I’m never sure whether to say that spirituality is a simple thing or not. I think it’s simple in the sense that the kingdom belongs to children and makes the foolish wise. But I also think the Bible is not simple in that it’s a Middle Eastern theological text of many genres. There is some poetry, some law, some philosophy, some legendary stories, and even some personal letters.

The primary texts used to explain the view Churches of Christ (and other churches, of course) have towards women’s roles are letters from Paul to the church in Corinth and Timothy (I Corinthians 14:26-40 and I Timothy 2). I’m going to try to keep this as short as I can, because sometimes your point can get lost in too many words.

Let’s look at these passages. The interpretation used here by people who believe women should remain silent is a very surface-level, literal one. People read this and think, “Well, it seems simple if you just read what it says.” And it does seem that way. But If you look to even the surrounding verses, I think it becomes clear that it can’t be interpreted simply.

Take the I Timothy passage. The related passage begins in verses 11-14 about quietness, submission, and authority, but then takes a somewhat strange detour in verse 15 stating that “women will be saved through childbearing”. At that point I think it becomes clear that there is more to this passage than meets the eye. Because if we continue to read with that simplistic interpretation , then we must then deduct that the salvation of a woman depends upon whether or not she has children– beyond that it seems as though she must physically bear the children to be saved.

One friend said that in reading this, he would rather be more stringent in following this passage (referencing raising hands in prayer and not “dressing to impress”), and I completely agree on those points. But I don’t know anyone who would agree that only women who have physically given birth to a child will be saved. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this would eliminate quite a few women from even the option of being saved– pre-pubescent, unmarried, the infertile or those married to infertile men, etc etc. I am not trying to be crass or claiming to have some great understanding, but just trying to point out the flaw of the hermeneutic.

To briefly touch on the passage in I Corinthians 14, I think that if you look at the context, you’ll see that the entire passage is relating to a worship service that I think most Christians would find pretty foreign today, complete with the speaking of tongues, multiple prophecies, revelations, and everyone leading their favorite song. :) Again, not claiming to have superior understanding, just pointing out the inconsistency of the interpretation.

I have a few more things to say about women’s roles, and I’ll get to them soon. But here are some great resources I think you should check out if you’re interested.

Mike Cope, from Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, gave a great lesson on the subject of women’s roles when their church announced that they were going to push towards gender justice in their church. His sermon is located here. http://highlandchurch.org/dl/32.mp3

Gal328.org, Gender Justice and Churches of Christ is a great resource for people and churches looking to learn more about the importance of women being allowed to share their gifts.


PS– Some people have told me they’ve tried to leave comments but they don’t show up, and I really don’t know why that’s happening. Just don’t want you to think I’m censoring you or anything. :)