Re: Science, Women, and Paul

Date: Sun May 19 2002 - 16:00:18 EDT

  • Next message: Gordon Simons: "Men and dinosaurs"

    Hi George,

    You wrote: In I Cor.11:2-16 Paul says that women must have their heads
    covered (with something in addition to their hair) when they pray or prophesy
    in the public assembly of the church. ... I Cor.14:34-36 appears to be a
    prohibition of women speaking in church. ... The explanation may be that in
    ch.14 ... Paul ... is here giving a rule for a particular situation, perhaps
    because of particular disorderliness of Corinthian worship.

    You and I will have to agree to disagree here. For the reasons I have
    previously stated, I do not think Paul's words can be logically read in such
    a way.

    You wrote: The question of supposed contradictions in the Bible often arises
    people think of the Bible as a collection of timeless abstract propositions
    which have to be logically consistent with one another.

    I don't see the Bible in quite that way, but I also don't think Paul would
    contradict himself in a very short span of time. I also cannot believe that
    Paul would have ever made a bunch of legalistic rules and regulations
    forbidding women to teach in church, or for that matter forbidding them to
    even ask questions in church. You seem to believe he actually told them to
    keep absolutely silent in church and if they had any questions about anything
    to go home and ask their husbands after the service. What if they had no
    husband? What if they had a nonbeliever for a mate? The idea that Paul would
    require women to dress in a certain way or wear head covering when they
    prayed is, to me, also ridiculous. Paul was the apostle who worked tirelessly
    to promote Christian freedom, and who said there should be no distinctions
    within the body of Christ between Jew and Gentile, free man and slave, and
    male and female. Paul is the apostle who fought hard with Peter over his the
    issue of legalisms.

    I don't buy your explanation of such passages. The understanding I have put
    forth is the only one that makes sense to me. As I said, on this issue we
    will have to agree to disagree.

    So far as your presentation of what you see as various Bible contradictions
    to justify the presence of apparent contradictions in Paul's teaching, I see
    it as a pretty lousy way of defending your understandings of Paul's
    teachings. You might as well say, "The whole Bible is full of contradictions.
    Why should we expect Paul's letters to be any less so?"

    You pointed out that Jesus said at one time, "He that is not against you is
    for you," and at another time, "He who is not with me is against me" (11:23).
    However, this is no contradiction at all. For at the time Christ made those
    generalizations the boldness of His preaching had polarized most of those who
    were familiar with His message. By that time those who knew Jesus had already
    chosen sides. They had by then either decided to become one of His supporters
    or one of His opposers. Very few in the crowds who had listened to Christ
    speak for any length of time remained "sitting on the fence."

    I also see no contradiction in Proverbs 26:4-5. "Answer not a fool according
    to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his
    folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes." I see that these verses tell us
    that for our own sake it is best not to argue with fools. For doing so most
    often just makes us look foolish. On the other hand, if we don't sometimes
    help those believing foolish things see the error of their way of thinking,
    they may never gain real wisdom. The author of Proverbs is simply reminding
    us that there is often personal risk involved in helping others.

    Please don't throw more supposed Bible contradictions at me to prove that all
    of Paul's sexist and legalistic words may have been his own. For just because
    some apparent contradictory statements elsewhere in scripture are not really
    contradictory does nothing to prove that some of Paul's words are not, if all
    he wrote were his own teachings. I've played the "Bible contradiction game"
    too often with Bible skeptics and atheists. I have no desire to play it with
    a Christian.

    You wrote: No, I don't think that there was a universal flood, but what I
    think is
      irrelevant here. What is of concern is what Jews & Christians of the 1st
      thought. & whether they believed that the flood was universal or not (but
      probably thought it was) is not as important as the fact that the story of
      covenant with Noah was thought of as an expression of God's will for all

    So you are saying that the apostles felt justified in making a set of
    Christian laws for new Gentile Christians because the apostles mistakenly
    thought that Noah's flood was global and that God's blood law given to Noah
    thus applied to all people by extension.

    If that is what you are saying you and I are far apart in our view of the
    scriptures. The letter sent to Gentile Christians was good advise on how they
    could avoid offending their Jewish brothers and sisters with their new
    freedom in Christ. It was nothing more. Christians are not under law. The
    apostles, including Paul, never made any official set of rules which any
    Christians were obliged to follow. Paul never made any special rules
    restricting the participation of Christian women in the Christian church in
    any way. Those are my beliefs. You are welcome to yours.


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