Saturday, April 12, 2014

A division of souls - 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)
The second reason Paul commands women to be silent in church refers back to the Garden of Eden and the deception of Eve by the Devil. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul again makes reference of Eve's deception saying, "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3) In specific, this is why Paul refused to let a woman teach or to usurp male authority (most probably the elders and bishops) in church.

Much has been written about the original fall of mankind, some blaming this one and some blaming the other and, while it is true that Eve ate because she was deceived, it is written that that, Adam, "her husband [who was] with her" (Genesis 3:6), while fill knowledge, did also eat and did also sin. In fact, one early Christian writer wrote to defend Eve as the stronger of the two,
"And if thou sayest that it attacked her as being the weaker of the two, [I reply that], on the contrary, she was the stronger, since she appears to have been the helper of the man in the transgression of the commandment. For she did by herself alone resist the serpent, and it was after holding out for a while and making opposition that she ate of the tree, being circumvented by craft; whereas Adam, making no fight whatever, nor refusal, partook of the fruit handed to him by the woman, which is an indication of the utmost imbecility and effeminacy of mind." (Fragments from the Lost Writings of Ireaeus, Chapter 14)
What is important to understand is that men and women were not created equal, at least not equal in the sense of the make up of their bodies and their souls. Clement of Alexandria write, 
"Whatever smoothness and softness was in him He abstracted from his side when He formed the woman Eve, physically receptive, his partner in parentage, his help in household management, while he (for he had parted with all smoothness) remained a man, and shows himself man. And to him has been assigned action, as to her suffering" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 3)
The implication here is that when God formed Eve out of the side of Adam, she was more than just a direct copy of Adam; God was not just making a photo copy of what He has previously made. In making Eve, God made a division of both flesh and soul; assigning fleshly and soulish characteristics to both Adam and Eve. They were different beings with different strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. These differences were seen in the temptation of man when the woman, though being deceived, had to be coaxed while Adam was willing to sin with full knowledge. 

Even today we see the differences between the sexes and, as much as we would like to treat them the same, they are not the same; men are not women and women are not men. Their differences are more than just physical, they are different on the inside as well. This is not to say one is better than the other, but simply to say they are different. Each has their strengths and weaknesses where, in any given situations, one may be better suited than the other in obtaining a favorable outcome. 

Paul's restriction on women teaching and usurping authority is based on what he believed to be a women's greater propensity towards deception than men. During the first several centuries of the church, there were many heresies and false doctrines floating around and there was a need for those who taught the apostolic message to the church to teach it with purity and full reason, without giving into the deception of the lies. For this reason, Paul, in the churches he founded, appointed such teaching to men. We may disagree with his reasoning, but we cannot fault his love and care for the churches he established.

David Robison

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