The Donahue - Miles Debate

Donahue's Rejoinder

First and foremost, I want to impress upon the reader the importance of accepting what I Timothy 2:11-12 actually teaches, regardless of the consequences in application. Then have the courage to take this correct understanding and apply it consistently. In other words, let the passage mean what it says, and let the chips fall where they may.

It’s very significant that Oscar agrees "men should lead prayer at ball games, at home, in the assemblies and everywhere." Oscar, the reason men are to lead women in prayer at secular events is because of I Timothy 2:12 (women are not to usurp authority over men). Oscar’s concession admits my conclusion, that I Timothy 2:11-12 applies to secular activities.

Oscar says "prayer is a spiritual activity." I agree, but a ball game (which is regulated by vss.9-10) is not. So chapter 2 applies to spiritual activities and secular activities, just as I contend.

I agree with Oscar that I Timothy "consistently uses ‘teach’ to refer to spiritual teaching," but we learn from passages like I Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:22-24 that man’s authority and woman’s subjection extend beyond spiritual matters into secular situations. The head of a woman is man in general (I Corinthians 11:3), her husband in particular (Ephesians 5:22-24), and ultimately Christ (Matthew 28:18). Yes, the Bible does teach the subjection of women to men in general, and Oscar admits this in practice by not allowing women to lead men (even men other than their husbands), 1) in prayer at ball games, and 2) in Bible classes in the home environment.

Oscar misunderstood me to teach the bearing of children was part of a woman’s role in relationship to men other than her husband. By "everywhere" I didn’t mean every man, but "every place," exactly as it is used in vs.8. Childbearing happens outside the assembly, in the "everywhere" realm. And Oscar’s misunderstanding completely ignores my central argument here. Childbearing is used as a synecdoche for the whole of the woman’s role. Since childbearing is not a spiritual activity, then the woman’s role being discussed in I Timothy 2 cannot be limited to spiritual activities, because in a synecdoche, the part standing for the whole must be part of that whole.

Oscar says, "In verses 13-15, Paul gives reasons for the instruction in verses 11-12, and all his reasons deal with the husband/wife relationship." Actually Paul’s argument there has nothing to do with the husband/wife relationship per se; instead it is based upon the fact that Adam was created first (before Adam and Eve were husband and wife), and who was deceived in the transgression.

Without proof, Oscar claims I Timothy 2:11-12 is the "’not … but’ construction" similar to John 6:27, I Corinthians 1:17, and Philippians 2:4. If this were true in I Timothy 2 and I Corinthians 14:34-35, then a woman could teach the Bible over a man and in the assembly, as long as she didn’t overdo it to the neglect of other things, as long as she kept it in proper perspective. That is true of John 6:27, I Corinthians 1:17, and Philippians 2:4, so why wouldn’t it be true for I Timothy 2:11-12, which Oscar says is parallel?

Oscar misstates when he says about I Timothy 2:11-15, "Paul tells women that they must be submissive because of a principle true from the beginning." Instead, Paul tells women they must be submissive because of two events that happened in the beginning. As I mentioned before, this is just like the Sabbath. Just because the Sabbath command was based upon a creation event (Ex 20:8-11), that doesn’t mean it is binding in all dispensations (Colossians 2:14-17). The same is true about I Timothy 2:11-12.

Oscar criticizes me for arguing "that if Paul’s instructions on modesty apply outside the assembly, so does the rest of the passage." Must I remind Oscar that a primary way to determine when and where a verse applies is by looking at when and where the other verses in the same context apply? Consequently I used the great majority of my first two articles to demonstrate that practically every verse in chapter 2 applied outside the assembly. I showed where the chapter applied to spiritual activities outside the assembly. I also showed a number of places (notice my original arguments 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10) where the chapter applied even to secular matters. And Oscar in effect admits the applicability of I Timothy 2:11-12 to secular matters by not allowing the wife to be head over her husband in secular matters.

In order to be consistent, Oscar is forced into concluding that I Timothy 2:9-10 should not be used to regulate a woman’s dress at secular events. By taking this line of argumentation, Oscar is admitting that if vss.9-10 does apply to secular activities, then vss.11-12 does also. I am confident the reader will not be forced into giving up vss.9-10’s legitimate use against immodest apparel in the secular realm. Since our reader understands it is absolutely proper to use vss.9-10 to condemn scanty dress at the beach, then the reader should understand that vss.11-12 also applies at the beach, at the ballpark, and anywhere else it is possible for a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man.

Oscar’s second article leans toward the "spiritual activities only" position more than it does the "assembly only" position. So I repeat only my summary questions pertinent to that view:

  1. Does leading "a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (vs. 2) apply "only during spiritual activities"?
  2. Do men "lead" prayer "everywhere" (vs. 8) "only at spiritual events"?
  3. Are women to dress modestly (vs. 9) "only during spiritual activities"?
  4. Are women supposed to profess "godliness with good works" (vs. 10) "only during spiritual activities"?
  5. Is a woman to be in "subjection" to (vs. 11) / not to "usurp authority over" (vs. 12) her husband "only during spiritual activities"?
  6. Does "childbearing" (vs. 15) occur "only during spiritual events"?
  7. Are "faith and charity and holiness with sobriety" (vs. 15) to be practiced "only during spiritual activities"?
  8. Are women forbidden from teaching or usurping authority over men (vs. 12), "only during spiritual events"?

If the answer to questions 1-7 is "no," then why would the answer to question 8 be "yes"?

Repeating points not to forget:

I Timothy 2:12 just says that a woman is not to teach nor usurp authority over the man, period (without qualification as to where). Since the Bible leaves it at that, so should we.

--Patrick T. Donahue





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