Silencing Women in the Name of Religion
Last month patriarchal pastor Tim Bayly called out two women for supposedly overstepping their role, for doing “men’s work” instead of staying in their place.
When women such as Dr. Valerie Hobbs and Ms. Rachel Miller publicly admonish and rebuke [John Piper and Douglas Wilson], particularly men who are ordained officers of Christ’s Church, it would be hard to imagine any clearer rebellion against their sex.*
He then points to 1 Timothy 2:12-15 for the proposition that no woman should teach any man ever. Only men can do that.
If Pastors John Piper and Doug Wilson have betrayed the Word of God in their teaching on sexuality, they both are surrounded by pastors and elders whose duty it is to watch over their teaching and correct them when they are in error. This is not women’s work.
So says the Word of God.
Unbelievably, Mr. Bayly is saying that if a woman speaks God’s truth to correct a man who misrepresents God’s truth then it is the woman who is in violation of God’s truth.
Misrepresenting God’s Women
Mr. Bayly misses the point of Paul’s letter to Timothy. Ephesus, the city Timothy led a church in, was full of wrong teaching based on pagan beliefs, including a creation story that completely contradicted Genesis and a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. To take a personal letter advising a pastor facing those specific issues and then use it like a strait-jacket to control all other passages that show women teaching and leading as servants of God is not only irresponsible; it is inexcusable. (See The Junia Project’s Defusing the 1 Timothy 2:12 Time Bomb for a fuller discussion of the meaning of that verse.)
Mr. Bayly then discusses Old Testament leader Deborah (Judges 4) as he preemptively answers those who might point to women in the Bible who led and taught men. During Deborah’s rule the enemy under General Sisera invaded the land. God told her to call upon Barak to lead the Israelite armies against the enemy. Barak agreed but asked Deborah to accompany the army. Mr. Bayly picks up at this point and pities Deborah for being “forced” into leading Israel:
He is sovereign over His Order and may set it aside as He chooses, but when He sets it aside, He never does so in order to dispense with that order or undercut it. Rather, through setting it aside He establishes it all the more. We see this with Deborah who, when forced to play the man, rebukes the man:
She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:9.)
Mr. Bayly reads more into this passage than is there. Deborah did not tell Barak that his request caused God to choose to give victory to a woman instead of to him. In context, all Deborah said was that her presence would not lead to him capturing Sisera because God had chosen to hand Sisera over to a woman (later revealed to be Jael). Mr. Bayly wants it to be quid pro quo, but it’s simply narrative.
The other problem with his reading of this passage is that it fails to consider this event in context. Nowhere does the Bible say that Deborah was chosen by God to judge Israel because no man was willing. And when did God ever find that a person’s unwillingness is insurmountable? Moses was unwilling, but God got him to return to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites from bondage. Peter was unwilling, but God got him to enter a gentile household and preach the good news of the gospel of Christ. Simply put, God knows how to get people to work.
The truth is, Deborah was chosen by God because God wanted her to lead.
Women Using the Voice God Gave Them
Mr. Bayly reads the Bible to mandate allowing a man’s false teaching to continue rather than have it corrected by a woman. And while he does tangentially say that one way he knows these two women in particular are wrong is because Mr. Piper and Mr. Wilson are not in error (a point on which Mr. Bayly himself is in error), he says the real way to tell that the women are wrong is by recognizing that they are women.
God has not called Dr. Hobbs and Ms. Miller to rebuke Pastors John Piper and Doug Wilson. … Dr. Hobbs and Ms. Miller are women and women are forbidden by God’s Order of Creation and Word from teaching or exercising authority over men.
It is of less importance to Mr. Bayly that a pastor is a false teacher. It is of greater importance that women should not speak God’s truth in the face of that false teaching. He finds this supposed rebellion-against-creation-order to be a bigger offense than a false teaching from the pulpit. What an odd position for a person claiming to follow Jesus to take.
Jesus encountered those who thought people should remain silent rather than speak God’s truth.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40.)
The passage doesn’t say that only men disciples were calling out. Nor does the passage say that the Pharisees wanted only the women to pipe down. But if Mr. Bayly prevails in his teaching of Scripture, this is what it means for other passages in the Bible:
- Mary’s Magnificat is a song by a woman so skip over those verses. (Luke 1:46-55.)
- Samaritan men shouldn’t have listened to the woman at the well tell them of Jesus because she’s a woman. (John 4:28-30, 39.)
- Anna should’ve kept quiet when she saw baby Jesus in the temple because women aren’t supposed to speak in church. (Luke 2:36-38.)
- Tamar never should have told Judah to provide her a child. Who is she to tell her father-in-law how to run the family? (Genesis 38.)
- Abigail never should have helped David. She should have supported her husband Nabal even if he was wrong, and sent David and his army away empty-handed. (1 Samuel 25.)
- Pilate was right not to heed his wife’s warnings about harming Jesus. After all, she’s not the husband in that family. (Matthew 27:15-26.)
- If King Josiah knew his officials were going to ask Huldah – a woman – for advice, he’d have never let them do it. (2 Kings 22:11-20.)
- The church would be much better off if the apostles had refused to listen to Mary talk about the empty tomb. (John 20:1-10.)
- No wonder Philip’s daughters weren’t married. He let them prophesy? What kind of Godly father does that? (Acts 21:8-9.)
- When Peter told the crowd in Acts 2 that women would prophesy, he must have meant only to other women. (Acts 2:14-21.)
- Mary told the wedding servants to listen to Jesus. How could she exercise authority over them? (John 2:1-11.)
And in that passage above where Jesus enters Jerusalem:
- When Jesus said even the rocks would shout out praise to him, he meant only the boy rocks, right? (Luke 19:39-40.) At least in public?
The Pharisees knew that one way to control the people was to keep them silent so no one would challenge their teaching. Jesus was having none of it.
Some church leaders today still think they can control the people in the pews by silencing them, and what better way to shut up half the church than by telling women the Bible forbids them speaking God’s truth to men who are in error? Once you’ve silenced all the women it’s easier to pick off the men who disagree with the leader as well because at least half the people who would possibly speak up are silenced. Just as Jesus with the Pharisees, the church should have none of this.
Women should speak up.
Men should speak up.
And if both remain silent, let the rocks cry out.
[Here’s the original article by Hobbs and Miller: The Subordinate Place of Supreme Honor: A Response to Douglas Wilson.]