Faith, Love and Holiness
I Tim 2:8-15
8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Here is a passage of scripture that obviously deals with men and women in worship. Why is this even an issue? Are men and women the same? Do men and women have real important differences? Are these differences culturally centered or are they established by God? These are difficult questions and in our day and time, while maybe not in this room, these questions are extremely important. This topic deserves a book, not a sermon and I won’t answer every question, and probably couldn’t if I wanted to, but I can help unsort what Paul is saying here in his letter to Timothy.
Well, let’s begin with the relevance of men’s and women’s issues in the Bible.
- Men and Women in the Bible
- Human beings are male and female
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There is no greater value in being either male or female.
The great value comes from being made in the image of God. And that requires each other. God is unity and diversity and so are we.
- Men and women must cooperate
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
There is a need for each other, a helper. Cooperation is necessary. The most obvious reason for this relates to the difficulties or providing for the raising of children while not starving to death. This relationship is to be mutually beneficial, each marriage establishes an independent family unit, a “one flesh” creation. This independence is important, because it establishes responsibility for the two for each other.
Because of the creation account, we see Adam created first, and work created before marriage.
I think that says something for a healthy social order. Men should be able to support a wife and family before they get married. This helps us to define the difference between a man and a boy. A man can be responsible for a family. There is work to be done in the world to keep the environment from killing people. Protection from the elements, provision of food and clothing. If Adam did this before Eve, then the idea is that the husband is primarily responsible to do this for the family. What does Eve do? She helps Adam (she invests his suffering with meaning!) and she is the one who births and nurses their (his) children. If the married couple do not cooperate in this, then there is no human race.
All of these roles, which our culture calls gender stereotypes, are essential. The amount of sharing of the roles can be negotiable, but some things are hard and fast and cannot be shared. And where the state has stepped in and taken over the role of father, men remain boys and become dangerous.
- Sin complicates cooperation
Genesis 3: 16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
In order to cooperate, you must give up control. You must be committed to negotiation.
This statement of the curse is given direction in Scripture in order to manage it. In other words, it is not God’s will that the wife desires her husband’s position, role or strength.
And it is not God’s will that the husband “rule over” the wife.
It is God’s will that they be suitable helpers for each other. The husband’s strength and interest in things making him typically the better provider and protector. The wife’s ability to bear children, difficulty with menstruation issues, and greater interest in people making her typically better suited to be the nurturer in the home.
The way the roles are worked out in the home is negotiable, as long as there is mutual cooperation. And if the women are forced by biology to birth and feed young children and experience the danger that that is to their lives and indeed the existence of the human race, then men have got to hold up their end as protector and provider.
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs:
Physiological needs: food, water, warmth, rest
Safety needs: security and safety
Belongingness and love needs: intimate relationships, friends
Esteem needs: prestige, feelings or competence or accomplishment
Self actualization: fulfilling potential, creative activities
These divide easily between dad and mom.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Perhaps I should say something about Eunichs.
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
So, with this view of the Biblical mandate for managing human behavior, we look more closely at the passage.
- Specific Instructions Emphasize Character
In our passage, we have specific instructions that are rooted in manifesting Christ like character.
- Men are to manage their anger
Testosterone is a hormone that can make one aggressive. With reference to living under the authority of others, we are told to pray for those in authority over us. We might rather channel our anger and aggression and rebel. But no. Men are to pray, lifting up holy hands. Hands are what we serve with, and what we fight with. Holy hands are given to God for His service first. They are hands of submission. All are called to submit to God first. And in the church, men are to pray and manage their anger as well.
- Women are to emphasize character over beauty
9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
If women are emphasizing dressing in an immodest way, if they are making fancy looks and dress what is important, for whom are they doing this? The ultimate answer is men. It certainly isn’t God. To emphasize looks over character is to act in a manner that does not reflect God. Why looks? Because men look. And looks create desire and attention. This is not the atmosphere that we need in the church.
In the home, looks are important between husband and wife. At least it is important to the husband.
In some of the secular culture of their day, worship is sexualized. In Ephesus they had a temple to Artemis, and they had shrine prostitutes and women in charge of the ritual, Paul may be responding to this. In any event, character, godly character is what we are building as we wait for the return of Christ to us, or our return to Him.
- Learning, Teaching and Authority
Another cultural issue they are dealing with as a result of the rules relating to Jewish worship is the way women and men participated.
In the Temple worship and in the synagogue, women and men were separated. And during monthly menstruation, women were excluded. So there are real differences. Those are removed in Christ. Jesus teaches women directly, Mary for example. This is an elevation.
But, the difference is going to create some challenges. There are questions to be asked and differences to be managed. And men act differently when women are present, is that true for women? I think it is. So, this is the reason for the issue being raised. And ladies, you should be happy. You are included in Christ. I am happy about it, but because of differences, there are issues.
If we can view this new corporate worship setting as creating an environment with lots of questions, especially from the women because they have been excluded, then this helps us to understand the need for the conversation. There is a similar admonition in I Cor 14: 34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 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.
Don’t be disruptive. Ask your questions at an appropriate time. There are lots of ways to be disruptive right? Why do we try to minimize disruption? Because worship is about all of us together. Like I said last week, we are about each other in corporate worship.
What about the Adam and Eve reference?
God had spoken to Adam directly, Adam was to have given the information to Eve. So, Adam is created first and get the information first. In this first age of transition from Judaism to Christianity, the men have been the recipients of the information first. So, ask your husband at home, according to I Cor 14. Or learn in quietness quietly. I don’t think the Adam and Eve story constitutes a position of inferiority of the woman, but rather a first and then second issue. It is more example than command. And I will also say that I have not seen this idea expressed in other commentaries, but it fits the context and what we know about each other.
We know this:
Women are gifted like men, women are as intelligent as men. Women have plenty of strengths that benefit the church, some of which are out front, like men. The issue is not one of gender, but character.
“I don’t allow a woman to teach or assume authority.” I have thought about this issue for decades now, and the more I think about it, the more I think it relates to authority and authority in a very narrow sense. I believe the issue is rooted in the home and authority in the home. If God holds the husband responsible for the family, then to divide that authority differently in the church would create a conflict.
The reality of life is this: All are under authority and all exercise authority under authority. All are praying for the Roman authorities, they are gonna kill Paul soon, that is submission to authority that is unpleasant. For the women, they are submitting to not asking tons of questions, not dominating the meeting working to get up to speed. Thinking about the way we exercise authority in our day, in a congregational church, like the one that I grew up in, this passage was seen pretty strictly at times. But when it came time to vote on church issues, women were given one vote, like the men, which meant that women were able to exercise equal authority with men and they don’t see it.
In our church, the only ministry position that we believe is exclusive to men is that of Elder and it is because of this passage and then the one in the next chapter.
- Faith, love and holiness for everyone!
“Women will be saved?” Where is the place of greatest significance? Headship in the family or in bearing children? Whatever God’s will is for you in life, it will be expressed in faith and love.
Paul says in Gal 5:6 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
So, these are the foundational character qualities that BOTH men and women are to exhibit in the context of the church. No controversy here! But, what about the saved in childbearing? Is child bearing important? Do women “need” to do it? Not all women. But we certainly can’t take that idea to all women. Someone HAS to bear children. And then someone has to feed them, nurture them etc. As in all aspects of family life, this is a partnership. Because someone has to provide for the mother when she is caring for small children. It’s a hard business.