1 Timothy: Women in the Church Pt. 1

READ the rest of the series here.

I’ve taken a couple of weeks away from the blog as I’ve been celebrating the birth of my daughter, Sophia Grace.  Perhaps it’s appropriate that my “baby-cation” interrupted a discussion in our Wednesday night Bible class on the role of women in the church as taught in 1 Timothy.  What opportunities for church involvement and service will my daughter have?  (Of course that’s a relevant question for my wife, sisters and all other women out there too.)  As she grows what gifts should I encourage her to develop and how can she use them in God’s service?

The topic of the “Role of Women in the Church” could obviously carry on for months and still not reach a conclusion that pleases everyone.  We could look at different passages in the Old and New Testaments.  I’m only raising this topic because you can’t teach 1 Timothy without addressing it, not because I’m trying to initiate a debate.  I expect to post 3 or 4 blogs on this topic.

My final precursor is to let you know that after a lot of study and thought, I generally adopt what has been described as the complementarian view of gender roles in the church.  Which basically holds that men and women have equal value in God’s eyes, but different roles within the church and family.  [You can read a brief description here, or a book on the topic here.]  So I’m not wanting to debate the merits of that view.

In 1 Timothy 2 the key restrictions placed upon women are found in v12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet.”  I find that churches often muddy the discussion by using the term leadership rather than the biblical terms teach and have authority over.

Perhaps at first glance we might say that the meaning of these terms is obvious, but church life provides so many opportunities for people to involve themselves, that it’s not always clear where these restrictions should apply.

I’ve composed a list of different teaching and leading scenarios for women.  Please read through the list and consider how many are NOT RESTRICTED by the terms “teach and have authority”. PLEASE do not comment on every single item.  I’m interested in seeing how easy it is to understand these terms and how much our understandings differ, so all you need to do is give a total number and some general comments.

In future posts I’ll explore more the methods of how we come to these conclusions.

Possible Areas of “Teaching & Authority”

  1. Teaching a ladies Bible Class
  2. Teaching a children’s Bible Class
  3. Teaching a children’s Bible Class with baptized boys in it
  4. Teaching a teen Bible Class
  5. Asking a question in Bible Class
  6. Answering a question in Bible Class (offering an interpretation of a verse)
  7. Co-teaching (with a man) a Bible Class on Christian parenting
  8. Teaching an adult Bible Class on serving people with addictions.
  9. Teaching an adult Bible Class on the book of Ezekiel.
  10. Writing a book on God’s grace, that may be read by men
  11. Writing songs
  12. Singing songs
  13. Leading congregational singing
  14. Sharing in Bible Class how God has worked in her life
  15. Reading Scripture in Bible Class
  16. Reading Scripture in a worship service
  17. Participating in a congregational reading in a worship service.
  18. Saying “Amen” and “That’s the truth” in a worship service.
  19. Making an announcement during a worship service
  20. Preparing powerpoint slides for a worship service
  21. Running the powerpoint slides for a worship service
  22. Managing the audio/visual system for a worship service
  23. Passing communion trays during a worship service
  24. Serving as an usher at a worship service
  25. Saying a prayer during a worship service
  26. Presenting thoughts prior to the Lord’s Supper
  27. Preaching at a worship service
  28. Serving as a ministry leader for church fellowship meals
  29. Serving as a ministry leader for children’s education
  30. Serving as a ministry leader for missions or benevolence
  31. Participating on ministry committees
  32. Standing before the congregation to report on a mission trip

Can you think of some more situations that are difficult to define?  Leave a comment and add them to the list.

BONUS: Interestingly, David Lipscomb, an early american Church of Christ pioneer, had no problem with women teaching men in Sunday Bible Classes.  You can read one of his quotes on the topic at this blog… just scroll down the page a little bit.

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33 comments

  1. eirenetheou

    It is always “simpler” to “leave out” that which is inconvenient so that we don’t have to think about what it means.

    In the New Testament witness the divine Word, the Word of God, the Word that became flesh, the Word full of grace and truth, the Word that is truth — that Word is our Lord Jesus.

    The words in the New Testament are words about God and about God’s work in the world. These words are written by historical persons in historical time. By faith we may believe them to be “inspired” by God, but they are written by human beings, and we must understand them as human beings are able to understand, by God’s grace. Just as the writers write — by God’s gift — so must we also understand what they write. We do well to pray for discernment. We do well to learn as much as we can about the languages and cultures of the world from which these documents come. We do well to observe — carefully, humbly, and prayerfully — the fruit that these words bear in the Church and in the world. These are words written by human beings in human language, and they are not all of the same kind, quality, and effect.

    i repeat: Is every word, sentence, and document in “the canon” equal in “authority” to every other word, sentence, and document? Does every word written in the New Testament bear the same fruit among believers? Is every word written in the New Testament equally “inspired, infallible and absolutely authoritative”? We do well to remember that — according to the witness of the New Testament — all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus alone and not to the New Testament or to any human interpreter of the New Testament.

    God’s Peace to you.

    d

    • ozziepete

      I appreciate your comments. You raise valid, critical questions that most people never think to ask. I doubt that I would have considered them if I wasn’t prompted through my education.

      While I appreciate your perspective, I don’t agree with your conclusions. And while a discussion of inspiration is fundamental to any Biblical discussion it’s not the purpose of this blog post to pursue that issue. So if someone else wants to take this up with you they’re welcome, but I’m going to let your comments slide for now. Maybe I’ll take them up in a future post, but I wanted to let you know that I wasn’t completely ignoring you. 🙂

      • James Wood

        I’ll weigh in on this.

        I think Jesus would disagree that every word of God is equally authoritative.

        Are you mad at me now? Sorry.

        What I’m getting at is that Jesus says that the greatest commands are to love God as a whole person and to love our neighbors. The Word-become-flesh says that there are certain parts of scripture that are more important than other parts of scripture.

  2. eirenetheou

    Amen, Brother James, amen! On that much you and i can profoundly agree — except that i should say “word of the Bible” or “word of the New Testament.” The “Word of God” is Jesus, and any “authority” that any other words may have is derived from him.

    God’s Peace to you.

    d

  3. Pingback: 1 Timothy: Women in the Church Pt. 2 « Peter’s Patter

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