I’m getting a little tired of 1 Timothy…

Women have always been a part of things.  From the very beginning Women have played an important role in the life and times of the people of God.  The moment that Eve plucked that apple {or some might say pomegranate} from the tree, women have definitely impacted the faith in good ways and in bad, much like the men.  As you travel through the Bible one encounters judges who were women, mothers who made choices, prophetesses who spoke the word of God, and countless others who impacted a people and helped shape their faith.

Lately it seems that the focus of much of the Christian blogging community has been placed on keeping women in their place.  On preventing women from taking positions of authority.  I wonder why so much emphasis and energy is placed on preventing ministry from being done?  Is this a good use of our resources?

There are so many blogs and so much passion surrounding this topic.  I’m pleased that people are invested in their faith but I have to say I’m getting a little tired of reading the same argument over and over again stating that 1 Timothy clearly indicates that I should not be an ordained pastor and women have no place in the church.  It’s interesting to me that things are so cut and dry for some people.  Life is rarely black and white.  Things are never that easy, at least not in the world I live in.  Jesus rarely spoke directly about anything.  His parables were told in such a way that not everyone would understand.  I just don’t think it’s as easy as picking one passage from the Bible to determine who’s in and who’s out as far as leadership goes.

When we look at 1 Timothy 2, there’s so much more than just the verse regarding leadership.  Shortly thereafter we see that the author of this letter declares women to be saved by childbearing after he forbids them from teaching. Do we honestly still believe that? What about women who don’t have children? Do we think a woman is only good with God once she bears a child?  I always thought that it was Jesus’ redemptive actions that saved us.

Understanding and interpretation changes over the years thanks to the infinite, complex and mysterious creator who continues to engage and enlighten us.  When we read the Bible we need to understand the context and the culture of the time it was written.  Reading the Bible through our own lens instead of that of a 1st century person risks skewing the meaning and the message behind it.  We must remember that 1 Timothy is first and foremost a letter written from one colleague to another addressing specific concerns relating to the Church in Ephesus.

These letters weren’t written as scripture or as a history for us.  They were written for a community, in this case it was from one colleague to another.  The author wasn’t thinking about the future, he was thinking about Timothy’s ministry in his present.  I think this is why we as a church tend to get in trouble with the Epistles.  The authors weren’t actually writing for us, they were writing for their communities.  They were writing the present, not the future.

I do accept the Epistles as scripture and see merit in reading them but I feel we must learn as much as we can about the context of the time and place we are reading about.  They are a large part of our history, a great part of our story and when we read them we must remember their original purpose.  None of the Bible can be read in isolation.  Everything comes from something. Everything has a story around it and all of that impacts the words we read on the page.

God has blessed us with a faith that is filled with mystery and wonder.  Our story has fear and hope, desire and passion.  We long to connect with God and that’s one thing that never changes.  Our history tells tales of men and women who’ve fought bravely for the faith, who’ve done what God asks and never gave up.  Women do play a part in this story.  We read stories of Rahab, Ruth, Deborah, Esther, Mary, Martha and so many more who’ve made lasting imprints on the fabric of our faith.  Each woman played a role.  Each one was called by God into service.  Each one played a part in bringing us to this point in our journey as a people of God.

We all have a part to play, a story of our own.  My story was challenged and affirmed by the church as I wrestled with discovering what it was God wanted from my life.  I was called by God to minister to his people.  That’s my story.  I am called by God to do his work and I happen to be a woman.  Women have always played a part in the workings of the people of God, I don’t think God wants to change that now.


5 responses to “I’m getting a little tired of 1 Timothy…

  1. pamela fitkin

    if i recall jesus rebuked the male disciples for not listening to their report (gospel of mark) that he was alive–he is still rebuking those kind of men–leave it to him , dear sister and let other wise men who do understand your calling to fight for you and let people have their say even if it differs from you-stay focussed on Jesus , dont take your eyes off of him and shine your light not worrying what others think… keep preaching
    love reverend pamela

  2. Finally a person that will agree that to label the NT as scripture is ungenuine. We have some history, perhaps the red letters or alleged words of Jesus could be scripture, and the theology of Paul. Yes they wrote for the present, their present and did not see their own words as scripture. We have no idea what was the original text of NT books were as they have been edited and redacted to fit the theology of the Roman church in the 300’s to 500’s. Elaine Pagels is an authority on the exclusion of women by deletion. The OT seems pretty much a history of the Hebrew people and how can that be scripture either. I do not deny that the Bible is a source of inspiration, faith and righteous living.

  3. You tell them. It seems that often the “church” spends time arguing about “who” can do ministry based on arbitrary criteria. What we ought to be doing is discerning if the Holy Spirit is leading that person’s ministry and then stand back and let the wind blow. That’s what I like about Acts. Last night I was reading where Peter baptized some “Hellenist” believers, and the “Jewish” believers came down to find out why. When they discovered that the Holy Spirit had blessed those believers with the baptism of the Holy Spirit they were okay with it. Maybe we could all learn a lesson from that.

  4. I have struggled with this since becoming a Christian. Which part of the Bible do we live and use as present day teaching and which do we chalk up to the way culture was? How does a woman minister, pastor, teach, and then go home to be led by her husband? Is one part of the Bible okay to follow and one not? I get so confused when reading all the different opinions or teachings of the word of God by pastors and teachers of the Bible and that hinders me from being comfortable in a church denomination because I am not sure what teaching God wants me to know and live. What is biblically correct and how do we know? Thank you for tacking this for your readers. I think it is one thing not everyone will ever agree on. I love reading and learning from Bible studies and teachings from women like Beth Moore and but in the church I attend women can not teach on the pulpit or in Sunday school unless they are teaching children or other women. I listen to the why and understand but then I read another teaching from a different source like you and I understand. Ugh……so confusing! And it always comes from Eve and that darn apple! Have a blessed day!

  5. I have been reading “The Parables of Joshua” by Joseph F. Girzone. The parables as they apply to today. Very interesting.

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