Was Paul’s Blockage of Women as Teachers Cultural?
Dear Pastor Lance, as a student of the Word, I have found that how Paul talks about women as teachers in the church challenging, especially in 1 Tim 2:12. Was that a cultural thing, or was that an actual mandate from God regarding the structure of the church?
This is actually a super-complicated issue that I’ve written a ton on and studied a lot, and one that my own elder board is split on. I cannot answer for Bridgeway, I can only answer for me on this one. And because I don’t have the full time to get into all the details I’m cut to the chase. I think it was mostly cultural by Paul and not a mandate by God. I think that in Paul’s day, letting a woman teach was going to cause all sorts of problems that were unnecessary in that culture at that time (kind of like he seemed to be okay with slavery, but spoke out against it subversively). Not only were the women largely unqualified (because they were cut out of instruction and parts of the religious culture), but the structure of society wasn’t ready for it and other things needed to be laid down as a foundation before that changed. I think that the structure in church models the home only to some degree (I.e. I believe that the man is the head of the household not because of value or ability, but because of role and function only) and not totally. I’m at the place where I wonder whether or not women should be senior pastors, I’m not sure honestly. I don’t know the role answer at this point. I am fully good with women elders (as long as the senior pastor is male and has a significant leadership in the elder board). I am fully good with women teachers. I am fully good with women leaders. I am fully good with women pastors. The ONLY question is whether or not a woman should hold the highest authority office in a church due to God’s role for the church. I’m still hashing that one out. The reason I think that Paul’s statement was cultural is because Christ elevated women to disciples and higher than anyone else in society. I think so also because Paul refers to women in leadership in other parts of his books. Women are called ‘deacons’, and hold a host of other posts. If it was a God mandate then I think it would have been said different.
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