The Donahue - Miles Debate

Donahue's Second Affirmative

Oscar Miles' article negating the application of I Timothy 2:11-12 to secular activities was very well written. However I must disagree with many of its arguments, and its primary conclusion. As proven in my first article that my friend and brother is responding to, I Timothy 2:11-12 does indeed apply to secular activities as well as spiritual activities.

Oscar's overriding case (detailed in response to my first argument) rests with the fact that I Timothy 2:8 instructs men (not women) to pray. From this Oscar concludes vs.8 must be talking about the church assembly only, since only men "lead" prayers in the church assembly. But the fallacy of reaching this conclusion is seen by noting the fact that men are the ones to lead prayers outside the assembly too. Men should lead women in prayer at private Bible studies, at weddings and funerals, at ball games and other public events, and at the supper table; in short, men are to lead prayer "every where" just as vs.8 specifies.

Since I Timothy 2:11-12 does not specify the church assembly as its sphere of application, then neither should we assume such. We must learn from the context when the instruction applies. Note clearly the following: for Oscar's position to be sustained, the context must only relate to the assembly. If the context deals with the assembly and outside the assembly, then that fits my position exactly. My position is not that I Timothy 2:11-12 applies outside the assembly only; no, my position is the passage applies both in the assembly and outside the assembly. And the reason I take this position is because the context of I Timothy 2, beyond any doubt, deals with situations that occur in and out of the assembly.

This point is important to remember when considering Oscar's response to my second argument. Therein he admits, "verses 1-2 ... instruct all Christians to pray." "All Christians" would include women, and women don’t "lead" prayer in the assembly. So, unless I misunderstand, Oscar is admitting the instructions of vss.1-2 apply outside the assembly as well as in. This being the case, my conclusion is substantiated that the context deals with matters in and out of the assembly.

Oscar's response to my third argument is dependent upon his point that vs.8 can only be talking about men leading prayer in the assembly. But we've already noted that men are to lead women in prayer in other settings, so my original argument is left standing: we are to "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty," not just in the church assembly, but also in our secular activities as well.

My fourth argument was that the instruction to women to dress modestly in vss.9-10 obviously applied at times other than in the assembly (like going to the beach), therefore this was another proof the context was also dealing with secular activities. Oscar’s response was basically that you cannot prove vs.9 applies outside the assemblies. Since there is nothing in the context to indicate the church assembly is the only thing under consideration, and since the words of vss.9-10 fit the beach and the ballpark just as easily as they fit the assembly, why conclude the application is limited to the assembly? Let me finish this point by stressing that if the reader agrees with me that I Timothy 2:9-10 forbids women from wearing bikinis on the beach (a secular activity), then consistency demands the reader must agree that vss.11-12 apply to secular activities as well.

Oscar responds to my sixth argument by saying, if Paul "can use boxing and racing as illustrations of spiritual principles, surely he can use child-bearing." I agree, but this ignores what I said about "childbearing" being used as a "synecdoche (a part standing for the whole)," which Oscar said was an "excellent explanation." A head of a cow can be used as a synecdoche for the whole cow (as in "twenty head of cattle"), because the head is part of the cow. Belief can be used in John 3:16 as a synecdoche for all the conditions of initial salvation, because belief is one of those conditions. However, "childbearing" cannot be used as a synecdoche for Christian assembly activities, because childbearing does not occur in the assembly; it is not part of that whole. On the other hand, childbearing is part of the woman’s complete role in this life, her relationship to man "every where" (exactly as vs.8 specifies).

In response to my seventh argument, Oscar admits, "women are 'to demonstrate faith, love, and holiness in their secular activities also.'" By the same reasoning, why aren't women to demonstrate "subjection" to men (I Timothy 2:11-12) "in their secular activities also"? Oscar also says, "Paul has just described some of the ways they (faith, love, and holiness, ptd) apply in the assembly." I don't think the reader will believe this anymore than the reader would believe that I Corinthians 13:13 is only referring to how "faith, hope, charity" abide/apply in the assembly.

Oscar responds to my eighth argument by saying, "I Timothy 2:11-12 will take care of instruction for the assembly, and I Corinthians 11:3 will take care of instruction for the husband-wife relationship." Him taking this tack shows if I Timothy 2:11-12 applies to the husband-wife relationship, then it applies to situations outside the assembly (secular matters). I implore brethren to be consistent and apply I Timothy 2:11-12 to the workplace, etc., just as they do the home.

Oscar's response to my ninth argument can be summed up by his statement, "The admonition in I Corinthians 14:9 to speak so that all can understand should be practiced everywhere, but that does not mean I Corinthians 14 is talking about what Christians do everywhere." Here's the difference. I Corinthians 14 states ten times (vss.4,5,12,19,23,26,28,33,34,35) that its sphere of application is the church (assembly). Not one time does I Timothy 2 state that the church assembly is under consideration; not once. To the contrary, almost every verse in I Timothy 2 refers to something that occurs outside the assembly. In addition, I Corinthians 14:9 may apply in principle to outside the church assembly, but not directly. However, the teachings of I Timothy 2 apply directly to secular situations.

In response to my tenth argument, Oscar makes the point, "Just as the 'everywhere' of Genesis 13:10 means everywhere in the valley of Jordan, 'everywhere' in I Timothy 2:8 means everywhere God's people assemble." The difference is the "plain of Jordan" is specified in Genesis 13:10, while I Timothy 2 nowhere specifies the assembly. And men lead women in prayer more than just in the assembly. Oscar says that I must be wrong about I Timothy 2:11-12 "because Acts 18:26 ... show that women can teach men." But there is no contradiction between Acts 18:26 and my position, because I Timothy 2:11-12 is talking about a woman teaching over a man, while Acts 18:26 is not.

Oscar makes the point, "whatever Paul is teaching has always been true by virtue of the order of Creation (verse 13)." This point does not follow. The Sabbath law was based upon creation (Ex 20:8-11), but that doesn’t mean it is binding in all dispensations (Colossians 2:14-17). I Corinthians 11's instruction on the covering is also affirmed "by virtue of the order of Creation" (vs.8-9), but this teaching has not always been true (II Sam 15:30-31, Ex 34:32-33). Having said that, as I look through Oscar's examples, I can't find an Old Testament case where a woman taught or usurped authority "over" a man.

Summary questions for the reader (running down through the whole context):

  1. Is the church assembly mentioned anywhere in the whole chapter of I Timothy 2?
  2. Does praying for all men and those in authority (vss.1-3) occur "only in the assembly"?
  3. Are we supposed to lead "a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (vs.2) "only in the assembly"?
  4. Are men saved (vs.4) "only in the assembly"?
  5. Can men come to a "knowledge of the truth" (vs.4) "only in the assembly"?
  6. Do men "lead" prayer "every where" (vs.8) "only in the assembly"?
  7. Are women to dress modestly (vs.9) "only in the assembly"?
  8. Are women supposed to profess "godliness with good works" (vs.10) "only in the assembly"?
  9. Are women to be in "subjection" to men (vs.11) "only in the assembly"?
  10. Does "childbearing" (vs.15) occur "only in the assembly"?
  11. Are "faith and charity and holiness with sobriety" (vs.15) to be practiced "only in the assembly"?
  12. Are women forbidden from teaching or usurping authority over the man (vs.12) "only in the assembly"?
  13. If the answers to questions 1-11 are "no," then why would the answer to question 12 be "yes"?

Points not to forget:

--Patrick T. Donahue



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