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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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The Bible sets forth an ideal and calls the ideal woman an eshet-chayil, which is the Hebrew for a “virtuous woman” (KJV) or a “wife of noble character” (NIV). This Hebrew expression occurs only three times in the Old Testament, but a study of these three passages is likely to reveal what the Bible supports as an ideal of Christian womanhood.

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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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Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....”

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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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Through rereading Scripture, studying for the ministry, and entering into greater leadership in the church, the history of Baptist (and other) women in El Salvador appears to be turning a corner.

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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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