Should we prohibit the prohibition of women from teaching in church?
by Bruce C. E. Fleming
We should not look for any so-called “order of creation” or “order of the Fall.”
We do discover Paul was talking about an “order of disobedience.”
When some say “No” to women teaching in church they are seriously in error. Tim Keller and Don Carson did a teaching presentation giving their ideas on the verses at the end of 1 Timothy 2. They posted it on YouTube where I came across it. In it they solemnly considered whether any women can teach men.
Their decision? “No.” “Women can’t teach in church.”
Their reasoning? They gave two reasons. Each one is totally incorrect.
They gave each reason a title that sounded impressive. Each one was based on an “order,” they claimed. However, a closer look shows that neither so-called “order” is biblical in any way. They referred to an “order of creation” and an “order of the Fall.”
However, in her work on Genesis 2-3, my wife, Dr. Joy Fleming showed there is no so-called “order of creation” placing man over woman. She also showed there is no so-called “order of the Fall” making woman more worthy than the man of severe punishment. (See Man and Woman in Biblical Unity, Theology from Genesis 2-3 by Dr. Joy Fleming)
There is no “order of creation.” Both humans were made on Day Six. Genesis chapter 1 records how God created the heavens and the earth. Repeatedly, God judged that each new addition to the created world was “good.” God completed all things with the creation of the man and the woman on Day Six. The God judged that all was “very good.”
Genesis chapter 2 gives us a detailed look at Day Six. The reader of Genesis already knows what to expect in chapter 2 thanks to having read the summary statements in Genesis chapter 1. We see that each human is created separately. Each one meets their Creator before meeting the other human.
When the man was created the woman hadn’t yet been made. God and the man were alone together. When the woman was created the man was unconscious. Effectively, God and the woman were alone together. Each one had access to a personal relationship with their Creator. This is an important result of God creating one by one. We learn by their example that God sees us as individuals who relate to God one to one.
They were naked and unashamed. The summit of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth is described in Genesis 2:25. The two humans were united in a naked relationship before one another. And they were unashamed in their relationship with God.
There is no so-called hierarchy of one group of humans over another. Both the man and the woman were united together and with God.
No “order of the Fall.” Both were attacked by the Devil with devastating results.
What happened at the Tree? Jesus said that the Devil was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. Who did he lie to? Who ended up dead? The man and the woman on their honeymoon in the Garden of Eden.
We see the details of what happened in The Attack. The two humans each disobeyed God’s command. Each one ended up dead. But they ate the fruit of the Tree in different degrees of disobedience. The woman was “a second-degree eater.” The man was “a first-degree eater.”
In the Old Testament God made different provisions for those who killed someone. Those who killed someone on purpose was put to death themselves. This was the punishment for first-degree murder. Those who killed someone by accident were allowed to escape to a city of refuge. Their punishment was less severe. They were guilty of second-degree murder. The difference in judgment resulted from the difference in intent when the killing was committed.
Was the man a first-degree eater or a second-degree eater? Was the woman a first-degree eater or a second-degree eater? Both ate and both died. That was the punishment for eating from the Tree.
He ate on purpose. She did not.
Difference in degrees – the reasoning of 1 Timothy 2 verses 13-14.
There was no “order of the Fall” but there was a distinct difference in the degree of disobedience as a result of The Attack!
In First Timothy 2 Paul had the clear teaching of Genesis 1-3 in mind. He had left Timothy in Ephesus to correct and restore if possible some of the overseers who had gone astray. They were apparently teaching and acting in an inappropriate way. That had to stop.
If some of the wayward overseers were first-degree sinners like Hymenaeus and Alexander they received the strictest treatment (1 Tim 1:19-20). If some of the wayward overseers were second-degree sinners, they received a different kind of treatment. They were like Paul who sinned ignorantly and in unbelief (1 Tim 1:12-14). They were also like Eve who sinned after being deceived but who didn’t eat the fruit in conscious rebellion against God.
Keller and Carson said “women can’t teach in church” because in verse 13 Paul referred to one “order” and in verse 14 to “another.” Yet in these verses Paul was not referring to any such “order.” He was writing about how he and Eve had been second-degree sinners who received grace from a merciful savior who called them to do important work in the ministry of the salvation of the world.
In verses 11-12 Paul instructed Timothy to let the wayward women overseers learn. They were to learn and be corrected. Afterwards they would be candidates to minister once again (1 Tim 3:1, “… if anyone aspires to oversight they desire a good work.”). Why such gracious treatment compared to the harsh treatment for Hymenaeus and Alexander? The distinction came in their level of guilt. This is the “order” others are sensing is present in this passage. It is their order of disobedience.
Bruce C. E. Fleming is the author of Book 3 in The Eden Book Series. It is Back to Eden, 1 Timothy 2:8-3:16. He and his wife, Dr. Joy Fleming are co-founders of the Tru316 Foundation (Tru316.com).