But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. -1 Timothy 2:12
Forgive me for this, but I was having a chuckle over this passage the other day. Some people in the blogging world like to whack me over the head with it all the time. All the time, as in 3-4 times a week. I am not teaching, we are not in a church, and there is no authority here to usurp. That is simply their way of telling me to shut up, but doing it with all due self-deception, perceived virtue, and innocence. It makes me laugh sometimes because I often think, Really? Am I so big and bad you think you need God Himself to back you up?
I assure you, I am simply not that scary.
But it is a bit funny too, because I have never had a problem with that passage. It has always made perfect sense to me. Is my perception of it correct? I don’t know why not, it seems to work for me. That passage is not really about women at all, but rather men. Men can be downright unteachable sometimes. Forget you, you don’t have any authority to tell me anything.
I’m not picking on anyone here, but sometimes it can take some real work just to get guys to listen to some gentle words of wisdom, for goodness sakes. I hope I’m not revealing any deep secrets. I have massive experience with this, I have spent some time beating my head on brick walls before, like trying to explain that the fish hook in your hand needs to come out, pronto. Immediate challenge to your authority,
“Are you a doctor?”
Of course not, but if you don’t see one soon, you’re going to need a mortician.
My son is quite handy, he recently blessed me by fixing my brake lights, but the kid has never seen a rotary phone, an iron, or an electric can opener. He has no idea how to use those things or what they are even for. Why would he? Recently we got an electric can opener and for a moment I forgot my son is actually a guy now, which means I cannot really show him how to use it. It’s mechanical. What would she know? Totally unteachable. He will not suffer a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, and that is exactly what mothers do. In fact, mothers are the worst offenders of all.
Kid is pretty good at opening a can with a screw driver and a hammer. Smooth edges and everything. I’m not saying a word.
All the men around me are sweet, very good to me, father, husband, son, brothers, friends, but you try to actually teach them anything, it’s like suddenly hitting a brick wall of resistance. In my husband’s defense he has nine sisters so he’s got post traumatic don’t-mother-me-syndrome. I point things out and than wait patiently for him to discover he actually thought of it himself. Seems to work for us.
Those are the people nearest and dearest to me, so I am not complaining, it is not something I seek to change, it just is what it is. Sometimes they are actually smart and listen to me, let me show them things, by for the most part they’re all singing the lyrics from that old Frank Sinatra song, “I did it my way…”
I think I empathize a bit too, with 1 Timothy 2:12, because I have walked in those same shoes. I have a mother who is challenging to deal with, I grew up within a lot of new age stuff, there have been women in my life who have been quite useful as role models in the sense of, just do the precise opposite of everything they say, and you will be just fine.
Ha! Oh yes, a part of my soul is often singing that same tune. The whole notion of “teaching” in the sense of telling people what to do, often rubs me the wrong way all by itself. The best teachers I’ve had are not “teaching” at all, but rather opening your eyes to new things, lighting the path before you. So a whole lot of it has to do with how we are defining the very word “teach.”
So “suffer,” are we going to suffer from having to listen to you? Are you “teaching” in the sense of trying to tell everyone what to think? Are you usurping everyone’s authority and trying to rob us all of our own power? Don’t think I’m just being unkind here, I’ve sat through enough committee meetings and whatnot pulling my hair out over both men and women who seem to believe their sole purpose in life is to boss you around and elevate their own status.
It grieves me no end to know those words in 1 Timothy have been used to silence women, to try to make us feel less than, not as worthy, unqualified. I am so sorry if that has happened to anyone. Myself, I like the beauty of those words in the sense of showing us things about how we teach, men or women, what it actually means to “teach” in the first place, and how much grace and understanding men and women can pour over one another when it comes to our quirks and differences.
There has never been any doubt in my mind that women are supposed to be speaking up and spreading the gospel. The very Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself is always linked around a woman’s tale in the bible, from the woman at the well whom He first reveals himself to, all the way to the woman at the tomb He first shows Himself to, and always the message is, go now and tell the others.
Go now and tell the others is the very heart and soul of the gospel.