Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tolerance, homosexuality and not inheriting the Kingdom of God

God love you

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

It is standard fare to hear of theological liberals who accept and even promote the homosexual lifestyle. But getting acceptance from a supposed Bible-believing pastor is quite another thing. Former homosexual, Joe Dallas, wrote in 1995 in “Answering Pro-Gay Theology”, “The debate over homosexuality and the Bible – specifically, whether or not the Bible condemns homosexual acts in all cases – will do no less than rip the body of Christ apart in the next decade. It will force believers to declare, in black and white terms, where they stand on issues of sexuality and Biblical interpretation” (p. 172).[1] Joe hit the mark – big time!

A theologically liberal Anglican clergyman


We saw this in Brisbane with a liberal Anglican clergyman, Peter Catt, supporting the Queensland Bill for the legalising of homosexual civil unions. See the article, “Anglican Church’s Peter Catt backs gay civil unions at Queensland parliamentary hearing” (Courier-Mail, 11 November 2011). What were some of his arguments?

  • The same-sex unions’ Bill does not denigrate the legitimacy of marriage;
  • It extended “liberties” to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples;
  • “I really don’t see that this impinges on marriage at all”;
  • This will mean that children in same-sex unions are in a relationship with good values;
  • Bad marriages did more to undermine the institution of marriage.
  • He said, “To some extent … [I’m] putting my neck on a chopping block”;

Rev. Dr. Peter Catt is the Anglican Dean of Brisbane. This link provides a reflection on what liberal Anglicanism means: “We strive for open-minded conversation, seek to practice inclusion, and reflect on how we might see our beliefs put into action”. Open-minded, inclusive practice means that homosexuals are included in the name of inclusion, tolerance and open-mindedness. Do you notice what he missed out in what was reported?

The Courier-Mail did not provide one statement from Rev. Dr. Catt on what the Bible says about homosexuality. There was not a word about the content of anything in I Corinthians 6:9-11,

9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (ESV).

Liberal, inclusive, open-mindedness means that the full story of God’s view of homosexuality (and all other sin) as portrayed in the Bible is censored. Also, theological liberalism has a low view of the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God, so it’s not surprising that that this liberal view downplays the importance of a biblical view of sexuality, including homosexuality. Now, I expect that from a liberal Anglican, but I did not expect something similar from a charismatic preacher.

What about the ‘tolerance’ view from a leading charismatic minister?

Rob Buckingham is the senior pastor at the large charismatic Bayside Church, Cheltenham, Victoria.  The Sunday Herald Sun, 17 November 2011, reported on his approach to homosexuals in, “Preaching tolerance bayside. You can hear this message by Rob Buckingham at Youtube online, ‘Real Christianity is accepting‘. It was preached in 2009. What is your view on this approach?

What some other churches are concluding

a. Australia: There is an assumption among some that the Bible and religious tradition do not teach that homosexual relationships are contrary to God’s plan. A brochure, representative of the Uniting Church in Australia, stated that ‘Homosexuality is a good part of God’s diverse creation’.[2] Adelaide’s new Anglican Bishop, Dr Tim Harris, supports homosexual clergy but they must follow church guidelines and not engage in homosexual sex.[3]

b. The USA: The United Church of Christ’s General Synod (USA), in 2005, affirmed a resolution that there should be “equal marriage rights for all people regardless of gender”, but that denomination does not require pastors to perform homosexual marriage.[4] The United Church of Canada urged its federal government in Ottawa to recognise same-sex relationships.[5] The Presbyterian Church USA in 2011 ratified support for homosexual clergy, stating that

“persons in a same-gender relationship can be considered for ordination,” General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons told the Presbyterian News Service. “The gist of our ordination standards is that officers submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and ordaining bodies (presbyteries for ministers and sessions for elders and deacons) have the responsibility to examine each candidate individually to ensure that all candidates do so with no blanket judgments”.

c. Canada: The United Church of Canada has developed a resource that “offers four workshops to help a congregation or a group within the congregation to explore civil recognition of same-sex relationships from a faith and justice perspective. It also offers a process for congregational decision making on same-sex marriage”.

d. Europe: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany has affirmed that

Gay and lesbian Lutheran ministers in the conservative German state of Bavaria may live with their partners in parish parsonages, but only if they enter into a state-sanctioned civil union. Although the move may seem bold for what is generally considered one of Germany’s most traditional states, Bishop Johannes Friedrich of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria said it was no great departure from existing policies. He noted that the church had already welcomed openly gay ministers and same-sex unions. “We had only left out that a couple could live in a civil union in the parsonage,” he said. To abide by the ruling, gay or lesbian ministers must receive a church blessing for their union and enter into a civil union officially recognized by government officials.[6]

tolerance by bedpanner - John 14:2 In my fathers house are many rooms.

(image courtesy openclipart)

Of the Church of Scotland, the Herald Scotland reported:

THE Church of Scotland is being starved of donations due to the growing schism in the Kirk over moves to allow gay ministers. The Church has been riven with internal divisions since its decision to set up a special commission on same-sex relationship in the ministry in 2009. An internal report by Glasgow Presbytery described how in one church – St George’s Tron in Glasgow – the “general disquiet and sadness about the Church of Scotland’s decision to set up a special commission on this matter had been a contributory factor in several members directing their sacrificial giving and tithing towards the congregation’s evangelical ministry and outreach, rather than the central funds of the Church of Scotland…. “Someone,” he says, “said to me recently, ‘I’m in the wrong church.’ I know a lot of people are feeling like that”.[7]

e. Africa:

The largest Protestant church in Africa grabbed the world’s attention when it publically denounced homosexuality and said people who support gay rights were not welcome in the church—and neither was their money. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) posted a notice on its Web site entitled: Church rejects homosexuality. “Those in same sex marriages, and those who support the legitimacy of such marriage, shall not be invited to work in the ELCT,” a press release states. “We further reject their influence in any form, as well as their money and their support.” In addition the fastest-growing church in Africa with 5.3 million members said it “supports all those around the world who oppose churches that have taken the decision to legalize same-sex marriage.” This loud warning was seen as a prelude to split from its main financial partner, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which now supports gay rights.[8] In Uganda in 2010, African Anglican bishops forcefully opposed homosexuality in the church: The question of homosexuality reared its head for the umpteenth time this week at the all African Anglican Church conference that is taking place in Entebbe. Despite pressure from the western world, African bishops have renewed their condemnation of the practice of homosexuality in the church. The widely criticised practice in Africa has been viewed as a threat to the unity of the church. Homosexuality and ordination of women prelates are two of the underpinning practices that have put the Anglican Church at cross-roads over how its pastoral commitments should be exercised. Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of the province of Nigeria says the church has always had differences of opinion over certain issues. Breeding disunity “Homosexuality is not a new phenomenon in the society but the only trouble is that the issues dividing us (church) now are very difficult to handle. They are threatening the unity of the church because they disobey the authority of the scriptures,” says Bishop Okoh. He says homosexuality is a result of some people engaged in making their culture to be superior to the biblical teachings. “It is two sided; while some people want to be obedient to their culture to determine the content of the church, others say no and it must be the guidance of the bible,” he added. The primates describe homosexuality as an imposed interpretation and alien culture that has hindered the growth of an authentic church which could respond to its people. “We are saying homosexuality is not compatible with the word of God. We are saying that this culture of other people is against the traditional belief of marriage held by the Anglican Communion,” says the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi. Bishop Orombi says that the Anglican Church will never accept homosexuality because the scriptures too do not allow people of same sex to join in marriage.[9]

f. South America: Time magazine reported in 2010 that

the legislators of the South American nation passed a law on Thursday, July 15 [2010], that made Argentina the 10th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. By a vote of 33 to 27, they gave homosexual couples the same inheritance and adoption rights as heterosexual ones. Against the intense and sustained opposition of the church, President Cristina Fernández staked her political reputation on passing the law, deepening her often bitter feud with the country’s Catholic hierarchy. “I am very satisfied. It has been a positive vote,” said the President in Shanghai, where she is on an official tour of China. “This is a positive step that defends the right of a minority.” Her Cabinet chief Aníbal Fernández was slightly more effusive, posting on Twitter, “Same-sex marriage is law in Argentina. Don’t worry, be happy”.[10]

g. However, these views contradict the biblical Scriptures which state that God’s plan for love and sexuality does not include homosexual relationships, either in the Old Testament or the New Testament. See Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11. The Bible is clear that from the beginning of time, expressions of sexual intimacy were designed for a man and a woman in marriage and there were severe consequences for the practice of homosexuality. h. Heterosexual sin and homosexual sin are so serious that people who continue to practise these sins ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9). i. Jesus Christ defined marriage: ‘“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’ (Matthew 19:4-6). j. A nation that dares to promote the violation of God Almighty’s laws, is calling for judgment (see Romans 1:18-32; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:5-6). k. ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’ (Psalm 33:12). The New Testament teaches that homosexuals need to be changed by the living Christ and “such were some of you”. Yes, God changes homosexuals.  Read the story of a lesbian whom God radically changed: “One woman’s journey out of lesbianism: An interview with Jeanette Howard”.



[1] This is from a chapter in the book, Michael Mazzalongo (ed) 1995. Gay Rights or Wrongs: A Christian’s Guide to Homosexual Issues and Ministry. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company.

[2] Uniting Network, NSW/ACT, ‘Gay and Lesbian Couples: Prayers and blessings’, available at: (Accessed 12 March 2012).

[3] David Jean, The Advertiser, ‘New Anglican bishop welcomes homosexual ministry’, November 19, 2011, available at: (Accessed 12 March 2012).

[4] See the BBC News report, 5 July 2005, US Church backs same-sex marriage, available at: (Accessed 12 March 2012).

[5] See the United Church of Canada, available at: (Accessed 12 March 2012).

[6] Neils Sorrells 2011. German church allows gay pastors to live with partners. The Huffington Post, 25 May. Available at: (Accessed 15 March 2012).

[7] Herald Scotland 2011. The gay divide, 28 May. Available at: (Accessed 15 March 2012).

[8] Wayne M. Anderson n.d. African church waivers on homosexuality. Gnesio [Lutheran], available at: (Accessed 15 March 2012).

[9] Ephraim Kasozi 2012. Uganda: African bishops unite to denounce homosexuality. The Monitor (All Africa). 29 August. Available at: (Accessed 15 March 2012).

[10] Uki Goñi / Buenos Aires 2010. Defying church, Argentina legalizes same-sex marriage. Time, July 15. Available at:,8599,2004036,00.html (Accessed 15 March 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 October 2018.


Alcohol and the Christian[1]

By Spencer D Gear

Where do Australians rank in the world of alcohol consumption? This article from the Australian Times [UK] (‘World’s 20 drunkest countries: Where does Australia rank in alcohol consumption?’ 18 May 2014) stated:

Aussies are renowned the world over as prolific beer drinkers (and we make a bloody good drop of wine too). It’s in our culture and runs through our veins, so the stereotype goes. But exactly how does Australia rank against the rest of the world when it comes to alcohol consumption?

Well, a 2014 WHO (World Health Organisation) report looks at alcohol consumed globally by drinkers aged 15 and older (the stats were taken from the years 2010-2011).

So, how did we go? Aussie drinkers consumed 14.5 litres of pure alcohol per capita, per year. This is more than twice the global average of 6.55 litres. But guess what; Australia only ranks 19th out of all countries when looking at alcohol consumed per capita:

Drunk countries

Mashable’s map of the WHO report highlighted the “drunkest countries in the world”. Eastern European countries are world beaters, but Australia wasn’t too far behind, as this WHO map shows:

WHO map

Source: WHO

The map shows how Australia compares to countries outside the Western Pacific Region. So while Aussie drinkers might consume less than most in Eastern Europe, they’re drinking more than Brits (13.8 litres of pure alcohol per drinker) and Kiwis (13.7). We’ll drink to that!

Stats say Aussies favour beer over most drinks, with wine as a close second:

Aus beer

Source: WHO

With men consuming more than double that of women in Aus, we’ve definitely got the boys to thank for this one. Pass us another cold one, would ya mate? [1]

“Alcohol abuse has now become the major drug problem in Australia, with alcohol-related road deaths, hospital admissions and drownings bearing witness to the enormity of the problem. Family breakdowns, domestic violence, homicides and money worries go hand-in-hand with excessive drinking, as do depression, sexual impotence, permanent brain damage and poor dietary habits.” [2]

“Drug misuse [is] estimated to cost Australia more than $14 billion a year in road trauma, health care, lost productivity, and law enforcement.” [3]

Yet, it appears that God wants us to enjoy food and alcohol. Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, “Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” [4]

How do we put these two ideas together? The devastation of alcohol on the Australian community on the one hand, and a God who seems to approve of alcohol use? Is God a big ogre, saying, “Go ahead, enjoy your alcohol, and too bad about what happens in your life and nation?” That doesn’t compute with the compassionate, merciful God of the Bible!

Is the Lord saying it’s perfectly okay for Christians to enjoy their booze — beer, wine and spirits?

My focus will be on wine-drinking. I want to take a serious look at the Bible’s view of alcohol use and what our response should be.


1.  It’s a sin to get drunk.

In the Old Testament,[5] the stubborn and rebellious son who received the death penalty for his sin, was also a glutton and a drunkard.

While the O.T. was the covenant of law and Christians are under grace, the New Testament agrees with the Old. I Corinthians 5:11 tells Christians “not to associate” with “a drunkard.”

I Corinthians 6:10: No “drunkards” will inherit the kingdom of God;

Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk with wine.”

Galatians 5:19-21 lists “drunkenness” as one of the “deeds of the flesh.”

The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a sin that will prevent you from entering heaven.

2.  Strong drink is deceptive and sinful.

The Bible has a lot to say about strong drink.

  • O.T. priests were not to have ‘wine or strong drink’ (Deut. 10:8-9).
  • Prov. 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler.”
  • Prov. 31:4-5, Kings are not to drink wine; rulers are not “to desire strong drink.” Why? “Lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (v. 5).
  • Isa. 5:11, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink.”
  • Micah 2:11 says it was the false prophet who said, “I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer.”[6] He’s called a “liar and a deceiver.”

The Hebrew word for “strong drink” is used 23 times in the OT. It refers to “an intoxicating drink made from barley, pomegranates, dates, apples or honey.”

The most common word for “wine” is used 141 times in the OT. “New wine” is used 38 times and refers to “freshly pressed juice of the grape, that is, grape juice that has not yet fully fermented,”[7] e.g. Gen. 27:28; Joel 2:24; Mic. 6:5.

The use of strong drink will deceive you and is sinful.

3.  Drinking in excess is wrong.

(public domain)

  • Amos 6:1, 6: “Woe to you who are complacent in Zion… You drink wine by the bowlful.”[8] Cups were apparently not large enough, so they were drinking from bowls.
  • Hab. 2:15 states that over-drinking leads to sexual sin.

The Scriptures assert that drinking in excess has these results:

  • slowing of the thinking processes (Prov. 31:4-5; Isa. 28:7; Hos. 4:11);
  • a stupor (Jer. 25:27; 51:39);
  • sickness (Isa. 19:14; 28:7-8; Jer. 48:26);
  • staggering (loss of balance and loss of mental control) (Job 12:25; Isa.28:7- 8; 29:9);
  • arrogance (Hab. 2:5);
  • forgetfulness (Prov. 31:6-7);
  • confusion & delirious dreams (Prov. 23:31, 33);
  • sleepiness (Gen. 9:20-24; 19:33);
  • lack of feeling (Prov. 23:31, 35);
  • bloodshot eyes (Prov. 23:29-30);
  • poverty (Prov. 23:20-21).

Biblically, drinking in excess is clearly wrong.

4.  Church elders and deacons are to be moderate in their use of wine.

  • An elder is to be “not given to drunkenness” (I Tim. 3:3, NIV);
  • A deacon is to be “not indulging in much wine” (I Tim. 3:8, NIV).

God is not saying that church leaders should not drink wine, but that church leaders were to drink wine in moderation.

5.  Wine was a medicine in New Testament times.

  • Paul told Timothy to “use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (I Tim. 5:23, NIV). In the ancient world, wine was used to aid the digestive tract, and as a laxative.[9]
  • Prov. 31:6: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter.” This is indicating that “strong drink was used as a sedative or pain-killer for the dying, and that wine was also used to calm the nerves.”[10]
  • I Sam. 16:2 says that wine would “refresh those who become exhausted in the desert” (2 Sam. 16:2, NIV).
  • What did the Good Samaritan pour on the wounds of the man who had been beaten by thieves (Luke 10:34)? Oil and wine. It was to help heal wounds.

Biblically, wine had at least four uses as a medicine: a laxative, pain-killer, stimulant to refresh, and to help heal wounds.

That is what the Bible says about wine and strong drink.

However, a number of myths about alcohol have crept into the Bible-believing church.


1.  The Bible does not teach that the wine at the Lord’s supper was unfermented, i.e. non-alcoholic.

I know some fine Christians who insist that alcoholic wine must not be used at the Lord’s Supper. It must be grape juice or some other unfermented drink, they say. People did not know of Sanitarium and Berri grape juice in those days.

I Corinthians 11:21 (one of the chapters dealing with the Lord’s supper) says that some Corinthians were getting drunk at the Lord’s Table. From grape juice? Hardly.

In fact, because of the drunkenness and gluttony around the Lord’s Table, some Corinthians became sick and died (I Cor. 11:30). Judgment fell on the people of God because of their sins around the Lord’s Supper.

It was definitely alcoholic wine used at the Corinthian Lord’s supper.

Perhaps you might observe: That’s not surprising. There were lots of strange things happening in the church at Corinth. They were clearly out of order in many ways. But not once in Paul’s correction of what was happening at Corinth did he say that they must change from alcoholic to non-alcoholic beverage at the Lord’s Supper.

2.  The Bible does not teach that the new wine was non-alcoholic.

Some have taught that the old wine was fermented, but the new wine, especially of the NT, was non-fermented. Two passages refute that idea:

  • Hosea 4:11, “Wine and new wine take away the understanding.”
  • Acts 2:13. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended and the people were filled with the Holy Spirit, the crowd said, “They are full of sweet wine [or new wine].”

So, new wine in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, was just as alcoholic/fermented as the old wine.

3.  I am not convinced that it is correct to say that the wine Jesus made at Cana of Galilee was non-alcoholic.

Take a look at John 2, especially verses 9-10. It is called “wine” and “good wine.” It was so good that the people at the wedding feast, who expected the cheaper wine to be brought on at the last, found it was as good as what was used at the beginning.

The word for “wine” (oinos) at Cana, is the same word that appears in Mark 2:22 and Eph. 5:18, “Be not drunk with wine.” It’s clearly alcoholic wine.

4.  It is not biblical to say that the NT teaches that first century Christians did not use wine at any time.

David Wilkerson, the founder of Teen Challenge and the author of The Cross & the Switchblade, was so concerned about the amount of alcohol drinking among the Christian community, particularly in the U.S.A., that he wrote a strong little book against such drinking that he called, Sipping Saints.

I must be true to the Scriptures. No verse in the Bible states that Christians in biblical times abstained from all wine at all times. The biblical commands are against use of “strong drink” and against drunkenness.

5.  Total abstinence from alcoholic beverages was not a condition of membership in the NT church.

Some churches today have a ‘pledge’ in their membership commitment that prohibits the drinking of alcohol. For example, the Salvation Army has this statement regarding church membership. If one wants to become a senior soldier (i.e. church member), he or she pledges to ‘abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit’ (Abstinence from alcohol, Salvation Army New Zealand, Fiji & Tonga). This is the Assemblies of God USA’s statement on ‘abstinence’.

I do not believe it is biblical to conclude that not drinking alcohol should be a condition of church membership.

Nor is it a condition of being a godly believer. That’s a myth perpetuated by some evangelical churches.

Some of you may be wondering where I am heading. Am I advocating that all Christians, including our youth, should be able to drink alcohol freely, as long as they don’t get drunk?

You are jumping to unwarranted conclusions. I have had to be honest with the biblical data.

An important question is:


Many Christians today assume that the N.T. wine is identical with wine today. That’s an error. Today’s wine, beer and spirits are, by biblical definition, “strong drink.” And use of that is forbidden by the Bible. Wine in the Bible was essentially purified water.[11]

Homer was a Greek poet who lived in the 8th century before Christ. He said that in his day, wine was 20 parts water and one part wine. [12]

A writer after the time of the N.T., Pliny (lived in the 2nd century after Christ), spoke of wine being eight parts water and one part wine.

Aristophanes said wine was three parts water and two parts wine. Other Greek writers said it was three to one.

The average was about three or four parts of water to one part of wine.

In the ancient world, sometimes it was one part water and one part wine — that was considered strong wine. “Anyone who drank wine unmixed [with water] was looked on as a Scythian, a barbarian. That means the Greeks would say today, `You [Australians] are barbarians — drinking straight wine.'”

They said, “Mix it half and half and you get madness: unmixed — bodily collapse.” Here is a pagan saying: “Half and half is madness, and unmixed wine brings death.”

There are several instances in the O.T. where a distinction is made between wine and strong drink (Lev. 10:8-9; Deut. 14:26; 29:6; Judges 13:4).

The Jewish Talmud (writings at the time of the early church) states that the `wine’ of the Passover meal was three parts water and one part wine (cf. 2 Maccabees 15:39).

“In ancient times not many beverages were safe to drink… Water could be made safe in one of several ways. It could be boiled, but this was tedious and costly. Or it could be filtered, but this was not a safe method. Or some wine could be put in the water to kill the germs — one part wine with three or four parts water.”

Wine, beer and spirits in Australia today have a much higher alcoholic content than wine in the N.T. One researcher calculated that “in New Testament times one would need to drink twenty-two glasses of wine in order to consume the large amount of alcohol in two martinis today.”

He put it this way: “In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before the mind.”[13]

What am I saying?

Fermented, alcoholic wine was drunk in Bible times, and the Bible approved of this kind of wine-drinking, as long as one did not become drunk. Drunkenness is clearly sin.

HOWEVER, beer, wine and spirits in Australia today (wine coolers have the same alcoholic content as beer) are what the Bible calls strong drink and is forbidden for believers to use. “Even the ancient pagans did not drink what some Christians drink today.”

(public domain)


I suggest asking and answering these four questions:

1.  What are the facts about alcohol?

  • “The average Australian family consumes an estimated 936 cans of beer, 61 bottles of wine and 20 bottles of spirits each year, according to the Australian Drug Foundation…
  • “In 1990, there were an estimated 6600 deaths due to alcohol, representing a quarter of all drug-caused deaths and 5 per cent of all deaths.”[14]
  • [15] Money: How much does drinking cost you? Just three drinks a day every day will cost you more than $1000 a year. Twenty drinks over a weekend will cost you about the same. Some people spend as much as half their income on alcohol. For them drinking is more important than other activities.
  • Work: Drinking could cost you your job. If you are even slightly intoxicated at work, or have a hangover, you can’t work properly. Sometimes you can’t work at all and have to take time off. Around 1 in 15 people in the work force have an alcohol problem. These problems cost Australian industry about one billion dollars (Australian currency) a year.
  • Motor skills: Alcohol affects your co-ordination. It affects your ability to drive any kind of vehicle or operate many kinds of machinery. Alcohol is a common cause of accidents in industry, on the roads and in the home. Alcohol is also a common cause of drowning in Australia.
  • The law: Alcohol can get you into trouble with the law. Drinking and driving are against the law and offences carry heavy penalties. Alcohol is also a factor in more than half the serious crimes in Australia and in about three-quarters of violent crimes committed.
  • Personality: Most drugs affect your mood. Alcohol is a mood changing drug, but it is not a stimulant as many think. Alcohol acts as a depressant and slows you down. It can also make you uninhibited and aggressive and you are still responsible for what you do when you have been drinking.
  • Sex: Alcohol can make you feel less inhibited about sex and more sexually active. But it can often reduce your ability to perform sexually.

It can also make you more aggressive. Alcohol is a major factor in sexual offences like rape, incest and child abuse.

  • Relationships: Alcohol causes many personal and family problems. It is a factor in many unhappy relationships, causing arguments, violence and poverty.

At least 1.5 million Australians are affected by drinking problems in their families. Two in every five divorces and separations are caused by alcohol problems.

“Relationships often break down in a cloud of violence and abuse. The bottle can replace all thought of your partner, friends, job, family… It can all add up to a pretty ugly and depressing picture.” [16]

  • Appearance: Alcohol has no real value as a food, but it contains a lot of kilojoules. Drinking can quickly make you put on weight. Heavy drinkers are often fat, and this increases other health risks, like heart disease. Alcohol also affects the condition of your skin.
  • Health: “Heavy drinking is one sure way of damaging your health. Liver, brain, and pancreas damage; heart and blood disorders; ulcers; and loss of memory are conditions common to many heavy drinkers.”[17]  Regular alcohol use can kill brain cells (and you know what that means?) It can attack your liver in a severe way, for some leading to cirrhosis of the liver.

Recently my wife phoned a friend to cancel out on a job the woman was doing for us. The wife was not home, so the message was given to her husband who answered the phone. After my wife got off the phone, she said to me: “He didn’t sound coherent; or was he drunk?”

Sure enough, that woman turned up at our place at the regular time to do the job. My wife said, “But I phoned your husband earlier in the week and left a message for you not to come.” His wife’s reply was: “He never said a word to me about your message. In fact, I said I was coming to your place as I was leaving and he didn’t mention your message. But then, he had his birthday on the day you phoned and he was probably drunk.”

“How you feel tomorrow depends on how you handled the night before.”[18]

So, if you believe it is okay for a Christian to drink alcohol, you must consider these facts.

2.  Will my alcohol drinking lead me to sin?

The Bible is very clear — drunkenness is sin and will keep you out of the Kingdom of God. I Cor. 6:12 gives a very clear principle: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.”

Even if alcohol drinking is permissible, is it profitable for the Christian? It’s profitable for the publican, but is it profitable for you in your life as a believer?

I Cor. 6:12 adds: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” If you drink alcohol, you need to ask, “Am I the master of it, or is it the master of me?”

3.  Will my drinking alcohol lead anybody else to sin?

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Christian answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Phil. 2:4, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others.” If you drink alcohol, are you considering “the interests of others” (spouse, children, boss, fellow employees, friends, mates who play sport with you, etc.) or is it for your own indulgence and pleasure?

If you are a genuine Christian concerned about your impact on and witness in this city, you must take seriously Romans 14:21: “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.”

I have raised three teenagers. I would not dare give my children the example of seeing alcohol in my refrigerator. In this alcohol-soaked country, what a pathetic model I would be to say to my kids: alcohol is destroying families across the nation; accidents, homicides, and abuse are epidemic in Australia, associated with alcohol — but it’s okay for Christians to drink. I believe that is hypocritical.

I must ask: Will my drinking cause anybody else to sin? Even if it is not a problem to me, is it possible that I would cause somebody else to stumble? I’m not talking about mature Christians being offended by your stance, but causing another brother or sister to stumble in his/her Christian growth.

4.  Can alcohol drinking be done to the glory of God?

I Cor. 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” If you as a Christian cannot be praising God and glorifying Him while you are drinking alcohol, then it is not good for you.


This has been my choice and does not make me a better Christian than another. I had one shandy as a 10-year-old kid at a Christmas party where we used to live. I drank a glass of champaign when I was about 24 years old and attended the opening of a bridal boutique when I was program manager at a radio station.

Glass and keys

I am a teetotaller because:

1.  I am convinced . . .

There is a strong biblical argument for Aussie alcohol being the equivalent of “strong drink” in the Bible. As a committed Christian, God says I should not have ‘strong drink’ and I must be obedient. My life will always be the loser if I disobey the Lord’s commands. I am committed to pleasing Him, no matter how nice a glass of wine may be or feel. Christ is my Master.

2.  As a counsellor for 34 years . . .

I have counselled enough people and families whose lives have been wrecked by grog, to cure me from any alcohol use for the rest of my life. Heroin, marijuana, LSD, amphetamines are dangerous drugs. But the number one drug problem in Australia is alcohol abuse.

I counsel young people to keep away from that dangerous mind-altering drug marijuana. But young people have every right to say to adults: “You hypocrites! You approve of your drug, alcohol, and look at what it does to families and the nation! And you disapprove of our drug, marijuana.”

It’s very difficult to convince young people to quit marijuana use when adults are into booze. However, it’s a myth to say that marijuana is no more harmful than cigarettes or alcohol.

3.  We in Australia have plenty of wholesome non-alcoholic beverages available.

4.  Australia is an alcohol-soaked culture.

“Heroin is not the biggest drug problem among young people. Nor is marijuana [although it is a dangerous mind-altering drug.] The use of ICE has tragic consequences.

However, “the highest contributor to death and serious injury among Australia’s youth is alcohol, according to a NSW Health Department document: “In the 15-34 age group [in NSW], of 1409 drug-related deaths [in one year], 915 were alcohol-related.”[19]

This NSW document said, “It is imperative that control elements for reduction or prevention of harm be developed.”  In the A.C.T., a 1991 schools’ survey of alcohol and drug use

“Showed that 40 per cent of boys in Years 7 to 11 and 30 per cent of girls reported binge drinking in the four weeks before the survey. Binge drinking is having five or more drinks in a row. . .  Studies showed that most youth tended to do their drinking at home or at a friend’s place with no supervision  This indicated that action was needed at a community level to encourage more responsibility among parents.[20]

“A study of 5000 Victorian students found half of year 11 students drink regularly, 46 per cent have travelled in a car with a driver, often a parent, affected by alcohol, and 24 per cent had been sexually harassed by a drunk person.”[21]

The New South Wales Government was calling for “control elements for reduction or prevention of harm” from alcohol use. The ACT Government is calling for “action . . . at the community level to encourage more responsibility among parents.” How then can we, who love Jesus, be contributing to the problem rather than preventing it?

I refuse to be a model of a destructive, alcohol-drinking lifestyle for my children, the youth I counsel, and the Christian community of which I am part.

5.  Total abstinence is the safer policy.

Would you fly in an aeroplane if you knew there was a 1 in 15 chance that the plane would crash? The chances of a plane crashing are much lower than that. But the chances of having an alcohol problem in the work force are 1 in 15.

Australia is an alcohol-saturated society.

Will you as Christians join me in a vow never to use alcohol (or any illegal drug)? Will you voluntarily abstain from all alcohol consumption?

This abstinence does not make you more spiritual. Nor does the Bible say Christians must abstain from all alcohol. This is our voluntary protest against the abuse of alcohol in Australian society.

One of the main reasons people drink alcohol is to provide relaxation and enjoyment. Is God a cosmic killjoy who wants to zap you of peace and enjoyment? Absolutely not!

He wants you to experience genuine peace and real joy — the peace of God and the joy of Christ. As Eph. 5:18 puts it, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (NIV).


The Daily Telegraph (Sydney Australia) reported this incident (Accessed 6 February 2016):

Andrew Johns allegedly passes out at Toowoomba airport 

RADIO broadcaster Ray Hadley [2GB, 4BC & network stations] has lashed out at rugby league immortal Andrew Johns for lewd comments allegedly made by the former footy star to a mother at a Queensland airport.

Describing the comments as “abhorrent”, the 4BC announcer chastised Johns on air for his actions.

The Channel 9 commentator is said to have approached the mother of three at a Toowoomba airport, asking her for a kiss before inquiring whether she had given birth via caesarean.

King David said of God (Ps. 16:11): “You show me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[22]

It is shameful for Christians to have to resort to grog to relax when the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” is available to them.[23]

It is an insult to the Holy Spirit when we have to seek superficial pleasure from stimulants when He can give us the permanent joy of the Holy Spirit.

I enthusiastically recommend the article by Norman Geisler, ‘To Drink or Not to Drink: A sober look at the question‘.



[1] I retired in 2011 as an Australian family counsellor and counselling manager. I am indebted to the article, ‘A Christian Perspective on Wine-Drinking, Norman L. Geisler, Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March, 1982, pp. 6-56, that helped me clarify the differences between wine and strong drink, biblically. I have taken many of Geisler’s ideas and contextualised them for the Australian scene. For a different perspective, see: ‘A “Biblical” View of Alcohol: Another Thought’ (Preston Sprinkle, 2014).

[2] “A devil too many of us know well,” The Canberra Times, March 3, 1992, p. 21.

[3] “Legal drug abuse more costly than illegal use,” The Canberra Times, April 7, 1993, p. 19.

[4] Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

[5] Deuteronomy 21:20-21.

[6] New International Version (NIV).

[7] Geisler, p. 47.

[8] NIV.

[9] Geisler, p. 48.

[10] Ibid.

[11] The following details are taken from Geisler, pp. 50-51.

[12] Odyssey 9: pp. 208-9.

[13] Robert H. Stein, in Geisler, p. 51.

[14] “Legal drug abuse more costly than illegal use,” The Canberra Times, April 7, 1994, p. 19.

[15] The following information is from the Queensland Health Pamphlet on Alcohol, reproduced in Drug Stop insert in the Fraser Coast (Maryborough, Qld.) Chronicle.

[16] “How will you feel tomorrow?” A pamphlet published by The Drug Offensive: A Federal and State initiative, p. 6. To obtain: outside Brisbane in Queensland, phone (008) 177 833.

[17] As in note [15], p. 4.

[18] Ibid.

[19] “Alcohol strategy to combat biggest threat to young people,” The Canberra Times, July 25, 1992, p. 5.

[20] “Call to limit access to alcohol,” The Canberra Times, December 4, 1992, p. 2.

[21] “Alcohol a part of teen lives,” The Canberra Times, October 1, 1993, p. 18.

[22] New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV).

[23] Phil. 4:7, NRSV.


Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 4 April 2017.


Christian denominations and the church of the first century?

Episcopal Church (Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Does this thought ever flash through your Christian mind, “Is the church of today anything like the church of the first couple of centuries of the Christian era?” Were there clergy? What about church buildings? When did architecture and cathedrals enter Christianity? They’ve entered my mind many times and I’ve concluded that today’s churches and denominations are a country mile from New Testament Christianity.

Yes, we read about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11) but their purpose was to work themselves out of a job as they were designed to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Eph. 4:12 ESV). How close is that to what is happening in your church? How many of your pastors/teachers/clergy are spending their lives equipping believers for ministry? Or, how many of them are increasing their power through prominent pulpit or mass media ministries?

We should be brave enough to confront the issues. Has the church worldwide drifted from its biblical goals and purpose? How do the 100 million Christians in China compare with what is happening to churches and denominations in the West? What about the persecuted Christians of the Middle East and in countries such as North Korea? Are these churches closer to the biblical model than in my country of Australia?

One Christian Forum has been pondering this question, “What denomination today is closest to First Century Christianity?” That’s a very good question. There have been many responses.

My own contribution has been that I would choose the house church movement. Any church that exalts the clergy is not, in my view, closest to first century Christianity.

First century Christianity had this approach to what happens when the church gathers:

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up (1 Cor. 14:26 NIV).

Every member ministry was the norm of the early church. That is not the approach of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But it is what happens in house churches.

There is evidence of churches meeting in homes prior to AD 70. See Acts 2:46-47; 5:42; 8:3; 12:12; 16:40; 20:7-8, 20; Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philemon 2; 2 John 9-11.

The contemporary church is so far removed from this every-member involvement when the church gathers and, sadly, many charismatic-pentecostals are moving away from it when the church gathers on Sunday. Some still maintain this 1 Cor. 14:26 openness to the gifts in small groups.

Why do you think that the church has moved from this norm of what happened in the early church? One standard answer is that many of these gifts have ceased. My understanding of the cessation of these gifts is they will cease when the poor reflection becomes: “We shall see [Him] face to face” and then be fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).  See my articles:

In John Shelby Spong’s book, A New Christianity for a New World (HarperSanFrancisco 2001), he throws out core Christian beliefs such as the atonement (an “offensive idea”, p. 10) and the bodily resurrection of Christ, yet still wants to say: “I am a Christian. I believe that God is real. I call Jesus my Lord. Yet I do not define God as a supernatural being. I believe passionately in God. This God is not identified with doctrines, creeds, and traditions” (Spong 2003:3, 64, 74).

Spong’s primary question to answer in this book is: “Can a person claim with integrity to be a Christian and at the same time dismiss, as I have done, so much of what has traditionally defined the content of the Christian faith?” (p. 7)

Jack Spong was no lightweight in the liberal Episcopalian Church in the USA, being bishop of Newark NJ. For Spong to be able to teach and preach such heresy as a bishop in the Episcopalian church is an indicator of the sickness in that denomination. But other denominations have the same problem as I have indicated with some of the Anglicans and Uniting Church in Australia. Take a look at the theological heresy that is taught in the United Church, Canada.

I’m not sure that people are aware of the theological sickness in many denominations that have departed from the faith.

Take a read of John Dominic Crossan’s theology (The Historical Jesus; Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography; Who Killed Jesus? The Birth of Christianity). He taught biblical studies in the Roman Catholic, DePaul University, Chicago, for 26 years.

One person in this thread stated, “I don’t see denominations as a problem. I see them as a solution”. My response is:

Yep, denominations like:

Right! We need denominations like we need a sore head!



Copyright © 2017 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 January 2017.


Adoption – How Sweet the Sound!

By Desley Gear

17 March 2008

“Adoption” – to me, one of the sweetest words in the English language. It is a reminder of two of the best things that ever happened in my life. The first, and of greatest importance, is of course being adopted into the family of God. Because of His marvellous grace, He adopted me into His family and I have found Him to be the same wonderful Heavenly Father that millions of others have, throughout the world, from the beginning of time.

The second happened in time some years earlier. At the age of three weeks, I went home to join a family of a mother, father, and two older brothers. My parents had been called in to the hospital within a couple of days of my birth. They would have taken me home immediately, but the matron advised that they should go on their planned 2-week holiday without me, since it was quite a cold winter, and I was fairly small. They could hardly wait for that holiday to end!

My childhood was a very happy one. I think it would be fair to say that I was spoilt, though I was never allowed to get away with bad behaviour. Mum was a strict disciplinarian, but she was also a doting mother, who loved to dress me up like a little doll. To this day, I still have the two books she kept with lists of all my birthday/Christmas/Easter gifts, and of all the dresses she made for me (with a description of colour, style, trimming, etc., and the years in which she made them).

She had had several miscarriages over the years after my brothers were born; one of her pregnancies went to 6 or 7 months. But she was determined one way or another to have a girl. When the doctor said “no more”, they decided to apply for adoption. This was over fifty years ago, and not many unmarried mothers kept their babies back then, so the waiting time was usually not much more than a year. I grew up in the security of a loving home with parents and brothers who cared greatly for me.

At 18, I married my childhood sweetheart, on my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary. No prouder Dad ever walked his little girl down the aisle! My being married didn’t stop Mum and Dad from being there whenever we needed them and showing interest in everything we did. Four years later when our first of three children was born, they became doting grandparents, as they already were to their other grandchildren.

One day our daughter asked me, “Mummy, who was your ‘real’ mother?” My reply was, “You know my ‘real’ mother; Grandma is my real mother. She’s the one who took me into her home and who loved and cared for me, and who put up with me when I didn’t deserve her love. And that’s what makes a ‘real’ mother.”

In the 1980s my husband had major heart surgery three times – once while we were living overseas. My parents’ immediate response was to travel halfway round the world and be with us while he had the operation and for a few weeks after. Their support was invaluable, since we were only in our 30s with young children and no family outside Australia.

My mother died at age 77. I wish she could have lived longer and that I could have cared for her in her old age, but that wasn’t to be. Dad lived another 14 years, and for the last 12 of those years, I had the privilege of caring for him. His last 2 years were very full-on care; he was able to do almost nothing for himself – showering, toilet, brushing teeth. But every day I thanked God that I was able to do these things for him, and in some small way to express gratitude for all that he did for me throughout my life.

With a somewhat debilitating, terminal illness myself, there were occasional days when I couldn’t get out of bed. And then my husband had two of us to care for, as well as going to work. But we managed through those difficult days.

We always talked about and looked forward to celebrating Dad’s 100th, but 2 years ago he passed away at 95. His mind was so sharp right to the end, even though the body had become weak. He was a gentle, happy man, who was admired and respected not only in his home town where he lived his whole life, but throughout the state and beyond. His formal education finished at grade 6, but that didn’t stop his creativity. Some of his early machinery inventions became the basis for later developments in an industry where the family name has become known in several countries.

In the last few years of his life he went to day respite a few times a week, to enjoy the company of other elderly folk, and to give me a break. One day, each client at the centre was asked what they considered to be their greatest achievement in life, or the best day of their life. He came home and told me that his answer was, “The day we adopted Desley.” I thought he might have said, “My wedding day” or “The day I demonstrated my first successful machine”. But no, the day he got his little girl was his best day, according to him.

Do I have any regrets about being adopted in infancy? Yes, as I look back I have two regrets – 1) that I was a cheeky, disobedient child and a rebellious, obnoxious teenager; and 2) that I didn’t have more years to show appreciation and love for my wonderful parents.

I have several friends aged between mid 30s and mid 60s who also are adopted. All of them have had good lives with their adoptive families. Two traced their birth mothers; one had a very happy experience, the other most disappointing.

Have I ever tried to find the lady who gave me up for adoption? Yes, I took the initiative to track her down and went to meet her in a nursing home, but she did not want to admit my birth. It may be helpful for my children to have some knowledge of the medical history of their blood relatives. However, I just want to say “thank you” from the bottom of my heart, for my birth mother’s unselfishness in handing little Jennifer over to the two best parents any girl ever had.


Copyright (c) 2008 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.



Homosexual unions, homosexual marriage, mass media & politicians

Marriage cover photo

Courtesy Salt Shakers (Christian ministry)

By Spencer D Gear

When homosexuality is in the media spotlight, we get plenty of politically correct speak. Politicians have jumped on this bandwagon for what seems like political expediency. This is what is happening in my home state of Queensland (Qld), Australia. There is ample mass media coverage and the State of Qld is promoting a private members’ bill in support of legalising civil homosexual unions.

It is appropriate for me to make an assessment of these issues. Let’s start with an example from the mass media.

My local freebie newspaper[1] had 3 letters in favour of homosexual marriage in its ‘Speak up’ (letters to the editor) section, under the heading, “Pollies are under fire over gay rights”. This was an opportunity for the newspaper to print 3 pro-homosexual marriage letters. There was not any letter opposing homosexual marriage.[2]

Let’s summarise what these letters promoted:

1. One said that it was amazing that government agencies, Centrelink and the tax department, allow same-sex relationships but ‘the government will not allow it’. This person found this to be a contradiction and considered that it was discrimination against homosexuals. Pollies need to ask: “Would they be in government without the votes of homosexual citizens?” This person did not think so.

2. The line taken by the second person, a father, was that he supported gay marriage because his son is gay and has found his ‘soul mate’. This son and his partner are organizing a wedding in Sydney for next year. Both families support this union ‘wholeheartedly’ and believe they should have the same right to marriage as anyone. Homosexuals can’t change and it’s a hard road when they experience so much discrimination. This son and his male partner will marry whether it is legal or not and celebration will be with family and friends. This Dad is ‘proud’ of his homosexual son and the son will live with his partner ‘as a gay married couple’.

3. We need to ‘move with the times’ and legalise same-sex marriage, said the third advocate of gay marriage. Because marriage has always been a heterosexual union, doesn’t mean it should continue to be that way. There were no votes for women, no IVF, etc, but “we live in the 21st century” and we should allow same-sex marriages, with the legal protections of a heterosexual couple.

How should we respond to the promotion of gay marriage?

1. Not one of these writers or I would be here if same-sexual relations were the norm. It takes an ovum and a sperm (woman and man) to create a human being. Same-sex marriage will not do it. A contribution from the opposite sex, whether through sexual intercourse or IVF, is necessary for a child to be born.

A zygote is the initial cell formed when an ovum is fertilized by s sperm. An ovum from a female and a sperm cell from a male are needed to create a new human being. A zygote contains DNA that originates from the joining of the male and female. It provides the genetic information to form a new human being. Two males can’t achieve a zygote; neither can two females. It requires a joining of a male and a female in sexual union or through IVF. Shouldn’t this need for the genetic material from a male AND a female send an important message? Gay marriage will not do it!

2. Besides, from a biological point of view, the vagina was designed for sexual penetration. The anus and rectum were not. A 1982 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the anal cancer rate for homosexuals was up to 50 times higher than the normal rate.[3] The New England Journal of Medicine (1997) showed the “strong association between anal cancer and male homosexual contact”.[4]

Why? The lining of the anus is very much thinner than the much thicker lining of the vagina. The anus tears readily and thus makes that region of the anatomy more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.

The human body was not designed for anal penetration. But the politically correct speak would not want us to know that.

No matter how much some want to make same-sex marriage appealing, from the beginning of time marriage has involved the union of a man and a woman. If that link is broken, we don’t have marriage. It’s as simple as that. No claims like “I have a gay son”, “we must move with the times”, or “we live in the 21st century”, will change the fact that marriage is a heterosexual union.

What about these issues?

(1)   Mother and father are important for a child’s up-bringing. This Millennium Cohort Study: Centre for Longitudinal Studies in the UK found that

“children in stable, married families were said to have fewer externalising problems at age 5 than virtually all of those with different family histories. The most marked differences were seen for children born into cohabiting families where parents had separated, and to solo mothers who had not married the natural father. These children were three times more likely than those in stable, married families to exhibit behavioural problems, judging by mothers’ reports”.

See Bill Muehlenberg’s summary of this study of the need for both a heterosexual mother and father in, ‘Why children need a mother and father‘.

(2)   God’s design from the beginning of time was for marriage of a man and a woman. See Genesis 2:24-25, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (ESV).

Jesus Christ affirmed this passage according to Matthew 19:4-6, “He answered,

‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (ESV).

(3)   Paul, the apostle, was able to speak of ‘men who practice homosexuality’ as being among those who were among ‘such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In this list, homosexuals were placed among the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers who were the ‘unrighteous’ who would not inherit God’s kingdom. But Jesus changes all of these people – even homosexuals. If you don’t believe me, read my interview with a redeemed lesbian, Jeanette Howard, “One woman’s journey out of lesbianism: An interview with Jeanette Howard“. I recommend her book, Out of Egypt: Leaving lesbianism behind.

Here are some more reasons to oppose homosexual marriage.

The homosexual sexual act is a revolt against nature. For procreation to allow for the continuation of the human race, a heterosexual liaison is needed. If homosexual sex were normal and practised extensively, the human race would be greatly diminished.

My interaction with Queensland politicians

At the time of posting this article to my homepage, my home state of Queensland, Australia, is considering a private members’ Bill, the Civil Partnerships Bill 2011, to legalise homosexual civil unions. While civil unions are not the same as marriage, I consider that it is a step towards the legalisation of homosexual marriage in Qld. & Australia.

I sent the following content to a number of Queensland politicians:

I urge you and your party not to support the private members’ Bill to be introduced into the Qld parliament by Andrew Fraser that promotes a lifestyle that has these very dangerous consequences?

  • Up to 50% higher cancer rate of the anus;
  • 47% increase in HIV diagnoses;
  • More behavioural problems among children up to 5 years old.
  • Multiple other health problems.

If you support Andrew Fraser’s gay civil unions’ Bill in Qld, that’s what you will be doing – based on the research evidence. Let’s look as some of the evidence:

1. The USA Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Weekly Morbidity & Mortality Report was reported in CBS News, 26 June 2008, and it does not give favourable medical information to support Andrew Fraser’s promotion of the homosexual lifestyle that will come with the affirming of homosexual civil unions in Qld.

As far as health issues are concerned, this is some of the evidence. Part of the following report shows that men who have sex with men account for 46% of the increase in HIV diagnoses. Is this what you want to to promote in Qld? Isn’t our health budget at breaking point now? Here is part of a CBS News report in the USA:

HIV diagnoses in the U.S. are on the rise among men who have sex with men, especially among males aged 13-24.

That news comes from the CDC, which tracked HIV/AIDS diagnoses reported by 33 states from 2001 to 2006.
During that time, those states had 214,379 HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Men who have sex with men account for almost half – 46 percent – of those diagnoses.[5]

2. A study in the Netherlands (2002) found that “HIV incidence is increasing among homosexual attendees of an STD clinic. It is imperative to trace recently infected individuals, because they are highly infectious, and can thus play a key role in the spread of HIV” (Dukers et al 2002:F19). In an examination of “trends in HIV notifications and in other measures of HIV incidence in homosexual men in developed countries”, it was found that “there were increases in HIV notifications in homosexual men in almost all developed countries, starting in the late 1990s and continuing to 2006? (Grulich & Kaldor 2008:113).[6]

There is further evidence to demonstrate the danger of Andrew Fraser’s legislation: The big increase in HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men.

3. Medical researchers have known for many years that the homosexual lifestyle is accompanied by significant health risks. One example, from a biological point of view, is that the woman’s vagina was designed for sexual penetration. The anus and rectum were not. A 1982 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the anal cancer rate for homosexuals was considerably higher than for heterosexuals; in some cases it was up to 50 times higher than the rate for heterosexuals.[7] Many other more recent studies have confirmed this trend.[8] The New England Journal of Medicine (1997) showed the “strong association between anal cancer and male homosexual contact”.[9]

Why? The lining of the anus is very much thinner than the much thicker lining of the vagina. The anus tears readily and thus makes that region of the anatomy more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria when there is sexual penetration through homosexual and other sex. The human body was not designed for anal penetration. But the politically correct speak of Andrew Fraser, with his promotion of homosexual civil unions, seems to be not making these medical consequences available to the general public for the sake of political correctness.

4. What about the impact on young children who don’t have a mother and father?   Mother and father are important for a child’s up-bringing. This Millennium Cohort Study: Centre for Longitudinal Studies in the UK found that

“children in stable, married families were said to have fewer externalising problems at age 5 than virtually all of those with different family histories. The most marked differences were seen for children born into cohabiting families where parents had separated, and to solo mothers who had not married the natural father. These children were three times more likely than those in stable, married families to exhibit behavioural problems, judging by mothers’ reports”.[10]

5. For further information on the significant medical consequences of the gay lifestyle, see: “On the unhealthy homosexual lifestyle”.[11]

I urged these serious and sensible Queensland politicians to reject Andrew Fraser’s promotion of a lifestyle that is deleterious to the health of Queenslanders with his promotion of gay civil unions.

Responses by politicians

At the time of writing this article, there have been four responses from MPs. Two affirmed their support for the continuation of heterosexual marriage. There were comments such as: “marriage is to remain between a man and a woman”; “my conscience however tells me that marriage is between a man and a woman” but this politician understood that the current Bill is not about marriage; “I consider that civil unions proposed by Labor are designed to mimic marriage. I support marriage being between a man and a woman as the most stable foundation for the family in society, which requires strengthening, not weakening”.

Another politician responded by asking: “In your email you include a lot of relevant medical information, but the supporters of the bill are saying that by encouraging the relevant people to live more settled lives you will actually reduce the spread of some of the diseases you mention.   I would be pleased to know what you thought of that argument put by the proponent of the bill.”. This is how I responded to this last request:

You asked for my comment about the view of the supporters of the Civil Partnerships’ Bill that it encourages ‘the relevant people to live more settled lives’ and it ‘will actually reduce the spread of some of the diseases’ you mentioned.

What I didn’t tell these politicians in my letter was that I have just retired after 34 years as a practising youth, general and family counsellor and counselling manager, the last 17 years with counselling agencies here in Queensland. I have found through counselling homosexuals that the homosexual lifestyle is often very promiscuous in sexual contact – even with supposed committed relationships. My clinical experience tells me that I can’t see the passing of a homosexual Civil Partnerships’ Bill changing that lifestyle.


Research evidence confirms what I found in counselling: In a study of male homosexuality in the 1980s in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, M. Pollak found that few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.” Pollak concluded, “Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of ‘committed’ typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage”.

Research has shown that

for gay men, sex outside the primary relationship is ubiquitous even during the first year. Gay men reportedly have sex with someone other than their partner in 66 percent of relationships within the first year, rising to approximately 90 percent if the relationship endures over five years. And the average gay or lesbian relationship is short lived. In one study, only 15 percent of gay men and 17.3 percent of lesbians had relationships that lasted more than three years. Thus, the studies reflect very little long-term monogamy in GLB relationships.[12]

See this study from the Netherlands which already had homosexual marriage. What did it find?

This offers little hope for improving the longevity of homosexual relationships through legal sanctioning in the Civil Partnerships Bill in Queensland.

Research studies have shown that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime.:

  • A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners.[14]
  • In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al., found that only 2.7 percent claimed to have had sex with one partner only. The most common response, given by 21.6 percent of the respondents, was of having a hundred and one to five hundred lifetime sex partners.[15]
  • A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than a hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than a thousand sexual partners.[16]
  • In his study of male homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, M. Pollak found that “few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.”[17]

Concerning the promiscuity among homosexual couples, even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” typically means something radically different from marriage.

  • In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported on a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years. What did it find?
    • Only seven couples had a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all had been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.[18]
  • In Male and Female Homosexuality, M. Saghir and E. Robins found that the average male homosexual live-in relationship lasts between two and three years.[19]

Those who are promoting homosexual civil unions to encourage homosexuals ‘to live more settled lives’ are not basing these statements on the research evidence. It is a promotion of political correctness and not a promotion of a lifestyle that leads to better health and stability for those concerned.

I urged politicians NOT to vote for legislation that endorses homosexual civil unions. Saying that homosexual civil unions are not the same as homosexual marriage, does not alter the facts of the above research. The homosexual lifestyle is very promiscuous and quite unstable.

Other links

Genetic cause of homosexuality?

Governments may promote gay marriage: Should we as evangelical Christians?

Polyamory: Poly leads to society’s destruction.


Dukers, Nicole H. T. M.a; Spaargaren, Jokeb; Geskus, Ronald B.a; Beijnen, Josd; Coutinho, Roel A.a,e; Fennema, Han S. A.c 2002. “HIV incidence on the increase among homosexual men attending an Amsterdam sexually transmitted disease clinic: using a novel approach for detecting recent infections”, AIDS: Official Journal of the International AIDS Society, 5 July, vol 16, issue 10, F19-F24, available at: 7 November 2011).

Grulich, Andrew E and Kaldor, John M.2008. “Trends in HIV incidence in homosexual men in developed countries”, Sexual Health (CSIRO Publishing), 2008, 5, 113-118, available at: (Accessed 7 November 2011).


[1] Northern Times (Pine Rivers edition), September 2, 2011, p. E8.

[2] I sent a letter-to-the-editor to this newspaper, opposing homosexual marriage, but it was not printed. Some of what follows was in that letter.

[3] These details are in the article ‘The unhealthy homosexual lifestyle’, available at: (Accessed 26 September 2011).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Troubling trend in HIV/AIDS diagnoses”, CBS News, 28 June 2008. Available at:;contentBody (Accessed 7 November 2011).

[6] Grulich, Andrew E and Kaldor, John M. 2008. “Trends in HIV incidence in homosexual men in developed countries”, Sexual Health (CSIRO Publishing), 5, pp. 113-118, available at: (Accessed 7 November 2011).

[7] Council on Scientific Affairs, “Health care needs of gay men and lesbians in the United States,” Journal of the American Medical Association, May 1, 1996, p. 1355.

[8] See: M. Frisch, “On the etiology of anal squamous carcinoma,” Dan Med Bull, Aug. 2002, 49(3), pp. 194-209; M. Frisch and others, “Cancer in a population-based cohort of men and women in registered homosexual partnerships,” Am J Epidemiol, June 1, 2003, 157(11), pp. 966-72; D. Knight, “Health care screening for men who have sex with men,” Am Fam Physician, May 1, 2004, 69(9), pp. 2149-56; S. Goldstone, “Anal dysplasia in men who have sex with men,” AIDS Read, May-June 1999, 9(3), pp. 204-8 and 220; Reinhard Hopfl and others, “High prevalence of high risk human papillomavirus-capsid antibodies in human immunodeficiency virus-seropositive men: a serological study,” BMC Infect Dis, April 30, 2003, 3(1), p. 6; R.J. Biggar and M. Melbye, “Marital status in relation to Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and anal cancer in the pre-AIDS era,” J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol, Feb. 1, 1996, 11(2), pp. 178-82; P.V. Chin-Hong and others, “Age-related prevalence of anal cancer precursors in homosexual men: the EXPLORE study,” J Natl Cancer Inst, June 15, 2005, 97(12), pp. 896-905; R. Dunleavey, “The role of viruses and sexual transmission in anal cancer,” Nurs Times, March 1-7, 2005, 101(9), pp. 38-41; P.V. Chin-Hong and others, “Age-Specific prevalence of anal human papillomavirus infection in HIV-negative sexually active men who have sex with men: the EXPLORE study,” J Infect Dis, Dec. 15, 2004, 190(12), pp. 2070-6; J.R. Daling and others, “Human papillomavirus, smoking, and sexual practices in the etiology of anal cancer,” Cancer, July 15, 2004, 101(2), pp. 270-80; and A. Kreuter and others, “Screening and therapy of anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) and anal carcinoma in patients with HIV-infection,” Dtsch Med Wochenschr, Sept. 19, 2003, 128(38), pp. 1957-62 (cited in, “On the unhealthy homosexual lifestyle”, available at: [Accessed 7 November 2011]).

[9] Cited in, “On the unhealthy homosexual lifestyle”, ibid.

[10] Kiernan, Kathleen & Mensah, Fiona n.d. Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London. Available at: (Accessed 7 November 2011). This research was conducted in the early 21st century, with the first survey of families and 19,000 children conducted in 2001-2002 (p. 1 of this report).

[11] Available at: (Accessed 7 November 2011).

[12] ‘Monogamy’, Facts about Youth, available at: (Accessed 9 November 2011).

[13] Maria Xiridou, et al, “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV Infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 17 (2003), p. 1031

[14] A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 9; see also Bell, Weinberg and Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).

[15] Paul Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354. Dr. Paul Van de Ven reiterated these results in a private conversation with Dr. Robert Gagnon on September 7, 2000.

[16] “Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners,” Lambda Report, January/February 1998, p. 20.

[17] M. Pollak 1998. “Male Homosexuality,” in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, edited by P. Aries and A. Bejin, pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 25.

[18] David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 3.

[19] M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L.A. Peplau and H. Amaro, “Understanding Lesbian Relationships,” in Homosexuality: Social, Psychological, and Biological Issues, edited by J. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).

Copyright © 2011 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at date: 9 October 2015.


Whytehouse Designs

Warning signs of suicide


For 24 hour telephone crisis support, phone Lifeline: 13 11 14

By Spencer D Gear

In my 34 years as a youth, family and general counsellor (retired in January 2011), among the most difficult counselling sessions I have had, have been with those parents who have come for counselling after the suicide death of one of their children. Before my retirement, I worked 17 years straight in youth, family, gambling and marriage counselling.

I urge all to do everything they can to recognise the warning signs of suicide and to intervene before this tragedy happens. This is one of the few times I broke confidentiality in counselling, when someone told me that there was a person thinking of suicide. I began all new counselling sessions with this statement: “What you say here, stays here. However, you need to know that I will break confidentiality under two circumstances: (1) If a person is speaking of suicide, and (2) If children are being abused or neglected. In my many years of professional counselling for counselling agencies, I had to do this on a few occasions.

So, what are the warning signs for someone thinking of suicide?

The San Francisco Suicide Prevention project has given these helpful warning signs of suicide risk.


Warning Signs

Recognize the Signs Of Possible Suicide Risk

While some people suicide without warning, here are some warning signs a person may be at risk of suicide.

  • Talk about Killing Themselves:
    This might seem obvious, but is often ignored. Some people that are considering suicide may talk about suicide or the methods they might use to kill themselves just before their attempt.
  • Talking About Dying:
    People who are suicidal often talk about death a lot. This could also come out in art, journaling or other ways of expression.
  • Saying Goodbye:
    People who are suicidal often say good-bye in strange ways. They might talk in terms of “not seeing me around anymore” or “no one would notice if I never came back”. They are hinting in the hopes that someone will stop them.
  • Tying Up Loose Ends:
    Suicidal people often give away personal possessions, make arrangements for the care of children or pets, make wills, or other acts as if they are preparing to end their life.
  • Become Violent:
    Some people become very violent or aggressive when they are suicidal. Watch for a sudden change in aggression.
  • Sudden Isolation:
    People who are considering suicide may suddenly isolate themselves from friends and family. When no one investigates, it can reinforce the idea that no one cares.
  • Sudden Changes in Behavior:
    When people are suicidal they may have sudden behavior changes in eating, sleeping, or activities previously enjoyed.
  • Lack of Sleep:
    Your brain needs sleep to function properly. People feeling depressed or in crisis, who are also not sleeping, are at increased risk.
  • Drug and Alcohol Use:
    Substance use and depression are a nasty combination. Many substances like alcohol are depressants and will make a person feel much worse. Sometimes people try to self-medicate their depression away through substance use, but that won’t work. Also drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions, increasing the risk of sudden violence.
  • Fear of Losing Control:
    People who are suicidal can talk about their fears of losing control of their bodies or emotions.
  • Very Low Self Esteem:
    People feeling suicidal express being a burden, feeling worthless, having shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, “everyone would be better off without me”.
  • No Hope for the Future:
    People feeling suicidal often say that things will never get better and that nothing will ever change.

The risk of suicide may sometimes be higher for a very depressed person once the depression lifts because the person may have more energy to carry out their planned act.

Australian Suicide Prevention

These are the warning signs provided by this organisation:

Warning signs

The vast majority of people who commit suicide have indeed talked to somebody about it beforehand.   Also, it is generally agreed that being forced to promise you will not tell other people what you have been told in confidence does not apply when somebody’s life is in danger, so do talk to a professional if you are in this dilemma about a friend.

Also, the statement made by some people that those who talk about suicide would never do it is totally wrong!

Here are some warning signs:


Talking, writing or joking about death:

This usually indicates hopelessness and perhaps significant depression, both of which are important warning signs.  Similarly, even if not talking about death, people who talk about life being pointless and having no meaning are also at risk.

Talking about people who have died from suicide:

Every suicide brings with it the risk of “copycat suicide” by those close to the person who died, especially other family members (please keep this in mind if you are thinking of suicide!).   Copycat suicide is particularly a risk when a famous person dies from suicide, especially if media reports describe how the suicide was carried out, or make the action seem justified or glamorous.  Unfortunately, every suicide really means the illness won again.

Withdrawing or avoiding contact with other people:

It is not normal for someone who was usually friendly to avoid contact with family and/or friends.   Not making or responding to telephone calls or SMS messages indicate something is wrong.   This is usually a significant sign of depression

Giving away personal possessions:

Why would anyone, especially a person still leading an active life, suddenly give away possessions they used and enjoyed?    This is considered a particularly significant warning sign in young people.

Saying goodbye in a meaningful way:

This may be significant, especially if the person’s behavior has changed in other ways.

Making arrangements for after their death:

Pointing out where important papers or belongings are kept, or suddenly making a Will with unusual haste may be significant.

Risk-taking behaviour:

Unusual behaviour for the person, such as driving dangerously, or generally behaving recklessly, may be significant.

Deliberate self-harm or a suicide attempt:

These events indicate great distress and suffering, and there is very risk the person will repeat the situation (perhaps with a more drastic outcome), if the stresses affecting them have not changed or if the illness affecting them has not been treated.   Statistically, suicide risk is highest in those who have already attempted suicide.

Discharge from a psychiatric unit:

The early days and weeks following discharge from a hospital for treatment of a psychiatric problem, are known to be one of the highest risk periods for suicide.

Evidence of depression:

Feeling hopeless about the future and having trouble sleeping, are considered the most serious indicators of suicide risk in someone who has depression.   For more information on depression, go to at the bottom of the Home Page of this site.

Sudden calmness:

A person who has been very distressed, especially if they have had thoughts of suicide, may suddenly become calm and appear resigned to accepting whatever is happening.  This may mean the person involved has decided to stop resisting the urge to suicide, and is calmly accepting that suicide is inevitable, and no longer able to be resisted.

“Terminal malignant alienation”:

This jargon phrase refers to a distressed person alienating all of those around them, often appearing extremely angry and grossly unappreciative of the help they are getting.   While the normal human temptation in response to such behaviour is to lash out verbally in return, this may be the last ling the distressed person has with support.  Instead, try to see their unreasonable behaviour and unreasonable irritability as symptoms of what they are suffering, not as the personality of the person involved.   Be patient, and the normal person will eventually return, feel bad about the irritability and actually be very appreciative of what you have done!

Life is precious. I urge you to do all you can to take action to prevent suicide.

For crisis telephone support, phone Lifeline’s 24-hour-a-day  crisis number: 13 11 14.


Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 9 October 2015.


Whytehouse Designs

Kids killing kids! Why?

File:Chuck Colson.jpg

(Chuck Colson, Wikimedia Commons)

By Spencer D Gear

  • Chuck Colson’s answer (in part) to why kids kill kids is: “The human heart is desperately wicked.”
  • Youth for Christ (Melbourne, Aust., in part): It “is far more than a simple reflection of our inherent violent nature.  What rubbish!”
  • Spencer Gear’s response: “Where is Youth for Christ going?”

The Chuck Colson article by this name appeared in New Life newspaper on July 4, 2002, p. 5.  The Breakpoint article for June 18, 2002, “Kids killing kids: Lessons in worldview“. This is the Chuck Colson article that received the criticism from Youth for Christ, Melbourne, Australia (“Kids that kill” — see below).
Part of Colson’s answer was that

  •  “Many continue to insist that violence is caused by some social or economic factors.”
  • “There is a place where the secular worldview and the biblical worldview come into sharp conflict.”
  • “The “biblical worldview includes, original sin, the fall, and human depravity.”
  • “The human heart is desperately wicked, the scripture tells us.  So when we see kids killing kids, we have to point out the gruesome truth: Sin is in us.  Because if a society fails to understand this, it simply perpetuates the horrors.”

Kids that kill: Youth for Christ response to Chuck Colson

by Youth for Christ, Melbourne, Australia [1]

The Youth for Christ letter is as follows:

Upon reading Breakpoint with Chuck Colson in the 4 July [2002] edition [of New Life], I was horrified at the way he used the tragic loss of life to do little more than reflect “human depravity”.  In his brief article, he failed to see the responsibility each of us has to interact with our young people in ways which enhance their experience rather than cause them to react this way.

[Note: This “Viewpoint” letter by Youth for Christ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), “Kids that kill” (New Life, 18 July 2002, p. 4), is in response to Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint article, “Kids killing kids: Lessons in worldview“.]

This complex issue of violence amongst our young people is far more than a simple reflection of our inherent violent nature.  What rubbish!  If sin is in us and this is the reason our young people hurt themselves, each other and the communities they live in, we should all at Youth for Christ pack our bags and go home!

We have never before lived in an age when we have so much information about our young people and their behaviours and it is a well-known fact that young people’s behaviour is directly related to their experience of life.

If a young person has experienced some abuse or harm in their life, then the inclination for them to follow in this path and harm themselves and/or others is greatly enhanced.  (However, Christ’s love, power and the work of caring adults can reverse and heal the young person’s experience.)

When the Bellingham minister in Colson’s article states that the young person (the alleged killer) wasn’t receiving enough support, Colson responds by labelling him as “someone who’s lost all sense of an individual’s responsibility for his own behaviour”.  What is most appalling is that Colson offers no way of speaking into this situation.

Perhaps the greatest example of young people hurting young people is the school shootings which have occurred across the globe.  The recent school shooting in Germany left the country reeling in shock.  Worse than the Columbine tragedy of Denver where 17 people lost their lives.

For those of us working with young people, we are deeply grieved by this tragic loss of life and search for ways of preventing this from occurring in our “lucky country”.

We can now look to substantial research for insight and find information that sits flush with the truth of the gospel.

Recently, the United states Secret Service has completed research on all of the 41 school shooters (all male) involved in 37 incidents within the US.

Their research found that there is no single “profile” for these young people.  In other words, there can be little certainty in applying any sort of formula to young people that will tell us “this young person will be a killed and this one won’t”.  (Praise God, how would you like to be labelled a killer, when you haven’t committed any crime?)

Our local experience here in Australia has shown us that to classify a young person “at risk” or “high risk” can lead to them viewing themselves as “diseased”* or needing to create crisis so that they can access the government money put aside only for those young people at the highest risk

The Victorian Government is currently in the process of moving away from this problem orientated model to looking at young people more holistically.  They are developing a view that is not good enough to simply “treat” the young person.  They are slowly discovering the principles of community.

That said, there are two elements these young people who harmed others all had in common — depression and bullying.

None of us should be surprised to find that our most violent young people are those who have been deeply wounded by the words and actions of others.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue”, Proverbs 18:21.

Just as the scriptures talk about words being powerful, so this is apparent here.  As youth workers, leaders and community members, we are entrusted with the responsibility  to role model respect and love for each other.  Cutting remarks, especially in “jest”, are not tolerable in our interactions with young people or each other.

“Someday people are going to regret teasing me” said one young shooter.  “Reject, retard, loser,” said another**.

We cannot look to mental health issues to let us “off the hook” as a society and just call this small group of young people “mad”.

The research clearly stated that “they don’t snap”.  These attacks were neither spontaneous nor impulsive.  In almost all cases, the attacker developed the idea in advance, half considered the attack for at least two weeks and had a plan for at least two days.

So why are our young people hurting themselves and others?

Colson would say, because they are inherently evil, but our current knowledge and experience combined with God’s word tells us they do so because of their exposure to adults and peers who lack the ability to interact with them in meaningful and supportive ways.

There will always be the sinful nature, but we cannot allow our biblical knowledge to prevent us from acting to preserve and protect our young men and women.

I image (sic) the Bellingham minister was correct when he stated that the young person was not receiving enough support.

Perhaps if Christians in the community had taken note and acted on their faith this tragedy could have been avoided.

Listening tips can help boys to open up.

  •  Honour a boy’s need for “timed silence”, to choose when to talk.
  •   Find a safe place, a “shame-free zone”.
  •   Connect through activity or play.  Many boys express their deepest experience through “action talk”.
  •   Avoid teasing and shaming.
  •   Make brief statements and wait; do not lecture.
  •   Share your own experiences (if relevant).  It lets your boy know he is not alone with issues.
  •   Be quiet and really listen with complete attention.
  •   Convey how much you admire and care about and love the boy.
  •   Give boys regular, undivided attention and listening space.
  •   Don’t prematurely push him to be “independent”.
  •   Encourage the expression of a full and wide range of emotions.
  •   Let him know that real men do cry and speak.
  •   Express your love as openly as you might with a girl.
  •   When you see aggressive or angry behaviour, look for the pain behind it.***

At the time I wrote this article, Aus Care had replaced the Youth Guidance department in Youth for Christ Australia and was moving through a phase of redevelopment under the leadership of Mirian Meade. At that time, there were over 30 programs running in Youth for Christ centres around Australia that responded to the needs of vulnerable and hurting young people.  For more current information contact Youth for Christ, Australia, at the email: [email protected].

Where is Youth for Christ going?

The following letter was published in the “Viewpoint” section of New Life (Australia’s weekly Christian newspaper) on 8 August 2002, p. 4, under the heading, “Where is YFC going?”  [This is the New Life email contact]   My “Viewpoint” letter here, was in response to the “Viewpoint” letter by Youth for Christ (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), “Kids that kill” (New Life, 18 July 2002, p. 4).  The YFC letter is included above.

My letter reads:

Human depravity was debunked and psychological answers were elevated to messiah status by Youth for Christ (YFC) in its response to Chuck Colson’s view on what causes violence (“Kids that kill,” New Life 18 July, p. 4).

The YFC reply confirmed the very point that Chuck was making (“Kids killing kids: Lessons in worldview, New Life 4 July, 2002 p. 5). He called upon all Christians to examine all of life from a biblical worldview instead of a secular perspective.

This YFC article showed what happens when we put Scripture on the back burner and look to the secular world for answers to the core problems of youth violence (and so many other social ills). What did this YFC article do?

  • It brushed aside the core problem in all of us, “human depravity.” But Colson spoke about “original sin, the fall, and human depravity” that caused kids to be killing kids. This is “the gruesome truth: Sin is in us” (Colson). This hits the mark, biblically, but YFC seeks supposed better answers elsewhere!

Violence amongst young people is “far more than a simple reflection of our inherent violent nature. What rubbish!” (YFC). That was not Jesus’ view! According to Mark 7:21-23 (ESV), “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

The YFC that I knew and supported in my youth and early adulthood knew that sin was the core problem and hence proclaimed the Gospel of Christ’s redemption with assurance and confidence. What has caused this shift?

When biblical truth is not the foundation and Scripture is not our sole authority, we are left in a sea of human opinions. That’s what was conveyed to me in the YFC response.

“It is a well-known fact that young people’s behaviour is directly related to their experience of life” (YFC). Who said so? I didn’t see any “facts” presented that confirmed this assertion. I do not doubt that abuse and violence in the home and elsewhere influence young people’s responses. However such evil actions in a youth’s experience of life, also demonstrates the original sin that Chuck was addressing.

“We can now look to substantial research for insight and find information that sits flush with the truth of the gospel” (YFC). I didn’t read any examples in the article of this “substantial research.” Human nature and the human mind are difficult areas to quantify empirically. But this statement did tell me of the drift of YFC in its youth work.

The YFC article asked a penetrating and excellent question: “So why are our young people hurting themselves and others?” The answer: Not Colson’s emphasis on what is “inherently evil.” The answer lies in an amalgamation of “current knowledge and experience combined with God’s word” that “tells us they do so because of their exposure to adults and peers who lack the ability to interact with them in meaningful and supportive ways.” I found it disturbing that an appeal was made to “God’s word” to give us this information, but not one biblical reference was given in support of this sociological view.

What on earth has happened to the Christ-centred Gospel-proclaiming perspective of YFC that causes this assessment: “There will always be the sinful nature, but we cannot allow our biblical knowledge to prevent us from acting to preserve and protect our young men and women.” Again, the biblical view of the cause of human problems (sinful nature) is used as a whipping post to “prevent us” from becoming involved with the murderous, rebellious, out-of-control youth of our society.

The Good News and active involvement with others go hand in hand, but Chuck Colson’s call to understand kids killing kids from original sin is right on target biblically. I don’t always agree with Chuck, but I am convinced he got it correct this time.

I am not an armchair theoretician. I do not write as an uninvolved interpreter. As the coordinator of a very busy youth counselling service that deals with at least 90% secular clientele, my counsellors and I are up to our arm-pits in dealing with the consequences of sinful life styles of out-of-control, abused and alienated youth and their sometimes abusive and kind parents.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23) is still the best solution to the youth crisis in our society. It would be remiss of me if I did not call upon evangelical Christians to get involved in working with difficult youth. The need is urgent!

Spencer Gear,
Bundaberg, Qld


* Trotter, Chris.  “Working with Involuntary Clients”.  Australia: Allen and Unwin, 1999.
** Much information for this article was taken from the secret service website:
***  “Tips” by Bill Dedman.


Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.



“The Meaning of Youth Suicide” [1]

By Spencer D Gear


Presley, mutton-chopped and fuller-faced, sings into a handheld microphone. A golden lei is draped around his neck, and he wears a high-collared white jumpsuit resplendent with red, blue, and gold bangles.

(Elvis Presley, courtesy Wikipedia)

Elvis Presley was being interviewed again by the same person who interviewed him as he began his musical career.

The interviewer asked:

“Elvis, when you started out in music, you said you wanted to be rich; you wanted to be famous; and you wanted to be happy. You sure are rich, and you’re very, very famous. Are you happy, Elvis?

Elvis replied:

No, I’m not happy. I’m as lonely as hell” and six weeks later he was dead.[3]

After he had won the Wimbledon tennis championship for the second time, Boris Becker surprised many when he admitted his deep struggle with suicide. [4]

These examples point to a core of the youth suicide problem that is rarely discussed. After 24 years as a marriage and family counsellor and the last 5 years specialising in youth counselling, I am seeing an increasing disillusionment among our youth.

There may be multiple causes of youth suicide and many solutions. Most often we try to address suicide in “personal, social and economic terms: unemployment, homelessness, family conflict and breakdown, educational pressures, problems in personal relationships, child abuse, psychiatric illness, drug addiction.” [5] Youth suicide is one of the hottest topics in the media at the moment.

I will continue to help people identify suicide symptoms and to reach out to try to prevent suicide. But there is a deepening crisis in our culture that will not be solved by governments providing more money for health, even mental health, and welfare services.

    Since 1991 [to 1997], more Australians have died by suicide than by motor vehicle accidents. [Over 2,000] deaths per year in Australia, or approximately 1.9 percent of all deaths are by suicide. For every death by suicide, it is estimated that an additional 60-100 attempts are made. For young males aged 15-24, 25 percent of all recorded deaths are by suicide: three times the rate of thirty years ago.
        No social class or age group is exempt from instances of suicide.  The rate for males in rural areas is known to be higher than for males in urban areas.  Suicide rates for males over the age of 75 are increasing. . .[6], [7]

As an aside, Family World Newsreported that “at least 21 doctors have committed suicide in NSW in the past five years” (prior to 1997). [8]

I believe that science writer and social analyst, Richard Eckersley, is getting to the core of the matter when he says that “modern western culture arguably fails to meet the most fundamental requirements of any culture, to provide a sense of belonging and purpose, and so a sense of meaning and self-worth, and a moral framework to guide our conduct.” [9] Eckersley “has studied the attitudes of children and teenagers for over a decade.” [10]

The youth suicide epidemic, as I see it, is being propelled by three factors. First, many young people are experiencing a


1. Brendan Nelson

In an excellent letter to the Weekend Australian, in January 1997 [11], former Australian Medical Association National President, Dr Brendan Nelson, who became the Federal Member for Bradfield in the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, said that “the thematic currency of youth suicide is our failure to transmit a sense of belonging and meaningful purpose to young people… The price of our shallowness is being paid for by our children.”

2. John Smith

John Smith of Care and Communication Concern, who has spent most of his adult life working with street kids, especially in Melbourne, Australia, is a straight shooter in nailing the problem:

    Most sociologists in our society today are radically secular, so therefore anything that even begins to speak to the spiritual nature of the human being is

ipso facto

    non-existent. Therefore one must find a cause which is social, socio-economic, political, structural and all the rest. On the issue of youth suicide, for example, the politicians say that if the Government doesn’t fix up unemployment we are going to see much more suicide.

If you don’t accept that suicide is a mark of a loss of any sense and meaning of purpose and soul, which is all a bit ephemeral for academics that have to be able to show figures for causal relationships, then you have to invent something and you target unemployment, and if that doesn’t work you target something else, and if that doesn’t work you keep playing the game. [12] 3. How do kids see it?In 1990, the Sydney Morning Herald [13] surveyed one-hundred-and-twenty (120) 11-year-old Sydney school children and asked them to write down their perceptions of Australia’s future and how they thought Australia would fare in the next millennium. The Herald chose bright, normal, healthy youngsters, young enough, they thought, to be untarnished by cynicism. Here’s how the Heraldviewed the results:

Yes, we expected a little economic pessimism, some gloom about the environment and job prospects and perhaps even a continuing fear of nuclear war. But nothing prepared us for the

depth of the children’s fear of the future, their despair about the state of our planet and their bleak predictions for their own nation, Australia. [14]

In other cultures, children aged 11 would be told stories that would help them construct a coherent world view, a cultural framework, to help them understand who they are, values, what to believe in–a context that would facilitate a confident outlook on life. Not so here. I believe we are in a cultural environment where a generation of young people is suffering an upheaval of values that has catastrophic implications.

In a 1992 Ph.D. thesis that surveyed 650 NSW upper secondary school students, it was found that “many respondents experienced `a strong sense of negativity, helplessness, despondency and even anguish’ about the anticipated problems facing our society and the world. They expressed concerns and feelings about relentless, mechanistic changes in which human feelings, self-esteem and aspirations are too readily sacrificed.” [15]

Another survey of Sydney teenagers, conducted by Loud Advertising, found that the “average adolescent thought the world was `going down the gurgler.'” [16]

Australia’s ABC-TV’s youth program, “Attitude: showed 57% of 14-[to]-24-year-olds felt their world was worse than the world their parents grew up in, less than a quarter believed their world was better.” [17]

4. M. Berman

American historian and social critic, M. Berman, studied the problems that characterise life in Western industrial nation. This researcher came to the situation with the view that the problems were social and economic, but became convinced by the evidence that a whole dimension had been overlooked — the “fundamental issues facing any civilization or any individual are issues of meaning.” [18]  Berman concludes:

I began to feel… that something was wrong with our entire world view. Western life seems to be drifting toward increasing entropy, economic and technological chaos, ecological disaster, and ultimately psychic dismemberment and disintegration. . .Historically, our loss of meaning in an ultimate philosophical or religious sense–the split between fact and value which characterizes the modern age–is rooted in the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.” [19]

5. Richard Eckersley points to the Public Health Movement, saying:

Once again the convulsions of rapid societal change are seriously harming human health and well-being, only this time the hazards are not infectious diseases such as cholera and typhus, but              profound social and spiritual alienation. [20]

He believes that you in the health professions “have a crucial role in changing the situation. They are in the front line of the issues [he has] discussed.” I agree. He states that

It is imperative they recognize the problems as more than problems of individual pathology or dysfunction and do more to confront the broader social, cultural and political implication of the deterioration in our well-being. [21] 6. Children in the Macquarie Primary School in Canberra published a collection of student poetry and other works in 1992, called The Spinning Tree. [22] The title poem reads:

We are based upon one tree, all my friends and me. The wind is blowing strong. I’m not lasting long, the dying tree is red, it’s spinning in my head. Time is going fast. I know I’ll never last.Another poem is called ZED St:

On the side of Z street, grey mould buildings on fire, children left on the bitumen cold, the trees as naked as a flower stripped of its beauty. Everyone is dying, everything is dying.On Z street, there’s a crystal ball in a fortune teller’s hold.

These primary school children are expressing their concern about their world. It is not pretty. Young people are fighting with meaning in our culture.

From my counselling experience in Bundaberg and District, I must agree with Brendan Nelson when he says “the price of our shallowness is being paid by our children… Life is one of despair, hopelessness and aggression directed against themselves and others.” [23]

Hugh Mackay, Australian social critiic, writes that “young people believe moral values are declining and, unless they are religious, find it hard to identify an accepted moral code within society.” [24]

My anecdotal evidence in my youth and family counselling office joins with the 1992 research by Zika and Chamberlain that shows the clear link between meaning in life and psychological well-being. [25]  I believe the lack of meaning in our Western culture, although difficult to quantify, is a core factor in youth suicide. Some youth are wanting to escape reality into altered states of consciousness, hence the increasing use of illicit drugs and alternative therapies of the New Age Movement.

I want to allow the parents of a young man who committed suicide to speak. Jon and Sue Stebbins of “The Compassionate Friends,” a self-help group for parents and siblings of young people who died, had an 18-year-old son who committed suicide. They say he was

A delightful, warm, intelligent and gentle person, sensitive and caring of others. He showed an intense awareness of issues and imperfections in the world; a keen sense of right and wrong; an aversion to violence, war, etc.; an awareness of environmental issues and a love of nature and animals; and a strong creative streak.The Stebbins note that “almost all parents of suicides describe similar characteristics and qualities in their children.” Of their own son, they note his “deep unhappiness and his lack of confidence about himself and a future.” A relationship break-up preceded his death by a few weeks. Their strongest feeling about their son’s life was “a deep concern for his inability to find a positive direction in life.” [26]

In the midst of this 300% increase in youth suicide in the last 30 years” [27], we have this promotion of euthanasia. As Brendan Nelson put it, “At the same time, well-meaning but misguided advocates of euthanasia project a subliminal message that death is a legitimate solution to what we think are insurmountable problems.” [28]

The medical profession, counsellors and ministers see this meaninglessness and despair more vividly than most. Chuck Colson says “the culture in which we live is nearly lost.” [29]

Many of our young people are where the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes was: “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” [30] Youth suicide is an example of cultural cancer in Western society.

Where does this lack of meaning lead to for our young people?

Second, youth suicide, I believe, is being propelled by:


I see it in youth who say, “Mum and Dad have split; my girlfriend just dumped me. My mates are never there when I want them. Who can I depend on?” I had a 15-year-old say to me the other day: “Mum sucks, school sucks, life sucks.”

Dr. Brendan Nelson saw it when he wrote, “We have created a culture in which young people frequently feel they have nothing other then themselves to believe in.” [31]

I agree with Eckersley. We are

Increasingly leaving people with only their own personal resources to deal with life. These flaws mean young people who are establishing their identities, values and beliefs, lack a social and spiritual context, a set of clear reference points, to help them make sense of life and their place in the world. They have no ideal to believe in, nothing to convince them to subordinate their own personal interests to a higher common goal. Our Culture offers little beyond self-interest to believe in and live for

. For most people and for societies that is not enough. [32]In the McCann-Erickson report of 1994 on 18-to 29-year olds, one young man, Paul, spoke for his generation when he said that “they have the belief that their actions will not change things.” [33]

Let me summarise. I believe this youth suicide pandemic has at its core, a lack of meaning or purpose for the young. This forces them back on themselves as the only reliable ones to believe in.

A third contributing factor is


Brendan Nelson says that “the mesh of values that held Australian society together 30 years ago — `God, king and country’ — has been systematically dismantled… In recent years, it has become fashionable to marginalise churches, demean the importance of parenting, push kids to the zeniths of educational achievement and discount voluntary work as the domain of the `do gooder.'” [34]

Sydney psychiatrist, Dr Jean Lennane, in a penetrating article in The Weekend Australian, in January 1997, wrote that during the 1970s and 1980s “there has been a marked decline in formal religious observance and the support and comfort it previously offered.” This has coincided with a decline in the “ideals of public service and helping others and the flowering of `greed is good.'” [35]

There is moral confusion and moral doubt amongst the young. [36] What kind of framework for moral values does the humanistic ethic give? I sat in a group that was formulating what became the Human Relationships Education program in the state school system in Queensland in the late 1980s. When I asked what value system would be promoted, the leader said, “I must do what’s right for me.”

Yet, when youth want to shoot up illicit drugs, sexually abuse others, attempt suicide, we want to oppose such. However, what youth want to do is logically consistent with humanistic ethics. The problem is with the basis of such values. I well remember having to deal with a 14 year old who had sexually abused his 11- and 7-year-old sisters. He saw nothing wrong with it. And there isn’t if we follow humanistic ethics.

Solid values are being dismantled.


Brendan Nelson says, “Only a vacuum.” What would you expect under what Nelson calls, “the incessant materialist imagery of BMWs, mobile phones and fashionable clothing”? [37] Blaise Pascal associated the vacuum with content when he wrote, “There is a Godshaped vacuum in the heart of every man, and only God can fill it.” Or in the words of St Augustine, “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” [38] Great thinkers have warned us through the centuries that a departure from God exposes human beings and “results in the death of meaning.” [39]

The crisis is deepening; the culture is decaying, even though it seemed gradual at first, it is now at a galloping pace. The quality of life will get worse. While our young people commit suicide in terrible proportions, the mass media seem to be giving us a deluge of sex, violence, and concocted values that push culture further into the mire.

There is such hypocrisy in our society. We have a strong anti-smoking campaign, but what about alcohol? Health ministers supporting a prescription trial of a dangerous narcotic, heroin. We oppose paedophilia, but there are few complaints about late night movies and sex, sex and more sex. What about the Channel 10 program in Australia, “Sex/Life” that left little to the imagination? I watched a little late night TV during the French Open Tennis Championships and there were the seductive ads for titillating sex contacts–phone for a sex sensation.

Look what we have done with guns following Port Arthur. The problem is not with guns, but people.

Watch popular TV shows such as “Neighbours”, “Home and Away”, “The Simpsons”, movies, etc., and see the disrespect towards one another that is modelled. Why should youth show respect for each other, parents, or anybody else when adults and others don’t do it on TV?

There’s such a lot of promotion about “safe sex”, but nowhere have I seen publicity about the failure rate of condoms. Sex is more than a physical act, but I don’t hear about that.

Then there are parents who cheat on the boss, flog his goods, cheat on taxes, take sickies when they want, but rebel when youth buck the system.

HYPOCRISY! HYPOCRISY! Our secular values are shot. Do we realise how deep in the cultural muck we really are?


Brendan Nelson, in my view, points in the right direction when he says, “Our national vision should be based on fundamental value that not only will we care for one another, but every person has a place in society and even if unemployed is expected to make a contribution… In the end it is not the economic indices… that will determine our destiny, but rather our beliefs, values and how we see ourselves in the world.” [40]

I believe we need to go further than that. Eckersley recognised it when he wrote that

The modern vision of the future is grim… This vision has emerged at a time when many people have lost a strong belief in anything that transcends the material world and that might sustain them in the face of its dangers and disappointments. [41]Young people are left with themselves. Our culture is losing belief in the Transcendent One. There is nothing left to rise above the materialistic. Western culture is now marked by “the erosion of religious and communal values and the elevation of individual, secular and material values.” [42]

Secular historians, Will and Ariel Durant, wrote: “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.” [43]

I am calling for a return to the values stated at the beginning of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (9th July 1900), the Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia:

WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God

, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Consitution hereby established. [44]The Psalmist stated it this way: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).

We have moved a long way from these foundational values. I believe the problem runs much deeper than the manifestation of youth suicide. If our culture is going to be turned around, it will mean a change of beliefs and values. I agree with Eckersley: “It will mean repudiating the moral priority given to the individual over the community; rights over responsibilities; the material over the spiritual; the present over the future; style over substance; the ephemeral over the enduring.” [45] The New Testament Book of Romans puts it this way:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. [46]As far back as 1969, Christian apologist, Francis Schaeffer, issued a solemn warning of where this was taking Western culture in his penetrating book, Death in the City. [47]

I don’t believe governments will lead the way back. It should be our spiritual leaders who are ringing the alarm bells. They seem to be strangely silent. Perhaps they are not seeing what you and I are seeing with disillusioned youth. We need “new John Bunyans to point out what occurs when [people] turn to Vanity Fair.” [48]


When Elvis Presley’s body was found the morning following his death, his half-brother told how Presley was found lying on the floor with a Bible and a book on the Shroud of Turin open beneath him. He had a longing for meaning, even beyond the grave. [49]

One of the most famous thinkers of this century must surely be philosopher and ardent atheist, Bertrand Russell. He was very wealthy, extremely successful, had many wives (9 of them, I believe). Karen Tate, his daughter from one of his unions, wrote this:

Somewhere at the back of my father’s mind and at the bottom of his heart there was an empty space that had been filled by God and he never found anything else to put in its place once he had thrown God out. [50]Ravi Zacharias was born in New Delhi, India, and is a leading lecturer and defender of the Christian faith on university campuses around the world. At one of his lectures, a woman sat in the front row taking frequent notes. Later in the week she and her family invited him to lunch at their home.

He learned of a terrible tragedy that had overtaken the family, a tragedy for which this woman could get no rest until she had some answers.

She told Ravi of her husband who was a professional man, with an exalted reputation as a pioneer in his field. His whole life exuded “contentment, success, and influence.” Then came “events of one fateful night” that she could not explain.

She heard an awful sound that woke her. Her husband was not beside her. She found him “doubled over at the kitchen table–dead–with a suicide note, “Some people die natural deaths. Others, unable to face life anymore, choose to cut it short.” Then followed a “heartfelt apology with a plea for forgiveness for this betrayal.”

Zacharias, even though he was a stranger to the family, felt “the terrible burden of this heartrending experience.” As he was told the story, the wife would say, “I cannot understand it. Why did he do it?” This was the “cry of a forsaken wife who now felt the greatest rejection of all.”

While Zacharias could not answer the “Why?” he told her, “For many in this high-paced world, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.” [51]

For many of our youth, despair is not a moment; it is a way of life.

Extra notes:

1. The core etiology (cause) of what’s happening in our society came from Jesus Christ. He said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). But our secular society doesn’t want to hear this diagnosis because the cure is spiritual — a renewed heart and mind through an encounter with the living Christ.

2. Karl Menninger was a Freudian psychiatrist. His book, Whatever Became of Sin? gets to a fundamental issue that is ignored in our secular society.


1. The content of this paper was first given as a presentation to the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Forum on youth suicide at the Don Pancho resort, Bargara, via Bundaberg, Qld., Australia on 9 August, 1997.

3. Told by Michael Green in his address to the ARMA Conference (i.e. Anglican Renewal), Canberra, 26-30 August, 1991.

4. Alister McGrath, Intellectuals Don’t Need God. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993, 13, mentioned in Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, 56.

5. R. Eckersley, “Failing a generation: The impact of culture on health and well-being of youth,” Journal of Pediatric Child Health (1993) 29 Supplement 1, S16.

6. Andrew Kingsmill, “Suicide–the facts,” Family World News, July 1997, 3.

7. A graph comparing the increase in suicide when compared with deaths from motor vehicle accidents is found in ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Eckersley, 1993, S16.

10. Bill Muehlenberg, National Research Coordinator, Focus on the Family Australia, March 1997, “Submission on Suicide Prevention”, 3.

11. Letters to the editor, “Suicide the price of our shallowness,” Dr Brendan Nelson, Federal Liberal Party member for Bradfield, NSW, Weekend Australian, January 11-12, 1997, 20.

12. Muehlenberg, 3.

13. P. Totaro, “Children of the apocalypse,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 1990, 29.

14. In Eckersley, 1993, S17, emphasis added.

15. F. Hutchinson, “Futures consciousness and the school,” Ph.D. thesis, 1992, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, in Richard Eckersley, “Values and Visions: Youth and the failure of modern Western culture,” Youth Studies Australia, Autumn 1995, 14.

16. Hutak and S. Borham, “Generation Who?” Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February, 1994, 11, in ibid.

17. AGB McNair 1993, ABC: Report on Attitudes of Youth, survey for ABC-TV’s Attitude program, in Eckersley, 1995, 14.

18. In ibid., S18.

19. M Berman, The Reenchantment of the World. Bantam Books, 1984, 1-2, in Eckersley, 1993, S. 18.

20. Eckersley, 1993, S19.

21. Ibid., S19.

22. Both of the following poems are quoted in Eckersley, 1995, 12.

23. Nelson, 1997, 20 (details above).

24. A 1989 study, in Eckersley, 1995, 16.

25. S. Zika and K. Chamberlain 1992, “On the relation between meaning in life and psychological well-being,” British Journal of Psychology, 83, 133-45, in Eckersley, 1995, 18.

26. J. & S. Stebbins, “The suicide experience: from a self-help group and bereavement perspective”, paper presented to Public Health Association of Australia National Conference, Public health significance of suicide: prevention strategies, 28 February to 1 March, 1994, in Eckersley, 1995, 20.

27. Lennane, 1997, 19.

28. Nelson, 1997, 20.

29. Charles W. Colson foreword to Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994, x.

30. Ecclesiastes 2:17,

31. Nelson, 1997, 20.

32. Eckersley, 1995, 16.

33. McCann Erickson, Generation 2000, McCann Monitor, Sydney, 1994, in Eckersley, 1995, 18.

34. Nelson, 1997, 20.

35. Dr. Jean Lennane, “Youth Suicide: Why Us?” The Weekend Australian, 4-5 January 1997, 19.

36. Eckersley, 1995, 15, 16.

37. Nelson, 1997, 20.

38. In Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism. Brentwood, Tennessee: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1990, 89.

39. Zacharias, 1990, 80.

40. Nelson, 1997, 20.

41. Eckersley, 1995, 15.

42. Ibid., 15.

43. Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968, 50-51, in Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981, 45.

44. Geoffrey Sawer, The Australian Constitution. Canberra: An AGPS Press publication, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1988, 35.

45. Eckersley, 1995, 20.

46. Romans 1:21-23.

47. Francis A. Schaeffer, Death in the City. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1969.

48. Ibid., 43.

49. Zacharias, 1994, 114.

50. Told by Michael Green in his address at the ARMA Conference (Anglican Renewal), Canberra, 26-30 August, 1991.

51. Told in Zacharias, 1994, 70-71, emphasis added.

Jesus Christ said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).


Copyright © 2007 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.


Whytehouse Designs

Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

Corinth, 21st century (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

When we come to discuss the controversial issue of women in public ministry in a mixed congregation of males and females, there are two sections of Scripture that are trotted out as old chestnuts to oppose women in ministry. They are:

1 Cor. 14:33-35 (ESV) [2]: For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

1 Tim. 2:12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Mary Lee Cagle (& husband Henry), Pioneer Preacher, Church of the Nazarene

Courtesy Encyclopedia of Alabama

Surely these verses are clear: Women are to keep silent in the churches and must not teach and have authority over men! Women are to keep their mouths closed as far as public ministry is concerned in the church. Sounds pretty cut and dried! But is it?

This inquiry will deal primarily with passages in I Corinthians as I have examined the I Timothy passage in my paper, “Must Women Never Teach Men in the Church? (An interpretation of I Timothy 2:9-15).”

I am left with some significant questions from the biblical text of I Corinthians. These questions are not driven by a contemporary feminist agenda that has influenced me. They are based on an examination of the Bible, following my observation that some gifted women are being under-used or not allowed to function according to their verbal gifts in the evangelical church.

  • Questions that need good biblical answers

1. The God of truth

God/Jesus is the God of truth/truthfulness. See Isa. 45:19 and John 14:6. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26; 16:13). God’s word is truth (John 17:17; Ps. 119:142, 160).

Therefore, since God himself is the essence of truth and speaks and acts with truthfulness, we would not expect him to contradict himself and hence create a lie.

Billy Graham has called his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, “the best preacher in the family,” yet Anne Lotz has experienced some shocking harassment (abuse?) by pastors in the evangelical community.  Here’s an example:

Anne Graham Lotz [Billy Graham’s daughter] learned this lesson personally as she began her itinerant ministry 13 years ago. She was addressing a convention of 800 pastors. As she walked to the lectern, Anne was shocked to see that many of the pastors had turned their chairs around and put their backs to her. She managed to share her message but was shaken. She asked herself, Was the inaudible voice I had heard from these men, in essence saying, ‘Anne, you don’t belong in the pulpit when men are present’ authentic or not? Wanting to follow God’s plan for her life, Anne went home and opened her Bible. As Anne read, the Lord told her that He put the words in her mouth and that she was not responsible for the reaction of her audience. God confirmed the call in her life. Anne, you are not accountable to your audience; you are accountable to Me” [available from: Christian Broadcasting Network].


2.  God seems to contradict himself in I Corinthians if we accept the traditional view of closing down women in verbal ministry among men. 

This is what I mean!


a.  Women can speak

Elizabeth Hooten, a Quaker woman preacher

Courtesy Google


God’s Word states that women can speak in the church — they can pray and prophesy according to I Cor. 11: 5, “But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven.” Here a woman in the church is able to pray and prophesy. The head covering is another issue, but not considered here as it is not relevant to the primary topic of the validity or otherwise of women in public ministry.

It is possible to pray without opening the mouth, but I do not know how a woman can prophesy in the church gathering with her mouth closed.

We know what is involved in praying, but what does the Scripture mean when it says that a woman is able to prophesy? Surely that can’t be done through silence! Here is not the place for a detailed examination of the gift of prophecy. Let’s check out a few evangelical commentators for their views:

blue-arrow-small John MacArthur Jr., a prominent expository preacher, contends that “prophecy is the proclaiming of [God’s] [4] Word. The gift of prophecy is the Spirit-given and Spirit-empowered ability to proclaim the Word effectively.” [5] However, to get over the difficulty of prophesying meaning women proclaiming the Word in the local church, he claims that in I Cor. 11:5, Paul “makes no mention here of a church at worship or in the time of formal teaching. Perhaps he has in view praying or prophesying in public places, rather than in the worship of the congregation” [6]

What a way to weasel out of one’s unsustainable position! There is not a shred of evidence in the immediate context that this refers to a woman’s praying and prophesying in public and not in the church gathering. But in I Cor. 11:18 it is very clear that Paul is addressing a situation “when you come together as a church.” It is clear from passages such as I Cor. 14:29 that prophecy is delivered in the assembly/church gathering where “the others weigh what is said.”

blue-arrow-small Wayne Grudem, a noted theologian, concludes that the gift of prophecy “should be defined not as ‘predicting the future,’ nor as ‘proclaiming a word from the Lord,’ nor as ‘powerful preaching’ – but rather as ‘telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.’” [7]

blue-arrow-small Charles Hodge, an evangelical theologian and commentator of another era (A D 1797-1878) claimed that the “praying and prophesying [of I Cor. 11:5] were the two principal exercises in the public worship of the early Christians. The latter term . . . included all forms of address dictated by the Holy Spirit.” [8] The nature of the gift of prophecy, he writes, “is clearly exhibited in the 14th ch. [of I Corinthians]. It consisted in occasional inspiration and revelations, not merely or generally relating to the future, . . . but either in some new communications relating to faith or duty, or simply an immediate impulse and aid from the Holy Spirit. . .” [9]

blue-arrow-smallGordon Fee, a contemporary Bible scholar and exegete, states that

“The two verbs ‘pray and prophesy’ make it certain that the problem has to do with the assembly at worship. One may pray privately; but not so with prophecy. This was the primary form of inspired speech, directed toward the community [of believers] for its edification and encouragement (cf. 14:1-5).” [10] Specifically, the gift of prophecy “consisted of spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible messages, orally delivered in the gathered assembly, intended for the edification or encouragement of the people.” [11]

Therefore, we can conclude that for women to prophesy, it meant that they gave an oral message in a church gathering. They could not prophesy and remain silent at the same time.

b. Each one (male and female) may be involved in public ministry

There is a further emphasis in I Cor. 14:26 that all people have the opportunity of ministry when the church gathers (a far cry from today’s church gatherings). This verse reads, “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

The Greek, adelphos (brother) [12], here in the plural means brothers and sisters. [13] If you want a technical description, see this footnote. [14] A careful examination of the meaning of “brothers” cannot make it refer to males only here.

It is clear that when brothers and sisters come together in the church gathering, all of them, male and female, have the opportunity for public, verbal ministry in “a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation.” None of these ministries can be exercised without speaking.”

But we have this problem . . .

c. Women cannot speak

First Corinthians 14:33-35 states, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”

What are women supposed to do, according to this passage? They “should keep silent.” This is an accurate translation of the Greek, sigaw. [15] Being a present tense command, the meaning is that women are to continue to keep silent. It is the same verb as that used in I Cor. 14: 28 where, if nobody is present in the church gathering to interpret “tongues,” the person moved upon to exercise the gift of tongues is to “keep silent.”

What are women not permitted to do in the church? They are not “to speak.” This is the standard Greek verb for speaking, lalein (from lalew), meaning “speak . . . to have and use the faculty of speech, in contrast to one who is incapable of speaking.” [16]

B. God is the God of truth and does not speak with a forked-tongue. 

This is the problem. How is it that the God of truth, who does not lie, tells women that they can verbally express their ministries in the church gathering (11:5 and 14:26), and yet in 14:33-35 he tells them to “keep silent”?

Isn’t this contradictory and in opposition to the very nature of the God of truth?

C. Speak and be silent do not make sense.

Could something else be going on here that relates to our understanding of the text and its application to all churches for all times? The evidence points in that direction.

Take a look at these verses and their context:

1.  There was confusion in the Corinthian church (14:33) and God wanted peace instead of disorder.

2.  Could it be that the women were contributing to this confusion by engaging in speaking that was disrupting the church gathering?  This was not happening in just one church (Corinth), but also “in all the churches of the saints” (14:33).  It was a widespread occurrence in the early Gentile church and Paul was forced to address it.
3.  This problem of women contributing to disorder and confusion in the church gathering, is suggested by 14:35 where the women are told that “if there is anything they desire to learn” then they should “ask their husbands at home.” Were they seeking to learn in the church gathering and it was resulting in rowdy confusion?

4.  If “it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church,” it cannot mean that she cannot speak at all for all times in all churches throughout church history, as 11:5 and 14:26 make clear. It has to mean that it is shameful for a woman to engage in disruptive behaviour while in the church gathering and so contribute to the confusion in the church meeting. This is a silencing of the women in “all the churches of the saints” (v. 33). The inference is that it applied to all of the churches as women seem to have been the culprits in creating the confusion. For one suggestion of what might have been going on, see this endnote. [17]  The corollory is that if men were contributing to similar disorder and confusion when the church gathered, men would be given instructions to “shut up” in the gathering.  But this was not a permanent instruction for silence, but simply to deal with an occurrence in some early church gatherings.

5.  This temporary silence of women in all the churches would stop the confusion, quit the disruption and “all things” would then “be done decently and in order” (v. 40).

6.  It is a tragedy that this passage has been applied to all women in all churches throughout the existence of the church, to silence women in public ministry among a mixed audience of men and women. 

D.  A more reasonable understanding

While the above explanation may not be acceptable to those who hold firmly to the conservative, traditionalist view of the silence of women in the church’s mixed gathering, I cannot see any other way out of it, without making God a liar or a perpetrator of contradictory messages. Such would be blasphemy!
This also seems a more reasonable explanation in light of God’s views of the change of women in ministry in the New Covenant.  Let’s take a look at what the Word says!

E.  The New Covenant and women

A limitation on female ministry seems to contradict the principle of mutuality in equality established elsewhere in the Pauline epistles (eg. 1 Cor. 11:5, 14:26, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 5:21).

A critical dimension of understanding the Bible is that God, being the God of all knowledge, is not going to give fragmented teachings in Old and New Testaments that contradict one another. He is the God of truth.

Therefore, it should not be surprising that God would tell us in advance what would happen with the coming of the New Covenant. He prophesied through the prophet Joel what to expect with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).

Gal. 3:28 affirms the mutuality of male and female in the New Covenant: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The Old Covenant had very different rules for men and women. There were special privileges given to certain male Jews and not to male Gentiles. Some had larger functions than others (e.g. the Levites). Women had a diminished role in ministry. The Old Testament congregation had almost no function.

This changed with the New Covenant. The law of God is written on the human heart. The Spirit indwells people who repent, believe and trust Jesus as their only Lord and Saviour – Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and non-slaves. Ministerial classes of people are abandoned as the Spirit gifts all people for possible public ministry. That includes male and female.

If women are to be silenced from public ministry in the church, including ministry among men, it will violate God’s New Covenant that “your daughters shall prophesy.” The New Covenant has done away with the silencing of women in public ministry among a mixed audience of male and female.
Does this include women in a teaching ministry of men? My paper on I Timothy 2: 9-15 demonstrates that the women who were silenced from teaching in that Ephesian church (see I Tim. 1:3) addressed in I Tim. 2, were silenced from teaching false doctrine. It was not a permanent cessation of women Bible teachers among all people.

F. Some practical issues

Catherine Booth, courtesy Wikipedia

1.    If women are excluded from a significant ministry in every church today (as they are in many evangelical churches), this will have ramifications at a deep level in the local, national and international church. Should not this restriction have been included in the Pauline passages dealing with the churches’ teaching ministry (eg. Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4)?  Except for the one sentence in 1 Tim. 2:12, the gifts of the Spirit to the church have never been differentiated on the basis of gender in the entire New Testament.

2.    Some of Paul’s writings make the teaching ministry available to all believers, including women. In Colossians 3:16, “teaching and admonishing” is the responsibility of “one another,” which must obviously include male and female. If “teaching and admonishing” are restricted to males only, consistency of interpretation should require that compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, bearing with, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14, NIV) must be practised by males only. Such a conclusion regarding Christian character is untenable. See also 1 Cor. 14:26 where “each one” (male and female) in the church is encouraged to minister via a psalm, teaching, revelation, tongue and interpretation when the church gathers. If women are restricted from teaching, consistency of interpretation requires their silence with psalms, revelations, tongues and interpretations.

3.    According to the remainder of Scripture, salvation is obtained by grace through faith. I Tim. 2:15 links salvation to having babies. How is this possible?

4. What would happen if the mission field withdrew all of the women who are active in teaching and in other public ministries in mission churches?

5. Why is it that some of these very same women, when they return to Australia on furlough, are not able to exercise the same kinds of verbal ministries that they practise on the mission field? I am embarrassed to see women forced to do missionary meetings with women only when at home on furlough, when that is not their role on the mission field. We have to quit this hypocrisy immediately! Are we prepared for the missionary fallout if we forced all female missionaries to have no public, verbal ministry among men in the missionary churches?

6. There is the added problem on the mission field when the Bible is translated into the language of those people. They see women preaching and teaching in pioneer missions, but the Bible (in its traditional understanding) says that women should remain silent and not teach when men are present in the church. This creates a clanger of hypocrisy.

The better solution is for the church to have its theology of women in ministry so fixed that the pioneer missionary’s actions agree with consistent biblical interpration of the controversial passages.


Appendix A.  Can women be elders or deacons?

Photograph of Sarah Righter Major. (Courtesy of Brethren Historical Library and Archives, Elgin, IL)

Sarah Righter Major, preacher, The Brethren Church; courtesy


The Pastoral Epistles of First & Second Timothy & Titus are commonly referred to as a handbook for church leaders or a manual on church government. This is misleading. These purposes seem “to miss their occasion rather widely and simply cannot account for a large amount of the material. . . They reflect church structures in the fourth decade of the church as Paul is correcting some theological and behavioral abuses. But church structures as such are not his concern.” [18]

The “elders” term used in I Tim. 3:3; 5:17 and Titus 1:5-7 interchanges “episkopos” (overseer) and “presbyteros” (elder). See also Acts 20:17, 28. Therefore, “the term elders is probably a covering term for both overseers [bishops/elders] and deacons. In any case, the grammar of Titus 1:5 and 7 demand that elder and overseer are interchangeable terms.” [19] I accept this explanation as the most consistent with the biblical data.

It is very difficult to build a job description for elders and deacons from the material in Timothy and Titus. Paul seemed to be more interested in the qualifications for these roles than in designating a range of duties.

It should be simple enough to exclude women elders since one of the qualifications is “husband of but one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2, 12 NIV). Surely this is enough to exclude women from this kind of ministry!

But there are further difficulties!

1. The preference for ministry is for believers to remain single (1 Cor. 7:32-35). Paul to Timothy says that these elders and deacons have the responsibility to “take care of God’s church” (1 Tim. 3:5 NIV). They are very demanding and responsible positions. Paul (and presumable Timothy and Titus), as single men, would be excluded from this type of leadership ministry in the church. “Should marriage be made a universal requirement for Christian leadership, all single men would become disqualified, in contradiction to Paul’s explicit instructions in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.” [20] This does not seem to be a satisfactory solution.

2. Jesus himself would be unqualified for such a position of leadership as an elder or a deacon if marriage was required.

This type of problem shows the necessity to “interpret all related teachings on a given subject comprehensively rather than to proof-text one passage as if it were the sole teaching on the subject. In this case, it becomes obvious that the requirements set down in 1 Timothy 3 are not exhaustive. They neither include consideration of single men and of women as elders and deacons, nor do they forbid it.” [21]

3. There are good reasons why the Ephesian women were not included in the “overseers” or “deacons” because one of the qualifications was being “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). The Ephesian women who were engaged in heretical teaching were obviously excluded. According to I Tim. 2:9-15, the solution for these women who were teaching heresy was:

3d-red-star-small  to become learners (2:11);

3d-red-star-small to stop acting as teachers with the assumed authority of recognised teachers (2:12);

3d-red-star-small  “Just as Eve rather than Adam was deceived into error, unqualified persons will get themselves and the church into trouble (vv. 13-14)”;

3d-red-star-small  “Yet as Eve became the means and the first beneficiary of promised salvation, so Ephesian women will legitimately aspire to maturity and competency and to positions of service in the church (v. 15).” [22]

“The exclusion of the Ephesian women from teaching positions is not final. Just like the fall, which was not a terminally disqualifying transgression for the woman, so the necessity for the Ephesian women to learn in silence is a temporary restriction that will lead to avenues of service, once their training has resulted in the maturing of their faith, love, sanctification, and sound judgment.” [23]

[I am indebted to Bible exegetes and teachers Gilbert Bilezikian, Gordon Fee and M. D. Roberts [24] for helping me to clarify much of my thinking on women in ministry, in light of this sometimes confusing material.]

4. Let’s go a little further afield than I Corinthians!  If we examine Rom. 16:1, we note that Phoebe the deaconess is designated by the masculine, “diakonos” (deacon/servant). Paul used the Greek masculine, “diakonos,” in 1 Tim. 3:8 (cf. 3:11) to indicate male deacons, but there is clear biblical evidence here that the masculine “diakonos” was used for both men and women.

5. What about Romans 16:7?

This verse reads: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me” (ESV). The NIV translates as: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” These two different translations show some of the dimensions of the difficulties in translating this verse.

Literally, the Greek reads, word-for-word (English translation): “Greet Andronicus and Junia/the kinsmen of me and fellow-captives of me who are notable among/in/by the apostles who also before me have been in Christ.”

The controversy surrounds the gender of Junia, relating to the phrase, “among the apostles.” If Junia is feminine and she is among the apostles, this makes her a female apostle.

This is a brief examination of these 3 points.              

a. The gender of Junia.

The Greek form, Jounian (from Junias), depending on the Greek accent given to it, could be either masculine or feminine. So the person could be a man, Junianus, or a woman, Junia. “Interpreters from the thirteenth to the middle of the twentieth century generally favored the masculine identification, but it appears that commentators before the thirteenth century were unanimous in favor of the feminine identification; and scholars have recently again inclined decisively to this same view. And for probably good reason. . . The Latin ‘Junia’ was a very common name. Probably, then, ‘Junia’ was the wife of Andronicus (note the other husband and wife pairs in this list, Prisca and Aquila [v. 3] and [probably], Philologus and Julia [v. 15].” [25] 


b. Is Junia a female apostle?

The phrase “esteemed/notable by the apostles” is a possible Greek construction as in the ESV. [26] But it is more natural to translate as “esteemed/notable among the apostles,” as with the NIV. Why is it more natural? See this footnote.[27] Andronicus and Junia were probably a husband and wife team of apostles. [28]

c. Junia is therefore a female apostle.

This means that Junia was a female apostle, not one of the Twelve, but one of the ministry gifts of Christ to the church (See Eph. 4:11) – an apostle who was a woman.

6. What was the role of such apostles? I have addressed some of these issues in my article, Are there apostles in the 21st century? By way of summary, in the New Testament, apostles and associates (as per Eph. 4:11) probably did (pioneer) missionary work.


My purpose in trying to seek biblical clarity on this controversial subject has not been driven by my culture’s feminist movement’s agendas or the drive for ordination of women in many, especially liberal, churches. I have been forced back to the inerrant Scriptures by:

  1. the glaring contradictions I saw in interpretations of I Cor. 11:5; 14:26, 31 when compared with the traditional interpretations of I Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15.
  2. the Spirit-gifted women I see in the church who have been silenced.
  3. the crisis of conscience I experienced when I saw the way women had been excluded from ministry on the basis of an interpretation of I Cor. 14:34-35 that had not considered the wider context of I Corinthians.

In spite of the traditional, conservative understanding of closing down women in public ministry to men or to a mixed audience, the biblical evidence points to gifted women having a vocal public ministry among men and women.

This is in no way a complete summary of some of my current understanding of the women in ministry issues in 1 Corinthians and some other Scriptures. I am open to learning better ways of interpreting the material, but I have found the traditional approach of silencing women in ministry (including the exclusion of women from eldership) to be biblically inconsistent and stifling to the ministry of the churches with which I have been associated.  God-gifted women and men out to be set free to exercise their ministries in all churches.

Gold Chain Of Round Links Clip Art

This is a range of my articles on women in ministry (there may be a repeat of information in some of them):

3d-red-star-small Anti-women in ministry juices flowing

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in church history

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry: an overview of some biblical passages

3d-red-star-small Women in ministry in I Corinthians: A brief inquiry

3d-red-star-small Women wrongly closed down in ministry

3d-red-star-small Amazing contemporary opposition to women in public ministry

3d-red-star-small The heresy of women preachers?

3d-red-star-small Women bishops – how to get the Christians up in arms!

3d-red-star-small Are women supposed to be permanently silent in the church gathering?

3d-red-star-small Must women never teach men in the church?


Gold Chain Of Round Links Clip Art

 In support of women in ministry see:
For a contrary view on Junia see:


[2] The ESV is The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Bibles, 2001. This is a highly recommended translation of Scripture. In this paper, all quotations will be from the ESV unless otherwise indicated.

[4] “That” was the word used but it referred to “God’s Word” in the earlier part of the sentence.

[5] MacArthur (1984:303).

[6] MacArthur (1984:256).

[7] Grudem (1994:1049, emphasis in the original).

[8] Hodge (1974:208).

[9] Hodge (1974:247).

[10] Fee (1987:505-506).

[11] Fee (1987:595).

[12] Here it is the plural, adelphoi (brothers) in the vocative case (of addressing somebody).

[13] For other examples of the word being “used by Christians in their relations with each other,” see Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 6:23; 1 Tim 6:2; Acts 6:3; 9:30; 10:23; Rev. 1:9; 12:10 (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:16).

[14] “The vocative adelphoi occurs more times (21) in 1 Corinthians than in any of the other letters, although proportionately it appears more often in 1 Thessalonians (14) and 2 Thessalonians (7). . . Although it means ‘brothers,’ it is clear from the evidence of this letter (11:2-16) and Phil. 4:1-3 that women were participants in the worship of the community and would have been included in the ‘brothers’ being addressed. The latter passage is particularly telling since in v. 1 Paul uses the vocative adelphoi, and then directly addresses two women in the very next sentence. It is therefore not pedantic, but culturally sound and biblically sensitive, for us to translate this vocative ‘brothers and sisters’” [Fee 1987:52, n. 22. Please note that Fee refers the use of “brothers” in 14:26 to his explanation of “brothers” in 1:10].

[15]  The verbal form is sigatwsan, 3rd person, singular, present active imperative of sigaw , meaning “say nothing, keep silent” (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:757).

[16] Arndt & Gingrich 1957:464.

[17] Gordon Fee states,

    “The most commonly held view is that which sees the problem as some form of disruptive speech. Support is found in v. 35, that if the women wish to learn anything, they should ask their own husbands at home. Various scenarios are proposed: that the setting was something like the Jewish synagogue, with women on one side and men on the other and the women shouting out disruptive questions about what was being said in a prophecy or tongue; or that they were asking questions of men other than their own husbands; or that they were simply ‘‘chattering’’so loudly that it had a disruptive effect.
“The biggest difficulty with this view is that it assumes a ‘church service’ of a more ‘orderly’ sort than the rest of this argument presupposes. If the basic problem is with their ‘all speaking in tongues’ in some way, one may assume on the basis of 11:5 that this also included the women; furthermore, in such disarray how can mere ‘chatter’ have a disruptive effect? The suggestion that the early house churches assumed a synagogue pattern is pure speculation; it seems remote at best” (Fee 1987:703).

[18] Fee (1988:21).

[19] Fee (1988:22).

[20] Bilezikian (1985:188).

[21] Bilezikian (1985:188-189).

[22] Bilezikian (1985:183).

[23] Bilezikian (1985:183).

[24] Gilbert Bilezikia; two publications by Gordon Fee; and M. D. Roberts.

[25] Moo (1996:921-922).

[26] This is using the preposition, en, in its instrumental sense.

[27] “With a plural object [apostles], en often means ‘among’; and if Paul had wanted to say that Andronicus and Junia were esteemed ‘by’ the apostles, we would have expected him to use a simple dative [case] or [the preposition] hupo with the genitive [case]. The word epistemoi (‘splendid,’ ‘prominent,’ ‘outstanding’; only here in the NT in this sense [cf. also Matt. 27:16]) also favors this rendering” (Moo 1996:923, n. 39).

[28] Gordon Fee says that that Rom. 16:7 refers to “probably Andronicus and his wife [Junia]” (Fee 1987:729, n. 80).


Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W (transl & adapt. of W Bauer), 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House.

Bilezikian, G, 1985. Beyond sex roles: A guide for the study of female roles in the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

ESV, 2001. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton Illinois: Crossway Bibles.

Fee, G D, 1987. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament, F. F. Bruce, (gen.ed.).  Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Fee, GD, 1988. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (New International Biblical Commentary).  Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrikson Publishers.

Grudem, W, 1994. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Hodge, C, 1974. A Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians. Edinburgh: The Banner of  Truth Trust.

MacArthur Jr., J, 1984. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: I Corinthians. Chicago: Moody  Press.

Moo, D G, 1996. The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on  the New Testament).  Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Roberts, MD, 1983, “Women Shall Be Saved: A Closer Look at 1 Timothy 2:15,” The Reformed Journal,  April 1983.

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (I Corinthians 12:7).


Copyright (c) 2012 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 14 October 2015.



Must women never teach men in the church?

Anne Graham Lotz (October 2008).jpg

Photograph of Anne Graham Lotz (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D. Gear

An interpretation of I Timothy 2:9-15

A.  Introduction

Raise the issue of women in ministry, particularly women pastors or preachers to a mixed audience of men and women, and you are likely to be howled down in many evangelical churches.  That has happened to this preacher on a number of  occasions when he raised his views in support of women’s giftedness, teaching and preaching, being expressed publicly in the church.  This anti-women-in-ministry view often comes with the accusation, “You wouldn’t be thinking like this if it were not for the way the contemporary feminist movement has influenced you.”

Then comes the support for silence of women from evangelical leaders: I Tim. 2:12 affirms that a woman’s “teaching has no authority apart from the approval of the elders. . .  Paul did not forbid women to bring any teaching whatsoever.  We have seen that all may bring a word of instruction.  What he spoke of was the continuing, authoritative teaching which structures the faith of the church” [1a] and he forbade women from that kind of teaching.  John MacArthur is very definite: “Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men and in the services of the church.  That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men, but because God’s law commands it.” [1b]

This paper is not driven by any feminist agenda — there is no such motivation for pursuing this subject.  It was prepared for the specific purpose of providing a grammatical, historical & cultural interpretation of I Tim. 2:9-15.  On the practical level, I have seen many gifted women teachers ignored and avoided because of the contemporary church’s views of women teachers.  Add to this the pathetic preaching by some males who are given preference over gifted female teachers in the congregation.

Pragmatism does not drive this exegesis, but something is wrong when some evangelical churches give preference to incompetent males in the pulpit when gifted women teachers are in the pew and do not have a role in public ministry.

Now we must get down to the passage at hand: In this I Timothy 2 passage, the verse that stands out and creates controversy in the evangelical church  is v. 12, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” [2]

These are the apostle Paul’s own words. He is not quoting opponents. The statement is clear. Paul seems to be laying down a universal rule (norm) for all Christians in all ages. But is he?

Consult a range of evangelical scholars on this verse and you’ll read statements like these:

Donald Guthrie: “The teaching of Christian doctrine . . . is confined by Paul to the male sex, and this has been the almost invariable practice in the subsequent history of the church.” [3]

William Hendriksen contends that these words mean,

Let a woman not enter a sphere of activity for which by dint of her very creation she is not suited. Let not a bird try to dwell under water. Let not a fish try to live on land. Let not a woman yearn to exercise authority over a man by lecturing him in public worship. For the sake both of herself and of the spiritual welfare of the church such unholy tampering with divine authority is forbidden.  In the service of the Word on the day of the Lord a woman should learn, not teach. She should be silent, remain calm . . . She should not cause her voice to be heard. [4]

R. C. H. Lenski: “No woman may step into the place of the man without violating the very Word she would try to teach to both women and men.” [5]

Albert Barnes:

On every consideration it was improper, and to be expressly prohibited, for women to conduct the devotions of the church. . . It does not refer merely to acts of public preaching, but to all acts of speaking, or even asking questions, when the church is assembled for public worship. No rule in the New Testament is more positive than this. [6]

These commentators, all of whom are male, support traditional roles for women in the church and argue that female teachers are prohibited from functioning in the church.

Those who favour an egalitarian (i.e.. equality of male and female) interpretation, point out the apparent contradictions between 1 Tim. 2:12 and other Scriptures such as Gal. 3:28 (neither male nor female, all are one in Christ) and I Cor. 11:5 (women praying and prophesying). Those who describe themselves as biblical feminists contend that these verses in 1 Tim. 2 were conditioned by the culture of the first century and the verses are limited, therefore, to the historical situation of the Ephesian church (where Timothy was located. See 1 Tim. 1:3). Others reject these verses, claiming they were not written by Paul, and therefore can be ignored.

Few biblical passages have been subjected to so many different interpretations as has 1 Tim. 2:9-15. To be a consistent exegete of the Scriptures and for the sake of gifted women who have been handicapped by the traditional interpretation, I enter this minefield of controversy in an endeavour to discover what the text meant for the original hearers or readers. By application, what does this mean for women who are gifted and want to minister today?

When the contents of this passage are examined closely and the broader context (especially of the pastoral epistles) is taken into consideration, many of the problems of interpretation are open to a solution.

Here’s a contemporary example of how women preachers have been treated by male evangelical preachers.

Billy Graham has called his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, “the best preacher in the family,” [6a] yet Anne Lotz has experienced some shocking harassment (abuse?) by pastors in the evangelical community.    Here’s an example:

Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham’s daughter) wrote in the Washington Post (September 17, 2008),

Jesus Calls Women to Serve and Lead

What legitimate, Biblical role do women have within the church? That question demanded an answer early in my ministry when I accepted an invitation to address a large convention of pastors.

When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman? While all agree that women are free to help in the kitchen, or in the nursery, or in a secretary’s chair, is it unacceptable for a woman to take a leadership or teaching position?

When I went home, I told the Lord that I had never had a problem with women serving in any capacity within the church. I knew that the New Testament declared that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) And God emphatically promised, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy… (Acts 2:17) But the problem the pastors obviously had was now my problem. And so I humbly asked God to either convict me of wrongdoing or to confirm His call in my life. The story of Mary Magdalene came to mind, so I turned to John 20.

Read what Anne Graham Lotz said about the September 11 disaster.

What are the problems with this passage from I Timothy 2? (This survey will not be comprehensive).

B.  Problems in the passage

1.    There is continuing disagreement among New Testament scholars as to exactly what Paul prohibits in this passage. Does he forbid women from teaching men only, or is it a comprehensive prohibition against female teaching of any kind? The problem is compounded by Paul’s failure to use the common word for “authority” (exousia) in verse 12. However, whichever interpretation one favours, the end result is that some kind of restriction is placed on the teaching ministry of women in the church.

2.    A limitation on female ministry seems to contradict the principle of “mutuality in equality” established elsewhere in the Pauline epistles (e.g.. 1 Cor. 11:5, 14:26, Gal. 3:28, Eph. 5:21).

3.    If women are excluded from a significant ministry of every church, this will have ramifications at a deep level in the local church. Should not this restriction have been included in the Pauline passages dealing with the churches’ teaching ministry (e.g.. Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4)? Except for this one sentence in 1 Tim. 2:12, the gifts of the Spirit to the church have never been  differentiated on the basis of sex in the entire New Testament.

4.    Some of Paul’s writings make the teaching ministry available to all believers, including women. In Colossians 3:16, “teaching and admonishing” is the responsibility of “one another,” which must obviously include male and female. If “teaching and admonishing” are restricted to males only, consistency of interpretation requires that compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, bearing with, forgiveness and love (Col. 3:12-14) must be practised by males only. Such a conclusion regarding Christian character is untenable. See also 1 Cor. 14:26 where “each one” (male and female) in the church is encouraged to minister via a psalm, teaching, revelation, tongue and interpretation when the church gathers. If women are restricted from teaching, consistency of interpretation requires their silence with psalms, revelations, tongues and interpretations.

Paul affirmed the teaching ministry of women (Acts 18:26, Titus 2:3) and commended women in ministry (Rom. 16:1-15; 1 Cor. 11:5, 16:16; Phil. 4:2ff.).

5.  According to the remainder of Scripture, salvation is obtained by grace through faith. First Tim. 2:15 links salvation to having babies: “. . . Yet she will be saved through child-bearing . . .”  How is this possible?

The above difficulties concerning the interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15 should be a warning not to proof-text a verse in isolation from the biblical context. A satisfactory explanation of the passage demands more than a superficial reading.

C.  Possible solutions

1.    The Purpose of 1 Timothy

The epistle begins (1:3) and ends (6:20-21) with a concern about false teaching. The issue of false teachers and their teaching, mentioned throughout the letter (chs. 1, 4, 5, 6), also appears in the wider context of the pastoral epistles (2 Tim. chs. 2-4 and Titus chs. 1 and 3). The purpose, then, of 1 Timothy was to provide instructions to combat the Ephesian heresy which Timothy encountered. Within this context, I propose that 1 Tim. 2:12 is not a universal norm applied to every Christian church, but a specific direction given to Timothy to correct the Ephesian error.

2.    The Ephesian Heresy

Since the inception of the Christian church, not all Christians at the time of conversion immediately have discarded all of their previous beliefs and behaviours. It has been the responsibility of Christian leadership since the first century to refute and correct error. Several of the New Testament epistles were written to combat heresy (e.g.. Colossians, 1 John and Galatians), and the early church fathers in the later history of the church’s development spent much time and energy in opposing erroneous doctrines. The pastoral epistles return us to the theme of correction of heresy.

a.  Its Nature

Those embracing false doctrines at Ephesus were involved in “worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ (gnosis)” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). This Gnostic heresy included

elaborate systems of intermediate beings who bridged the gap between God and man, complete with astounding genealogies and fantastic myths about these primordial beings. Other Gnostics were considerably closer to Jewish traditions and gave exaggerated roles to Adam, Eve, Cain and Seth. [7]

See 1 Tim. 1:4, 4:3, 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:18, 23, 3:6-8, 4:5, 14, Titus 3:9.

The Ephesian church was pioneered in the midst of confrontations with occult and pagan practices (Acts 19:9, 13, 18-19, 27). The apostle Paul warned of the “savage wolves” who would attack the believers (Acts 20:29-30). He exhorted them not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness, in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). However, the Ephesian church reeled under the impact of various kinds of false teachings, influencing many to defect from the faith (cf. 2 Tim. 1:15, 4:14-15).

Some of the prime targets of the false teachers were women who listened to anybody, without coming to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:6-9).

However, there is every indication that women were involved in propagating this Gnostic heresy through their roles of mediatorship (suggested by 1 Tim. 2:5-9). The city of Ephesus contained thousands of female prostitutes associated with the temples of Artemis (or Diana) and Aphrodite (Venus). It was considered a commendable duty to be a temple prostitute. There was a long tradition in ancient religions of female figures serving as mediators. Women were supposed to possess a special affinity for the divine. This “mystic-sexual principle” was evident in early Christian heresies. [8]

Some sects revered Eve as the mediator who brought divine enlightenment to human beings. They said that secret gnosis was given to Eve by the serpent, making her the originator of the knowledge of good and evil. It was even proposed that Adam received life through Eve’s instruction. [9]

A Gnostic sect, the Nicolaitans, promoted heretical views in Ephesus (see Revelation 2:6). They revered a book which, they claimed, was the work of Noah’s wife, Noria. Sexual immorality was exalted because of its sacred nature, they said. [10]

If the heresy of 1 Timothy involved Gnostic groups, women probably were among their teachers. Many early Christian writers showed that “women performed all churchly roles within many Christian gnostic groups.” It is reasonable, then, to conclude that women in Ephesus were teaching heresy. [11]

A compounding problem was that

virtually without exception, female teachers among the Greeks were courtesans (prostitutes). Active in every major school of philosophy, these (prostitutes) made it evident in the course of their lectures that they were available afterwards for a second occupation. [12]

False teachers were prohibiting marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) and may have encouraged women to leave their homes and meet together (1 Tim. 5:13).

All of this concern for public reputation, model domestic life, appropriate décor, and maternal domestic roles of women, clearly implies that the opposition Paul and Timothy faced in Ephesus, constitutes an assault on marriage, and what were considered appropriate models and roles for women. [13]

b.  Correction Procedures

The apostle is adamant about what should be done with false teachers: “Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Tim. 1:3). They “must be silenced” and reproved severely (Titus 1:11, 13). Could it be that this is the meaning of 1 Tim. 2:12? Since women were involved in practising and teaching errors which plagued the Ephesian church, they were forbidden from teaching, as a temporary measure, until they received adequate instruction (1 Tim. 2:11). One view is that “evidently the ban on teaching by women had been issued as one of several emergency measures during an extremely critical period in the history of the Ephesian church.” [14]

At the core of Paul’s strategy was the elimination of all unqualified or deviant would-be teachers, both male and female, so that the church’s teaching ministry would be carried out exclusively by a small retinue of approved “faithful men” who would be able to take from Timothy the teaching he had himself received from Paul and transmit it to others (2 Tim. 2:2). Thus, neither women nor all men could teach in Ephesus, but only a group of trained and carefully selected individuals. [15]

D. The text

Elizabeth Hooton (1600-1672): First Quaker woman preacher

Mrs Elizabeth Hooton Warren (19c engraving after 1772 painting by John Singleton Copley or an associate public domain)

The above contextual and historical background provides a framework for the interpretation of the biblical text of 1 Tim. 2:9-15.

    1.  Verses 9 & 10

The “likewise” of verse 9 and the “therefore” of verse 8, seem to indicate that the remarks about female teachers (vv. 9-15) are linked to Paul’s concern that Christ be proclaimed as the only mediator between human beings and God (vv. 5-8).

In the cultural settings of the first century AD, external adornments for women, such as pearls, gold jewellery, hair styling and expensive provocative clothing, indicated material extravagance and sexual infidelity. These verses were “intended specifically to protect women from the enticements of the false teachers, from the temptations of sexual infidelity within the Graeco-Roman culture.” [16] Paul encouraged women to dress and wear adornments that promoted high moral standards, so that the church would have an honourable reputation.

The specifics of these verses related only to the Ephesian heresy. By application (not interpretation), contemporary believers are warned against identifying with (conforming to) questionable worldly standards in external dress.

   2.  Verses 11 & 12

Being in the same paragraph as vv. 9 and 10, the statements in these verses are a response to the false teaching and its use of women at Ephesus. The proposed interpretation here is that these are instructions addressed to a crisis situation with relevance only to the Ephesian heresy. They are not universal instructions to be applied to women in ministry in all churches at all times in all places. However, wherever false doctrine is being taught, it must be silenced is the general principle being taught.

To combat heretical teachings by women, Paul instructed all women in the Ephesian situation to become “quiet and submissive learners instead of struggling to assert themselves as teachers.” [17] This is not the silence of the passive, mute woman in the synagogue, but the quietness of the disciple who receives instruction without self-assertion. The word for “silence” or “quietness” in verses 11 and 12 is the same word as in 1 Tim. 2:2, where it indicates “quietness.” To prevent the spread of heresy, women were prohibited from teaching, temporarily, until they became instructed in the Word.

These instructions in vv. 11-12 are

directed against women who, having been touched or captivated by the false teachings, at least to some degree, are abusing the normal opportunities women had within the church for participation in the exercising of teaching and authority within the ministry. [18]

Interpretation of verse 12 is complicated by the use of an unusual word for “authority” (authentein). This is the only time the word appears in the entire New Testament, and it is used infrequently in the ancient Greek literature. Its meaning is not clear, although New Testament scholars are currently “in an extended debate on the issue and all of the evidence has not yet been assessed.” [19] One thing is sure: This word represents a departure from Paul’s normal vocabulary for “authority” (exousia) in the church. The choice of this unusual term seems to indicate that a different meaning was intended.

The uncertainty about its meaning is seen in the various translations: “to usurp authority” (KJV); “to have authority” (RSV, NIV); “to exercise authority” (ESV, NASB); “to domineer” (NEB). The Greek lexicons translate it as: (a) “to have authority, domineer over someone,” [20] and (b) “to govern one, exercise dominion over one.” [21] The leading theological word studies [22] do not deal with the word, except to quote the lexicons.

Catherine Kroeger proposes that the word, authentein, describes “both the erotic and the murderous,” [23] but other scholars reject this conclusion. [24] A tentative suggestion is that the word means to “domineer or usurp authority.” [25] This understanding is consistent with the interpretation of verses 11 & 12 offered in this article.

These injunctions are directed against women involved in false teaching, who have sought to abuse proper exercise of authority in the church, not denied by Paul elsewhere to women, by usurpation and domination of the male leaders and teachers in the church at Ephesus. [26]

3.    Verses 13 & 14

These verses give the rationale for the instructions of verses 11 & 12. The rationale is: (a) Adam was created before Eve and (b) Eve, not Adam, was deceived and she sinned. There are some interpreters of this passage who assume that because the apostle Paul referred back to the creation account of Genesis 2 and 3, these instructions are absolute for all people at all times.

However, such an assumption must be challenged. In 1 Cor. 11:7-9, an allusion to Genesis 2 is made. Why? To support Paul’s argument that in the Corinthian context, women were to have their heads covered in worship. This was not a universal command. Also in 1 Cor. 11, Paul makes the point that man is the “image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor. 11:7). But he does not say that woman was not created in the image of God. To assert such would be to deny the Scriptures (Gen. 1:27). Therefore, Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 11 was to choose aspects of the creation account to support his argument that women were to wear head coverings in worship. He was deliberately selective.

The same is true for 1 Tim. 2:13-14. Elsewhere (Rom. 5 and 1 Cor. 15), Paul attributes sin and death to Adam, not Eve. So, why does he focus on Eve’s part in 1 Tim. 2?

Many Gnostic groups (perhaps those in Ephesus) distorted the Genesis account by glorifying Eve as the one who brings life and knowledge. Epiphanius told of one group that “pretended that the fact of having been the first to eat of the fruit of knowledge (gnosis) was for Eve a great privilege.” [27]  For some Gnostics,

the Genesis accounts were enormously embellished, and sometimes they gave to Eve a prior existence in which she consorted with the celestial beings both sexually and intellectually. She was even credited with being the instructor through whom Adam received life. [28]

To silence the Ephesian female heretics, Paul needed to refute their use of Eve as a revealer of truth to man. Adam was not deceived (1 Tim. 2:14) because “having been created first, he had received God’s command in person. His chronological primacy did not make him more righteous but more knowledgeable and therefore less susceptible to deception.” [29]

The point of this passage is deception. Adam was not deceived because, being first, he was better taught. Eve was deceived because she came later and did not have Adam’s experience. Likewise, unqualified teachers bring a greater risk of deception and false teaching into the church. [30]

Eve’s error was that she took leadership initiative for which she was unqualified. Adam is not absolved of responsibility for the fall (see Rom. 5:1-14, 18-19; 1 Cor. 15:22), nor are qualified women excluded from holding positions of leadership. The principle of the passage (1 Tim. 2:13-14) is that leadership positions should be entrusted to qualified people only. [31]

4.  Verse 15

Most recent interpretations that focus on the exclusion of women teachers (2:12) in the church, with the supporting reasons (2:13-14) often ignore verse 15. In fact, verse 15 requires verse 14 for its subject.

To ignore the immediate context and the historical situation of Ephesus has resulted in many diverse, even contradictory interpretations. I endorse Mark D. Roberts’ view that this verse “presents the most theologically perplexing claims of the entire passage.” [32] An example of Bible translations confirms this:

  •  “Not withstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (KJV);
  • “Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (RSV);
  • “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (ESV);
  • “But women will be kept safe through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (NIV);
  • “But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint” (NASB).

Literally from the Greek, the verse reads, “But she will be saved through the [her] child-bearing, if they remain in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety.”

a. Interpretation Difficulties

1. How do we account for the change from the singular, “she will be saved,” to the plural, “if they remain”?

2. How is it possible for a woman to receive eternal salvation through childbearing when Paul’s teaching is salvation through Christ (Rom. 5:9, 10:9)?

3. What is the meaning of “saved” (sozo)?

b. Possible Solutions

1. To overcome the difficulty of “childbearing regeneration,” one interpretation is, “She will be saved by means of The Childbirth” (i.e.., the birth of Christ). [33] I reject this view because it does not harmonise with the context and disagrees with the “clearest and most likely meaning of the word for childbearing.” [34]

2. “She will come safely through child-birth” (similar to the NIV translation) is another explanation. The context does not endorse such a view and human experience refutes it. Many godly women have died in childbirth.

3. Dr. David M. Sholer [35] provides an interesting alternative. The singular, “she will be saved” refers back to vv. 13 and 14, Eve. Thus, it is grammatically natural to shift from the singular “woman” as woman-kind, to the plural “women.” While the verb “to save” can have a range of meanings, the apostle Paul’s “virtually inevitable sense is that of salvation of God in Christ.” This is confirmed by the next clause, “If they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” This latter clause “would make little sense otherwise, ” says Sholer.

But how can this mean eternal salvation? Dr. Sholer points out that Paul is addressing a threat or challenge to a “woman’s domestic role of decency and propriety in the Graeco-Roman society. . . The opponents against whom Paul is writing and warning Timothy, forbid marriage.” It would not be surprising that Paul also dwells at length on marriage concerns when he addresses the plight of widows in the church (1 Tim. 5:3-16). A similar concern is also addressed in Titus 2:3-5.

What does this point to? It appears that there was an assault on maternal domestic roles for women and their public reputation. To refute this heresy, Dr. Sholer concluded that verse 15 means that “women find their place among the saved, assuming their continuation of faith, love and holiness, through engagement in their maternal and domestic roles.”

4. Mark Roberts [36] believes that “as long as we understand ‘she shall be saved through childbearing’ as referring to a woman’s eternal salvation from sin and death, we face what seems to be a glaring contradiction in Pauline teaching.” [37] He proposes the following solutions:

(a) Could sozo (“I save”) have another meaning than eternal salvation? It has in Mark 5:34: “Your faith has made you well,” where sozo refers to the restoration of a woman to health and wholeness. Sozo has such a meaning in 1 Tim. 2:15, “Woman will be saved through childbearing, not from death, but from the theological condition which outlaws her teaching. She shall be saved into ecclesiastical wholeness.” [38]

(b) How can childbearing achieve such salvation (wholeness)? The answer is found in 1 Cor. 11, where Paul says that women should wear veils, partly because of the created order in Genesis 2 — man prior to woman (1 Cor. 11:8-9). However, after using this argument from creation, Paul shows another side of the issue in 1 Cor. 11:11-12.

Seen “in the Lord,” that is, from a Christian point of view, men and women depend upon each other. The created order with man as source of woman is offset or balanced by the natural order with woman as the source of man. In the act of childbearing woman illustrates her natural, divinely ordained preeminence over man, even as man showed his preeminence over woman in creation. [39]

Whatever the ramifications of the woman being created second, these are cancelled through her giving birth.

(c) Why the change from the singular, “She will be saved” [literal] to the plural, “They continue”?

Paul uses the plural verb “they continue” . . . to emphasize that particular women, not womankind, must live appropriate Christian lives if they are to teach. Whereas woman shall be restored because woman bears children, specific women shall be restored only if they themselves act as Christians should. . . In 1 Timothy the failure of Ephesian women to “continue in faith,” not their femaleness, demands their silence. These women will be saved, thus permitted to preach, only if their thoughts and actions deserve this responsibility. Of course the same standard applies to any man as well. [40]

Thus, 1 Tim. 2:15 is not an explanation of how a woman can earn eternal salvation, but a theological response to Paul’s argument for the temporary silence of women teachers.

Roberts’ paraphrase of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 (with corroborating evidence from the book of Titus) helpfully brings a coherent summary of conclusions:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness (not with loud disputes as some Ephesian women do). For the time being I am not permitting any woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved from that which demands her silence and will someday be able to teach. This is possible because through child-bearing woman counterbalances the created priority of man and produces the “seed” which bruises the serpent’s head, namely Jesus Christ. But woman will be restored only when individual women continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty, thereby demonstrating the maturity of faith demanded of any Christian teacher. [41]

E. Conclusion

First Timothy 2:9-15 is not a command to prevent all women from teaching in the church for all times. Paul’s intention was not to place a permanent limitation on women in the ministry. Rather, these verses were addressed to a problem situation in Ephesus where women were teaching heresy.  I endorse Mark D. Roberts conclusion:   “So today, if women fail to continue in faith and love and holiness with modesty — like men who fail similarly — they should not teach. Ones like these, whether female or male, need to learn in silence and to practice what they learn. But if women have learned, if they have persevered in the Christian faith, if the Holy Spirit has gifted them for teaching, let us not quench the ministry of the Spirit through women. . . We must encourage our sisters as they seek to serve Christ in his frighteningly patriarchal church.” [42]

In support of women in ministry see:
For a contrary view on Junia see:


1a.  James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981, p. 248.

1b.  John MacArthur, Jr., Different By Design.  Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1994, p. 139.

2. Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotations are from the New American Standard Bible. Anaheim, California: J. B. McCabe Company, 1977,

3. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, General Ed., R. V. G. Tasker). London: The Tyndale Press, 1957, p. 76.

4. William Hendriksen, I & II Timothy and Titus (New Testament Commentary). Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1960, p. 109, emphasis in original.

5. In D. Edmond Hiebert, First Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press, 1957, pp. 60-61.

6. Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (complete and unabridged in one vol.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1962, p. 782.

6a.  Wendy Murray Zoba 1999, “Angel in the pulpit: Though she eschews the title, even her father says that daughter Anne Graham Lotz is the best preacher in the family,” Christianity Today, April 5, Available from: [cited 29 March 2006]

6b. Anne Graham Lotz on The Christian Broadcasting Network, “700 Club,” July 31, 2003, available from: <>.  [As of 24 June 2006, this link was no longer on line.]

7. Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger, “May Woman Teach? Heresy in the Pastoral Epistles,” The Reformed Journal, October 1980, p. 15.

8. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

9. Ibid., p. 16.

10. Ibid.

11. Mark D. Roberts, “Women Shall Be Saved: A Closer Look at 1 Timothy 2:15,” The Reformed Journal, April 1983, p. 19.

12. Catherine C. Kroeger, “Ancient Heresies and a Strange Greek Verb,” The Reformed Journal, March 1979, p. 14.

13. From an address given by Dr. David M. Sholer, Dean of the Seminary, Professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Chicago, “The Place of Women in the Church’s Ministry: 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” The address was delivered at Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia, on March 15, 1985, sponsored by Zadok Centre, Canberra, Australia, and available on cassette tape.

14. Gilbert Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles: A Guide for the Study of Female Roles in the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985, p. 261.

15. Ibid., p. 182.

16. Sholer.

17. Bilezikian, p. 179.

18. Sholer.

19. Ibid.

20. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957, p. 120.

21. Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Associated Publishers and Authors Inc., n.d. p. 84.

22. Colin Brown (Gen. ed.), The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (3 vols.) Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978; and Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 vols.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

23. Kroeger, “Ancient Heresies,” p. 14.

24. Sholer.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Kroeger, “May Women Teach?”

28. Ibid.

29. Bilezikian, p. 259.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., p. 260.

32. Roberts, p. 19.

33. Hendriksen, p. 111.

34. Sholer.

35. Ibid.

36. Roberts, pp. 18-22.

37. Ibid., p. 19.

38. Ibid., p. 20.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid., p. 21.

41. Ibid., p. 22.

42. Ibid.

1 Cor. 12:14 (ESV),

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”


Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.