This quarter I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of women’s ordination. I’ve been studying the Pastoral Epistles with the completely awesome David Downs who is an experienced hand at exegeting them. His preferred method is to have us read articles from a wide variety of perspectives and deliberate on our own before ever we enter a classroom discussion (he has designed the assignments to facilitate this reflection). We choose which articles to review in depth, and for some reason all the articles I chose had to do with women in the Pastoral Epistles. Not even counting my past experience with the issue, I have seen the arguments about these letters discussed and rehashed multiple times. One argument that has been presented by complementarians really leaves me scratching my head. The internal logic of the thing is so bizarre as to seem alien.
The idea is based on a reading of 1 Timothy 2:13-14 which views the reference to the primacy of Adam as indicative of his resistance to Satan’s temptation and the inherent susceptibility of women to the wiles of the Devil. This weakness in the face of demonic temptation and the encroachment of heresy is programmatic for women everywhere and reflects an inherent quality that is essential to their gender. Therefore, they are not to be in positions of authority over men or deception and heresy will enter the church. However, 2 Timothy makes clear that women have been powerful and apostolically approved teachers of children (through reference to Timothy’s education ), so complementarians tend to view ministry to children as ordained by God for women. Ministry to other women also gets a free pass since 1 Timothy 2:11-12 only mentions men.
If we think about this proposition logically, it’s disturbing foolishness becomes apparent. Children, by their very nature as immature human beings who most likely lack the robust reasoning of adults, are incapable of exercising good discernment in the case of theology. This is why generally children accept the beliefs of their parents until they are mentally developed enough to make their own decisions. Furthermore, in this scheme of things, women are inherently deceivable; they exhibit a theological gullibility rooted in the creation story. So why on earth would God or complementarians want women to teach those most likely to be swayed by any heretical notions or demonic influence exhibited by the weak female teacher? It doesn’t make a lick of sense to subject the most easily influenced to those most likely to be warped. In the words of Gutenbot: DOES NOT COMPUTE.