While looking up the definition of assumption, I decided to look up assume in the Bible. To understand the results, we need to look at the Chain. First we look at the various meanings of the English, assume. Then we need to look at the Greek words. Finally, we will be ready to tackle women teaching men. The results will be edifying. This can be technical, so sorry if parts are not as exciting as reading some thrilling story about assumption.
Assume has several meanings. One is to take for granted, without proof. A science boss used to say, “I assume puts an ass between you and me (Ass u me.)” A second is to take on an obligation such as, “He assumed his sons debt.” Another is to take over a responsibility as in, “He assumed the job of treasurer.” You can also assume an aggressive style, assume humility, and a situation can assume a threatening character. Finally, for our study is to usurp control, He assumed the job of pastor and refused to leave when everyone told him that he had never been called. As you can see, the concept of taking has a lot of uses; taking up, taking on, taking for, taking over. We need to see how the Greek uses these ideas.
The Greek uses different words to convey these concepts. One is, hupolambanó meaning to take up or bear up. It is used when Jesus is taken up into heaven. Numizo is practice or custom. It means the I suppose, or I assume that. De is used to show it has been tested, become clear, and can now be assumed to be true. sysxēmatízō assumes the pattern of, like assuming aggression or humility. Finally, authentéō is from Auto, self, and enteo, arms. To arm oneself has also come to mean to grab authority for oneself, to usurp. You have no legal justification but just do it. This is our last English meaning, to take over.
It appears in one place in the Bible, 1 Tim 2:12 “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” Here we have a verse used to suppress women, but that is not exactly what it says. We have two problems. If all scripture is inspired, then God inspired Paul to not say “God does not allow.” Instead it says “I (Paul) do not allow.” Why does Paul not allow. One reasonable answer is that this was a cultural statement appropriate for the misogynistic Greek world of the first century. The second is that Paul didn’t say women couldn’t exercise authority over men, but that they couldn’t appoint themselves to such a position. This is true for Pastors also. They have to be ordained. Paul went around appointing elders to lead churches. Thus, when my wife was appointed to be a professor over men and woman students, it was perfectly Biblical, because she didn’t just walk in to a classroom and take it over. Also, If we were to live in a strict Muslim country, it might be forbidden for her to teach men, but we live in America.
There are two ways to usurp authority over God. One is where you decide to throw out parts of the Bible. “This verse goes against what I believe, so I am throwing it out.” is something which I have heard many liberal Christians say. “I have always been taught this, in fact, my leader (Calvin, Luther, Scofield, or whoever) interprets it like this, so I will believe him.” Too many conservatives have told me this no matter if I show them that the Bible really says differently. This is the case with verses that suppress women. The interpretation was developed in an age that wanted to justify male dominance, so they either chose the worst of all reasonable interpretations, or misinterpreted the scripture to justify their beliefs. This is assumption of an ugly sort. One should never change the Bible to fit ones beliefs, but study the Bible to have ones beliefs and actions change.