There is a phenomena I heard tell of but had never witnessed with my own eyes before today. I had heard of “red letter Christians” before but thought that most assuredly they could not exist.
Listen. Twitter is a very scary place and I do not recommend it. No serious dialogue can come from 140 character snippets of conversation, keyboard warriors abound, and you can follow me @SummrWrites. Despite all of the obvious negatives about Twitter, it has been highly educational, for it is from that dark corner of the internet that I discovered (I hope you’re sitting down) that there are actually Christians that believe that only the red words in the New Testament belong to Jesus. If your version of the New Testament doesn’t come with fancy red lettering for the recorded words that Jesus spoke out loud, just look for the words in quotation marks after some variation of “Jesus answered and said to them”.
I discovered this because Sarah Bessey, author of “Jesus Feminist”, tweeted about how much she loved Jesus after also sharing her latest sermon. You know that was too much for my non-egalitarian heart to handle. This is not because I love calling people out on Twitter, but because very simply, Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love him, we will obey his commands. You cannot claim to both love Jesus while also flouting his authority, which is what every woman who steps behind a pulpit and delivers a “sermon” is doing.
— Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey) February 22, 2017
@sarahbessey Jesus: “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” If you love him, obey him and get out of the pulpit.
— Summer White (@SummrWrites) February 22, 2017
I am not setting out to write an article expounding on 1 Timothy 2:12, or 1 Corinthians 14:34, or the entirety of Ephesians 5. The discussion surrounding these passages is lengthy and worthwhile and has been raging on for some time. Further, it is ridiculous to claim that Christians that hold to the historical, confessional view on these passages do not believe that women should ever speak. I mean, obviously. Look at me. I have a podcast. We aren’t discussing whether or not women should ever discuss Jesus. All believers, regardless which of the two genders they belong to, are recipients of the Great Commission. No, the most disturbing thing that happened in reaction to my simple statement that part of loving God is obeying his commandments, therefore women should not be behind the pulpit, was that I was asked several times by different people, “Where did Jesus say that?”
What is being demonstrated when that question is asked is a fundamental misunderstanding of two of the most important doctrines that Christians must embrace: the doctrine of the trinity and the doctrine of sola scriptura. To put it most simply, if you believe that Jesus IS God (a correct view of the trinity) and that the Scriptures are the sole, infallible rule of faith that were actually breathed out by God (sola scriptura), then there is nothing contained within the Scriptures that is not from Jesus. Jesus himself is called “the Word of God” in John 1.
Jesus wasn’t looking away when any of the aforementioned Scriptures regarding the roles of women were written. In fact, we also know from John 1 that Jesus “was with God” from the foundations of the world. Meaning he was very much present and active before he entered into creation. Jesus and the God of the Old Testament are not two different beings that are opposed to each other. They are one and the same. You would think, after speaking with Christian feminists, that Jesus was a new god that came to rewrite the God of the Old Testament in to some new, more sleek and palatable deity that was a bigger fan of women. This is not the case. Jesus himself said that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). The God revealed in the Old and New Testaments treats women as made in His image, and as such, are no less valuable than men.
This is where I tend to get very confused with some Christian feminists and this particular argument. In response to 1 Tim 2:12 (“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”), the culture card is often thrown in to the ring. You have to understand the culture, they say. This is where they must speak out of both sides of their mouths because they rightly discuss the absolutely radical, counter-cultural, and positive treatment of women found in the New Testament, while also claiming that any reference to submission found therein is just sad product of their culture. So which is it? Were New Testament Christians radicals who rejected the poor treatment of women in their day, or were they confused about the roles of women due to their culture?
Thankfully, I don’t have to spin my wheels trying to work that one out. The same Jesus that treated women as imago dei is the same One whose words are breathed out in 1 Tim 2:12, therefore I can be sure that the command for women not to preach is not an attack on their worth or value. Not one command in Scripture is a mistake, or a poor happenstance of culture. Yes, context is king, but culture is not an excuse. “They weren’t as enlightened as us” is not a card we can pull whenever we don’t like one of God’s commands. Every single command found in Scripture was given for a reason by a loving God who made us in His image and knows what is best for us. And since Jesus is God, it is safe to say that all that is commanded in Scripture is from Him. If you believe that Scripture is what it says it is in 2 Timothy 3:16 (“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”), then show you love Jesus by loving His commands.