I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

1 Timothy 2:8-15

Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”

Shannon L. Alder

Silence: (n.) the absence of any noise or sound; stillness.

When I was a teenager, I remember hearing this scripture in a teaching and the speaker was practically yelling how woman shouldn’t do this and that. As a girl, it was scary and confusing, so I looked to my mom. The fury and anger on her face was terrifying. She stayed quiet and listen to the speaker. When we got home, immediately she dived deep into studying 1 Timothy. My dad and us (my sisters and I) joined her. It was confusing because on one hand Paul is saying woman need to be silent, while on the other hand he is praising and thanking a woman for her work. At the time, I think we concluded that 1 Timothy was written to a church in Ephesus where they were into not Godly stuff. Everyone, from men to women to children, all had to relearn truth. When men get in order, women can get in order, and so on and so forth. My mother finished by warning us to beware how people could twist these scriptures to benefit themselves, to advocate their rightness.

Now, God put it on my heart to study 1 Timothy again, years later. Rereading this scripture in this time period of rising feminism and self-love, it’s easy to feel angered or question this verse. It is even easier to quickly to say that it was just written for the time period, it’s not meant for me, distancing myself from the anger and hurt. But what if it is? Would the meaning change if I put aside my hurt and my feelings? Is there something in there for me, now?

And there is. Silence is the absence of noise, but it is also stillness. How many times do we learn something, do we want or jump to say something? Well, I do a lot. Maybe if I was still, if I pushed my thoughts and feelings aside and truly absorbed what I was learning, I can find the truth. Then with authority, usurp is authority (in this case) gained by force or illegally. A queen can write a law, but not a handmaiden. A queen’s authority comes with learning and experience, or marriage to the king. A handmaiden has not learned or gained the king’s authority that way. That is not to say that every queen should be a queen, but not every man should be a king (in verse 9 the like manner refers to verse 8 where Paul says men should be in prayer, in God). But we can learn to how to carry those titles, to serve those roles. That’s the thing with Adam and Eve. She was deceived. Maybe if she knew, if she learned in stillness, she wouldn’t have been. Yes a woman’s role as a mother can save them (childbearing is the act of producing OR bringing- attracting- children) on the condition that they continue to believe in God.

As a woman we don’t have to be quiet, but we can learn in silence. Shut everything out and listen to others, learn from others. Because no matter what, we can always learn something.

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