Renewing Our Values: "The Decoy" – 1 Timothy 2:9-15

decoyI’m not really much of an “Old Western” watching guy, but I don’t mind reading short stories, and it turned out that the short screenplay of “The Decoy” was apparently much better than the movie they made from it anyway. It was your classic western story – a lawman escorts his longtime friend to be hanged for a crime of murdering his wife’s parents. The journey unfolds in the desert, and the deputy discovers the startling truth about the murders. The whole thing is a set up, and the decoy has moved all attention from the one who committed the crime.

Decoys are supposed to do that – to attract attention away from another. As we continue in our third study on renewing our values, we want to face the problem that is caused when we distract others to wrongly gain affirmation. This lesson help us re-examine the wrong emphasis we place on physical appearance and the world’s standards over the spiritual reality and God’s Word – making a challenge to invest anew in the wrong world.

Key Principle: When we draw people to focus on the things of this world in our times of worship, we rob them of what they truly need to see.

The early church was facing shifts in Roman culture not unlike ones we face today. Paul reasserted in this letter the standards of Christian behavior. The letter to Timothy is not an evangelistic one – for Tim knew Jesus, and led people that knew Jesus. Therefore, our series will be chiefly directed at RENEWING PROPER BEHAVIOR among believers, since that was what Paul was addressing. That means the problems aren’t new, but are rather a resurgence of an old strategy of our enemy. As we progress, we will be examining eight specific problems that believers have faced through the centuries, and apply God’s prescription for both preventative care and serious correction of each. Look at where we have been:

Study One: Returning to Costly Grace: (1 Tim. 1) a study in which we examined the way that grace has been misconstrued by pitting lifestyle standards as beyond the scope of God’s desire in us.

Study Two: Renewing Commitment to God’s Sovereignty: (1 Timothy 2:1-8) where we contrasted the male distraction of angry disputations with peaceful prayer and trust in God’s sovereignty.

This is Study Three: Refocusing on Proper Affirmation: (1 Timothy 2:9-15) which will help us re-examine the wrong emphasis we place on physical appearance over the spiritual reality, and cultural affirmation over walking shamelessly in truth.

1 Timothy 2:9 Likewise, [I want] women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, [and] then Eve. 14 And [it was] not Adam [who] was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But [women] will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

The Timing of the Application: Public Worship (2:9a)

Take the small text apart with me for a moment. It opened with “Likewise” or “in the same way” – connecting this instruction with the previous portion on the correction of behavior of the men.

• Dealing with the same timing, public worship. The teaching seems to be in that context alone.

• Dealing with the same issue, how to gain effectiveness in our walk and worship. The issue of men was clearly how to come together to pray and not argue, so one can assume that the words concerning women are about the public meeting together, not about other life settings.

The Scope of the Limitation: Outer Adornment (2:9b)

“women adorn themselves” – as the men worshipped properly by setting aside disputing and opening clean and prepared hands to the Lord in prayer, so the woman should set aside any attention drawing clothing or apparel for the purpose of gaining effectiveness in worship. The term “adorn” is kosméō (from kósmos, “world”) – properly, to “beautify, having the right arrangement” (sequence) by ordering. It is linked to the word for PROPER used in the verse, kósmios (also from kósmos, “world”; it is literally the word ordered (properly organized); hence, well-prepared (well-ordered).

Proper clothing means forethought must be offered to planning the outfit. Roman men all dressed in the obligatory costume, the plain toga virilus. The task of showing status, then, was passed to their wives – who could make a grand affair of the dress and hair. Planning of costume seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, if Roman literature like that of the lurid poet Ovid is to be taken at face value.

Modestly (ahee-doce’) is from the word “self-aware” or sometimes “ashamed”. The idea is NOT that you choose to wear something that brings shame, but rather that you dress with intense self-awareness of what you are choosing to put on your body, and that choice will not draw undue attention to your form.

It is interesting to note that the POSITION OF WOMEN in the home was changing in the first century, from the time of Augustus to the time of Nero, in the background of the New Testament. The female virtues were held in very high esteem in the traditional Roman home, but times were changing. Roman girls grew up hearing about a shining embodiment of Roman womanly behavior in one Cornelia, the daughter of the famous general Scipio Africanus. She was celebrated as the model of wifely and maternal self-sacrifice, in part because she remained loyal to the memory of her dead husband—even to the extent of rejecting an offer of marriage from a king, and rather devoted her energies to educating her two sons, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, who both became important in Roman history. Yet, things were changing in the Roman home.

By the time of Paul’s writings, there were two arrangements in Roman marriages which differed in standard for submission requirements of a wife. The first was known as a “with the hand” marriage (the wife had no legal rights, all her property was transferred to her husband in the form of a dowry, and her husband, in theory, had the power of life and death over her as the paterfamilias of the family). This was traditional marriage. After the time of Livia, feminist wife of Augustus, there was increasingly a “without the hand” marriage (no dowry was offered and she was not fully under her husband’s control). In such cases, she remained under the control of her nearest ascendant male relative by birth, though living with her husband. She could complain of his behavior to her “sponsor” relative, and the husband could be chastised. “Without the hand” marriages became popular from the 1st century CE and onwards, partly because they conferred more independence on women. The traditional conventions of dress and propriety were fading when Paul was ministering.

Discreetly (so-fros-oo’-nay) is a feminine noun derived from sṓphrōn, “truly moderate”) and means literally “moderation as fitting a particular application or situation”.

In the Roman world, when a married woman of standing went out in public, assuming she was of respectable birth and lineage, she was typically chaperoned by one or more slaves. She would have covered her entire body completely, including her face. Her dress, which reached to her ankles, was known as a stola and was worn over a tunica intima (the Roman version of a slip). The stola was usually sleeveless and was fastened by clasps at the shoulder called fibulae. The stola had two belts – one below the breasts creating a great number of garment folds. The second and wider belt was worn around the waist. Not only did the stola have multiple folds, but also it was generally brightly colored. Over the stola she wore a palla, a wrap used as a cloak. The stola would only have been seen inside the home of her destination. On the street, she cloaked herself entirely. She was both conspicuous and covered, modest and showy.

Though women apparently wore togas in the early years of the Republic, the practice ended long before the rise of the Principate (time of the Emperors). By the time of Augustus and onward – the only women who wore togas were common prostitutes. Unlike men, therefore, these women donned of a toga to symbolize a lack of social order respectability. The toga was a mark of disgrace for a woman. The plain toga of coarse wool announced their profession, and evidence suggests that women convicted of adultery were at times forced to wear “the prostitute’s toga” as a badge of social shame. The point is this: Romans dressed for status, protest, and order. The way one dressed said much about who you were, and what you wanted to say with your life.

Since her standing would have been announced in her bright colors, it was difficult for a woman of standing who came to the atrium of a home for a Christian meeting to know how to dress. The template of her society was not the pattern she was to follow for that meeting. Why? Because at the heart of the meeting was ONENESS IN CHRIST.

Early believers were NOT persecuted for believing Jesus was a god. They were persecuted primarily for the “breaking of the orders”, the notion that a woman of rank could sit together in a meal with a slave girl and eat together. The “oneness in Christ” we so celebrate is what got them into their initial trouble with Roman authorities.

• Not with braided hair, gold or pearls or costly garments: “braided” (pleg’-mah) means anything interwoven, in this case “braided hair”.

Garment planning and weaving was a major feature of a woman’s work. Weaving was a HOME DUTY of a woman, and the message of these words was a reminder of propriety in lifestyle that was to be reflected in public life. Listen to this epitaph of a Roman woman ostensibly written by her husband after her death:

“Friend, I haven’t got a lot to say. Stop and read. This tomb, which isn’t fair, belongs to a fair woman. Her parents gave her the name of Claudia. She loved her husband dearly. She bore him two sons. One lives on earth, the other lives beneath it. She was pleasant to talk with and she moved gracefully. She looked after the house and worked with wool. That’s all. Be on your way.”

Her husband wanted you to know that Claudia was the ideal Roman wife—devoted, retiring, faithful, and—one assumes—utterly uncomplaining. If you examine carefully the whole corpus of funerary epitaphs, there appear to have been thousands upon thousands just like her in description. We should also note, the only stated task that Claudia performed was spinning—an activity that marked a responsible homemaker of the period. Even Emperor Augustus’ wife and daughter were expected to spin, as an example of how a woman should have behaved – but it was a total farce if you read about the life and character of Livia or her daughter Julia the Elder.

Typically, women of means showed their status three ways: their stola and hair braiding and jewels – and these were discouraged by Peter as well as Paul. Peter seems to echo Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Peter 3:

1 Peter 3:3 “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

In each case the attempt was to make a comparison, not necessarily a restriction. The women of the body of Christ needed to develop within, not simply dispense with the outward symbols. They could wear plated hair, but that was not to be their focus so much as their desire to develop and be noticed for their godly displays of generosity and loving care.

• Paul picked up that idea in 1 Timothy 2:10 “but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness”…

Godliness in the Bible is something one lives out in actions. The acts were called by Paul “good works” (ergon agathon) “actions that are intrinsically right”. What are such actions?

An Application of Inner Adornment: Proper Actions (2:11-14)

1. The first action is the public one – becoming an avid learner of God’s Word. He wrote in 1 Timothy 2:11 “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” The words “receive instruction” are the Greek term manthánō (from the term mathētḗs, “a disciple”) – properly, learning from experience, often with the implication of reflection – as in ‘come to realize’ “. The notion is that she should seek to be the deepest and most reflective disciple of Jesus from exposure to His Word.

To aid this end, Paul made it clear that she was not to be in the position of authority or teaching, but in the position of learning and deeply reflecting. The famous, and sometimes misused words of 1 Timothy 2:12-14 were given to help in this cause – but have become a challenge to believers who are so pressed into the mold of their culture. Let’s review what Paul said, why he claims to have said it, and then make a brief application.

Paul wrote: 1 Timothy 2:12: “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, [and] then Eve. 14 And [it was] not Adam [who] was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

As we take apart what the verses say, we see the opening thought in a negative form – what NOT to do. Paul said women in the public actions of the church (the context we established at the beginning in the word “Likewise” of verse 9) were not to:

Teach: One New Testament scholar and grammarian noted that in the Greek Scriptures, the term didáskō (“teach”) nearly always refers to teaching the Scriptures (the written Word of God). The key role of teaching Scripture was shown by the frequency of the use of the term, and the variety of its uses in related word-forms. In other words, the teaching Paul held a woman from participating in was that of the teaching of the Word of God in the worship and instruction program of the local church. The second phrase seems to modify this limitation even further…

Exercise authority over a man: The term for this is authentéō (from autós, “self” and entea, “arms, armor”) – properly, to unilaterally take up arms, that is to act as an autocrat – or become a self-appointed authority. The notion that Paul, through the ordained instructions of the Holy Spirit, wanted the women to become great reflective learners of the Word was paired with the idea of submission to men in the congregation. Though women in our day see this as a shaving of a fundamental right of equality, we need to be extremely careful – for we have only the rights and responsibilities God assigns us in this life to be found faithful.

What sounds extremely sexist and abrasive to the modern ear, is merely posing a cultural value against a Biblical one. Here is the simple question: When Paul called on believers NOT TO BE PRESSED INTO THE MOLD OF THE WORLD BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY RENEWAL OF THEIR MINDS, is this not exactly the kind of statement that we should think of? Why would Paul call on believers to be challenged by the Word and transformed in areas where the Word reflects exactly the same value system as their culture?

These instructions to the church were given on the basis of two arguments in the text:

Order of Creation: “Adam who was first created” – The making of man first applied no specific greater importance to the substance of man, but it is hard to read the opening chapters of Genesis and not come away with this simple story. God created man, and man was lacking something without woman. God created woman to help and complete the man. The word HELPER is something many Christians have become embarrassed by – but it IS the point of her creation in the story.

Order of Deception: “but the woman being deceived” – Here is another phrase that seems blatantly sexist to the modern mind. The simple fact of the story as the Bible relates it is that Adam failed to protect the woman, but she failed to do right. Her deception by the serpent is not at issue if you believe the story as it is given. She got tricked, and she got tricked first. There is a reason I am offering this painfully careful examination of Paul’s argument.

I want to take a few planned minutes to stop and mention something that is coming at the church in such force, that it would be simply unwise to ignore it.

We are being deluged by poor hermeneutical methodology.

When I say that out loud, most of you don’t even flinch. Roach infestation may make your skin crawl, and a tsunami may make you begin to search your phone for higher ground, but a deluge of poor hermeneutic of Scripture gets a “zero” on the reaction scale. It shouldn’t. The problem is serious. We have watched our Bible schools and Seminaries slip so far into speculative and even nonsense filled teachings that we are reaping a whirlwind of bad interpretation of Scripture. Why mention it here? Because it shows up wherever the church has stood against the rising tide of culture.

Let me be practical for a moment. You are raising a daughter or you have several grand daughters. You want them to follow God and be profoundly changed by His Word. You want them to love God with all their heart and serve God well. To that end, you go to a Christian Bookstore, or perhaps shop online for some Christian books written by Bible College and Seminary graduates that write on topics that will inform a young believing girl. You find a book on the shelf, and you buy it. What you don’t know, is that the interpretive system of the writer has been so badly formed that it will, in fact, do damage to your child or grandchild. The book will accommodate culture and make Christianity fit in to the world well, but at the expense of what God’s Word teaches. Let me say it plainly: The book will make wrong right, and right wrong. It will allow what God has forbidden, and forbid what God has allowed, all in the NAME OF BIBLE STUDY. Let me show you one from a website for young women by an author who writes some of these very well received books. Take a minute, because this trend isn’t tiny – it is affecting the next generation of believers profoundly, while adding to cynicism and criticism of the literal understanding of Scripture.

A young Canadian Christian woman, a mother of three children, named Mary Kasian has written a number of books for young women. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and Marriage Uncensored. If you read that on the jacket of the book, you would think that meant that she had a handle on the Scriptures that would inform your daughter or granddaughter well. You would be wrong. Let me illustrate:

girls-gone-wise-f313418In her online column of June 2011, in Girls Gone Wise, she wrote concerning the very verses we are studying this morning she wrote the following (shortened for brevity, but I think fairly representing her position):

There’s been more ink spilled over the doctrinal interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 than any other passage. It’s a controversial passage that evokes very strong emotional responses and reactions — particularly in this day and age. .. the phrase “she will be saved through childbearing” seems non-sensical, if not downright outrageous. .. The last time I studied the passage in-depth was a couple of years ago, while working on writing Girls Gone Wise. … I had been studying Genesis, and was immersed in the concept of the typological symbolism of Adam and Eve. (Adam is type of Christ, Eve is type of the Church), when I turned my attention to 1 Timothy 2. It was then that I had an epiphany that seemed to resolve many of the interpretive difficulties with the text. It struck me that approaching the passage typologically harmonized many of the issues that arose from approaching it from a merely ontological standpoint – which has been the normative way of viewing this text. I was so excited about the idea that I called up [Professor] Wayne Grudem, to pick his brain about the veracity of my thoughts. He encouraged me to write them up and present a paper at ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) ..As I said before, 1 Timothy 2:11-15 makes a whole lot more sense when we understand it typologically rather than merely ontologically. …We know for sure that Paul viewed Adam as a type of Christ. We also know for sure that he viewed marriage as type of the relationship between Christ and the church — in which the role of husband is a type of Christ and the role of the wife is a type of the Church. Thus, we can justifiably extrapolate that Paul also viewed Eve as a type of the Church. … He’s trying to point out that male-female roles in the church exist to bear typological witness to the gospel. For Adam (type of Christ) was formed first, then Eve (type of Church) – and Adam (type of Christ) was not deceived, but the woman (type of Church) was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she (the Church) will be saved through childbearing (bearing fruit in Christ)—if they (man and woman) continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. Voila. This solves the conundrum … Paul reinforces the profound mutuality of men and women here. Both are church. Both are saved by the type of union that results in spiritual children—the union with our husband, Christ. Both must continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.… And that makes his directives on male/female roles in the church much easier to understand and swallow.“

The words may do something powerful in the heart of a young woman, but I argue fervently that it will be exactly WRONG. It doesn’t take into account that the first eight verses are not allegorical but written specifically to MALES and this was “likewise” to FEMALES. Just as men were instructed that angry men must cease arguing and pray – so speaking females in the public meetings were to stop. Further, her “interpretation” doesn’t take into account the Roman world that would have received the writing with no understanding of how to read the “tea leaves” of such an elaborate allegory. How could they know that Paul meant Eve represented the Church? Where did such an idea come from in the letter?

The Roman world Paul was addressing didn’t even name their daughters legally (each daughter of a man from the Claudia clan was named Claudia – the oldest Claudia Major, the younger Claudia Minor). How could one from such a culture read it the way Mrs. Kasian describes? Without a reference to the primary culture the letter was written to, Mrs. Kasian applied symbolism to the people of the passage, and ended with a meaning that expounds the opposite of what any normal reading of the passage meant prior to the modern rise of feminism. In other words, a young woman reading that kind of interpretation can defend her Bible and make it more relevant to her classmates, but will end up with an entirely opposite understanding of the passage than what can be easily demonstrated as the literal and normal truth.

So that I am not unclear, let me say it again. The passage says that women in the public meeting of the church are not to teach nor take authority over men. It is NOT because of CULTURE, it is because of the order of Creation and the order of the deception. Biblically, this is not a new concept. The Torah made it clear that a woman could not take a vow without her father, or later her husband’s consent. Her spiritual standing was found in the order God created. To make sure this doesn’t get set aside with the age-old complaint “but that is the Law”, let me say that Paul reiterated that truth in 1 Cor. 11:2-10. There is an order to creation, and the fact that both men and women are equally valuable to God doesn’t negate that He restricted both to be able to do things the other could not. This woman’s article leaves a young woman with the exact opposite standard of obedience.

If she were right, there would have surely been a number of Pastoresses appointed in the New Testament – something you will not find. There would have been a generic standard for Elder and Eldress – but those standards are strictly masculine in the text. There would have been a High Priestess or Pharisaiess or Saducceess or Mrs. Rabbi – something you did not see until the modern feminist movement. If we preached this passage as literally true 100 years ago, no one would think it strange. What changed isn’t the Bible – it is the hunger in the church to find ways to be more acceptable to a culture that simply dismissed the Bible a long time ago.

What I am concerned about is not that Mary Kasian wrote her opinion. I would bet that she is a great person and loves Jesus (I haven’t had the privilege of meeting her). My concern is that when the Bible is torqued by cultural values to say the opposite of its normal reading, we are on the path to fully capitulating to the world’s standard. We make a tacit claim that the church has been WRONG for the ages on the simplest of readings, that the text cannot be read by normal people without extraordinary understanding of typology, and that nothing can be exactly what it said – especially if it dares to conflict with our modern sensibilities in culture. In the current attempts by modern believers to make the Bible fit the culture, we often find them rewriting the Bible instead of changing the culture with its truth. The salt of God’s people applying God’s Word correctly should affect for better the meat that spoils without it.

All you have to do to make the Bible sexist is to apply a new definition of sexism. If what you mean is that if everyone before God cannot do exactly the same things as everyone else and be right with God than He is sexist – then so be it. He made my wife with a womb and me without. I am not offended. He is God and I am not. What is happening in the church is that we are swallowing the redefinition of simple Biblical truths based on newly defined cultural standards – and it will water our message to the point that people will not trust that we CAN KNOW GOD from the Bible. In an effort to make the Biblical standards more palatable, we will undermine the text’s ability to transform us.

An Application for Personal Satisfaction: Home Life (2:15)

The first action Paul called women to was to be deep disciples of His Word, and not try to run the church or teach the men.

2. The second action is in a private setting – becoming the pattern of godliness in her home. 1 Timothy 2:15 “But [women] will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

When we emphasize and allow what God says one should NOT be doing, we rob them of attentive energy on what they are CALLED by God to do. When they are learning to be Pastors, they are not applying the desire to teach and pattern in the home with the same fervency. When they are in charge of the meeting, they are not learning the same level of self-restraint. When they are satisfied in the teaching career, they are not emphasizing the deep and desperate need we have in a culture gone adrift from God in the area of marriage, family and mothering.

Read around it all you like, Paul’s simple words to women in his day emphasized finding at home a place to show the pattern of godliness. God made plain in many places an order of spiritual responsibility that is now defined as sexist. Simple words like those found in Titus 2 are now the subject of critical comments of the unbelieving culture. Here is the outrageous writing of Paul to Titus: Titus 2:4 “[Teach older women] so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 [to be] sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Men and women, our children are being taken from our hands as we surrender one truth after another because of the strong wave of culture. Let us remain fixed on the Scriptures, and not move for them – but lovingly understand their point of view and remain courteous amid the increasing insults. We remain committed that freedom is not the casting off of all restraint, but becoming part of an intimate relationship with the Creator, and walking in His stated purposes for our lives and our communities.

I simply argue that we must teach our young ladies that there is NOTHING WRONG with desiring to be the deepest of disciples of Jesus. There is nothing wrong with learning carefully how to portray Christ to a small child, how to nurture lovingly a toddler and reflect Jesus’ actions and words to them – nor to find their CHIEF JOY in serving Jesus at HOME. There is great JOY being robbed from the Christian home when we don’t openly confront the notion that what God has made for motherhood is a precious and powerful gift. We have let the culture speak, and they have honored death and not life. They have honored rebellion and not submission. They have sanctioned wrong, and not the very carefully delivered standards of God’s Word.

For generations, believers didn’t have the written Word they could read. God used the likes of Gutenberg to change that. Now the enemy has decided that being unable to keep people in ignorance of the Word, he would apply himself to an education system that is increasingly making the terms of the Word of God into bad values – values that are abhorrent to modern thinkers. It is the wave we are facing, and we must understand it, and do our part in the face of it.

Remember our key principle? When we draw people to focus on the things of this world in our times of worship, we rob them of what they truly need to see.

In the first century, the distraction of the decoy was a woman who thought she could dress in a way that robbed the glory belonging to Jesus and take it to herself in the public worship time. Today, in the modern battlefield of changing cultural norms, the woman is again being called by the enemy to become a distraction – to take a role she is not called to have to satisfy a culture she is not called to follow. This time is isn’t her costume, it is her modern shaped “sense of fairness” that is calling into account God’s commands. She stands on the edge of the tempter’s voice, yet again. May Adam protect his dear wife this time, where he failed in the last.