New Roman Women:
We are now two weeks into February. As such Baptist are celebrating Martha Stearns Marshall month. Last week we were blessed by the preaching talents of Natalie Webb and next week, February 16th, my friend Lindsey Trozo will bring the thunder.
Something I have never done from the pulpit is establish why UBC has taken this position. I can't really do that here, but I did want to say a few things and address one text in particular that I think is problematic for this position.
Though there are some texts that speak restrictively against women being in positions of authority in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34 & 1 Timothy 2:12), there is also a substantial amount in the Bible about women doing just that. Whether it's Huldah interpreting the Deuteronomical material recovered by King Josiah, Deborah the Judge, Mariam the sister of Moses, Lydia, a successful business woman, providing space for the church in Thyatira, Priscilla, Junia, Phoebe in Rome, or Syntyche & Euodia in Philippians, the Bible is full of women leading in significant ways in the church.
Still, troubling texts remain. One such text that has always struck me as not just odd, but downright crazy is 1 Timothy 2:15. It reads, "But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." Yikes! What about the protestant belief of justification by faith alone. And what about women who struggle with infertility? What on earth could have possibly been meant by this?
There is a chapter in Scot McKnight's book The Blue Parakeet that deals with this issue eloquently and exhaustively. I recommend reading it if you get a chance. From his chapter on the New Roman Woman I want to quote two things extensively.
"When Paul wrote his letters to the Christians in Corinth and to Timothy in Ephesus, a gender and sexual revolution was observable in many of the major cities of the Roman Empire. What many today are calling "new Roman woman" describes an aggressive, confrontational public presence on the part of women during the very time Paul was writing these letters... Three features of the new Roman woman set our passage in its historical context.
First, the new Roman woman was expressing her newfound freedoms in immodest, sexually provocative, and extravagant dress. Rome was not terribly conservative, but those women were flouting even the limits of the Romans.
Second, the new Roman woman was noted for snatching the podium for public addresses and teaching.
Third, especially in Ephesus, alongside the presence of the new Roman woman was the Artemis religious fertility cult. The worship cult not only favored the freedom of women in public religion as did the new Roman woman movement, but it also surrounded these worshipers with eunuch (castrated males) priests. Part of their worship was the elimination of normal sexual relations; these women despised marriage and childbearing. Furthermore, this fertility cult extended their sexual and gender freedoms into open practices of abortion and contraception."
McKnight uses these suppositions and some texts from antiquity to argue for an understanding of Paul's command that "women need to be silent" not a generalization of his beliefs about women in ministry, but as addressing a specific problem created by women from this movement. McKnight would suggest that the command to "keep quiet" is there so that the new Roman women could learn and (admittedly an argument from silence) eventually have a voice in the community.
As to the specific issue of Timothy 2:15? McKnight suggest, "I doubt very much that Paul is demanding that all women everywhere marry, have children, and manage their homes. But if we factor in the new Romans woman's desire to end marriage and childbearing and to pursue instead a sexually promiscuous life, Paul is countering those ideas with the virtue of marriage and managing a home."
Perhaps you are female reading this and you don't think this goes far enough. I'm sensitive to that critique and have found some versions of Christian feminism compelling. That being said I think McKnights work with this text helps locate the whole of the hermeneutical trajectory of women in ministry in a healthy place. It is a movement towards, I think, Christ honoring liberation for women and a vision of the kingdom to come.
Meet the Leadership Team:
Chair: Jana Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Dodson email@example.com
Kaley Eggers firstname.lastname@example.org
David Wilhite email@example.com
Austin Tiffany Austin_Tiffany@baylor.edu
Byron Roldan Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
Teri Walter firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Ministries Spring Calendar:
1. Marriage Ministry Presents: Round Table Discussions (February 23 @ 6:30/childcare provided) 2. Children’s Service (March 2nd) 3. Fat Tuesday Pancake Dinner and Lent Workshop Kickoff (March 4th @ 5:30 PM) 4. Game Day at Baylor Soccer Field (March 23rd After Church) 5. South Waco Community Center/UBC Easter Egg Hunt (April 12th, 11:00 AM) 6. Marriage Ministry Presents: Game night (April 12th, 6:30 PM/childcare provided) 7. Picnic in the Park Palm Sunday (April 13th, After Church) 8. Dos de Mayo Date Night (May 2nd, 6:00 PM)
A Message from Emily:
- Our bible verses for Sundays sermon are Matthew 5:1-12.
- John Sunday School Class: John Chapters 3 & 4 with particular attention paid to the difference in Jesus conversations between the Samaritan woman and Nicodemus.
- Psalms of Ascent Sunday School Class: Revisiting Psalm 121 and introducing Psalm 122.
- Christians in the Headlines Sunday School Class: This Article.
- UBC Love, Love Feast February 16th at 6:00 PM
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