Should women be silent in the church?
John Stott, whom Christianity Today calls “the premier teacher” in the evangelical and international world, helped me understand the challenging passage that is often used to keep women from ministering to anyone but other women or children in the church. This is the passage:
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. Do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
1 Timothy 2:9-11
Stott says that there are three eternal principles, and each has an illustration that is cultural, rather than eternal. We are free to carry out the cultural illustration, but we do not disobey God if we do not always do it. However, we must always obey the eternal principle.
|Eternal Principle||Cultural Illustration|
|1. Men are always to pray||Lifting up holy hands|
|2. Women are to dress modestly||Not with braided hair or pearls|
|3. Women are to be in submission to authority||Not teach over men and be silent|
Here is the actual quote:
John Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy (IVP)
1 Timothy 2:8-12
As men should pray in holiness, love and peace; but not necessarily lift up their hands while they do so; and as women should adorn themselves with modesty, decency, and good works, but not necessarily abstain from all hair-plaiting, gold and pearls; so women should submit to headship (caring responsibility) of men and not try to reverse sexual roles; but not necessarily refrain from teaching them.
What do you think? If you disagree, share why. If you agree, what insight do you have for working graciously within a church that interprets the above passage to strongly restrict women in ministry?