It was bad luck for the Baptist denomination that I happened to join my high school friend for Sunday School on the day they were studying the part of Ephesians that mentions women should be submissive to their husbands. This was my first impression of what a Baptist church was about, and that word “submissive” did not sit well with me. I was raised with an “anything boys can do, girls can do better” mantra forever in my head, it’s possible I was born thinking that way because I don’t remember ever thinking differently. So what was this about a woman’s place and being submissive? WHAT?
No United Methodist Church I had ever attended preached on women being submissive to men. I had had several female pastors in my life, my own aunt is a UMC pastor. So what was this about a woman being submissive? About not being able to teach or preach? This first impression of a Baptist denomination was hard to swallow. I wonder, what happens to our own youth when they visit their friends’ churches?
Years later, I have a different understanding of the Scripture about the roles for women. And I relish my role as a senior high Bible study teacher. If we can create a place where youth can safely wrestle with even the most controversial parts of Scripture, we can give them a faith foundation that won’t be rocked as they’re exposed to different theology.
We are currently studying the book of 1 Timothy in my Senior High Bible study. Have you read through 1 Timothy lately? I chose the book of 1 Timothy because I knew that 1 Timothy 4:12 says “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” That’s a verse young people should know, right? However, I was tempted find another book to study once I read through the book, or at least to skip chapter 2 because of the whole “women should learn in quietness and full submission” part. I remembered those early impressions from my own youth – would I be doing the same to the girls in my own class? We took the whole book on anyway and I’m glad we did. I might add, if you choose to tackle this with your group, it might not hurt to read Jeremy’s article about not getting fired first. Make sure you have support with you when you’re delving into the controversial & know your youth.
The fun part: During the more controversial part of the Bible study, I had the boys sit in an inner circle to study the Bible with me. The girls sat outside the circle and were able to take notes but not speak. You should have seen the reactions – there were furious notetakers and a few angry glares from the girls during the process – and I’m pretty sure more than one boy’s chair got “accidentally” kicked from behind. It’s a lesson we won’t soon forget.
Take a look for yourself: \"Women Should Be Silent.\" WHAT?!? (254)
Obviously, I took this on as a woman in youth ministry. If you’re male and you try this session, I would love to hear how it goes!