You may have noticed that the last blog ended right in the middle of a verse? That is because Paul chose to introduce one of the most challenging subjects for the modern church of Jesus Christ: singling out first, the proper behavior of women in the church as a parallel to the proper behavior of men through constant prayer with “lifted holy hands without anger or quarreling; …” (1 Tim 2:8), and a bit later, what a woman is permitted to do in church. First:
“ … likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works” (1 Tim 2:9-10).
There is nothing sexist (in modern words) about expecting modesty and self-control in church activities, the reverse of which is to dress provocatively, leading to temptation. Women should dress in a way that professes godliness. And by the way, men should too! I am still learning to appreciate holey jeans in the pulpit, but holiness can be communicated well without formal garments.
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (1 Tim 2:11-15).
Learning quietly is a good thing for both men and women, because at the start of learning, the teacher knows far more than the student. Conversely, challenging the teacher without knowledge and experience is a fool’s task. A wise teacher recognizes the difference and knows when open dialog is helpful. As used here, submissiveness has nothing to do with male control over female. It has to do with respecting the teacher.
Paul did not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a male teacher. But again, quiet learning yields wisdom for all of us. In justifying his position, Paul refers to the deception of Eve by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Adam gets “dishonorable” mention for allowing himself to be deceived by Eve. Both were condemned to suffer greatly.
So I believe Paul was not picking on women unfairly. I think he may have been setting the stage for qualifications for Overseers and Deacons in the church. This is because Paul now will seem to be addressing men only. But we will see that his wisdom applies to all.
In the game of croquet, which is played on grass, the area around the wicket through which the ball must pass can become mushy after a hard rain, making the game very difficult to play.
Hurry back for Chapter 3 of Paul’s letter of wisdom to Timothy and his liberating use of the Greek word tis!