What is 1 Timothy REALLY talking about?

I just finished listening to a podcast of the second part of Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill Church)'s series called "The Peasant Princess."  The series itself involves a walk through Song of Songs in the Old Testament.

For the most part I believe he portrayed a very biblical interpretation and application of this particular book.  It wasn't until the Question-and-Answer session at the end of the sermon that he said something that really upset me.

One of the questions was, "what are your [Pastor Driscoll's] thoughts on stay at home dads if the woman really wants to work? or even if both want/need to work?"

His response essentially entailed that, unless there are extenuating circumstances (illness, cancer, injury, death, etc), for a husband not to be the provider of the family is sin, as well as for the woman not to be a stay-at-home mom.  Pastor Driscoll and his wife (who was helping him answer the questions submitted) both repeatedly referred to 1 Timothy 5:8, which in my NIV translation says "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  She said, "a mom is built to be at home with her kids." He said, "if you cannot provide for your family, you are not a man... if you are an able-bodied man, your job before God is to provide for your family." "if you want to have a good family, a good marriage that honors God... there is nothing in scripture [that justifies a stay-at-home dad, mother having a job, etc]."

 

I can't help but be horrified at the implications of that line of thought.  Would it not produce a predominantly male society and workforce?  Do women--and mothers especially--really have nothing to offer society and the community apart from rearing children?  Why would we even bother to educate women, if that were the case?

I do not believe God gave me intelligence and a desire to teach if I am not intended to give it back to society. I strive to be a professor, but if this really is the biblical standard for a family and for vocation, I would have to walk away. 

MOREOVER, 1 Timothy 5:1-16 is talking about widows!!!  I seriously fail to see how this verse, taken out of the contexts of widows--who, might I point out, are WOMEN that no longer have a spouse, rather than MEN with a spouse--is justifiable support for a doctrine of the-man-and-not-the-woman-as-provider.  True, Paul does acknowledge in verse 7 that these instructions are to be given to "the people" as instruction as well, but I doubt it been intended for such conclusions as Driscoll makes.  I even consulted the Greek translation (if you don't know this, I have been studying Biblical and Attic Greek for three semesters at Baylor University... and I beg your forgiveness, for I am about to journey into a potentially dull but warranted excursus on the Greek text of 1 Timothy 5:7-8), and I found that verse 7 merely says "let these things be announced, in order that they be above reproach".  The word for "they" (in the NIV it is translated as "the people") IS masculine, but that does not necessarily mean that it is referring only to males, only that it is not referring to an only-female plural group.  In addition, the Greek word for "anyone" that is used in verse 8 is gender ambiguous, in that the same indefinite pronoun would be used when referring to either a man or a woman (similar to the English indefinite pronoun "anyone").  The "his" of the English translation of verse 8 seems to me to be only supported by the Greek adjective for "faithless," which here is either masculine or neuter (but because this is Greek and the subject is either masculine or feminine, I can rule out neuter).  And even though Greek thought at that time was just male-centric, I think the NIV translation is misleading in saying "his" way more than the actual Greek text does.  My argument is this: the Greek text of verses 7-8 advocates that the instruction be announced to everyone, and this would advocate a doctrine of everyone-should-do-all-that-is-in-their-own-power-to-ensure-that-everyone-is-provided-for before it ever advocates a a doctrine of the-man-and-not-the-woman-as-provider.

And who said that the Greek verb pronoeo has the same bread-winning connotations as the English word "to provide," anyway?

So is my being horrified by this a sinful reaction to truth, or simply a justified distaste of corrupt theology and hermeneutics?
I've been sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and I am convinced it is not the first option.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. heather wrote:
My heart was jumping for joy when I read this. I just was talking to my campus minister today about women in ministry, and how the man is traditionally what "Brings home the Bacon". We brought up this passage of scripture, and I agree with you. It's about time the bible actually be read in context.

Love ya! lets get together over thanksgiving break... for real.

Wed, November 19, 2008 @ 1:07 AM

2. Ducky wrote:
The accident of finding this post has brigthened my day

Mon, June 10, 2013 @ 6:10 AM

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