Was Paul a Male Chauvinist

QUESTION: “Was Paul a Male Chauvinist and woman-hater in His writing Scripture?”  

“I think that Paul was a male chauvinist.  He didn’t like women.  In fact, I think that he hated women.  That is why he wrote what he wrote about the female gender.  So, we shouldn’t feel bound by his anti-female instructions about keeping silent in the assemblies or not exercising authority over the man.  We, as women, are able to do what the man can do—and sometimes do it better!”        

ANSWER  

The attitude and conviction expressed in this question reveals a low view of the inspiration of holy Scripture.  It assumes that we should take the words of the Bible, especially the teachings of the apostle Paul, as merely human directives and requirements.  The Scriptures are far more than this.

One definition of Scripture is that they are “the words of God, in the words of men, in history.”  This means that the Bible definitely is the Word of God.  Second, the words of Scripture are also the words of men, for God employed His chosen apostles and prophets to record His will in the form of words that people could read and understand.  Thirdly, all of this occurred in the context of actual earth history.  The Bible didn’t just drop from the skies, but the various writings were given in the context of a certain place and time, but this fact doesn’t in any way diminish the full inspiration, trustworthiness, and authority of Scripture.

Paul wrote, “We also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  Notice that the words that Paul spoke (and wrote) were more than his words, written with his pen, on his paper (cf. the way John expressed this—2 John 12; 2 John 13).  Paul’s words were actually “the word of God” and He was thankful that these brothers could see this truth.

One important scripture to notice in reply to this question is 1 Corinthians 14:33-37.  Here we note that what Paul wrote, he wrote for the benefit of “all the churches of the saints” (v. 33).  He then gives those instructions and directives that many in our day find very offensive and objectionable.  He stated that women are to keep silent in the assemblies, that they are not permitted to speak, that they are to subject themselves, and that it is improper for a woman to speak in the assembly (vv. 34-35).  Now please read verse 37: “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.”

What is this saying?  It says that what Paul is writing in this chapter (about prophets and those who spoke in tongues), including his instructions regarding women and their limitations—that these instructions constitute “the Lord’s commandment” (v. 37).  We must never castigate or slander Paul the Apostle by saying that he wrote such things because he hated women! 

When he gave a similar instruction to the women in Ephesus (1 Timothy 2:8-15), instead of rooting this in a local custom or first-century practice, Paul goes back to the beginning of history. He rests his command for the woman to “quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness” and his command that the womn must not “teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (vv. 11-12) on the priority of man in creation (v. 13) and the priority of woman in deception and sin (v. 14).  No male chauvinism here, but a reference to holy Scripture, given by the inspiration of God through the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

Richard Hollerman

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