Losing the forest for the trees...

In response to the post "The death of motherhood..." in which I cited 1Timothy 2:15 ("Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."), some have asked how 1Timothy 2:15 applies to men, fathers, singles, or barren wives? To which I respond:

First, it is Scripture that declares woman will be saved through childbearing. How and in what ways is debatable, but the statement is there.

May men be saved?

Of course—the Apostle Paul was a man and he was saved. May single women be saved? Of course. Childless wives? Of course.

Those who do not bear children, whether men or women, are not saved through the bearing of children, but this does not mean they aren't saved because they don't bear children. There are many means of grace.

But what about married women who are fertile and wholly or partially repudiate childbearing? Are they saved through childbearing?

It might be better to ask whether their repudiation of childbearing is rebellion against God and places their souls in jeopardy? The answer is... yes.

I think this is the point of the post: that women who are married and repudiate motherhood in part or wholly thereby repudiate one of the central means of God's grace to woman. And repudiation matters.

So what about single women or barren wives?

God has other means to accomplish His work with them, but we must get our minds off this modern morbid habit of sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal. The norm for women is marriage and fertility—not singleness and barrenness—and here in 1Timothy 2:15, God has addressed the normal. Not the abnormal.

What place does fatherhood have in God's plan for the salvation of man? I don't mean to be nasty, but can't we listen to 1Timothy 2:15 without having to move off it because postmodern victims whine about how it makes them feel to be excluded? There's a time and place for everyone in God's economy, but the barren, the single and childless, and men are not here addressed. Save them for another text and another discussion so this text may be burned into our minds. Otherwise we never learn the rule because we're always sidelining the rule with demands that the rule take a back seat to the exception to the rule.

You see, whenever we come to a text of Scripture and protest its specificities by asking, "But what about ME" or "What about HIM or HER," our complaint that God has excluded this or that person in the specificity of this text, here, is just the old postmodern ploy of demanding that God repent of all those distinctions He has made and called "good." Man or woman, married or single, fertile or barren, black or white, rich or poor, church member or officer, saved or damned, Heaven or Hell; postmoderns sneer at such "binary" or "dualistic" categories and thinking.

So again, back to the actual words God inspired here: married or single women giving themselves to the bearing and raising of children should take comfort from this Scripture promise rather than feeling guilty that their single and/or childless sister in Christ is excluded.

Let us keep in mind that the essence of God's decrees is that most will be excluded based on His perfect will:

(Jesus said) Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. - Matthew 7:13, 14

Do we love the doctrine of election and reprobation?

If we love the God Who decrees all things according to His holy will, we will love His predestination to eternal life and foreordination to damnation and Hell. Everything He does is perfect and we love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

But what about my much-loved yet unbelieving brother or son?

(Jesus said) If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:26

It is not heartless to answer, "Do you love God and hate your family or do you love your family and hate God?"

You respond, "But why should I hate my brother?"

Because our love for God and His ways is to be all-consuming. We must not think we are nicer than God.

No question prayer is a means of grace. No question a man's work tilling the soil is a means of God's grace. No question single and childless women are saved by other means than the bearing of children. No question a marriage that is childless is still a marriage. No question men are saved, too, although they can't bear children (yet).

But back to 1Timothy 2:15:

Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. - 1Timothy 2:15 (RSV)

What are we willing to say to our Christian sisters who are living a life of repudiation of this means of grace God lovingly declares in this verse—that is the place for us to focus our attention rather than allowing compassion for those suffering under abnormalities to gag this blessed truth.

Hope this longer response was helpful, dear sister.

Love,

PS: I'm placing this as a main post, so please comment under the post, if you'd like.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

What if they are submitting to their husband's wishes to use birth control? Are they in rebellion to God?

>>What if they are submitting to their husband's wishes to use birth control?

We have a number of cases recorded in Scripture where wives catch their husbands in sin or are caught themselves in their husband's sin. Sometimes Scripture assigns responsibility and sometimes not. Each situation is different. There is no universal rule of application. Thus Adam is condemned for listening to his wife; Sarah seems to have acquiesced to Abraham twice passing her off as his sister, yet Scripture doesn't explicitly say who did what; Saphira is condemned and punished for her joint agreement with her husband to lie to the Holy Spirit, etc.

God knows our consciences. Since he is her head, the husband who refuses to give his wife children will have a greater responsibility.

Love,

Tim,

Thank you for this. 

It touches on something I had a mini-rant about earlier this month. I think Mother's Day should be largely given over to celebrating women who have borne children. I'm tired of admonishments to not forget this or that constituency which forgetting might leave some feeling excluded. 

I think a wise man once send there is a time for rejoicing and a time for mourning. Lets have our rejoicing with mothers and put away our mourning for another day.

Thank you, my dear sister. Much affection,

Check your citation of Matthew 7; I think you've accidentally tagged on another sentence that was meant for the next paragraph.

I always think of 1 Tim. 5:8 as the masculine corollary to 1 Tim. 2:15 (although I see the new NIV has emasculated this verse, with unfortunate implications). It's sad how we think we can evade God just by coming up with a simple-minded paradox. Makes me think of the Sadducees:

"Teacher, there was a woman among us whose husband was unable to give her children. When he died, she married his brother, who commanded her to use birth control, and she submitted, so they had no children either. Then when he died, she married another brother who didn't have enough money to support both of them, so she got a job and worked outside the home. But they never had a high enough standard of living to raise children, so they had no children either. Finally, this brother died and the woman remained single until her death. Now tell us Teacher, if you can, what do you think God's going to do about this woman, huh?"

Thanks for the correction, Elliot. I've changed it.

>>I always think of 1 Tim. 5:8 as the masculine corollary to 1 Tim. 2:15 (although I see the new NIV has emasculated this verse, with unfortunate implications).

The Greek of 1Timothy 5:8 does not specify that the command "provide for" is specific to, or limited to men. Men are understood to be the primary recipients of the command since men are the pater familia (fathers of their household), but this command applies also to women. A good example would be Lydia who seems to have led her own household (Acts 16).

In other words, translations of 1Timothy 5:8 that employ the English words 'a man,' 'his,' and 'he,' are using the male inclusive and translations that, instead, employ the English words 'anyone' and 'they' are not using the male inclusive.

"His household" (oikeiov), though, is "his household," although if Lydia was indeed the head of her household, no one would have thought the Greek excluded her.

So again, the point is that we have lost the use of the Biblical male inclusive and its loss is destructive of our understanding of God's revealed Words.

Finally, as I have said several times already in this thread and its related posts, I think the better parallel than 1Timothy 5:8 is the curses after the Fall (Genesis 3:16-19). Eve is cursed in her labor of childbearing and Adam in his labor of farming because those are the heart of sexual identity: the work of children and the work of providing for the wife and children. Or better, the wife's responsibility *to* God and *to* the husband and *for* the children and the husband's responsibility *to* God *for* the wife and *for* the children.

As one Communist Russian feminist said at the end of the Iron Curtain lamenting the terrible fruit of egalitarian feminist ideology in her homeland over the previous decades, woman should be the minister of internal affairs and man the minister of external affairs.

Love,

I wonder if one can read into this passage that in the same way as women will be saved through the bearing of children, men will be saved through the headship of a household. Normally a woman will become  a wife and a mother, leading her children and following her husband, instead of leading her husband as Eve did. Normaly, a man will become a husband and lead his wife,  instead of following his wife, as Adam did.  A common temptation for women is to not want to have to follow a husband or lead children, both of which require effort. A common temptation for men is to not want to have to lead a wife, which also requires effort.  Good reasons for remaining single, the abnormal, require  less comment;  one can only speculate as to whether a sterile woman would fall before these temptations, just as one can only speculate whether a quadraplegic would run away under persecution. 

Tim, I am curious if it is common for a couple to enter into marriage with these sorts of things settled in advance. Oh, I know the answer: no Maybe I just want to know if you encourage it, the people you marry, maybe your son and his new wife, have they agreed on their roles with children and each other? The default position, it seems, is husband and wife to be equal, both have careers, then lots of bitterness, then divorce.

It doesn't actually say "his" househole in Greek. 

oops, household. All masculines are inserted into the English, added in so we can imagine what this "might" mean, and not see what was written in Greek. 

>>It doesn't actually say "his" household in Greek. ...All masculines are inserted into the English, added in so we can imagine what this "might" mean, and not see what was written in Greek.

Dear Sue,

This is an oversimplification of Greek and English usage bordering on disingenuous. If you look at English translations of this verse, all of them use male pronouns. The Apostle Paul was addressing responsibility for relatives and households, and by God's design and decree, man—not woman—bears that responsibility. That's God's Creation Order. That's the rule.

To declare quite simplistically that all the uses of "he" and "his" and "him" in English translations of Scripture are merely efforts to help us "imagine" what the Greek means is disrespectful of those church fathers who have given their lives to studying and faithfully translating the very Word of God.

Eighteen of twenty English translations of 1Timothy 5:8 listed on this page use male prounouns and they are correct to do so. Only two English translations refuse to do so and both of those translations are brand new Bibles whose "thing," whose marketing ploy, is to refuse to translate Scripture's male inclusives. Thus here in 1Timothy 5:8 these translations use "they" and "their" instead of "he" and "his."

Thus, as you say, they refuse to let their readers see what was written in Greek.

Male inclusives are all over the place in the Hebrew and Greek of the Old and New Testaments, starting with God's word 'adam' used throughout the Old Testament for the race bearing His Image and likeness—both man and woman. But feminists hate it and refuse to call the race "adam" or "man."

That's fine when they're talking to themselves, I suppose. But when they browbeat simple Christians, telling them male meaning components have no male meaning component and they back it up with a claim of this or that degree in this or that academic discipline—say linguistics or classics—we know we have reached the end of scholarship. Everything now is politics and ideology driven by the rage of bitter victims whose entire identity is wrapped up in their seething communal bitterness over God creating Adam first, then Eve.

For centuries "his household"has been the normal translation of 1Timothy 5:8's oikeiwn without Christians thinking the rebuke of this verse is limited to men.

Love,

As you well know, there is no underlying Greek for the word "his" in 1 Tim. 5:8. No matter how many Bible tramslations insert it, that doesn't make it right. 

Adam is another tough one to translate. It has to be translated as "person" when it refers to 35,000 women and no men. So perhaps it actually means person apart from politics and ideology. 

I get such happiness from providing for my children to go to college that I can't believe it is not part of the way God designed. 

I know you approve of Lydia, thank you, I just hope you would be happy to point out to modern day Lydias the truth, that there is no masculine pronoun in 1 Tim. 5:8. Make a woman happy today, tell her the truth about the Bible. I don't think that is asking too much. 

IN rereading your last remark, I now see that you know that the generic masculine as it appears in this verse is a product of the English language. I hope you can explain clearly how this is part of God's word. 

Dear Ms. Suzanne McCarthy ("Sue"),

Your feminist rebellion is not honoring to God and nothing you say about Scripture or its translation escapes the corruption of your ideological commitments so destructive of souls. We have known your errors for years, now, and we forbid you to spread your heresy here.

While I don't enjoy speaking to a woman this way, we've allowed you three comments, now, and there will be no more.

Pastor Tim Bayly

Sue, Hello and though I cannot speak to the language issues addressed above, I could not let your statement regarding providing for your children to go to college go uncensored. Getting "happiness" from something (aka "following your heart") is a very poor standard from which to judge God's purpose for women. I have been quite UNhappy on more occasions than I care to admit when doing exactly what God's word tells me to do, from loving my neighbor, to disciplining my children, honoring my parents, avoiding slothfulness, submitting to my husband, obeying those in authority over me, not being greedy, holding my tongue from gossip, slander, idle chatter, and on and on it goes. Obedience in these moments does not always produce "happiness" And I'm fairly certain I am not alone in this regard. :) Now, I would say that I have learned and enjoyed a gladness of heart in knowing I am pleasing my heavenly Father when I obey Him, but my "happiness" or personal pleasure is not God's paramount goal for my life and it should not be mine or yours. I need reminded of this often and see here an opportunity to pass that reminder on.

Love,

Sandy :)

Elliott, Eric - thanx for your comments above about what the masculine parallel/analogy would be for the 1 Ti2:15 passage. That's what I was looking for when I raised this question on the original "death of motherhood" post. 

"Sometimes Scripture assigns responsibility and sometimes not. Each situation is different. There is no universal rule of application."

Far better, then, not to submit and be saved.

Sue.....

I get such happiness from providing for my children to go to college that I can't believe it is not part of the way God designed. 

Your quote...could not pass up the opportunity to comment on this.

As I sit here, wasting my education, raising 11 children for God's glory, I am reminded of the wise counsel of my husband, 20 years ago, to lay aside my Pharmacist degree to be a stay at home mom.  Twenty years of a Pharmacist's salary is a great chunk of money, but I would do the same thing again.  God has blessed me beyond measure as I submit and follow His plan for my life.  My path is the narrow one, and for that I am grateful.  Most undoubtedly, I would be self focused and narcissistic had I chosen to follow the money.  I am continually called upon to lay down my life for others as I raise my children. 

As for paying for college, God's ways are higher than my ways.  Instead of me striving to make the money to pay for my son's education, God provided the funds needed through multiple scholarships.  My son will enter college in the fall with scholarship money beyond the amount needed to cover his expenses.

God has provided for every need that our family has.

 I know quite a few woman (including my two daughters) who have gotten degrees and now are stay at home moms and not one of them regret their decision to stay home. Knowledge and education are never wasted. God puts to use the knowledge that we have through everyday life situations.

I also know several women with degrees who have had to return to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table when their husbands became ill, lost jobs or died.

I have learned through the years that while we need not always agree on the non essentials of the faith we need to agree on the basics of the faith. That happiness comes not so much from following your heart but from following the One Who is in your heart and trusting Him always. And that by grace I am saved through the blood of Christ Who is the One my hope, faith and trust is in.

This is good to point out. I notice this a lot and is very aggravating to try and have a discussion using generalities and norms with a culture that won't stop point way over there.

Plus a woman who is the provider for her family rather than her husband/the career woman, to most men is not an attractive thing.

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