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Adam, Eve and Silent Observations

January 16, 2011

A few days ago, this blog post ran over at Women of HR.  I figure I can let it do double duty.


There are many belief systems, religions and styles of observing or celebrating one’s faith.  It’s a subject that comes up in HR when we’re tasked with evaluating a request for religious accommodation or we consider how we’ll handle an employee relations issue when Employee A feels harassed by Employee B’s proselytizing in the work place.

Now I’m by no means a religiously observant person.  I do, however, find it fascinating to read about different religions and belief systems.  From a historical and social perspective, it’s endlessly interesting to me to look at the connection between different religions and see how they’ve shaped and continue to influence the world in which we live.  One group I’ve been trying to understand is the group of Christians who live by directives set out by the Apostle Paul in the Pastoral Epistles of the New Testament (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).

In the King James Version of the Bible, 1 Timothy, Chapter 2 (v 11 – 13), we read:  “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

Or, in a new translation – “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”


Some scholars and writers have taken great pains to point out that these scriptural verses do not mean that woman is inferior to man.  After all, they point out, there are other verses which speak to the woman being permitted by her husband to have authority over the domain of the household – to “marry, bear children and guide the house.”  However, many are in agreement that these edicts DO let us know that woman is subordinate in rank to man.

There are some who point out that this is primarily within the context of teaching or worshipping within the confines of the Church; after all, this is a basis for some denominations to not ordain women pastors or priests or to allow women to be religious leaders.  But even if this IS only within the context of a religious service or religious teaching – how can a viewpoint like this not permeate the rest of society?


There are a number of religious bloggers who discuss their faith.  I recently read a blog post where the writer made very clear that “it is my husband’s policy that I not engage men in discussions” and “I will not respond to comments from men, especially questions which could put me in a ‘teaching’ position.”

Now I fervently support individuals having the ability to freely believe in and worship whatever deity, deities, or non-deities they wish.  And to live by whichever commandments or teachings they believe are imperative.  But I can’t help but wonder how the men who believe that women are subordinate handle their interactions with women in the workplace.

How do the sons, raised in these households, move out into a society where they will have to take directions from a woman, or be taught/instructed by a woman?  If a male employee has a deeply-held religious belief that a woman is not to be in a position of authority over him, what happens if his newly-hired manager is a woman?

And would everyone, perhaps, view things just a tad differently had Eve arrived on the scene before Adam?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 8:46 am

    Robin, Just got on Twitter and happened across your tweets and your site. Great blog.

    I am an HR professional and a believer in the inerrant word of God. I believe that in my family, a home in which Christ comes first, that I am called to love and listen to my wife. Respect her concerns and consider her desires. As the head of my family, my decisions will many times be a direct reflections of her desires. When we disagree, I must be able to respond to her concerns and yet take the accountability for the results. My intentions must have God in mind or it will be a foundation of sand.

    In the workplace, it is not a church and is not founded on the same principles. I understand that. Most workplaces though focus on using the skills and talents of the peoples they have in place. I can respect the talents of women and respect them as skilled practitioners. If my wife was great at accounting, I would certainly listen, respect and in most cases follow her recommendations on our budget. In the workplace many of the women are incredible in their talents and skills. I can certainly recognize their superiority in knowledge and skills and follow their lead in order to achieve the goals of the organization.

    It comes down to respect one way or the other. I do not think of myself as superior to my wife, simply the one God has ordained to be accountable for our home, and his church.

  2. Robin Schooling permalink*
    January 18, 2011 9:40 am

    Hi Bill – thanks for visiting and stopping to chat. You’ve provided some great insight and given ME a better understanding how one can live their faith at home, in life, and in the workplace. Thanks for sharing!

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