Gosh dang it. There’s that verse again. It keeps haunting me! I tried to ignore it, but it came up again last week in bible study and I felt like a deer in the headlights.
Because what does a barren, complementarian woman, gifted to teach and lead do with 1 Timothy 2:8-15?
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 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, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
Not because I was bored one day, but because I wanted to know what the bible really says about “women in ministry”, I set out to do some learning. And I wish I could go back to a simpler time.
I’m one of those thinkers, black & white thinkers, who needs to know what’s “right” and live accordingly. So I terrorize myself into studies like this that are, well, gray.
I bought a bunch of books on the topic.
I read a lot of blogs.
I asked a lot of questions.
And I napped.
And you know what? I landed right back where I started. That’s right. I am still asking what the heck does 1 Timothy 2 mean? 1 Corinthians 14? Genesis 3? Proverbs 31? 1 Peter 3? Ephesians 5?
Because women’s discipleship has to be more than just being modest and quiet. And what is modesty anyway? Not wearing a low cut shirt and fancy jewelry or a position of the heart to be humble?
It has to be more than being mom. Saved through childbearing 1 Timothy 2? So where does that leave me, a barren woman who loves Jesus and wants others to do the same?
Yet it can’t just be “well all of those passages were for the olden days. None of it applies today.” Because then what purpose does ANY of scripture have in our life?
I tried so hard to be a feminist during this little excursion. But I couldn’t get past all of the places in scripture that talk about “headship” and “submission” and “order”.
I see women all over my church, my city, the world gifted to teach and lead. And doing great things for the Kingdom. Are they really supposed to just “be quiet”?
The thing is, deep down, I want to do what’s right, I want to obey God’s word, every part of it, even parts I don’t like or don’t agree with. I told my pastor “I really would wear a head covering TODAY if that’s what I thought this text meant!” I truly want to honor God with my words, my actions, and my life.
But I also see women all over scripture who led, taught, discipled, encouraged, and equipped others (men and women). So I know these verses can’t just mean, “women don’t ever speak.”
So the best answer I could come up with after reading these scriptures, books, commentaries, etc. is:
If I HAD to put myself in a box of where I stand for “women in ministry” it would be . . .
A complementarian feminist. Is that a thing?! I have no idea?
Maybe I’ll find out when I finish some of these books.
I do know this:
Even if my theology isn’t clean cut, or 100% with a tribe, God loves women and uses them in His mission on earth. He has gifted women and called them to serve in unique ways. I long to see women break free from stereotypes, oppression, and insecurity and walk in the good works God has prepared for them beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).
I also long for them to know and delight in scripture, submit (yes, I said it, submit) to it even when it’s stuff that we don’t like. I want women to view the world through a biblical lens, a Jesus lens, and live accordingly.
Either way, I know that woman or not, I am a disciple of Christ. And in that, He calls me to love Him, and love others. To be a minister of the gospel of grace, regardless of my gender, and proclaim the excellencies of Him (1 Peter 2:9) to anyone that would hear.
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luke 8:1-3)
The Woman of The Well: “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word.” (John 4:39-41)
“And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” (Acts 16:13-14)