Bill Curry said:
Do women wear hats in your church, or do you ignore/rationalize away the stupid passages in the Bible like like I used to?
9/25/2006 3:45 PM
I'm wondering if the women in your church dare to speak...or do you ignore that verse too?
How about the verse about men having long hair?
I'm sure you have some nifty rationalization as to why those verses no longer apply...dance monkey boy, dance!
9/25/2006 4:28 PM
1.Since I’m not a church officer, I’m not responsible for church discipline.
And since I’m not a woman, I’m not responsible for what the women do.
2.Notice the duplicitous character of Curry’s wife-beating question—a duplicity aped by the anonymous commenter as well.
Are they posing sincere questions or not? It is insincere to ask a question, then poison the well by dismissing any answer in advance of the answer as a way of “ignoring” or “rationalizing” away the “stupid” passages of Scripture.
This way of framing the question is deliberately prejudicial, and just another illustration of the intellectual frivolity and duplicity of unbelief.
3.I realize that Curry would like to keep everything a simple-minded as possible since the only objections he can offer to the Bible are simple-minded objections.
But Paul’s own discussion is highly nuanced.
3.Paul’s argument, by his own admission, involves both timeless and timebound elements.
In terms of the timeless elements:
i) At a minimum is the timeless distinction between men and women.
ii) At a maximum is the ordinary or general principle of male headship.
Egalitarian scholars opt for (i) to the exclusion of (ii).
In my opinion, both elements are present, although Paul is also concerned to emphasize the interdependences of the sexes.
4. In terms of the timebound elements:
i) Fashion, both now and then, is a semiotic system, projecting social and sexual identity. Fashion is a form of sign language‚a cultural code language. A fashion statement is a statement of social status or countercultural status, as well as a statement of eligibility (or not.)
Up to a point, this form of nonverbal, symbolic discourse varies in time and place. Let’s remember that Paul is explicitly dealing with a shame culture where the dress code is indicative of a specific honor-code, or infractions thereof.
ii) Although Paul affirms the natural principle of male headship, he also and elsewhere affirms the duty of Christians to honor those in authority.
In the Roman Empire, one’s place in the pecking order was assigned by social class rather than gender.
A Roman noblewoman would outrank a slave boy or male commoner.
When, for example, Paul had his audience with Agrippa and Bernice (Acts 25-26), he would have been the social inferior of Bernice.
So there’s a practical tension between the created order and the social order in a fallen world.
Hence, the timeless element of male headship also has a timebound aspect when we contrast the timeless norm with the exigencies of life in a fallen world.
And that includes the norm of governance. So there’s a priority of norms.
5.Conversely, there’s a timeless aspect to the timebound elements.
For example, if a woman wants to attract a man, she will dress in a way that accentuates her feminine assets.
Likewise, there are cross-cultural ways in which a man may be effeminate.
So even our social constructs have a basis in the natural order, except where they go out of their way to be abnormal and unnatural.
6.The question Paul is dealing with in 1 Cor 11 & 14 is the culturally appropriate way to exemplify a culturally universal norm.
Although the way in which the principle is exemplified is in some measure culturebound, the underlying principle which it serves to exemplify is cross-cultural.
Sexual differentiation is timeless principle, while the way in which sexual differentiation is signified through fashion is in some degree, but not altogether, timebound.
Likewise, male headship is a timeless principle, but there also times when that must defer to a social order in which some women are in positions of authority over men, viz. a queen, queen mother, noblewoman, &c.
7.Let’s keep in mind that Paul is dealing what is natural and socially suitable for men as well as women.
8.Let’s also keep in mind that Paul is probably talking about wives in particular rather than women in general.
9.Moreover, Paul draws a distinction between the way a woman qua woman should conduct herself, and the way a woman qua prophetess or supplicant should conduct herself.
10.Furthermore, Paul is talking about the public sphere rather than the private sphere.
11.But given the further fact that NT churches were house-churches, that created the potential for a clash of social values as members belonging to different social strata or subcultures within the far-flung Roman Empire intermingled. Upstairs rubbing shoulders with Downownstairs; East meets West.
12.As to what a woman can do in church, that depends, in part, on a comparison and contrast between a NT church and a contemporary church.
As I said before, NT churches were house-churches.
But in the age of denominations and independent churches, the authority of the pastor varies with the polity of the particular denomination or individual church.
Moreover, modern-day pastors have no real authority outside the confines of the church.
By contrast, a NT pastor might well have been a real authority-figure. To take a later example, St. Ambrose was a Roman aristocrat and jurist before he became a bishop.
13.In my opinion, pastoral authority is only as good as pastoral exegesis.
14.In principle, I think that a woman could function as a teaching elder or pulpit supply, although that is hardly the norm.
However, she could not properly function as a ruling elder, for that would put her in a position of authority over men, which is unnatural according to Scripture.
15.A contemporary parallel would not be bareheaded women in church, since hats obviously don’t hold the same significance for us as they did in 1C Corinth, but, say, a woman in a bikini walking into church.
16.Oh, and before the Debunkers accuse me of sexism because I subscribe to male headship, I’d just observe that the DC is a boys’ club. The Secular Outpost is another boys’ club. (They have a token woman to keep up egalitarian appearances, but she never does any posting.)
So let the reader measure the Debunkers’ feminist rhetoric against their patriarchal practice.