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This passage in I Timothy has caused much confusion about what women can or cannot do in church services or in teaching. In the oft-heated discussions, a verse or two, or even a single phrase is sometimes selected and the rest of the passage ignored.

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We turn our attention to the presence or absence of the Greek article in the crucial passages that have been used for centuries to limit the participation of women in teaching and leadership in the church.

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My father was an evangelist and my mother, sister and I were going to join him in his full-time ministry. It wasn’t long before we were on the road. For me that road stretched over four years of time; I lost track of the number of miles and faces.

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Recently my neighbor told me about a widower living in double jeopardy. With no homemaking training in his past and no wife to clean up after him, his house was piled high with junk, dirty dishes, and soiled clothes. In addition, he had to share that house with a virtual stranger: his child.

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Popular references to God most often imply a certain masculinity, but I had always interpreted them as playful anthropomorphisms, endearments meant to humanize God just enough so people can speak comfortably yet respectfully about him in secular circles.

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Change begins with our language, because what we say and what we write reveals our unchallenged assumptions about women. Beyond that, however, we must change our missions commitment to include evangelizing and training the world’s women. 

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Feminism is supposed to be good news for women; but does that mean it is automatically bad news for men? Many people assume that it is. What is given to women must necessarily be taken away from men. This is the old “slice of the pie” or “limited good” theory. 

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All Scripture is by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Let us therefore seek the positive message in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 which God has for the believer — a message which both traditionalists and egalitarians have too long ignored.

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In a society where men still hold most of the social power and where the average husband possesses more physical power than the average wife, we desperately need models of manhood that stress responsibility rather than exploitation, service rather than abuse of power.

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Confronted with the breakdown of the traditional family, we as Christians wonder how to minister to people in non-traditional family structures, and we also wonder what standards we should uphold in our own families.

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