Exploring the Bible / Faith / New Testament / Old Testament

1 Timothy 2: Woman, Shut Up

What do you think about 1 Timothy 2? If you have not read it yet (or lately), I invite you to read the entire chapter. This is an interesting chapter of the Bible for me because the first half is incredibly agreeable and the second half has my feminist eyebrows raised almost up to my hair line.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For,

There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.

And I want women to be modest in their appearance.[a] They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.

11 Women should learn quietly and submissively. 12 I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.[b] Let them listen quietly. 13 For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing,[c] assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.

Whereas, we have previously heard that Adam and Eve were equally responsible for the fall, this chapter seems to place more of the blame on Eve.

This is going to come down to a discussion of whether everything that is said in the Bible is perfect for all of eternity. 1 Timothy was written by Paul. We know that all people (except Jesus) are imperfect. This includes Paul. I, therefore, hypothesize that Paul’s writing is not perfect.

There are many ways that you could possibly discredit the apparent instructions Paul is giving in 1 Timothy 2 for gender divisions and gender inequality. I would like to propose one:

Paul writes these instructions for women and proportions more of the blame for the fall to women because he is fulfilling part of God’s punishment for the fall. I direct you back to Genesis 3 when God gives Eve here punishment:

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
    and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
    but he will rule over you.[c]

This does not say that it is good and right that the husband rules over the wife. It just says that he will. Presumably, these are punishments that God wishes He did not have to impose and, therefore, if the world had remained as he intended it, husbands would not rule over wives.

You may accuse me of attempting to pick and choose which of Paul’s instructions in 1 Timothy to follow. You might be right about that. I think some are useful while others are downright ridiculous. Modest dress, for example, seems to have positive outcomes in our modern society. Alternatively, not braiding our hair (as some translations put it) seems preposterous and unnecessary. Being quiet, learning quietly, not teaching men? Well, if you know me you know that’s just not in the cards.

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4 thoughts on “1 Timothy 2: Woman, Shut Up

  1. I highly recommend to you a book called “What Paul Really Said About Women” by John Temple Bristow. While he doesn’t go as far as he could (or should) in many of these passages, he does teach through all of these Scriptures that have been flat out misinterpreted, or some even flat out mistranslated. This text is difficult because it has a context both within the epistles of Timothy and culturally. Most likely Paul is battling gnosticism, and in that, he would give this advice. However, there is just a ton of difficulty with such passages, because in many other places he would say something completely opposite (see Romans 16:1 where he sends a deaconess – a woman leader – to the church in Rome).
    I haven’t yet gone through all of these passages, but I do hope to at some point. Until then, feel free to check out this link: https://tjustincomer.wordpress.com/category/women/
    Grace and peace, dear sister. Don’t be afraid to dig into this as deep as possible. Many will scoff at what you have to say, but I don’t believe that Paul was heralding an anti-woman message. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, and you have the Spirit within you. Love and blessings from Ohio =)

  2. Pingback: Rainbows Everywhere… | Rodgers That

  3. I think many of these critics, and supporters, of Paul’s comments on women don’t consider the cultural context of his letters. They were to particular churches, each with unique problems. Keeping those things in mind, we can understand what he was writing about (and to whom), which apply to us and resolve apparent contradictions. Here’s how I worked through one:

    In 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 Paul appears to give women no voice in the church. Yet, history tells us woman played a significant role in the early church. They converted first and more often. They took leadership positions in the church. By leading men to convert, they also grew the church. This makes sense considering Romans 16:1-2 and 1 Timothy 3:11. Are these contradictions of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36? Is there another clue that solves this paradox?
    The apostle’s writings are full of warnings to the men in the church concerning false teachings, false prophets and the like (1 Corinthians 3 & 4, 2 Corinthians 11). In 1 Timothy 2:5 specifically addresses the male deacons. So is the “contradictory” verse also a warning to woman in the church to watch their actions and speech?
    Perhaps this is not strong enough of an answer for some, so let’s go back to the original intent, the immediate context. Who was Paul writing to and why? He was writing to the church in Corinth after being made aware of issues they were facing. They lived against the backdrop of a thriving city known for its lifestyles that were contrary to the young Christian religion.
    And then there is context provided by non-Pauline biblical passages: Others have concluded that, “…all through the Gospels Jesus treats all women with respect and compassion.” In fact, in an age where women were considered “clearly inferior,” women were included in Jesus’ band of disciples, they traveled with him, his teachings often included them and were “deliberately shaped” to communicate to them.

    Sometimes it seems that some want Paul (or the Bible) to hate women or limit their roles and a superficial reading of the Bible makes that easy. But if we don’t bring biases with us and don’t forget the various contexts, we clearly have a different conclusion.

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