Re: Science, Women, and Paul

Date: Sat May 18 2002 - 19:05:03 EDT

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "Polyphyly and the origin of life"

    Hi George.

    First off, I didn't mean to call you "contentious," as in hard to get along
    with. That was not what I meant. I had quoted Paul as saying, "If anyone
    wants to be contentious about this [women's hair being all the head covering
    they need], we have no other practice - nor do the churches of God." I then
    said, "It sounds to me like you are being contentious about it." In other
    words, that you were contending Paul's words that made it plain that women
    were at that time wrongly being asked to wear head coverings. For Paul had
    just said, "Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God
    with her head uncovered? ... LONG HAIR is given to her AS a covering." (1
    Cor. 11:13,15)

    You wrote: In the following please bear in mind that I have not said that
    your interpretation of the passages in question is flatly wrong. I do not,
    however, find it compelling ..

    Someday you and I will have to ask Paul about this matter. Until then the
    actual meaning of these passages of scripture will be as unclear as many
    others for many Bible readers. They are, however, now quite clear to me.

    You wrote: and, in particular, think it much less convincing for I
    Cor.11:2-16 than for 14:34-36. ... there is nothing in the former case to
    indicate that he is quoting views that he doesn't agree with starting at v.3,

    Of course there is. As I wrote earlier, the contents of the next several
    verses, 11-16, clearly show them to be Paul's rebuttal to the false teaching
    he had just referenced. For the words in these verses clearly rebut the
    arguments advanced in verses 3-10. Thus they can only be understood as being
    Paul's own explanation of the true Christian position on this issue, the
    position which Paul was really promoting.

    You wrote: v.3, "But I want you to know..." (thelo de human eidenai...).
    The "I" here is the same as the "I" of v.2 - i.e., Paul.

    The Greek at the beginning of verse two, "thelo de human eidenai," simply
    reads, "want but you know." There is no "I" there or at in verse 2. The Greek
    is without pronouns. The pronouns must be assumed by the reader. You are
    merely assuming that the pronouns should be understood as being the same in
    both cases. I believe your assumption is an incorrect one.

    You wrote: You have missed my point here, which is not that the views of
      all churches" are necessarily correct. It is rather that the great majority
      churches who do in fact (rightly or wrongly) think that Paul was calling for
      veiling of women at worship in I Cor.11 nevertheless have not seen that as a
      requirement binding upon the church for all times and places.

    That seems to me to be a distinction without a difference. For if Paul said
    it was permissible for churches at one time to require such thing from women
    then it is permissible for churches to do so now. You seem to say Paul
    instituted such practices to cater to the prejudices of the time. But the
    fact of the matter is many people today have the same attitudes toward women
    as they did in Paul's day. So if treating women as second class citizens then
    was allowable in Christian churches to cater to improper human attitudes then
    doing so today is also proper. Such an argument would also condone making
    blacks sit in the back of churches and forbidding them to teach in churches
    in the southern USA 40 years ago. After all, such treatment of blacks was
    common outside the church, so why not in it? I say treating our brothers and
    sisters in Christ in a less respectful way due to their skin color, social
    status or gender has never been viewed as acceptable behavior by Jesus Christ
    in Christian churches.

    You wrote: E.g., few churches teach that eating Blutwurst is sinful in spite
    of Acts 15:29. IF then these were rules for churches at particular times &
    places, ...

    The words found in Acts 15:29 were not "rules for churches at particular
    times & places." They were merely helpful suggestions given to new Gentile
    converts to Christianity, on an individual basis, on how they could avoid
    upsetting Jewish Christians. The last words of verse 29 makes this clear.
    They say, "You will do well to avoid these things." Acts 15:19, 20 says, "It
    is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the
    Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling
    them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the
    meat of strangled animals and from blood." It is plain then that the letter
    that resulted from that decision, which verse 29 is a part of, was not
    written as a binding decree imposed upon Christians. We know this because
    Paul later said that early Christians were, in fact, free to eat food
    sacrificed to idols (one of the things Christians were advised to "abstain
    from" in Acts 15:29) so long as doing so did not stumble their brothers. (1
    Cor. 8:4,7-9) We also know this because Paul said that for Christians, "All
    things are lawful but all things are not beneficial." (1 Cor. 6:12)

    You wrote: Paul is concerned to maintain some order, partly so as not to
    offer unnecessary offense to outsiders. He does not say in chapter 11 that
    women cannot speak in the public assembly (which is really the main point)
    but that they should be dressed decently (for that culture) when they do so
    or (v.10) that they should have a sign that they have the authority
    (exousian) to pray publicly.

    Again, I say the evidence clearly indicates that Paul himself never said any
    such thing and strongly opposed those who did.

    You wrote: My point is what I said it was: Paul isn't the whole of scripture.
    realizing that women have authoritative roles in other places in scripture
    lends further weight to the suggestion that the Pauline statements in
    question are not to be understood as universally binding. The question of
    contradiction arises only if one assumes that they are.

    I disagree. If Paul made rules that he required Christian congregations to
    follow which treated women with less respect than women were treated in Old
    Testament times not only is that a contradiction to Old Testament scripture,
    but it is a contradiction to Christianity itself. For Christians have never
    been under any laws but those Christ himself instituted, to love God and love
    our neighbor as ourselves. He also said we are to "give Caesar's things to
    Caesar." And, of course, we can and do make rules for ourselves to live by
    and often agree to live by various rules set up by others in organizations we
    freely chose to join. But the idea that Paul once created a set of Christian
    laws or church rules of order concerning the treatment and conduct of women
    in the first century is, to me, ridiculous.

    You wrote: No one - man, women, Jew, Greek, &c - has an absolute right to
    preach in
      the public assembly of the church.

    You are right about that. For the Bible and Paul left it up to each body of
    Christians to decide who among us who was willing to serve our spiritual
    needs would best suit those needs. That is why Paul would have never made
    rules, such as those he condemned which banned women teachers, interfering
    with the freedom Christ gave to each individual Christian congregation to
    decide for itself who would best serve its need to be taught God's word.


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat May 18 2002 - 21:44:31 EDT