Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Women in Ministry and Evangelical Feminism

I am so grateful to God for His sovereign care of Christ’s sheep. As I’ve stated before, I grew up in an historically Black denomination. I would consider my former denomination “mainline”, since it is a member of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches (even though there is still a world of difference between a Black mainline church and a White mainline church). At any rate, I’m amazed that I’m saved at all, given my church background. For instance, I don’t remember the gospel ever being preached in any church I was a part of in this denomination (I mean, the true, biblical gospel), and it seems very few, if any, were ever converted through the ministry of the church (I know I wasn’t). There was no such thing as church discipline; pastors could sin scandalously, and with impunity. And I could go on and on and on...
The result of such a church environment is that I’ve had to learn a whole lot on my own, when it comes to Scripture and how the church is supposed to function. My views on quite a few things have changed drastically over the years, as I’ve grown in my understanding of what the Bible teaches. One such area in which I’ve changed my views is that of women in the pastoral ministry.
I grew up with the idea of female pastors being a given. My old denomination began ordaining women to the ministry something like 58 years ago. They began ordaining women for the pastorate about 42 years ago, if I remember correctly. By the time I came along (I’m 43), no one questioned anymore the idea of female pastors. For instance, when I was a child, we had a pastor whose wife was also an ordained minister, and she functioned as his assistant. And, everyone was okay with that.
After I entered the ministry, I got to know many female ministers and pastors. There are some female pastors that, to this day, I highly respect for their integrity and Christian example (You have to understand, I’ve known some real, bona fide scoundrels who were pastors. The fact that these women conducted themselves in a godly manner, kept themselves free from scandal and lovingly cared for their churches made them worthy of respect, as far as I was concerned.). However, as I read the Bible, it seemed to me that there was no biblical support for female pastors and elders. This presented a personal dilemma, for I trusted Scripture as the infallible Word of God, and yet, here I was, a minister in a denomination that supported women’s full inclusion in ministry (and that wasn’t going to change).
For a while, to resolve this growing personal conflict, I read and considered the arguments of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), since they put forward Scriptural reasons for supporting women in ministry. This worked until I came across the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), of which Dr. Wayne Grudem was one of the founders. I had (and still have) great respect for Dr. Grudem, having taken one of his classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and I always found his interpretations of Scripture to be well-reasoned and true to the text. So, his affiliation with CBMW automatically gave that organization credibility in my sight. Gradually, I came to view CBMW’s arguments as more sound and true to Scripture than those of CBE. In time I came to understanding that the practice of ordaining women to the pastorate and as elders was unbiblical.
This change in my views came about as God taught me His Word. Sometimes it was through a Bible teacher or preacher on the radio, sometimes it was through a Christian book or magazine (or the articles of organizations like CBMW), but, one way or another, God taught me, and He ultimately led me out of my former denomination. God takes care of His own, and I thank Him for that.
A change in my views occurred because I had a heart that was receptive to God’s Word. If I was shown that the Word clearly taught something contrary to what I believed, I was willing to change my beliefs in order to conform to God’s Word. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me” (John 10:27).
This is why I’m troubled by the growing influence of feminism in the evangelical church. It seems a growing number of people in “Bible-believing” churches are unwilling to change their beliefs even when those beliefs are contrary to God’s Word. Adrian Warnock has been posting an interview he conducted with Dr. Wayne Grudem, the author of the recently published book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism.
You should read this interview. Adrian has posted it in parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.
I also recommend you get ahold of Dr. Grudem’s book.

15 comments:

Cheryl Schatz said...

Hi,

You said: "A change in my views occurred because I had a heart that was receptive to God’s Word. If I was shown that the Word clearly taught something contrary to what I believed, I was willing to change my beliefs in order to conform to God’s Word."

I am wondering if the change in your views incorporated the view that women who teach the bible to men are sinning against God. This is CBMW's view and I wonder if you have adopted it. If you have, I am wondering what scripture you use to judge women of sin?

wwdunc said...

Cheryl Schatz said, “I am wondering if the change in your views incorporated the view that women who teach the bible to men are sinning against God. This is CBMW's view and I wonder if you have adopted it. If you have, I am wondering what scripture you use to judge women of sin?”

Cheryl,

The specific change in my thinking concerns women functioning as pastors/ordained ministers or elders within the church. These are positions of leadership and authority. It seems to me that for a woman to hold the position of pastor/ordained minister or elder she would have to come into direct conflict with Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18, for she would then be in a position of authority over her husband. I don’t see how a wife can both submit to her husband while exercising authority over him in the church.

You asked about my views on women teaching the Bible to men. I can only respond by pointing to 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Those verses are very clear. I don’t know how they can be violated without sinning…unless one finds a way to make them mean something other than the obvious meaning. Also, since, in 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul seems to connect teaching with exercising authority, I see a link back to Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18. I’m not absolutely certain about that, but there does seem to be some connection.

In light of the above Scriptures, I think it safe to say that the role of elder is restricted to men. According to 1 Timothy 3:2-5 and Titus 1:6-9, the elder is to teach in a way that (according to Titus 1:9) sure sounds like exercising some kind of authority within the local church. Again, I don’t see how a wife could biblically exercise that kind of authority over her husband. And, once again, I don’t see how Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 can be violated without sinning (whether willfully or in ignorance).

One more thing: I cannot recall anywhere in Scripture—Old or New Testament—where we are given a specific example of a woman—any woman—functioning in an authoritative, teaching role. It seems to me, if it were God’s intent for women to function as spiritual leaders in the Church, there would be an example of a female pastor, elder, apostle, (or, in the Old Testament) priest, prophet or other teacher of the Law. Do you know of a single woman named in Scripture who exercised one of these roles? I cannot think of any that were named.

In light of all the above, I do not feel that women serving in pastoral ministry or filling the role of elder in the local church is a positive sign in any local church, and may be a sign of spiritual declension in a church or denomination. As an example, I would simply point to any of today's mainline Protestant denominations.

Wyeth Duncan

Cheryl Schatz said...

So you say that women who teach the bible to men are in sin because of 1 Timothy 2:12 and you don't see any other way to interpret these verses without women sinning.

Well, this is how I interpret that verse in context of chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Timothy: http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2006/12/02/what-does-1-timothy-211-15-mean/

The problem with teaching that a woman is in sin if she teaches the bible to men, is that we then must charge her with disobeying a law of God and anyone who disobeys God's laws and continues to do that without repenting will go to hell. Well at least that is what CBMW agrees to. They say that if she does not repent by the time she dies, then her salvation experience would not be real.

The other problem with charging one with sin when scripture does not charge every godly women who teaches correct biblical doctrine to men as in sin, this action causes brothers and sisters in Christ to be separated from each other. How can we be in fellowship if you believe I am violating God's commands? Is that what you are willing to do? I do not charge a brother in Christ with sin, even if he sees me as a sinner, violating God's law. I am only interested in serving God and serving the body of Christ wherever God calls me to help out with any gifts he has given me.

wwdunc said...

Cheryl,

I read portions of your websites before I responded to you the first time. I interpreted you as saying, in general, that since 1 Timothy 2:12 doesn’t have an equivalent in the Old Testament (you reiterated the importance of having two Scriptural witnesses for any command we are required to obey) it was, therefore, not binding on the Church. My point is the verses (1 Timothy 2:11, 12) are there, they are clear, and I don’t see any way to get around them without either interpreting them to mean something other than what they say or just ignoring them altogether (which is what was done in my former denomination). Either course is unacceptable, as far as I’m concerned.

Yet, even if I did accept your interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, there is still the issue of Ephesians 5:22-24 & Col 3:18. How can a woman exercise a position of authority (i.e., the position of pastor-teacher/ordained minister or elder) over her husband without violating these Scriptures? Now, if 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 refer only to the teaching role of pastor/ordained minister or elder, I suppose 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 would not forbid women from teaching men ever in all circumstances (e.g., Bible Study class, Bible conference, seminary, etc.). But, like I said, I’m not sure about that. It would take better minds than mine to figure that out. I am not one to get up and walk out of the room/church if I find myself in a situation where a woman is up front teaching or preaching. But, again, I cannot see how women can hold the office and perform the function of pastor/ordained minister or elder and not violate Ephesians 5:22-24 & Colossians 3:18 (and, for the same reason, I cannot see how women can fill the office of Elder, as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 & Titus 1:6-9, when it is indicated that the Elder is to exercise the authoritative teaching role in the local church).

This brings me to the issue of whether women who teach men are sinning and if so, are no longer in fellowship. As I stated in my original post, I grew up and was ordained in a denomination that allowed women to hold any and every office and role within the church, including pastor and “bishop” (denominational leader). As a result, I know many female ministers and pastors/retired pastors, and have sat under the preaching and teaching of many female ministers in my lifetime. I now believe that my former denomination was in error in ordaining women as ministers. However, like I also said in my original post, I have great respect for some (and I say, some) of these female ministers. I believe these women are sincerely following what they believe to be God’s call on their lives. I think they are wrong to pursue that calling through the ordained ministry but, nevertheless, I believe they are sincere.

Are these women sinning? Yes. But, so does every human being that ever lived. Am I excusing sin? No, because I believe these women (the ones that I’m thinking about) are sinning in ignorance. There is a difference between willful, high-handed sin (like that in which, I believe, some feminists are engaged) and sins of ignorance, where the offender honestly does not see that they are in error. Obviously, I cannot repent of a sin I don’t even recognize. I would not want to underestimate the degree to which we can be blinded to our own sin…and I’m talking about born-again, saved, on-their-way-to-heaven Christians. We can be blind to our own sin.

Are these women (those acting in sin, due to their ignorance) in danger of hell? No, not if they trust in Christ alone for their salvation. In fact, we’d all be in trouble if they were because all of us have sin in our lives of which we are presently ignorant. We have not repented, because we don’t know any better. If we go to hell for the sins we are not even aware of, then the blood of Jesus does not cleanse us from all sin and we actually stand before God based on our own righteousness, not the imputed righteousness of Christ.

You said, “The problem with teaching that a woman is in sin if she teaches the bible to men, is that we then must charge her with disobeying a law of God and anyone who disobeys God's laws and continues to do that without repenting will go to hell.” My response would be: What about Jonathan Edwards? He owned slaves. He was wrong. Slavery was sinful. Edwards never repented of the sin of slave-holding. Did he go to hell? I think it obvious that Edwards (and countless other slave-holding Christians) sinned in ignorance. He could not have repented of a sin he was blinded to because of the sinful weakness of the flesh. I think Edwards’ situation is the same as that of many Bible-believing Christians who harbor racist attitudes in our day: they are ignorant of their sins. And this is the same situation in which I think many female preachers and pastors find themselves. They just don’t know better. I think they’re wrong; but I would not say they were unrepentant sinners on their way to hell.

For that reason, I would count myself in fellowship with these women. I could not support their holding the office of pastor or elder in my local church, neither would I support the ordination of women, but I would not consider them un-Christian. And, you might be interested to know: I would not refuse an invitation to preach in a church that recognized female ministers and elders. I still maintain contact with people in my former denomination, including women who consider themselves called to preach. Just because I am no longer a part of that denomination does not mean that I no longer know these people. This, by itself, is not an issue that affects salvation and, therefore, it doesn’t affect my fellowship with those who disagree with me within the context of the wider Body of Christ.

One more point: Once a person has been convicted by the Holy Spirit of any sin, that person is under obligation to repent. Those feminists who deliberately ignore Scripture or twist it to fit their preconceived feminist notions demonstrate a refusal to submit to God’s authority. They are placing their feminist agenda above the authority of God’s Word. I would say that those women and the men who encourage them to disregard Scripture are unrepentant sinners and in danger of hell fire.

I hope this helps clarify my views on this important issue.

Wyeth Duncan

Cheryl Schatz said...

Wyeth,

I appreciate you taking the time to answer me. Most wouldn’t even consider what I have to say and I have lost some dear friends who have rejected me because they believe that 1 Timothy 2:12 says that because I teach the bible to men I am in sin. That view has caused separation and deep hurt.

The point I was making in my question and response is that complementarians have judged women who teach the bible to men as sinning against God. I said nothing about being Pastors. That is not even part of my concern and I am sure you would agree that if a woman is not allowed to teach men, then she cannot be a Pastor to men because a Pastor must be able to teach. So if we could keep the discussion to whether a woman can teach the bible to men and if that is a sin, that would be great.

You said: “I interpreted you as saying, in general, that since 1 Timothy 2:12 doesn’t have an equivalent in the Old Testament (you reiterated the importance of having two Scriptural witnesses for any command we are required to obey) it was, therefore, not binding on the Church.” That is not what I said at all. My point is that we need to see in context what Paul is prohibiting and to whom the prohibition applies. Complementarians interpret this passage as saying that godly women are forbidden to teach correct biblical doctrine to men. All I was asking you to do was to look at my interpretation and judge if it was in context and fits within the framework of the passage.

What I would like to ask you to do is explain from the complete passage of 1 Timothy chapters 1 and 2 why you believe Paul is telling godly women who teach the bible to men that they are sinning against God.

You also said: “Now, if 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 refer only to the teaching role of pastor/ordained minister or elder, I suppose 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 would not forbid women from teaching men ever in all circumstances (e.g., Bible Study class, Bible conference, seminary, etc.). But, like I said, I’m not sure about that.” May I respectfully say that you must be sure about that? One cannot say that a godly woman who teaches correct biblical doctrine to men is in sin and use 1 Tim. 2:12 if this is not something that is sure. I would hope that you would agree with me that sin is not a light matter. Disobeying God’s clear commands is something that is considered rebellion. If you are unsure over what you said was a “clear” passage, how can others know if they are in sin or not?

Now CBMW is not like you are. They are very sure. They teach that any godly woman who teaches the bible to men in any circumstance whether in her home, or in a church, or out on the grass outside a school, or ANY place, is in sin. In fact a group of men and women cannot be taught by a woman even if her teaching is by video tape or audio tape. So now you need to make a decision. If you charge women with sin as CBMW does, will God look on you with favor if you are wrong?

My point about no prohibition in the Old Testament is that up until 1 Tim 2:12 was penned, there was no law that prohibited women from teaching the bible to men. Why would there now be a universal prohibition on godly women? You tell me.

You also said: “Are these women sinning? Yes. But, so does every human being that ever lived. Am I excusing sin? No, because I believe these women (the ones that I’m thinking about) are sinning in ignorance.” How can they be sinning in ignorance if scripture plainly says that all godly women are not allowed to teach correct biblical doctrine to men? Is it really that plain, or is Paul prohibiting the teaching of false doctrine by a false teacher? Why is this prohibition never repeated to any other woman or group of women? Why were women never stopped from teaching the bible to men in the Old Testament? I would only ask you to review the interpretation and show me where I am in error.

You said: “There is a difference between willful, high-handed sin (like that in which, I believe, some feminists are engaged) and sins of ignorance, where the offender honestly does not see that they are in error. Obviously, I cannot repent of a sin I don’t even recognize.” Let me use an example regarding what you have said. There are some people who believe that you can live as an active homosexual and they do not believe this is sin. Now would you say that they are allowed to do this and not be kicked out of the kingdom just because they have convinced themselves it is not sin? I think scripture is clear that those who practice this lifestyle (those who practice sin) will not be in the kingdom. So how do you think that one can contradict a clear commandment of God and practice that “sin” and still be in the kingdom?

You said: “My response would be: What about Jonathan Edwards? He owned slaves. He was wrong. Slavery was sinful. Edwards never repented of the sin of slave-holding. Did he go to hell?” Where in scripture does it say that owning slaves is a sin? Where does it say that “Thou shalt not own a slave”? I don’t believe that slavery is right, but I don’t see a direct prohibition against it in scripture. I do believe that once we understand Christ’s way and how to treat others we will not want to subjugate anyone and lord it over anyone. But to say it is a sin in scripture is to input something that is not there.

You said: “For that reason, I would count myself in fellowship with these women.” I am glad that you said this, but I wonder how you could say to their face that these women are sinning against God by teaching correct biblical doctrine to men and still have fellowship. Don’t you think that this would separate you from them? How would you liked to be told that you are sinning against God? If you are judged that way, there cannot be true Christian fellowship.

Lastly you said: “One more point: Once a person has been convicted by the Holy Spirit of any sin, that person is under obligation to repent. Those feminists who deliberately ignore Scripture or twist it to fit their preconceived feminist notions demonstrate a refusal to submit to God’s authority. They are placing their feminist agenda above the authority of God’s Word. I would say that those women and the men who encourage them to disregard Scripture are unrepentant sinners and in danger of hell fire.” Let me ask you, then to show me from my interpretation where I err. The link again is http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2006/12/02/what-does-1-timothy-211-15-mean/

I would like to challenge you to show me at which part of my interpretation I err. Then I would like you to walk through the context of 1 Timothy 1 & 2 and show me from the complete context how Paul could be forbidding godly Christian women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men.

Thank you very much for your time!
Cheryl

wwdunc said...

Cheryl,

First of all, let me state I just received your latest comment this afternoon and I haven’t had the opportunity to look at 1 Timothy 1 & 2 in depth, or anything like that. I will look again at the context and may have more to say later, but, for now, I just wanted to respond to a few things you wrote.

You say, “The point I was making in my question and response is that complementarians have judged women who teach the bible to men as sinning against God. I said nothing about being Pastors. That is not even part of my concern and I am sure you would agree that if a woman is not allowed to teach men, then she cannot be a Pastor to men because a Pastor must be able to teach. So if we could keep the discussion to whether a woman can teach the bible to men and if that is a sin, that would be great.”

I’m afraid I cannot keep solely to the issue of women teaching the Bible to men because, it seems to me, if I say to you that women can teach the Bible to men, you would then counter with, “Well, then why can’t women function as pastors?” At least that is the impression I’m getting. So, just to be absolutely clear, I have to come back to Ephesians 2:22-24 & Colossians 3:18 one more time and reiterate that a woman cannot exercise a position of authority (i.e., the position of pastor-teacher/ordained minister or elder) over her husband without violating these Scriptures. No ordination, no pasturing, no role as elder.

As far as “godly women who teach the Bible to men”, what I said (but not clearly enough) is that if 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 refers only to the teaching role of the pastor or elder, then yes, there are some circumstances in which I could see a “godly” woman teaching “correct biblical doctrine to men”. I gave some examples such as a Bible study class, a Bible conference (think Nancy Leigh DeMoss or Joni Eareckson Tada), or a seminary class. But what I said is contingent on 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 referring only to the teaching role of the pastor or elder. If it is a blanket prohibition, then that is another matter. At this moment I don’t know the answer to that question. It has not come up in my circles of concern, and I haven’t had to deal with that issue. When I have time, like I said, I will look at 1 Timothy more closely and I will study that issue, but at this moment I will have to say I am not absolutely sure.

I stand by my previous statement concerning sins of ignorance. As fallen human beings, yet saved by the grace of God, we sometimes have enormous spiritual “blind spots”, and we just don’t see our sin as clearly as we ought. I brought up Jonathan Edwards, whom I believe, judging from his writing and the record of history, was an eminent man of God. He held slaves. He was a product of his times, but he was still in the wrong—in sin. There are many believers who have racially prejudiced attitudes, which are just plain sin. And, in my opinion, there are women in ministry or seeking to enter the ministry who are also sinning in that they have pushed themselves, or are seeking to push themselves, into roles and responsibilities where they have no biblically-based business being. Yet, many of these people—from those of another era, like Jonathan Edwards, to possibly many of today’s evangelical feminists—are sinning in ignorance, because they sincerely believe they are in the right.

I believe homosexuality is a different matter than racism or misplaced feminism simply because the Scripture is absolutely clear, no matter how you read it, that homosexuality and homosexual conduct is sinful and wrong. You will not find passages stating that women in ministry are committing an “abomination” or “will not inherit the kingdom of God”. So, it is not fair to use homosexuality as an example.

However, I will reiterate this statement: “Those feminists who deliberately ignore Scripture or twist it to fit their preconceived feminist notions demonstrate a refusal to submit to God’s authority. They are placing their feminist agenda above the authority of God’s Word. I would say that those women, and the men who encourage them to disregard Scripture, are unrepentant sinners and in danger of hell fire.”

I think the “problem”, if you will, with evangelical feminists is their sin of discontentment. Paul said he had “learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11), but the feminist says, in effect, “No! I want what belongs to men!” As I see it, the feminist attitude is a fulfillment of what God said would occur as a result of the Fall: “Your desire shall be for your husband…”—a desire to dominate the man (cf. Genesis 4:7) rather than be content as “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

I do not consider female minister/pastors who affirm the infallible authority of Scripture to be out-of-fellowship. Not at all. I think they are mistaken, but they probably feel I am mistaken, too. I don’t seek to “fix” everybody. I can agree to disagree. I don’t approve women in pastoral or elder roles, and I feel more comfortable in a local church that feels the same. Those who disagree obviously would feel comfortable in another local church, but I still can be in fellowship with them. We’re not talking about those things that affect salvation, provided (as I stated above) there is not a demonstrated refusal to submit to the authority of God’s Word.

You state, “I wonder how you could say to their face that these women are sinning against God by teaching correct biblical doctrine to men and still have fellowship. Don’t you think that this would separate you from them? How would you liked to be told that you are sinning against God?” Well, first of all, I don’t go around telling people about their sins and how I disagree with them and why, if they don’t agree with me, they’re going to hell. When I’m teaching or preaching, I’ll tell you exactly what I think. If you ask me what I think about a specific subject, I’ll tell you. But I don’t go out of my way just to step on people’s toes. I think that is just common sense—knowing how to get along with people. I’m not compromising, nor am I forcing people to compromise with me. That’s how I maintain fellowship and friendship with pentecostals and charismatics and non-charismatics and cessationists and dispensationalists and covenantalists and premillenialists and amillenialists and Baptists and Anglicans and Presbyterians and folks who love hymns for worship and folks who love contemporary worship and blacks and whites and the list goes on.

I will look more closely at 1 Timothy and I will read your link carefully and study the passages you refer to. In the meantime, could you tell me I where in Scripture—Old or New Testament—where we are given a specific example of a woman—any woman—functioning in an authoritative, teaching role over men? Where is there an example of a female pastor, elder, apostle, (or, in the Old Testament) priest, prophet or other teacher of the Law. Do you know of a single woman named in Scripture who exercised any one of these roles? I cannot think of any.

Also, some advice: If you don’t agree with Wayne Grudem or John Piper or CBMW…or me (!), can you just live with that? I can live with the fact that there are those that disagree with me. That’s fine. I may think you’re wrong, but I’m not going to go out of my way to change your mind. I trust the Holy Spirit to do His work, as He will, when He will…and if He will. So, please, don’t monopolize my time trying to answer you. I will look at those things I promised to look at and I will try to write about it after I’ve read and thought about it. But I don’t want to beat this into the ground. I’ve told you what I believe the Bible teaches; this is the conclusion I believe the Lord has brought me to. And I still recommend Dr. Grudem’s book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism (http://www.gnpcb.org/product/1581347340).

I mean this sincerely, Cheryl: If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.

Wyeth Duncan

James said...

Using broader literary context to negate obvious immediate grammatical context is a common exegetical error.

For instance, those who teach paedocommunion attempt to get out of the plain meaning of 1 Cor 11:27 by pointing out that the broader literary context is in dealing with gross misbehavior at the supper. While this is true, the immediate grammatical context ties the proclamation that the partakers make in v26 to the unworthy eating and drinking in v27. Inability to proclaim is inability to examine oneself in light of that proclamation.

In the case of 1 Timothy, the exegetical abuse goes even deeper. There is no indication that there are female false teachers. The pronouns referring to the false teachers are exclusively masculine, and the two mentioned by name are men. It is irresponsible to create a literary context in which the occasion of the letter becomes renegade women teachers. It is something worse than irresponsible to take that constructed literary context and attempt to trump the clear grammatical context of 2:12.

2:8 is an instruction for all Christian men. 2:9-11 is a parallel instruction for all Christian women. There is no break between v11 and v12; in fact, the conjunction at the beginning of v12 demands that we have the same group in view: all women, not some mythical group of false-teaching women.

The context following the verse is equally clear. Paul makes two arguments: one from precept (v13), and one from historical example (v14). "This is how God designed it (v13), and Adam's failure to act as head resulted in the fall (v14)." He proceeds to make it clear that although their roles are different, they are by no means less important (v15).

A couple notes about Paul's argumentation: (1) They are absolutely universal. Creation and fall are relevant to every culture at any time. (2) They are authoritative interpretation of Old Testament texts. Whenever a New Testament text interprets an Old Testament text, we are not free to disagree with meaning. That said, 1 Tim 2:12 results in 3 Scriptural witnesses, not 1, and 2 of them are from the Old Testament (by the way, I repudiate the idea that more than 1 Scripture are needed to establish a doctrine; one clear text is all that is necessary).

All of this is just unpacking the "obvious meaning" to which I think Wyeth was referring. As Peter says, there are difficult texts in Paul. This, however, is not one of them.

wwdunc said...

Thank you so much, James.

Wyeth

Cheryl Schatz said...

Wyeth,

You said: “I’m afraid I cannot keep solely to the issue of women teaching the Bible to men because, it seems to me, if I say to you that women can teach the Bible to men, you would then counter with, “Well, then why can’t women function as pastors?”

I am not interested in discussing at this time if women can function as Pastors. It doesn’t affect me. I am not a Pastor. I teach the bible to men. I am asking you to defend your position through scripture that judges me as sinning against God. I think it only fair that we discuss the basics that affect me. Agreed? If you want to talk about Pastors later, I can do that. If you don’t want to, that’s fine with me. I am only concerned here about the charge of sin against me.

So, let’s discuss scripture. Please take the time to go through the *context* of 1 Timothy 1 & 2 and show me how you can get from the context that Paul is forbidding godly women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. Context is always an important part of what is being said, whether by Paul or anyone else. A true interpretation will never contradict the full context.

Wyeth, you said: “As far as “godly women who teach the Bible to men”, what I said (but not clearly enough) is that if 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 refers only to the teaching role of the pastor or elder, then yes, there are some circumstances in which I could see a “godly” woman teaching “correct biblical doctrine to men”… If it is a blanket prohibition, then that is another matter. At this moment I don’t know the answer to that question. It has not come up in my circles of concern, and I haven’t had to deal with that issue.”

From the things you have written, though, you are recommending CMBW and Wayne Grudem. Their view is that women are not allowed to teach biblical doctrine to men at any time, in any place or under any circumstance. This is clear in their Biblical Manhood and Womanhood book and has been affirmed again to me in their correspondence with me. Please pardon me if I am wrong, but it seems like you are agreeing with them in their judgment of sin against me. Do women have a right to appeal to scripture and give a defense of the biblical position on women so that we are no longer judged with sinning against God by refusing to discriminate against men so that men are not allowed to attend our bible studies and benefit from our teaching gifts?

I think that biblically you will need to make a decision whether you are going to follow that judgment or else treat your sisters in Christ with respect for using their God-given gifts in the freedom that God has given them for the use of the entire body of Christ. If someone wants to learn, then let them learn.

The charge of sin is a very serious matter and I hope as my brother in Christ that you can agree with me. I do not charge someone with sin in a lighthearted manner. I would rather err by not charging them with sin rather than charge a brother in Christ with sin unjustly. Now the example you gave of slavery is not something that is mentioned in scripture as sin. Could you please give an example, as I have, of sin that is stated as a sin? We must compare apples with apples. If you say as CBMW does that if a woman teaches the bible to men she is in sin and you say that scripture tells us that it is a sin, then that is something we can verify or deny by looking at scripture. We cannot search out things that the bible never speaks on regarding if they are sin or not.

You also said: “However, I will reiterate this statement: “Those feminists who deliberately ignore Scripture or twist it to fit their preconceived feminist notions demonstrate a refusal to submit to God’s authority. They are placing their feminist agenda above the authority of God’s Word”. This isn’t me. In fact I have a very high view of scripture. I believe that not only is God’s Word fully inspired but each word and each piece of grammar is inspired. I have put the introductory piece of my DVD online so you can see how I approach this subject. That will give you more to understanding where I am coming from. You can view it at http://www.mmoutreach.org/wim.htm. Let me know what you think when you have watched it.

Wyeth, you said: “I don’t seek to “fix” everybody. I can agree to disagree.” I agree. I don’t try to fix everybody either. However there is a difference when it comes to the charge of sin. If my brother in Christ says that they don’t believe that women can teach the bible to men, but they don’t believe the women are sinning if they teach the bible to men, then we can agree to disagree. There is no charge of sin and there is complete freedom to agree to disagree. We are still in fellowship. However if my brother in Christ says that women who teach the bible to men are sinning against God, then we cannot agree to disagree because the disagree is about sin. Sin is a very serious matter. Do you understand this? If I am looked on as disobeying a commandment by God by serving him with all my might in the way that He has gifted me, and I am made out to be a sinner against my dear Jesus because of teaching his precious Word, then I cannot have fellowship with you. Do you understand the difference? Do you see that there cannot be fellowship when there is a charge of sin? I must then, for myself and for my sisters in Christ, give a defense of the freedom for God to give a woman (myself) a gift of teaching the bible to the body of Christ. Scripture has not told me to discriminate against my precious brothers in Christ by withholding the use of my gifts in their lives. How could I do that and be a faithful servant to my Lord Jesus? You see there can be no middle ground. Either I am sinning by teaching the bible to men or I am not. If I am sinning, then all I ask is for you to show me my error by reading what I have written on the context of 1 Timothy and then explaining the two chapters using the context for us to understand how God is denying godly women from teaching correct biblical doctrine to men. That can’t be too hard to do if the context is clear. If I am not sinning, then CBMW and the men who serve on that organization need to be pressed to remove the charge of sin. The reason is that the charge of sin separates brothers and sisters in Christ.

Again, I am not talking about a role of Pastor. We can talk about that another time. I am only asking you about the use of the gifts of God through myself or through other women for the glory of God and the use of the entire body of Christ. Any women that were or weren’t used in the Old Testament isn’t even the issue. That would get us off topic. We are talking about a prohibition. There was no prohibition in the Old Testament disallowing any woman from teaching the bible to men. Now let’s talk about the New Testament. The only passage that has been brought forth concerning this prohibition is 1 Timothy 2:12.

You also said in closing: “I may think you’re wrong, but I’m not going to go out of my way to change your mind. I trust the Holy Spirit to do His work, as He will, when He will…and if He will. So, please, *don’t monopolize my time trying to answer you*.”

You think that CBMW is right in their judgment that I am in sin, but you have no concern to show me how I am wrong and how the bible says I am in sin? Well, that’s fine. That’s kind of what I expect from complementarians. I have been spoken to harshly by some and ignored by others. I have asked Pastors to correct me if I am wrong. They have said that I have a thought-provoking exegesis and that I am very kind and respectful toward the opposition, and they have left it at that because they can’t tell me what 1 Timothy 1 & 2 means in context. That is just so very sad. If you would like to discuss this further, please come to my blog. http://www.strivetoenter.com/wim I will not turn you away, nor will I tell you that you are wasting my time. I will discuss issues with you and you can give your explanation for 1 Timothy 1 & 2 on my blog. I trust that is fine with you and you will not feel compelled to waste your time when you are coming to me and not me to you. I won’t be bothering you any longer. Again, if you want to discuss this further, I will be extremely happy to hear from you on my blog or you can email me personally at mmoutreach (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

Take care and God bless,
Cheryl

Cheryl Schatz said...

James,

Please visit me on my blog if you would like to discuss the issues. We don't want to waste any more of our brothers time here as he has said.

Cheryl

J. Mel said...

wwdunc,
Since Mer Grudem's book was so determining in your taking a position on the issue, you might want to consider the following response to his book written by conservative evangelicals. Here's some info about it that I passed on to Mr Grudem....

Mr Grudem,
I regret that you will not respond to "Recovering Biblical Ministry by Women, A Response to Traditionalism and Feminism" by George and Dora Winston.

I do not expect you and the Winstons to reach a meeting of the minds on the women's issue but , I think, for the sake of intellectual honnesty towards women in our conservative Churches, it would be helpful to debate on this issue with conservative scholars who share the same values of the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, as they and you do.

I suspect that you are not yet very familiar with the Winstons who have been far from the States, on the mission field leading the Belgian Bible institute for 30 some years and co-founding the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven (Belgium), and I hope that you will take the time to consider their arguments.

George Winston is as conservative as you are on the question of the authority and inerrancy of the Scripture. He is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and the recipient of its Chafer Award in Systematic Theology. To enter a debate, not with far off feminists, but way closer to home would feed the debate in a helpful way for pastors who have to deal with this issue in ver concrete and practical ways.

Over the years you have come to represent traditionalism and the Winstons book combs through 83 objections to arguments found in your and Mr Pipers "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood". The Winstons also provide an exhaustive biblical theology on the topic.

They have taken the time to analyze every place in the Bible that speaks of the exercise of authority to see if it is ever permissible for a woman to be in authority over a man, and if so, how and when. On the basis of their findings they have taken into account aall the evidence they found and sought to harmonize the WHOLE of Scripture, BOTH its clear and difficult passages.

On the basis of biblical facts pointing to the contrary, they dispute your and Mr Pipers premise that the essence of masculinity is to lead and that the essence of femininity is to submit to men (chapter one of your "Recovering...).

Their arguments have an impact on the Europeen continent and are beginning to make their way in the English speaking world.

For instance, to my knowledge, the entire Baptist Union of Holland (where the Dutch book went through 2 editions in no time) voted with a 2/3 majority, a new resolution on the question of women on the basis of the Winstons's book and I hear that such Churches as Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas adopted a new resolution regarding women, also on the basis of this book.

For you information, here are a couple reviews:
"A superb piece of Biblical scholarship...A tremendous service for the church." JAMES REAPSOME - Former editor of "The Evangelical Missions quarterly".

"The Winstons propose careful but clear biblical answers to such questions as "What are gender-based distinctions? May women hold church offices? Be ordained,They write with the conviction that inerrant scripture, interpreted according to straightforward grammatical-historical exegis provides a coherent total picture..."LA VERNE P. BLOWERS - in Missiology: An International Review" - October 2005

I thank you, Mr Grudem, for looking into the Winstons scholarly work and for entering the debate.

James said...

When my copy of Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth arrived in the mail some time ago, I was struck by the size of the volume. I was grateful that someone like Dr. Grudem had spent such time and energy in interacting with the opposing views of hundreds of Evangelicals.

He literally saved me tens of thousands of pages of reading on an issue to which I cannot afford to give such time (although, as a pastor, I need to be able to refute that opposition for those in my flock who are not scholars and have been confused by clever sounding arguments).

I am not any less grateful for Dr. Grudem's book because it has not (or at least j.mel claims it has not) dealt with a volume written by a husband-wife missionary team in Belgium.

By the way, it seems to me that the conclusions of the book must necessarily be prejudiced by its having a woman in professional ministry as one of its authors.

It reminds me of a book that some hold to be an authority on Scriptural worship; the book began as a Sunday school series in a congregation where its author was the worship minister, and the worship was violating the Regulative Principle. Would you like to guess at the conclusions to which that worship book came?

J. Mel said...

James,
1. You say: " it seems to me that the conclusions of the book must necessarily be prejudiced by its having a woman in professional ministry as one of its authors."

Perhaps your comment reflects the fact that you also are a male in professional ministry, for you do not even imagine that one could equally say that Piper and Grudem's book must necessarily be prejudiced by its having men in professional ministry as two of its authors. Bias is something we are all subject to, which is why it is important to appraoch Scriptures with clear principles of hermeneutics.

2. it is obvious that Mr Grudem has not dealt with the Winston's book since their book is a response to Grudem's "Recovering Biblical Manhood...". If you read my comment to Mr Grudem, you will realize that my purpose is to inform him of something growing on the continent and that he doesn't seem to be aware of.

Mel
PS Did you know that 2/3 of the missionary work force is made by, as you call them, women in professional ministry?

wwdunc said...

My goodness! I’ve never had this many comments on my blog before. I’ve been out all day, and when I come home, there’s more. I’ve been reading all of them, and I’ve been thinking.

The comments from Cheryl Schatz and J. Mel make me think they need to re-read the original post from which these comments are supposed to flow. They seem to forget that I came OUT of a denomination in which women enjoyed the full inclusion they seem to crave. I’ve seen it and experienced it (Been there; done that!). I know leadership by females up-close and personal. I know what happens when (at least in the context of the Black Church) you let the horses of feminism out of the barn (i.e., things will never return to the way they were). I don’t write as a man who’s afraid of the unknown. This is not unknown to me; I’ve seen it.

It looks unbiblical.

I’ve also seen the effects of feminism on the men of the church: Men fail to lead and, soon, forget how to lead. The same thing that happens in some marriages, with the husband simply acquiescing to his wife (“Yes, dear. Whatever you say, dear.”), happens in the church. The men just choose to let the women run the church, while they abdicate their responsibilities under God. If the husband is supposed to be “the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23) then, as modeled by these men that I’ve known and watched, Christ has evidently abdicated His throne.

Definitely unbiblical.

So, you see, I rejected Christianized feminism because I came to see it for what it was: unbiblical. Yes, the writings of Dr. Grudem and others were helpful in pointing out for me what the Bible said (and I thank God for Christians for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), but, ultimately, I adopted the complementarian position because it is simply true to Scripture. Conversely, I rejected the egalitarian position because it spent too much time trying to explain how the Bible didn’t actually mean what it said. Case in point: 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

So, I don’t write these posts or respond to these comments because I’m trying to make up my mind. I made up my mind several years ago.

One last thing: I’ve done a little bit of reading around the blogosphere, and I’m noticing something. There are those egalitarians out there who seem to have nothing else to do but attack the complementarian position. When they find a complementarian blog, they seek to monopolize the conversation, overwhelm their “opponents” with complicated theological argumentation, and they aren’t satisfied no matter what answer you give them or what expert you cite. In other words, they’re looking for an argument. I don’t have time for arguments. As Grandma used to say: “Ain’t nothin’ but the devil.”

I’m beginning to suspect that, too.

God created an order for the Church and for the family: “The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5:23-24).

And God didn’t intend for the order to be reversed when the husband and wife come to church!

P.S.: Thank you, again, James, for your comments. They’ve been very helpful and informative. May God bless you as you “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Amanda said...

I see 1 Timothy 2:11-12 quoted here as basis for women "sinning" by teaching. That just baffles me. Let's take a look in the Greek to see what Paul was really saying:

"A woman should leran in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety."

First, "learning in quietness and full submission" was a known phrase of the day for the attitude of a good student, a revolutionary concept for women, who were not taught in that day as men were.

The original Greek for authority is not the one normally used in the NT for authority. In fact, this Greek word is not used anywhere else in the NT, and it was rarely used at all in ancient times. Current research shows that this word probably means, "to have the upper hand" or "be dominating".

Paul corrected false teaching repeatedly in the book of 1 Timothy, because Ephesus was a center of pagan worship, including early Gnosticism, which sometimes said that Eve was created before Adam, women were superior to men, and that is was better for women not to have children.

And lastly, the Greek verb for "permit" is in the present tense, which means "I am not now permitting" which imply specific instructions for the time being.

Paul was probably telling them not to permit teaching that women were superior and shouldn't have children. No where else in the Word does Paul condemn women speaking, but condone women like Priscilla and Phoebe.

Check out 2 Kings 22:14 and Judges 4:4 for the stories of Deborah and Huldah, who were known by the people and sought out by men to consult on the Lord.

Why should a woman gifted of God be shunned because God made her female? That's not the God I know, the God of scripture. Let scripture interpret scripture. Don't take one verse and misinterpret it. That's how cults get started. Examine and study out these verses in the Greek and ask the Spirit to help you see what He really meant that we've misinterpreted and excluded thousands of women based on our closed-minded views. I happen to love our female pastors. They bring something that men don't. But I still love the male pastors too. Everything in moderation.