Does God have one unique law? Part Three

Does God have one unique law? Part Three

In this part three of “Does God have one unique law?” we will be discussing the last set of circumstances that set apart the “law” that complementarians say God made that forbids godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. It is our desire to point out that all of these unique circumstances that set apart this “law” as something completely unique from all of God’s other laws should cause us to see “red flags” regarding making 1 Timothy 2:12 a universal law.

If we look at the entire context of 1 Timothy chapters 1 and 2 we are able to clearly see a context of deception and false teachers that Timothy was left behind in Ephesus to deal with, therefore we should be very cautious in using one verse taken out of its context to condemn all godly Christian women who obey God by using their gift of teaching to include men.

In the last two articles where we have been discussing this unique “law”, we have discovered that God has certain characteristics concerning his laws that are common to all of God’s laws.

1. All of God’s laws are able to be traced back to the Old Testament to find their roots. Without the ability to trace a law back to the Old Testament, the Bereans would have not been able to test all things by God’s Word. Since the early Christians only had the Old Testament available to them and since Paul commended the Bereans for testing Paul’s teachings and commandments by the Old Testament, if Paul had created a brand new law that wasn’t able to be tested, then there was a unique “law” that had the unique ability to be the only “law” that couldn’t be tested by God’s Word at the time of the early church.

2. All of God’s laws are repeated in scripture so that none of them is ever stated only once. Paul said that repetition is for our safety and we agree that the repetition of God’s laws make his commands clear and understandable and all of God’s laws are verifiable by a second witness.

3. None of God’s laws calls good works as evil. If 1 Timothy 2:12 is a “law” that forbids godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men, then it is the only “law” of God that calls a good work (teaching the bible) as an evil thing.

Today we will add the last part concerning the uniqueness of this “law”.

4. All of God’s laws require God Himself commanding mankind. The unique “law” of 1 Timothy 2:12 has a man commanding.

While we believe that Paul was an Apostle called of God to speak to the church and give out God’s inspired words, there were times that Paul gave his own commands for a specific situation in the church. In 1 Corinthians 7:8 Paul says:

1 Cor. 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

Yet God’s word says that it is not good for man to be alone. Why did Paul say it was good? In 1 Corinthians 7:26, Paul says:

1 Cor. 7:26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.

Paul said that it was good for one to remain unmarried because the church was going through much persecution and taking on additional family responsibilities would have been hard during that distressful time for believers.

It is also clear that Paul’s own commands are not universal but for a specific situation. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:27:

1 Cor. 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

We ask is it a universal command that one is not allowed to be married if they are in an unmarried position? No, of course not. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:28:

1 Cor. 7:28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

Paul’s command to not seek a wife was a command by him for a specific time and a specific situation. It is very clear that not all of Paul’s commands are universal laws. Here is another example. In 1 Corinthians 7:20 Paul commands:

1 Cor. 7:20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

Is this God’s universal law? No it isn’t possible that this is a universal law. If a man is a slave when he is saved, is he forbidden to become a free man? No, not at all for Paul also said in verse 21:

1 Cor. 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

What about if a man is uncircumcised when he is saved? Is it a universal law that he is forbidden to be circumcised? Paul commands in 1 Corinthians 7:18:

1 Cor. 7:18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised.

Is this a universal law that Paul has commanded? No it isn’t. If it was, then Paul broke the universal law of God because Paul had Timothy circumcised. In Acts 16:3 it says about Timothy:

Acts 16:3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

If it was a universal law that one was to remain as they were when they were saved and an uncircumcised man was not allowed to become circumcised, then Paul broke that universal law by circumcising Timothy. However from the context we can see why Timothy was circumcised. Paul wanted to minister to the Jewish people and when he picked Timothy to work with him, he knew that Timothy would be rejected because he was uncircumcised. Paul circumcised Timothy so that the gospel would not be hindered by the rejection of Timothy by the Jews. Paul’s command was a command by him for a specific time but it was not a universal law by God.

Now let’s look at another example to see how Paul differentiates his commands from the commands from God. In 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11, Paul commands:

1 Cor. 7:10, 11 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

Do you see a difference here? Paul is saying that this command is from “the Lord”.

Now let us look again at what has been said by complementarians to be a universal “law” in 1 Timothy 2:12:

1 Tim. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

Do you see here that Paul is saying “I do not allow”? Is this a universal prohibition or it is a command by Paul for a specific situation in Ephesus? If it is a universal prohibition, then it is the ONLY prohibition that is framed with the words of a man instead of the command from God. Now isn’t that odd? Why would God break all of his consistent ways of giving universal laws with this one “unique law”? Why would Paul not verify in any other verse that this command was God’s command? Why did Paul not say that “God does not allow” or “I received this from the Lord, and He does not allow”? Paul has already told us that some things he says are his own commands. Let’s look to see how the three verses below are similar:

1 Cor. 7:8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.

1 Cor. 7:20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

1 Tim. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

All three are commands by Paul but they are not universal commands by God. All three are for specific situations and specific times.

Now for those who still believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a universal law that forbids all godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men, I challenge you to find another universal law by God that is framed in the words of a man saying “I do not allow”. You won’t find it. Why? Because all of God’s laws without exception have the last point in common – all of them are given by God and they are clear that they come from God Himself!

I challenge you today to go back to the list of 4 things from the beginning of this post that shows what all of God’s commands have in common and to think seriously about 1 Timothy 2:12. Does God have a unique “law” where only one “law” of His does not have to follow His set pattern? That is not safe and it is not for our benefit.

If God has a unique “law” that does not follow his set pattern of all other laws, then this is one law that is not safe. Rather my beloved, let us take Paul’s words and understand that Paul in context, was commanding a prohibition for a specific situation regarding deception and a deceived teacher. The grammar once again (I do not allow) is the key for us to properly interpret this passage.

Let me end this series of posts with the words of Paul in Philippians 3:1

Phil. 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

All of God’s laws are repeated as a safeguard for the church. There is no other command in any part of the bible that even hints at a prohibition against godly Christian women forbidden from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. This is not a universal law then because it fails the test of all of God’s universal laws.

Click here to read Part Two or here to read Part One of “Does God have one unique law?”

9 thoughts on “Does God have one unique law? Part Three

  1. You’ve pointed out something—really, THE thing—that started me questioning what I’d been taught—if women aren’t allowed to teach/pastor men, why does the whole story of the Bible seem to contradict this view? The unified witness of the Bible seems to present women in positions of authority, responsibility, and teaching men, gasp. It just didn’t make sense to me. Thanks.

  2. Cheryl, In his book entitled: Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, author Wayne Grudem makes much of Paul’s old testament “law” reference as a prime motivator of his 1 Corinthians 14:34 passage in which women are told they must keep silence in the churches (p246). Since there exists no such explicit command in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), the author assures us that the Tanach must be taken as a “whole” for Paul’s intent to be understood. Starting at page 84, Grudem will then launch into some rather convoluted legal gymnastics on what women can and cannot do in the churches. Have I missed something here? Is God still thundering out of the thick darkness atop Horeb or do we have liberty and common sense in Christ Jesus?
    Respectfully, H.

  3. Dear “H”,

    “Since there exists no such explicit command in the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), the author assures us that the Tanach must be taken as a “whole” for Paul’s intent to be understood.”

    I have heard this reasoning many times with followers of aberrant movements who have been asked to prove their view by scripture. When they cannot prove their interpretation with scripture in context, they say that you have to look at scripture as a whole and the entire body of scripture proves their view. I don’t say this very often, but that is pure hogwash. If scripture all points to a particular view, then surely there will be scriptures in context that will support the view. The problem with Grudem’s assertion is that no Old Testament scripture restricts women’s teaching and no Old Testament scripture silences a woman in the assembly. If the entire OT is taken as a whole and thus supports his restrictive view of what women cannot do, then where are the scriptures?

    Another question to ask is why would Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit refer to “the law” instead of calling it “scripture” if the “whole” is referred to instead of a particular law? There is no such law that restricts women and Grudem is doing cartwheels to try to take our attention away from the fact that he has not pointed to such a law.

    No there is no more laws beings created that would restrict women from their service to God. This may come as a surprise to Wayne Grudem as he and others from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood have created a fairly long list of things that are not allowed for women to do and another long list of things that are part of a gray area. i.e. can a woman give directions to a man who is lost?

    Paul’s writings have one thing in common – he is always pushing for maturity and for the body of Christ to learn how to make godly judgments. After all, Paul says, we are all going to be judging angels in the next life. Oddly enough, if a woman were to follow Wayne Grudem’s rules, she would need to keep a note pad of all the rules to make sure that she isn’t sinning if she gives directions to a man in a car driving the wrong way. “Hello ma’am, can I ask you…?” “Whoah, wait a minute” she says as she fumbles in her purse to find out if she tell him where to go. Utter nonsense!

  4. Cheryl, As always your thoughts are cogent and penetrating. I wondered much the same when I began to wade through Grudem’s tome as research for my humanities paper. Any good paper which takes a position and argues for it must also posit a claim from the other side and show that it is untenable. In the case of Grudem et. al., they do this too. But when faced with a claim they cannot support, they will as you say “cartwheel”, resort to special pleading, appeal to inerrancy, and even level charges of heresy at the opposition. You have far more propriety than I with your comment of “hogwash”. Mine would have been a vernacular noun (rather vulgar) from the realm of bovine scatology.
    Respectfully, H.

  5. Cheryl, By the way, I received an “A” on my paper.
    You have been an inspiration to many of us men whose testosterone has not clouded our thought processes. The God of Jacob shield and guide you always.
    H.

  6. “H”,

    I was gone all day yesterday so I didn’t get to your comment sooner. Wow! Hey, I am so PROUD of you!! Now I need to tell you that I am totally blown away by you. Did you know that I thought you were female and never considered that you were male? You give me renewed hope for my brothers in Christ! I just LOVED your comment and all I can say is WOW!!!

    Thank you for your blessings! I receive it and I bless you back my dear MALE friend!

    Cheryl

  7. All I can say is Woahhhhh Great Job Cherly! This topic is so powerful with ALL the scriptures in Context! Great Point about the Berean’s! You are a True Berean!

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