Monday, 16 November 2009

Should We Divide Over 1 Timothy 2:12?

You hear from time to time in conversation and from articles in the blogosphere that Christians need to unite around the 'essentials', whatever they may be (BTW in many cases you'll find that one man's essential doctrine is another's expendable inconvenience).

One issue that rears its ugly head as an 'expendable' is that of women's ordination/preaching/leadership. "There's a world out there that needs the gospel," goes one argument, "and it's tragic that Christians are divided over such trivialities as women in leadership." As such, churches that hold to opposing views on female ordination are encouraged to put aside their petty differences and work together in evangelistic rallies, political endeavours, social justice campaigns, etc, for the good of the gospel.

Here again, we see the twin headed beast of egalitarianism and modern tolerance trumping the text of Scripture. I believe that the biblical writers would affirm the contrary, that for the good of the gospel, churches should not work with others that are in error in this matter. One may ask, why this tight ass approach? Well, with long broom stick protruding from my bottom, I simply reply that female ordination betrays an attitude to the word of God that, given time, will spew it's unbelieving vomit all over even those 'essentials' we've united over.

Lig Duncan once remarked that if there was a text in Scripture which stated, "I do not permit you to baptise infants" then the whole paedobaptism argument would be settled. Yet we have such a text in 1 Tim. 2:12 regarding female ordination and many in the church still find ways around it. It's phenomenal to read the exegetical hoops some commentators jump through in order to make the text say, "I utterly affirm that women should teach and have authority over men. In fact, I think it's splendid."

If one can make black say white in 1 Tim. 2:12, why not do it elsewhere? Why not make 1 Cor. 6:9 say that "fornicators, gossips and homosexual offenders WILL inherit the kingdom of God"? Why not make Isaiah 53:5 say that "punishment wasn't necessary to bring us peace. There is no central motif in the Messiah's death"? Why not make Rev. 22:18 say, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: don't see these words as timeless truths. Try to hear what the Spirit is saying in your own faith community"? Why not make John 1:1 say, "the Word wasn't God"? Why not make 1 Cor. 15:14 say, "And if Christ has not been raised, it shouldn't effect whether you believe in God or not. Rob Bell says the Christian faith is a trampoline to enjoy, not a brick wall preserving doctrine"? Why not make Gal. 1:8 say "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, give him a fair hearing. Truth after all is plural and he's probably bringing a fresh perspective"? Why not make Rom. 4:5 say, "However, to anyone who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, that person should be more concerned about social justice"?
The hermeneutic which affirms female ordination in 1 Tim. 2:12 is a ravenous beast that is not content to let sacred truths abide unscathed. If we are to guard the gospel we must be willing to make hard choices regarding those individuals and denominations who affirm female ordination. We must not commune them, fellowship with them, share a platform with them, or work with them. And if this hurts their feelings so be it.

1 comment:

John Thomson said...

Tough words indeed. But words to think deeply about.

Since most women who enter the ministry must have found a way round 1 Tim 2 then one assumes they already embrace a deeply flawed hermeneutic. If gender issues explicitly commanded are subverted then where will women leaders draw lines? Surely they are already committed to cultural relativism or theological pragmatism?

What moral authority does a woman leader in the church have to resist claims that homosexuality is a legitimate expression of Christian diversity?

You are right, gender issues are not trivial they reveal a hermeneutic; and in the case of egalatarianism a subversive hermeneutic.