Two Arguments, Pt 2: 1 Timothy 1 – 6

(This is the second part to a two-part entry. I suggest you read the first part here)

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. (1:3-4a)

Whenever a teacher mentioned evolution and how clearly real it was, I knew I was in trouble. The eyes in the room would flip around to me for my rebuttal. “So Jesse,” they would say (but not in this admittedly exaggerated tone), “What do you have to say about evolution?” I would look at the evidence and ponder the possibilities, long and hard. I had a couple of arguments – two mainly – that I would wield in moments of persecution such as these.

Here we go:

  1. So you know how God said that He created the Earth in 7 days? Well, what if those were “metaphoric” days, and they actually lasted thousands of years – maybe even millennia? Like, there is that verse that says to God, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is just a day, so. Maybe all of that dinosaur stuff and the fossils were just… during that time and Adam and Eve lived thousands of years – maybe even millennia – in the Garden of Eden before their downfall.

And:

  1. Maybe God planted all of those fossils just to test our faith?

The first explanation usually received nods of quiet acknowledgement. The second always got laughs.

Whether or not evolution should be taught in schools (or whether it should be taught alongside creationism) used to be a very big deal, and now, no one seems to argue about it much anymore. It sort of fell away in the 90s, along with the insistence that we start every public school day with a round of prayer. It seems like we have moved on to newer topics, things that seem surmountable. Like court clerks refusing marriage certificates. God, everyone has an opinion about THAT.

No one seems keen on removing “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance anymore. That was a hot topic anymore. No one really cares anymore though.

All of this came to mind while I read 1 Timothy. Paul warns his readers to beware of myths that seem to explain humanity – I can see a modern Christian taking on the cause of Evolution as a “myth” that we ought to ignore. I am surprised, though, that in these early years of Christianity, the believers are already pitted against people who question the origins of humanity. It seems like such a modern argument – one that requires hard scientific fact.

And this also relates to the passages about women and gays nearby. It seems, once again, that the modern Christian is in a position of defense, and the thought becomes – how can I reinterpret what I read to fit in with what I believe. How can I believe in God and Jesus and still think that it is okay for women to speak aloud at church, or that loving gay relationships are valid?

I had a nightmare some years ago. The details are fuzzy of course – no one really remembers each and every detail of a dream. But I remember…

Earth was in its final days, and everything had fallen dark. A man had produced irrefutable evidence that there was no God – and I mean irrefutable. I believed it as well. The details are fuzzy, remember, so I don’t remember what exactly he had said. He may not have said anything – maybe my dream began en media res or something – I don’t know. It seemed that without God, society was collapsing. No one felt the need to live an aimless life without a God to adhere to.

I trudged down the street looking for friends. No one was there. It seems that they all had died or perhaps they were waiting for the impending end elsewhere. And then, the darkness lifted into a blinding white light, one that began small and then enveloped everything. I woke up with stars in my eyes.

An existence without God is too terrifying for me to muster. Even if it goes against every logical bone in my body.

Two Arguments, Pt 1: 1 Timothy 1 – 3

Be Careful. HOMOSEXUALITY AGAIN. WOMAN AGAIN. Rules for Deacons.

If you read today’s passage in advance (you didn’t), then you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Well, today is going to be a loooooooong entry.” You think this (you don’t think this, because you didn’t read in advance) because Paul lays on not one but TWO wallops for us all to go crazy over.

Let’s give a quick glance to these two little sidearms before moving on to the meat:

“We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels… for those practicing homosexuality…”
1 Timothy 1:9-10a

A whole ‘nother clobber passage… And here I thought that I had found them all in advance before even starting this project. Not that this doesn’t deserve any attention, but let me summarize what the conversation will likely be.

There is someone out there who thinks this is translated incorrectly.
There is another person who thinks it’s translated fine, but we don’t know the context.
There is a horde of people who think it’s literal and all gays are going to Hell.
My conclusion is that no one really knows. I’ll end the entry with something vague, but true, all on its own line, like:

I think that does it for that one.

On to the next one:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (2:11-15)

There is just so much to unpack here. This verse just said a woman is saved through child-bearing – Wait. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Let’s throw all the benefits of the doubt that we can at this. Let’s say that this is only in the context of church – wait, let’s say it’s in the context of this specific church – where the women of this specific church have been misbehaving… like they are just being gossip-y, whiney, know-it-alls.

Is that enough of the benefit of the doubt?

This is a difficult one to explain away. We do not believe, as a society, that women learn in quietness and in submission. We allow women to teach men. We do not think that women – ahem – “suck at life” because they were technically the first ones to sin. And we do not think that women are saved through childbearing.

So what is a Christian to do with this passage – especially when it comes in such close proximity to the one about homosexuality? I have female friends of mine – dear, close, lifelong friends (and family!) – who believe homosexuality is a sin and yet would never believe a passage that asserts such ideals about women. And I mean that – they would never. It would just be completely illogical to them.

Well, damn it. I said I wasn’t going to focus on those two little passages, and yet, here I am – at the end of another entry. I didn’t even get to the one passage that piqued my interest.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. (1:3-4a) 

Why is that so interesting to me? And how does it relate to what we talked about here already? And why is this entry called “Two Arguments?”

You’ll have to read this vague (but true) final line, and then wait and see.

Sounds about right, right?