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Word: 1 Timothy


If you're female and grew up in the church at all, chances are you've heard 1 Timothy 2:11. Paul states "A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness." Not real surprising he stayed single, huh?

C'mon, Paul. WTF?

If you've followed Word for a while, you know that I'm not afraid to take on difficult topics. And you'll also know that when I say "take on difficult topics" I mean "I will find someone smarter than me who explains it well and link to them." Greg Boyd is the preaching pastor at my church and is a pretty smart dude. I love his take on this passage and much of what I say here stems from that.

One thing he points out is that this verse is part of a passage that has a list of rules for women. The other rules are no braided hair, no jewelry and no expensive clothes. With the exception of a small number of churches, it's interesting that none of those rules are enforced in the church today. Most people understand that those rules were specific to that culture and time period and not eternal commandments from God. But when it comes to women submitting, somehow that is an eternal commandment?

Down with women! Up with slavery! For the Bible tells me so!

Can we all just promise that we'll won't take one verse and make it an all-time truth without checking how it fits in with the rest of the Bible? Has anyone ever read 1 Peter 2:18? It's one that a lot of Bible believing slave owners clung to a few hundred years ago.

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

That verse was used by some to put the Biblical stamp of approval on slavery. ON SLAVERY.

Or how about Isaiah 53:5? This one isn't necessarily a cultural thing, but I've heard about a lot of folks who, when they didn't see the healing they prayed for, were given this verse and told that they must not have had enough faith.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

It clearly states "by his wounds we are healed" so obviously if you don't see healing you are doing something wrong, right? Or is it possible that these verses might actually mean something a little different than our 5 second interpretation would lead us to believe?

That's right, Jim! The Bible is a book of lies! You can't trust anything in it!

Does it mean these verses and passages are lies? No. It just means that in order to fully understand parts of the Bible, you may need to dig a little deeper. The Bible isn't something so shallow that you can spend 5 seconds with it and completely grasp its meaning. Or as I like to say, you can't "Kinkade" the Bible (Oooo, burn on you, Kinkade!). For example, in the 1 Timothy passage, it turns out that for the people Paul was addressing, braided hair, jewelry and expensive clothes were considered seductive and normally associated with a prostitution. Knowing that gives it a completely different meaning. So if we applied that verse for us today, it would probably mean something like "don't show up to church in a bikini or a speedo." (Honestly dudes, there's never a good place to wear a speedo.)

Again, if you want a better explanation for this verse that doesn't allude to the F word and is written by an actual pastor, check out Greg Boyd's take.