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A few months ago I stumbled across an entry in my journal from a day I spent praying and looking at the Bible. Every so often I go through cycles of just being fed up with myself and my own sinfulness, so when I had a day to spend time with God I read Romans 5-8 and prayed about it. I don’t think it’s unusual for Christians to go through times where we get really fed up of our own sin and worry that God isn’t all that far away from giving up on us because we’re so rubbish at being godly. Sin feels like this monster that won’t let us go, and we wonder whether we’ll ever be able to resist that temptation or be free from that weakness or know what it means for that thing to not be a struggle. The below post is based on what I wrote in my journal that day, and what God showed me about assurance through those chapters in Romans.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

… while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 5:6, 8-9

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1) – yet this so often is our struggle: when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law that dwells in my members… I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25) We can be Christians, love God, and know we have been redeemed and forgiven but yet can’t seem to shake sin. It digs its claws in; our sinful old nature doesn’t want to let go. And so we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our full adoption as children of God, the complete redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). This is our fight of faith: we hate the sin we commit and the temptations we fall into. It sickens us.

Yet this groaning is a good thing. Our horror and disgust at our own sin is a good thing, because it is a result of the Spirit’s work to convict us of sin and drive us to Jesus. The Spirit of life has set us free in Christ from sin and death (Romans 8:2) and lives in us (v10-11), giving us life. Our old body of death keeps needing to be put to death and it distresses us to still be attached to it – because we are children of God (v15-17) – and so we moan and cry out and ache and long for the day when our sinful nature will finally fall away to be remembered no more.

Further still, sin does not have the final say by any means. In ourselves we may be helpless, but we are not “in” ourselves any more. We are in Christ. While we were unable to do anything to help ourselves, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:6). He took all this sinful nature from us upon Himself, and took it to the grave. So as much as we can’t yet get away from our sinful nature, it has no lasting hold on us because we are dead to it. Because of Jesus, sin has no power over us (Romans 6:14) because we are under grace now – just as death has no power over Jesus because He has been raised from the dead. Sin clings to us, but only as dead ivy clings to a wall because its roots stubbornly stick in. God is slowly removing those roots – because He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

Pre. Destined. God has spoken this over us and commanded it over our life’s path so that whatever happens we are being pulled in a Christlike direction. We are being made to be like Jesus! Granted, this won’t happen passively and we need to actively work at growing in holiness so that we don’t fall away (Hebrews 6: 1-12) but God won’t deny that growth to those who want to know and love Him and honour Him.

Until the day He returns we must still put sin to death, but the overwhelming truth for Christians (although hidden for now – Romans 8:19) is:

  • We have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s love has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5)
  • We are reconciled with God (Romans 5:11)
  • We have been given righteousness (Romans5:17)
  • We are dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11)
  • Sin has no power over us (Romans 6:14)
  • We are freed from sin, and a slave to righteousness which leads to sanctification and eternal life (Romans 6:22)
  • We are not condemned (Romans 8:1)
  • We are in the Spirit, who is life and through whom God will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:9, 11)
  • By the Spirit we can kill off our sinful nature (Romans 8:13)
  • We have the Spirit of adoption as a son and heir of God with Christ (Romans 8:15-17)
  • We have a glory that will be given me in the future (Romans 8:19, 21)
  • The Spirit prays for us better than we can, and the Father knows His mind (Romans 8:26-27)
  • All things work together for our good (Romans 8:28)
  • We will become like Jesus in character (Romans 8:29)
  • God will give us all things (Romans 8:32)
  • We are justified by God – no charge can stand against the righteousness we have been given (Romans 8:33)
  • Jesus, who died for our sin, is alive and praying for us – I cannot be condemned for the sin He took to the grave (Romans 8:34)
  • We cannot be separated from Jesus’ love, and everything that would try to destroy us and take me from Him will be made to serve us (Romans 8:35-39).

The fact that we feel broken over our sin and hate it is evidence of the Spirit of life being at work in us. So God can use precisely what would discourage us for our good if we remember that this anguish over sin is the result of His active work in us, and not evidence of us irreversibly falling away.

Our problem is our hearts that are so riddled with sin we can’t get away from it. But God has and will change them. In Jeremiah 31:33-34 He promised to write His law on our hearts so that we’ll want to do what’s godly. It will take a lifetime to get there, but day by day God is making us to be more like Jesus, to “make our hearts beat with His love, mercy, and passion for His glory” as my pastor put it in his sermon this morning. One day we will be free of the sin we hate. For now, we must pray and trust that God will change us and work against the dead sinful nature that does cling to us, but that one day will be long forgotten.

Modern medicine has produced lots of incredible things. Not only can we treat many diseases, but we can actually see inside our own bodies. Things like X-rays and MRI scans can show us when things are wrong on the inside, giving remarkable pictures of what’s going on ‘under the bonnet’, so that we can diagnose and treat illness. But these things can only do so much. An X-ray can show you a broken bone, but it won’t be able to treat it. Nobody has ever looked at their MRI scan and been instantly well again! You need surgeons and nurses and doctors and healing time to get better. There’s a difference between diagnosis and treatment. And I hope that as we look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 we’ll see that they were always intended to show us our greatest problem. Like an X-ray, they can’t fix us, but they do show what’s wrong.

So let’s take a look at the passage:

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

Exodus 20:1-17

Context

Israel as a nation was in slavery in Egypt. God freed them from this slavery to lead them into a land that He had promised to their ancestor Abraham. At this point in the book of Exodus, God has just freed Israel from slavery and has led them from Egypt to a place called Mount Sinai in the middle of the desert of the Sinai Peninsula. If you look at the previous chapter, you’ll see that God came to the mountain in a dense cloud so that he could speak to the people of Israel and to Moses their leader. So, the people of Israel are gathered around the bottom of the mountain and God’s manifest presence has descended on the top of the mountain in the form of a cloud with smoke and thunder and an earthquake. And then God speaks the commands we have just read directly to the people. The “Ten Commandments”, as we know them, are right at the beginning of the Old Testament covenant between God and Israel, His people.

So what is this covenant? A covenant is a binding agreement between two people which brings them together in some sort of relationship. The way the Old Testament covenant was given is in a similar form to other covenants around at the time which were treaties between a conquering overlord or ruling state and the conquered people. In these treaties the overlord agreed to benefit the people with his protection and care as long as they obeyed the rules of the treaty.

In a similar way to these treaties, before He gives the rules of the covenant God establishes the giver of the covenant – Himself – and the relationship between Him and the people, as we can see in verse two here: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” If you notice, God is putting the covenant entirely in the context of His grace, because He identifies their relationship as Him being the one who saved them from slavery. The rest of the covenant, including other clauses such as rules and punishments, is covered in the rest of Exodus, and in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Our passage this afternoon is right at the beginning of the covenant. It is where God establishes how the relationship between Him and His people is going to work. If you notice, the tone of this passage is very much along the lines of “I am your God, and this is how you will live as My people.” These commands were not meant to be restrictive, but to give freedom.

After all that background, let’s have a  look at the commands God gives.

Commands

The commands given here are listed in an order of decreasing importance, from the relationship of people to God, to the relationship of people to each other. God starts by addressing the relationship between His people and Himself. He says “You shall have no other gods before Me.” in verse 3. The worship of God alone is at the heart of this covenant relationship.

God then moves from who His people worship to how they worship, or really how not to worship. He says that they aren’t to make any idols, any visual representations of Him based on anything in the world. And this means that their understanding of who God is can’t be distorted by any picture that they would make of Him. The only thing they have to go on is what He has revealed about Himself to them. And later on in Exodus 34 He revealed Himself to Moses as “… the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” The reason God gave for not having idols is that He is a jealous God. He is jealous in that anything which is made to rival the glory and honour that He deserves, such as idols, will invoke His passion for His own character and glory.

God’s passion for His glory shows in the next command – don’t misuse God’s name. You see, God’s name is about more than just the word itself. His name carries His reputation; it includes His very Person. God’s name is not to be used lightly!

The command about the Sabbath is about right worship. Later on in Exodus, the Sabbath is described as a sign of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Therefore, anyone not observing the Sabbath was showing contempt for the covenant, and so the relationship they had with God.

The next set of commands, in verses 12-17, are about right relationships with other people, whether it is by honouring parents, or not murdering, stealing, lying, committing adultery, or jealously wishing you had something that someone else has.

So that’s a quick overview of the Ten Commandments. Let’s now think about what this means for us now.

Continuation

God’s covenant with His people as established in the Old Testament was thousands of years ago, so what does this Old Testament law mean for us today?

Well, since the covenant in the Old Testament was given, the most important thing that has happened is Jesus, God’s Son, coming to earth. He didn’t come to scrap the old covenant, though. In Matthew 5:17-18 He said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets [that’s the Old Testament covenant]; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

 Not only did Jesus support the Old Testament covenant, He also explained it further. At the time, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law were teaching God’s commands, but many only addressed the outward obedience of them. Jesus said that the Old Testament Law was based on the command to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” [Deuteronomy 6, Jesus quotes in Matthew 22] And that isn’t done by just acting out the commands. God’s commands require more than what we do. So, Jesus said that commands like “You shall not murder” were not carried out by merely not killing anyone, but that the kind of sinful anger that causes someone to use bitter words is by nature murder, and breaking that command [see Matthew 5:22]. He also unpacked the command forbidding adultery in a similar way: “… I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Matthew 5:27]. Jesus also described the absolute perfection required by God’s holy standard: “… I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20].

This is a high standard! The Ten Commandments not only cover what we do, but how we think and feel as well.

I don’t know how you feel at this point. When I was studying this, I was very convicted of my own failure to follow these commands. I know that I have broken all of them! And the fact is that we have not kept these commands. We are unholy people, unable to stick to God’s high standard.

Yet the sense of hopelessness that we get from taking a long, hard look at ourselves compared to God’s standard is exactly what the Old Testament Law is there for. Romans 3:20 says that nobody will be declared righteous by the Law, because we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. There is no way in which we can perfectly keep the Law, because the Law is there to show us our own sin. It is a diagnosis of sin, not a treatment. And the diagnosis is grim.

We have a problem more persistent than cancer and deadlier than HIV. So if sin is our disease, how can we be cured? This is where the most incredible piece of theology we know comes in – you see, Jesus fulfilled the Law, meeting its perfect standard. He took upon Himself the punishment that we deserve for our lawlessness, and died the death that we should have. God declared Jesus righteous, and brought Him back to life. So, God’s Commands were kept by Jesus, and He took our punishment for us. Not only did He do this, but Jesus gave us His righteousness – His perfect record! The Law is there to lead us to Jesus, so that we trust in Him to give us His perfect record, and so get His righteousness by faith. So when God sees us, He does not see our own failed attempt at keeping His commands. Instead He looks through Christ and it looks like we’ve kept the Law perfectly.

Change

This is GREAT news! It means that although the old rules still stand, we don’t have to be able to obey the Ten Commandments in order to have a right relationship with God. It’s ok when we do wrong; failing to meet God’s standard doesn’t mean that we can’t know Him. All we need to do is believe in Jesus and trust Him, and then He gives us His clean record as our own. This is a great and wonderful thing! God doesn’t count our dirty records against us. We no longer have to listen to the temptation to despair because of our imperfection, because we know that God looks at us and sees Jesus’ righteousness.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey God, though. In fact, what God has done for us in setting us free from our own imperfect record should make us want to follow His ways as a response. These commands still paint a picture of what it looks like to be God’s people, and so we should still follow them. But we don’t have to return to our hopelessness when we do go wrong, because we know that God will forgive us. We shouldn’t try to rely on our own record to be right with God, because we know that there’s no way in which we meet God’s standard. So instead, we need to rely on God Himself and His promise of righteousness by trusting in Him.

We need to change. Can you see it? We can’t possibly be good enough ourselves. We need Jesus; we need to trust in His saving work, we need to come to Him and ask for our salvation by His perfect record replacing ours. We need to come to Him on our knees, knowing full well that not just our actions but our very hearts need to change – and a great promise that God gives us is that He will give us His Holy Spirit to empower us to do right and to change our broken nature.

So we’ve seen the beginning of God’s covenant with His people Israel in the Old Testament. We’ve seen that God set an outline for how His people should behave, and also how we fall hopelessly short of His high standards. The Ten Commandments were supposed to show us our sinfulness, like an X-ray shows a broken bone, so that we look to God’s way of saving us from our sin. And that salvation is found in Jesus, the Saviour that God promised for thousands of years throughout the Old Testament; the Son of God, who lived as one of us and fulfilled the Law that we could never completely follow ourselves. He took our punishment, and has given His own righteousness to those who put their trust in Him. How incredible! How magnificent is this display of God’s grace and love; granting us mercy whilst fulfilling His justice! And we should worship God with all we are because He has saved us, humbling ourselves and relying fully on our amazing Saviour for all we need.

As part of my year as a church intern, I wrote quite a lot of short Bible talks. And, being female, this meant that the whole issue of whether women should be allowed to preach has been something that I’ve been quite conscious of recently. Personally, I know that I need to do some intense study – in a perfect world, I’d learn New Testament (NT) Greek and be able to brilliantly translate what they meant back then to what it means in a form of English that we can understand with crystal clarity now. But, sadly, I don’t have the means to do this at the moment. And my opinion tends to change as to what I think exactly. Currently, (based on talking to my vicar and hearing his reasoning) I think that it’s ok for women to preach, because the sense used in the ‘key’ passages in the NT is about usurping authority; and women preaching doesn’t necessarily usurp authority – unless, of course, they start inciting a coup/mutiny/rebellion and take the church as their own then and there. But in my experience, this isn’t what usually happens.

I’d love to put up some of my intern sermons up on here, so to warn you: if you don’t agree with women preaching, feel free to not read them 🙂

But here’s what I understand about the arguments at the moment:

From what I can tell, pretty much everyone agrees on a certain set of values, and the difference of opinion is on what exactly is meant by the text when it says certain things. The Bible verse that i have been particularly aware of as being involved in this issue is:

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 who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

(I know there’s a lot to talk about from this passage, but you’ll have to wait till later :P)

The really important thing to remember is that this is not about men being better than women, or women better than men. It is not a ‘battle of the sexes’ issue; it is not a male supremacy issue. More often than not, it’s an issue with our messy, sinful hearts. It’s easy to judge others for their point of view and think that yours is better. Obviously, you do think it’s better, otherwise you wouldn’t have that opinion. But talking about issues such as this one where things can get heated so easily means that we need humility and wisdom. We need to be prepared to actually listen to other opinions, but more importantly, to listen to what God says even if we don’t like it (we need to have the desire to honestly seek what God wants). My view could well be wrong, and this is a challenge to myself as well to be humble and willing to hold my opinion loosely.

I haven’t been able to study this too much as of yet, but here’s the basics of my understanding:

What people agree on:

Men and women are equal. Both are made to reflect who God is, to look after creation together and be relational beings. But also, both are equally guilty of sin and equally accountable for the Fall (so Eve let herself be lied to gave in to the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit, but Adam was right next to her the whole time and could have stopped her). However, both are equal in salvation – i.e. God saves men and women equally, and brings them both into a status of children of God and heirs of His Kingdom. So men and women are equal in value and status.

Men and women are not the same. God made a deliberate difference when He created man and woman back in Genesis. He made men and women to complement each other in the work that He gave them to do (look after creation).

God uses both men and women in work, whether Christian work or not.

Jesus involved women in ministry. He treated women equally to men, with value and respect.

Man is the head of woman. – I can hear you say, ‘Hang on there!’ The above points are fairly easy to go along with because they’re quite nice and non-controversial. OK, so this is not something that always seems natural, especially in our Western culture. But I think this is definitely a biblical view (especially because the Bible says it explicitly, so…). Let’s unpack this…

Normally, the first place people start is back in Genesis. But I think it might be more helpful to go back further than the beginning of the universe – to God Himself. You see, there is some form of hierarchy within God Himself, in the Trinity. And this isn’t about superiority or inferiority at all – all three Persons of the Trinity are completely God and so have utterly the same status as God (if you want to know more about the Trinity… er… you’ll have to look elsewhere for the moment, sorry. I’ve just started what promises to be a great book on the Trinity – The Good God by Mike Reeves – and it’s definitely something that’s worth delving into. Because, like, you know, it’s about who God is. You can’t get more important than that). There is a pattern of submission in the Trinity. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says that God (the Father) is the head of Christ (the Son) – they’re both equal, but the Son submits to the Father. There are other verses about this; John 5:19 (the Son only does what the Father does) and John 14:31 (the Son does exactly what the Father tells him to) are a couple of examples. I hope you can see what I’m getting at: the whole submission issue and the order that God has given is not an issue of superiority/inferiority, because it never was since it exists in who God is.

On to creation. God created man (Adam) first and gave him the first command before He made woman (Eve) (see Genesis 2). Adam’s responsibility was to pass this command on to his wife. Adam was given the responsibility of naming things, even the woman, and in the Bible, naming things is an act of authority. In Genesis 3, when Eve listens to the serpent instead of Adam (i.e. not obeying the command from God via Adam to not eat from the tree), and Adam does nothing, he is punished for a) listening to Eve, and b) failing in his responsibility as ‘custodian of the command’. This started the battle of the sexes:

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16b)

“desire” here is all about possessing or mastering. i.e., women would have the desire to control and rule over men, and men would want to ‘lord it’ over them. But the God-ordained way of things is for men to be in authority. You can see the problem. Sin messes things up. It turned something that was always intended to be a wholesome and beautiful reflection of who God is into a twisted battle for power.

But God didn’t leave it there. When Jesus Christ saved us through dying in our place, He didn’t just restore our relationship with God. His continuing work in us is to restore the other relationships we have, including the order that God set out right at the beginning of existence. So the model we are given in the New Testament is that of Christ:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance like a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)

Christ’s example is that although He is equal with the Father, He didn’t grasp at that equality. He submits willingly to the Father. Another helpful mode we have is that of Christ and His Church:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. (Ephesians 5:22-28)

This is mainly about marriage, but I hope you can see that from this we can draw that our relationships are, in the appropriate extent, to reflect Christ’s relationship to the Church. Particularly, it’s important to remember what v25 says about husbands loving wives as Christ loves His Church – sacrificially, selflessly. But also, we can draw out that authority does not mean that you are dominating, and submission does not mean that you are a doormat to be walked all over.

What people disagree on:

How this works out in a church context, where everyone is not married to each other (thankfully – can you imagine how complicated that would get?).

There’s a decent amount of clear teaching (such as the passage above) about marriage and roles within that. It gets trickier when talking about male and female roles in church. A fair amount of detailed understanding comes from reading between the lines a bit – study of whether male or female words are used, the sense of the whole text, etc. Passages such as the 1 Timothy 2 one that I mentioned at the beginning of this post raise questions like: Can women have any authority in church? Can they preach to men, or only to women? What happens with children – can they preach to them, and when does a child become a man and hence can’t be taught spiritually by women? What counts as teaching? Does leading sung worship count? Or leading prayers? Or leading a service? Can women write books about Christian discipleship or theology?

To a certain extent, we won’t know for sure until we get to heaven, can see things clearly, and all go “Oooooohhh, so THAT’s what it meant!” I’m not saying that we can’t understand what the Bible says – not at all! But a combination of not being 1st Century Greek-speakers, our sinful hearts, and our ability to get things wrong mean that there is a difference of opinion on some things that are contentious.

My opinion

Let’s have a look at that 1 Timothy passage again:

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 who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

So, the last sentence is a curveball. A lot of commentators have seen it and gone ‘??’ and don’t really have an answer for what Paul is getting at exactly. But that’s not quite what we’re looking for here, so I’ll very annnoyingly brush over it.

When it says “silent” in v11, this isn’t the best translation of the word used. The word used is the same as used to describe “peaceful and quiet” in v2 (in relation to how we should live – “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”) – it’s about an attitude of listening instead of resisting authority, not women not being allowed to make a noise. When the passage above says “I do not permit a woman to teach” we need to be careful, because in other places Paul talks about women teaching in a positive way, such as Titus 2 where he encourages women to teach younger women, or when he talks about Timothy being taught by his mother and grandmother. And there’s the instance when a couple, Priscilla and Aquila, taught Apollos together. Paul isn’t saying that women can’t teach… so what does he mean? In v12, teaching goes hand-in-hand with authority. Much of 1 Timothy is talking about people who are appointed to have authority to lead the church and teach it; so Paul is prohibiting women from having overall authority in a church, i.e. being elders/vicars/pastors. It doesn’t mean that women can’t teach or preach, just that they shouldn’t take on the role of being in charge of the church.

This reasoning is followed in v13-14. Adam was formed before Eve. Being made first doesn’t mean that Adam was better or more important, but that Adam was to be followed. God made man to be the leader. Sin and the Fall messed this up.

So, my personal opinion (willing to change) is this: women can preach (so long as they are under the authority of a man, e.g. church leader/vicar/pastor/elder and this doesn’t upset the authority structure that God has set out), but overall authority is a role that God intended for men. However, this doesn’t mean that authority should ever be exploited – we are to follow Jesus’ example, whatever position we are in, whoever we are, and serve each other selflessly.

I hope my ramblings have been helpful 🙂

Thanks to Hilary Jackson and Fiona at MMTC for their instruction, and Henry Curran for his thoughts – both of which I have used heavily here.

Edit: I’d also recommend reading this article (and others in the series):

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2011/01/06/im-a-complementarian-but-women-must-be-taught-and-they-must-teach/

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Beyond the guide book

Ramblings of a compulsive travel addict

littlelifeofsquirrel

Thoughts, smiles, and 'Sarah moments'

Anglican Memes

a humour site about the Church of England

Hymns in My Heart

Sharing thoughts on my favorite hymns and Christian songs that have brought me comfort, joy and inspiration to worship Jesus Christ.

Christ the Truth

Jesus is the Word of God

Christ is Beautiful

"I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." – Jesus (John 17:26)

phil moore

Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

The Knight of Nottingham

Blogging about God, Nottingham and nursing

Phil Whitehead

... needs a cool tagline ...

The mighty mighty Monk Seal

Is bringing you the zeitgeist of now

From the Vicarage

Henry Curran's musings