More silence


Brain things, Walking with Jesus / Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Confession: I can’t figure out what God thinks of women.

I was cruising blissfully through 1 Timothy last week and suddenly hit a speed bump.

Let a woman learn in silence.

Full stop. Frown.

Excuse me?

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.

And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.

Um… Silence, Mr. Paul, is a strong word.

I gnawed that one for a while, and then read on, into the two clearest reasons I have ever heard.

  1. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

So there are first things, and then there are second things. I take it I am—er, a Second Thing.

2.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.

Hmm. This “woman” item is easily led astray. Call it a strength, if you will—a tender open-heartedness, a willingness to learn, so unlike the solid unmoving stubbornness of a man. Eve cared a lot about being smart, and free, and was willing to do what it took to get there.

So either as punishment or as prevention of repetition, her voice was silenced.

Am I okay with that?

Well, no.

Unfortunately, neither Paul nor Christ asked me what I thought. Sometimes I am really angry about it, but after my last post on the silence of Jesus I found myself asking—

Is silence a bad thing?

What if it wields a perfect, open-handed strength of its own?

Now I wonder about the practical side of this. In our church, women are invited to take an active role in teaching (to women and children), in public prayer and testimony, in singing and giving thanks, and in making decisions.

There are a couple of good men in my congregation who would like ladies to be more involved in discussions and decisions. (Hi, MH and GZ…) Do I agree or disagree? I am honored by the way they honor women. But I wonder. Is that what we need?

If the issue is that women don’t care and are therefore silent, I object. All good things in the world start with caring!

But my small experience says that we Mennonite women are not so much cowed-into-submission as good-at-getting-what-we-want-by-pulling-strings-behind-the-scenes.

That’s called manipulation.

If the antidote is to speak up, I’m in favor. But what if the antidote is to be silent?

What if men are at their best when they learn to catch hold, and women are at their best when they learn to let go?

What do you think?

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Luci
10 years ago

I so love your posts, Shari– your brave but gentle bringing out of the hard questions of life. I cannot get myself together enough to comment on most of your well articulated posts. And on this one? Not so much either. 🙂

I do know this. I have SO much to learn about that silence that “wields a perfect, open-handed strength of its own”. I’m an opinionated person married to a slow to air his opinions man. Sometimes I hold back and pray, sometimes I manipulate behind the scenes, and too often I just speak my mind. We have a really tiny little church so the women talk and share opinions quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say that any of them are the type who are running ahead of their husbands. Except maybe me. How hard I have struggled w/ Paul’s words. How easily I forget that the Spirit probably speaks a lot more clearly to Dan than He does to me.

Thank you for provoking me to think about this again.

10 years ago

” . . . so unlike the solid unmoving stubbornness of a man.” Laughing.
Like Luci, I can’t get myself together enough to comment well. But I like your questions and thoughts.
I wonder what all Paul meant by “in silence.” Let us know if you get any revelations. 🙂

Rosanna
10 years ago

As a woman with opinions and not afraid to speak publicly these are the only verses in the Bible I don’t like. But i do want to not just put up with but happily embrace what God says is good and right. Thanks for posting your own wrestling . . .

10 years ago

“And your sons and DAUGHTERS will rise up and prophesy”…

Just to throw something else into the batch, here. 🙂

On a funny note, my friend was listening to the radio one time while a woman was preaching (admittedly, my friend was kind of mocking this lady preacher). The woman turned to these verses in 1 Timothy (accidentally; she was meaning to look up the identical verses in 2 Timothy) and read them aloud.

There was a long pause before this woman preacher said, “Oh, oh, these weren’t the verses I meant. Let’s turn to 2 Timothy. ” 😉

LaDonna Nice
10 years ago

This is always something I wrestle with. Mostly, because I am opinionated, drama queen and have a very hard time biting my lip. The Lord is teaching me alot about this, but there are still areas where I am unsure.

Renita
10 years ago

Wow! I’m in this scary position right now of my husband wanting my advice, but me afraid to dish it because of everlasting consequence! Believe me, we have wrestled this one around long and hard, but your point of Adam and Eve makes me really think. (“Hmm. This “woman” item is easily led astray. Call it a strength, if you will—a tender open-heartedness, a willingness to learn, so unlike the solid unmoving stubbornness of a man. Eve cared a lot about being smart, and free, and was willing to do what it took to get there.

So either as punishment or as prevention of repetition, her voice was silenced.”)

So, what if we get to the point where my husband is totally open and willing to listen to me as a spiritual, insightful person– and then he listens to me TOO much? (or is there such a thing?) I know I’m an easily swayed person, maybe too gullible in people’s opinion. So, wishing for so long that he’d listen to me more, I’ve come to the point of just wanting him to make the decision and be the leader.

I’m glad God made first things and then, second things.

10 years ago
Reply to  Renita

Good point, Renita!

I don’t see this in you and Daryl. Actually, I’ve noticed and admired the opposite: the way you purposely defer to him in decisions.

But yes, it’s absolutely possible for a kind husband to be led about by a strong, spiritual woman, and it’s not pretty. 🙁