Monday, August 18, 2014

Wrestling with Scripture: Shut Up, Ladies!

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 Corinthians 14:34 NIV

There are some things in scripture that bother me. The above is one of them.

Some feminists label St. Paul as a woman hater. I don't think that is necessarily true, but his writings have been used for millenia to keep women in a secondary position in the church. Even today many churches will not permit women in the pulpit because of St. Paul's directive.

And this isn't just an isolated instruction. Paul repeats it in 1 Timothy 2:10-12.

So what's up with that? Obviously the United Methodist Church doesn't follow that specific instruction, since we allow women pastors. One of our most beloved pastors in recent years was a woman.

There are several possible reasons that have been presented by various commentators and writers.

1. We must look at scripture in context. That scripture was written to a specific group of people in a specific time in a specific situation. It may not have been meant to apply to everyone everywhere forever.

2. The scripture may not even be original words of St. Paul. There are sources that make the case that those words were added later.

3. The scripture might even have been mis-translated. The original Greek word used, in that particular context meant "wife" rather than "woman" and again, may not have been meant to apply to all.

The above are possibilities, but the main reason we, and many other churches, permit ordination of women is because we believe that particular scripture is superseded by other scriptures. St. Paul himself stated that in Christ, "There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28 NIV. (Emphasis added.)

Even the Old Testament supports equality of women. When God created human beings, Genesis 1:27 tells us, "God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them." (Emphasis added.)

God intended every single one of us to pray and praise and even preach, using our gifts to God's glory.

I can live with that.

If you're interested in a more in-depth discussion of this topic, click here for a specific United Methodist article. You can also Google it for a myriad of other comments.

1 comment:

  1. I love that this came from a woman's perspective. Every movement an monumental step we take would all be pointless without Jesus first and front in our lives. I think this is where Paul is speaking from.