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Hi Mrs. Morley!

†††††††††I have a question for you. I know you once spoke at a conference concerning women's place in the church and was wondering if you could answer something for me.

†††††††††I've been given the opportunity to witness to strangers in a sort of "preaching" platform. My question is this: Does what Paul writes in the Bible about women not being allowed to preach or teach men apply to my situation? I want to do everything I possibly can to reach and affect the lost for Christ, but not if that means disobeying the Word or my convictions.

In Him,

Brittany (name changed)

Dear Brittany,

†††††††††I could easily answer your question with a word or two, yet I prefer to give you some food for thought. I want you to be confident with the conclusion you come to. As you referred, Paul told Timothy, "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man" (1 Timothy 2:12).There are many sides to what Paul says here.

†††††††††Some very knowledgeable women believe that they can teach men because they take Paul's prohibition against it as applicable only to the culture of his day, like his requirement that women wear head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:5).

†††††††††The opposing view is that in the Timothy passage, Paul bases his point on the creation of Adam and Eve--and their creation certainly was not a part of the culture of Paul's day!

†††††††††Another popular view is that Paul's prohibition against women teaching men applies only to women teachers who are ill-prepared and influenced by false teachers. According to this view, Eve (1 Timothy 2:13-14) is an example of someone who "taught" Adam without adequate preparation. In this view, then, women can teach men as long as they are well-prepared to do so.

†††††††††The other camp gives a few reasons why this view, too, is inadequate: 1) Paul says nothing about Eve being a teacher of Adam; 2) There is no evidence that women were teaching false doctrines; 3) Paul points out that Eve was deceived because she took the initiative over the man whom God had appointed to be with her and care for her. Women today can make the same mistake as Eve if they try to become independent of those whom God has appointed over them. Paul's comment abut Eve does not imply that all women are more susceptible to doctrinal error. Nothing in the Genesis passage suggests that they are. If that were the case, then women would not be able to teach anyone.

Paul appeals to the order of creation. Man was created first, then Eve. The point is that man has headship because he was created first (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:3-10). The headship is violated if women teach doctrine or exercise authority over men. By linking the issue to creation, Paul shows that this view of women's roles is not just for the local situation or for a limited time. The prohibition is an enduring principle.

†††††††††The last view I will mention (though there are many others) is the belief that Paul's statement, "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man" (1 Timothy 2:12), does not forbid a woman to teach men. She is only forbidden to teach or exercise authority over her husband. Opponents of this view ask, if Paul meant "husband," why do translators always use the word man? In the Greek, it turns out that the word Paul used, aner, can mean either "man as opposed to woman" or "husband." Therefore, the context must tell us which meaning Paul intended.

†††††††††Had Paul been referring to a woman's husband, we would expect that he would have said "her" husband. In this verse, there is no possessive pronounce or definite article with man. Elsewhere Paul uses such words: "Wives, be subject to your own husbands..." (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18).

Looking at the broader context of the Timothy passage, we see that just prior to Paul's saying that he doesn't allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, he said the following:

I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness. Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet (1 Timothy 2:9-12).

†††††††††Paul uses the plural "women" as