I Timothy 2:12-15
Is the modern day church “behind the times in its attitude toward women?” A growing number answer, “yes.” They say that women are restricted. What should the Bible- believing Christian’s response be regarding equal rights for women? How should church leaders respond, and what should be the attitude of Christian women?
I. The World and Women’s Rights - A controversial issue
The battle and victory for women’s rights has influenced every aspect of our national life, including our churches. This brings up a difficult question - are women treated fairly in the New Testament Church?
The role of women in the church has caused conflicts in some denominations and churches. Barriers have been removed to once-forbidden secular occupations in the ministry. Some liberal leaders are upset because they believe the church is lagging far behind on these issues.
Critics argue that conservative churches are steeped in prejudice and need to be enlightened. On the surface, their arguments may sound convincing. Arguments are made that many women outstrip men in spiritual gifts and abilities. By not allowing women to use these talents, the church is missing out.
Some theologians argue that the requirements for pastors outlined in I Timothy 3:1-7 have been grossly misinterpreted - that they merely reflect cultural prejudices of Paul’s day. How should the present day Church respond to such pressure? What should the church say to sincere dedicated women who truly want to serve the Lord?
II. God’s Word and Women’s Rights - Clear Answers from the Bible
The Bible answers several basic misunderstandings:
There is a basic error in understanding the scope and nature of the differences between the sexes. The Bible does not teach that men are superior to women, but that they are different. In creating woman, God did not make a carbon copy of what He had already made. He fashioned a personality and spirit that would complement man and supply the qualities that man lacked.
The tendency today is to assume that except for physical differences, men and women are of the same mold. Therefore, they are to be competitive. That is not God’s intent. God created male and female to work together, not to compete.
We commit a basic error when we try to sweep differences under the rug. It may appear to be successful for a time, but in the end we violate something elemental to our inner structure. Let’s evaluate the Word of God on the subject - I Timothy 2:12. The New Testament makes it clear that administration is a man’s calling. Early church leaders were called elders and deacons. Qualifications required these offices to be held by men.
I Timothy 2:13-15, Paul gives two reasons why the woman cannot scripturally usurp authority over the man. First, woman was not created to be independent; second, the woman had been the first to give place to sin.
The man’s role at the church and home is not just a badge of honor; it is a mantle of responsibility. Men make a mistake when they think that their headship makes them far superior to women. God has set the guidelines for men and women. God loves men and women equally. Each are called to different tasks..
In a “His” magazine interview, Elizabeth Elliott made an interesting point. “Positions of leadership in the church are not rewards of competence alone. They are not earned or assigned purely on the basis of ability. They are assigned sovereignly by God. Those who take positions of authority in the church must be ordained of God.” Do not be misled by secular arguments that the Scriptures are influenced by cultural bias—God’s Word is inspired and adaptable to all ages and both sexes.
III. Christian Women and Women’s Rights - A consecrated Attitude
Satisfaction in God’s Work comes not from title or position but from faithfulness in service. Since apostolic times, women have found fulfillment in the church. Examples such as, “ Phebe” of Romans 16:1; Mary, Martha and the certain women of Luke 8. These women found honor in faithfulness and effective service. Paul mentions Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persia, Eudias, and Syntyche as “fellow workers in the Lord.”
The gifts and insights of women can help and encourage the Christian men in leadership roles. Women are powerful in witnessing and in prayer partnership. They are excellent teachers.
The world has it ideas of who should lead the church. Those who do not understand the Bible will wave banners of “new equality.” They minimize and rationalize. The true Christian understands that God’s teachings are correct and unbiased.