Bible Study Group and Role of Women in Church Ministry

One of the very primary goals of being in adult group studies is for the members to strengthen the grasp of their communal relationship relevant to their relationship with God so they as individuals can be better chief teachers to their respective family members. If you are part of Bible talk or study group for some time now, know that love manifested by unfailing grace is an essential component to the growth and maturity of the group.

If we were to acquire and develop and fully understand the scope and meaning of love according to the Gospel, there’s got to be a disciplined desire to learn. Let’s be clear; it’s not uncommon, every once in a while, to not be in a learning mood. I get that too, sometimes. Surely, there are a few unavoidable and considerable considerations, and that’s alright. The problem is if the behavioral and cognitive disengagement is purposeful, ill-direct, and constant. How do you know that they are? You’ll see it when accommodations and adjustments are provided, and still, the negative attitude persists. The thing is, there are a gazillion minute excuses not to engage, and practically you find all of these irrationalities are inclined to relate blame on either one or all of the following: 1. on others, 2. the situation, 3. the learning platform, 4. and the topic. Sadly, we likely blame everyone and everything else before we even begin to own our shortcomings and commit to getting better.

If you’re a part of a Bible study group for a while —I’m not sure how much more diplomatic I should say this, but by now, you should know because it’s a given that you’re expected to read, review, study and conduct yourself in a manner that’s representative of the Gospel.

If we intend to understand what the Scriptures precisely say, then we have to commit to a joint-learning of studying the foundational truths of the Bible together. We have to be willing to open ourselves to graciously civil conversations —to cultivating friendships based on the well-understood concept of love while sifting together through an array of information in search of understanding. We purposely have to disengage from any potential polarizing debates to make room for frank but wholehearted and respectful conversations. As individuals, we must be willing to allow the spirit of transformative grace in us to flow gently into our relationships and broadening interactions.

Unfortunately, some of the foremost deterrents to successful group studies may be related to hidden biases based on Bible misreadings, and doctrinal hardliners brought about by a combination of overexposure to outside influences and the lack of opportunity to grow one’s critical thinking skills.

One of the contentious and divisive doctrinal misconceptions in the church is the leadership and pastoral role of women. In Bible studies, there are husbands and maybe wives who are opposed to the very idea of a female spiritual leader so much so that you see an undeniable intermittent show of passive aversion not only in their lack of engagement but also in their apparent push back. When you’re at church, it’s disheartening to see people walk out because of their long-held hardline belief that a woman can’t and shouldn’t be a preacher. Sometimes I scratch my head in utter amazement how professed Christians could claim that they stand by the love of Jesus and then, at the same time, be not only clueless on the gist and specifics of His commandment on love but also be unapologetically uncouth in their demeanor.

In the grand and divine scheme of things, why would gender matter when the Gospel is taught and preached anyway? Why should it matter in the encompassing scope of unity and oneness in Christ if women would lead all genders in the march towards love, kindness, mercy, and justice to everyone everywhere?

Institutionally, for most churches that claimed leniency and openness, consent to women leadership and mentorship are allowed as long as the women are relegated only to teaching and leading fellow women and children. In no way, even when there are a need and an opening, would any well-qualified and spiritually-sound woman be allowed to lead and preach over men by these patriarchally-managed religious hierarchies. I stumble on N.T. Wright’s hour-long speech about the subject. And I thought about sharing it. N.T. Wright is a famous writer, renowned Bible scholar, and the former Anglican Bishop of Durham, teacher, and preacher of the Bible. Here’s the full manuscript of his speech.

N.T. Wright wrote a comprehensive biography on the life of Apostle Paul. I’m almost done with the book. And I highly recommend others to read it. Wright is known for his stance on the resurrection. He explains that through a misreading of the passages and attempts to self-translate rather than allow the text to convey its meaning, many have misappropriated the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

N. T. Wright: The Church Continues the Revolution Jesus Started

Even a prolific and intellectual author and Bible scholar such as Bishop N.T. Wright is susceptible to a passage misreading. In all fairness, when he was invited to speak on the subject of women’s ministry role, he was frank enough to say that he isn’t an expert on the topic. In his speech, he got into 1 Timothy 2 and reiterated part of his translation based on Genesis 3: Although I believe he had a blind spot in his re-interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:13-15 relative to the Bible’s overall thematic approach and Paul’s universal messaging, I still see all the significant points he argued in his speech:

1. The Bible and its passages are often misread. ✅

2. There’s a basic need to change our traditional pictures both of what men and women are and how they relate to one another within the church and indeed of what the Bible says on this subject. ✅✅

3. We have an opportunity to take a significant step back in the right direction. ✅

Make no mistake; Wright was unmistakable in his speech that men and women are leaders, teachers, and preachers in the Biblical sense.

Just so I am clear to why I say Wright has a blindside in his attempt to translate the widely fought about 1 Timothy 2 passage on gender roles, check the passage in Genesis 3 and see what the narrative truly says about what’s touted as the first sin commission. It’s not correct to say in any way that it was Eve who was the only one or the first one tempted. It’s also wrong to imply that she’s Adam’s temptress. Pay close attention to this statement, ”She also gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER, and he ate it.” There’s no way to miss this critical narrative detail except when maybe we’ve been brainwashed to believe otherwise? Raise your hand if you are one of the people who first heard about the Story of Adam and Eve through other people’s accounts or interpretations. Raise your hand if you spent the time to investigate and read the corresponding passages from the source, which is the Bible.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis‬ ‭3:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we were to analyze it in terms of philosophical and moral rationalization, then Adam bears the full burden of accountability (Read entire Genesis 3). After all, he was created first, and the commandment was directed to him first. He could have rebuked the serpent, protected Eve, and prevented that act of disobedience from happening, but he didn’t. He made his choice. He stood there and watched, then took a good bite of the fruit, and when confronted, he denied any wrongdoing —even implying that it’s God’s fault, too, while blaming his partner for his part of the problem. To put it bluntly, Adam lied and then threw Eve under the bus. While general readers tend to focus on the blaming game that’s happening here, what’s missed out is that although Eve surely directed the blame on the Serpent, she did not at all point a finger to her husband. She could have very well asserted to Adam,

”If you knew better, why didn’t you say anything? You were there when this was all happening. And I didn’t have to convince you into doing anything.”

But Eve didn’t. She matter-of-factly answered that she was tricked and she ate. She accounted for her misdeed. Likewise, if you are for the first time tasting say, an exotic fruit, and you thought it was good, and your husband is with you, would you not offer it to him, too? Will, your husband, not do the same thing (let you taste it also)?

The story of the first temptation tells us of the first time a man would fail to protect the sanctity of the union between a man and a woman. My characterization of the event may be a controversial dissection of the passage, but let it sink in for a bit.

Now, let’s bring this home. God’s response in the story of Adam and Eve was one of kindness, mercy, and justice. We in society are so single-mindedly focused on misogynistic leanings disguised under gender-roles or complementary partnership blah-blahs, when the story itself doesn’t at all depict a divine message of separation, especially on gender roles.

Bottom line, how are we people engaged in group studies examine the passage in 1 Timothy 2 about the role of women in the ministry and reconcile it with the overall Biblical theme of bringing together what shouldn’t have been pulled apart? How does our individual and collective response align with God’s desire for us to worship solely by acting justly towards each other and demonstrating our love for kindness and humility? Let’s consider these questions whenever we engage in Biblical deconstructions of passages and books.

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