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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Biblical Controversy--Women in Ministry Post #3


Let’s take a look at the controversial passages. Read I Corinthians 14:33-40.

33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.[i]

39Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.



I believe there has been a translation oversight in this passage. The clue to this oversight lies with the word “Law.” It is very curious to me that a man who consistently preached to be liberated from legalism would appeal to the law. Second of all, if someone quotes the law, you should be able to go back and read the original don’t you think? So, what Law is Paul talking about? Mosaic Law? (not there) The entire OT (not there). Paul must be referring to a law outside of scriptural law.

This gets even deeper and more fun. Let’s examine the way Paul writes. Often times, Paul’s writing follows a pattern. He states a problem. Then he sometimes quotes his listeners. Then he refutes that quote with a rhetorical question. Then he gives solid instruction. For example:


PROBLEM/QUOTE
12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—

REFUTE/RHETORICAL QUESTION
but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?

SOLID INSTRUCTION
For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."[b] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.


We see this pattern through all of Paul’s writings. Now, let’s remember that punctuation is OUR addition in our English translations. WE (or some old white guys before us) decided what was a quote and where the commas and question marks went.

So, what if we start from scratch with the I Corinthians passage and plug it back into Paul’s pattern of writing and, this time, let’s imagine there are quotation marks around the controversy:

PROBLEM/QUOTE
33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (quote) “As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (end quote)


REFUTE/RHETORICAL QUESTION
36Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?

SOLID INSTRUCTION
37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.[i] 39Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.


Different story isn’t it? Isn’t it possible that Paul was not giving instruction for women to be silent but rather drawing attention to their common practice, quoting their own tradition/oral law, refuting it and giving new instruction. Absolutely.

In essence, I believe Paul is saying, “you guys have this saying that goes like this . . . yada yada yada. But, who do you think you are to make this stuff up? I mean, if you think you are a prophet or have new words of wisdom then, by all means speak up. No. This is what God says. Everyone can speak, it just has to be done in an orderly fashion. Quit this men vs. women stuff.

Proponents of excluding women from leadership in the church will also refer to I Timothy 2:11-14 which reads:

11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.


This is easily refuted in the silence debate if we refer to verse 2 of the same chapter where Paul urges us to pray for our leaders and those in authority “That we may live quiet and peaceful lives.” The word that is rendered SILENT when talking about women is rendered QUIET just a few verse before. Certainly Paul is not urging leaders to be silent. Nor is he talking about silence in regards to women.

“Have authority over” is an interesting phrase as well. The word here in the greek is “authenteo.” It is the one and only time this word appears in the NT. Can this word mean anything else? If you look at the leading lexicon for the classic greek student, you will find this word can also be rendered “murder by one of the same family.” It is very possible that Paul is warning wives not to murder their husbands with their tongues, but to have a quiet disposition as well as all others are urged to do. These applications of the biblical passages seem much more congruent with the rest of scripture.

1 comments:

KLM2017 said...

thanks for an answer to prayer!

-Kristen