I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
1 Timothy 2:8-15 (NRSV)
All right, my friends who identify as women. Let’s be honest, shall we? It was all our fault. Because we are women and our ancestor, Eve, the mother of all women was tempted and gave in, we are responsible for every transgression in the world. Aren’t we? The lusting spouse who betrays their wedding vows? The teenager who tries drugs for the first time and creates an idol for themselves?
Let’s not forget that person who slept in on Sunday morning rather than keeping the Sabbath holy, too. Because if we take a literal look at the words of 1 Timothy 2:8-15, we may hold ourselves responsible. And my other-gendered readers? You probably look down on us, too.
It is obvious, isn’t it? Women hold the weight of the world on our shoulders.
And as a woman who regularly experiences anxiety, I could easily fall into the trap of letting myself dwell on the literal translation of these words and believe it all. Maybe I could even find a way to blame myself for World Wars and the fall of empires.
Yet, I need to stop.
Sure, when this was written, we can figure out that women were seen, but not heard in public ministry. But now, today? Probably not so much.
According to The Concise Bible Commentary by James M. Gray, women, even when this letter was written to Timothy, were and still are allowed to teach. Allowed to serve. The letter says that she will be saved through childbearing…, meaning that women are not saved through giving birth to a bouncing baby with ten fingers, ten toes, and the ability to make even the most cold-hearted coo around them. They are saved by the act of caring and nurturing children – by training them in the image of God.
Thus, don’t hold a woman down by expecting her to repopulate the world to save her soul. Empower her to preach, to teach, to share the good news with anyone who will listen!
Furthermore, there’s a tension here. This call to hope for women that we can be saved, too, if we impart the gospel enough is a direct contradiction of Jesus’ promises. He died for the sins of all, and nothing we do (no teaching, no preaching, no good works, no repopulation of the world through childbirth) can earn our redemption.
Good news! Jesus redeemed us all. Man, woman, gender-noncomforming, whoever you are and however you identify, you’re loved by God!
You have redeemed us, and we thank you. We thank you for our individuality, for the words you give us, for the Spirit that guides us. We thank you for creating us in love and perfection. Remind us every day that all are equipped to teach, to love, to share, and to empower. Help us to serve one another and embrace one another as we work together for Your will.
In the name of our Creator we pray,