Problem: Women need to shut up in church and stop wearing pearls! And those who don’t have children will go straight to Hell. But don’t any of you fertile dames get smug because the Apocalypse is going to be especially rough on pregnant women. (1 Tim. 2:9, 12, 15; Matt. 24:19)
Response: Let’s look at this one part at a time since these are three different topics.
1 Tim 2:9-15 “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through the
childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
First of all, you should know that I, who am writing this response, am a woman. So if you are taking the extreme position that women have nothing they could or should teach men (which is not what the context of this passage teaches, by the way) then you will not be open to reading this response. It appears that Paul’s concern was that the women be thoroughly instructed—permitted to learn in silence (vs. 11) [contrary to the usual practice of the time in which women were not taught anything but how to be homemakers, not even to read or write] before they were to be given any authority in the church. Paul goes back to Genesis to make his point. He says that Adam was formed 1st, and it was to him God gave the instructions about not eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—Eve, on the other hand, misquotes God, so she may not have been thoroughly instructed by Adam, and it says she was deceived—another argument for the need women have for full instruction before being given any leadership or teaching roles. [On a side note, it is interesting to note that Adam was with her when she was deceived, but she is the only one who put up any resistance to eating the fruit (Gen. 3:6), which may be partially why the blame is laid at Adam’s feet not Eve’s.]
Since Acts 18:26 records that Priscilla and Aquila both taught Apollos about the gospel, it is obvious that Priscilla did teach a man. They even had a church meet in their house (1 Cor. 16:19). Other women mentioned in the New Testament who had leadership roles &/or taught include Phoebe (Rom. 16:1) a “deacon” [usually translated “servant,” but it is the same Greek word used in 1 Tim. 3:8 to describe the male deacons and many believe that the word translated ‘wives’ in 1 Tim. 3:11 should read “women,” meaning the instructions were to include female deacons], Junias (Rom. 16:7) who is “outstanding among the Apostles,” the 4 daughters of Philip the evangelist who prophesied (Acts 21:9), and Lydia (Acts 16:14, 40) who had a church meet in her house.
In dealing with v. 9 about not wearing pearls, it is helpful to look at other passages of Scripture, since God inspired it all and Scripture is its own best interpreter. For example, 1 Peter 3:2-5, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” As you should be able to see, both passages are referring to inner beauty and character as the true measure of beauty not the outward appearance. There’s nothing worse than being around a vain woman who is always concerned about her appearance and is good for nothing but to look at—she won’t help do anything lest she break a nail or muss her clothes. That kind of beauty is only skin deep and wears thin fast. Plus, consider all the hours spent every day just to maintain the outward appearance that could be better spent doing other things. Also, at this time in the Roman Empire, pearls were the most prized of gems and a single pearl could literally cost a fortune. Thus, wearing pearls was a conspicuous display of wealth—wealth that might be better spent helping the poor.
You also take issue with v. 15 about a woman being saved through childbearing—what the Greek text actually says is “through the childbearing.” Keeping in mind the context of the passage (we were just talking about Adam and Eve), the very first promise of the Messiah is in Gen. 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. . .” Eve and every other woman, and man for that matter, will be saved through the childbearing of the Messiah by Mary, as long as they continue in the faith.
Matt 24:15-22 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel-let the reader understand- 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again.”
You are correct when you say that the Great Tribulation will be especially rough on pregnant and nursing women. It isn’t that this is an extra curse on them it’s just a compassionate statement of fact and warning. When the Antichrist sets himself up in the Temple, God’s people are told to flee, because the Antichrist is about to pour out his wrath against God’s people causing the martyrdom of the 5th seal seen in Rev. 6. Fleeing will be particularly hard on pregnant women who can’t move fast and nursing mothers who also have to deal with all the extra paraphernalia needed to take care of a baby—they will be slowed down and more easily caught and killed by the Beast. That’s why it is so important to study the Bible so that you are prepared ahead of time to recognize the signs of the End Times and aren’t caught at the last minute trying to flee just as the Antichrist is revealed.
Problem: Women who wear showy jewelry and clothing will be cursed by ugliness, misery, and death. (Isa. 3:17-26)
Response: Once again, the context determines the meaning.
Isa. 3:16-26The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. 17 Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald."
18 In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, 19 the earrings and bracelets and veils, 20 the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, 21 the signet rings and nose rings, 22 the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses 23 and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.
24 Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding. 25 Your men will fall by the sword, your warriors in battle. 26 The gates of Zion will lament and mourn; destitute, she will sit on the ground.
The context of this passage is judgment God is about to bring against Judah and Jerusalem because of their refusal to repent of their sins, “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.” (Isa 3:8-9) They have gotten to the point where not only are they not ashamed of their sins against God, they are flaunting them and are proud of them. Isaiah goes from generalizations to specifics and names various groups and then describes their sin in detail. The verses (16-26) you are referring to describe the punishment, but don’t forget the prior verses, that describe the sin for which they are being punished: words and deeds against the LORD, flaunting sin, being haughty and flirting with the men they encounter and by implication leading them into lust. This is not a general judgment on all women who dress in expensive clothing and jewelry. It isn’t even a general judgment against haughty, prideful, vain women who entice men with their bodies. This was a specific judgment against Jerusalem and Judah which was fulfilled when the Babylonians conquered them in 586 B.C. and carried them off into captivity after they had rejected God and His many warnings to repent.
Problem: Promiscuous women must have their noses and ears cut off, be burned in a fire, and have their children taken and stripped naked. (Ezek. 23:25-27; Lev. 21:9)
Response: Once again we must look at the context.
Lev 21:9 If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.
Ezek 23:4 The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem
Ezek 23:22-31 “Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stir up your lovers against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side- 23 the Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, the men of Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them, handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses. 24 They will come against you with weapons, chariots and wagons and with a throng of people; they will take up positions against you on every side with large and small shields and with helmets. I will turn you over to them for punishment, and they will punish you according to their standards. 25 I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword. They will take away your sons and daughters, and those of you who are left will be consumed by fire. 26 They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry. 27 So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egyptanymore.
28 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to hand you over to those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust. 29 They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you naked and bare, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed. Your lewdness and promiscuity 30 have brought this upon you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. 31 You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup into your hand.
The first passage is dealing only with daughters of priests who become prostitutes. It is important to realize that ritual prostitution was practiced in the pagan temples. It was one of the ways they worshipped their gods. To guarantee fertility of one’s crops, or flocks and herds, or even oneself, it was thought that one needed to go to the temples of these pagan gods and have sex with a shrine prostitute. Now add that idea to the thought that the daughter of the priest of God, who should know the truth and who is by extension a leader in the community, is turning her back on God to the extent that she becomes a shrine prostitute and you can understand a little better why such extreme measures were taken to purge the evil from the community. Even now preacher’s kids are expected to adhere to higher standards of conduct than other kids. They are seen as leaders because where they go others will follow.
The second passage is not dealing with individual women who become promiscuous, but is a parable about how Samaria and Jerusalem have abandoned the One True God Who brought them out of Egypt for idols of the surrounding nations. They have also abandoned trust in God and have made treaties with foreign nations instead of relying on God for their protection (23:12, 16). Because the nation has turned from God, He will bring judgment upon them just as His covenant with them states and to which they agreed (Deut. 27:12-26; 28:15-68). The LORD warned them that if they violated their covenant with Him they would experience judgment—He even spelled out for them what it would involve when they made the covenant with Him as a nation in a ceremony which was to be repeated every 7 yrs. (Dt. 31:10), so no one could say they did not know or agree to the covenant. The cutting off of ears and noses was apparently a unique punishment of the Babylonians (v. 25) which the people of Jerusalem would experience at their hands when they came to conquer them as God warned would happen if they did not repent.
Sin, rebellion against God, always has consequences. God often delays judgment to give time for repentance and He issues warnings through His prophets ahead of time so that repentance can take place (the Ezek. 23 passage is a perfect example, see also all of the Old Testament prophetic books). Ezek. 33:11 “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” (see also vs. 12-20). In this case the people did not repent before judgment came and they were carried off to Babylon in captivity. An instance where the people did repent and God withheld His judgment can be found in the book of Jonah chapter 3.
Problem: When a man rapes a woman, the two must be married and the man must pay the woman’s parents. (Deut. 22:28-29)
Response: Yes, the subject of rape and what to do about it is disturbing.
Deut 22:25-29 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, 27 for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.
28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. NIV
Ex 22:16-17 "If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.
By looking at the verses immediately before the verses in question we see that in the case of rape, the man is to be executed. But the girl is not punished. However, when we get to the next part, the death penalty is not in place. this makes more sense when you compare it to the parallel passage in Ex. 22:16-17 where the term is translated "seduce" rather than "rape." This would imply consent by both parties.
The reasoning behind this law is that once a virgin has sex, she is perceived as damaged goods and unlikely to find anyone else to marry her, unless she was already engaged to the man who had sex with her. Also, because she was a virgin, that first sexual contact has a binding effect with the man—physical, emotional, and spiritual ties to him. It was actually meant to protect the woman. You’ll note that it also says he can never divorce her. Thus he is not able to say there is something I don’t like about her and I don’t want to be married to her anymore, and just toss her out on the street without any means of support. It was meant to make a man think twice before taking advantage of a girl (think shotgun weddings).
The 50 shekels of silver was the bride price, or dowry. In that culture a man paid the bride’s family to allow him to marry her because he would be taking her away from her home where she helped with daily chores and bringing her to his home where she would now work at making a home for them. The girl’s father still had the right to refuse the marriage and thus protect his daughter from an abusive marriage (Ex. 22:16-17).
Biblical commentators concur:
If a man find a betrothed damsel. If a young woman was seduced after betrothal, and before the consummation of her marriage, both she and her seducer were to be put to death. But if she was forced, the man only who committed the rape was to suffer for the violence, which was regarded as a capital crime. In the case of a maiden not betrothed being seduced, the man was obliged to marry her, and he forfeited the right possessed by other husbands of giving her a divorce. But her father might refuse to allow the marriage, and in that case the seducer had to pay her a dowry (cf. Ex. 22:16-17). These stringent laws were calculated to exert a powerful influence, not only over young women themselves, but over their parents, in increasing their vigilance in preserving the chastity of their daughters.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
If a damsel not betrothed were thus abused by violence, he that abused her should be fined, the father should have the fine, and, if he and the damsel did consent, he should be bound to marry her, and never to divorce her, how much soever she was below him, and how unpleasing soever she might afterwards be to him, as Tamar was to Amnon after he had forced her, (2 Sam. 13:1-22). This was to deter men from such vicious practices, which it is a shame that we are necessitated to read and write of.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
Problem: The proper punishment for adultery is to have the adulterer and the adulterer’s partner killed. (Deut. 22:22)
Response: Deut. 22:22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.
John 8:3-11 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without[this]sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11 “No one, sir," she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin."
Let’s not forget that committing adultery breaks the 7th commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14). The very fact that it is listed among the Ten Commandments, which were written by the Finger of God (Ex. 31:8), should impress upon you how seriously God views the sin of adultery. Consider the effects on the family and the marital bond when adultery enters the picture—think of our soaring divorce rate, all the sexually transmitted diseases, and the children born out of wedlock with only 1 parent, or worse yet aborted. God wanted to protect His people from the consequences of this sin—first, He told them NO, then He told them what the punishment was for breaking this Law. To maintain moral order in the society the death penalty was instituted to enforce the commandment.
When Jesus came, He showed 2 things about following this law: 1) having lust in your heart is as bad as engaging in the act, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). God calls us to a personal righteousness higher than that of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20) who obeyed the letter of the Law without obeying or understanding the spirit of the Law; 2) He demonstrated mercy towards the woman caught in adultery [ever wonder why they didn’t bring the guy also?] and told her to leave her life of sin (John 8:3-11). Ultimately if you or I continue in our sins we will die because of them, but if we repent of our sins and seek to follow God, then we will be saved. God longs for us to leave our lives of sin and follow Him. He would rather bless us than punish us. He begs us to turn from sin, “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11).