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Tricky Questions (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty. (1 Timothy 2:11-15)

Someone once said, "It is not the things which I do not understand in the Bible which trouble me, but the things which I do understand." Of course, what they mean is that there are passages that are difficult to understand but the real problem are those passages that clearly tell us what to do but doing these things is challenging.

It's a great quote but it doesn't really help us in trying to understand what a passage is saying, There are some passages that have sparked debate for years, and this passage in 1 Timothy 2 is one of them.

Some say that the verse is quite clear. Women should not teach men in church. End of story.

Others say that this was a command that applied only in this one church or only in those churches Paul planted at that time and in that culture in which having women teaching men would be a stumbling block to unbelievers.

Trying to decide who is right and who is wrong goes way beyond the time and space available here. If you're interested in finding an answer, arm yourself with respected commentaries and start to wade through the issues.

The point I want to focus on here however, is that studying the Bible with young people will inevitably lead to questions.

Some of those questions concerns fundamentals such as, did Jesus live a sinless life? Did Jesus die on the cross? Did He rise again? These are not points we can be undecided upon because the essence of our faith relies on the answer "yes!" to all three (see 1 Corinthians 15;12-19).

Other questions, such as the one raised here, are not "salvation" questions. In other words, we can be wrong but that doesn't mean we've altered the essence of the Christian message and it certainly doesn't mean we're not saved.

So here are a few guidelines when young people ask you tricky questions - and they will!

Firstly, be honest. If you don't know the answer, say so. Don't make something up in order to appear knowledgeable.

Secondly, challenge the young person to do their own research. Thanks to Google, they have a vast resource of information available to them (admittedly not always accurate!)

Thirdly, offer to get back to them and do your own research! You don't need the possibility of a theological degree to get you studying theology. Young people and their questions are great motivators for learning the Scriptures.

If you do come to a conclusion that satisfies you, don't necessarily hold it too tightly (unless as mentioned before, it's a fundamental issue of faith). Share your findings with the young person and listen to their conclusions. Be honest about any doubts you still have.

Again, be honest. It's OK to say, "I think... [this], but others have studied it and think... [that]. I can't be 100% sure."

Those of us who have been a Christian for many years, have often changed our mind on certain questions. And that's OK. The Bible was written in a different language, time and culture and as such there are going to be passages that are difficult for us to understand.

That's said, again, none of these questions affect the core of our faith, and generally they are about issues that have little relevance to issues of personal behaviour or character. Coming to different conclusions need not cause division through arguing.

It's probably good to finish by once more affirming the need to focus on those things we do clearly do understand and, with God's help, live according to these instructions so that we might be a good witness to those we lead.

Reflection

What are the questions you have about Scripture that trouble you? Take some time to do some research, talking to your church leaders as you do in order to get their perspective on things.

What are the things you do understand but have difficulty following? Take some time to be silent and listen to what God is saying to you.