I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Read the passage and break it down into its basic commands. As you tick off each one, make a note of whether or not this command should be practiced today.
1) Males should pray with their hands lifted up.
2) Males should pray without anger or disputing.
3) Women should dress modestly.
4) Women should not have elaborate hairstyles or wear gold or pearls or expensive clothing.
5) Women should have good deeds.
6) Women should be silent and quiet.
7) Women should not teach or have authority.
So, what were your answers? Unless you answered in the affirmative to every single one and live out that commitment you have put some framework of discernment in place with regard to the biblical commands. Can you identify the source of your decision matrix. For example, Paul commands that men should pray with their hands lifted up. I looked about during worship this Sunday morning and noted some hands clasped and most heads bowed but none of the men had their hands raised during moments of prayer. The Apostle also commands that women are to dress modestly but I suspect that what passes for modestly in Southern California or Florida might not be the same as the requirements in North Dakota or Alabama. Is it proper to make cultural adjustments to a biblical understanding or must the first century dress of women be the bar against which all current and future dress is measured? The point here is that there can be reasonable disagreement on the application of these commands and yet, the restrictions on women have become fossilized and made their way as the hard and fast tradition of the Church. Why flexibility on some and not on others? Is our discernment colored by other factors that we are unwilling to give name to?
It’s important to answer these questions for ourselves because many in church are simultaneously willing to ignore the first command of the passage and maintain the last as a hard and fast rule. This, in spite of the fullness of the Bible’s story in which women were active in ministries and leadership throughout the story. Is it appropriate to allow the WKSPs to control the greater body of WDWDs? Genesis 3:16 has become indurate and tradition bound up in its words, proscribing women forever to inferior status. Reading this in context however can lead us to see it as the result of the transition from Oneness to Otherness and the struggles that obtain from this relational status.
How do we respond then to Christ’s restoration of Oneness:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Co 5:17)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Ga 3:27-28)
Do we see the power here that Christ brings? At the very least, the new creation might be seen as a restoration of Oneness between men and women but, even more powerfully, it unleashes the Spirit within to undo the the Fall in our world. Thoughts?