Women Teaching Women

femina_seminarWhen I was just out of college, I became an associate staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and one of the duties I had was leading or co-leading small group Bible studies on campus or at conferences. I was also involved in a local ministry and was doing similar work with them.

One of the things I kept bumping into during those days was 1 Timothy 2:12, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” If that’s what the Bible says so clearly, why, I wondered, did my boss continue to put me in positions where I was teaching Bible to men? When I asked him, the answer was that he was in authority over me, and he was asking me to do this, so it was okay. Hmmm. Certainly I was not “in authority” over the men in my Bible studies, but I was teaching them all right. In fact, once I arrived to “co-lead” a study with a young man, only to find that not only had he not prepared, but the only ones who came that night were guys. That’s when I quit. Enough of this!

Being still a young believer (having been converted in college), I deferred to those older and wiser put over me, but I still continued to question this. Finally, I asked my future husband what he thought of it, and it was the first time I got a straight answer. Needless to say, it was quite refreshing! And, it wasn’t too long after this that my boss saw my point.

Okay, why the long buildup of personal story? What am I getting to?
A couple of Femina readers have asked in the comments why our Grace Agenda conference on “Marriage Militant” is not featuring women speakers (specifically, why are the Femina Girls having a separate pre-conference for women only rather than speaking at the main conference). Here’s why.

The men who are teaching at the main conference will be opening the Word and teaching with authority. Not only do I believe that I should not do this, I don’t think any woman should open the Word and teach the men. Do I think the men could not benefit from what I have to say? No, actually, I think I could learn them a thing or two. But that is not and never has been the point. The point for me is what does God think about it? Not what do I think about it. The ends never justify the means. I rejoice that the men can open the Word with power and authority, even at a conference.

This does not mean that I would never speak at a conference with men in the audience. Since I am a high-school lit teacher, I have taught workshops at education conferences, and I have also spoken at high-school graduation ceremonies. Both these venues have had mixed audiences. But in those settings, I was not opening God’s Word and laying it out.

If the Grace Agenda conference were on a topic that I knew something about, that would not call for me to “open the Word,”and if I got an invitation to speak, and if I wanted to do it, I would say yes. Women are not excluded from public speaking or teaching all together. But when it comes to opening the Word, we are instructed to teach the women. I don’t think that is an inferior calling. It is a God-ordained calling and a privilege I enjoy. I am very thankful to teach the women any chance I get.

As it is with so many things in God’s Word, there’s a no and a yes. Though the women are not to teach the men from the Word, we are instructed to teach the younger women a whole slew of stuff. And that’s what we want to do at the Femina conference.

This year’s Femina conference is called “A Woman’s Worth,” and we are going to address a woman’s calling in Christ. Who are we? What are we for? I am interested in teaching the women about this, not the men. If a man comes in and sits in, I really don’t mind. But this is not for him, it is for the women, so I would think he was just being curious or maybe eavesdropping. I wouldn’t kick him out, but I would think it was just an oddity, and the world’s an odd place.

In our day, women have pushed and grabbed and hollered their way into nearly every setting that was traditionally held by men only. We’ve all heard of parents dressing their daughters in football pads and sending them into the locker rooms with the boys. Of course I think this is foolish and destructive and silly, and I would not dream of doing that with my daughters. I think they have a much higher God-ordained calling than to pretend to compete with the boys where the boys clearly have the advantage. It is absurd. But when we discuss whether women ought to be teaching men the Word, it is not just another “tradition” like all-male football teams. Though the Bible has not spoken about women on submarines or women on football teams, it has spoken about women’s roles in the church. I think it’s simple and clear.

A Christian conference is not church, that’s correct. But if it is a conference that is teaching from the Word, then it is the men who should be doing it. I have no desire to elbow my way in. Why? Because I love God’s Word and I do what it says.

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36 thoughts on “Women Teaching Women

  1. Thank you for this post, it was a very helpful explaination of what 1 Tim 2:12 teaches. One question, if we are to extend to Bible teaching prohibition to venues outside of the local church, ought not books, blogs and other media be off limits since these will clearly be consumed by mixed-gender audiences?

  2. What is your take on Priscilla in Acts 18:26?

    “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”

  3. Thank for this post on the importance of following God’s Word in this area. A question: do you think that it is biblical for a woman to teach a women’s Bible study? Thank for your consideration of my question!

  4. Thank you for a refreshing and humble essay.

    “I have no desire to elbow my way in. Why? Because I love God’s Word and I do what it says.”

    Amen!

  5. That’s just what I was thinking Valerie 😉

    Thank you so much Nancy for being so willing to teach us ladies!

  6. Drew, that’s a great question. Obviously, my blog is designed and addressed to women. If men want to read it, I figure it is similar to them coming in to my seminar for women just to overhear. I don’t mind because I am not addressing my remarks to them. And the same goes for articles and books. If I write an article on the family for a magazine or a book clearly addressed to women (as my books are), I assume men might read them, but I am targeting a female audience. If it is a general topic (like my book on English grammar), I don’t believe the prohibition applies. Sometimes I have been asked to give a feminine perspective on a topic, and I am also happy to do that in an article or interview.

    Rose, yes! Priscilla and her husband ministered together to set Apollos straight. Doug and I have ministered together many times in similar ways, more often with couples. In such an instance, I am ministering with my head/husband, and I don’t think anyone would see my contributions as acting as an authority over the men involved. Thanks for bringing Priscilla up. I think this is a great instance of a wife being a helper to her husband. Wish we could have sat in on that conversation!

  7. Crisp. I love crisp. And I love your crisp understanding of this oft-misunderstood issue. I wonder how much grace the Church is cheating itself out of by not being simply obedient in the simple things. Thank you for your exhortation.

  8. Any thoughts on the books and bible studies by Nancy Guthrie? She teaches the Word in women’s bible studies at our church, but her books on seeing Jesus in the Old Testament aren’t addressing “women’s issues.” Would you recommend only women read them? They are excellent!

  9. Dear Nancy Ann,
    Thanks agian for your response. I think the place where I struggle with your answer is that just this morning I found your website because this post was recommended by Doug Wilson who suggested that you had an insight on the role of women and teaching. Then I read your post which taught me your perspective on 1 Tim 2:12 (I am a guy despite the lady Drews that are out there). It would seem to me that this pedagogic experience was not just a case of me wandering into an enclosed female conversation, but rather a publicly promoted blog that both men and women are clearly reading. If that is the case, it would seem that, pink headline banners aside, there is mixed sex teaching that is taking place. I might be off base and would love correction if so.

    His,
    Drew

  10. Nancy,

    Thanks so much for the response about Priscilla. :-)

    I have heard three interpretations of this passage before, and I am, respectfully, wondering if the interpretation of the verse is maybe not so clear cut as you are saying. The interpretations are:

    (1) Women should never teach a man anything. This would include a class on literature.

    (2) Women should not teach a man anything having to do with the Bible. (Maybe an oversimplification, but I think this is what you are saying in this article.)

    (3) Women should not be teachers in the context of a worship service.

    I can see getting interpretation #1 from the verse, if the verse is considered by itself (although I think in the context of other Scriptures, this interpretation is off-base).

    I can also see getting interpretation #3 from the passage by considering the context of the whole chapter–Paul instructing Timothy what should be done in a worship service (supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving thanks, etc.). Interestingly enough, he instructs only the men to pray, which would make sense if it were a worship service. (If not a worship service, is it implying that during daily life men are the only ones to concern themselves with praying and women are to concern themselves with the “being modest” bit?).

    This interpretation sees the command for women to be silent and not teach men as applying only to the worship service. Jim Jordan has some interesting articles on this talking about how in the holy place, the place of “first things”, only the man can be the priest, but this restriction does not apply outside the worship service.

    With interpretation #2, that a woman should not teach men about the Bible specifically, I’m missing the link between “opening the Word” and “speaking with authority” that you mention. I don’t see it in the text. I guess what I mean is, if this is not specific to a worship service but applies to things like conferences, why does it not apply to things like teaching literature to men? It seems like any textual clues that point to this being teaching of the Word also point to it being teaching of the Word *in worship.*

    I was wondering if you could clarify this for me. Thanks so much!

  11. Dear Nancy,
    Although you have not been teaching my husband through this blog, I have to say that he has benefited (as have my children) from all you and your daughters have taught me through the years of reading your posts.
    We are traveling from the Portland area for the conference, and I cannot wait to soak up more of your wisdom.
    Thank you!

  12. I wonder if we can so neatly compartmentalize 1 Tim 2:12 as being only for the context of the local church & bible teaching. After all Paul cites the creation narrative as his reason for the prohibition which would seem to suggest a wider application.

    He has just instructed women to dress modestly, surely he did not mean this to only apply in the church?

  13. Nancy, thank you for providing this answer to some of our questions regarding the Grace Agenda conference. It does help explain a bit more about what is going on “behind the scenes” when I have been confused about what extent of women’s roles you and Doug believe is permissible. I still have some curiosity about how this plays out in practice, so I’d appreciate hearing your response to Rose’s thoughtful set of questions above, as it also seems to me that the Timothy passage isn’t as “simple and clear” as you say it is. If you are taking the verse as clear-cut and literal (with no discussion of context), then the statement “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” does seem to rule out any woman having a teaching role in which there are male students, no matter what the subject matter; and it would also seem to rule out any workplace environment where a woman has authority over a man. For that matter, taken literally, the verse says that a woman should “be in silence.” Does that mean never speak when there are men around?

    In addition to Rose’s questions, I wonder what your view does with the scenario of a Christian woman who is approached by an unbelieving man (acquaintance, stranger, whatever) who has pressing questions about the faith and is open to Christian witness. Should the woman not share the Gospel with him because she would be “opening God’s word” or “teaching God’s word” if she did so?

    I think what I am pushing at is the need for some more consideration of the context–i.e. the whole passage, as Rose mentions, which is about the worship service.

  14. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for your post. I had been wondering about the logic of four men being the sole speakers at a conference on Marriage Militant (although I suppose the name “Marriage Militant” aught to tell me the answer all by itself). So, moving along…

    Following up on Rose’s question about Priscilla, Paul mentions her and her husband Aquila seven times, and in five of those he lists her first. In addition to referring to the two of them together teaching Appolos, he talks about them having a church in their house, and refers to them as his co-workers. This doesn’t seem like a description of Aquila as Paul’s main guy and Priscilla as the helper. Everything about this sounds like Priscilla was at least equally involved and her possibly even involved moreso.

    You mentioned that no one would construe your ministering to someone in your home as having authority over a man, and I would agree with that. But Rose’s question was whether or not Priscilla was teaching a man, which is what your original post was decrying, and Paul seems to pretty explicitly say that Priscilla was doing exactly that on Biblical matters. I’m looking forward to your comments. Thanks again.

    Rachel

  15. A lot of the authoritative teaching we see in the New Testament (Jesus’s, Peter’s, Paul’s) did not take place in the context of worship. The authoritative teaching of the NT itself is not, by itself, teaching during worship (though of course it has been read and expounded throughout the church’s history). So that gives us a broader understanding of the context of authoritative teaching as well as the substance. This may not be Nancy’s exact definition, but the outline I’d sketch would be something like 1) public setting, 2) exposition of God’s Word, and 3) authoritative intent.

    Let me unpack my understanding of those a little bit:

    Public Setting
    Priscilla’s conversation with Apollos was not only in partnership with her husband, it was also in private. Acts 18:26 says they took him aside to set him straight. You don’t see her standing up as a rabbi-ess in the synagogue to correct him in front of everybody.

    Exposition of God’s Word
    The Bible doesn’t record Jesus teaching His little brothers how to make a mortise and tenon joint. It doesn’t show Paul giving a young apprentice guidelines on the correct stitch for a tent flap. The Bible simply doesn’t have these subjects in view. Neither does it have English literature, algebraic equations, Greek verbs, Roman history, French cooking, watercolor painting, or thou-shalt-use-a-coaster-on-my-coffee-table-buster in view. The Bible shows God’s prophets, priests, apostles, and other ministers and teachers delivering His Word and expounding on it once it’s been delivered. In the whole context of Scripture, this is what teaching is.

    Authoritative Intent
    Foundational principle: The teaching recorded in Scripture is authoritative. We are absolutely bound to obey it because it is God-breathed.

    Beyond that, when is teaching authoritative? Scripture itself gives us further principles and examples:

    1) Hebrews 13:17. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” The authority of our rulers in the church is not absolute, and their teaching is not God-breathed, but we are to obey them because of their office. Much of what follows is my attempt to address the issue of unordained men and why the notion that “women can do anything unordained men can do” doesn’t hold up.

    2) Matthew 7:28–29. “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” I can’t express this one very precisely, but in some sense authority is measured by the spiritual effect on the hearers. Obviously everything Jesus said was perfect, and not everything that anybody else says, but there’s a “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen” quality to some people’s teaching, but in a spiritual giftedness sense, not just a human knowledge sense.

    3) Matthew 23:1–3. “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do….’” As we just noted above, the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees didn’t come across as very authoritative, but Jesus says that their teaching is to be obeyed. I’m not sure exactly how or “scribe” and “Pharisee” correspond to various ordained offices (my sense is that they don’t), but Jesus clearly affirms that they are filling a teaching role that God approves of.

    4) Mark 9:38–40. “Now John answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side.’” This one’s not about teaching, per se, but it does show us the principle of real authority being exercised by a man who was not ordained to any office.

    5) Philippians 1:15–18. “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” I don’t know if the selfish-ambition-and-pretense guys were ordained, but it’s pretty clear they weren’t qualified church leaders. Paul didn’t much care. They might be damaging his reputation, but they were promoting Christ’s reputation.

    6) Titus 2:3–5. “…[T]he older women likewise, that they be…teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In points 1–5, God is showing His approval of men teaching authoritatively in various contexts. Here He shows His approval of women teaching authoritatively in a specific context, namely, when their audience is women and when the point of their teaching is to help women live as women in ways that honor God.

    So…those three things—public setting, scriptural exposition, authoritative intent—give us a pretty good idea of what Paul means by “teaching” in 1 Timothy 2:12 because they outline what the Bible as a whole means by “teaching.” At least that’s this woman’s nonauthoritative take on it. ;^)

  16. Hi Nancy,

    I’d just like to recap real quick what Valerie said so I can make sure she (and I) are adequately restating your position (Valerie, thank you for the explanation). Under the definition of teaching that you are using, all three of those things – public setting, scriptural exposition, authoritative intent – must be present. Is that correct?

    If so, then it seems that this blog fits all three of those very well. You say that the intended audience of your blog is women; but this is the internet, which is by nature exceedingly public. This isn’t a closed, subscription-only site or a well-screened forum of women. This is the equivalent of standing in the town square preaching, and although the teaching is theoretically directed at women, it instructs men in the attitudes and actions a husband can expect in his wife and in what attitudes and actions she might be expecting from him. Personally, I read as much stuff geared to women as I do to men, and I find reading the men’s stuff very helpful for figuring out where my husband is coming from.

    While women may be in your audience, a blog is far different from being in your living room instructing only people you have invited to come. Obviously, the options for public vs. private were far clearer in Bible times, and at the moment this issue of what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy is causing immense confusion virtually everywhere; but I think it is fairly universally agreed that whatever one posts on a public blog is indeed very public. So, how might this fit? Thanks.

    Rachel

  17. Since Nancy has clarified her intended audience, I would not include her blog, her books, or her conference talks in my definition of “public.” They’re not the equivalent of standing up in the marketplace or synagogue and saying, “Hey, all y’all, listen to me ‘splain you what God says.” Explicitly or implicitly, she’s persistently saying, “Hey, ladies…” Hypothetically, if I were to take a busload of folks to Gettysburg and lead a tour around the battlefield explaining the history of the place, I’d be, in a sense, speaking in public–right out there in the open air–but I wouldn’t be speaking to the public, even if some guy from another bus listened in on my talk.

  18. Hi Rachel! I’ve never been under the impression that this blog “instructs men in the attitudes and actions a husband can expect in his wife,” or even “what attitudes and actions she might be expecting from him.” I’ve seen it be explicitly the opposite. The Feminagirls consistently tell their readers that our husbands may (and do!) have their own issues, but this blog isn’t going to deal with them – rather we focus on our own hearts before God.

  19. Okay, so this helps. I can see your internal logic here. I disagree entirely on what constitutes public, but I can see that blog operations are internally consistent with Nancy’s definition of public. So, referring back to Rose’s question here: http://www.feminagirls.com/2015/02/19/women-teaching-women/#comment-422695 and the three definitions she has seen, which are as follows:

    (1) Women should never teach a man anything. This would include a class on literature.

    (2) Women should not teach a man anything having to do with the Bible. (Maybe an oversimplification, but I think this is what you are saying in this article.)

    (3) Women should not be teachers in the context of a worship service.

    … the theory here seems not to fall into any of these categories. Would you say an adequate summation would be this:

    (4) Women should not teach men anything about what the Bible says in a public setting (although teaching about how the Bible says it is okay as per the Bible as literature example), but it is acceptable to do so in a private setting.

    Would that be an accurate representation of the position?

  20. My understanding is that a private conversation such as Priscilla and Aquila had with Apollos does not violate 1 Timothy 2:12 because it was not teaching in the sense that Paul prohibited there. In a modern setting, it would be like a co-ed Bible study or online discussion. I don’t think there’s any biblical prohibition against a woman’s vocal participation in such contexts. A cozy, closed-door tête-à-tête between a woman and a man, on the other hand, while private, would be iffy in terms of propriety, no matter which way the information was flowing, so I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for saying that privacy alone makes things hunky-dory. But that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of kittens.

  21. “In a modern setting, it would be like a co-ed Bible study or online discussion. I don’t think there’s any biblical prohibition against a woman’s vocal participation in such contexts.”

    Just to verify the antecedent there for “it” here, are you thinking a co-ed Bible study or online discussion is like the private teaching Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos or is like teaching publicly?

  22. I meant that participating in such a conversation would be similar to participating in the conversation that would take place in a Bible study or an online discussion. Not an exact parallel, but I was trying to think of similar settings where I’ve found myself in such conversations since, being single, I can’t very well sit down with my husband and some other chap to talk theology.

  23. Okay, so that fits with position #4 then, yes? It’s okay to participate in a Bible study, but not to lead one, which was what Nancy was objecting to doing with InterVarsity Fellowship?

    And how does this comport with prophetesses, which show up in both the Old and New Testaments? Deborah was known as a prophetess who ruled Israel, held court under a tree and decided the Israelite’s disputes for them, and became Israel’s military leader. Under a tree is a public place, and presumably her decisions in disputes involved appealing to and explaining the Bible to the disputing parties since that was the written judicial authority they used. She taught and had authority over men. Her song is recorded in the Bible, which gives it the authority of Scripture and is good for teaching and reproof and instruction and so forth both men and women alike. On top of that, she was married, yet the Bible mentions nothing derogatory about her whatsoever, either in her being an authority over men nor her prophetic teaching nor her adjudicating nor her doing any of these things instead of her husband being the one to lead. In fact, she seems like one of the better ones among the judges.

    And what of Huldah? When King Josiah found a copy of the law and was trying to figure out what to make of it, he sent messengers to Huldah who was a prophetess (again, a married one) who verified the word of the Lord. She may have been speaking privately, but she was certainly doing so with authority recognized even by the reigning king. The Old and New Testament gives several examples of prophetesses who speak to men with authority on Biblical matters, and prophesying is listed as having a place in the church above teaching in I Corinthians 12.

    So what was Paul talking about when he wrote to Timothy? Was this letter not from an apostle to a pastor regarding church matters? Since from other places in the Bible we have examples of women teaching or holding authority over men and since this portion of Paul’s letter to Timothy seems to be about how to keep his church proceedings orderly as opposed to this part being Paul sending general instructions to the congregation on how they should act at all times (otherwise we run into the Paul doesn’t care if women pray or not argument), it seems that his prohibition against a woman teaching is intended to mean teaching during the service. Can you clarify this? Thanks very much.

  24. To Rowena:
    You asked

    “In addition to Rose’s questions, I wonder what your view does with the scenario of a Christian woman who is approached by an unbelieving man (acquaintance, stranger, whatever) who has pressing questions about the faith and is open to Christian witness. Should the woman not share the Gospel with him because she would be “opening God’s word” or “teaching God’s word” if she did so?”

    If this happens in your home country, say USA, I would listen politely to his questions and concerns, but very quickly guide him either to my husband or some other Christian man to get answers to his questions. It is MUCH better for the guy to have faith conversations with other guys. I cannot see myself getting into private conversations with men in my home, church or public… They should ask men and if they don’t realize it, I would tell them to do so.

    It is not solely the matter of “teaching with authority” (Jesus send women to witness about him, so clearly we women can witness) but also a matter of being modest and proper in our behavior with the opposite sex. This guy with lots of questions might be really interested in faith, but he might just be really interested in talking with a lady. I think it’s a great test for his interest to send him to other men.

    I hope this helps…

  25. Rachel,
    Thank you for your thoughtful, patient, and Bibically astute contributions to this thread (as well as Part II). I find that I agree very much with your questions and suggestions; to me, it seems that the position Nancy and others are deriving from I Tim. 2:12 requires increasingly convoluted explanations and detailed rules and extrapolations about what women can and can’t say, and when, and in what context. In the context of this entire passage, the simpler interpretation would seem to be that Paul is prohibiting what he prohibits elsewhere: namely, women teaching in church worship.

  26. Henna Maria,
    In regard to the scenario of an unbelieving man asking a Christian woman about the faith, you say, “I would listen politely to his questions and concerns, but very quickly guide him either to my husband or some other Christian man to get answers to his questions. It is MUCH better for the guy to have faith conversations with other guys. I cannot see myself getting into private conversations with men in my home, church or public… They should ask men and if they don’t realize it, I would tell them to do so.”

    It is dismaying for me to hear that you would advise women not to share the Gospel with someone who is curious and open to hearing it, simply because he is a man. I can imagine many scenarios in which it would be neither practical nor possible for a woman who is asked questions about Christianity by a man to refuse to engage with or answer those questions, but instead to refer him to someone else who is a stranger to him. This can and does happen in contexts like a (secular) university or workplace, in which a woman (married or unmarried) has an acquaintance or friendship with a male student or co-worker and she is the only Christian he knows well enough to ask questions; rebuffing that man’s sincere* questions about the faith by telling him to talk to someone else will surely have a confusing and discouraging effect on his exploration of and openness to the Gospel. Are we not all told to “go forth and preach to all nations”? Is the Great Commission not for all of us?

    *I am assuming here that the man is sincerely interested in learning about Christianity/open to the Gospel, rather than having ulterior motives such as seducing the woman. I don’t see any point in entertaining the latter suspicion of anyone who shows interest in hearing the Gospel unless and until they make such “ulterior motives” explicit.

  27. Sorry I haven’t gotten back to this. Life’s needed livin’ the past few days. Looks like Nancy’s got more coming in this series, so maybe she’ll get to the Ddeborah issue first.

    Just a couple of general notes on this discussion, though:

    1) I want to reiterate that I’m not speaking for Nancy, so don’t put my words in her mouth — she may have a different take on things.

    2) Remember the principle of using clearer passages to interpret less clear ones, not the other way around. A verse like “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” is pretty straightforward. That’s the sort of clear general principle we need to start with — it addresses the topic straight on. The story of what any particular woman did allows us to look at the issue from an oblique angle — useful, but subordinate to the clearer view.

    Lunch is over…back to the grindstone! ;^)

  28. But, Valerie — “A verse like “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” is pretty straightforward. That’s the sort of clear general principle we need to start with — it addresses the topic straight on.”

    What Rose and Rachel and I are arguing is that that verse is NOT pretty straightforward, unless your interpretive principle is to take every single Bible verse in isolation and interpret it 100% literally, with NO consideration of context, genre, voice, etc. E.g., if you are correct that the verse in question is “pretty straightforward,” then it means nothing more or less than that Paul does not permit a woman to teach (ever) or have authority (ever) over a man, but she must be in silence (always). So Nancy herself would be wrong in this post and its follow-up, because she says it’s ok for a woman to teach her male children, or be a schoolteacher to boys, or teach men non-Biblical subjects like literature. And women talking with men at all should be off-limits, because Paul clearly says here that women should be in silence.

    See the problem?

  29. Rowena, very good. The problem being one of interpretation, which brings one to the question of authority — but I’m Anglican so I don’t have a dog in this fight!

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