Men and women have some obvious differences… According to “Good Housekeeping,” the average woman cries five times per month. The average number of times per month a man cries is one (seems like a lot).
Here’s another example. In a Harvard study of several hundred preschoolers, researchers discovered an interesting phenomenon. As they taped the children’s playground conversation, they realized that all the sounds coming from the mouths of little girls were recognizable words. However, only 60 percent of the sounds coming from little boys were recognizable. The other 40 percent were yells and sound effects like “Vrrrooooom!” “Toot toot!”
This difference persists into adulthood. Communication experts say that the average woman speaks over 25,000 words a day while the average man speaks only a little over 10,000. What does this mean in marital terms? On average a wife will say she needs to spend 45 minutes to an hour each day in meaningful conversation with her husband. What does her husband sitting next to her say is enough time for meaningful conversation? Fifteen to twenty minutes — once or twice a week! (By the way, that’s probably not enough communication for a healthy marriage, if you were wondering!)
We’re looking at Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding some practical matters of church life, and today those instructions deal with the role of women in the church.
1st Timothy 2:9-15
Likewise, the women also should adorn themselves in respectable clothing with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold jewelry, or pearls or expensive clothing, but with good deeds, which are fitting for women who profess godliness. Let a woman learn in quietness with full submission. But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was deceived, came into transgression. But she will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control.
If you’re looking for a passage of Scripture that runs directly counter to the prevailing wisdom of our culture and “political correctness,” then 1 Timothy 2:9-15 is a good place to start. Our culture is so terribly twisted on issues of gender and sexuality… and the pressure for the church to compromise and conform on these issues is immense. Unfortunately the pressure is so great that many churches are folding under it. Mark Dever, a pastor in Washington DC, captures the seriousness of these realities:
“The most important revolution of the last century has been the sexual revolution… It’s as if a license was given out, legitimizing the bending of every part of our lives around serving ourselves… Since that time, divorce and remarriage, abortion, premarital sex, and extramarital sex, as well as homosexuality have been accepted by increasing percentages of the public. Pornography is a huge business. This is not just a problem with society out there. Many churches have found their members plagued by failed marriages and illicit affairs, by so called private sins that turn out, so often, to be public disgraces.”
We live in a culture, in a world, and sadly, amid churches marked by rampant sexual immorality, skyrocketing divorce, the degradation of marriage, and the confusion of gender. The current debate over homosexuality and same-sex marriage is just one example of these disturbing trends. But these issues are much larger than mere politics, and the results have been disastrous. As another pastor put it:
“Confusion over the meaning of manhood and womanhood today is epidemic. The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons… the consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity… and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.”
The issue of manhood and womanhood strikes at the very core of who we are, and who God is, which makes the Bible’s instruction on the matter all the more essential and needed. Passages like 1 Timothy 2:9-15 are now laughable to the world… and it seems they’ve done their job well, because this passage is almost equally as difficult for Christians to accept today.
I also know that for many women, this passage especially (as well as other passages like 1 Corinthians 11, and 14, or 1 Peter 3) can be very difficult to read, to interpret, to accept. And a lot of that, I think, is how people have misinterpreted or misused them. But this passage, nonetheless, is essential to the life of the church—that’s why Paul includes it here in his letter to Timothy. God’s Word is not out of line; nor is it out of date. So no matter how uncomfortable or difficult certain passages can be, we have to repent of any arrogance and resistance in our own hearts, and try the best we can to understand what God is teaching us here, and then gladly submit to God’s good design.
Last Fall, at the national church leaders conference at Shepherds Seminary, Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Seminary and a very popular speaker and cultural commentator, was talking about the moral paradigm shift that’s taken place in America.
Dr. Mohler cited several sources who have made the staggering statement that today, in western civilization, we are seeing the most rapid moral paradigm reversal that has ever occurred in human history! He said there is a pattern—a sequence of events—that takes place during a moral revolution such as we are witnessing today. It goes like this:
1) That which was once condemned, now becomes celebrated.
2) That which was celebrated becomes condemned.
3) Those who refuse to celebrate are condemned.
We’ve certainly seen that process take place in recent years, have we not? Anyone, especially if it’s because of religious beliefs, who disagrees or refuses to go along with and celebrate culture’s ever-changing definitions of gender, and gender roles, is condemned in the eyes of the world. But if we as Christians are to reflect and honor Christ, then we must live by His wisdom rather than the world’s. I hope that we can bow the knee to the authority of Scripture as we look at Paul’s instruction for women in the local church over the next couple of posts.