"Notwithstanding she (the woman/women) shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." (1 Tim 2:15)
Our generation has highlighted the oppression of women. The symptoms are not difficult to identify. Women have too often been held in contempt. Large numbers of them have been subjected to verbal, social and physical abuses. Women's magazines and social activists have pointed the finger at very serious ill-treatments which subject multitudes to misery.
Our world has little difficulty describing the quandary of women. But it has completely mistaken the root cause. Consequently, women are being offered a faulty solution to their real troubles. False diagnosis usually leads to improper measures of correction. In this case the cure proposed by the world simply compounds female misery.
1. SCRIPTURE SPEAKS
Contrary to popular assumption, the Bible has a number of things to say very directly about this issue: Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, alludes to the plight of woman. He suggests that she needs to be saved (verse 15). This cannot mean salvation from sin and God's everlasting wrath. In this context Paul joins salvation to childbearing. He must have in view a deliverance from some other extremity. In fact he is referring to the circumstantial calamities which attend a woman's life. In the passage Paul gives a solution. His views are not simply a parroting of the social philosophy current in his own age. Under divine inspiration he wrote not a private opinion but the very Word of God. CREATION AND FALL "Women's rights" proponents become livid when God's directives to women are read to them from this passage: "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent" (vv. 11-12). "That is the very cause of woman's distress", they tell us. "She has been subject to man. We must go directly to the source of grief. Liberate woman from man's dominance".
The Apostle Paul vigorously disagrees. Woman's problem is not her social position of subordination to man. That is not her trouble.
i. The Apostle Paul first notes the reasons why full submission to man is expected of woman:
"For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (verse 13). Man existed before woman. Woman was taken out of man. This priority of man to woman and the derivation of woman from man were not incidental details of creation. They were intended to establish human social order. Woman was made for the man [Gen 2:18]. She was formed to fill the role of a help suited to the man. In Paradise, Eve found perfect happiness for a time in a role which was supportive of man in a social position which was subject to him.
A woman's griefs, therefore, are not the consequence of her social rank but a direct result of the fall. The experience of being subject to a sin-filled husband is not identical to submission under innocent Adam. It is sin in the man which makes him thoughtless of woman and abusive toward her. Sin in woman spawns discontent with even legitimate and ideal treatment in her true role. Satan was the serpent who brought every sting of displeasure to the woman.
ii. The Apostle Paul then reminds women of the history of the Fall:
And gives the reason for the curse which they feel so keenly. "And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was decieved and became a sinner" (v14). Scripture is not here heaping all of the blame of this world's suffering and confusion on woman. If anything, man is more directly incriminated. But Paul does expect woman to understand her share of the responsibility in the Fall which has ever since plagued her.
Adam was not deceived. This does not clear man of all responsibility in the tragedies which have haunted the human race. Adam walked into the evil rebellion against God with his eyes wide open. He took the fruit from Eve with no false illusions. His was the deeper sin. He transgressed fully knowing what he was about. But Eve was duped by Satan. She had "the wool pulled over her eyes". There is generally in the female constitution a confiding simplicity (which can become gullibility). This characteristic perfectly suits her to the role of help-for-man just as God had designed. There is in this constitutional difference of woman from man a beauty which defines feminity and is attractive to men.
The Apostle Paul's chief reason for directing woman's attention to her deception in the Fall was not to "rub it in". It was to reinforce the necessity of her being subject to man. The Fall with all of its consequences harmful to woman did not arise from her being subject to man. The exact opposite is the case! When she abandoned her role of submission to Adam, and decided to take matters into her own hands, the Fall came! Eve determined to lead man rather than follow. She became a temptress instead of a help. Stepping out of her God-given place and rebelling against the divinely instituted social order, she brought the world - and womanhood - to ruin. She is not a poor innocent victim of resulting desolations. Woman under the influence of Satan is the perpetrator of them all. Her restless defiance of man's authority is at the crux of human calamity!
This world's opinion is that there should be no distiction between man and woman in the social order. If only woman were emancipated from man's rule, her suffering would cease! Such an analysis indicts God's creation order and his post-garden directives as the culprits in woman's distress. God's Word cites the precise opposite as the cause of her trouble. This is no mere academic matter. Woman's liberation from oppression and suffering depends upon finding measures which correct the root of the malady. If the disease is fed instead of combated, her last end will be doubly wretched.