Hello again! Thanks so much for replying. I didn’t think you intended to offend, which is why I was curious where you were coming from. I think these are all excellent questions, and answers don’t come easily, which is probably why there are some many different conversations on Connect about various aspects surrounding this topic. Have you had a chance to read through some of the links @SeanO provided above? The answer from Mike Day was probably one of the most thorough theological answers I’ve read in a while, but I know others views are out there as well! Mike specifically breaks down the 1 Tim. verse.
As for myself personally, I don’t quite know how I should understand ‘authority’ as Paul mentions. I just know that I greatly respect a number of men and women across the spectrum of this debate. I tend to be much more interested in people’s motivations for leaning one way more than another rather than where they fall along the theological lines. I believe men and women are equal and deeply valuable but different. I believe we need each other to promote the mutual flourishing of humanity. I am just as concerned with my own tendency (God help me!) to dismiss a man when he preaches to the women as I am with the man who refuses to listen to a qualified woman by virtue of being her being a woman and him being a man. We need to both listen to and challenge one another, not silence.
At the moment, I am very Western in my thinking and bristle at the thought that I am under authority. Right now, I know that I am answerable to God and, in a way, ‘Caesar’. I sign a contract with my employer and am answerable in certain respects to them. I willingly put myself under the authority of my church leaders, which gives them permission to hold me accountable. As a single woman, I haven’t had to personally wrestle with the reality of submitting to a husband, but I know that I am, in some way, still accountable to my parents.
But to your questions, there are a number of answers…
The appeal to cultural relevance is an interesting one in Biblical interpretation. The main point that some would argue is that Paul, in his letters, was applying the principles of Christ to a certain cultural moment. So people try to extract the principle behind the directive and apply the principle to the culture they inhabit. The first-century Greco-Roman world was patriarchal. The question then becomes: by speaking the Gospel into the world that was his reality, was Paul commending that social system as how it should be? Most, I think, would say no. That’s where debates come in as to where we should extract principles or directives from his writings.
Paul was interested in (among other things) reconciliation: Jew to Greek, slave to free, male to female. He didn’t seem to be interested in abolishing the slave market or campaigning for women’s suffrage. Those just didn’t really seem to be things at that time. (I would love for someone to correct me if I am mistaken!) But what he was concerned with communicating is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and our mutual headship under Him) changes our relationships.
Husbands (as ones who hold social power and authority), love your (more vulnerable) wives. (Do not dominate or abuse them. Honour them. Sacrifice yourself for them.)
Wives (as ones who are under authority in this system), submit to your (also vulnerable) husbands; be subject to them. (Do not undermine or manipulate them. Honour them. Love them.)
This is 1st century mutual flourishing! (Though, in a way, it could also illustrate 21st century mutual flourishing as well.) But, here’s the kicker in Galatians 5:
Above all, submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ. (That is, honour and glorify God in your marriages and social relationships, including in the church. Be atypical. Be counter-cultural.)
Is there anything that strikes you as good/bad/interesting/helpful/wrong there? I’d love to know how your own experience of life comes into play on this topic.