Between Creeds and Criticism
It is still not unusual after more than ten years of study on gender theology and related biblical passages to be quoted 1 Timothy 2:12-13 as though it were a trump card to my egalitarianism. In many cases it appears as though they are thinking that maybe (just maybe) I had never considered the passage before. Perhaps the mere quotation of an isolated passage would part the waters of my dark, “liberal” mind.
Despite the reality that the Bible consists of more than 1 Timothy 2:12 alone and that it is not good to have one or two texts control one’s entire theology, I don’t find the text itself or entire passage to be so clearly in favor of gender hierarchy. That is, I do not find that the text itself teaches that only men should be teachers or in authority. Why is this? The following is a brief overview of how I read the passage(s) along with some particulars to note in this controversial discussion.
The Future of “Male Headship” A Response to John Piper
On April 19th, John Piper released a short 10 minute video where he responded to a questioner from the United Kingdom. The questioner asked him about the 'future of male headship' and if it was a 'lost cause.' As can be expected, Piper offered four (one? you'll get it later if you listen to our episode) complementarian reasons why he does not think male headship is a lost cause.
In order to best examine and critique Piper's comments, we had on our first guest, Dr. Jamin Hübner! Dr. Hübner is Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Associate Professor at John Witherspoon College in Rapid City, South Dakota. Dr. Hübner is a graduate of Dordt College (BA Theology), Reformed Theological Seminary (MA Religion), and the University of South Africa (ThD). He has also blogged at Christians for Biblical Equality.
In the Modern world, sex can largely be described as a type of currency, or even as a type of reality. Pornography is rampant and one needn't search too hard to find it. Personally, having struggled with that for most of my life (including now), it is never hard to find. So sex and sin are often linked together. Of course, this does not begin to describe the New Testament's positive view of sex (c.f. 1 Cor 7:1-16), but it does suggest that a good and holy thing can be corrupted and marred by external influences and forces. Just a note.
So, in Paul (I have to start with my boy Paul!) we have the Greek word πόρνος (pornos). This word is largely defined and understood to concern sexual sinners, regardless of gender or age. One could say this noun describes a "sexually immoral person."
We do not have this word used as often in the New Testament as we would think, but it does occur in some interesting contexts. A large concentration of the noun occurs in 1 Corinthians 5-6 where Paul is discussing the issue of the man who is "having" (ἔχειν) his father's wife. This sort of sexual sin (πορνεία) is not even known amongst the Gentiles (5:1), which suggests that this sort of sexual deviancy was being applauded by the Corinthian church and was particularly debaucherous. Richard Hays states that, "here in 1 Corinthians 5…Paul simply assumes the reality of corporate responsibility." In other words, everyone in the fledgling Corinthian church is responsible for this man's sin.
“[Insert pretentious quote and/or Bible verse]”