Bruxy Cavey recently completed a series called “Bad Ideas” at The Meeting House. It was a series of teachings on ideas that Cavey says can corrupt a proper understanding of the Christian faith. The first message in the series was called “Bad Ideas #1 – God Is Male“, in which he refutes the idea that God is actually male.
It must be said that many of his points were legitimate, true points while others were disputable. He is primarily refuting the notion that God is a “big man” with no attributes that we would view as feminine. This main point is undisputed. In this post I am not going to engage the entirety of the message but with the way he handles Scripture and the resultant reasoning he employs to answer a specific question regarding male and female roles in the churches as far as leadership.
Bruxy Cavey and The Meeting House take an Egalitarian point of view on this issue. Personally, I think the scriptural view is Complementarian. This is not an issue of damnable heresy, and this post will not seek to enter into the debate of gender roles in the church per se, I intend only to critique Cavey’s handling of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 to give an example of the deceitful tactics Cavey engages in when handling the Scriptures.
Bruxy Cavey Exegetes His Own Paraphrase
During the Q&A period a question is asked regarding a specific text, 1 Corinthians 14:34.
“I wanted you to speak to what is probably the most destructive support for this bad idea which is a passage that Paul wrote, which is ‘keep your women silent in church'” (31:25)
It’s a little long, but here is Cavey’s response:
“So Paul has this instruction. The clearest version of it, it comes out in a couple of places, the clearest version of it is in 1 Timothy chapter 2 where the Apostle Paul says ‘don’t let women be teachers because remember what happened to Eve and how easily she was deceived.’
And so, there are two possible ways of understanding this. First of all, we know Eve was more easily deceived, the question Paul doesn’t touch on and we have to find the answer to is ‘why was she more easily deceived?‘ Why did the serpent go to her and not to Adam? Because she was more easily deceived! Is it because of her gender? That is how the church has traditionally interpreted this: ‘Paul says it, 1 Timothy 2, because Eve was more easily deceived therefore women in general because of their gender have brains, have minds, that do not work as well as men and are more easy to deceive. Their emotions get in the way and they are too easily manipulated so we can’t leave them in charge of the church. We need men to sort it out.’ And of course, two thousand years of male leadership has really proven this theory!
So, Eve is more easily deceived, but is it because of her gender? Another alternative explanation as why Eve is more easily deceived is because Eve was the second to receive Torah, or the law not to eat from the tree and she received it through Adam. The Scriptures tell us that once God created Adam, once he created one human being they need to know the rules, know the lay of the land, and so God tells Adam ‘you are not to eat from that tree’. But God always works in partnership, and what Scripture doesn’t record is God himself telling Eve after she was made – but she’s heard it, but she’s heard it through Adam. And the lesson is – if you have an indirect knowledge of Torah, if you are only hearing it as hearsay, you are more easily deceived!
And, yes, Eve was a woman, but it’s not her gender that got her in trouble it is that her indirect access to Torah will always set you up. If you are not learning the Word of God, if you are not hearing his voice for yourself, you will always be more easily deceived whether you are male or female! Do not think you are safe just because you are a man and you’re not one of the more easily deceived of the genders.
And so, Paul applies this to women in his day. Why? Because that was the state of women in his day! Women were not allowed to learn to read, women were not literate, and they certainly could not read Torah directly. They had to learn it from their husbands, they had to learn it from other males in their life, but they couldn’t read it for themselves.
And so Paul says ‘Yes, the women today are like Eve was. They are in the same situation. Women can’t immediately become teachers within this new Christian movement because they will be more easily deceived.’ – and they would be.
If Christianity in the first century had just become a gender liberation movement it would have actually positioned women in an unhealthy situation and say ‘just teach whatever, lead by the Spirit, we know you don’t know Scripture, it doesn’t matter.’ And Paul says ‘No, it does’.
Now the question is – how does Paul equalize out understanding of male and female so that women can begin to learn, can begin to study, and then eventually can begin to lead? We have no excuse to prevent women from both learning and then leading. It’s a great question, thank you.”
Let’s take a close look at how Bruxy Cavey answers this request for comment. I think it will be very instructive to see just how he handles the Scriptures and reasons to his conclusion.
To start, Cavey immediately leaves the specific text in question, 1 Corinthians 14:34, and jumps over to 1 Timothy 2:11-14. He may have done this because 1 Corinthians 14:33-40 very explicitly calls the command that women keep silent a command from Jesus himself, and says we should not recognize as spiritual anyone who would contradict it. Bruxy Cavey is about to contradict it.
1 Timothy 2:11-14 says:
Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
Cavey doesn’t read the text, he offers what can only be called a very loose paraphrase which is at variance with what the text actually says. He says the text says that women can’t teach because Eve was easily deceived. The text actually specifies that women aren’t to teach or have authority over men. The reasons given are because Eve was created second and she was deceived and transgressed. No mention is made of how easily Eve was deceived. These are no minor differences, they serve as the foundation of Cavey’s argument and allow it to appear to be consistent with the text to anyone not paying close attention to their Bible.
On the foundation of this misrepresentation of the text, Cavey is able to build a structure of unbiblical assertions to get him to his desired end. He continues to assert that “we know Eve was more easily deceived” and asks “why was she more easily deceived?”. His answer is that it was because she was created second and heard the Word of God secondhand from Adam, this latter point he admits is conjecture. He further asserts that this is the same reason that women in Paul’s day were not fit to teach, claiming that they were “not allowed to learn to read” and “certainly could not read Torah directly”, rendering them more easily deceived and unfit to teach. He concludes that since women can read and learn the Bible for themselves today, this command no longer applies and women can teach and lead the church.
Cavey’s argument amounts to pure nonsense when compared to Scripture.
- His foundation is faulty because he has misrepresented the text right from the start. At best, he is interpreting his false representation of 1 Timothy 2:11-14
- He says “we have to find the answer to” a question based on what he’s pretending the text says, but that the text itself does not suggest, ie “why was Eve more easily deceived?” His answer is pure conjecture – because she heard God’s word secondhand.
- He ignores the fact that the text is explicit in saying women are not to teach or have authority specifically over men, not that they shouldn’t teach at all, and so his conclusion does not even aknowledge this fact.
- The assertions he makes about women in Paul’s day (that they were not allowed to learn to read, etc.) would only carry weight if all women were in such a state, which is simply not true. Not only is it not true on purely historical grounds, the assertion makes nonsense of the biblical data. Paul himself said older women should teach younger women (Titus 2) and that Timothy (the one to whom 1 Timothy was written) was trained in the faith and Scriptures as a child by his mother and grandmother, his father not being a Jew (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:14-15, Acts 16:1). How is this possible if all women were ignorant and illiterate? On Cavey’s view, wouldn’t learned women able to teach qualify for the type of leadership Paul is speaking of in this text?
- His caricature of how the “church has traditionally interpreted” 1 Timothy 2:11-14 is just false. It seems like nothing more than a sloppy over-generalization, exaggeration, and straw man intended to poison the mind of his hearers against non-egalitarian positions and make his own argument seem much more attractive.
- His assertion that “we have no excuse to prevent women from both learning and leading” today is a conclusion arrived at by a number of invalid or categorically false arguments built on a blatant misrepresentation of the text. In fact, the Scriptures teach that women were learning and leading all along, just not in the context of teaching or having authority over men.
So we can see how Bruxy Cavey arrived at his conclusion by adding something to the text, and leaving off a key detail. He subtly pretends something is there that isn’t – that Eve was more easily deceived – and leaves off that this command only relates to women teaching men. Taking off from there, he adds more unbiblical and unwarranted assertions to the argument, straw-mans the opposing view, and when he’s done it sounds like he has thoroughly answered the question, refuted the opposition, and proven his point from the text of Scripture. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. A deception based on subtle changes to Scripture. From the very first comment he made he was not dealing honestly with the text,
A Possible Objection
Someone might object that in a Q&A period Cavey was in a position where he couldn’t directly read the text and so was going off how he best remembered 1 Timothy 2:11-14. That’s fair, I suppose. The human memory is not 100% accurate.
But we do have record of him teaching the very same thing in a video called “Why was Eve more easily deceived?” from 2015. In this video he reads the text of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 from an open Bible, then immediately summarizes it this way:
“The Apostle Paul says a woman’s not to lead in the church because she may be like Eve in the garden, easily deceived” (0:44)
“But we do know that what Paul says here is that she was more easily deceived because Adam was created first” (1:05)
From there, Cavey teaches the same thing he taught in the Q&A at his church. So, even when he reads the text directly, Bruxy Cavey quickly turns around and add things that completely change the meaning of the text, attributing them to Paul himself. There can be no doubt that he prepared beforehand to record this video, but even that doesn’t stop him from attributing to the Scriptures words and thoughts that are completely absent from what he just read.
What Does 1 Timothy 2:11-14 Say, and Not Say?
When we look at the text we need to be careful not to import ideas that are not there. Paul says that he doesn’t permit women to teach or have authority over men. He does not extend this prohibition to teaching or having authority over women or children, but exclusively men. He says this is because of two immutable facts of history. The first is simply that Adam was created before Eve. The Scriptures directly teach that Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not the other way around. Paul is rooting the issue of gender roles in the created order. The second reason is that Eve was deceived and transgressed. That’s all it says. Paul makes no reference to the ability, discernment, learning, literacy, or anything else about Eve or the women in question.
So, simply by reading the text and recognizing what it says (and what it doesn’t say) we can see that the entirety of Bruxy Cavey’s argument for why women should be able to be Pastors today is based on a twisting of the Scripture he claims to be citing.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 11:3
The terrifying aspect of this example for me is just how smoothly and easily Bruxy Cavey is able to create the illusion that he is dealing honestly with the text to give a cogent answer when in fact, it was all a deception. He is purporting to be exegeting this text, but is doing the very opposite. Under examination we find that almost nothing in his argument is actually found in the text, and those things that are in the text are twisted! He makes assertions based on things that he says are there but aren’t in order to teach directly against the things that actually are there. We would be hard-pressed to find clearer example of eisegesis. If he had a valid egalitarian interpretation of this text he would not have to resort to this type of activity to support his view. If nothing else, this is an excellent demonstration of the level of respect Bruxy Cavey has for the Scriptures.
I cannot help but see the irony here. While Bruxy Cavey is in front his multi-site mega church teaching them about the deception of Eve in the garden by the serpent who contradicted what God had really said based on a twisting of his words, we see that Cavey is doing the exact same thing – deceiving the multitudes who are listening to him by subtly, smoothly, twisting and changing what God has really said in his Word in order to contradict it. Sitting under a teacher who does this is the ultimate “Bad Idea”.
The lesson here is summarized well by Bruxy Cavey himself:
“And the lesson is – if you have an indirect knowledge of Torah (Scripture), if you are only hearing it as hearsay, you are more easily deceived!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.