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1.16.2006    |    "a man of one woman"
I just love it when folks do some cherry picking of Bible verses to prove a point. Or, perhaps more often, disprove one. The point in question came up at yesterday's Bible study, in which we are reviewing Paul's first letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 3 provides us with Paul's regulations on the qualifications for church elders (or overseers or bishops) and deacons. I use the term "regulations" for, even if the exact meaning of these passages has been in constant dispute, there was never any doubt that this is what Paul demanded that the Christian churches conform to.

In most of the English translations I've read, the Greek "a man of one woman" from 1 Timothy 3:2 is rendered as "the husband of one wife" (e.g. ESV, KJV, NASB, NIV)*. There are several potential meanings for this phrase, but there's no doubt whatsoever that Paul restricted this church office to men. There are similar qualifications for deacons, and it is just as clear that they must be male.

Why "must?" After all, the feminists may argue, Paul did not prohibit women from these offices, did he? Well, again, here's another hazard of what I'll call negative cherry picking, i.e. the willful ignoring of Scripture that is inconvenient to one's white-hot modern cause.

No, Paul did not write the simple phrase, "women may not be bishops or deacons." After all, at the time Paul was writing the use of "man" or "men" was often indicative of all humans. Or so the modern feminist might say. As did a couple of well-meaning women in Bible study.

The worst case of modern-day egalitarianism was applied by one woman who cherry-picked the lovely Galations 3:28. Her point was, apparently, that, gosh darn, no matter what else Paul might have written, Paul told us that we are all one in Christ Jesus. Ergo we may all, without regard to gender, become...fill in the blank, it's open season.

The logical problem, aside from having to ignore other black letter Scripture, is that the modern woman who takes this reading of Galations 3:28 to cover any and all situations has confused the secular with the salvific. Paul tells us, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus Christ brings Jew and gentile together, but for the purpose of being chosen for salvation. The message is that race, gender, or worldly position, none of these matter to God. Nor should they to us, as regards church memberhsip.

Paul, however, was quite clear on the matter of bishops (or overseers or elders), since these entail, among other duties, presiding over church worship. And, in the passage perhaps most hated, and therefore ignored, by feminists in the church, we are told, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14:
33...As in all the churches of the saints, 34the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
"Shameful." No doubt about where Paul stands, at least. Seems he might have turned his back on the Pharisees, but kept their "men only" approach to leading in worship.


* Interestingly, the Catholic New American Bible translates this as "married only once," which is but one of at least four interpretations of the original Greek.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.