But I have now as of January 17, 2007. And I am so unbelievably proud that it's happened at one of our Southern Baptist Seminaries! Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson denied Sheri Klouda tenure because of her gender. Of course the decision was based on the scripture in 1 Timothy 2:12. The passage simply says that a woman can't have any authority over a man, or in other words, a woman can't teach a man. But should that passage be applied even to our seminaries? Even for women professors who are just teaching our biblical languages? A woman is not allowed to teach a man how to learn and read the Hebrew language? Really? Seriously? I've heard it all now. I sure wish Southern Baptist would take the scriptures literally!!
* This situation causes me to ask a few questions...
1. What about the historical context of 1 Timothy 2:12?
In the 1st century culture, woman had not been given the privilege of reading or learning or being educated. Isn't that sad? Women were so far down the totem pole of life. They were just objects. Today, there's no greater joy than to be able to read and learn! But women didn't have that option in Paul's day.
So when in this passage Paul says, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission," he was giving them the new opportunity to in fact, read and learn and grow. So if there was a reason Paul didn't want Ephesian women teaching it was because they had not yet gained the experience or learning needed. And it's a fact that these women were often susceptible to being led astray by false doctrine and teaching.
So is this passage based on being absolutely literal, or is it based on the culture of the day in which Paul wrote these words? I don't believe it can be both, not in its biblical truth & meaning for us today. Now, I've seen this issue at work first hand. In 1984, I was one of 25 Louisiana BSU students that went to Zimbabwe, Africa for the Summer. As I visited African homes with my two partners, the wives never spoke a word to us. In fact, they sat on a stool in the corner of the room(living room). When a snack & tea was served(which it always was), the woman of the house got off of her stool and approached us on her knees with a small basin of water so that we could wash our hands. And of course, after we washed our hands she waddled back to her stool on her knees.
Now the question is this...was what we witnessed from that African woman scripture or were we watching African culture? I believe it was the culture. How can we ignore that fact? Also, what about women covering their heads during worship in 1 Cor. 11:1-16? We sure don't take that scripture literally. We ALWAYS chalk that one up as culture. I've never seen a Southern Baptist woman cover her head to come into worship, except with maybe a pretty hat at Easter! And I dare any husband to go home today and tell your wife to sit on her stool in the corner and keep her mouth shut. It won't go well for you I'm sure.
2. What about expertise?
I can't believe that a female professor who has sacrificed the blood, sweat, and tears to study, master, and learn the Hebrew language isn't able to teach a man. We're talking about the Hebrew language...not filling the pulpit as a Pastor of a church! 1 Tim.2:12 in my opinion, in no way applies to the teaching of Greek & Hebrew in our Southern Baptist Seminaries. If she's the expert with her PhD, then she can teach me any time! Gender for our professors should have no place at our seminaries. What about the female professors that teach children & preschool courses? I bet their allowed to teach!
If your qualified...then your qualified, male or female...it doesn't matter. End of discussion.
3. What about the Holy Spirit?
I think one thing we're saying when we say that a woman can't have any authority over a man is that the Holy Spirit can't & won't work through a woman. Are we saying that the Holy Spirit works through a woman in all situations except when a man's around...and then God's Holy Spirit heads for the hills? I can't find that truth taught in any form in God's scripture. God's Holy Spirit can work though anyone He chooses to. Male or female. The only thing that God and His Spirit needs is...willingness to be used.
This issue sure carries with it the vibes of male ego. A bunch of men with low self-esteem who believe that women are less important than men are(they'll never admit that), and that a woman can't teach them anything at all. And there's no truth to that whatsoever.
I hope and pray that some of our interpretations are not wrong. It takes much spiritual strength and discipline to make sure we don't interpret(or bend) our views and beliefs to our own selfish desires and preconceived ideas.
Can God honestly honor us and the convention with the current trends of judging others, causing division, and closed mindedness that are now among our ranks? With the confirmation I consistently receive from the Holy Spirit, I seriously doubt it.
God bless each of you.