Jesus' Authority, Clarity and Accessibility
Written in 2000/1?? in response to a particular issue at a particular place... namely biblical headship/authority/teaching/leadership with regards to men and women and a sermon that was given at Roothill Farm (a fine place!) by Stephen Dray. In an effort to publicly correct his error, and incorrect representation of the complementarian & egalitarian cases, this got mailed out (with permission of elders) to all I knew at the camp...
God is at ENORMOUS personal pains to be very communicative and clear - always sent prophets to teach and warn, and especially now in these last days by Jesus Christ (Heb 1:2ish - but a very large biblical theme).
NO MEDIATOR required (1Tim) & 'no longer will a brother teach a brother saying 'know the lord', for they will all know me from the least to the greatest'. Gift of Holy Spirit to bring all things to your remembrance (John) and lead into truth, 1Co2 to give the mind of Christ. I will write my law in their minds Jer 31.
Incidentally there are a number of alones that summarise what the reformers fought for - 'Christ alone, faith alone, scripture alone'. This one is 'scripture alone' sometimes refered to in the Latin 'sola scriptura'. What it means is that there can be no appeals to extra-biblical evidence or church traditions - only the bible has weight.
The priesthood of all believers was another precious doctrine - there could be no keeping the holy Word of God as understandable only by academics - there was no mediator anymore - God has made his Word clear through the Spirit of God to the weak, making wise the foolish.
These combined forced those they argued with into a broader arena of reasoning in scripture, out of the crenelations (you get these on a castle) they would love to hide behind and say 'you can't cross, not fair'; and it is here that they were soundly whipped! [A similar tactic to be recommened with all cults etc, generally single verse 'expertise' is what they rely on, but no match for the full weight of scripture...]
The key thing in this is the biblical limits - what are the biblical limits to our interpretation of xxx or our understanding - what are the controls 'for the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets'. True ideas can be taken beyond their biblical limits. Satan is the originator of this one, Job's comforters follow suit, 'Surely the righteous do not suffer', 'the angels will protect you if you fall'.
A key principle is to work from the clear to the unclear, not the other way around. If the bible is a jigsaw, it has corner and edge pieces - it's clear where they go - and it is with these you start, moving on to the harder pieces, NOT the reverse. If you get a piece of cloud and try and put it at the bottom of the picture or when the edge pieces indicate the sky is at the top you are committing lunacy by being inconsistent with 'the rest of scriptures' - you are not subjecting the piece you are trying to place to the other pieces. If you retranslate the Greek, or you use extra-biblical references to get a meaning which is well out of kilter with the edge pieces, the foundations of the bible, then you are breaking this truth.
Another frequent problem is not wanting to hold anything in balance, and bear in mind any opposite part of the truth. We chose God. We did not chose God. We 'work out our salvation', we are 'sanctifed by God'. Etc. Often people will press you to accepting one idea wholly and push it so far that the other idea becomes unacceptable.
A good question to ask yourself when thinking about an issue is:
What would the man in the Amazon jungle with just the Word of God and the Holy Spirit understand by this?
This is a good Q cos we know God would have him understand 'all things that pertain to life and godliness', 1 Peter 1:3.
- If the answer to the question is 'not what we think' then what we think is probably dodgy (point 1 - God is clear). I mean he did come down as a carpenter...
- In order not to be simplistic about that, think about what else he's read in the bible: 'but he'd have read this bible xxx verse and that yyy one, and he'd have thought of this zzz theme as well and thus he might read it like this...' (point 2 - the rest of the scriptures), If people then want to read it differently have a healthy wariness of that view and seek to know why people hold it. It is not unimportant, 'every true doctrine builds, every false one hinders'.
- If you can think of a hundred scriptures against that issue then its got serious problems and is worthy of exposing not respecting - it has been unbiblically arrived at.
- It may be however, that there are a five hundred scriptures for it, in which case it is an issue of balance and emphasis that needs to be addressed.
you do have to love brethren & non-brethren (Jesus cried over Jerusalem)
that does not mean you have to respect them (called the Pharisees a brood of vipers, and of Peter once said, 'Get behind me, satan!').
Many people who try to use the Word of God faithfully arrive at different views on the following subjects:
women wearing hats or trousers, homosexuality, Praise! hymnbook, Calvinism, child baptism, Authorised Version, ten commandments, evolution, Sunday/Saturday/Sabbath/Lord's Day, Christmas, second coming, marrying non-Christians, alcohol...
The Jesus I know would not respect all those views. Many teachers in his day had arrived at various views by a kind of bible handling, yet he tore them apart by a sharper kind of bible handling - for the sake of truth and the liberty of the people who were being misled, and oppressed. To some of them, he'd say, 'It would been better had you never been born, it would have been better for you had you been talking to the fishies with concrete boots on, trust.'
In your anger you must not sin. In some instances anger at misteaching and the dangers of it to the hearer must be vocalised. 'Rebuke in public those who sin, that the others may fear.'
Let's talk about God. Does Jesus teach the Father or have authority over him, does the Spirit have authority over Jesus and the Father or do the Father and Jesus have authority over the Spirit and send Him? Is there headship and submission within the trinity? What is the image of God? (Of course, this is only one aspect, extreme love and holiness, mercy and hatred of sin and all these other things are part of God too.)
Man and woman are made in the image of God, with very definite hierarchy, with very definite equality. Not a problem in God, indeed he is the ever blessed God (in 1Tim). So for man to have authority over a woman, or for man and woman to have authority over their offspring does not make any of them less or more human and precious.
There is the danger that there are 'some things which are hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures.' 2Peter3:16. So let's look at the 'rest of scriptures'.
Stephen Dray made a gross mistatement of the 'complementarian' case: 'its strength is it takes the individual texts seriously, its weakness is it does not step back and take the whole picture seriously.' The complementarian case stems from far deeper and broader sources than a couple of texts. Male genealogies, inheritance laws, priesthood, kings, judges ('ah but that's just the OT, well check the NT continuum -) disciples, elders, deacons. Jesus had no problem breaking cultural barriers over women or anything else, yet he did choose male disciples. We have massive NT continuity in practice as well as in specific teaching. Whole chapters like Numbers 30 (to which no doubt 1 Cor 14.34 alludes - '...they are to be submissive as 'the law' also says) (if someone rubbishes use of Numbers 30 this check Appendix 1). These things are big and bold as brass in the whole bible.
Given the above overview of scripture it is not surprising that folk have taken a simple little verse like 1Tim2:12 and used it to summarise the biblical viewpoint in this area. Women are not to have authority over or teach men. Their view and theology IS NOT based on this text. Even this text only stems from Genesis principles, see the next two verses, and the third 'red flag' verse, seems to be in some cryptic way that almost makes sense to be refering to the curse given to woman. Consider Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheeba - why are they so well known in connection together? 'Cos they are in the childbearing line that led to our Saviour, King of Heaven and Earth, the only name under heaven by which a man in his sin can be saved. So something of that continues, even for the childless and barren, 'Sing, O barren, You who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, You who have not laboured with child! For MORE are the children of the desolate Than the children of the married woman,' says the LORD. Aye its wicked stuff, and I'm sure you're excited as I am, but hey! - I'm digressing.
Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Huldah, Esther, Mary, Anna, Philip's four prophesying daughters, Priscilla's role in Acts 18:26, are sometimes rolled in by the egalitarians. They are saying precious little about male and female roles being identical, but showing positiviely godly women and giving healthy examples. Consider Ex 15:20 - who did Miriam lead? Or Prov 31 - she is the ultimate household women v21, 27, the man was proud to pieces and known because of her, but it was he who 'sat among the elders' v23.
Further, rare examples of headship/leadership/public authority stand out SO clearly from the norm that they seem to be more like the 'exceptions that prove the rule'. The case of Deborah and Jael I would argue is God driving at the men not to be weeds! and shaming them by use of great and wild mild women who would not be (cf Judah & Tamar Ge38:26) - this has in fact caused me in a similar situation - where a man was unprepared to lead a prayer meeting - to encourage a women to lead a prayer meeting since otherwise it would not have happened! I can think of another lady recently who had the braveness to act where perhaps we should have done so sooner, for whom I have the utmost respect.
I also believe you heard a gross mistatement of the egalitarian view, whose strengths purportedly lay in taking the whole picture seriously. Surely this is it's great weakness - it focuses on a different meaning of relatively few texts and bases its case on that (I know there are more than 1Ti2 & 1Co14, but still they are relatively few compared to the other side of the coin). Too much is demanded from too few centre pieces of the jigsaw to make an entire removing of the biblically massive male connection with leadership and authority that we find throughout the bible (old testament and new).
Anything that seeks to say there IS a radical new change in the NT teaching of Jesus from the OT, that would in time lead to a change in this structure, must have an 'anti-nomian' or 'anti-law' basis, but we are told the law is holy and good, therefore the principles underlying the shadows found in it are also sound. That previously all service in the temple, all service in the wars, all kings, all judges, all prophets, all apostles (bar what must be admitted as exceptions) were male tells us a hierarchical/complementarian view is enshrined in scripture. These are the clear edge pieces which should prevent giving meanings to verses outside of these limits. For instance, to take a verse like 'sons shall see visions and daughters shall prophesy' or 'in Christ there is... neither male nor female' to mean that the sex of the individual has no bearing on the role they are to seek to fulfil in their Christian life would be to exegete [interpret/read out of scripture] beyond the boundaries set by Scripture.
There is also a gnostic element that is required in this egalitarian view. You need to possess certain knowledge which certain Greek scholars and mighty academics & historians can give you in order to unlock the meaning of these 1Ti2, 1Co14 texts, which then gives a whole new twist on what you thought scripture meant on this issue. This is the problem of JW's (they always say, 'well our translation is very close to the Greek' thus seeking to remove the argument from rational attack, unless you have the knowlege too). This is the reasoning of the folk who argue for evolution, 'If only you understood the structure of the Hebrew, its poetry really, and doesn't mean that at all, and the word day is not really literal because there was a day before there was sun and so on...'. Yet we insist on this reformation doctrine sola scriptura, 'No!', we say, 'The Word of God and the Spirit of God in the hands of the ordinary Christian is a sure guide, it is enough! We do not and will not leave interpretation in the hands any priests...'
1 Corinthians 14:34
'keep silent, for they are not permitted to speak', - 'Paul is being sarcastic here, as elsewhere in 1 Corinthians', we were told. It's true he did use this device in the same letter, but given local context - that there be order in a riotous assembly (check whole chapter - it's very clear), and that the particular phrase 'keep silent' is used very seriously and unjokingly in two verses just prior to v34 - namely v28, v30 - it seems exceptionally unlikely that he is suddenly choosing to use this sarcastic ploy with an identical phrase. This does then place you with the difficulty of 11:13 and working the two out. I have included Appendix 3 on this also since a brother raised it in private.
1 Timothy 2:12
We were told that an interpretation of the present continuous tense allowed the insertion of 'I do not permit, for the moment, women to teach'. A Greek brother of mine, who is a deacon in another church kindly provided some information. The tense is the present continuous. In Greece today it is used on signs such as 'No Parking', 'No Stopping' etc. It is very final, very firm, has an idea of ongoing - no stopping ever, let this be permanent, i.e. from the PRESENT continuously! In case modern Greek was out of kilter with old Greek, he checked a very wide range of modern translations - KJV, NKJV, NIV, GNB and more, and I've just checked the exceedingly unconservative Living Bible and the Message and again there is NO HINT of what he says. Take the Message:
'I don't let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first - our pioneer in sin! - with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this.'
brush the debris out the way with the hammer - the rest of scriptures
the real power, the weapon mighty in God. what is the Word of God? Master; what is he like? Clear & ordered; how many scriptures state that? Then build the edge to your jigsaw, see the overarching structures and faultlines of truth.
then to apply the toothpick on the detail
deal with the verses, aspects of doctrine within the larger boundaries of the rest of scriptures, to prevent twisting. Given his knowlegde of the rest of scriptures would the man in the Amazon read it like that?
There is equality and there is hierarchy - as in God so in those of the new creation, who are having that original image repaired and brought to life again.
To say, 'women teachers, elders, leaders is fine,' as a generalisation is unsustainable. To act in a way which says that is also unsustainable. And the problem is the scripture twisting you have to do to get there.
Taking apart the verses in my mind is not the best way of settling a dispute. They will just try and move you on to another obscure verse, and take you round in circles. The best way is using the rest of scriptures to set the boundaries and the framework up, and dealing with the verses suddenly becomes much easier.
The above method has been to...
To develop a view of man and women simply from the below would give you a very narrow and unhelpful definition. My purpose is only to show the vital error which resides in the use of scripture, and only by accident to warn of the error in this significant (but not vital) area (of male/female relational/authority issues).
'The only thing that keeps a church from heresy is a bible reading congregation', and 'if you'll stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything.'
"Disputes as to doctrine have not always been founded on the defense of truth by one party and of error by the other. Frequently dissension has arisen because one side has emphasized one aspect of the truth, while the other side has laid stress on a different aspect of the same truth. Each side has then made much of those portions of Scripture which support the view it favoured, and minimized or explained away those parts which the other side has considered important. Thus the reproach has arisen that anything can be proved from Scripture, which on this account has been looked upon as an unsafe guide. This characteristic of Scripture, on the contrary, exhibits its completeness. It is not one-sided, but presents in its turn every phase of truth. Thus the doctrine of justifcation by faith alone, without works is plainly taught, but so, in its own place, is the balancing doctrine of the necessity of good works, and that they are the consequence and proof of faith. It is plainly taught that fallen man is incapable of any good, of any motion or will towards God, that salvation originates in the love and grace of God towards men; but, also, that there is in man a capacity for salvation, a conscience which responds to the Divine Light and Word, condemning sin and approving righteousness. Indeed, every great doctrine revealed in Scripture has a balancing truth and both are necessary to a knowledge of the whole truth. In this the Word of God resembles the work of God in Creation, in which opposing forces work together to bring about the intended end." (Broadbent, E; The Pilgrim Church.)
"The differences among Christians often arise from disagreements over what is 'gold, silver, precious stones', and what is 'wood, hay, straw'. To our eyes the two may sometimes look very alike. It is not that Scripture is defective in light, the defect is in our understandings. The deduction to be drawn from this fact is that not all opinions on beliefs not essential to salvation are to be laid aside as of small importance. On the contrary Paul warnes strongly against any such minimalist attitude to truth (1Co 3:10-17). What may be called secondary differences among Christians are not of no consequence and they may be sufficiently important to prevent the formal unity of Christians in the same denomination. Freedom of conscience to interpret Scripture is far better than an external unity imposed upon all.
"At the same time it is essential to recognize, as evangelicalism has sought to do, that differences of understanding among Christians are never to be allowed to transcend the truth which makes them one in Christ. God would use our defective understandings and mistakes to humble us and to make us the more diligent in seeking to know the truth. The devil would use the same weakness to alienate believers from one another and to destory Christian love and sympathy. He would have us forget that Christians share a common desire to see Christ's kingdom advanced even when they differ over the best means by which it is to be attained. He would have issues not foundational to salvation so elevated in importance that the larger Christian unity disappears and contention threatens to 'destroy the work of God' (Romans 14:20)." Murray, I; Evangelicalism Divided.
(Below is the 'PS' from a letter I wrote to a paper regarding evolution...)
PS This is not to make, as a friend of mine fears, 'evolution' a shibboleth between Christians - whereupon, if they mispronounce one springs upon and anathematises them. Rather it is to recognise - as with infant baptism, with female leadership, with pagan marriages, with playing on the 4th commandment, with 'Calvinism' - that there is an issue here. I have simply attempted to show that any synthesis of the bible with evolution would constitute part of that which is 'wood, hay, straw' and will be revealed as such by fire on the Day; as Iain Murray so ably uses this passage - 'the reference is to error inadvertently taught, and taught by men whose salvation is not in question. The verses have nothing to do with heretics and false prophets who are building on no foundation at all.' So it goes without saying that one would endeavour to heed J C Ryle's advice (also read in Iain Murray's 'Evangelicalism Divided'!) with regard to our brethren in Christ, and 'keep the walls of seperation as low as possible, shaking hands over them as often as possible.'
The following is a helpful exerpt from an article by Jim Packer (Nov02 EN) which he applies to homosexuality but I think you'll get the points:
At issue here is a Grand Canyon-wide difference about the nature of the Bible and the way it conveys God's message to modern readers. Two positions challenge each other.
One is the historic Christian belief that through the prophets, the incarnate Son, the apostles and the writers of the canonical Scripture as a body, God has used human language to tell us definitively and transculturally about his way, his works, his will and his worship, and that this revealed truth is grapsed by letting the Bible interpret itself to us from within, in the knowledge that the way into God's mind is through that of the writers, that it is through them that the Holy Spirit who inspired them teaches the church, and that one mark of sound biblical insights is that they do not run counter to anything else in the canon.
This is the position of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, and of evangelicals and other conservative Protestants. There are differences on the place of the church in the interpretative process, but all agree that the process is essentially as described. I call this the objectivist position.
The second view applies to Christianity the Enlightenments's trust in human reason, along with the fashionable evolutionary assumption that the present is wiser than the past; so it concludes that the world has the wisdom and the church must play intellectual catch-up in each generation in order to survive. From this standpoint, everything in the Bible becomes relative to society's ongoing development (nothing stands still), and the Holy Spirit's teacing ministry is to help the faithful see where Bible doctrine shows the cultural limitations of the ancient world and needs adjustment in light of latter-day experience (encounters, interactions, perplexities, states of mind and emotion, and so on). Same-sex unions are one example. As stated, this view is scarcely 50 years old, though its antecedents go back much further: Spong and Holloway are among its big names, and it has a large following among leaders in the Anglican Church of Canada. I call it the subjectivist position.
In the New Westminster debate subjectivists are found saying that what is at issue is not the authority of Scripture, but its interpretation. I do not question the sincerity of those who say this, but I have doubts about their clear-headedness. As the above analysis shows, the subjectivist way of affirming the authority of Scripture as the source of the teachings that now need to be adjusted is precisely a denying of it from the objectivist point of view, and clarity requires us to say so.
Final and definitive
The relative authority of ancient religious expertise, now to be re-vamped in our post-Christian, multi-faith, evolving Western world, and the absolute authority of God's unchanging utterances, set before us to be learned, believed, and obeyed as the mainstream church has always done, never mind what the world thinks, are two different things; and what are represented as different interpretations are, in fact, reflections of the way in which on the one view the doctrinal and moral teaching of Scripture is always final and definitive for Christian people, while on the other view it never is. What is definittve for the exponents of that view is not what the Bible says, as such, but what their own minds come up with as they seek to make Bible teaching match the wisdom of the world. Where early liberal theologians saw themselves as modifying details of the historic understanding of Scripture, by watering down inspiration and reformulating the doctrines of the creed in an up-to-date way, their successors have given up the historic frame of understanding altogether so as to keep pace with the current cultural relativism of Western thought leaders.
Each view of biblical authority sees the other as false and disastrous at this time, and is sure that the long-term welfare of Christianity requires that the other view be given up and left behind as quickly as possible. The ongoing conflict between them, which breaks surface in the disagreement about same-sex unions, is a fight to the death, in which both sides are sure that they have the church's best interests at heart. It is most misleading, indeed crass, to call this disagreement simply a difference about interpretation, of the kind for which Anglican comprehensiveness has always sought to make room."
end of Jim Packer article
An obscure quotation from We were soldiers once ...and young, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore:
President Lyndon Baines Johnson decided, against the advice of his military chiefs, that the American escalation in South Vietnam be conducted on the cheap: There would be no mobilization of reserve and National Guard units; no declaration of a state of emergency that would permit the Army to extend for the duration the enlistments of the best-trained and most experienced soldiers. Instead, the war would be fed by stripping the Army divisions in Europe and the continental United States of their best personnel and materiel, while a river of new draftees, 20,000 of them each month, flowed in to do the shooting and the dying.
Convinced that the President's escalation without a declaration of emergency was an act of madness, General Harold K. Johnson, Chief of Staff of the U.S.Army, drove to the White House with the intention of resigning in protest. He had already taken the four silver stars off each shoulder of his summer uniform. As his car approached the White House gates, General Johnson faltered in his resolve; he convinced himself that he could do more by staying and working inside the system than by resigning in protest. The general ordered his driver to turn around and take him back to the Pentagon. This decision haunted Johnny Johnson all the rest of his life.
A friend said, 'That's OT & consider the Fall & slavery & many wives in OT, you can't use it so freely!'
To quote precisely: 'I've never heard anyone seriously suggest Numbers 30 is at all relevant to this debate. Jesus certainly wasn't impressed by the Pharisees using a similar argument in Matthew 5:31. It makes a huge difference to a lot of issues when you bring the fall into the equation; e.g. God's apparent tacit approval of David's many wives.'
Briefly allow me to get Matt 5:31 out the way. It seems to me not particularly relevant: the Pharisees were assuming that divorce was quite OK since Moses had written about it. As they could assume that having two wives was OK as he makes provision for that and says do not favour the firstborn of the loved wife. We know from what Jesus says that there are things in Moses' writing which are there solely because of the fall (as you say) and the hardness of man's heart.
But we can also learn practical ways of dealing with them, and from Moses' writings something of God's heart in our fallenness. So the favouring of the loved wife's firstborn over the unloved is about justice and so on; the law about divorce protects the woman from just being casually dumped and so on. There is more to be learned from each I'm sure, and maybe those are not the main emphases of those two anyway. My point is that there is something to be learned about God's ordained hierarchy from Nu 30. In a pre-fall situation this would not happen - the women would not make rash independent oaths and the men would therefore not need to overrule them.
1 Co 14:34 ...but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
1 Tim 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection
Titus 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
1Pe 3:1, 5-6, Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives... For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
So the hierarchy represented in the OT finds its new testament continuum, developed from the shadow maybe but still very definitely complementarian NOT egalitarian. I could have picked a thousand verses about hierarchy between men and elders, between children and parents, between Christians and the state or employers and employees. The world IS hierarchical and the relationships between men and women have always been that way also - this is a case unlike divorce where frequently it is said, 'In the beginning IT WAS SO' - not as with divorce 'In the beginning it was NOT so'; then he quoted Genesis and demonstrated how God intended it. Paul quotes Genesis to demonstrate it is what God intended.
When we quote Leviticus and say this is a 'no, no' - they say, Jesus certainly wasnt impressed by the pharisees using a similar argument in Matt: 5:31 - and take slavery, the catering for & tacit approval of many wives, even of rape (Deut24) in one incidence... its far from being so simple as have not things developed since Jesus' time? So how can you use OT like that? you have to be very careful what you pick and choose from and how you use it.
Then if you try and tell me homosexuality is wrong from Romans, I say to you, 'well it is saying, it is wrong to lie with a man in the manner of a woman' - is not this the unnatural way - you have to respect difference of gender. If you are tying your argument to this one text then it is a bit trixy cos you have to take into account grammar and you cannot make it say more than it is actually saying.
And the 1 Co 6 passage, well, it is talking about male rapists (as in the Gen 19, Jud 19 examples) and these are clearly wrong. It uses two words and is also talking about male temple prostitutes - these are what the words mean in Greek - and of course these are wrong as it is wrong to be female temple prostitutes.
So come again and what is your argument?
Ours is all over the place, Jonathan loved David more than a woman, and Jesus loved one disciple in particular so clearly there is nothing wrong in this sort of love and it has happened b4. Further in many of the cases where Jesus healed a male servant that word also had 'male lover' connotations in the Greek, for instance the Centurion's servant and so on - whom he loved dearly etc. There are no grand censures against homosexual moral relationships. The censures are against sexual immorality both homo & hetero. So please accept that I have a different opinion on quite solid grounds, in many ways more exegetically sound than your own, and allow me to have it. For too long we have been stigmatised.
Your opinion is so much just the opinion of your culture. 50 years ago they would have said, 'it is wrong to have homosexual feelings at all'. Now many leading evangelicals accept that that is OK and you cannot help it, but it is wrong to practice it sexually, though special male friendships would be helpful. So please try and think outside the bounds of your culture and don't just take in the traditional view of the church which is changing. And even if we are wrong, the normal kind of homosexuality does not come up much so it can't be a REALLY important issue, like salvation - let's focus on the fundamentals.
You may not understand why I have argued in this way for homosexuality, but I have quoted a gentlemen in several instances when he was arguing for his viewpoint of women against the biblical one. Superficial handling of the bible, weak exegesis, bringing in culture/Greek issues, a certain subtle anti-nomianism in its NTJesusRadicalDepartureFromOT form, and so on. It is a very similar fish - though more noxious to our noses, and more damaging in practice cos sexual sin is the only sin against the body. It finds its way forward on the same grounds.
A friend wrote: 'Must also put one further question to u. when women are told to be silent in church, learn in submission, ask their husbands any questions at home..what does this mean. what is the church in this context? does it only include corporate worship meetings? in which case, can a women pray in the midweek prayer meeting, or must she 'be silent'? i've been told that the reason it was written was because women used to be seperated in meetings and were prone to nattering-what have u to say in response. i have many questions but not so many answers!!'
I myself have not really sought to answer this one in any clarity at any point. Even now I have only the vaguest understandings of what it might or might not be saying. I will mention them at the end. The egalitarians will try and tie you down by this text - get you to take it really seriously and then say: 'surely the God of the bible isn't teaching that? that women should be silent at all times???' And you sit back and think, well no surely not. So you begin to think your argument maybe flawed and these little proof texts are not such. And you perhaps give up arguing, and sit back and say, 'Well yes it is rather confusing and I'm sure God didn't mean that, and maybe he has left it a little unclear, so I'll try and respect your view.' And there it kind of leaves it.
But I think what we need to do is avoid any attempt to be pinned down by a single verse and not to bring in the weight of all scripture. Set up the framework, admit the general thrust, it's about headship (eph5, 1co11, 1Ti2, 1Pet3 and how all these show a coherent seem throught the bible by going back, Gen2&3, the law, Nu30, male geneaologies, male priesthoods) its about authority and leadership - these things are pretty clear. I think on this general 'lets step back a minute' tactic, the first framework goes up in a clearly complementarian/hierarchial fashion.
When we've got this basic frame up the issue is no longer about egalitarian and is it an equally respectable view - its not. It does not have this kind of support. The issue is about the specific outworkings of this, if you like the filling out of the framework, the detail to the picture, the panels that get put on over the steel girders. I have in mind a warehouse I saw erected over a couple of weeks. First the foundation, then the structural girders, then the roof and the side panels. What we are talking about in 1 Co 14 is a side panel. To start with a side panel is to get a bit confused. To work out from one middle piece of a jigsaw how the whole thing should look and where things should go - or to prove it should look like this or that is a bit premature. You set up the basic pieces first and agree on them, the edges and the corners. Then you are in a better position to carry on. So I think we can sit back and say, well yes there are things that are 'hard to understand in Paul's letters', but there are things that are pretty clear and plain in the whole of scriptures. and the hard to understand bits become easier to understand when they are subject to the control of the clearer things - for the prophets are subject to the spirit of the prophets. Its easier to place my middle piece of sky when I see there is in fact none near the bottom right where I had first wanted to place it, but that it is only at the top of the jigsaw on the left.
Loosely speaking, after Wayne Grudem, I take the following view of that passage. People have been sharing 'prophecies' in the meeting, it is said that they ought be weighed and checked, and women (it is here directed) ought not be involved in this act since it involves authority and may involve saying, 'Oi no!! That's not right becasuse of this and because of that.' If they have issues they ought ask at home, and not be contentious at the church. Sort of thing. If someone came along and developed that or altered it a bit, I wouldn't be too worried. Even Wayne was not downright 'this is how it is'. It is a slightly bizarre passage. But I would also allow that I may think it bizarre but then there are many bizarre passages, and I think it more probable that it is me that is off-key and out of sink with the God of Heaven's perfectly straight thinking and so find the thought and reference of Paul to women being saved by childbearing as horribly stereo-typical and bad. But I don't think it is. It is God who is most interested in the true liberty of women and not me. The Jesus I see cared so much about women and yet never used and abused them as I would have. So I won't be drawing criticisms on these 'bizarre' texts but I seek to learn and wait to see the method to this (at first worldly sight) madness.
That's me attitude, also towards many things like God's violence to what he has made, like eternal pain being in his mind b4 the foundation of the world. Like all sorts, brother, we could have a good much more general discussion on this matter, eh?! Anyway, I look forward to renewing fellowship with you maybe this GBM meetings?
love in Christ,
PS view re: 1co14 means in practice that happy with women speaking in prayer meetings and bible studies and praying, Acts 18:27ish also indicates that OK for Priscila and Aquila to instruct Apollos in the way of God more accurately on his own; but not questioning in public, but again this is only one application we are seeing of an older bigger principle. So in different contexts OK, sharing, fellowship discussion sort of thing fine, different in nature to leadership etc. Wayne Grudem said his wife once was giving testimony and she at one point stopped to explain a bit of scripture that had meant alot to her and felt that she had crossed the line at some point in going beyond sharing to teaching, and she knew that and was not comfortable with it. But there is sharing and it's different to being given the lead and say 'go for it'. I'm happy with women singing, etc etc, I'm a complementarian, egalitarians might hold I'm not being precisely true to my texts, but I'd say well 1Co14 ain't particularly my text, and I'm not seeking to be true to a couple of texts but to a broader range.
If someone took it that women should remain silent literally (not sing, not pray, not talk) in all meetings and places I'd think they would be running into another framework, and biblical seam of truth: women were included (Mary) in discussions with Jesus, the women that said 'blessed is the womb that bore you'; women were allowed to touch him too and be healed; he didn't stop children from coming to him neither; all people praise him in heaven so why not on earth?; Miriam led the women in singing b4 the male congregation and this was glorious to God, so why not?; Hannah prayed, Anna bore testimony and encouraged in the temple. Its the broader base thing again. Just roughly it seems that generally it is a more private role given women and not so much the discussing with the elders in the gate sort of thing, so maybe it would depend on is it a big prayer meeting, or when you say something it's not discussion everyone has to sit and listen, or is it a small home group and more like casual conversation and fellowship iron sharpening iron etc? Maybe...
Male headship as part of a good creation
(nabbed from Wayne Grudem's lecture at the King's Centre 2000)
As in so many things it was to Genesis we turned to get the foundations right...
The speaker said that some of the following shouted male headship and some of them whispered it but taken as a whole - compelling (or so I thought). His final quote was 'some governing and teaching roles should be restricted to men' - a quote which no feminist/egalitarian would agree with. I'll hasten to add he was a gentle man, and established first the equality in substance of both man and woman:
we were both made in the image of God (male and female he created them)
there is neither male nor female but all are one in Christ Jesus (Sumwhere in the NT)
He was not a shut the woman up all the time person, but esteem her as co-heir to the kingdom (1Pet 3:7). Rightie-ho - that said (he said more on it but this was not new to me, nor did I need further convincing...) on to the more interesting observations from history before the Fall which were all new to me.
Mankind was called Man and not Woman. Little things, but it would have had a different ring/suggestion had we been called Woman and not Man, would it not? (Genesis 5:2) - which literally reads - "He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Adam in the day they were created. And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years..." (i.e. 'man', 'mankind' and Adam though different in English are the same word in Hebrew - in arabic Adam is still the word for a man).
The man was made first Gen 2:7.
The man was put in the garden to tend and keep it. This was his chore and department
God commanded the man not to eat of the tree Gen 3:16, but Eve understood it was a command for her also Gen 3:2-3. Her lot is bound up with the man, but she is not the figurehead or representative of the family/ man & wife unit - rather the man is. (cf. 8)
The man named the animals, and named the woman. Authority is connected with this: "...whatever Adam called each living creature that was its name." (God named and renamed people - you shall call him Jesus/ Abram to Abraham/ Jacob/Israel etc)
When they had sinned God calls to Adam, not to Eve; the speaker said it was the same as when he went into his room and his three boys were in their looking guilty because it was trashed, he would say, "Elliot, what has happened?" ...because he was the oldest and the most responsible. Eve ate first to be sure but Adam is held accountable, because he was responsible for them both. Greater authority brings greater responsibility.
Arguably the Fall is an exact reversal of how things should have been... the woman makes the decision first (and the man 'who was with her' v6 allows her to make it; does nothing to prevent Satan's harrasment of her; and listens to her...).
A difference in roles already suggested [see (2)] is confirmed by the curses in Genesis 3 where child-bearing was made painful for the woman and working the land for man. The curse did not create these roles as new, but rather distorted what was already there.
It is the man that is driven out of the garden, but the woman is certainly not excluded from this.
The Trinity - of the same substance, but of differring authority yet in perfect unity. Difference is perfectly expressed in headship and submission. It is necessarily a good thing since God is infinitely good, and therefore all that is contained/represented in God is good. Therefore headship and submission is good, the best in fact.
The new testament affirms these understandings of the creation history: 1Co11:7-10, Eph5:31-32 (link between man/woman relationship and Christ/church relationship), 1Tim2:13-14. They also legitimise quite serious implications being drawn from these foundations. For instance the 1Tim2 passage shows that, drawing solely from the occurence noted in point 6, we can say that women are more likely to be deceived than men, because they were in creation history. Which would encourage us to draw the reciprocal point that men are more likely to be backward, limp-wristed and following - again, because that's how they were in the garden.
Someone once preached on Ephesians 5 and spent the whole sermon stressing what headship means - 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her' (Eph 5:25). He then added just one little final note for the ladies, '...if husbands are like that then it won't be difficult for wives to respect them!' This was not to make the commands conditional, but as a healthy restoration of balance in emphasis. Amen.