I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (NIV).
These verses are hard to understand, hard to accept, in the PC world we inhabit today. Yesterday I mentioned that my mom, a modern woman before most other women were modern, always bristled at Paul’s exhortations on the roles of men and women in worship. Nobody except Jesus, not even Jesus’ Apostle Paul, would tell her to be quiet or submissive. Yet here’s a point she missed: in worship. Paul was talking about worship, about worshipping God in all ways.
It’s undeniable that Eve gave Adam the fruit of sin after she had first eaten it. And it’s undeniable that God held Adam (and all men after him) spiritually accountable for the things that happened in their families. This is still the case today. Whether we like it or not, men and women do have distinct roles in God’s eyes. Where Paul talks about “saved through childbearing,” he’s indirectly pointing to the Gospel because God’s response to the excruciating pain of childbirth was to remind women that he would redeem that inner pain through the Savior. And He did. This site, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-are-women-saved-through-childbearing, does a great job of explaining this nuance.
We are to honor God in all we do. Paul believed everything we do should be an act of worship. Modesty, humility, propriety, decency: these are words of good advice for all situations, not just in the formal church and not just for women. God will hold men responsible for the spiritual acts of the people in their families, yet God redeemed them through Jesus. God holds women responsible through spiritual acts of the people they bear through childbirth and the pains associated with it, yet God redeemed them through Jesus. The common theme is “redeemed through Jesus.” It’s not about sexes.
Don’t get too wrapped around the gender roles without considering the larger context in which those Biblical roles should still apply in our ‘modern’ world. They do apply, and in many ways. Paul wrote what God put on his heart to teach us how we should worship God in the bigger picture, including our roles as men and women. We shouldn’t be quick to dismiss them.
For further reading: 1 Peter 3:3, Ephesians 5:22, Genesis 2:7, 1 Corinthians 11:8, 1 Timothy 2:11
Lord, help me to better understand these hard to understand roles you established for the sexes.