you teach" is a good, universal principle that applies to men and women. And I'd be really leary of using this passage, which suggests that the rebellious sinner male is a better teacher/authority than the unlearned/deceived female, to determine who is allowed to follow God's gifting and calling. You can teach and train the deceived - the rebellious are pretty hard to reach.

WELL SAID

Jacque said...

Sorry Bob, my husband just pointed out that the quote was Greek Epigraph!


“Hmm. Or maybe we should start at the beginning of the passage with "Let the woman learn" - and then Paul is saying that the woman (who hadn't been formed yet, according to Genesis 2, when the command the snake deceived her about was given to Adam) needed to learn a heck of a lot better and shouldn't teach until that had occurred, because unlearned woman had been deceived. So yes, I'd agree that "learn before you teach" is a good, universal principle that applies to men and women. And I'd be really leary of using this passage, which suggests that the rebellious sinner male is a better teacher/authority than the unlearned/deceived female, to determine who is allowed to follow God's gifting and calling. You can teach and train the deceived - the rebellious are pretty hard to reach.”