Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Open Letter to My Brothers

Dear brothers in the Lord,

When I started this blog, like many of us, I was talking only to one or two random people who happened to accidentally drop by. Since the readership has grown a little bit and we have a diversity of readers now, I wanted to clarify something just so there's no misunderstanding.

I'll tell you the bottom line right away: I am not trying to teach you. I love, love, love discussing the Bible (can you tell?), and I don't think it's wrong for all of us to do that together. But I want you to know my heart, and to know that I do know the scriptures on this subject. I do NOT see this blog as my "pulpit" from which I am preaching. I see it as an opportunity to dialogue with brothers and sisters, to learn more about God and His Word myself, and to forge relationships built on mutual encouragement and sharpening.

1 Tim 2:8-14
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.


Now, I do think that the command to remain quiet primarily is meaning a church service, but I do not at any time want to teach or exercise authority over men.

Disciple means "learner" and "follower." I learn so much from ALL OF YOU (men and women) in your blog posts and your comments here. I just wanted you, brothers, to know that in no way do I seek to be any kind of leader over men.

I guess the apostles didn't foresee the creation of the internet and blogging, that would put men and women in situations where they can all talk as a group without physically being in the same room! :) I think it's great. I think it presents wonderful opportunities for growing together, for thinking about different perspectives, and for digging into our OWN BIBLES to "see whether these things are so." But there are PLENTY of women out there who are leaving their places in God's order and rebelling against His commands in this area, and I do not want to be one of them. (My thoughts on feminism, in part, are here.)

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The discussion is so much richer for it. And by the way, no one wrote to harass me about teaching men...it was just on my heart to clarify this.

In Jesus,
Kristen

29 comments:

molly said...

I've thought about that too...not so much in the blog world but on Christian theology forums and such...

You know, I know this may sound absolutely terrible, but I think there are enough Scriptural passages in the NT to warrent the "do not teach" passage worth questioning a little bit. Not questioning "so that I can get out of it," but just questioning becuase it doesn't entirely jive with some of the other passages...

Like Aquilla and Priscilla BOTH teaching Appollos the truth more fully... Like the Elder Lady (seemingly the leader of her church?) that John wrote to with instructions for the church...like Junia (the apostle?) and all the other women listed in the back of Romans...the prophetess daughters in Acts (who were they prophecying too--only women? Only in the streets and not in the church?)etc...

And if we are to keep silence in the church, does that include singing? What about a "special song/solo?" If you are singing Scriptural words, then that is a form of teaching...etc...

My husband and I have really struggled with this whole issue, since he teaches 7th grade through college, which means I help him, which means I'm often in a position of "teaching" young men. Hard to think of a zitty 8th grader as a man, but by the time they get up to 12th grade, they're looking a bit more manly...and just wondering if I'm even supposed to be involved...

I was earlier (couple years ago) leaning towards NO WAY, etc, but Jeff brought up some good questions...namely, most of the references I alluded to above, and more. I was forced to admit, it doesn't look quite as clear cut as the "do not teach/speak" verses. There's more to this than those...and it's not right to take a couple verses and elevate them over the other ones. I must take them all and struggle to see how they fit together, as opposed to trying to explain away the many for the sake of wanting to hold on to the few.

I'm totally rambling here, and a bit off-topic at that...and just so you know, we figure we should err on the side of caution, so I teach the Jr. High Bible Studies and Jeff does high school and college... And I totally believe that my husband is the head of the house, and all that jazz (you already know all of that)... It's just that this woman/man-Believer thing is a bit more complicated then I originally thought. I still don't really know what I think on it all...just have a lot of questions, more than anything else...

Ok, this ramble is now over...
(breath a sigh of relief now)
:o)

Kristen said...

You bring up great points. I'll address some of them here.

First, I want to clarify (that is my new motto, LOL!!) that I was not saying that women can never teach, or that men have nothing to learn from women. But in this setting, where I am posting on this blog and others are "listening," I wanted my brothers to understand what I am doing here, or what I at least perceive myself to be doing.

"Like Aquilla and Priscilla BOTH teaching Appollos the truth more fully..."

I was going to bring her up. She and Aquila teach Apollos the Way more accurately. She is not mentioned as teaching men without her husband there. Also, their teaching is private, not in a public setting (that we know of).

"Like the Elder Lady (seemingly the leader of her church?) that John wrote to with instructions for the church..."

THAT I take issue with. I have no reason to think her the leader of the church even if the church did meet in her home (as one did in Lydia's). There are plenty of Biblical guidelines for leadership (elder, deacon) and I don't see that they allow for women in that ("the husband of one wife," etc.). Coupling those commands with Paul's frequent admonitions regarding women's role and behavior in church, I don't see room for women teaching men publicly.

like Junia (the apostle?) and all the other women listed in the back of Romans...

I don't really want to get into the Junia/Junias controversy. It's not clear that a woman is even being talked about there. That's not enough, to me, to supercede the other clear teaching about women teaching men publicly. The mentioning of the other women at the end of Romans is awesome (I am NOT bashing women or the contributions they make to the Body, to discipleship, and to teaching!), but again, I don't see how that affects women teaching men publicly.

"The prophetess daughters in Acts (who were they prophecying too--only women? Only in the streets and not in the church?)etc..."

Not at all. Prophecy is not the same thing as teaching. Women are explicitly permitted to do this in church in 1 Cor 11--they just need to have their heads covered (I smell a POST!). Again, I don't see this as affecting the command for women not to teach or have authority over men.

I hope that clears up some confusion. OF COURSE the brothers that visit here may learn something--that's OKAY! But I am not standing in some virtual pulpit, elevating myself as a teacher of men, because I believe that violates several commands in the Word.

In the assembly, can women speak? Yes, if they are prophesying or singing. The Bible does not contradict itself. But we are explicitly commanded not to teach or have authority over men, and that is different from the two things above.

I agree that we must seek to make all Scripture fit together--and I believe it does. :)

Kristen said...

Hey--just wanted to add--I am not sure about high school-aged boys, either. I definitely don't have all the answers (SHOCKER! Ho ho!). Knowing you guys, I am sure you prayed about it and are comfortable with it. :) In past times, boys that age would have been considered men, but unfortunately, nowadays we can't usually use that word for boys that age.

It's an interesting question: what makes a man? :)

JP Manzi said...

Kristen,
In all honesty, that may not be your intent but I have learned and grown in knowledge from your "teachings". I am quite sure God is OK with that, too. At the very least its "internet fellowship". I am studying that issue right now with the womens role in the church. What is cultural and what is transcultural? You know many christians, especially down south, justified slavery for many many years, and were able to quote scripture. Father, may we all continue to grow in knowledge of your truth. Amen.

Keep doing what your doing my fellow sister in Christ.

Kristen said...

JP, thanks. :) I really appreciate being able to talk with you guys. You all brighten my day and make me think!

and then Life happened said...

Kristen,

There is no greater thrill in seeing someone (no matter the gender) having their eyes opened up to the reality of Him, the same Son-Spirit-Life that resides in all of the rebirthed.
Being able as it were to hear how the Spirit is making them also an eye-witness of Him their only Life---WOW!
I see there being One teacher, Christ, and he is the One and only Life in the believer.
More often than not, how he uses us in our sharing is to simply "confirm" that which Father has already been establishing within us.
I love this line from a bro..."The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance."

Peace,
Richard

Richard

molly said...

Kristeny, Wisteny,
(Bet you've never been called THAT before)...
:o)

The Junia/Junias thing is actually pretty straightforward. All the earliest texts say Junia (female)--the later texts retranslated it to Junias (male) becuase they figured there was NO way a woman could have been named among the apostles.

Btw, it also makes for a very difficult case for those who only believe there was ever 12 apostles (whether it's Junias or Junia).

I used to deal with the Elder Lady easily, too, but when faced with all the other women in apparent positions of leadership, I don't think it's quite so easy to gloss over her. I know, I know, I've heard all the arguments to the contrary (she wasn't a real person, etc), but I just don't want to be quick to assume anything, you know?

And on prophecy being the same thing as teaching...well, it is and it isnt'. One must admit that a person giving a prophecy IS teaching men something that they didn't already know. For those who believe that prophecy simply means "exhortation," then prophecy most certainly IS teaching.

It's also really interesting to note that most of the "church meetings" large ones) were held in Jewish worship places (where women were completely segregated from men, so them SPEAKING in the assembly wasn't even an issue!)...there really is a bit of cultural background to the women-in-church-gathering texts that we can't fail to ignore. Especially (and very interesting!) considering that Paul quotes DIRECTLY from a non-canonical Jewish law text when he gives his reasons for women not teaching men (the decieved thing).

But I digress... It's a huge issue, one that this little comments box isn't going to be able to tackle. I was just throwing out some wonderings I've had, coming from a person who was totally on ONE side of the spectrum (ie, women can do anything they darn well please), and then to the OTHER side (women need to be covered, silent, and NEVER teach a man) and now sitting in the middle just scratching my head... (meaning, I'm not all that popular with EITHER side--haHA!)
:o)

Anyways, you know my heart here. I'm not coming at this with an, "I want my rights!" attitude. Blech! I mean, if women actually shouldn't speak (not even to preach the message of salvation, and many people believe women shouldn't even lead a male sinner to salvation, because that is a form of teaching), then I'll never speak--and I'll do it with joy, because I want GOD glorified.

Whether that means me in silence, or me speaking to thousands, is hardly the issue--the issue is properly expressing the One living in me, in the way He desires to be expressed through me. ...Which is what makes this so important, and why I don't want to jump to either side of the spectrum without FULLY weighing ALL the evidence.

Blessings and LOTS of love to you,
Molly
who has more than a few of these issues that she once thought she had black-and-white answers for.

:o)

molly said...

Kristeny, Wisteny,
(Bet you've never been called THAT before)...
:o)

The Junia/Junias thing is actually pretty straightforward. All the earliest texts say Junia (female)--the later texts retranslated it to Junias (male) becuase they figured there was NO way a woman could have been named among the apostles.

Btw, it also makes for a very difficult case for those who only believe there was ever 12 apostles (whether it's Junias or Junia).

I used to deal with the Elder Lady easily, too, but when faced with all the other women in apparent positions of leadership, I don't think it's quite so easy to gloss over her. I know, I know, I've heard all the arguments to the contrary (she wasn't a real person, etc), but I just don't want to be quick to assume anything, you know?

And on prophecy being the same thing as teaching...well, it is and it isnt'. One must admit that a person giving a prophecy IS teaching men something that they didn't already know. For those who believe that prophecy simply means "exhortation," then prophecy most certainly IS teaching.

It's also really interesting to note that most of the "church meetings" large ones) were held in Jewish worship places (where women were completely segregated from men, so them SPEAKING in the assembly wasn't even an issue!)...there really is a bit of cultural background to the women-in-church-gathering texts that we can't fail to ignore. Especially (and very interesting!) considering that Paul quotes DIRECTLY from a non-canonical Jewish law text when he gives his reasons for women not teaching men (the decieved thing).

But I digress... It's a huge issue, one that this little comments box isn't going to be able to tackle. I was just throwing out some wonderings I've had, coming from a person who was totally on ONE side of the spectrum (ie, women can do anything they darn well please), and then to the OTHER side (women need to be covered, silent, and NEVER teach a man) and now sitting in the middle just scratching my head... (meaning, I'm not all that popular with EITHER side--haHA!)
:o)

Anyways, you know my heart here. I'm not coming at this with an, "I want my rights!" attitude. Blech! I mean, if women actually shouldn't speak (not even to preach the message of salvation, and many people believe women shouldn't even lead a male sinner to salvation, because that is a form of teaching), then I'll never speak--and I'll do it with joy, because I want GOD glorified.

Whether that means me in silence, or me speaking to thousands, is hardly the issue--the issue is properly expressing the One living in me, in the way He desires to be expressed through me. ...Which is what makes this so important, and why I don't want to jump to either side of the spectrum without FULLY weighing ALL the evidence.

Blessings and LOTS of love to you,
Molly
who has more than a few of these issues that she once thought she had black-and-white answers for.

:o)

Evan said...

Kristen, I never considered you to be a teacher or leader over me, just a sister in Christ. (: I have learned much from you, though.

What makes a man? According to I John 2:14, young men in Christ are strong, the word of God abides in them, and they have overcome the wicked one. These attributes differentiate them from children (Christians who lack maturity in their walk with Christ).

Another definition I like comes from Christian author and speaker Edwin Louis Cole: "Manhood and Christlikeness are synonymous." Thus when a man is conformed more to the image of Christ, as God created him to be (Genesis 1:27), the more of a man he is. The less conformed to Christ he is, the less of a man he is.

The concept of biblical manhood is a blog post just waiting to happen; perhaps I will attend to that on my blog.

Kristen said...

Moll, I really don't have any problem with the stuff you're saying (I think we may have some disagreement but wind up in a really close space on practicalities).

At this point, though, I feel lumped in with people who are all "black and white" and never see nuances. I understand the issues you're addressing, but I don't see them exactly the same way...it's not that I haven't considered the other viewpoint. I was the other viewpoint about six or seven years ago.

I thought it'd be interesting to see what AT Robertson has to say about this. First, he says that the name can be "can be either masculine or feminine." Also, "among the apostles" could mean "simply that they were famous in the circle of the apostles in the technical sense". He allows for the other meaning, too, but I don't see that it's so clear-cut that we can tell everyone now that there was a female apostle, kwim?

I am interested in your comment about Paul quoting from a non-canonical text. What does that mean to you? I honestly think that it's in the Bible because it's true. I believe that women are more easily deceived than men. I was surprised to learn from that passage, a while back, that Adam was not deceived...I had always assumed that they both were. Isn't it amazing that he made that choice with his eyes wide open. And Eve bears the brunt of the blame in Christian rhetoric! :-p

Love you back. :)

Kristen said...

Oh! And I meant to tell you--I don't think the office of apostle is necessarily confined to the NT twelve, either. It's listed in 1 Cor 12:28 ("And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues") with other gifts that haven't ceased (uh-oh! My charismatic roots are showing!), so I don't see why apostleship would necessarily cease. Ohboy, that's a whole other can o' worms I ain't got the strength for today!

Mr. Evanheeed (said with Scottish brogue)--AWESOME comment! I will be looking forward to that post from you! :)

Christy said...

My husband Rob and I pondered over this subj. too (I guess it is a commmon one among christians:0)

These two scriptures came to mind:
1 Tim 2:8,11-14
8I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

13For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14And Adam was not deceived, but THE WOMAN BEING DECEIVED FELL INTO TRANSGRESSION

15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

I Cor. 14:33-35

"For God is not the of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let you women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

Now, I think the Lord's command for women to be silent in church was a safeguard and a blessing for them, not a restriction on their spirituality. After all it was Eve that Satan went to...think of a woman...nurturing, spiritual, open emotionally...He did not go to Adam, because he knew that Eve could be persuaded, and she had power to persuade Adam.

For me, I feel like my silence in church shows my unity with Rob, my dh. We talk all the time, and I've already told him anything I want to express to the church. He, as the spiritual leader in our home, is responsible to the Lord for my wellbeing. So he will go to the Lord about anything that doesn't sound right, thus shielding me from making a public mistake before I say anything. (if that makes sense). If I have a question, I try to ask it at home, so I don't distract him during the service...after all, he is the spiritual teacher in our fam as well. It's one day when he needs to be alert and listening at church.

Gal.3:28 says clearly that Rob and I are spiritually equal before the Lord. Silence doesn't mean that my thoughts do not matter to God at all. It is His protection for me...and I think it has to do with ICor.11, and the headship order. Christ is man's head, and man is woman's head...so that the body of Christ runs smoothly. Anyone been in the Army? Rob and I were, and that really hits home for us...we saw the real benefit of the chain of command there. There were leaders, and there were those that supported the leaders. But all are equal in God's eyes...

ok, that's my rambling for today...
thanks for reading!
In Christ,
Christy

Kristen said...

Wow, Christy--great comments. Thanks. I hadn't thought of it that way (at least not today, and I can never remember anything before today, LOL!).

It still bowls me over that you guys used to be in the Army. Didn't you meet while in it?

And I am glad you pointed out the equality we share in Christ. In a discussion like this, that definitely needs to be brought up.

and then Life happened said...

It's an interesting question: what makes a wo/man?

In either case, (gender) by grace giving up things...NOPE, giving up the right-to-myself!!!

Christy said...

Lots of good comments here...a few I espcially liked were the "giving up the right to myself" one... that is so true...a lot of things in the Bible we are called to do are very humbling...including the silence issue, and putting ourselves in our husbands care/under his jurisdiction. In this day and age, I think women are encouraged to reject this type of blessing.(women's lib and similar views saturate our society) I want to learn more and more to give up myself, and do what Jesus wants...He always has a good reason why he asks!

I was also thinking of your comment Kristen re: women being more spiritually vulnerable ie. Eve being deceived and not Adam...got me to thinking of women, and their persuasive nature in turn...(we are easilly decieved, yet, we can really persuade our men too, interesting to think about)

Remember the story about Samson and Delilah? Samson would not have been swayed, except he had this soft spot for this Moabite woman...he kept giving in to her!! He had to know it was wrong, but his love for her kept making him give in, till it destroyed him.

I think as a woman much loved by her husband...I want to be so careful what I "push" and what I don't. I don't want to wrongfully persuade my dh to do something that he would normally not do (knowingly or unknowingly, if that makes sense).

that's just another take on the whole subj...time to make dinner now!
huggs!!

Kristen said...

Another great thought, Christy. I struggle with that a lot, especially having been an only child who was pretty good at getting her way. I didn't throw tantrums, but I was good at "persuading" my parents through pleading and logic (my brand of it, anyway). It's very tempting to try to "use" our wiles to get our way with our husbands, a la Delilah. But that ain't right.

I am often reminded by things like this of what a service parents do for their children when they discipline them according to God's Word (I hope you guys caught Molly's great series on that). I believe that when you do that, you're giving them a gift that wills serve them for the rest of their lives: how to submit to authority cheerfully, without resorting to deception and manipulation to get your way.

I know that children with godly parents struggle with that, but I have to wonder if, later in life, they have quite the struggle that those of us do who were not disciplined much.

(Mom and Dad, if you read this, you were GREAT parents! I just know I deserved more spankings thank I got!!) :)

molly said...

Hey, Kristen,
OF COURSE I think that you are wrong. Anyone who doesn't line up with MY opinions is obviously off their rocker...
Harharharhar...

Ok, ok, I'm just popping in here super quick to clarify a few things:

1.) I do not think you are wrong, and I'm sorry if I seemed to be lumping you in a box. 'Sides, you're too cute for a box. *grin*

All I was trying to say is that I am really at a place of NOT KNOWING about this whole thing...I lean toward the more conservative side, but at the same time... I just don't want to be guilty of interpreting a bunch of Scriptures in light of a couple, you know? That's not good exegesis. We should take ALL the Scriptures on the topic, plus a comprehension of the cultural background (not letting the cultural background rule our "interpretation," but at the same time, not being so foolish as to ignore it) and then see what sifts out.

2.) I'm not a feminist. :o)
(You know that, but I thought it ought to be said, because anytime I've ever voiced that I have questions about the "woman issue" I get BOTH camps really mad at me, so I just wanted to clarify that)...

3.) The fact that Paul quotes from Hebrew non-canonical sources is just really really really interesting to me. It makes me wonder if the "He just said that becuase they needed to respect the Jews views since they were mainly meeting in Jewish synagogues" camp has more weight to it than I thought.

I'm not saying women aren't easily decieved (I, uh, know that one personally--sigh) or anything like that. I'm just saying it's interesting that he quotes word for word from a Jewish text that didn't have the world's sweetest view on women, let's just put it like that. What would the original readers have thought from that quote? They would have recognized the source instantly, right? It just brings up some good good questions, that's all...

There are a lot of other issues, too...just questions, questions, and a few more questions that I have, ponderings spawned from these rocks rolling around in my head. They oughta be mighty polished by the time I ever get to any answers, I'm a'thinkin...

*grin*

Sorry for taking this SO off the original topic, Kristen!!!

Love,
Molly

Anonymous said...

PS--
Girlfriend,
You'd better be REAL careful before you bring up the spanking topic!!! Watch what you say!
*huge grin*
Molly

Kristen said...

HEE HEE! I will just direct any spanking queries/comments/rants to your blog. As far as I am concerned that was the all-time definitive series. It impressed my socks right off my feet!

Oh, and I already did bring up the spanking thing...twice. But hardly anyone was reading this then. :-p

I appreciate your clarifications (you're NOT a feminist? WHAT?? ho ho). I agree the non-canonical source stuff is very interesting.

Like I said, I am sure that we're much more alike than different (what with being twins and everything). Sorry--I'm in a very goofy mood. And if you knew me IRL, you'd know that is my mood most of the time!

Ruthanne said...

Kristen, I'd love to meet you IRL someday. Goofy is not entirely a bad thing! :P

Kristen said...

I'd like to meet you, too!

Actually, that might be possible sometime. Me, you an' Kim need to talk.

Rachel said...

Kristen, I agree with you wholeheartedly on this one. But it is great to see the back and forth here (I have had my doubts about Paul's teaching on women in the past. Especially when I was pregnant, and the ones about... oh nevermind). I think the Lord smiles when he sees these discussions -- people taking time out of their day to discuss His word with one another in a serious, non-accusatory, uplifting way. What a great forum.

/soppy

love,
Rachel

Kristen said...

Hey Rachel, we were commenting on each other's blogs at the same time!

Thanks...I think everyone here is awesome, too. I appreciate being able to think things like this out. All the comments helped me see that I don't need to worry about "moderating" this forum, so to speak. :)

pregador27 said...

Kristen, I love your heart and your approach. I am not going to jump into this discussion too far, I just want to thank you for your dedication to the Word of God. We need more like you!

Amy said...

Dear Kristen,

Are you saved? How could you be? I mean, you're in rebellion in regards to your submission to your husband on this matter (obviously...), so how could you be in submission to your heavenly Father?

Really, Kristen, get with the program. Repent.

Kristen said...

Amy!! Gimme an L! Gimme an O! Gimme an L!

All4One--thank you. :) God bless you!

Amy said...

For you hyper-sensitive folk, that was a JOKE in response to this post.Nevermind though... :)

Lindsey said...

Okay, so I think I'll come out of hiding and post a comment here. I'm Lindsey, and I've "known" Kristen for a while now...we were on a forum together a few years back (gosh has it been that long?!)

I think it was Molly who said this: "they were mainly meeting in Jewish synagogues"

This is new to me. I had always thought that they were mainly meeting from house to house, and only occasionally in the synagogue. Why did they meet in the synagogues? What scriptures am I not seeing?

Blessings,
Lindsey
P.S. Kristen, I know that I owe you an e-mail...it's coming! :)

Kristen said...

LINDSEY!!!!!!!!

I am so glad you're commenting. I miss you. I was hoping my e-mail didn't scare you off forever (but I know I've said more shocking things to you in the past, and you're still my friend!). ;-)

*doing happy goober dance*

PLUS, you ask a good question. If Shane or Erik see this, perhaps they could shed some light as well?

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