The Contradictions of Timothy
I have never been one to put much effort into memorizing phrases from the Bible. I like to take one book at a time and read it entirely. The study of quotes has been a tactic used over the centuries.To me, reading the Bible is crucial for unraveling the great mysteries behind the teachings of Christ. I try to put it in perspective that the Bible is forty different books written at forty different times by at least forty different people. It may be that to read the Bible book by book is most beneficial if one is hoping to absorb the information the author is trying to convey.
The Book Timothy I is often cited for issues pertaining to women of the church yet, I have uncovered some interesting facts about this book. In the beginning, Paul writes to Timothy in Ephesus demanding his followers refrain from teaching false doctrines. He explains the need to focus on Christs' message of love. He ends sharing the belief in eternal life stating the only God, be honor and glory, forever and ever, Amen.
However, that is not the end of the first Book of Timothy. Following this commonly used closure is a list of instructions for worship. Over the centuries, these instructions have been used to discriminate against others. These instructives conflict with the former part of his letter and often seem in contradiction with the basic teachings of Christ. Here are a few of the quotes I find questionable.
1.) Kings and those of authority-
The instructions that suggest prayer be in a hierarchal structure is troubling to me. I ask myself if this was something Jesus would have said. In the gospel Christ teaches that, " I am the way!" God the father is the only authority. Financial authority was discribed by Jesus as being harder to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
2.) Instructions for women-
In First Timothy women are instructed not to braid their hair and to dress in a DECENT manner. Culturally, there is a stigma attached to what is decent. In Victorian culture, showing your ankles was inappropriate however, a woman could bare her beasts in a low cut day gown at anytime. Women breast fed children right in church. Breasts were not indecent in Victorian culture. Legs were. Native people wore braided hair and simple clothing. Could it be possible that Christ would consider all of those women throughout history indecent? I think not. In the gospel, Jesus taught, do not worry so much about how you dress but what you say. Another small quote of his was, " Out of the mouth the heart speaks." There was also a quote stating women worthy of respect. In the gospel Jesus taught all should be treated with love and respect, not just those who earthly mortals feel are worthy.
3.) A good reputation-
I question this as well. Would Jesus say something related to, " think of your reputation with outsiders?" He taught us to give in secret. This makes me think of the parable of the adulteress and how Jesus suggested to the people, " he who is without sin cast the first stone." Should we be in any way concerned with the judgement of others? Or is it God's judgement? This letter contradicts Christ again by claiming, " a facing of judgement by the devil." The gospel itself teaches that God is the only judge. Satan is not who we should be worried about judging us. It may be that we should be worried about him tempting us.
4.) Consider master's worthy of full respect-
Again ...would this be something Jesus would actually say?
In the beginning of Paul's first letter to Timothy, Paul denounces slavery and slavery is included in a list of sins committed by people of earth. I find this to be another contradiction and this makes me question if these were Paul's original words at all. I have to question if the latter was added.
It may have been possible that these words were added to the original letter written by Paul. We will never know. These are just a few things to consider. In the meantime, I try to live my own life with a little less judgement of others and few more prayers for us all.
By Joanne Kathleen Farrell
author of Liberty for the LIon Shield
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