We are excited to announce that we have a series coming out in January. We want to engage in a longer conversation with the role of women in the church with contributor Alicia Hovanas. Today, we want to give a teaser of the discussion to come. Enjoy!
-Our Church Too Team
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 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.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15
I remember the first time I read this passage, and I remember exactly how it made me feel: like an inferior, second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God, whose aspirations and gifting mattered exactly zero percent when it came to using them in the church. I remember wondering what the hell I was even doing at a Bible college learning all this stuff that seemed like it could only be relegated to personal edification or teaching children one day—the latter of which I had zero interest in.
I remember sitting in my Pastoral Polity and Theology class with Dr. Jay Held, who deeply believed in having women in leadership within the local church. Much to my dismay and dejection, my vocal 19- and 20-something-year-old male classmates did not share his inclusive theological viewpoint, a point they made well-known in my presence, fervently arguing that “the Bible is clear” on the issue of women’s leadership in the church. I loved what I was learning in the Pastoral Leadership major in conjunction with my Bible and Theology major, and I was doing really, really well in Jay’s courses. But I couldn’t handle the heartbreak of showing up to class as one of the only women in a sea of men who repeatedly let me know I didn’t belong. After too many tears, I switched to a different minor: Hebrew.
I loved what I was learning in the Pastoral Leadership major in conjunction with my Bible and Theology major... But I couldn’t handle the heartbreak of showing up to class as one of the only women in a sea of men who repeatedly let me know I didn’t belong.
Thoughts began to creep up in my brain, thoughts I tried desperately to quash: “Why did God even bother creating women if men were so much better?” “Why would he ever give women gifts and passions for teaching if they couldn’t use them in the church?” “Is God even a fair God? It seems cruel he would equip and light a fire in a woman’s heart to accomplish all this good for the church and for the Kingdom if she’s not even allowed to use it.” I had no choice but to shove the feelings and insidious concerns further and further down to avoid spiraling into a serious existential crisis and crisis of my faith.
A couple years later and a couple months away from having the Hebrew minor under my belt, I was sitting in a large auditorium at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, waiting for my volunteer orientation to begin. In my lap was a Hebrew Bible opened to the creation story—and something strange was about to unfold. After reading this passage literally hundreds of times, where I had some of it even memorized in the Hebrew, something changed: I began to read the word used for “Adam” and “man” in a totally new light. God didn’t give Adam dominion over the earth, he gave man dominion—and not “man” in the sense that he gave males and males alone this intrinsic and exclusive leadership, he gave it to mankind. Humankind. There wasn’t a separate Hebrew word for “humankind” and “man,” they were one and the same.
After reading this passage literally hundreds of times, where I had some of it even memorized in the Hebrew, something changed:...There wasn’t a separate Hebrew word for “humankind” and “man,” they were one and the same.
With that lightbulb rapidly flicking on, the suppression of my questions and deep concerns couldn’t be squelched any longer. Maybe there was more to what was going on at face value with that nefarious, gut-wrenching, soul-crushing passage in 1 Timothy 2. Maybe it was time to peel back the bandage and take a look at the necrotizing wound of my faith. Maybe it was time to clean it out and face the ugliness head-on. I was terrified of what I would find, but more afraid of wondering forever, of never having peace, of continuously wrestling with God, of forever keeping God at arm's length away for fear that God wasn’t really as good as everyone said—or really, that God is more good to men than women. If I dove in, at least this way, I could face the music and decide how to move forward if my fears were confirmed.
What I found was utterly shocking.
Indy: So we’ve nearly made it to Christmas. Erin: We have indeed! Indy: What a weird Christmas it’s going to be! All locked down and no...
We are excited to announce that we have a series coming out in January. We want to engage in a longer conversation with the role of women in the...