Monday, June 8, 2009

Just within the church context?

For a while I've been uneasy about the position that there is a restriction on women teaching men, and that this restriction only applies in a church context. But I haven't been able to pinpoint what it is. Here's an attempt.
The argument goes that "Paul was writing to a church" therefore it applies only to the church context, and that he cites the example from creation, therefore it applies in ALL church contexts.
Is there any other command which applies in all church contexts and doesn't apply outside the church context?  At the moment I can't think of any.
If we take the previous verses 1 Tim 2:8-10 ("I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.") The application from these verses are not restricted to a church context. Women should dress modestly inside and outside the church, men should pray without anger and arguing inside and outside the church..
Seems to me that the people who hold that Paul was restriction women teaching men in all churches but only in church contexts are using a different hermeneutic than for the other verses here where Paul gives instruction for behaviour. Surely if Paul's reason for citing an example from the creation story is to show that it should apply for all time - surely it applies in all areas of life as well. It women not teaching men is God's good plan for creation, shouldn't we be doing that outside as well as inside the church?
I'm not convinced at all that Paul was intending to restict all women teaching men in the church context and only in the church context.
I think that the debates that we sometimes have over whether it is permissable for a woman to teach mixed audiences based on whether the gathering is a "church" or not (Is bible college a church? Is a convention a church? Is a Christian school a church?), are discussions based on a misreading of the text.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is one of the troubling inconsistencies with the Comp. interpretation.

    I raised this with a close Comp. friend who's a Syd Ang minister and his response was a cautious "well, I don't want to go beyond Scripture".