Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sacred Cow BBQ III: This One is for All the Ladies in the House

Commands found in the New Testament are not laws. Laws are burdensome obligations that have punishments for not keeping them. Jesus fulfilled the law & ended it by nailing it to the cross. Jesus' commands are not burdensome. If you have a command that every person is bound to keep every moment of their life regardless of how long or how well they know God that is burdensome, thus that command is a law not a new covenant command. If you have a command that God will punish you for not keeping that command is a law not a new covenant command. God will not punish His children. The idea that the apostles & authors of the New Testament created new laws that all Christians are bound to keep is false. There were over 600 commands in the old covenant law including one about not wearing clothing made from two specific types of fabric. If that law didn't have a command about it, as weird as they could get, there is no reason to believe that there is some new weird law that Peter or Paul wrote about women being silent, hair length, etc.

Lie:  Wives Must Be Quiet
In 1 Peter 3:4 Peter said, wives are to behave with a "gentle and quiet spirit." This context is written to Christian women who have husbands who don't know Christ. Peter tells them how to behave around such a man to "win him without a word but instead by behavior." In verses 1-7 Peter gets the following point across. "Trying to get your husband saved by an intellectual argument isn't going to work. You need to show Him the love of Christ. Don't be afraid, just serve him & submit to his wishes. Show him that same kind of selfless love Jesus showed us. Once He knows Jesus you will get to live with him as equals in grace. He will be understanding of you & honor you."

In 1 Timothy 2:2 Paul expressed that he wanted all Christians "to lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." He was saying, "Be kind & loving, not rude, manipulative, or forceful so that people will be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Quiet obviously doesn't mean utterly silent. A "quiet life" is not a speechless life. Here it just means "Don't stir people up just to get a rise out of them. Instead love people & let God's love stir up people's hearts." If the word quiet doesn't mean utter silence for all Christians then we should not assume it means that for all women.

Lie:  Women Must Be Silent in the Assembly
1 Corinthians 14 verses 34-35 should be in quotations. The Corinthians wrote something to Paul that he quoted,
"The women are to keep silent in the assemblies; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in assembly."

Paul responded, "What? Was it from you (men) that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you (men) only?"

There is no old testament law that says women are to be silent. Paul was rebuking the men for being oppressive and arrogant thinking that only they (the men) receive and speak the words of God. Paul's outburst of "What?" and his following questions make no sense otherwise.

Paul had already stated in 1 Corinthians 11:5 that women pray and prophesy aloud in the assembly, so he couldn't be forbidding women from speaking in the assembly in the very same letter to the very same group of men & women. We will see in the next lie why Paul wrote "a woman must be silent" to Timothy.

Lie:  Women Cannot Teach Men
"A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." (1 Timothy 2:12)
Paul wrote this to Timothy in Ephesus where people worshiped a goddess called Artemis (also called Diana). They loved Artemis so much that Acts 19 says they once cried out "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" for two hours. Because of Artemis people in Ephesus regarded women as superior to men. It was such a problem there that Paul wrote what he did above. The women were teaching falsely, upholding authority over men. In the kingdom of God no person is to have authority over another person anyway. Jesus is our only leader & He has all authority (Matthew 23:10, 28:18). The teaching of one person (man or woman) having authority over another in the body of Christ is so destructive that Paul's advice against it is complete silence. It is such a strong poison that Paul tells the women who believe this to be utterly silent! Yet hierarchical authority is one of the most prominently promoted concepts in all of Church history.

If it were the men who were the problem in Ephesus, teaching women falsely & claiming to have authority over women, like conservative Christians do today, Paul would have said the same thing to them & told them to shut up. So on behalf of Paul, to those men who think they have the right to have authority over women, Shut up!

Lie:  The Husband is the "Spiritual Leader"
So much of this concept is based on the assumption that "head" in the first century implied authority like it does in today's English, but it didn't. The only time the word authority is used referring to the marriage relationship is when it says the man has no authority over his body & the woman has none over hers. Thus it is mutual authority not exclusive or hierarchical.

Just before the wife is told to submit to the husband it says for all of the assembly to "submit to one another." The word obey was not used here as it was for parents & children. Submit means "voluntarily cooperate," it does not mean "obey as master." If it meant obey it would be senseless chaos because "submit to one another" would mean "everyone must obey everyone else all the time."

You can relate to your spouse however is best for you, but there is no mandate that the man is the "spiritual leader." No one is commanded to lead & no one is subjected to follow yet all can lead & all can cooperate (submit). Submit in the bible means "voluntary cooperation." It isn't about roles. I can lead sometimes, my wife can lead sometimes. Neither is wrong but it is wrong to demand your own way. Husbands are to love their wives & 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, "love does not demand its own way." God didn't put husbands into roles where men are allowed & encouraged to demand their own way.

The bottom line with the case for "the man is the leader" is that he gets "final say," thus he can demand his own way, refusing to cooperate with his wife. That is not loving thus the entire construct of the husband as leader is false.

Lie:  Women Must Have Long Hair/Women Must Wear Head Coverings
In 1 Corinthians 11 we see Paul writing about hair length & head coverings. Paul was not teaching on the proper length of hair and head coverings. He was illustrating that Christ is the head of the assembly using as an illustration a custom that was prevalent in his day. These verses should not be used to argue the length of hair or the wearing of head coverings. He was simply making a point. In 1 Corinthians 11:16, he clearly stated that if anyone wants to argue about these things, there is "no such custom" in the assemblies of God.

Despite Paul's warning to the contrary, many people have become contentious about this issue of whether men and women should pray with their heads covered and what is the proper length of hair for each gender. Paul simply drew on a custom of the day to illustrate that he (Paul) was not anybody's spiritual head. They (men and women) were under submission to Christ, and women also should submit (cooperate without contention) to their husbands. That was it. That was his point. He was not trying to establish a dress code for all time.

Hair length or head covering doesn't make anyone any better or worse off. This was a custom of Paul's day that he used for illustration, not a commandment from the Lord. Christians are free to observe their own customs in these matters as long as they do not promote these customs to others as law. If they take it as law for themselves that will also put them in a law mindset. A law mindset makes God's approval of you as a person conditional. For example if you think God is more pleased with you or less pleased with you because of your hair length, etc. you have a law mindset.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

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