11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will bepreserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
If anyone was stretched, challenged, or even downright offended by yesterday’s post, this passage might be your “aha!” moment. The “I told you so” that justifies the exclusion of women in church leadership. As we continue in 1 Timothy, we will see the qualifications of said leaders, also referred to as deacons or elders. I would like to submit to you a verse from Paul’s greetings in his letter to the Romans in chapter 16, “ I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconof the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.”
So, what is the deal here? Paul is telling Timothy not to have women as church leaders in Ephesus but he also promotes and verifies a woman deacon from one church to another church. What’s the deal here? Again, the answer is: context. Many people couple Paul’s letters to Timothy and Corinth as church leadership doctrine which signifies the exclusion of women from teaching positions, yet they neglect the other parts. Likewise, some of you reading this are shaking your head in agreeance while others are shaking it in disagreeance. Why? Culture. Even if everyone reading this post today is from America, you are from different families, clans, subroups, and societal influences and therefore you all have different thoughts on women in leadership.
If you were in a society that did not accept women in teaching/leadership roles but a church was planted there that had a senior pastor that was a woman, how many people do you think would show up to hear what she was teaching? The same applies to missionaries: what qualifies a gringo to go to Central America and just start talking to people that everyone would listen and follow what they say? We have to be culturally relevant. Our church leadership must be relevant to the people they are trying to reach.
I’m not saying that women in church leadership is right or wrong, because it can be right and can be wrong based on where it is happening. The Apostle Paul explains this concept in the ninth chapter of his letter to the Corinthians, “19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
There is a reason there are so many denominations and branches and variants of the church. It is because subgroups of people are unique. The wonderful thing is that the Gospel applies to all of it! Who are we to judge others for how they run their “church organization”? If we begin focusing on that, then we begin to lose focus of what is truly important: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.