Originally published June 26, 2014
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
1 Timothy 2:12-14
Because it’s my passion to see Christian women become holy, passionate, obedient disciples of Jesus Christ, I’ve dealt with this passage a lot and done a lot of research on it. Scripture is crystal clear that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures in the church in the capacity of pastor or teacher, nor are they to hold authority over men in other positions in the church. (I’ve outlined Scripture’s case for this here if you’d like to do some further study.) And, unfortunately, there are many women in the church who are disobeying this Scripture (I used to be one of them)– some out of rebellion, and some out of ignorance. But until recently, I –and every other piece of information I’ve studied on the subject– have dealt with the issue of women stepping outside their God-ordained role in the church strictly as a women’s issue.
A few days ago, a friend of mine asked for my opinion on a Q&A video produced by a well known pastor. The pastor was asked, “Is it a sin for men to listen to women speakers [female Christian conference speakers, pastors, teachers, etc.]?”
And that’s when it hit me. I’d never heard this question addressed, or even asked, before. First Timothy 2:12ff is always dealt with from the perspective of women and towards women, that this is a women’s sin issue.
But to treat this role rebellion strictly as the sin of women is to pour gasoline on the fire. If it’s a singularly women’s problem, then it naturally falls on women with a right understanding of God’s word on the issue to deal with it, right? And if these women are the ones who have to confront and deal with this sin, even at the local church level, they’re being placed smack dab in the misappropriated role they’re trying to fight because they’re being asked to do the job of elders and pastors whose responsibility it is to maintain order and discipline in the church.
In other words, my Christian brothers, it’s not your discerning sisters’ job to handle this sin of role busting in the church. It’s yours.
The fact that there’s even a need for an article like this, never mind that a woman is writing it, is indicative of the pervasiveness of the problem. Why haven’t I heard any pastors or other Christian men exhorting men in the church to stand on God’s word, properly fill out their own role in the church, and also deal with the problem of female disobedience to this Scripture? Why are Christian men becoming accomplices to women’s sin by seeking out female pastors and teachers to be their spiritual leaders? I believe there are three reasons:
1. Adam 3.0
Give Genesis 3–the story of the Fall–a read through the lenses of 1 Timothy 2:12. See any similarities between what happened in the Garden and what’s happening in the church?
The man is off somewhere, not fulfilling his role of spiritual guardian, leader, and protector, leaving the woman alone and vulnerable to Satan’s attack. Satan tempts the woman to sin and she succumbs. The woman then entices the man to sin, and instead of standing on God’s word, refusing to sin, and correcting her, he actually joins her in her sin. And when God calls the man to account for this whole scenario, what does the man do? He blames the woman.
Was Eve responsible for her decision to sin? Of course. That’s why we even have 1 Timothy 2:12-14 in the Bible. But God gave the man the authority and God held the man ultimately responsible. That’s why we see passages like Romans 5:12-14 (and others) attributing the sin in the Garden to Adam rather than Eve.
While there are many faithful pastors and Christian men out there diligently laboring to be godly teachers and leaders in the church–and praise God for those men!–there is a large and increasing number of men in our churches, both pastors and laymen, who are failing to fulfill the role God has called men to in the church. Pastors who will only preach what tickles people’s ears. Men who sit in the pews refusing to teach or serve or lead or even attend faithfully.
As it was in the Garden, the Christian men are nowhere to be found as Satan creeps into the church and attacks women with this temptation. And, as God called out then, could He be calling out now, “אָדָם, – Adam- Man, where are you“?
2. Men are lazy.
I know that sounds harsh, but, guys, before you get your boxers in a bunch, please hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that all men are lazy or that women are never lazy or that men are lazy in every aspect of their lives. What I’m saying is that, in this particular instance of women stepping outside God’s role for them in the church, too many men are sitting back with the attitude that, hey, if somebody else is willing to do the work why not let her? Instead, women (not to mention boys and younger men) should be seeing men in the church step up and say, “I’ll study hard so I’ll be equipped to teach that class.” “I’ll preach the sermon, not my wife.” “I’ll be willing to shoulder the load God has given me instead of pushing it off on a woman.”
3. Men are afraid of women.
Not afraid of them physically, but afraid of the ones who will make a scene, cause strife, split churches, get pastors fired, and generally make life hell on earth for anyone who dares to put his foot down firmly on the word of God and say, “You’re in disobedience. You need to repent and step down.” I know these women (and, of course, there are men who do this, too). I have had plenty of them come after me, and, having a husband who’s been in ministry for over 20 years, I’ve seen plenty of them attack pastors, staff, deacons, etc., and I don’t blame men for feeling scared. But men, Jesus has called you to defend His Bride from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, and feeling scared doesn’t excuse you from doing what’s right and biblical. Look to the courage Jesus exhibited on His way to the cross. Look at Peter, Paul, James, and the other apostles as your example of valor as they chose flogging, hardship, jail, and martyrdom over compromising the word of God.
And a special word of encouragement to pastors: your church doesn’t need someone who’s afraid to rock the boat, even if that’s what they want, and even if your job is on the line. It needs a man who will stand for Christ, no matter the cost to him personally or vocationally. You can’t call your people to do that in their own lives if you aren’t willing to do it in yours. The God who was strong enough to save you out of the pit of hell is strong enough to find you another job and provide for your family. Be faithful to preach and carry out the word in season and out of season. You can do it. Trust Christ. He’s got you.
God has given women a phenomenal, and much needed, role in the church. He has given men a different, yet equally phenomenal and much needed role in the church. For the local church to function in a healthy way, both men and women have to fill out our own roles correctly. And, guys, we ladies can’t and shouldn’t have to do your job in addition to ours.
I realize this is a more stringent tone than I usually take. Peter, Paul and the other apostles probably raised some eyebrows when they used a stringent tone, too. But when a house is burning down, the fireman doesn’t tiptoe in, hand you flowers, and politely request that you, pretty please, come with him. And that’s where we are in the church. The house is burning down around us. And, in the end, this article is not meant to be a castigation of pastors or other Christian men, but an impassioned plea from a church lady who wants to see her sisters make it out alive.
Help us. Please. Be the heroic men of God that you have the right, the calling, and the responsibility to be. Because, despite what some of the women of your church might say, that’s what we, and the body of Christ, so desperately need.