Sunday, September 13, 2015

He's off

Recently a member of our small group  ministry team left our church. The reason he confided in the senior minister was that women taught in our church services!

He apparently took a fundamentalist line on 1 Timothy 2:12. That is, he took the words at face value of their contemporary English meaning and without considered reference to the rest of the Bible, the practice of the apostles, the particular context that Paul was dealing with and the word he used.

The word translated 'authority' occurs only once in the New Testament, and should be handled with care.

The starting point for our understanding of relations between the sexes has to be the creation account in Genesis 1-2 and 3. This portrays us without ontological differentiation, and the discourse between Adam and Eve shows uniform initiating. The word used of Eve as 'helper' describes the action of one more capable on behalf of one in need. The need Adam had is a big need: an existential need; I would like to hazard the guess that it is a need for community like the community (unity) of the trinity.

The NT passages that are used to attribute 'role' differentiation between men and women are nonsensical if they are given an ontological reference rather than being understood as the circumstantial responses that they clearly are. There is also rather too much reading of older common social mores into the teaching of the Holy Spirit in the Bible in this topic.

Moreover the rule imposition that is evoked here is more Pharisaical than Christian. The rules seem to arbitrarily constrain an ontological and charismatic capability. That is women can actually teach: I've heard them. No one in the church actually has misapplied 'authority' over any other (that is, Paul was not implying male authority, but decrying some women taking a particular authoritarian spin in their teaching), each of us is to be submissive to the other, irrespective of sex.

This is easy to see in reality. Should my male friend who dipped out of high school, has an IQ of 100 and the emotional insight of a fence post 'lead' my female friend who has had a life as a 'prayer warrior', knows the Bible thoroughly and devotionally, has advanced degrees in theology and sacrificed for the gospel for decades, building up the church where ever she was?

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