And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Tim 2:14-15).
Paul was not bashing women in these passages, he was putting forward a pretty simple, and Biblically consistent point.
First, was it’s Eve’s fault that mankind fell into transgression, because she was deceived? No, it is not through Eve we all die but through Adam (Rom 5:12-14).
So, what is Paul’s point in bringing this up? He is invoking history to warn Timothy what occurs when a woman seizes authority over a man. Immediately preceding verse 14, Paul’s reasoning is made clear:
I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (Verse 12)
For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (Verses 13 and 14).
So, verse 12 is the situation, and verses 13 and 14 are what we should learn from history. In the “Genuine Pauline Epistles,” which are all of them in the Bible, Paul makes a similar practice of this in 1 Cor 10-1:5-7 in order to warn against idolatry:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea…Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness (Verses 1 and 5).
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were… (Verses 6 and 7).
So, Paul’s method of warning is clear and why he warns is explicit in the text. He does not want women to exercise authority over a man, because just as it resulted in deception and sin in Adam’s case when he deferred to his wife, it could happen men in the Church too!
Now, such an interpretation can be dismissed out of hand if passages such as the following did not exist:
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3).
If any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:1-2).
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity…These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach…Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households (1 Tim 3:8, 10, 12; verse 11 was removed because it is not talking about “deaconesses” which there is not any Scriptural or historical evidence of it being an office in the Church).
I will avoid the parallel passages in Titus, and those on marriage which explicitly state male headship in Eph 5, Col 3, 1 Peter 3. The burden of proof is on the liberal theologian.
There are about 36,000 verses in the Bible. Perhaps a few hundred mention anything about gender and gender roles, with 99% unequivocally from the traditionally viewpoint. Of those, maybe 1% (or 3 or 4 sections) pertain to matters invoked by liberal theologians such as Ruth being a judge, Phoebe being a servant, the gender of Junia, and etc. I ask you, dear reader, what is more likely: when properly interpreted these verses throw the 99% into contradiction, or, with a consistent hermeneutic, these verses do not contradict a traditional view of gender roles? Case in point, Ruth being a prophet does not mean she had authority over men, Junia may be both a man’s and woman’s name (i.e. Alexis or Corey in the present), Phoebe didn’t have an official office in the church, and other such interpretations maintain the consistency of Scripture without taking mental leaps of imagination.
These are not difficult interpretations and they make the preponderance of Scripture make sense. The egalitarian viewpoint, which isolates the one percent of supposedly questionable texts, makes a bunch of unsubstantiated conclusions based upon possible implications of these verses and then throws the 99 percent in complete contradiction. Hermeneutically, I don’t find this acceptable.
Most importantly, when we look at the select verses in the Bible speaks that explicitly, instead of in passing, speak of gender roles, it is always traditional without equivocation. Hence, the evidence is undeniable for male headship. Look at the gender of Levitical priests, elders, deacons, the twelve disciples, the apostles and then try looking for the “exceptions.” One will find maybe two (the aforementioned issue of Junia’s gender in Rom 16:7 and Phoebe being called a “servant” Rom 16:1, probably because she delivered the letter personally).
What is the average reader of the Bible supposed to believe? That these two, not even clear as it pertains to gender roles in the Church, verses can ever possibly contradict 1 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 3, Titus 1, Eph 5, Col 3, 1 Peter 3, and the mountain of circumstantial evidence that every single Apostle that wrote in the New Testament is a man and every explicit church office in the Bible was held by a man? This makes the Bible either incomprehensible or clearly self-contradictory.
Therefore, if we accept the intellectually honest and Biblically sound position of male spiritual headship in the Church, Paul’s admonition is actually sensible: don’t make the same mistake Adam did and allow women to take spiritual authority over men, because ultimately the man is the head of woman and he will be accountable for the sins that result.
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come,” Paul says in his other warning from history in 1 Corinthians 10. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
Now, what on Earth is Paul talking about in verse 15 of 1 Tim 2? Obviously, the Bible does not contradict itself, so the idea women can be “preserved”/”saved” spiritually merely by giving birth to children is a totally wrong interpretation. Further, the idea that Christian women will suffer a lesser mortality rate than non-believers from childbirth is also unacceptable.
Some commentators argue that women are saved from, what the literal translation of the Greek states, “the childbirth [of Christ].” Even though this would not be untrue, the context of the sentence should rule this out, because Paul continues with “if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” Instead, I put forward a very straightforward and plain interpretation: women are saved if they continue in living a faithful life. Period. For the vast majority of the female population, this includes childbirth, which is the primary biological role for women (as the primary biological role for men is to impregnate their wives).
God wants us to live obedient lives to Him. For women specifically, managing their households well and being mothers (Titus 2:3-5), is an ever-present reality even for the working-woman. Of course, that does not mean there are not exceptions. The Bible warns “if you do not work you do not eat” (2 Thes 3:10), but this does not include very old widows (1 Tim 5:9) or crippled men.
Of course there are plenty of women that are barren or unmarried and the teaching in 1 Tim 2 would not be literally applicable any more than 2 Thes 3:10 would be to retired grandmas. However, the general and overall point Paul is trying to make is simple and clear: continue in the faith in the place and role God has ordained for you instead of taking over a role you were not meant for.
I am the first one to hate my job and my station in life. But, 1 Tim 2:15 teaches me, and hopefully all of us, otherwise.