First of all today, I feel I should apologise for yesterday’s reflection. This is not the place for politics and I wandered too far into that trap. I sincerely thank those who pulled me up on it, you were absolutely right to do so. Lesson learnt. Almost certainly.
Today’s Gospel reading is from 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 18 to the end of chapter 2. Oh joy!
The first part of this reading sees Paul offering advice to Timothy on the day to day running of a church; advice on discipline and prayer and the absolute importance of Faith in everything a church does. So far so good. The second half of the reading has been a source of argument and controversy for a very long time. Paul goes on to state that women should not dress immodestly (?) in church but should dress ‘appropriately and sensibly’. Then Paul goes on to state that he “allows no woman to teach or have authority over men” and “all women should remain silent in church”. He claims as his authority for this stance Genesis chapter 2 and 3, the story of Adam and Eve. This section begins at verse 9 with the words “also I desire that women should……” and so on and so on. Think about that phrase “I desire”. Paul is giving his own opinion here; he should have stopped while he was ahead, but I think he got the bit between his teeth.
The Bible consists of 66 books written by approximately 40 authors and one editor, The Holy Spirit. We would do well to always keep that in mind when we read and study the bible. The authors were all human, like us. The inspiration was from the Holy Spirit but the pen was in someone else’s hand and the Holy Spirit does not control or overpower; He hints; He suggests; He leaves the rest up to us. Paul, no doubt, had his reasons for this stricture. N.T.Wright points out that the church Paul was writing to was in Ephesus; the site of a huge temple dedicated to a female goddess with female priests and this probably coloured Paul’s judgement. As much of a stretch as Paul relying on the story of Adam and Eve to justify his position. For myself I would point out that the first people Jesus chose to reveal His Resurrection to were the women who had come with Him from Galilee, also the most effective supporters of the early church were women.
But for me this passage is simply a reinforcement of the belief that God gave us the Bible as an aide; to help us grow in wisdom; that our Faith may grow all the better. If you base your faith only and entirely upon the bible then eventually you’re going to run into difficulties. Only reading the bible is a dangerous path to follow. If you don’t pray regularly as well then your faith is only as deep as the thickness of your bible; only as secure as your capacity to remember what you have read and understood, and reliant upon the integrity of the author, who was also another fallible human. Paul was a very important Apostle, chosen by Jesus Himself. But he was also a very zealous man by his own admission; “a Hebrew of Hebrews”. The Bible is very, very important, but it is only one leg on the stool. We must also pray and remain in Christ by being a part of a congregation for support and correction. We must also live out our faith in whatever way the Holy Spirit calls upon us to do so.
So, read your bible with intelligence and discernment; then pray about what you have read; then talk about what you have read with your brothers and sisters in Christ and your faith will deepen and broaden and you may become a shining beacon to those around you. Amen.