I want you to do something else

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.


About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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17 Responses to I want you to do something else

  1. Mabel says:

    The bible verses that hierarchalists use to suppress women are the same bible verses atheists use to ridicule our faith. With friends like the CBMW followers, we don’t need enemies. Shirley is right, your faith is judged by how you treat your women. There has been plenty of scholarship on how poorly these verses had been translated and how some has been added later on. If women are treated without prejudice, the following article will not appear. If we still have slavery, the article’s author most likely will be quoting scriptures to ridicule us. The fact that she can’t is because we don’t have slavery. Why do we want to open ourselves to ridicule by subscribing to CBMW’s party line?



  2. Kristen says:

    I think what you’re writing is good, strong, old-fashioned common sense, and it is sadly lacking in churches today. Jesus used it when He told the Pharisees they were tithing mint, dill and cumin, but neglecting righteousness, justice and mercy. To focus on isolated texts about women and ignore the greater message of love & unity in Christ, is to strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.

    I think you’re on the right track. We do need to show how the texts could mean something different than what these people say they mean, but ultimately, the reason to choose one reading over another has to do with whether the heart is focused on mint, dill & cumin or on righteousness, mercy and justice.


    • Thanks, Kristen. I just got my belly full and I ain’t taking it no more! When I heard this weekend that some churches will not even allow a girl to take up the attendance pad at church, that blew my gasket. Of all the insults to do to a girl and women. I ain’t taking it no more. I don’t know what I am going to do, but I ain’t taking it no more.


  3. Kristen says:

    ??? What’s an attendance pad?

    Do your churches really keep track of who’s there on Sunday and who’s not? Personally, I don’t want to have my attendance taken!

    But it’s ridiculous the restrictions they put on women. You’d think we all had leprosy or something.


  4. EricW says:

    Gonna shake the Baptist dust off your feet and move on….?


    • EricW says:

      This comment was supposed to be under your “ain’t taking it no more” comment.


      • Eric, we would love for you to come to our conference in April. April 27-28, 2012 at the Heights Church of Christ Church in Houston. We have a good lineup of speakers (they have been officially asked and accepted but we have not received back their paperwork so I won’t name them yet). This is one of the ways that I “ain’t taking it no more.”


      • EricW says:

        I’d love to come, too, but we’ll have to see how things are next Spring before I can commit to anything. Sorry I haven’t been able to write anything for your proposed book. If it’s not too late I may do something, but our life has lots of irons in the fire and loose ends that keep unraveling and require constant attention and shifting of gears just to stay on course. (How many metaphors did I just use?)


      • I had too many irons in the fire, too, so had to cancel the book project. I will keep you informed about the conference. We may have booths. We will be calling upon everybody to help spread the word, and hope that you can help with that.


    • You nailed it on the Jesus Creed blog. It is time to cut the Gordian Knot. But it won’t be a clean cut because of so many threads that are bound together in this knot. No, I am not shaking the Baptist dust off and moving on. What I have found, Eric, is that those churches that have moved on toward women’s equality forget about the others who have not crossed over the fence yet. I can’t do that. There are too many out here on the wrong side of the fence that need to be helped over. But I do fear that we have simply gotten bogged down in the mire of those scriptures and can’t find our way out of it, so we just keep on and on about the same things. There is no doubt that many have not heard, and they need to hear the reasoning. But what about those of us who do know? Exactly what are we trying to accomplish? You know that I am for action. It is time that we spoke up. From looking at others blogs, I see that I am the only one who calls people to action. Everybody else states the case and lets it lie. But I challenge my readers to get up, get out and to speak up.


  5. Mabel says:

    Eric, if Shirley will not disclose, I will. Philip Payne will be one of our April conference speakers. How much better can it get? For action: I suggested to my senior pastor that our elders meet with Dr. Payne to discuss the gender issue. Most pastoral staff in our church are on board, but a couple elders (one of them is taking classes @DTS) are hesitant. I have asked Dr. Payne if he would sit down with the elders. His answer: provide him with a plane ticket, and he will come, any weekend, just so that he is back at work Monday morning. I also asked my church to invite Dr. Payne to speak the Sunday after the conference. It passed the pastoral staff, but awaiting OK from those elders. I am just like Shirley, let’s get some ACTION going. The Cantonese will say: did I step on your tail? I’m so sorry.


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