Friday, April 11, 2014

A created order - 1st Timothy 2:11-15

"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (1 Timothy 2:11-15)
One of Paul's reasons for his injunctions against women speaking in church is his belief in the created order of God. The recorded history of God's creation shows that God made man first then, finding it was not good for man to be alone, created woman. "Then the Lord God said, '... I will make him a helper suitable for him...' but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:18-22) In creating woman from man God initiated order in His creation. All throughout creation we see the order of God. Of man it is said, "You have made him for a little while lower than the angels." (Hebrews 2:7) and to man was given to "rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26) Mankind being made a little lower than the angels yet having dominion over the creatures of the earth.

More specifically, pertaining to men and women, Paul writes, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:3) This structure is meant to provide the order through which those "over" would provide protection and care to those "under" them. "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." (Ephesians 5:23) Christ is certainly our head, yet He came to server, to care for us, to deliver us from our burdens, and to save us from our enemies. This order is not only the structure through which authority flows, but also love. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." (Ephesians 5:25-26) In God's created order there is no room for authority without love.

The goal of this created order, from a social and corporate standpoint, is harmony. Peter had just finished up teaching on submission; submission to government, submission to masters, and submission to husbands. He then concludes with these words: "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9) Submission can be hard to define and understand, especially in a culturally relevant way, but at least we know what submission is supposed to look like: harmony, humility, caring, and love. Submission that leads to strife, anger, and offense is not the submission that flows down from Christ but that which springs up from below. It is a submission that is required from the heart of self-centered people rather than a submission that is freely offered from people who have been set free to love and honor others.

What does this have to do with women in the church? Order and harmony! Everything has order and if we are to find harmony in life we must respect that order; not an order that is demanded, but an order that we freely yield to as free citizens of the Kingdom of God. Without order there is chaos, yet with order there is the structure for love and care to extends to all.

David Robison

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