Therapy and Theology

Show Notes

Welcome to a new series of Therapy & Theology: "Let's Stop Avoiding This Conversation: 6 Topics Women Have Big Questions About."
 
Join Lysa TerKeurst; her licensed professional counselor, Jim Cress; and Proverbs 31 Ministries' Director of Theological Research, Dr. Joel Muddamalle, for a conversation about therapy and theology.
 
In Episode 3, we focus on commonly debated and often misunderstood verses in the Bible that seem to silence women.
 
If you missed Episode 2, click here to listen now.
 
Related Resources: 
  • Want more wisdom as you navigate hard relationship dynamics? Find practical next steps, powerful scriptures and timely guidance on how to set realistic, healthy boundaries in Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Good Boundaries and Goodbyes. In the pages of this book, Lysa's personal counselor, Jim Cress, also provides therapeutic insight surrounding the topic of boundaries, helping you confidently apply what you read. Order here.
  • Ready to take a personal next step in finding a Christian counselor? The American Association of Christian Counselors is a great place to find the right fit for you and your circumstances.
  • Has the Therapy & Theology podcast helped you personally gain a fresh, biblical perspective for what you’re facing? Tell us about it by leaving a review.
  • Click here to view the transcript for this episode.

What is Therapy and Theology?

Have you ever looked at a situation you’re facing in utter disbelief and thought, "How will I ever get over this?" Lysa TerKeurst understands. After years of heartbreak and emotional trauma, she realized it’s not about just getting over hard circumstances but learning how to work through what she has walked through. Now, she wants to help you do the same. That’s why Lysa teamed up with her personal, licensed professional counselor, Jim Cress, alongside the Director of Theological Research at Proverbs 31 Ministries, Dr. Joel Muddamalle, to bring you "Therapy & Theology." While Lysa, Jim and Joel do tackle some really hard topics, you’ll soon find they're just three friends having a great conversation and learning from each other along the way.

Lysa:
Welcome to Therapy & Theology. I'm Lysa TerKeurst, and I'm here with Dr.
Joel Muddamalle and licensed professional counselor Jim Cress. We are in the middle of a series and today we're on part three. The series title is “Let's Stop Avoiding This Conversation,” and today's focus is on commonly debated and often misunderstood scriptures that seem to silence women. In the last episode, we talked about personal silencing. Today, we want to talk about public silencing. And I'm going to jump right in and read one of those scriptures that … Let's be honest, we are not going to fully be able to land this plane today because scholars have been debating these scriptures we're going to talk about today, and [especially] this one, for many, many, many, many years. But I do think our conversation will be helpful.

The verse is 1 Timothy 2:12-13 (CSB): "I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve." OK.
Joel, I have a story that I'm going to share, but before we get to my story, I would like for you just to pre-tackle that verse.

Joel:
I thought you were going to say to pray.

Jim:
Yes, Lord knows we need it.

Lysa:
We can do that, too.

Joel:
Yeah, we pray before set [before recording the podcast]. Pre-tackle the verse? I think first I want just address what you just said, Lysa, that the expectation … At the end of this session, I don't think it’s going to be, or this episode is going to be, "Oh, we figured it all out." The aim is to maybe bring to light, bring to the surface, some of the cultural situations that are taking place, the creation situations that are taking place, and to give us a framework to rightly understand or at least begin to navigate: What does this verse actually mean, and how should it be translated to us today? Because often verses that are used, that are weaponized, are ignored. I call it theological dishonesty. There's a bit of dishonesty around [misrepresenting] the original intent, the cultural context, and so that's the aim, and I think this is going to be incredibly helpful.

And here's the other thing, you all, and I think it's really important that we approach this. It is my personal conviction — I know [to Lysa] you and Jim share this, too — that we approach these verses with the posture of humility and charity and consideration. If you're at a coffee table with some of your girlfriends and they view this in a totally different way, we hope … My prayer is that you can come to the conversation with "Have you considered this?" and then begin to have honest, open dialogue that will move you forward into relational integrity and understanding.

Lysa:
And here's a ground rule that I would suggest: We don't want to take any scripture — but for today's conversation, we don't want to take this scripture that I just read — and weaponize it against people who have interpreted it differently. And so we ask you not to do that to us, and we promise not to do that to you. And when you do have conversations with your friends, we ask that you not do that to one another. We don't want to violate Scripture in an effort to defend Scripture.

And, Joel, I love what you said with a posture of humility, so I'm going to open up with some personal experience. I am a rule follower and I am a serious studier of God's Word. I have a deep conviction that I want to honor God's Word, I want to live out what God's Word says, and I don't want to bring personal opinion and make that my primary focus of interpretation. I believe that we've got to get into God's Word, let it get into us and let it inform us, convict us, challenge us and encourage us.

My personal story with this is: Because I am a serious Bible student, when I read this verse … [To Joel:] Give me the reference one more time.

Joel:
1 Timothy 2:12.

Lysa:
It's 1 Timothy 2:12. When I read this verse, I didn't know what to do about it because I have felt so very called by God to teach God's Word. And my primary focus is teaching to women, and yet sometimes I'm in positions and in circumstances and situations where there are men there and I believe that men can get a lot from my teaching as well. I don't understand why the anatomy of my body should dictate the value of my words. And yet if God told me clearly not to speak, I would absolutely be obedient to what the Lord says and what the Word says.

As I got into studying this verse, though, I realized that there were some cultural and really insightful ways to study this scripture that don't become as obvious just reading it at face value. And so you and I spent a lot of time, Joel, really digging into not only this scripture but several scriptures that we’ll look at today. And it's because, bottom line, if I'm not supposed to teach God's Word, then I need to know that. After much theological study, we landed in what I felt was a good place.

And I did definitely still feel called by God to speak and to teach, and at times to even preach, God's Word. I'm not a pastor, and I want that to be clearly stated. And I don't need to be placed in authority over men. I don't. I don't have some burning desire to prove a point and do that. And I want to be careful with every bit of the nuances of these verses. But I do feel like I have faithfully taught God's Word, and I've received criticism because of that. And it would be so easy for me to be publicly criticized to the point where I decided just to stay silent.
One of those criticisms came actually from a woman, who held a different view [than my view] on this verse, and she was publicly criticizing me, writing things about me, leaving comments on social media, and the biggest one of all was publicly telling people to not engage with any part of my ministry because I was basically a heretic. So I decided that these kinds of conversations … If we were going to have a healthy conversation around this, I needed to be humble enough to listen to what she had to say, to listen to her concerns and be willing, if there were things I needed to learn from her, to learn from her with the hopes that she would also listen to me and potentially learn from me as well. So we set up a phone call.

And I very quickly discerned my hopes for the conversation to be a healthy dialogue were not going to happen. Because it really turned into a monologue where she had such strong thoughts about this verse, and about how I was violating this verse, that by the end of the phone call what I had hoped would happen — that she would be able to share and teach me her research so that I could factor that into my research and that we would have a healthy conversation — did not happen. She got to share everything she wanted to share. And I respectfully realized that she was not in any mood to hear what I had to share. I was able to share a little bit but not as much as I wanted to.

The conversation ended and I cried. I wasn't crying because I felt like I was doing something wrong. I cried because two Christian sisters couldn't come together, who both loved the Lord, who both hold to the same tenets of the faith, and yet a couple of verses in the Bible were making such an opportunity for the enemy to get in between us and cause such division and so much hurt and pain. I just asked the Lord, Am I wrong? And I want to be careful here. I don't know that God spoke to me in this moment, and I want to always be careful not to assign something to God that maybe just popped in my own head, so this could be what popped in my own head. And maybe it wasn't from God at all. But I was just overwhelmed with this response, like, Am I wrong on this? Should I be silent? Should I stop preaching and teaching God's Word? And what I heard was, You're both right. The one who was supposed to speak and teach and preach is doing that. And the one who is supposed to stay silent is doing that, so you're both right. Now, what I don't want you to hear in that is that I am bashing this other woman and saying she should stay silent. I think that she has a lot to share and I would still, to this day, love to hear from her.

But if her conviction is to stay silent, then there's a reason that her conviction is that way. And my conviction is different than hers. That doesn't make me a bad person. That doesn't make me less of a Christian. It makes me a woman who is very passionate, just like the Samaritan woman, just like Mary, Martha, just like the woman who discovered the empty tomb. It makes me very passionate. I have had an experience with Jesus and I just can't keep quiet about it. Jesus has changed my life, and I believe my personal testimony is right in line — and the teaching that goes along with my testimony is right in line — with what we see in Revelation, and that is the enemy defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the word of the testimony.

And I don't believe my testimony should be disqualified, nor should my teaching be disqualified. And that's not based on public opinion. That's based on our research. So with that, if you're still listening, I'm so happy you are. Joel, I'm going to let you take it away.

Joel:
Yeah, I think that's so important. I want to start this with 1 Timothy 2:12 by addressing the cultural situation. So we'll start with this. [To Jim]: Jim, when I say “9/11,” what am I talking about?

Jim:
September 11, 2001, the country [the United States] being attacked and the two Twin Towers coming down, I would assume.

Joel:
But, Jim, all I said were two numbers — nine and 11 — and I just happened to put them together.

Jim:
Or you made the phone call that you called the police with.

Joel:
Oh, so it could be 9-1-1?

Jim:
Yeah.

Joel:
Without the hyphen or whatever in between. So this is super intriguing. How did you know that I meant one or the other of those things? What clued you in on like 9/11 [meaning] September 11?

Jim:
Because everybody knows. It's popular in our culture. If you say that, it's word association. Most people aren't thinking of the 9-1-1 call. They're thinking, Well, come on, 9/11, don't you know?

Lysa:
And it provides a common point of reference.

Jim:
Yeah, everybody —

Joel:
Common point of reference.

Lysa:
And it's the context.

Jim:
The whole culture in America, for sure, went through everything — a trauma, if you will — together.

Joel:
Yes. OK. So I'm at the age now … I'm in the season of my life when if I mention 9/11 to my children, they're like, "Huh?"

Jim:
Yeah, I find that quick.

Joel:
They're like, "What do you mean? What do you mean, Dad?" And I think I want to use this as an illustration. When I say something like “9/11,” it's interesting that everybody in this room can locate themselves in a historical, social, cultural, geographical situation. We know we're talking about the United States and we're not talking about India. We know we're talking about New York City. We're not talking about Florida. Like, instantly, that happens. Why? Because we were keyed in on a cultural, situational context that defines … brings understanding and a framework around these words that are put together.

Let's go to 1 Timothy 2:12: "I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet." And then Paul goes on in verse 13, "For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (CSB). Every text has a context, and that context determines meaning. This is a basic, foundational — here's a big theological or biblical word — hermeneutical method, the method that we study the Scriptures from. And here's what's interesting. Just above this, starting in verse 9 [through verse 10], let's see ... yep, verse 9 … this is what Paul says: "Also, the women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense, not with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, or expensive apparel, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess to worship God.” And then he goes into verse 11 [and 12]: "A woman is to learn quietly with full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man …" (CSB). So the big hermeneutical, theological question is: Why is it that so many who would hold such a strong, aggressive interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 are typically OK with some jewelry, with the wedding ring, with hair that is done in braids? What changed?

Well, I want to go to the cultural issue. What Paul is dealing with is the city of Ephesus, and in Ephesus — this was the topic of my [PhD] dissertation, so I spent a lot of time in Ephesians and the city of Ephesus — there was this massive temple, the Temple of Artemis, one of the nine wonders of the world. And at the Temple of Artemis, there was a cult at the very center of the temple, and that cult was a prostitution cult. So you would walk in and you would see women who were dressed with elaborate hairstyles, gold, pearls, expensive … Like, this is almost a copy and paste, a photograph, of what's happening in the Temple of Artemis. So what's happening?

Again, another illustration: If there's a church and there's a cult right next to the church, and you know the cult because for everybody who walks in those doors, the symbolic identifying marker is red hat and red shoes, and everybody who walks in wears red hat and red shoes … they'd be like, "It's probably unwise for us to wear a red hat and red shoes and walk into the house of God." Why? It could be really confusing for a lot of people. "Wait, are you part of the family of God or are you a part of this cult, this thing that's happening over here?"

This is where I'm going to land and I'm going to suggest — again, with humility and charity — I really believe that what Paul is dealing with here is tightly connected to a cultural situation where you have the Temple of Artemis and you've got cult prostitution that's taking place. And the goal always, from the Old Testament all the way throughout the New Testament, is that the people of God are to be holy, set apart. They're not to look like, act like or to become engulfed in the culture of the time. They're supposed to be set apart. Why? So that the culture, the people of the world, can come and be invited into the family of God. So this is speaking to a pretty specific situation.

Lysa:
And it was necessary to have clear distinctions between what is being maybe taught or even perpetuated over at the Temple of Artemis and then what is being taught in the synagogue or the church, right?

Joel:
Right. And so here's the other thing: We want to take one verse and view it in light of the rest of the canon of Scripture. Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, Paul is totally good with women prophesying. He's totally good with women taking active participation in the worship services. And so, why? We ask this question of why would there be this definitive statement here? And remember these are letters that Paul is writing to specific local churches that have specific people in mind and a specific context in mind.

Here's the other interesting cultural situation. There's what was known as the Cult of Cybele. The Cult of Cybele was this kind of cult where women had made this theological argument that they were actually superior than men in hierarchy. They're it. They're the peak and the pinnacle of all of creation. And so there’s this heresy that’s coming around that now Paul is looking at and saying, "Whoa, hold on, hold on. This is not Cybele. Like, we're not doing that. Actually, we have to go back to Creation." This is why he goes to Adam and Eve. We have to go back to Creation. How are Adam and Eve created? Well, they're created in oneness, in the same image of God. There's no room for a superiority complex.

And then the other massive theological challenge here is when he says in verse 12, "I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority …" (CSB). So what does that mean, “to teach” or “to have authority”? The Greek word for “authority” here is afthóntheon. And I'm going to just be honest; it is the most … If you were open to open up a commentary on 1 Timothy 2:12, you'll have pages of commentary and notes billed here. But here's what I think is happening, and I'm following some scholars like Tom Schreiner, Dr. Linda Belleville, Dr. Nijay Gupta: Afthóntheon is this word that is being used to describe a type of authority. And the type of authority is a hostile, domineering, demeaning type of authority.

And so, if that's the case, it starts to put some puzzle pieces together for the larger context of 1 Timothy 2:11-12. OK, so you've got this temple, you've got this cult, and you've got these women who are being super angry and aggressive. And now you've got Paul who's coming in and saying, "The gospel is a different picture." The gospel is a different picture. It's where men and women are united in the likeness and image of God. And there's no room for either/or, for one to be superior and one to be inferior. They both have to be elevated together. And so, I think if you've got —

Lysa:
Well, and also, Joel, let me say one thing here. I also think — and this is important to state — it is also making sure that the image of God in the men is not devalued. Now, we've talked a lot about, because of the Imago Dei, not devaluing a woman, but there's also a place in the conversation that it seems as if Paul is saying there are circumstances happening where men are being devalued and it is an offense to the Imago Dei in the man.

Joel:
Yeah, exactly. And so, some would say, "Well, Joel, then he goes to a Creation argument." And I say, "Absolutely, he goes to a Creation argument." And here's why I think he's going to the Creation argument. Again, I'm following New Testament scholars on this: Adam and Eve are both, together, viceregents of Creation. They are both royalty. They're both sons and daughters. They both hold a specific responsibility with intrinsic value.

The image of God is a status that is bestowed upon humanity that cannot be revoked, and that status requires a standard. We are to live up to the status that is given to us. The fall breaks humanity. It doesn't break the image of God. And so the fall makes it hard, impossible, really, in our humanity to live up to the status. So how does that come together? Well, I think Paul is being brilliant like Paul is. He's a brilliant theologian and scholar. He's saying, "We've got to go back to the ideal of Eden."

We've got to go back to where men and women … and we could do so much work here. In fact, I wrote an entire theological paper that unpacks all of this, and we'll make that available for you in the show notes as well. That goes through the Old Testament language, the New Testament language and how it's connected together. But the language in the Old Testament is about human oneness and not human hierarchy.

Jim:
Wow.

Lysa:
That's so good.

Joel:
It's human oneness and not human hierarchy. I think it's also a nod to a Trinitarian ethic of the oneness of God. And yet even in the Trinity, we see that there is an economic — I'm using some technical terms — there's an economic distinction in that. The Son is the Son, the Spirit is the Spirit, and God the Father is God the Father. And yet they are three in one; it's one of the core tenets and beliefs of the Christian faith.

And that's really modeled in even how God created men and women. There is a oneness that comes together. And I think this is exactly what Paul is bringing back to the forefront.

Jim:
I love it.

Lysa:
[To Jim:] I want to know: You see so many women in your office because you deal with partner trauma, and the work you do is so significant … How many times does the public silencing of a woman play into the overall hurt that she has experienced and complicate the healing that she needs?

Jim:
Well, these, again, are conversations that even the three of us have had — you [Lysa] and I certainly have had. Not in any particular order … A big one is, "Well, yeah, whatever he's done — fine. You just need to forgive him and quick." Secondly would be — and again, we talked about this one or two podcast [episodes] ago — “You ought not, even with a Christian counselor, be out there telling stuff of your bedroom or telling stuff that's private, so you need to keep that. You don't betray him or don't go into a counselor, even, and tell what you're struggling with, ma'am, if your husband doesn't approve of it.” And there are men, and I've seen wives, too, who say, "I don't want my husband to go into counseling.” It's about secret keeping. It's as though there is this pull-back [against] simply telling the narrative. Simply going in — naming, not blaming — and saying, "Here is what's going on."

And then we've talked about the spiritual abuse side, which I do call it that too. If there's a sense of weaponizing God's Word and almost taking these passages that we just went through and saying, "You should not even speak in public or to a counselor. Don't tell that. That's private." And people, a lot of women I work with, get confused and question, "Is this biblical? Am I violating God's Word by simply coming in and telling the narrative?" They're confused about that.

Lysa:
And are they confused because they have misunderstood Scripture? Or is it —

Jim:
That's in there.

Lysa:
— what they've been taught?

Jim:
Both. I hear both a lot.

Lysa:
And —

Jim:
And their integrity. They don't want to violate, somehow, God's Word, and they say, "Well, if it says this, then I shouldn't do that." And the big one is [if] I have been betrayed by a spouse, for example — infidelity — and then I go in just to tell the story and tell his secret sins or whatever, I'm betraying him. No, that's not betrayal. He might think it is, but that's not betrayal. That's telling the narrative.

In the Word of God … I just literally heard in God's Word this morning, sitting with the door open, the beautiful weather we had here in Charlotte, "And what man covers, God will uncover." (Luke 12:2; Matthew 10:26; Mark 4:22; paraphrased) He will bring it into the light. I don't know when, but there are other passages in the Scripture [that say the same thing]. Plus I love 1 John 1:7: "If we walk in the light" — think about a husband and wife for a moment — “as he is in the light ...” (NIV). See the lights all over the studio we're in? We’re in the light, out of the shadows, out of the darkness. It is there we want to “have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7, NIV). That's where we can meet.

And by the way, whatever you bring, in the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us from all sins. But there's just this sense of [thinking], I don't want ... Anybody who's ever had a teenager, you know it. "Get up. Time to go to school. Get up." And they don't, so you want the click the light on. "Ah, turn that light off," [the teenager says.] John 3 talks about evil deeds and darkness. So I see that piece as a woman's trying to come in almost with a dimmer switch and just lightly turns it: "Can I turn the light on my reality right now and share what's going on?" And she can think she's betraying her husband or doing something unbiblical.

Lysa:
Not only do I think that there are scriptures that are misunderstood and possibly even weaponized against women, but I also think that there are some common phrases that it's assumed they're in the Bible — and that's also playing into this — when in fact, those phrases are not in the Bible.

Jim:
I bet there's a lot of those.

Lysa:
And so, examples of that … Well, one example is “forgive and forget.”
Joel, we did over a thousand hours of theological study around the topic of forgiveness in preparation for me writing my book Forgiving What You Can't Forget. And we never found that where [the Bible] says “forgive and forget.” God will throw your sins to the depths of the sea to be remembered no more ... (Micah 7:19)

Joel:
Which is —

Jim:
Judicially, right?

Joel:
Judicially. It's anthropomorphism. It's anthropomorphic. It's a human characteristic that's applied to God to give us an idea. It's an image. And yet God is sovereign and so He knows all.

Lysa:
Absolutely.

Joel:
Isn't this so intriguing, that we've taken a statement out of context, stripping it, and we’ve taken a biblical principle, which you can't get around, and we get into this … And “forgive what you can't forget,” at least in your book, that forgiveness is a command. And yet that statement and phrase [“forgive and forget”] is never in Scripture.

Lysa:
And also the therapeutic side of this is that sometimes it's like … I don't know an exact phrase that people assume is in the Bible, but this concept is once you forgive, you're never to mention it again. In other words, once you forgive, if you forgive, then there is this sense that the healing is complete.

Jim:
They quote me Paul's pedigree. He listed all the stuff he'd done in his pedigree. Then he says, "Well, that's just done. Forgetting what lies behind, I press on." (Philippians 3:13) And people say, "Well, the Bible says ‘forgetting what lies behind.’"

And I went, "Well, let's check in with the source. The woman, in this case, who you've heard … Can she forget it? And if aphiemi, one [Greek] word for ‘forgiveness,’ means to cancel the debt, sir, would you be willing to sit with your wife and explore the debt? We know the debt, the overall residual impact of our sin collectively, was put on Christ, who went to the cross. Would you be willing to look at the debt? Even the Lord's model prayer says, ‘Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matthew 6:12, NIV).” And I see guys shut down.
“There's nothing in there …” I say, “But the Greek word is saying it. It's forgiving the debts. Walk into the debt. Own the impact.” And I see, in many cases, a fellow shut down.
"I don't need to do that. She just needs to keep moving."
I'm like, "Mm-hmm."

Joel:
And elsewhere in Matthew, there's a parable that Jesus gives of the king, basically, who forgives the debt, a severe debt for a citizen. And that person goes, as soon as he's forgiven him that debt, he goes and he chokes out —

Jim:
Chokes the guy, yeah.

Joel:
— the guy who owes him a fraction of what homeboy owed the king. (Matthew 18:21-35) And so that's another example. Well, are we supposed to forget completely? Well, no, actually, I think what it is … It's an awareness. We need to be aware. And another word, Greek word, for “forgiveness” is charizomai. It's a phrase that Paul coins, and he does that often in the New Testament. And it's a grace-laced type of forgiveness.

Jim:
Nice, right?

Joel:
It's beautiful. It comes from the Greek word cháris, which means grace. But the idea is that, yeah, we forgive. It's a gracious type of forgiving. However, it's also judicial in the sense that we're to be aware of the great debt that we have been forgiven of, lest we act like that man who is forgiven and totally misses the fact that it is expected of us to live out the consequences of that type of redemption and forgiveness in our lives.

Lysa:
That's so helpful. And so I think we see that sometimes verses are weaponized or misinterpreted. Sometimes, there are assumptions made about what is in Scripture and it's not actually in Scripture. And then sometimes we take a verse that was meant for a situation and we use it as a broad sweeping application, like for all women —

Joel:
First Corinthians 14:35.

Lysa:
— and all time. OK, so let's go there,
Joel.

Joel:
Yeah. You just said it: 1 Corinthians 14:35. So I'll read this and I'll start in verse 34. Paul says, "the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but are to submit themselves, as the law also says. If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, since it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church" (CSB). How does that make you feel?

Jim:
There's a long and pregnant pause there. Have you noticed that? It's like, "Yeah."

Joel:
How many times have we heard that? “Well, the Bible says … Paul says … First Corinthians ...” Now, I'll give a little bit of context here. Paul, again, is speaking to a specific church. There's an understanding in Greek rhetoric, which Paul is deeply steeped in, it's called the Greco-Roman World. Hellenism, Greek culture, has invaded. It's been part of the Roman culture and it valued conversation; it valued dialogue.

And what Paul I think is getting at here, and I'm following scholars like Craig Keener, Leon Morris, Ben Witherington … In rhetoric, it was very common for, let's just say [for example] in our conversation here: I’d get done with this, and at the end of it, Lysa, you’d critique me. And you’d say, "Well, Joel, that sounded great, but what about this? And what about this?" And
Jim, you would critique me, and you’d each have your area of specialty.
A lot of people don't know this, Lysa, about you, but if I could give you an honorary PhD in Jewish culture and context … The things that you know about Israel and Jerusalem are so brilliant after years and years of study. So you are qualified to critique me and to ask me questions. Jim, therapeutically, you said, "Joel, that's great, but what about that?” You're qualified.

In the culture at that time, and this is, again, the subtext around what's happening with women and silencing and all the things that we're talking about here in this long-overdue conversation … It was not normative. It was uncommon. It was actually intentional that women were uneducated. They weren't given the opportunity to learn — they weren't. And now, all of a sudden the gospel comes in and Jesus has Mary at His feet. And the first evangelists of the resurrection, the key eyewitnesses, are women. It is disrupting and turning the Roman world upside down.

And here is this little church that's present. Now, here's the challenge: Paul wants order. Paul wants us to speak with understanding and with wisdom. And so what was happening in some of these churches where people were getting really zealous and excited was that now it became disruptive. It was … [People at church] didn't really understand the context [of the teaching] or what was going on. And it took away from the preaching of the gospel. Notice —

Lysa:
And took away from learning.

Joel:
From learning, exactly. But notice what Paul does. And I'm going to quote from Keener, Dr. Craig Keener. He says, "Instead, he provides the most progressive model of his day. Their husbands are to respect their intellectual capabilities and give them private instruction." I would say — Joel would say — "To what end?" So that they could then participate in the rhetoric in the future.

And it's not just Keener and Leon Morris. Paul is here concerned with the way that women should learn. Not that they don't learn and not that they're just to be silenced but actually to encourage them and to equip them. And I think that is an incredibly important aspect. Because once you have that understanding, it’s much more difficult for us to just hijack 1 Corinthians 14:35 and be like, "Yep. Paul said it."

Lysa:
And do broad sweeping application to all women for all time.

Joel:
[Repeating:] All the women all the time.

Lysa:
Let's go back to the verse that we read at the beginning.

Joel:
First Timothy 2:12.

Lysa:
And you were talking about the Temple of Artemis and the women there and how they were distinctive-looking. Isn't it true that some of those women were going into the church and it was causing confusion inside the church?

Joel:
Sure, sure.

Lysa:
So when you saw a woman that had the distinctives like you mentioned, “red hat, red shoes,” that's not what it was in that context of —

Joel:
Gold, pearls and braided hair.

Lysa:
Exactly.

Joel:
It's all the list that he mentions.

Lysa:
Yes. And what were these women doing when they would go into the church?

Joel:
There's a little bit of debate on what's actually happening here. And it really doesn't matter where the debate is because what matters is how Paul is addressing them, the identifying marker of them. And Jesus does this elsewhere when He tells us to treat [certain] people like gentiles or tax collectors. If somebody came into the church and they were dressed in this way, it was one of two things: One, they're curious about the gospel. There's all of a sudden a Jesus who redeems and values. And so they're curious; they're skeptics.

The second [possibility] could be — and I think this is a valid possibility — they're coming to disrupt the church. They're coming to lead them astray. It doesn't matter which one you land on, and both go to the basic, foundational understanding that we need to be aware of. We need to know why — what is the goal? — so that we can woo them, that we can pray for them, that we can invite them to be part of this family of God. And so it’s super confusing if all of a sudden [believers] start dressing like [unbelievers].

And this isn't even a cultural conversation in today's world. The idea isn't so that you and I look more like the culture. It's actually an invitation for the culture to reflect the goodness of the Kingdom of God that is coming at the end. Jesus is going to make all things new and bring the new heavens and the new earth together. And yet there is a real warning that Paul gives, and it's all over the place, actually, in the New Testament: that we should not be conned into acting like, and placing our lot and our affections and our loves into, the culture. We're supposed to be inviting them to come into the family of God.

Lysa:
So are they the women he was instructing or he was referencing when he said they should remain silent in that context?

Joel:
Yeah, very well could be. Because imagine them being in there, and all of a sudden they're speaking out and they're causing chaos. And then it's like, "Yeah, it's about church order."

Lysa:
It's about church order. And was there also a reason … You pointed to it a little bit when we were in the other verse, in Corinthians, but would there be a reason for all women to have stayed silent?

Joel:
It doesn't … [Jokingly:] You're about to get me going off. It is incongruent with the rest of Scripture, so this is that ... If this was the case, then Paul would have said, "By the way, women shouldn't prophesy. Women shouldn't pray in public," all of these. But it is incongruent with his larger teaching, which then forces us to deal with the cultural context. And if we deal with the cultural context, now it's about the wisdom of saying, "How far are we going to go with this?" And I think this is where we have to be charitable.

It is very possible for brothers and sisters in Christ to look at it and land in different places and personal conviction. But that personal conviction should not be elevated to a place of [determining if] you're in the family of God or you're not. There's a place for disagreement and a difference of opinion in these types of things. But this overarching, broad proclamation that all women at all times should never speak is just not present in the text. You'll be hard pressed to find actual legit scholars that are going to suggest that. It's just incongruent.

Lysa:
And sometimes when we hit upon verses that are so challenging and there are many different interpretations and convictions that people have after reading these verses, I like to say, "Well, let's go look at the Word made flesh. Let's go look at the Jesus context." And when we go to the Jesus context, Jesus very much was aware of God's desire. Jesus was very aware.

And so how did Jesus operate with women? How did He handle ministry with women? And do we find cases where Jesus silenced the women? And if so, then why? But in many cases, if not, then why? And when I started doing that, I started to recognize — like we said in the very first session of this series, or the first episode — that it's important to bring the value of a woman, and how Jesus valued the woman, into this consideration.

And I ended the episode one of the series by saying this: What if the Samaritan woman had been silenced? And why would we ever want her to be? What if Martha, who was the first person to whom Jesus, in the book of John, revealed "I am the resurrection and the life" … What if she had stayed silent? And why would we ever want her to be? And the women at the tomb — what if they had stayed silent? And why would we ever want them to be? I think looking at the life of Jesus, it's important to also factor that in here. So, Jim, any parting thoughts?

Jim:
That's some deep waters we just traversed, and I love it. I love that you land the plane back on Jesus. On a personal note, and I think a theologically accurate note, I just love gently reading the text of Jesus’ involvement with women. I don't hear Him shaming them. Clearly, with the Samaritan woman, He's breaking certain rules. I think He knew that. He says, "Yeah, I will have these conversations."

On a very practical note, I think this is true also, for me, around churches. You talk about the more corporate church … The idea is, in my opinion and in my belief — Lord have mercy – I want the voice of women involved in every aspect. Does that mean she can do this and do this role and all that? … But the idea that there is so much that men are there leading — and I know because I'm ordained as a pastor myself — and people would say in church work I've done, “Yeah, but I go home, and my wife is my advocate and she's there.” And she says, "I wouldn't have said that to you."

There's so much behind the curtain where women have advised pastors who may say the woman can't preach or teach and all like that. Sometimes that's not true, but I'm thinking just to have the woman's voice there, male and female distinctively … And if she is the ezer kenegdo, even that strong suitable helper, I hope more and more — I’m going to say it my way — that women don't have to just wait for a man to give the place like in a marriage or a relationship to speak their truth.

For me personally, with my life, if Jessica, my wife, had not gotten and still does get in my way — and she does it gently and firmly — to say, "I don't believe you want to say that. You want to change that. You want to back it up" … Like, I can be in the flesh; there's biblical language, and I could be harsh. And she would say, "Do you really want to say it that way?" I verbally and emotionally abused my wife in our marriage. We were in therapy 20 years, basically, off and on. I did that. I was a different show and a pornography addict — that's massive abuse. And so I have worked hard to change, and I want to offer to anyone out there that a person can change if they're willing. But with that, [I hope] that women will just continue to name it and say "this is what it is," with an energy that has a vision for that guy, not to condemn him. He's condemning himself, believe it or not, already. But [I hope] that women would say they give themselves permission. And I do that in my office. Give yourself permission to speak the truth. Ephesians 4:15: "Speaking the truth in love" (CSB). I don't think she needs anyone else to give permission. [Those are] my thoughts.

Lysa:
That's so good,
Jim. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for your testimony as well, just around what you've seen and how you've seen this improve in your own relationship with Jessica and in your marriage. Again, I want to encourage anyone listening: This is the start of a conversation.

Jim:
Good.

Lysa:
This is not meant to be the stopping point.

Jim:
That's right.

Lysa:
We are informing you, but we want you to dig into Scripture. We want you to do your own research and we allow space for your personal conviction, and we will never condemn you for those personal convictions. One time someone said to me on the flip side of this argument, "
Lysa, why are you not demanding a seat at the table?" And —

Jim:
There it is.

Lysa:
— again, I thought to myself, That's not the best of who I am to walk into any situation and demand a seat at the table. Because again, I don't want to violate Scripture in an effort to defend Scripture. I don't want to suddenly walk in full of pride and all puffed up. And it's just not even part of my makeup to be that demanding woman.

And so, my response back to them is, "If I demanded a seat at the table, I may be given a seat at the table because I'm a woman, but I don't want a seat at the table just because I'm a woman. I want to bring so much value into every atmosphere that I walk in that [my gender] becomes slightly irrelevant in the context of my value that I'm bringing. It becomes irrelevant whether I'm a man or a woman because my value speaks for itself. What I'm bringing to the table is so important that maybe I get a seat at the table or maybe I just get to speak at the table or maybe some other decision is made. But if I bring enough value to the table, then I will be valuable.”

And so as we close today, I just want to say please don't take this podcast and start forwarding it to all of the pastors who you think need to be “righted” on this or all of your family members who have a different view on these verses. And this isn't meant to prove any kind of a point. It's meant to open up the conversation and the dialogue with the humility to say, "I want to bring some theological wisdom into this conversation." Thank you,
Joel, for providing us with theological wisdom that we may or may not have had access to without you sharing it. I think it's important.

And as we wrap up today, I just want to say to anyone listening, male or female, you are valuable because God says you are valuable. And if there's places that we get this wrong, then we'll have to answer to God for that. But here's my thought, my closing, parting thought: I would rather stand before the Lord and have Him tell me I was too eager to share than to stand before the Lord and have Him say, "Why didn't you share?"