Out of the mouths of…..donkeys

I’m still plodding through the Blue Parakeet book.  I am so frustrated lately because I have started way too many books and can’t seem to make any progress on any of them.  So my new method is to plow through them one at a time.  Since the book club meeting is in early August, I decided to finish the parakeet first.

The crux of the Blue Parakeet book is that the author believes women should not be “caged” in the church and should be allowed to be ministers and pastors of churches.  He maintains that many of the commands we find, even those in the New Testament, are not applicable to today.  For example, the command by Paul in 1 Timothy 2 that men are to raise their arms in prayer is not followed today.  Because most don’t follow it, the author states that it isn’t applicable.  And that is where my spirit says WHOA!  Slow down.  Most people don’t drive the speed limit, but that doesn’t mean it is no longer applicable.

The truth is that Paul’s words are his words, and Paul was not Christ.  He preached Christ, and he brought the gospel to many, many people.  But I believe the answer to the women in ministry question lies in four words Paul prefaced his “women should be silent” command in 1Timothy 2:

11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Notice he did not say that CHRIST does not permit.  He says that he himself does not permit.  That implies a distinction between what Paul preaches is the word of God and his own words.

It is also apparent that even Paul wasn’t clear in his thoughts about women in the church because there are several examples in his writings of him commending women in ministry and service to the church.  Paul clearly states that women are teachers in the church in Romans 16:

1I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church in Cenchrea. 2I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

The word “servant” in Greek is diakonos, and it means to minister or to carry out the affairs of a master (i.e., Christ).  It is used to describe both women and men and is often translated as “deacon.”

Clearly Paul permitted Phoebe to do more than sit quietly in submission.  He asked the Romans to give her any help she needed (i.e, obey her commands!).  This leads me to conclude that Paul must have either changed his mind about women in ministry or that we aren’t completely understanding his meaning.

A woman should learn in quietness and submission

perhaps refers to women who don’t yet know the gospel.  But his later statements  in 1Timothy 2 seem to imply that he means for all women to be silent:

13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b] through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

When I read that verse, I am glad that Paul was not Christ.  I think it is important to know the author.  Yes, the Lord inspired Paul’s letters to the churches.  But does that mean that Paul was perfect?  Of course not!  He himself admitted that he didn’t do what he knew he should do and that he did what he knew he should not do.

Rather than being legalistic and proclaiming that women should be silent all the time…

Rather than being legalistic and proclaiming that women should be allowed to be leaders in all churches all the time…

I prefer to hold tightly to the words of Christ about the Counselor he has given to us all who believe in Him, from John 14:

16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Our church body has many parts and expresses faith in many different ways.  To those who are called to serve, male or female, I pray the fullness of the Lord will be with them in mighty and powerful ways.  To those churches and members who interpret Paul’s words to mean that women should be silent in submission, I pray the fullness of the Lord will be with them in mighty and powerful ways for God’s glory.  In the end, it doesn’t matter who the mouthpiece is so long as love for the Lord is in the heart.

The Lord speaks to us through the majesty of creation…through those around us…through His word…and, sometimes, even through a female donkey! Don’t believe me?  Check out Numbers 22:

18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God. 19 Now stay here tonight as the others did, and I will find out what else the LORD will tell me.”

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”

Balaam’s Donkey

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [c] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

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