Q. I really appreciate your teachings and enjoy hearing your biblical insights on the many questions people ask you. Now I would be pleased to hear what you think about my situation.
I’ve been in a situation over the years where I’ve had the opportunity to teach. Mostly because I’ve been more familiar with the biblical material than many of my male counterparts. I believe that even though I was the one doing the teaching I was in no way in a position of authority over the few men I taught. I also home schooled my three grown sons spiritually and academically.
Now, I find out this is some form of heresy. The scripture quoted to me is I Timothy 2:11-15 and to question this is to question God himself. What is so incredible to me is that Timothy was taught spiritually by his mother and grandmother. While I believe this is a rule that should be followed and that men should be our leaders especially in spiritual matters, I can find several exceptions IN the bible where women lead and teach men.
The scripture in Timothy has been used to keep women from teaching for a long time. And I can accept this if asked. But I have to wonder, Where are the men and why aren’t they teaching?? And, if they refuse, are uninformed or undereducated in biblical teaching does this scripture really absolved women of any responsibility to teach??? I find this situation hard to believe. I would love to hear your thoughts. I would hope I haven’t committed a heresy of some sort.
A. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is a real puzzle, especially in light on Both Paul’s and Timothy’s experience and practice. Paul allowed Priscilla to teach, and at one she even helped instruct the great Apollos in a matter of doctrine (Acts 18:26). The entry of Christianity into Europe would surely have been delayed had Lydia’s group of female worshipers not been converted. Acts 16:11-15 offers no criticism of Lydia’s role in this. On the contrary Paul welcomed her offer of fellowship. And as you say women were a prominent part of Timothy’s spiritual education.
Then there’s the Greek phrase translated “usurp authority over the man” (1 Tim. 2:12). The word for usurp authority originally meant “to strangle someone with one’s own hands” but can also mean to act on one’s own authority as an absolute master.
In my opinion this is meant to describe a woman who demands to be the ultimate authority and refuses to be accountable to any one, “choking off” any man’s attempt at supervision.
I interpret this passage to mean that a called and qualified woman is free to accept a teaching role in the church as long as it doesn’t give her autonomous authority. In a local church this would exclude the position of senior pastor, and in a para-church ministry there needs to be an oversight board or committee led by a male. This isn’t intended to say that women aren’t as capable as men, but that it’s important to respect the governmental order for the Church that the Lord has established.