Paul makes the case that women are to not teach in the Church, but submit and be silent, on the assertion that it was Eve and not Adam who was beguiled by Satan to disobey God. I note too that in multiple translations of these versions that women are to be silent and submissive that it is Paul speaking from the “first person,” that is, he states: “I” teach that women are to be silent.

I have several objections to the interpretation given to this verse by Churches that women are not to teach. First, is that Paul is incorrect that Adam was not deceived. He too fell into sin. Who fell first is almost immaterial, because the fall of mankind did not occur until both Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Secondly, Adam was there, and he was silent in the face of Eve’s temptation. He did nothing to intervene or support her through the temptation. Secondly, he mounted no greater resistance or objection to Eve than Eve mounted against Satan. Indeed, in one sense, he showed greater weakness: he submitted to Eve’s argument, and Eve was a mere woman, while Eve resisted (and failed) against a much greater deceiver, Satan himself. Finally, Eve was created to be a support and helper to man. Is not teaching a “support and help?”

It is true that taking one half the population, and putting them under a law of silence and submission on matters of teaching reduces the amount of conflict potentially between the two groups. The counter argument is that a gender based silencing of half the population to reduce conflict is a high price to pay for the intelligence, insight, study, and wisdom that the excluded group could bring for the benefit of all.

An entourage of faithful women followed Jesus, and were taught by him. I am sure they did not remain “silent and submissive” to the 12 “official” disciples, but that they actively transmitted what they learned to those around them. The early Church depended heavily on women to provide resources and meeting places for the Church to prosper.

The final best evidence I see of the value and status of women in the Church was the way Jesus himself related to them in a society and culture that degraded and marginalized them. For example, He commissioned the woman at the well in a Samaritan community to take the good news to her village and she commendably succeeded. In effect, she “taught” them about Jesus, and persuaded them to meet Him and learn more from Him.

That Jesus did not include a woman specifically as one of his 12 disciples probably reflects the reality of a patriarchal society in which Jesus lived, and His realization that women as disciples would not be taken seriously by the cultures they would enter as teachers. That is, his selection was a practical adaptation to the times, but not an indication of bias for all times and all cultures. The present culture in the U.S. for example, could easily accept and benefit from women as teachers in the Church.

In conclusion, it is Paul, and not Jesus, who taught that women were to be “silent” that is, that they were not to “teach” about Jesus. Scripture does not state even Paul’s injunction as an absolute, but states that “I” Paul believe women are to be silent. I think that Paul therefore qualified his position as his personal opinion, and not the teaching of the Holy Spirit.