A Beautiful Household (pt. 1): Men Who Pray, Women Who Work, and The God Who Saves (1 Timothy 2:8–10)

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A Beautiful Household (Part 1): Men Who Pray, Women Who Work, and The God Who Saves

Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” On Sunday we had a good chance to apply that passage, as we saw how 1 Timothy 2:9–15 is profitable for all God’s people.

Unfortunately, Paul’s words about men and women have often been misunderstood, misused, and even denied. Some have used this passage as a proof text to keep women quiet in church. Others have rejected Paul’s words because it smacks of male patriarchy. All in all, this passage IS a difficult one. Yet, we can make sense of it by paying attention to the context of 1 Timothy.

In the flow of Paul’s letter, these verses play an important role of showing how gospel-centered men and women worship God together. In this way, 1 Timothy 2 is not meant to give a place for men to exclude women from learning, speaking, or filling key roles in the church.  It is meant to affirm the goodness of men and women and the complementary ways they serve God together.

On you can listen to this sermon online. You can also read a couple important blogposts about these verses. And below you can find a few response questions with additional resources. Continue reading

Say What, Paul? Six *More* Things That 1 Timothy 2:8–15 Does Not Mean

stain glass 2Yesterday, I listed six things that 1 Timothy 2:8–15 does not mean. Today, I list six more. That post and this one complement Sunday’s message on 1 Timothy 2:8–10 and anticipate the coming message on 1 Timothy 2:11–15.

While any of these posts/sermons can be read or heard on their own, they are intended to be considered together. For if we are to understand what Paul means in these verses, it will take a fair bit of work in the text of Scripture and the history surrounding the church in Ephesus. For that background, I recommend the book Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15.

For now, here are the next six things that 1 Timothy 2:8–15 does not mean. Yesterday, the list focused on 1 Timothy 2:8–10. Today, it focuses on the next four verses (vv. 11–15). If you know the passage, you know these are the more difficult ones ;-) Continue reading

Say What, Paul? Six Things 1 Timothy 2:8–15 Does Not Mean

glass8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

[This is the first of two posts on 1 Timothy 2:8–15. These posts are meant to complement the two sermons I am preaching on this passage at our church.]

A lot has been said, could be said, and needs to be said about 1 Timothy 2:8–15, but many of things said have either been misleading or just plain wrong. This is true for feminists who deny the apostolic witness of Paul, evangelical feminists (egalitarians) who affirm his apostleship but restrict his words to Ephesus, and traditional Christians who have demeaned women by so vociferously proving the point that women cannot teach men in the church, they have effectively denied the vital place of women—and women teaching, see Titus 2:3–5—in the church.

In scholarship, the most thorough explanation of this passage has been the book Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15, edited by Thomas Schreiner and Andreas Köstenberger. If you are studying this passage, this is a must-read. I have found much help in it and highly recommend it.

What follows cannot replace a thorough multi-discipline study of the passage. What I do want to do is outline a number of ways we must not read this passage. Without claiming to have a full grasp of everything in 1 Timothy 2:8–15, therefore, here are six things the passage does not mean or imply. Tomorrow, I’ll add another six. Continue reading

Putting the Bible into Practice: Women in the Workplace

The subject of manhood and womanhood is not a casual conversation.  In fact, from Garden of Eden until now, manhood and womanhood has been under Satanic attack.  Sadly, too many evangelicals have casually followed societal trends, giving with little thought to God’s designs for men and women.  Unaware of the way that ignoring gender roles in marriage and the church distorts the gospel (cf. Eph 5:22-33; 1 Tim 2:11-15; Titus 2:1-10), too many Christians take their cues from the world on defining maleness and femaleness and ascertaining what is good and right for men and women to do or not to do.  However, even among those who take a complementarian stance on the Bible, challenges arise as it pertains to putting into practice biblical principles about men’s and women’s roles.  It is for this reason that I write this post.

I ran across an old sermon by John Piper on 1 Timothy 2:11-15, “Affirming the Goodness of Manhood and Womanhood in All of Life” a passage known for its interpretive challenge and its counter-cultural teaching (if you read it as affirming biblical complementarity).

In his application section on the passage, he addressed the tricky subject of women in the workplace, and he gives some very helpful principles for discerning appropriate “female leadership” in a context that is not explicitly discussed in the Bible.  Here is what he has to say:

Women in the Workplace

The one other thing I have time to say is something very brief about the issue of women in the workplace. What about leadership of men there?

My answer is probably going to be dissatisfyingly general rather than specific. But that’s because the Bible does not address this as clearly as marriage and the church and because the nature of leadership in many jobs is so fuzzy.

I give my answer in the form of a principle. Leadership can be measured on two scales or continuums: on a scale of directive to non-directive and on a scale of personal to impersonal. Let me illustrate.

    1. Personal-Impersonal: A woman who designs the traffic patterns of city streets exerts remarkable leadership over all the drivers in that she determines how they drive. But this leadership is very impersonal. On the other hand the relationship between a husband and a wife is very personal. All leadership falls somewhere on the scale between very impersonal (little personal contact) and very personal (a lot of personal contact).
    2. Directive-Nondirective: A drill sergeant is the essence of directive leadership. On the other hand non-directive leadership is much closer to entreaty and suggestion. A good example of non-directive leadership is when Abigail talked David out of killing Nabal (1 Samuel 25:23–35). She was totally successful in guiding David’s behavior but did it in a very non-directive way.

My principle, then, is this: To the degree that a woman’s leadership of man is personal it needs to be non-directive. And to the degree that it is directive it needs to be impersonal. To the degree that a woman consistently offers directive, personal leadership to a man, to that degree will his God-given manhood—his sense of responsibility in the relationship—be compromised. What’s at stake every time a man and a woman relate to each other is not merely competence (that is very naïve), but also whether God-given manhood and womanhood are affirmed in the dynamics of the relationship.

While I am sure more could be said, and scenarios could be drawn up to question this principled response, I think Piper is on the right path and helps us apply biblical truth to the challenge of being male and female in a society that wants to erase the distinction that God made in creating humanity male and female.  Though Piper’s analysis and articulation of the matter is out of step with today’s norms, and sadly is rejected or dismissed by many evangelicals, his complementarian view seems to be the most faithful reading of Scripture as it relates to men’s and women’s role.

For more on the subject, see the multi-author work edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The full text is available online.

Seeking to apply the Bible to all of life, dss

Hollywood and the Holy Word: Substance, Supplication, and the President-Elect

What if Barack Obama were white?  Would he have been elected by such a large margin?  I’m uncertain.  It’s interesting that this election was decided as much, if not more, by the color of Obama’s skin than the content of his character.  From the polling data broadcast tonight, it seems many voted for Barack Obama for the sole reason that it is time to elect an African-American president. I don’t disagree. I rejoice in that our country has a black president. But if that is only qualifier for office, it mutes the political, ideological, moral, and even theological issues at stake.

(Interestingly, if people voted only on the superficiality of skin color, it is the converse of MLK Jr’s famous speech, which advocated human appraisal based on the content of our character and not the color of our skin.  With that said, let me say Obama’s election is a milestone inconceivable 100 years ago and unforeseen even within recent decades.  Thus, today’s election stands as a victory for civil rights. For that we give God praise).

Nevertheless, in opposition to those who laud Obama with Messianic ascriptions, I am concerned about the substance of his character and what he stands for in his personal morality and in his political agenda(s).  He is smooth talker, an ear tickler, and a heart warmer, but is he a man of righteous character, integrity, and political justice?  Time will tell.  Every tree bears fruit.

But time has already begun to tell, and much observable fruit has already fallen.  So that in electing Obama as the 44th president, the American people have willfully elected the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual (and thus anti-family) president in the history of the United States.  Barack’s unwillingness to defend the unborn and his positive affirmation of homosexuality do not just invite the Lord’s wrath they extend it (cf. Rom. 1).  The judgment of God has already been at work in our nation, as more than 40 million children’s lives have been snuffed out since 1973; likewise, the increase in homosexuality is a demarcation of a people that has lost its moral compass and has embraced a pernicious kind of lifestyle.  Abortion and sodomy do not only solicit solicit, they are in themselves part of God’s judgment.  Consequently, unless Obama’s stance on these issues changes radically, I fear that his rule will only further a culture of death and sacrifice decency and life on the altar of autonomous liberty and freedom of expression.  This is not true freedom (cf. John 8:31-32; Gal. 5:1).

His culpability is not isolated, however.  Since the American people hold in our collective grip the sword of government to defend the innocent and to promote justice, we as a nation will give an account to God for our disregard of His standards of justice and law, written on the hearts of men (cf. Rom 2:14-15).  Therefore, America as a whole, is responsible for the election of public officials who use the God-ordained sword of he state to shed the blood of those they are responsible to protect (cf. Rom. 13:1ff).  Sadly, based on previous statements and voting records, our president-elect will move ahead to deny life to the unborn and will promote legislation to obscure God’s design for marriage–hence implicitly distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:32).

As I reflect on the events of today, I am more convinced than ever that the American people are deceived by what they see and by what is put before their eyes (cf. 2 cor. 4:4).  The polls today reflected what I would call the “Hollywood Effect.”  Because Barack Obama looked presidential, the American people type-cast him for the role.  In this, the voters acted less like a responsible republic and more like a studio casting agency.  Obama’s speech, his demeanor, his poise, and his looks won him the part.  Compared to the track-record of John McCain, Barack’s political history lacks substance, but his crowd-pleasing performances captured his critics glances and overcame his diminutive experience.  In a world of special effects, scripted speeches, cyberspace, flash photography, and sound bites, our next President is a Hollywood star.

So, substance? Doubtful. Time will tell.  But, screenplay?  Absolutely.  The audience at home has voted.

While I am concerned with the next President of the United States, I will pray for him.  1 Timothy 2:1-4 tells me that God wants me to pray for rulers, that they might come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  I have been convicted by this.  My own lack of prayer for political legislation and political leaders has become increasingly evident as election day arrived.  I have, myself, too often lacked substance in my life–looking spiritual but failing to lift holy hands and prayer.  Yet, in response to recent events, that must change.  I do not want to be a Hollywood Christian, one who could be typecast for the part; I want to be a genuine believer shaped by the Holy Word.

As we close this day and begin a new season in the life of our country, may Christians redouble their prayers for the new president.  May we pray for his salvation and that God would change his mind about abortion, marriage, and other issues of justice.  May we cry to the Lord for mercy, because Americans as a nation are the ones who turns the sword on its own children, who glories in the shame of same-sex unions, and rejoices in both as autonomous freedoms and cultural rites of passage.  May we, the people of God, cry to God for mercy so long as these Christ-rejecting evils persist, and may we pray that our next President not add to the horror but wield the sword well.

Sola Deo Gloria, ds

Palin, Posts, and Prayer

I don’t write much about politics, and for good reason. I am a political novice and a legislative skeptic, but since my google reader has been overflowing with recent ‘Palin’ posts,  I feel compelled to offer the obligatory political post.  So instead of talking better than I know about politics, I will simply link to a handful of reflective Christians who have offered insightful and sometimes irascible comments.

The importance of this issue to gender complementarity, women’s roles, and the local church is where I am most concerned, and it is interesting that concurrent minds have diverged over this issue.  Voddie Baucham and Doug Wilson see this as a deadly plague for the family.  Albert Mohler sees this as a unique opportunity to differentiate the church from the government office.  Denny Burk follows the President’s lead. David Kotter, and the folks at CBMW, seem to want to use this opportunity to clarify the biblical nuances of gender complimentarity. And Tim Challies offers a cumulative survery of these and other considerations.

All of this discussion is healthy and good. Yet, I wonder in the richness of the conversation how much, if any, prayer has been lifted for this VP candidate and her family. Personally, I have been convicted about my lack of intercession. As I wrestle to understand the impact this governmental decision has on gender roles and the local church, in addition to its effect on Sarah Palin’s own family, I have not prayed for her as a godly, complementarian man ought. Ironically, as gender issues arise in the wake of these events, one thing is clear from the passage that has caused so much debate–i.e. 1 Timothy 2–that godly men are to raise holy hands to the Lord in prayer. They are not to quarrel in anger, but rather are to labor in prayer for the good of the their family, their church, the gospel, and their country. Discussion is good but prayer is better. May we as we read, write, question, and speak about these recent events, lift holy hands to heaven and pray for Sarah Palin and for our government, so that the gospel of Jesus Christ might have free reign in our families, our churches, and our country.

Here is a list of recent posts:

Reforming Marriage author, Doug Wilson has four thought-provoking posts: Kind of Spooky When You Think About It , Palin Comparison , An Epistemological Pileup, John Slays His Thousands.

Voddie Baucham separates Pro-Life and Pro-Family and makes some provocative, but polarizing, comments about Sarah Palin’s VP selection in his post, “Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick?”

Offering a more balanced commentary, Dr. Al Mohler blogs on his website, and on the Washington Post’s eclectic “On Faith” website

Denny Burk follows Dr. Mohler’s lead and presents a balanced response to the issues his post: Southern Baptist Hypocrisy?

Also navigating the challenging terrain of complementarity, CBMW Director, David Kotter offers a two-part series, “Does Sarah Palin Present a Dilemma for Complementarians?” Part 1. Part 2. From speaking with him the other day, it sounds like more reflections on the biblical and cultural issues are forthcoming. Stay tuned.

Finally Tim Challies summarizes a long list comments in the blogosphere with his lengthy rundown.  You can read it all here.

May we who love the wisdom of gender complementarity pray for Sarah Palin, for our country, and for our churches as we continue to think biblically on this matter!