“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 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” (1 Timothy 2:11-15, LITV).
The next question in my Juggling Life’s Responsibilities study guide is regarding these controversial verses from 1 Timothy 2.
“Do you think it’s fair to say women are more vulnerable than men to being deceived?”
My first reaction is that no, it doesn’t feel one bit fair. I don’t feel deceived! Not any more than anyone else, anyway! In fact, I jotted a note on my study page that “It feels like a woman sometimes sees things first in God’s Word. Then later, God opens her husband’s eyes to the same truth.” That’s what it feels like, but it disagrees with what the Bible says.
The Bible says a woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
This compares to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:
“…women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, NIV).
This absolutely defies our culture! In fact, these verse defy what happens in most of our churches each week. For instance, in the local church, how many of us have been conditioned to participate in Q&A times, classes, and small groups, freely answering and discussing theology with the men? Is it okay, just because all of us do it? And what about testimony times? What about the public reading of Scripture? What about teaching children? What about special music? How do these verses apply?
I cannot even pretend to have all the answers. I just don’t have them! I’m as befuddled as the next woman.
Except… what does the Bible say?
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission… she must be silent…”
“Women should remain silent in the churches… They are not allowed to speak… it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
I’m quoting here from the NIV (1984 edition), so for the sake of being thorough (or maybe because these verses make me feel ornery), I decide to look these verses up in the original Greek (using the Majority Text, with a Strong’s Concordance, from e-sword.net.)
silence (1 Timothy 2) – hēsuchia (Greek #2271): stillness.
silence (1 Corinthians 14) – sigaō (Greek #4601): to keep silent, to be hushed.
to speak (1 Corinthians 14) – laleō (Greek #2980): to speak, to utter words.
Yup, looks like these are pretty literal translations. Hmmm…
The Bible says this is because of the order of creation.
Adam was formed first, then Eve. For this reason, God places Adam over Eve, and she is to be in submission to him. This agrees with 1 Corinthians 11:9-11.
“A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (NIV).
In fact, if you look back at Genesis, you’ll read this:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him…” (Genesis 1:27, NIV).
“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him… She shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:18, 23, NIV).
This is why women are commanded to keep their heads covered, because she is made in the image of her husband and is his glory.
Whew! Tough theology today, huh?
The Bible says this is because Eve was deceived and became a sinner.
All I can figure is that Eve removed herself from the covering protection of her husband when she spoke with the serpent that fateful day (Genesis 3). The serpent questioned her understanding of what God had said, and she was deceived.
Note how this compares to what Paul says:
“If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home” (1 Corinthians 14:35, NIV).
I think that it has always been God’s intention for a man to lead his wife, to guide her, and to teach her about the YHWH God who had made him. Man was to nurture and protect his wife, showing her great respect as his completer, helper, and mother of his children. When the first man didn’t do these things, his fellowship with God was broken. Great calamity fell on his wife, because he wasn’t covering her with protection and care(1 Peter 3:7). I mean, really — where WAS Adam when that serpent was talking to her?!
So what is a woman to do?
Well, we can follow our culture. We can follow God. We can speak. We can be silent and submissive.
It’s a choice God asks us to make.