Focusing in on the wrong words!


A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  1 Tim 2:11

How’s that for a controversial admonition!  Why it’s enough to stir up some of us gals into a frenzy!

The other day, I listened to a podcast conversation where a woman, well-equipped to handle the Bible in a way faithful to the text, respond to some pushback about this thorny passage.

She handled it by pointing out that most ’21st century moderns’ pass over just how counter-cultural and preposterous was the idea, this new tradition, of women being included in LEARNING! Up until then, only men enjoyed the privilege of being taught.

Jews and gentiles alike would have balked initially at women acquiring any kind of education beyond that necessary for running a household. But Paul viewed men and women from God’s point of view. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28

For as many years as I have read this section of Scripture about women who are to be ‘quiet’ in church, I had missed the main point.  That emphasis being that women were actually encouraged to LEARN.  What other facts have I missed by not giving each word of God equal attention?

Here’s one more example –

He (Jesus) answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ Luke 10:27

I’ve always focused on the ‘ALL’ as a modifier, as in: “You’ve got to be kidding!  love God with ALL my heart, strength etc.  How is THAT possible? I love too many other things as well!”

Having shifted my attention to examine each word for meaning, I realize that one possible interpretation of this admonition is this:

Given that every person is going to love something with all his or her BEST energy, that something must be GOD instead of something like…

  • a job
  • another person
  • oneself
  • money
  • the favorable opinion of others
  • one’s family or kids
  • leisure
  • one’s country

Doesn’t Jesus’ command change everything?  For it acknowledges that human beings are wired to be devoted to SOMEthing.  If we don’t wholeheartedly worship God as worthy of our full attention and energy, we will shift our soul and strength to something created.  And that is idolatry.

How about looking at a familiar passage to see if you can read it through fresh eyes?  What might you have missed?  Let me know in the comment section.



What women alone are designed to do

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Genesis 2:18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

A new thought on an old text came to me after spending a few days with my good friend Sue.  We both are blessed with God-fearing, kind husbands who love us very much.  But as women are wont to do, we were ‘sharing’ our thoughts (not complaining J) about our husbands.  Sue was recounting how it surprised her early in her marriage (now 50 years strong, praise God) that her husband would never THINK to offer his help in the kitchen after a big dinner party.  But, to his credit, if she asked him to do something specific, he would be happy to do so.  Sue’s assessment was that he didn’t look around unprompted and see what needed to be done and then offer to do it.

This is an old complaint we women surface to point out the surprising differences between husbands and wives.  But as I was driving home after my visit and listening to a podcast sermon, I was taken by the thought that women, and not men are wired to be helpers.  Men have a different bent.  So how fair is it for us to criticize them?

Being a helper – an ‘ezer’ as the Hebrew puts it, is a holy and exalted profession.  None other than God himself is our role model.  Here are a few other places in Scripture where ‘ezer’ is used – and they all describe God.

Ex 18:4 – and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

Deut 33:26 – “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.

Ps 121: 1-2 – A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Moving on in the Hebrew, we find the word ‘neged’ meaning suitable.  It also has the sense of being in front of.  We are not meant to help from behind, but in sight of our men, facing life together with them.  Just like we keep our eyes on God, (“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” -Psalm 16:8), so our husbands should be able to keep their eyes on us, for help, wisdom and encouragement.

So then, if our husband is not created with an instinctual desire to help us, how is he created to function?  God says he was designed to do 3 things:

a)   to ‘radah’  and to ‘kabash’ the earth, that is to rule and have dominion

b)   to ‘abad’ it, that is to work it

c)    to ‘shamar’ it, that is to preserve, protect it and celebrate it

That is a pretty awesome responsibility and is way more than he can handle on his own.  Matt Chandler points out that man does not come to this conclusion on his own.  It is God who says that it is not good for man to be alone.  So God creates a (i.e. one) woman, out of man’s own flesh to be his perfect helper in this mission.

One final thought: We mustn’t get our noses out of joint, by not having what we think of as the primary role.  We don’t get to choose.  God is the designer, it’s His world.  We can criticize the creator, but what’s the point?  Why not embrace our God-given role, for which we are equipped.  Besides, we have the best role-model, God himself.  If He is not ashamed to be considered man’s helper, why should we?

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