Friday, September 03, 2004

Culture Shock!

Is a Women's Role in the Church Affected by the Culture We Live In?

1 Timothy 2:9-15 - Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper or women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
1 Corinthians 11:3-11 - But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
Before we get to the crux of the matter, let's take a quick lesson on hermeneutics, the process by which we study the Bible. I believe our hermeneutic or process of study should be consistent from page one of the Bible to the last page. Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." What does it say? This is what it means. God created the heavens and the earth. Now let's look at these culturally sensitive texts above.
1 Timothy 2 teaches that women are to learn in quiet submission and not teach or exercise authority over a man. Remember, I think it means what it says. 1 Corinthians 11 teaches that man is over a woman. The item to note in both passages of scripture is what I have bolded in the text. Paul refers back to the creation account in Genesis 1-3. This is paramount in our understanding of God's Word. Is it a culture shock to God to see the world today as opposed to the world in Paul's time or as it was first created in Adam's time. No, not at all. In fact, to believe that the principles of the Bible are predicated on the culture we live in would make God less Sovereign than He is. God has the knowledge of the expanse of time. When God instituted Adam as the authority in the male/female relationship, He did not put an asterick next to the verse to say that this does not apply in 4000 years or 6000 years. Paul points to creation because this shows God intent today as it did then.
Therefore, if we let the Word infect us by what it says, then women are not to teach or have authority over man in the church, and the man is to be the leader in the household. Incidentally, there are many Christians who have no problem with these texts because they believe as I do that the Bible means what it says. However, some of these same Christians are the ones who fail to follow the same principle when it comes to God's sovereign and electing love in choosing His people to salvation, which is also clearly presented in God's Word just by reading it.
What say you?


At 12:33 AM, Blogger Bert said...

This is heavy stuff. I think that this could be three different posts: One on hermeneutics, one on women's role in the church, and one on predestination. Foundational to all of these is the sovereignty of God and the authority of His Word.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Billy said...

Interesting timing. My wife and I have started visiting a new church near our home, we have enjoyed the worship and the teaching, but before we delve too far in I like to know what the leadership believes when it comes to the essentials of Christian faith. During a conversation on inerrancy the pastor submitted an edited document regarding the role of women in the church and I asked what he thought about that subject. His response was rather surprising as he mentioned the church used to take the stance that you suggest here, but they have since changed their minds and now allow women to be pastors.

I found this article, which I found to be very articulate in representing what I believe in regard to this issue, and I think you'll find it is similar to what Nathan has written here.

I have no affiliation with this ministry or the author of this article, I found it by searching on the subject in Google.

But just to throw a wrench in, I also found this article which I thought was intriguing and thought provoking. This comes from one of my favorite sites on the web - Stand To Reason

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a person who's just coming around to Christianity (after being raised in it and subsequently abandoning it), I tend to read the Bible as I would any other text: I look for arguments, rhetoric, structure, etc. After my first few months of study, I've begun to think that Paul is alive and well, and writing for Time Cube. He's just that weird when one tries to read him in linear fashion as one making rational arguments. This suggests to me that Paul communicates through allusion and hypertext. The only other alternatives are a) Paul isn't speaking the Word of God; or b) he is, but he is speaking the Word of God, but It's crazy.

So at this moment, I'm leaning toward the provisional conclusion that, when it comes to Paul, the text doesn't, and couldn't, mean what it literally says.

(Sorry for straying off-topic.)

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoying your very civilized discussion of this issue. The articles noted by Billy fleshed out the discussion and were thought provoking, especially at Stand to Reason. A possible problem in our culture is the "Church" has become a career track. And women seeking, rightly so, to be a societal equals have included "Church" in their view of society and culture. Was the Church intended to be "society and culture" to the New Testament congregations? I doubt it. So yes, our culture both by turning congregations and religion into career tracks, priest, bishop, cardinal, pope, etc and by rightly allowing women to dictate their lives' journeys has affected the woman's role. But that affect, has also impacted the men in the Church. And as you will read, I believe great lessons have been shown that affirm the traditional model of leadership.
I am a woman that grew up in a Christian congregation with a very strict interpretation of this issue. I always resisted it and as a teenager felt belittled. As an adult, I gravitated to Christian congregations that interpreted this more liberally.
But my feelings, and any other man or woman's feelings, career wishes, insecurities, etc., are not God's word.
And God has given his word to help us and show his love, not to deny our gifts or burden us.
I have observed what I believe is a trend. In the congregations I know personally where women take authority, both over their husbands and their brothers, sadly the men seem to have quit doing anything.
In the congregations I know personally where men acknowledge their responsibility and help model and raise young men to lead, the work of the Church seems to be shared by both brothers and sisters.
One of the most disturbing and significant things our "culture" has shown us, is that young men that are not encouraged to lead and to see themselves as capable and responsible for those that might be weaker or different, and have no MALE role models that show this, are easily grown into undesirable elements in our culture. From, I guess the least offense of, expecting their women, mother, aunt, girlfriend, wife, shack up, etc., to do everything for them to the men with no sense of conscience or guilt that fall prey to a life of crime. These trends are being acknowledged by the secular world, too.
Woman have shown that we are willing to overachieve to be recognized as full partners in culture and society. Women that have pursued "non-traditional" leadership are experiencing significant burnout because men have not, and I argue - won't ever by nature, reciprocated in assuming our "traditional" leadership roles.
From the dialogue posted on this site, I think we would all agree that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit has always seen women as full partners.
I believe that is whay Church leaders are to be husbands of one wife. The eldership needs a team. And elders and their wives, being human, need the full family experience to draw on and to model to our young people lives worth living.
My personal conclusion on this issue is that a Christian woman has her hands full with her family, especially if she chooses to be a mother, and her trade/specialty, if she chooses to develop those talents. And because women will consistently overcommit, we should seek out Churches with traditional leadership roles and vibrant, loving husband/wife elder teams that are trying to be Jesus' hands here in this world.
My personal walk with God is so much more nourished and supported in this model than it was in the more liberal model where I took a very active leadership role, even ocassionally doing the sermon/lesson on Sunday.
Having wrote all this, favoring the traditional model, I will state that I do not think this is a personal salvation issue. And I know that I did not always understand everything my earthly parents instructed me in, but as I grew up they became so much smarter! Using my logic, the main problem for congregations using the liberal model is going to be burnout of their sisters and in turn chinks in the armor that will allow Satan to influence all the believers in that congregation. I mean burnout in the Church leadership and on the homefront.
Please understand that I am not trying to man bash. I think men are wonderful! But all of us need models that will develop us to be our personal best. Sadly, I look around and the models of leadership for our young men are not positive. Leaders like Bill Gates have the most toys/gadgets,etc. Leaders like Kobe Bryant have adulation, money, a beautiful wife, and seemingly no consequences for irresponsible behavior. The New Testament Church using the traditional model I have described will give the best role model to our young men.
Sorry for the length. Thanks for reading.
Jean in Michigan

At 12:32 AM, Blogger thebloke said...

I struggled for a long time, and continue to do so, with the ideas and passages you have presented. As a teenager, I became a Christian, and started attending a very fundamentalist church that took all those passages you presented literaly and seriously. So no woman was aloud to even lead in prayer if a man is present, or even to opening share a testimony at a meeting where men and women are together. Further, the women wore hats or at least, a scarf over their heads (since they must be coverd if they pray or prophesied). The elders are all men and only men are allowed to preach or teach at public meetings where both sexes are present. There were even some questions about whether women could teach Sunday School.

I must say I wholeheartedly supported the church's positions although as I grew up I began to have second thoughts. Unfortunately I haven't really finished reflecting on all the issues. I will let you know when I am done or nearly done, if you are interested.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger MTR said...

This worries me. I am seeing something happening--people don't like what Paul had to say, so they simply argue his points invalid. "Well, Jesus never said anything about women as pastors..."

"Jesus never said anything about homosexuals..."

Are we to simply throw everything out and keep only what Jesus said? The Bible was given to humans through divine intervention. Moses, Paul, David, John--they were writing God's words. To take away from that is to take away from God's commands.

Our society is becoming ever more humanist. Lets not let society change what God has given us.

At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Joann said...

As a woman, I am very deeply appalled at the Bible verses in "Culture Shock," because I think they punish women just for being born female. I mean, why is it only Man who is the glory of God and not Woman? Why does Woman have to be the glory of Man and not the glory of God as Man is? This is unfair to women everywhere, and I hope these verses no longer apply to today's culture or we are all in big trouble.


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