- OPTIONS IN UNDERSTANDING 1 TIMOTHY 2:8-15
- Option A: The passage doesn’t say what it appears to. It is not a prohibition against any ministry of women. Arguments include:
- The word translated “authority” in verse 12 is translated wrongly. It should be translated, “I do not permit women to teach that they are the source of men.” However, there is little linguistic, historic, or scholarly support for this view.
- Some argue that the passage refers to women in the context of the home and marriage, rather than in the church. However, the context of the chapter appears to be public worship.
- Option B: Paul does place a prohibition on some ministries of women – but only a temporary one. This prohibition does not apply today. Arguments include:
- The word “permit” in verse 12 appears to be in the Greek a temporary and limited restriction. Response: the Greek does indicate that Paul wrote for the present time; it does not necessarily indicate a temporal command.
- Since Paul permits women to learn (verse 11), the ultimate purpose for them is to teach. However, the purpose of learning is not solely to teach, and Paul does not prohibit all teaching by women.
- Paul is prohibiting women from teaching in Ephesus because of the goddess controversy, and the fact that women in that church were not spiritually mature enough to teach. However, this does not deal adequately with Paul’s appeal in verse 13 to the creation order.
- Paul’s appeal to the creation order and the order of the fall corrects some false teaching that was taking place. It does not apply the creation order to male/female roles within the church. However, Paul elsewhere uses the same arguments to refer to male/female roles (1 Corinthians 11:8-9).
- Paul uses Adam and Eve as an illustration of what was happening in the Ephesian church. However, this does not deal adequately with Paul’s appeal in verse 13 to the creation order.
- Option C: Paul places a clear and timeless prohibition on some ministries of women. Arguments include:
- The appeal to the creation order seems to indicate that his conclusions are based on timeless, pre-fall principles.
- This is the plain meaning of the text (as opposed to the hidden meaning).
- EQUAL, YET DIFFERENT ROLES?
- The Trinity provides an example for us of what it means to be equal, yet different in role. For instance, the Son is submissive to the Father. This is applied in Scripture to the role of men and women (1 Corinthians 11:3).
- There appears to have been a distinction in roles right from creation (Genesis 2:18; 1 Corinthians 11:9; 1 Timothy 2:13). Other aspects of the creation story (the birthright; the naming of Eve by Adam; God speaking to Adam first; Adam representing the entire human race) appear to indicate the distinction in roles.
- Redemption affirms the creation order (Colossians 3:18-19; Ephesians 5:22-23; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-7). The distinction in roles was not caused by the Fall, and is not removed by redemption.
- UNDERSTANDING WOMEN IN MINISTRY TODAY
- Both men and women were created in the image of God. Both genders are equal in worth and importance.
- Both men and women have vital roles to be played in the church. Examples:
- Priscilla taught Apollos (Acts 18:24-26)
- Paul frequently mentioned women who were active in ministry (Romans 16:1,6,12; Philippians 4:2).
- Women prayed and prophesied in the public worship of the church (1 Corinthians 11:5).
- Women were regarded as co-recipients within the church of God’s riches (Galatians 3:28). They found new freedom in Christ that was revolutionary in its day (e.g. to learn in 1 Timothy 2:11).
- There appears to be a clear and timeless prohibition against women serving as elders in 1 Timothy 2:12. The function of “teaching and having authority” is that of elder or pastor (the words are interchangeable).
- Beyond this one prohibition, women are encouraged to use their gifts to the fullest in the body of Christ. Churches should welcome women to exercise all the spiritual gifts, including leadership and teaching, outside of the office of pastor/elder.
- The role of deacon in the New Testament appears to have been a serving role more than a governing role. This role appears to be open to women (Romans 16:1). Note: the term deaconess does not appear in Scripture. Deacon (even when referring to a female) is a more appropriate term.
- Richview needs to give every woman and man an opportunity to use their God-given gifts to the full extent of their biblical boundaries. We need to examine current biases: Serving communion? Teaching/preaching under the authority of a male senior pastor? The invisible “glass ceiling”?
- Sensitivity is needed in this area, in the use of humor and in our attitudes. We need the humility to realize that we don’t have the final word, and yet the courage to live by Scripture as best we understand it.
- Rather than being restrictive, obedience to God in this area will be fulfilling and freeing.
The Danvers Statement
We have been moved in our purpose by the following contemporary developments which we observe with deep concern:
- The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;
- the tragic effects of this confusion in unraveling the fabric of marriage woven by God out of the beautiful and diverse strands of manhood and womanhood;
- the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;
- the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women;
- the growing claims of legitimacy for sexual relationships which have Biblically and historically been considered illicit or perverse, and the increase in pornographic portrayal of human sexuality;
- the upsurge of physical and emotional abuse in the family;
- the emergence of roles for men and women in church leadership that do not conform to Biblical teaching but backfire in the crippling of Biblically faithful witness;
- the increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts;
- the consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;
- and behind all this the apparent accommodation of some within the church to the spirit of the age at the expense of winsome, radical Biblical authenticity which in the power of the Holy Spirit may reform rather than reflect our ailing culture.
Recognizing our own abiding sinfulness and fallibility, and acknowledging the genuine evangelical standing of many who do not agree with all of our convictions, nevertheless, moved by the preceding observations and by the hope that the noble Biblical vision of sexual complementarity may yet win the mind and heart of Christ’s church, we engage to pursue the following purposes:
- To study and set forth the Biblical view of the relationship between men and women, especially in the home and in the church.
- To promote the publication of scholarly and popular materials representing this view.
- To encourage the confidence of lay people to study and understand for themselves the teac hing of Scripture, especially on the issue of relationships between men and women.
- To encourage the considered and sensitive application of this Biblical view in the appropriate spheres of life.
- to bring healing to persons and relationships injured by an inadequate grasp of God’s will concerning manhood and womanhood,
- to help both men and women realize their full ministry potential through a true understanding and practice of their God-given roles,
- and to promote the spread of the gospel among all peoples by fostering a Biblical wholeness in relationships that will attract a fractured world.
Based on our understanding of Biblical teachings, we affirm the following:
- Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
- Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
- Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin.
- The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women.
- In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.
- In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.
- The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women. Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community.
- Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.
- In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership.
- In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men.
- In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin.
- In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries. Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.
- With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.
- We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.
The Danvers Statement was prepared by several evangelical leaders at a CBMW meeting in Danvers, Mass., in December, 1987. It was first published in final form by the CBMW in Wheaton, Ill., in November, 1988.
More complimentarian resources are available at www.cbmw.org.