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The Bible says in Galatians 3:28 that because of what Christ has done, there are no longer any differences among us. "There is neither Jew nor Greek" (no ethnic or national difference); "neither slave nor free" (no economic difference); "neither male nor female" (no gender difference), "for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus" (NKJV). This verse refers to the equality we have in God.

But if we are all equal, how is it that the church has so often been guilty of sanctifying a chauvinistic system in which women are put--and not always gently--in second place? I believe it is time for us to revisit the issue of what a woman's place is in God's order of things.

 My purpose is not to incite every woman in the church to rise up to assert her individuality, authority and rights. It is to examine what the Bible says a woman can be so that women are free to move into all the things God has for them.

 Casting Off Old Ideas I want to begin by declaring that my view of women is not a radical feminist or anti-traditional church view. It is a solid biblical view. This view holds that God has a high destiny for every one of the redeemed--whether male or female--and that that destiny is the blossoming of who they are in the created being of Jesus Christ.

But discovering who we are in Christ can be made difficult by the old ideas we cling to that originate from the culture around us, imposed systems of thought such as human or religious philosophy, or our own ignorance or misunderstanding. We must allow the Lord to deliver us from all preconceived notions in order to discover His true call on our lives.

One way to do that is to examine closely the Scriptures that many people use to dispute the role of women in the church and try to determine what God is really saying through them. To that end, we will look at 1 Timothy 2:8-15:

"I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

"Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."

First let's see what the different verses in this passage don't mean.

That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel (v. 9). "All women should dress as crummy as possible to verify their holiness."

Let a woman learn in silence (v. 11). "Women should keep their mouths closed in church and have no input on spiritual matters."

With all submission (v. 11). "Women should do as they're told."

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man (v. 12). "Women are allowed to teach only other women."

Adam was formed first, then Eve (v. 13). "God likes men more than He does women."

Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (v. 14). "Men are smarter than women."

She will be saved in childbearing (v. 15). "The only thing a woman is good for is having babies."

Are you guilty of interpreting any of the verses this way? Now let's see what God is really telling us about women. We can't analyze every verse, but we will look at a few of the most important ones.

Let a Woman be Silent The first thing we have to understand is that, in this passage, Paul is writing to Timothy to instruct him on how to lead a church. He is giving him counsel on how to deal with relationships within the body.

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