Sunday, January 08, 2006

"As the Bible CLEARLY Says..."

From WayofLife.org's Fundamental Baptist Information Service:
The Bible clearly states that the man is to lead in the home and church, and the woman’s role is to submit to the man’s headship. There is widespread rebellion against this divine plan, though, and many women are being appointed to leadership positions in churches. (emphasis added)
Okay. The interpretation of Scripture that leads to a belief that women are forbidden to teach men comes from several collections of verses, but the key verse is 1 Timothy Chapter 2, verse 11-12 (NIV): "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." Case closed. Or is it?

Turns out that there is ample room for thoughtful and insightful interpretation of the Pauline teachings that deal with a woman's role in the congregation. I found, as the case has it, a nice little study courtesy of a Messianic Jewish website:

Women are to learn in silence. Silence here is Greek hesuchia (Strong's 2271). It is NOT phimoo which would mean 'muzzle' (contrary to how many may want read it) Hesuchia is better rendered 'quietness' and is translated more accurately in 2 Thesalonians 3:11-12 "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that with quietness/hesuchia they work, and eat their own bread." Clearly, in this passage, it is not assumed hesuchia means that they are to never utter a word. Simply put, they held their tongue and kept the peace. (as in Acts 22:2). This sort of quietness denotes making a conscious choice not to speak out and stir things up, not the same as being muzzled and never ever uttering a single sound ever. Big difference.

So back to the 1 Timothy passage, women are to learn in quiet peace and not teach or usurp authority over a man, but instead, will hold her tongue. The word teach here is didasko (Strong's 1321) meaning "to give instruction." So are we saying that women may give no instructions at all? Let's look closer now at what it means to 'usurp authority' -- it comes from the Greek authenteo (Strong's 831) and means to dominate or take control. Women are simply commanded not to dominate or control men with their teaching. Now this is beginning to make sense. This is not a prohibition against women doing any teaching, but instead a prohibition against women having disciples. Yochanan The Immerser and Yeshua are two important examples of teachers with dedicated disciples. Their disciples lived with them, slept with them, traveled with them everywhere, learned from them, lived their lives according to their teacher's instruction. It is *this* relationship a woman is being warned of. Women are not to take disciples, because such a leader would dominate and teach -- strongly influence their follower's lives. For a woman to take on disciples, she would upset G-d's order and have dominance over men.

So according to this interpretation, women in that church, in the case to which Paul was referring, were simply prohibited by Paul to take disciples. Turns out the Bible wasn't so "clear" as the fundamentalist would like to think. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Scriptural interpretation coming from the Messianic site is divinely inspired, only that it is thoughtful and insightful in a way that fundamentalists' handling of Scripture rarely is. I also found an interesting study courtesy of WomenPriests.org:

There is no doubt about the fact that the author of 1 Timothy had imposed a prohibition on women that forbade them to teach or to have authority in his Christian assembly.
However, the main question is: was this just a local and temporal prohibition, or a universal norm imposed under inspiration for all time to come?
We can deduce that it was only a temporary and local prohibition from the following considerations:

  1. When the verb ‘to permit’ (epitrepsein) is used in the New Testament, it refers to a specific permission in a specific context (Matthew 8,21; Mark 5,13; John 19,38; Acts 21,39-40; 26,1; 27,3; 28,16; 1 Corinthians 16,7; etc.) Moreover, the use of the indicative tense indicates an immediate context. The correct translation, therefore, is: “I am not presently allowing" (Spencer; Hugenberger); “I have decided that for the moment women are not to teach or have authority over men” (Redekop; see also Payne).
  2. We know for a fact that Paul allowed women to speak prophetically in the assembly (1 Corinthians 11,5). Women functioned in the Church as deaconesses. We know, therefore, that women did speak in the assemblies. 1 Timothy 2,12 is an exception, a later ruling to counteract a specific threat.
  3. The immediate context of the prohibition was the danger of Gnostic teaching that at the time affected mainly women. Enlarging its purpose to including a permanent norm for all time goes beyond the “literal sense” of the text and the intended scope of the biblical author.

The overall meaning of this verse is, therefore: “Until women have learned what they need in order to get a full grasp of the true teaching, they are not to teach or have authority over men.” (Redekop)

This is a different take on the same text addressed by the Messianic website, but also one that is thoughtful and insightful in dealing with Scripture.

I didn't intend this post as a study on the issue of women in Christian leadership. What I addressed in this post is just one example of what I am increasingly finding to be fundamentalists' shallow and destructive handling of sacred Scripture, and I am more keenly aware of fundamentalism's influence over the evangelical circles in which I was raised in my faith and in which I still move. So to refine and preserve my own faith, I will take care from here on out any time I hear the phrase "as the Bible clearly says..."

18 Comments:

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

I love it when you go on your digs for the truth. I wish I had the patience to do it. But then again..
"I'm just a girl in the world
that's all that you'll let me be"...
you can change you'll to them or they......

Love you ......more!

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Grampa Dan said...

Is the poster named mrs zeke, the wife of the poster named zeke?

Dan

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Yep...thats me Zeke's wife and he lets me wear pants can you believe it??



Love now tomorrow is not promised to anyone

 
At 9:03 PM, Blogger trent@ gracehead.com said...

Like the picture on this post, and everything that came after it. I, however, look at these passages from a different angle.

Sin and regret are inevitable when emotion lords over rational/reason.

It wasn't sin that woman took the fruit and ate in the garden, but when Adam took in submission to woman's desires this was "sin."

I don't look at this as a story of two people long ago, but of a story about any single person. Adam and woman (later named Eve) are the story of the emotion and reason of every human soul.

Do we not all have emotion? Do we not all have reason? Doesn't emotion come from the side of reason?

My wife, Heather, and I have become one flesh, even one person. Heather is normally more emotional then me. I am normally more rational then her. Therefore, to avoid regret, I normally take the helm on decisions of consequence, but every now and then I am emotional, and Heather is far more rational, and she takes the lead. I submit to her, in those times.

We have talked about this and implore it often, even this evening.

To the point, those of the church, that are made one throught the Spirit, we avoid regret if we let those strong in reason and in control of emotions lord over those who are generally lead by emotion.

Of course, there are churches that do everything out of emotion and nothing out of reational, and they are a poor witness, as they appeal only to emotion.

Be it a woman or a man that meets these qualifications, I am fine with that. However, it most often are males within the church that can make the least emotional decisions. Not always, but most often.

Of course, there is nothing superior about being male, and any male that would be threatened by the spector of a rational woman in leadership, is clearly a male that has let his own emotions run amok. Such an emotional male, should be in submission to everyone else, even if think otherwise.

 
At 12:15 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Not unreasonable Trent, but I would never discount the value of emotion in guiding decision making. It gets to the heart of the Thinking/Feeling orientation of us all; some of us make decisions driven more by Thinking facilities, some of us more by Feeling. Neither is better than the other, and the best decisions come when when both have been fully examined.

 
At 6:59 AM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Of course, there is nothing superior about being male, and any male that would be threatened by the spector of a rational woman in leadership, is clearly a male that has let his own emotions run amok. Such an emotional male, should be in submission to everyone else, even if think otherwise.

Heh heh. I think Trent makes a good case for why no fundamentalist male should be in leadership, then! :p

 
At 7:39 AM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Maybe I am being simplistic but in any type of leadership role is it not God who should be calling out the leaders?
I mean it like this if up to me and I just do what I want I would take on everything and get nothing done and church would be in shambles if I were in charge on my own steam.
However when I know God is telling me to do something and I get out of my own way (which is hard for me to do ) it works out as He planned.
Could it not be that God calls man or women as He sees fit to get done what He wants done?

For instance we had a problem with a group in our church, I mean we Zeke, I and our youngest. It was are youngest, 15 at the time and a female who God used to start the ball rolling and upset the apple cart, in a good way for Him. It was not easy for us humans involved on either side but He needed an issue with a false prophet brought into light and He used a young female to do it.
If our daughter had just been working off a tude then none of it would have made a difference. We measure the vine and it is either healthy bearing fruit or not.

But I am not sure if I am able to explain what I am thinking very well but I am trying. Maybe the "hardest to learn is the least complicated".

Love is a good thing

 
At 9:32 AM, Blogger trent@ gracehead.com said...

Zeke, it is always best when emotion and reason are in full compliance, but when they are at war ... regrets are made when reason submits to emotion. But I agree that we do not discount emotion alltogether.

"it is not good for man (reason) to be alone (without emotion)."

Ninjanun, hehe. I agree that the blind guides should be fired from fundamentalist leadership.

Mrs. Zeke, pleased to meet you. There is sublime simplicity in simple devotion to the call of the Spirit. Therefore, I say that if you first heard about Jesus this morning and the Spirit says for you to go into the seminary and rebuke the head deed, then do it. Likewise if you are the head deen and an ignoramous is begging you to tell them the Gospel, and you hear the Spirit say "hush", then you are to hush, and not tell them a single thing. This is the practical walk of the Spirit, that we should encourage all to do.

 
At 9:09 PM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

Zeke said:
"Turns out the Bible wasn't so 'clear' as the fundamentalist would like to think."

Zeke,

Your entire post was a confusing muck which is typical of internet attempts at apologetics. And, it exposes the tangled mess that the New Testament really is. When the Bible is so frequently unclear about simple things, it leaves it open to every Tom, Dick and Harry to preach their crazy opinions. I find it extremely irresponsible that God would let basic foundational issues be so contradictory and incomplete. This is ETERNAL damnation we are deciding here. Not just a simple daily decision.

If you were truly honest, you probably have more solid information about the computer you purchased than what is stated CLEARLY in the New Testament.

 
At 9:17 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

King, I think what's more typical of internet apologetics is for folks with an axe to grind to make global, dismissive statements without any support.

That said, I too wonder why the Bible wasn't more clear about important concepts. But I can live with that. I think to be respectful of Scripture you have to be willing to live with a lack of clarity.

And in that sense, maybe you're the other side of the coin from the fundamentalists. Or maybe this is just more internet muck.

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

" I think to be respectful of Scripture you have to be willing to live with a lack of clarity."

Here's the deal. It doesn't matter how much evidence I bring to the table, you will disagree. There are tens of thousands of Christian sects. Not to mention hundreds or thousands of other religions.

The God behind Christianity does not change his mind as culture changes. He is eternal. His precepts are eternal. He has a track record with humanity that extends back in history thousands of years. His actions and commands have always included slavery, genocide, murder, and the dominance of males. Read the Old Testament.

The New Testament era, under the influence of superior Greek thought, recognized the abhorrent ideas proported by the Jewish God and had to make changes to compete with modern social imperatives.

This created internal disagreement in scripture and opened it up to thousands of interpretations by anyone with "an axe to grind". Which means that we will argue inside the church, opposing each other, instead of locking arms and fighting together.

This stuff will plague the church till it dies in a shriveled pile, which it almost has. Now, you can see what I mean by the irresponsibility of the Bible. Who can arbitrate? I don't trust you do do it. You don't trust me to do it. Some don't trust the youth. Some don't trust the elderly. Some have lost hope, (thank God) in the televangelist. Where is Jesus in all this? Isn't he the head of the church? Then, "Hey, bossman, your organization is out of order." What good supervisor would just stand back and watch his business fly into splinters? The church is so far off the track that it can never come back. Anybody who has played team sports knows this as very simple and basic. You can't have a thousand coaches. But, if the coach never intervenes then everybody thinks they can step up and coach.

This is what is so silly about the "movement" away from tradition that you are dabbling with. Do you see it? It is just the latest attempt of another group of "coaches" to try to make sense of what the real coach might have meant. But he (Jesus) has sat back and watched as his church fell further and further into confusion and never once used his power to intervene.

The power I refer to is the fact that he was personally instilled his spirit into every team player. He gave them his mind, he gave them himself. What a perfect way to communicate what his directives are. But it does not work. I'll bet I could communicate an idea to millions, instantly, through electronics, which is far inferior to God's spirit. There is no excuse. It is not responsible. It is mean. It is obvious.

He doesn't care. He is not in charge.

 
At 5:32 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

King, can I ask just what it is you're trying to accomplish here? It seems sometimes like you are mounting a defense of orthodoxy, only to use orthodoxy as a hammer against the non-orthodox. It would be helpful for me to understand what you're after.

 
At 6:06 PM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

I am not trying to accomplish anything, per se, I am just trying understand what draws people away from orthodox Christianity. It is interesting to hear these new views explained. Did you agree with my post?

 
At 7:35 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

King, it seems clear from your website that you are not orthodox, but maybe you have a background in it. I'd be happy to discuss these things with you, but I get the sense sometimes that you take orthodox positions that you don't actually believe in. That seems just argumentative to me, and I'm not much for that sort of thing. I'd rather you just be honest about what you believe, and honest about what you are here for.

I'm not much for apologetic fencing matches, so I'm trying to establish if that's what you're about.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

I am not orthodox. I am not anything. I am simply a soul that is searching, like everyone else, for meaning in all of this enchanting desperation. I have had a long ride with Christianity. I am just sick of the crap that goes untended and want an honest discussion. You have no idea how difficult that is.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

I have no idea how hard it is getting an honest discussion about Christianity? Oh, I beg to differ my friend. LOL...

Anyway, I conceded your point about the lack of clarity in the Bible but we draw different conclusions about it. I am learning to appreciate the mystery. Not everything needs to be harmonized and reduced for me like it does for the fundies.

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger kingcrimson said...

Right on. Thanx for the frankness.

 

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