Women in ministry – asking the right questions

Women in ministry – asking the right questions

Have you ever found that your discussions with hierarchists goes nowhere fast because they say they have heard the egalitarian arguments before and they are not willing to listen to what you have to say? Perhaps we are missing an opportunity to engage them because we are wanting to teach them first instead of letting them teach us. What would happen if we let them teach us by asking them the “right” questions?

Those who believe in the hierarchical view which has restrictions on women that forbid women from teaching the bible to men, base their belief primarily on one verse – 1 Timothy 2:12. Instead of debating with them what this verse means, why not take one step back and ask them two important questions? First of all ask them if 1 Timothy 2:12 is a law of God that forbids godly women from teaching biblical doctrine to men? When you have established that 1 Timothy 2:12 is a law of God forbidding this activity, ask them when this “law” came into existence? Did it come into existence before Paul wrote it to Timothy or did it come into existence at the time that Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2?

Let’s consider the ways that this question could be answered.

1. If they say that this “law” came into existence at the time that Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2, then it means that there was no “law” prior to the its creation with Paul. This means that women prior to New Testament times had no restrictions on teaching the bible to men. Does this make sense? Is it possible for Old Testament women to have more freedom than those women who became believers in Christ through Paul’s ministry? This doesn’t seem logical. Why would God allow women for thousands of years the freedom to teach the bible to anyone without regard to gender and then suddenly this bible teaching becomes a sin? If it was a sin, how would the women believers who were there before Paul wrote the “law” in 1 Timothy know that it was a sin? Priscilla apparently had no idea that her teaching the bible to Apollos and her correcting his doctrine was a wrong thing to do. Priscilla taught the bible with authority by correcting error.

2. If they say that the “law” that stopped women from teaching the bible to men was created before Paul wrote it down in 1 Timothy 2, and Paul was merely referring back to a “law” that already existed, where is this “law” written down? There is no such “law” in the Old Testament that could possibly be linked back to. If they try to say that the “law” was recorded in Genesis 3:16 with the phrase “he will rule over you”, remind them that this could not possibly be a “law” that forbids women from teaching the bible to men. After all if Genesis 3:16 was really God’s will that wives were to be ruled by their husbands, then women would have to obey their husband’s command to teach the bible to men.  My husband, for example, has been very strong in encouraging me to teach men and women alike with the gifts that God has given me. If I am to obey my husband I will teach men the bible instead of turning them away.

So instead of quibbling about whether there is a “law” that forbids women from teaching the bible with authority, why not ask them when this “law” started? See if they can figure it out.

Today I had the opportunity to read a blog where Bob Cleveland posted a comment that I really appreciated. It is located here.

Bob commented:

If a woman has the gift of teaching she oughtta teach; to anybody who wants and needs to benefit from her God-given gift.

This really touched me. It puts the onus on the one who wants and needs to benefit from her God-given ability. I believe that this is why scripture tells us to submit to one another. We cannot take authority over someone else and force them to listen to us. The power is in the hands of the one who submits. The submission is not so that we can be under someone’s thumb. The submission is so we can benefit from what God has given as a gift to them for our benefit. When God has given his precious gifts of teaching and insight on the scriptures to a woman, we should honor God by submitting to learn. Do you want to benefit? Don’t accuse a godly Christian woman of being in sin because she has been given insight into the bible. This gift from God through her is given freely to anyone who is willing to receive it. If you want it, you should be able to freely receive.

Scripture also tells us that all of us are “needed”. God has placed his children into the body with a special gift given to each one for the benefit of the body. We are not allowed to say that some members are not needed for our benefit. Each one has been placed in the body and each one is to function for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you“; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

When a man turns away from learning the bible because it is being taught by a woman, he is not really rejecting her but God who gave her what is needed for the health of the body. He is saying that others may need her, “but I don’t need her”. By refusing the good gift, he is refusing to submit to receive from God and he is judging God because of the vessel that God has himself chosen to use. Such a one has broken a direct prohibition of God given in 1 Corinthians 12:21.

If there are any complementarians or hierarchists reading this who would like to answer these questions, please feel free to interact on this post. I believe in treating brothers in Christ with respect even if they disagree with me on these secondary issues. Each of us is a member of the same body, bought by the shed blood of our precious Lord and Savior and I desire to honor other members of the body of Christ who are not the same as myself.

58 thoughts on “Women in ministry – asking the right questions

  1. I am egal, as you know.

    My understanding of what a non-egal might says is:
    Paul himself says to follow what he told them and what he wrote them, in another letter.  So it is not a new rule when Paul wrote it down, however, this may be the time it was written down.
    They would also say that the context of 1 Tim is about church and so the whole letter is circumscribed by that context.  It is not that a woman cannot teach a man, it is that she cannot teach a man in church.

    And we can see “throughout Scripture” some positions were reserved for men, the Patriarchs, the Mosaic priests and high priest, the 12, etc.  So it is not surprising that this “principle” continues.

  2. Hi Don,

    Thanks for responding! Here is my answer:

    If Paul told the church orally before he wrote the “law” in 1 Timothy 2 this wouldn’t change my question any since it still would show that there was no “law” before Paul and thus Priscilla acted in faith with the gift that God gave her without restriction.

    Many hierarchists do not see 1 Timothy 2 as being only about a building. I know that CBMW does not see it this way because they restrict a woman from teaching men in a bible study in her own home. In fact they say that a woman is restricted from teaching doctrine to a man in any place at any time for any reason. Also since there were no Christian church buildings at the time of the early church, anywhere that believers met was the assembly. Lastly Paul’s appeal to the creation account takes this outside of being an application pertaining only to a church building.

    If some one would say “So it is not surprising that this “principle” continues” my answer is that we are not talking about a “principle” but about a “law”. When God sets out a law it is specific, it is understandable and it is enforceable. God sets his law apart for our benefit so that we are clear what is forbidden by God.

    Good points in reply to my questions, Don. Of course we know you don’t believe this “principle” because you are an egalitarian. Anyone else want to take a stab especially anyone who actually believes 1 Timothy 2:12 is a “law” set up by God to forbid all women from teaching biblical doctrine to men?

  3. But that would just be an addition to scripture, Don for the eye and the hand are connected, for they are members of the body, the church.

    The eye and the hand cannot ‘go to’ the arm, head, ear as they are spiritualy connected at all times no matter where they are be it in a house, church building, park, online, etc. No one would want to argue for dismembered body parts being the church, Christ’s body?

    Many see church as a ‘go to’ thing rather than a ‘we are’, or ‘us’ thing, or being about where it is rather than what it is.

    If church is a ‘go to’ thing over and against an ‘us’ thing then the members would not truley be connected as one body, no matter where they gather.

    And the eye would not say to the hand, ‘where’ are you, or you are over there? Let us ‘go to’ the arm, the head, and the feet.

  4. ‘Many hierarchists do not see 1 Timothy 2 as being only about a building. I know that CBMW does not see it this way because they restrict a woman from teaching men in a bible study in her own home.  In fact they say that a woman is restricted from teaching doctrine to many in any place at any time for any reason.  Also since there were no Christian church buildings at the time of the early church, anywhere that believers met was the assembly.  Lastly Paul’s appeal to the creation account takes this outside of being an application pertaining only to a church building.’

    Then how does CBMW account for Pricsilla teaching Apollos? I’ve not read any of their material for the last few years and don’t remember the exact details of most of their arguments. According to CBMW, can women teach men as long they are with their husband, under their husband’s authority, their covering? (The case of Priscilla?)

  5. Pinklight,

    CBMW believes that “once” is the key.  Here is what they say:

    “For all we know, this conversation with Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos happened only once, whereas Paul is surely addressing teaching that happens in the regular gathering of the congregation”

    So apparently it is only a sin if you do it more than once 🙂

  6. They see Priscilla as a moot point because she is always named with Aquila. Therefore she is under her husband’s authority. That is how some comp women get by with teaching in public today.

    Cheryl, They believe this law or rule  comes from the order of creation because 1 Timothy 2 refers to creation order. I know that is not what it means but they really do believe this.

    Another good question is why would the rules change from Pentecost and 1 Corin 11 to all of a sudden a prohibition for every women in 1 Timothy 2?

  7. Another thing that really bothers me about their stance is that they give the messenger the authority. It is the WORD that has the authority. The Holy Spirit. I have been studying Acts and boy, you cannot get away from the fact that everything they did was because of the Holy Spirit!

    Too much credit and adoration is given to a human ‘authority’ in their scenerio.

  8. Lin,

    Great points!

    It is also interesting to note that although some comps believe that the “prohibition” is only for a church building i.e. the regular worship service; women are allowed to teach men in their own home.  CBMW however does not allow this.  Even though they would allow some teaching by saying that it is under the husband’s authority with him taking the lead, in essence they still would not allow this to happen in a “regular” manner.  They are concerned that she will come across as appearing as the “teacher” of the study.  CBMW responded to an email about what was allowed for men regarding a teaching DVD done by a woman.  Their response was that men from the bible study could individually watch the DVD and be instructed by the woman but the men were not allowed to get together and all watch the DVD at the same time because it would then appear that she was the “teacher” and this is not allowed.  Here again it is a matter not of what “building” she is teaching in but how many men watch the DVD at the same time.  It appears that there is “sin” in numbers when it comes to a gifted woman teacher.

  9. Lin #7,

    Absolutely vital points!  The authority does not rest on us (the messenger) it rests on the inspired word and the Holy Spirit who has inspired the word.  It is no wonder that Jesus said that the twelve were not to lord it over others and be like the world.  Assuming authority over others is the stepping stone to abuse.

  10. If Paul could rejoice that the gospel is being preached no matter who does it or why (Phil. 1:18), then nobody can tell women not to teach correct doctrine or spread the gospel to men.

    I no longer care what The Institution thinks. If we put all our efforts into beginning new congregations without heirarchies instead of dancing this endless dance with the control freaks, we can truly change the world.

  11. ” Their response was that men from the bible study could individually watch the DVD and be instructed by the woman but the men were not allowed to get together and all watch the DVD at the same time because it would then appear that she was the “teacher” and this is not allowed.  Their response was that men from the bible study could individually watch the DVD and be instructed by the woman but the men were not allowed to get together and all watch the DVD at the same time because it would then appear that she was the “teacher” and this is not allowed. ”

    Seriously? This is incredible. They need a Christian Talmud!

    What is even sillier is that the woman on the DVD cannot even answer questions and they can stop the DVD anytime they want or even throw rocks at the screen! This is legalism at it’s ugliest.

    So, I guess this means they can only watch YOUR DVD in private and not, say, in a room with a couple of men. How convenient.

  12. Paula #11,

    Great point!  Paul could have said that he only rejoiced when men preached the gospel no matter what their motive was even if it was a motive to hurt him.  Your point was well taken Paula that if even Paul did not limit the preaching of the gospel to men or to men with good intentions, then we can know that we too should rejoice when the true gospel is preached by anyone.  It is the truth of the gospel that will stand and it is not limited by gender, by race or by social standing.

  13. #12 Lin,

    This is the big problem with CBMW…their rules cannot be found in scripture.  One has to keep checking their books or emailing them to find out what the latest rule so that the individual churches have tied themselves to CBMW to be their decision-making body.  It certainly has become a Christian Talmud.  Heaven forbid that their literature would disappear and their organization cease to exist because we would have to go back to the bible to make our decisions on what all “sons” of God are allowed to do.

  14. Lin #13,

    The issue is one of control.  For those who must be able to control others they simply cannot keep be banned because they would not be able to have a hope of “controlling” me since they cannot control this blog.

    Thisis a great problem for Diane and Matt on CARM.  I have the documented evidence of Matt’s sin (including his allowing sin to continue on his discussion board over which he has authority) and I won’t back down until Matthew 18 is followed.  They have no idea what to do with me.  Matt has stated publicly on his radio show that he practice “run-fu”.  This is a take-off on “kung fu” and is his way of describing that he runs away from situations that he has no control over.  I happen to think that Matt is his own worst enemy.  He is consistently saying things on his radio show where he describes his sin and he is the one saying it not someone else.

    Diane is trying her best to do damage control but she cannot control this situation for Matt.  If she shuts me down she only proves what I have been saying about the control tactics on CARM.  She is in a precarious position and the world is watching.

  15. ‘Another thing that really bothers me about their stance is that they give the messenger the authority. It is the WORD that has the authority. The Holy Spirit. I have been studying Acts and boy, you cannot get away from the fact that everything they did was because of the Holy Spirit!
    Too much credit and adoration is given to a human ‘authority’ in their scenerio.’

    Yes, I can see that too Lin. The focus is on ‘who’ (the male as teacher) more than ‘what’ (the teaching itself).

  16. It is an attempt to re-establish a Magisterium, a supposed infallible teaching authority, similar to the Pharisees.

  17. “It is an attempt to re-establish a Magisterium, a supposed infallible teaching authority, similar to the Pharisees.”

    And it is working beautifully. They have many followers I have seen this concept of legalism increase in credibility in the last 20 years.

    (I can hardly believe I saw a 25 year old male seminary grad rebuking older women for speaking in a mixed bible study.  I saw another seminary student walk out of our church during communion rebuking  loudly the entire congregation because 2 women were serving. We said…go, but go in peace.)

  18. They are being told:
    1. Egal is the new path to liberalism.
    2. The non-egals have it right, Gods wants males on top.
    3. Do not give an inch.
    4. It is fine to act as these non-egals did, as they are giving a warning.

    Incredible.  I think evangelicals will end up splitting over this issue.

  19. Don,

    Interesting that you list #3 Do not give an inch. This is where some of them are and they really don’t care how scripture tells them to deal with other members of the body of Christ.

    Case in point regarding my request for a Matthew 18 meeting with Matt Slick. Below was his response today on CARM.org asking me to list his sin and asking me when I wanted to meet him at Twin Falls, Idaho.  After I listed again his “sin”, Diane allowed it to stay on CARM for a couple of hours and then convinced Matt to have it removed.  See Matt’s original request below:

    So, when do you want to meet at Twin Falls?

    List EXACTLY what sin you’re accusing me of. Make it good.

    Btw, I think that your teaching on women as pastors and elders is heretical.

    Look at dictionary.com. Heresy…..

    1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious system. 2.the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine. 3.Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church. 4.any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.

    Now… wim, are you a Christian? sure. Are you at variance with orthodoxy in the women as pastors and elders thing? you betcha. You continue to maintain that doctrine in error. You speak in contradiction to the historical (and biblical position).

    Will I apologize? No because that is what I believe.

  20. My response to Matt’s post:

    My pastor is very, very interested in finishing his communication with you in person. He is not back until August. Anytime after mid August is fine. There will be no need for us to come to Twin Falls as the Mormon opening will be finished. I would like to meet with you, your wife and your pastor in the Boise area. My pastor will also be there along with my husband. Please state publicly that you agree to meet with me regarding this Matthew 18 request and follow through with your scriptural obligation.

    Matt you are fully aware of your sin as I have already personally confronted you.

    For the record here is the list:

    1. You have sinned against me by publicly falsifying what I believe on your radio show. You were completely aware that I did not believe the falsehood as it was something that you made up for illustration purposes on our second “debate”. Then you took this falsehood and said that I believed it and taught it. Your action was public and done in a willful way. My pastor has already called you to account for this sin and asked you to repent. You have refused to repent of your sin when you have been confronted by both myself and my pastor. I have given you all the documentation and your “correction” on your radio show you just turned into another attack on me claiming that you were right and I was wrong about my “correction”.

    2. You have sinned against me by calling me a heretic publicly on the radio.

    Heretic:

    #1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
    #2. Roman Catholic Church. a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
    #3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

    I do not maintain religious opinions contrary to those accepted by my church nor do I have religious opinions that are rejected by the church as a whole as unacceptable opinions that would make me outside of Christianity or outside the primary doctrines of faith that are accepted by all born again Christians. There is no such thing as a person who is a “heretic” because they are a Calvinistic or a “heretic” because they do not believe in a mid-tribulation rapture and there is also no person who is a “heretic” merely because they believe that women are allowed to teach the bible to men with the authority of 1 Peter 4:11. My pastor has written you that you are wrong in labeling me a heretic and you must repent. You wrote me inviting me onto your radio show and promised me that you would be kind and then broke your promise by attacking me publicly by calling me the name that is reserved for those who destroy the basics of our faith. You did not tell me the truth when you brought me onto your radio show and your attacking me with the term “heretic” must be repented of. You have no documented church wide evidence that attaches the name “heretic” to a person who believes as I do. Your claim that I am a heretic is unwarranted.

    3. You have sinned against me by failing to maintain authority over your “staff” who has been given free reign under your authority on your own discussion board to publicly malign me as an enemy, a liar, “evil Cheryl” and many other accusations against my sanity and my Christianity, my character and my motives which I can document when we meet. You are asked to repent of your failure to discipline your “staff” against un-Christian behavior with the attacks and name calling. You are asked to publicly make amends for the name calling and to take your authority over your own discussion board to either have your “staff” repent of the names that you have allowed your “staff” to publicly malign me and to attack me or to publicly repent on their behalf because the actions were done under your authority.

    I would also like to call you to account for the way you have allowed the CARM discussion board to be used to attack many other Christian posters who disagree with you in secondary issues. There needs to be a repentance and a turning toward Jesus Christ and his ways because Paul says that those who correct the errors of others are to be kind, able to teach, patient when wronged:

    2Ti 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
    2Ti 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
    2Ti 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

    This is a time for repentance and a turning away from the “style” of attack that you have employed for years. It is not Christ like. I would like to speak on behalf of every poster here who has been hurt by unkind, unloving words spoken with name calling and false accusations. This must stop.

    So when will you be able to meet with me? Please give me a time to call to speak with your wife to arrange for her participation so that she can be assured that she will be not be treated unkindly but is requested to be there to support and love you as you go through this Matthew 18 experience.

    Cheryl Schatz

  21. So back to Don’s post and point #3, in the end Diane convinced Matt that his agreement to meet with me regarding the Matthew 18 request was not advisable apparently since he allowed me to post his list of sin.  Diane has removed the entire post and since I haven’t received any communication from Matt Slick, it appears that he has rescinded his offer to meet with me. 

    What is quite interesting to me is that Matt claims to be the authority on his own discussion board and Diane is claiming that it is her board. She tells him not to meet with me.  She has the entire post removed after advising Matt on what he shouldn’t be doing.

  22. I never did like soap operas. 😉

    But seriously, has “Christianity” been so shallow for so long that people can harbor bitterness, slander, lying, hypocrisy, and pride and think nothing of it? How can this be compatible with the most basic tenets of the faith: love, the Golden Rule, the example of Jesus’ sacrifice for others?

    No wonder Paul could be so sarcastic at times! Carnal Christians can drive you right up the wall.

  23. Update, Diane has now made Matt’s post to me private.  She has also stated that “if” he decides to communicate it would be on the private post.

  24. If he would have only apologized as I asked him to, we would not be in this position.  I have no idea why apologizing comes across to these folks as a sign of weakness.  I believe that it is a scriptural thing when one has done something wrong.  You apologize and move on.

  25. Cheryl, This whole thing with Matt Slick brings up another question. We expect this kind of behavior with the secular world in rejecting the Gospel and dealing the Christians but it is quite a shock to receive it from other Christians. Really, we are seeing more of this from other Christians than we are from the secular world: Name calling, hate, sarcasm, lording it over, deception, lying, etc. All of this to advance a secondary doctrine that we should NOT divide over to a primary position that is drawing more lines in the sand. Why?

    If this is not of the flesh, then what is? How could we ever ‘worship’ in Spirit and Truth with folks who do such things?

    This is a serious question. Perhaps there are no answers but it does concern me.

  26. 2Co 6:14  Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
    2Co 6:15  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
    2Co 6:16  What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    2Co 6:17  Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
    2Co 6:18  and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

    Here we see that there ARE those we are to separate from, namely unbelievers, just realize there is a limit beyond which you cannot go.

    But the non-egals are losing and they know they are losing, so one response is to rachet up the rhetoric.  This is why they try to connect egal with liberalism; they say if you do not agree with us, the bogeyman will come and get you, where the bogeyman can be any number of things.  And if you really do believe that a bogeyman is coming, it only makes sense to warn others.

  27. Hi Cheryl,
    Good to have you back!  You’ve written thoughtful stuff on asking the right questions.  Well, there’s bad news and good news.  The bad news is this:  No matter how many questions we ask about the origins of Paul’s purported new law (1 Tim. 2:12), complementarianism will always have an answer.

    Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth is usually the source book for many of these answers.  Dr. Grudem says “It’s a matter of obedience to the Bible.” (50), and “The Bible has to say something only once for it to be true and God’s word for us” ( 362).  If an eminent complementarian scholar says it, then it must be true, and no Christian in his or her right mind wants to go against the Bible.  Most are content to have a priestly class over them to tell them what the Bible means–no work required that way, and best of all, no personal accountability.

    The good news is that through the efforts of free and open blogs such as yours, more and more Christians are not taking what they’ve been taught through tradition as some sort of Protestant Papal Encyclical on gender roles.  We are succeeding, we are helping to free brothers and sisters from mind tyranny, one human being at a time.

  28. In my realm, comps have stated that what happened at Pentecost was for then, not for the rest of NT time.  It was for when the church was being established.  No other explanation is given, but they do seem to break NT time into two phases after Jesus ascends:  Phase one is establishing the new church and phase two is everything after that in this life and begins generally after the book of Acts.  That is how they try to explain away prophets and apostles. 

    They also do not refer to such things as the women’s issues as laws.  They are principles written for the church.  Somehow in their minds, that is a significant difference.  All verses that we egals would use to raise questions and/or explain the equality position are subordinated to the verses that explicitly tell women to be silent or not teach or usurp authority, etc.  When I asked one about the passage that begins with ‘when women pray or prophesy’, the only answer was that it would have to be done in a way that was consistent with their kingpin verses (be silent, do not teach or be in authority over….etc.)  When I asked how this could be done, short of having segregated services or the women being alone when they did this (which would conflict with the context), there was no direct answer.

    Greg is right, they always have an answer.  It may fall flat in our understanding but it seems to work for them.  They do seem to tie everything back to creation.

    I was told, in a recent discussion when I showed the person the interlinear and Strong’s per Phoebe being a deacon rather than a servant, I was told that the context was different.  That the passages dealing with the qualifications of deacons pertained to an office rather than just an individual woman ‘serving’.  This particular comp could just not see around the ‘husband of one wife’ phrase and condition even though I showed that the word for elder could mean more than one gender as could the word for ‘one’ as in ‘If one desires the office of…”

    Sometimes I am told that we have to read it as it is written and sometimes I am told that context matters.  Context never seems to matter when it supports what I am trying to show, but always when it supports the other view.  In fact, I was accused of listening to every wind of doctrine for having changed my view in the past half year.  However, when I suggested that I would not likely have been so accused had I changed from egal to comp, I was met only with a look of disdain.

    Blindness is blindness.  I can only appeal to the Holy Spirit in this matter and trust Him for the results.  Paula, you are right about the need to put energy and focus on establishing new ‘churches’ or house gatherings, whatever works, that have egal teachers and pastors throughout the country.  We are desperately in need of such missionaries in our country (the U.S.), at the very least.

  29. Lin,

    You asked:

    Really, we are seeing more of this from other Christians than we are from the secular world: Name calling, hate, sarcasm, lording it over, deception, lying, etc. All of this to advance a secondary doctrine that we should NOT divide over to a primary position that is drawing more lines in the sand. Why?

    I have pondered these same questions and I think what is happening is that some Christians are so connected to their own “pet” doctrines that any attempt at trying to pull at their security blanket brings a very hostile response. Their comfort zone requires that their “pet” doctrine is not challenged especially not with well thought-out questions that give them trouble.

    I know a man who had problems as a child because he was small compared to all the other boys. He was the last one to be picked when teams were chosen and he felt threatened in his manhood as he grew up. If he was playing a game with his wife and he lost he would throw the board game. If he lost a game of racquetball against his wife, he would throw the racket across the court in anger. It was humiliating for him that he wasn’t good enough to win even against a female.

    Men who have this attitude will hold onto the one doctrine that gives them an “edge” against women. They are blessed to be of the gender that gets to be the teachers, rule others and be in some way superior. If they feel in some way inferior to other males at least they get to feel that there is a group of people (women) who are below them so they are no longer the bottom of the pile. Yet in Christianity we are taught that we are to see others as better than ourselves. We are also taught to submit to one another’s gifts because no eye can say to the hand “I do not need you”.

    It is difficult for a man who has a normal tendency to have a big ego, to humble himself to fully embrace a doctrine that will not allow him to keep that big ego. It is comfortable for them to see build their egos instead and claim that this is a sign of maturity instead of immaturity in the Christian faith.

    You also asked:

    “If this is not of the flesh, then what is? How could we ever ‘worship’ in Spirit and Truth with folks who do such things?”

    The only answer I have here is that it is all about grace. God’s grace. In the natural it may be impossible but with God all things are possible.

    I remember when I was still studying the scriptures on the hard passages regarding women and I was listening to and reading the arguments of complementarians. The way they focused on one or two verses taken apart from their context started to make me ill. As I listened to more and more audio tapes and read more and more from their point of view, I could clearly see how they were making unwarranted applications from verses taken out of context and the applications were restrictive, Talmudic in nature and they were responsible for taking away my joy in serving God. This caused me to not want to read or listen to anything else these men had to say even when it was on a different topic. I mentioned this to a pastor’s wife and she responded back to me with grace and wisdom. She said that I needed to come to a point where I could see outside my own prejudice and learn from and appreciate these men in the areas that they had things to teach me. At that time I was too tender to ever believe that I could read from these men and appreciate their gifts when they were so wrong in this one area. I have changed. It has become a real maturity issue for me personally. I have now come full circle and although I can still see their glaring errors in the women’s issue, I can appreciate the truth that they share in areas where they are gifted. I can celebrate that strong doctrinal stand some of them take against other false doctrines and I can rejoice with them. Truly I have come to the place where I can honestly say that as scriptures says, the eye cannot say to the hand “I don’t need you”. I have come to believe that I need everyone that is in the body of Christ. I am learning how to love each one of them while still strongly contending for the truth of scripture that they have not yet learned. They belong to Christ as I do and if I can have grace in dealing with them, then God will grow me to maturity in order to love the sometimes unlovable. In the end I know that I too need to receive God’s grace.

    If by saying this I offend anyone who is still at the stage that I was a few years ago, let me encourage you to work on getting past your hurt. These men are not easy to love because they attack us, discredit our motives and stop us from participating in our areas of gifting. We can call them to account and earnestly contend for the truth of scripture but we are not to hate them. One day these men WILL love and accept us. It may not be this side of heaven, but it will happen because the body of Christ will be united, will be one and will be completely filled with love for one another. One day.

  30. I will try to get to the rest of the comments within the next day. There are so many good comments here.

    One request I have is for any of my readers here is to pray for me. I do not want to go into any detail, but I am really in need of prayer regarding the DVD on the Trinity that I am working on. There are spiritual attacks coming my way that have caused me great distress. I need to continue my work unhindered and if any of you feel inclined to hold me up in prayer I would be greatly appreciate it.

  31. For example, on Phoebe and diakonos, I assert that the non-egals are CHOOSING to interpret the relevant verses that way.  In their view, they are making the ONLY faithful choice, the others are MUCH less possible and break their existing paradigm so are to be rejected.  So they need more awareness of the choice they are making, as they make it so effortlessly they do not even realize they are making it.  Once they see they are making a choice and there are other possible choices, then their position crumbles.

  32. P.S. As an egal, I will admit (as needed) that I am making choices also, it is just that I try to make them along the lines of the principles of love, justice and freedom.

  33. Cheryl, Thanks so much for your reply. You are so right that it is about Grace. Another way to look at this besides this being their pet doctrine is for this to remind us to always check all teaching. NO matter what it is. It has been good for me to see such luminaries be so wrong on something to the point of being absurd. It makes me test all teaching.

    Recently, I read a post at Steve Camp’s blog about Piper and Mahaney preaching that Jesus’ words on the Cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me” is the ‘Scream of the Damned” This was a concept both of them used at a conference.

    Words mean things. Jesus was not damned. He was cursed, became sin, etc, but NOT damned.  I went and listened at Resolve.org to Piper’s sermon and yes, that is exactly what they are saying.

    I bring this up because we all have to be so vigilent. It is NOT a sin for us to question these famous, well loved guys and point out with scripture the error. Even though many are saying that ‘cursed’ and ‘damned’ can be interchangable.

    By the way, I have no doubt you are experiencing extreme warfare over this DVD. Anything that elevates, lifts up and proclaims Christ’s Name above all Names is going to be fought. I will be interceeding for you many times. I give you my word on that.

  34. Jesus is doing a remez/hint/hyperlink to Ps 22.  You need to read the whole psalm to see what he is doing, not just the quick ref.

  35. Don,
    Jesus is fulfilling prophecy by quoting Psalms 22. Right?

    I went back and reread it so how does Psalm 22 relate to this concept of Him being “Damned”?

  36. The quote seems negative (if not seen as a hint/pointer to the Psalm), but the Psalm goes from negative to positive; that is the point.  Mahaney and co. missed what Jesus was doing cuz they thought like Greeks and not Hebrews, which is easy for us Greek thinkers to do.

  37. Don #28,

    “But the non-egals are losing and they know they are losing, so one response is to rachet up the rhetoric. This is why they try to connect egal with liberalism; they say if you do not agree with us, the bogeyman will come and get you, where the bogeyman can be any number of things. And if you really do believe that a bogeyman is coming, it only makes sense to warn others.”

    This is exactly right. Even the non-egals admit that they are losing the battle. In my mind I wish it was even faster because it is painful to have to fight this battle with our own brothers.

    I see this battle as the same kind as I fought with the JW’s. Sometimes I felt like I was hitting my head against the wall, but others times I made such good insight. The problem is that they were trained to not let you know when you gave them a good point to think about. Sometimes it only takes one point to plant a seed and the Holy Spirit is able to make it grow. It can be the same thing with non-egals. We don’t know which thought we can give that will plant a seed within their heart. It is in a hidden place and we may not know for a long time, but God can make it grow. This is why I am always looking to find a different way to say the same thing. I want to turn the problem position over in my mind and look at it from every possible angle. What may cause one comp to see something he has never seen before may do nothing for another one. Yet the two biggest keys are an open heart that desires truth more than tradition and God’s Holy Spirit who can make ANY good seed grow.

  38. Greg #29,

    You said:

    Dr. Grudem says “It’s a matter of obedience to the Bible.” (50),

     
    It is a matter of obedience to the bible but we need to make sure that our obedience is to the intended meaning of the passage, not what we think an verse means isolated from its context.

    and “The Bible has to say something only once for it to be true and God’s word for us” ( 362).

    While it is true that the Bible only has to say something once for it to be true i.e. a historical fact may not be repeated for example the raising up of the dead bodies of the saints after Jesus died is only mentioned in the book of Matthew, it is a different story concerning a prohibition. A prohibition is in a different category as every judicial matter must have two or three witnesses. Jesus himself made a big deal about having to have a witness to the fact that he was the Son of God. If Jesus had to have a matter confirmed then how can we ignore the fact that every prohibition of God is confirmed by two or three witnesses as required by law but the “prohibition” of no women teaching men has no confirmation. We cannot just say that something in the bible can only be said once and then ignore Jesus’ words to the contrary. Judicial matters must have judicial witnesses and no one can be condemned without the required witnesses. If God broke his own law regarding witnesses for even one prohibition, then God has failed his own standard. I do not believe that God failed the test because applying the test to the supposed “law” shows that it is a misunderstanding of the context, not a valid God-ordained law for all women for all of time.
    So in a nutshell, Grudem is completely wrong that there doesn’t need to be a second witness. I would challenge him to point out even one other universal prohibition that has no second witness. There is no such law. This makes the “prohibition” in 1 Timothy 2:12 not only suspect but impossible. The onus is on those who make it a “law” to explain why it is the only law even given by the mouth of God that fails the two or three witnesses. Let them try to explain. I have never yet heard a valid explanation and the opposition’s mouths have been stopped.

    The good news is that through the efforts of free and open blogs such as yours, more and more Christians are not taking what they’ve been taught through tradition as some sort of Protestant Papal Encyclical on gender roles. We are succeeding, we are helping to free brothers and sisters from mind tyranny, one human being at a time.

    Amen!

  39. Lin #35,

    Another way to look at this besides this being their pet doctrine is for this to remind us to always check all teaching.

    You are so right! We need to test all things and hold fast to what is good. No human can have it all right even though we may think we do. But we can learn to grow by testing everything and rejecting what doesn’t fit the scriptures in context.

    Recently, I read a post at Steve Camp’s blog about Piper and Mahaney preaching that Jesus’ words on the Cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me” is the ‘Scream of the Damned” This was a concept both of them used at a conference.

    I haven’t had a chance to see this yet, but it disturbs me greatly. Makes me see the teaching that has Jesus sent to hell for three days after his death. Not true at all. Jesus on the cross was in control and freely gave up his own life. the term “scream of the damned” gives an idea of a victim not the victory suffering alone.

    I bring this up because we all have to be so vigilent. It is NOT a sin for us to question these famous, well loved guys and point out with scripture the error. Even though many are saying that ‘cursed’ and ‘damned’ can be interchangable.

    AMEN! We are commanded to test all things using the only standard we have and that is the scriptures. Everything else is a rubber ruler including the charismatic words coming from a well-loved preacher.

    By the way, I have no doubt you are experiencing extreme warfare over this DVD. Anything that elevates, lifts up and proclaims Christ’s Name above all Names is going to be fought. I will be interceeding for you many times. I give you my word on that.

    THANK YOU so much!  I NEED all the prayer I can get.  The attacks this time have caused me to despair.  I really need the Lord’s strength to get me through.  I have experienced this before in both the writing phase and the editing phase of WIM and I came so close to giving up the project because of the overwhelming roadblocks I experienced.  This time it was very hard during the writing stage but I made it over the hump and now the editing stage on my own DVD is taking my breath away. I have no doubt that the Lord will use this project to set many people free and bring them to the place where they will also see the doctrine of the subordination of women fall to the floor as well.  Keep praying for me because I cannot do this on  my own.

    This is all I can muster tonight. I am drained and must get some sleep to carry on the project tomorrow.  I will try to finish the comments tomorrow.  Great comments, by the way, I love interacting with you all!

  40. I do not see that any Biblical prohibition needs to be repeated, many are but it is not required.  What I do see is the need for 2 or 3 witnesses for a legal judgment, it cannot be just one.  So to determine if Jesus was Messiah, his own witness does not count in a legal sense.

  41. Cheryl,

    I have often wondered WHY God put 1 Tim 2:12 in there?  I’m sure HE knew the difficulty and strife which would result.  When I was a hierarchalist, I used to think something like  “I don’t understand it, but HE must have had HIS reasons.  HE’s capable of making his will crystal clear without this muddy water if HE wanted.”

    I still don’t understand why God didn’t avoid putting in verses which HE knows were destined to be used to muzzle women?

  42. Hi Charis,
    I cannot presume to know God’s heart on this matter, but I think that it has something to do with God’s sovereignty and allowing evil to exist for those who want to practice evil.  I could ask the same question of why God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden in the first place when by his own foreknowledge he knew that Adam and Eve would eat of it?  Somehow God gets glory from our free-will choices.  If there is no opportunity for evil then there is no real opportunity for the free will choice of good.  It appears to me to be empowering people to do as their passion desires.  For those who wish to see the truth, there has been much evidence in scripture that shows that God uses women along with men for his praise and does not restrict women from flowing in their gifts.  This helps us all to know at least what 1 Timothy 2:12 cannot mean even if for many centuries we did not know exactly what it does mean.  Sometimes it is just as helpful to know what a passage cannot mean as it can be helpful to know what it does mean.

    All in all, my thought is that this is destined for God’s glory.  God has given women this passage in order to prove their value to the body of Christ.   When women dig into the text and work through the hard passages of scripture and men who have an open heart to God see the wisdom that God has given to his female “sons”, God will get the glory in the end even through these difficult passages.

    When I get to heaven I think I would like to ask God these questions to see if I understood his purpose.  It is God’s ultimate glory that will get the praise and honor and anything that brings God glory is a wonderful and holy thing.  We women have to fight hard to use our God-given gifts because of the prejudice that comes from this passage.  That makes us stronger.  It can be for our own good and ultimately for the glory of God.

  43. My take is Timothy knew what Paul meant, but we are not Timothy.  Timothy was the spiritual son of Paul, which meant they had a LARGE shared context, when such happens today one can communicate in a shorthand way.

    My working hypothesis is Paul used Paul-Timothy shortcuts and Ephesian terms in faithful ways, but this challenges us today.  It is arrogance to claim we know more than we do.

  44. I believe this to be true. Timothy knew what Paul meant because they were close to the situation and this was a personal letter to Timothy. I also believe that it was written for our benefit and for our instruction. If it had been a personal letter alone without benefit that we can derive from trying to make sense of some of the key verses (1 Timothy 2:15 for example) then God would not have included it in scripture. As such, even these hard passages are there for a purpose and God inspired them in the way that they were written. They definitely are hard passages but I sincerely believe we can compare Paul to Paul and use his own writings to understand what we were meant to understand. We were never meant to understand who the exact problem people were, but there are underlying principles that are very helpful for us today. To that end we need to work hard to study to show ourselves approved. Don, I believe that you have tried very hard to do that and you are to be commended.

  45. Welcome back Cheryl.  As I continue to read the comments here it seems a bigger picture is emerging. Not to lose the needed focus, but backing off the lens for a moment, it appears that a major paradigm shift is happening which affects almost all the ways we are beginning to understand the Kingdom. Many of my roots were rotting because of having been planted too deeply in a culturally corrupt institutional soil. I have come to an entirely different place, actually one much closer in essence to my early years with the Lord. A problem is that paradigm shifts cannot be forced and seem to occur only with, as Cheryl indicated, asking the right questions with the humility to accept fresh answers. God help us all.

    Don pointed out that as we move ahead we need to return to some of our Hebrew roots in some of our thinking. I have been considering lately just exactly why Israel was cut off. I know the theological explanations, but I mean more like—well, what might it “have looked like” that would have carried Israel on into God’s purposes. Was it not really a spiritual-heart-relational matter, not doctrinal but perhaps not unlike what we see happening in major arenas of the Church today? Surely it was a matter of how God felt about their relationship to Him, and the warning to us “wild olive branches” in Romans.

  46. Hi Ron,
    That reminds me, I have a couple of emails from you that I haven’t gotten to yet. I am way behind on my email and will probably be hit and miss for the next couple of months until this DVD project is done.  I will get back to you in time.  I just have to sort through pages of unanswered emails.  This is the one thing that I hate about vacation.  It puts me farther behind.

    I think there has been some very good thoughts brought up here.  Some of my thoughts are that some are living as if they are independent of the body and they don’t need some of us to supply their need.  When one sees an arrogant attitude unwilling to submit to learn from those whom they consider beneath them for some reason, we have a small glimpse into their heart.  For some it is a rebellious heart that will not be tamed.  When they are told they must love their brethren, they rebel and refuse to listen. 

    Those who are humble are also the ones willing to test all things.  They don’t just listen to what is taught and leave it at that.  They test all things by God’s word to make sure it is accurate.  When the truth is spoken and it is received with humility and then tested by the plumb line of God’s word, it will stand strong, immovable and will bring forth much fruit.  This attitude will not resemble at all the attitude that brings about a “wild olive branch”.

    One thing that I have found that strikes me as very odd.  It appears to me that the ones who are the most forceful in pressuring people into submission can be the most unsubmissive people themselves.  They preach one thing to others and live another way themselves.  This is what Jesus spoke against when he encountered the Pharisees.  We need to live what we preach and live a life of openness to learning from others or we can quickly slip back into a Pharisaical attitude.  I want to guard myself against that and this is why I am willing to listen to suggestions and corrections from people here.  It is relatively easy for me because people here are so kind and compassionate.

    Today I feel so blessed.  I don’t know who you’all are since I haven’t met most of you, but I feel a great sense of joy that you have blessed my life by being here.  I am also so grateful to God that my joy has returned.   What a wonderful gift from God!!!!!

    🙂

  47. “Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth is usually the source book for many of these answers.” 

    Man, is this true! Everyone is quoting his books for answers on everything…not just this issue. No one stops to ask if all HIS interpretations are correct. Or questioning the contradictions.

  48. Grudem does have a large influence, this is why it is important to point out the contradictions and too large inferences and other mistakes he makes.  However, I find it hard to read very far at one sitting, I need to limit myself.  Some things are so crazy I confess my response is a guffaw, but many other things are simply sad and I go “No, no, no, no, no, you do not need to see it that way!  And why would you WANT to see it that way?”

  49. Truthseeker #30
    You said:

    They also do not refer to such things as the women’s issues as laws.  They are principles written for the church.  Somehow in their minds, that is a significant difference.  All verses that we egals would use to raise questions and/or explain the equality position are subordinated to the verses that explicitly tell women to be silent or not teach or usurp authority, etc.

    The problems with this mindset is that they may not say they are “laws” but they act as if they are.  A law is to be obeyed without exception.  But a principle is something that can overridden.  If God has gifted a woman to teach, then will they allow the “principle” of no women teaching men to be overridden?  If they do not allow a gifted woman to teach in the assembly when men are present, then they are proving by their actions that this is a “law” that cannot be broken rather than just a principle.

    Also when one “subordinates” one verse to another verse this in essence is saying that that the bible contradicts itself and the “law” trumps the verses that contradict the law.  Rather we should see the meaning that satisfies the seeming contradicts rather than appealing to verses that trump other verses.  I see this as an immature way to “divide” the word.  We need to work hard to rightly “divide” the word.  We need to work to unravel what appear to be contradictions and when we have succeeded we can know we have God’s will on these hard passages.  “Trump” verses are never the answer.  Biblical consistency is the answer and those who ignore this will miss God’s truth in these areas.

    Greg is right, they always have an answer.  It may fall flat in our understanding but it seems to work for them.  They do seem to tie everything back to creation.

    While they do seem to have answers, I believe that it is important for us to continue to ask questions to show them the inconsistencies and outright contradictions.  What you are doing is the right thing to do.  I get this understanding from having worked with Jehovah’s Witnesses in a support group setting for 16 years.  Those who came to me and who were not open in the least could have the seed planted through asking the “right” questions.  They were not looking for “right” answers because they already believed that they knew the truth.  It was the “right” questions that threw them off their solid foundation.  For those who will not allow themselves to be taught, asking hard questions can be the key to change.  With Jehovah’s Witnesses I found their arrogance at having the only right religion caused many of them to struggle when they had questions given to them that they could not answer.  These questions can shake their foundation.  But you may never know how much your questions have shook them.  Those who are deep down truth lovers will struggle with the questions until the question goes from a seed into a plant in their hearts.  I see the same thing with hierarchists.  They can be very arrogant.  They have the truth and no egalitarian knows anything about scripture on the women’s issue.  But when you present questions that they cannot answer and you continue to push them for answers that resolve the contradiction without ignoring the verses that cause them problems, you will be planting a seed for change in their heart and you will probably never even know it until the seed has produced a plant.

    The key then is to keep up the questions.  Keep pushing for answers.  A question asked once without an answer is an opportunity to ask it again and again and again.  This is what I do and what makes me very persistent.  Questions deserve to be answered.  If there is no answer, I do not see the silence as an answer.  I come back another time with the same question or another question that is slightly different worded.  An unanswerable question is not the fault of the one asking the question.  It is the fault of the one who arrogantly believes that he has all the answers.

    I was told that the context was different.

    This is one of those shut down statements.  It is invalid if they cannot show you from the context where it is different.  This reminds me of all the times where I have argued from the text and the context and the person then states, “but the whole of the bible supports my view”.  So the “whole of the bible” supports that the man is in authority over the woman?  If this is true, then give me a statement that says this.  The “whole of the bible” is used by every cultist I have met and every one who is pushing their own agenda.  Funny how the entire bible (without specifics) can be used to prove anything.  Once one understands that these are classic “shut down” statements, one can formulate more questions that challenge the person.  It is easy to claim the whole of the bible teaches something but the proof of that from the text and the context of two passages in agreement is the standard “safe” way.  Two or three witnesses is for safety.  Every cultist has one verse alone taken out of its context.  Two witnesses are needed at the minimum and the context is the king.

    One funny thing is that I have been dealing with a pastor who has been backpedaling on the women’s issue and he has stated that “context is king” to me but when I asked him to show me in 1 Cor. 11 where the context of “head” from 1 Cor. 11:3 is shown to be “authority over” in the passage.  I told him to check it out and see that there is no reference to someone’s authority over the other person in Paul’s writing about head coverings and hair length.  To that he replied that “context is king, but not always”.  No, context is always king.  If one’s idea cannot be supported by the context, then that is only a “pretext” for error.

  50. Don #50,

    I know what you mean about not being able to read too much of the hierarchical writing.  I can only listen to one hour at a time and often that is too much to stomach.  And it is the same with reading.  Reading man’s interpretations when I can clearly see where the holes in their argument are, is a painful thing for me.

  51. Cheryl,

    I want to thank you for your persistence on this issue. It certainly is a strong encouragement to me. I was happy this past week to study with a Jewish woman rabbi and hear her take on things. I have written about <a href=”http://powerscourt.blogspot.com/2008/07/anti-judaism.html”>some related thoughts here. </a>

  52. Sue,
    Thanks for posting the link. Sorry that my spam program pulled your link for some reason and held it hostage 🙂  I released it for you.  I think it doesn’t like links accompanied by few other words.  If anyone else has had my spam program hijack their post without my catching it before it went into the trash, I sincerely apologize.  I didn’t even realize I needed to monitor this area or within 15 days it automatically deletes them ):

    I too have been contacted by a Jewish woman rabbi, one who is a Christian and she was extremely pleased by the Hebraic content in my DVDs.  She said that the history I incorporated from the Jewish tradition really helps to pull back the veil to help us understand Paul.  She is now a big supporter of my DVDs and is showing them in churches.

    Sue, thanks for the encouragement!  Any encouragement coming from someone with your level of education in the Greek language is very humbling for me.  I will keep fighting the battle for women like yourself who has been marginalized merely because of your gender.  One day I hope and trust God that this will change and our brothers in Christ will see the value of the gifts that God has given to women especially the gifts of teaching and instructing in doctrine and biblical languages.

  53. After enjoying some insights from Sue’s link, it occurred to me that once we work through the Eph 5 verses, we might revisit our thinking regarding Christ’s relationship with the Church. This is a kind of “hermeneutic circle” that might reflect back upon “how we ‘do’ church.”

  54. For some reason it seems that some people do not see all the implications of Jesus being Messiah, which is both savior and Lord and some also mix the 2 up.  Being a savior is a serving function and being Lord is a leading function, in the Kingdom everyone is called to be a servant and some are called to be leaders, by the exemplary serving as one of the criteria.  Our flesh wants to reverse this process, see the disciples on who will be first.

    It is like the grace and truth paradigm, we need both, but grace goes first; likewise, serving goes first.

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