The Donahue - Miles Debate

Miles' Rejoinder

I thank Pat, my friend and brother, for challenging me to this discussion.

Indeed, let the chips fall where they may, but note where they fall. Pat declined to spell consequences of his position. If Pat is correct, it is sinful for any woman to be in a position of authority over any man in any area of life. We would not worship under women elders. Then why would we (including Pat) work, study or even live under women bosses, female college professors, or women mayors, governors and senators?

Furthermore, Paul instructed only males (verse 8) to pray (verses 1-8). If this applies as broadly as Pat contends, women must not pray. If, however, the prayer of verse 8 refers to "leading prayer," as Pat apparently believes, then Pat is already limiting the scope of the passage without an explicit statement (no mention of "leading"). Pat does understand why we must limit this very passage in some areas; the reader will note that there are other limitations as well.

Pat has made serious mistakes of exegesis. When I teach that women should not lead men in prayer at ballgames based on 1 Timothy 2:11-12, Pat says I am admitting that the passage applies to secular activities. He concurs that prayer is a spiritual activity but notes that ballgames are not. Yes, Pat, and the passage is regulating prayer, not ballgames. This is very simple: everywhere that people pray, men should lead the prayers. Pat seems unable to separate the activity from the place, making this incredible argument: because God forbids women to lead prayer at ballgames, He also forbids women to umpire ballgames. Prayer and modesty are spiritual matters, as are teaching and exercising authority in this context. God is not talking about umpires. Strike one.

We have debated the "where" issue of this passage. I stated concisely in my second article why the assemblies-only position makes sense. Pat did not address my arguments. Again, the circumstantial evidence of the book and the immediate context makes the assemblies-only position natural and logical. We argue with our institutional friends that even if churches can practice pure and undefiled religion, that does not change the scope of James 1. Pat’s reminders will not keep the reader from seeing that his exegesis makes the same mistake. That is, even though dressing modestly applies in every public place, that does not change the scope of 1 Timothy 2.

But it is not the "where" we are debating, but the "what" and "to whom."

Note that the previous sentence is an ellipsis which means: we are not merely debating the "where," but even more importantly the "what" and "to whom." Pat dismissed out of hand my argument that Paul uses an ellipsis in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The Bible uses this "not . . . but" construction with a common verb to deny the lesser in order to emphasize the greater. This grammatical construction is so common in Scripture that the burden of proof falls upon Pat for rejecting it. What is Pat’s reason for rejecting it? He doesn’t like the consequences. But see paragraph one of Pat’s rejoinder. Strike two.

Pat makes too much of the synecdoche in verse 15. If at a ballgame, I instruct my son Joshua on throwing curveballs and sliding into second base, and then say, "Now go out there and act like a man," I do not mean for Joshua to go through the mental gymnastics of saying, "Well, being a man applies to spiritual activities, so Dad’s instruction on curve balls applies to prayer." Even so, God instructed women on spiritual and marital relationships and encouraged them in their feminine duties. Strike three.

Pat supposes that because Paul referred to events before the marriage of Adam and Eve that the context must be broader than the husband-wife relationship. This does not necessarily follow. The order of creation does not give every man authority over every woman everywhere. It gives every man authority over his own wife. Pat continues to speak of "women" when Paul wrote of "a woman" being submissive to "a man." Let Oscar, Pat, and every saint beware: If we have difficulty forming our arguments using the same language as Scripture, even singular and plural nouns (cf. Galatians 3:16), we should reassess our position. Did the Holy Spirit make a mistake in speaking of "a woman" and "a man" in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 11:3? Although Pat says, "1 Timothy 2:12 just says that a woman is not to teach nor usurp authority over the man, period," the passage actually says that "a woman" is not to exercise authority over "a man." Strike four.

I answered Pat’s argument on the Sabbath. Pat opted to pass over it.

Contrary to his assertion, Pat has never shown "where the chapter applied even to secular matters." Prayer at church, at home, or at a ballgame is still prayer – a spiritual activity. Strike five.

Pat tries to convince the reader that whoever uses verses 9-10 to regulate modesty in the workplace, must also use verses 11-12 in the workplace. Yes, Pat, if you understand that "the teaching and exercising authority" is talking about spiritual teaching and spiritual authority, a woman should not do those things in the workplace. It is not (merely) the place you must establish, Pat, but it is (especially) the kind of activity and whom women are to be in subjection to!

Even the Old Testament, with its extensive regulations on government and business, did not forbid women from holding leadership posts. Pat did not respond to the examples I gave.

Conclusion: I have already answered Pat’s questions. In spiritual matters women are to be submissive at all times and places. They are always in every place to submit to their husbands.

The crux of Pat’s argument is this: if the instruction in part of the context may apply in secular situations, all the instruction must apply to secular activities. Is this logical? If my daughter Chloe is going to a birthday party, and I say, "You should dress respectfully, bring a present and have lots of fun," she won’t reason, "Well, I should dress respectfully when I go to church and work, so I should also bring a present and have lots of fun at church and work too." Strike six. Pat’s main argument simply does not make sense. It strikes out . . . twice.

Points to remember:

 --Oscar Miles



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