I had an email from a friend and he wanted me to comment on his blog. It was about 1 Timothy 5, and he gives a good argument that this scripture was speaking of women elders in the church. We all come from different directions, and as I was reading those scriptures, I had a completely different feel about it.
From reading the passage it appears that all Paul was doing was telling Timothy was how to deal with the people and their situations as he encountered them. So that is what I wrote. I knew that it wasn’t the answer they were looking for, and sure enough someone did tell me in a nice way that we had to look deeper at the scriptures, and that is what the author of this article was doing.
I am afraid that I disappointed my friend in my response.
I am not a First Century woman. I am not a Jew. I am not a Muslim, nor a Mormon. Just as the men no longer had to be circumcised, I can be free to be a woman. I do not have the law over my head.
The culture that applied to those women does not apply to me. I doubt seriously that many women were elders. I am sure some were, but only a few were because of cultural situations. I sincerely don’t think it makes any difference whether or not any were women elders. That is the message we should be getting across.
I believe the Bible was written so people like me could understand it. I have given myself to working for women’s equality for the past 3 years. What I have come to realize is that we are in a rut with the scriptures, ping-ponging them back and forth. Look to what Jesus said when the religious Jews tried to pin him down on the scriptures. He always brought it back to how they were to treat their fellow human being.
I think we egalitarians can continue to argue the scripture over and over but we will never get anywhere that way. We need to bring it out into the open that it is people who are affected by this mistreatment of women. When one woman is denied a place of service simply because she was born a woman, all women in that church are denied. When one woman can’t walk into her church and not feel that her church holds it against her that she is a woman, all women in that church are denied.
When your pastor tells you that “the Bible says” he is holding you to the First Century culture. When he tells you that you CAN’T, he is setting the bar as to what you can’t do, not scripture. We should be holding pastors accountable to the women in their pew today. As long as they tell you what First Century women could or could not do, they have blinders on, and are not addressing the situation with the women in their pew in the 21st century.
I know that you weren’t expecting me to say these things on this blog, but on the blog sbcbvoices.com there were over 182 comments arguing about whether or not a woman can preach. That is wrong. It is also the wrong argument. The fact that women were being discussed like that really affected me. Of course I knew it, but we know lots of things and one day they hit home.
The argument is not whether or not a woman was an elder in the First Century church, the argument is how women today are treated in their churches.
The Bible is a living Word to us today. I have more education (except for the Greek) than a First Century woman had. I don’t share a husband with 3 other wives, I don’t have a houseful of kids, I can drive, and I can do lots of things that this poor woman could not do.
The main thing is that I live in the 21st century. As such, my responsibilities and gifts are different from the Bible days.
I would like to see people like you and all others stand up for women’s equality, not because a woman might have been an elder in the First Century, but because it is the right thing to do in the 21st century.
For 2000 years women have been held to a First Century culture and that has to change. We have to make it change.
You have all taught me so much about the Bible and about women’s equality, and also the lack of women’s equality, and I am so grateful for your expertise. I hope, even after you read this, that you will continue to do so. I hope you continue to bounce scripture around, and back and forth.
But I want you to do something else. I want you to live like you are equal in Christ. I want you to walk up to your pastor and tell him that you are a person saved by the grace of God, just like the men are, and that it is time that your church recognizes that, and allows women to serve in all capacities in your church, because you do not live in the First Century.