Do egalitarians twist the scriptures?

Do egalitarians twist the scriptures?

twist on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The charge is often laid that egalitarians twist the scriptures.  I would like to apply a saying that I read recently.  Here it is:

(Complementarians) are quick to accuse of foul play but there are no rules that they have to follow.

What egalitarians are trying so hard to do is interpret scripture with scripture and take the full context instead of isolating scriptures from their context.  Let’s see if complementarians play by the same rules or if they hold themselves as exempt from their own rules.

1.  1 Timothy 2:11-15 is used as a general principle that forbids godly Christian women from using their God-given gifts for the benefit of their Christian brothers.  If this is true as complementarians assert it is, can you please tell me why Paul uses singular and a plural grammar in verse 15?  Who is the “she” who will be saved in the future if “they” continue on in faith, love, holiness and self control?  Isn’t it a twist to ignore the specific grammar of verse 15 which is the conclusion to the prohibition?  How can we know who Paul is prohibiting in verse 12 if we do not know who the “she” and “they” are in verse 15?

2.  If Paul was restricting all godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to their Christian brothers, then why didn’t Paul also list this as a reason why Timothy was left behind in Ephesus?  Paul said that he left Timothy behind to stop certain ones from teaching strange doctrines.  How come he didn’t add that Timothy was left behind to also stop the women from teaching men?  Isn’t it a twist to add the stopping of correct biblical teaching as a prohibition in chapter 2 when the only teaching that is stopped in the letter is false teaching?

3.  If 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 is not a quotation from the Corinthian’s letter to Paul (see 1 Cor. 7:1), a saying that Paul refutes in verse 36, then why would Paul say that women are to keep completely silent in the church when he had just written at the beginning of the chapter that all are allowed to prophesy?  Wouldn’t verses 34 & 35 as a new “law” that is never found anywhere else in the bible and coming right after Paul has already released women to speak in the congregation be considered a “twist” to attribute this “law” to Paul’s words and not to the Corinthian’s letter to Paul?

4.   In 1 Corinthians 11:10, the original Greek says that the woman ought to have authority over her head.  The word for authority here is exousia which always means that the person themselves has the permission, authority, right, liberty and power to do something.  Isn’t it a twist to change the word for “authority” into a meaning that one is under some else’s authority by adding the phrase “a symbol of” that is not even in the text?  If this isn’t a “twist” on the word exousia, then somebody is playing without any rules.

If there is any honest-hearted complementarians out there who would like to try to answer my challenge, feel free to put your two cents worth in the comment section.  You will be treated with Christian respect and your answers will be considered and then tested against the scripture to see if they measure up.

4 thoughts on “Do egalitarians twist the scriptures?

  1. To add to this,

    They interpret the childbearing passage as a ‘work’ of sanctification meaning women (plural) should stay in their ‘role’.  This makes no sense when taking all scripture into account.
    And it is cruel in many ways for the poor Christian women out there who cannot have children but follows the comp teachings.

  2. 2Pe 3:15


    And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,

    2Pe 3:16


    as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

    are the verses about “twisting Scripture”.  There are a few points:

    1. Peter says that Paul’s letters can be hard to understand.  This was a person that knew Paul in the 1st century and knew what Paul meant.  HOW MUCH MORE is this caution appropriate for us in the 21st century, especially with Paul’s letters.

    2. Who is susceptible to twisting Paul?  The ignorant or unstable or both.  We can do our best to stand firm in Christ and be stable, but we MIGHT be ignorant!  I mean specifically ignorant about the context of a letter that an original reader would know.  We do our best, but our best is limited.

  3. Don,

    Your statement is beautiful.  I really don’t understand the “my way or the highway” approach to some of these matters that some camps hold, and it applies to a great many different doctrines, not just interpretations of the Word concerning gender.  You’ve made points like this one before concerning the advanced Greek language that Paul used, one who was a trained expert in the Law and devotee to it before his conversion.   One need not know Greek to recognize how learned he was, even quoting secular poetry back to those he met at Mars Hill.

    I thought I was so studious and dedicated when I embarked upon the study of NT Greek.  I approached it so that I could have fewer questions about doctrine rather than more.  Ha!

    I did learn more, and my understanding of the Word and its impact on me did deepen tremendously in ways I did not expect.  But there were certain Scriptures which seemed to suddenly become far more complicated.  I also studied with someone who was raised as a Jew, and he added to that complexity of Paul’s Greek the added benefit of how much of the New Testament refers to the Law and to Jewish Tradition.  It left me feeling like little more than a snot-nosed brat who only developed a greater appreciation for how complicated some of these Scriptures and their exegesis can be.  Not to say that we can’t know what the Word tells us, but it drove home to me that one can’t rightly approach certain Scriptures with the idea that only your interpretation can be the only accurate option.

    In many ways, that is why I fell back to a (very soft) complementarian interpretation from an egalitarian one concerning some Scriptures, because I’d rather not make presumptions.  This was especially true after I gained such an appreciation for Paul’s Greek that if I wanted to begin to approach certainty on many of the things I sought certain answers for, I’d better become a full-time Greek language student and plan on studying for about the next 10 years.  What translation, what Lexicon, what teacher, what grammar, what theology, what was the context, ect., ect…  For me, it had a quality of what Job or Habakkuk must have felt when YHWH showed up to answer their prayers and frustration.  Fear of the Lord and an appreciation took on new meaning for me.  (For me, that’s how the Holy Spirit leans on my heart right now.  To that I must be true and that is not the standard of another who might see things differently than I do.)

    How remarkably gracious is God to tolerate us and allow us liberty as we learn to figure out exactly Who He is?  Jesus meets us where we are in our understanding just like Jesus meets us where we were in our sins.  That’s what differentiates us from those who followed the Lord in the Old Testament.  He lets us be wrong as He gently and lovingly transforms us, leading us and guiding us into more and more truth about Him.

    And then we take that liberty and freedom, and turn to one another as believers to demand cruel accuracy in a demanding spirit of intolerance, bereft of love.  Apart from the Spirit opening our eyes to see the truth about what He’s really telling us in the Word, we aren’t much further ahead of the demons who know the Word of God well.  All I can pray is that God is merciful with me when I do stand before Him for my years of being sure of this doctrine or that one, some of which could drive me to put a bag over my head for the rest of my life because of embarassment.  (But we are not to cover God’s glory with our shame.  The real shame would have been to stay in my former ways of thinking.)

    Some people twist Scripture, but some people are just still coming into a greater knowledge of the truth.  So much of this I just don’t get.  I think human fear rather than faith in God and love for one another accounts for far too much in these matters.   It breaks my heart, as for many, this is all just about winning the day.

  4. Knowledge is like what is inside a circle with the circle representing the limit of what we know.  As we know more, the more we realize what we do not know, as our circle grows.

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