(sermon by Liz Honeyford)
Scripture has a “please touch this” sign on it. Touch it. Ask questions. Learn it. Read it. Shine a flashlight on it. Touch it – especially passages like this one.
Let’s go back to the beginning – Genesis 1.26,27
God created male and female in His likeness.Together they made up the image of God and together they were to rule over the earth.
Then sin entered the world.
The consequence for Eve’s disobedience was pain in childbirth.
The consequences for Adam’s disobedience was toil and sweat.
Both Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden – out of the original order and calling God had on them.
The harmony of God’s creation was forever changed. Women would use sexuality to control men and men would use aggression to control everything. Both sexes wanted to gain control rather than submitting to the One who loved them and knew what to do with control.
This wasn’t the way God intended. Struggle and sorrow, pain and toil were not part of God’s original plan. From Genesis 4 on, the same story is told over and over again: human beings bent the wrong way, trying to get their fulfilment from another source when they were originally wired to get it from God alone. Now man and woman were cut off from God – the source of fulfilment.
The longings for peace, joy and safety are still in us but we are now cut off from the pure love of God alone. There simply isn’t enough money, or adventure, or pleasure, or friends, or work that can satisfy the core longing for attachment to God. We long to be at home and at peace with God, just like Adam and Eve were before they sinned.
God came into the chaos in Jesus Christ, who started a revolution of restoration – a transformation of all things to original purpose. During his 33 years, Jesus challenged the cultural norms for all people, especially for women. In John 4, He told the shamed woman at the well, “I am the One your heart is looking for.” John 8 is a story of Jesus giving equality to a woman.
Jesus restored women to their original purpose as co-rulers on the earth – equal as image bearers. We see Mary taking the posture of a disciple, as she sat at Jesus’ feet, like men who sat at the feet of their teachers.
In Timothy, Paul’s sole purpose is to help Timothy restore the people of that church to God’s original image in Jesus. That’s the role of any leader/pastor – to position us to become more like Jesus – back to our original design in Him.
In Galatians, we are reminded that there is no longer a distinction between Jews and Greeks, slaves or free, male or female. But rather, we are one in Christ.
We are one in Christ because God is One. He created male and female in His image. His image is male and female. Paul cannot be saying what it sounds like in this passage ( the way it has been interpreted for years) He is actually saying the opposite – that women are now permitted in the church – to learn like any man – to be involved in the full life of the church.
“A woman should learn in full submission” (vs. 11) – just like a man was supposed to learn in full submission to God.
This was all brand new. When something is new and you put a bunch of people together, there is going to be chaos. Both the men and the women were most likely struggling, being in the same building and listening to the same sermons. It hadn’t been this way for so many years.
“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, with anger and disputing.” (vs.8)
Let the women learn.
These women had never been permitted to be co-learners.
“Let the men learn and learn quietly.” (vs. 11) Don’t interrupt by all your questions. And don’t come in looking all sensual and adorned, (vs. 9.10) distracting the men because that’s no longer how you get attention. You belong to Jesus now. You can settle down. You can sit at His feet.
Most likely, everyone was confused and no one knew how to navigate all the change. So, Paul laid it out – “Tell the men this…and tell the women this….” But the bottom line is that in Jesus, we are equal. We are one in Christ. The old way is over. The curse that hit the first humans because of sin is reversed in Jesus Christ because of His death and resurrection.
We are free to be kind, gentle and good learners. Our worth is settled.
We can be all that Jesus intended us to be and we can be newly, freshly, wonderfully convicted with the truth behind that freedom.