[With her permission, I’m posting an exam essay from one of my NT students?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùnot so much for the quality of the work but its honesty. I have made some very gentle edits for readability?¢‚Ç¨‚Äùit is, after all, difficult to compose one’s thoughts while the clock is ticking in the back of the room…]
Discuss the teachings about women and their place in the church as found in the Pauline corpus. What passages are likely to cause difficulty for those who believe in gender equality? Describe the range of interpretations of these key texts, indicating which options seem most convincing to you, and why.
Well, coming from a strict conservative upbringing in which I was taught that women should remain silent, I am quick to agree with 1 Corinthians 14:34. However, after further examination of the text, I am uncertain of what to believe. 1 Cor. 11 says that women are allowed to pray and prophesy as long as they follow the recommended rules i.e. head coverings, yet chapter 14 clearly states that women should remain silent, and it even goes so far as to say they should learn from their husbands at home!
As a woman, this is very disturbing, and with all the recent improvements to gender equality I am shocked that I should follow such a dated and culturally motivated rule. I am also concerned by the fact that the two chapters hardly agree! I am confused as to what the church really teaches because we learned in class that 1 Cor. 14:34 may have been added later! [We also discussed the possibility that Paul was quoting words of his opponents. ?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄùD. P.]
Also in 1 Timothy 2:11 there is a similar verse that says a woman should remain silent. However, this is also disputed in that 1-2 Timothy may have been written pseudonymously by someone other than Paul. However, if we look at Romans 16:1-2 it talks about Phoebe, a deacon. (But I thought women had to be silent in church and not usurp authority!)
According to 1 Timothy 3:8, when describing deacons, it only uses the pronoun “they,” not “he” or “she.” [Of course, this is true of the English translation used in class; the situation is a bit more complicated in the original Greek?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄùD. P.] This confirms at least to me that maybe women are allowed to hold office in church as long as they respect the men of the church.
I’m still not 100% sure of what to believe, but according to these passages I no longer believe women should be completely silenced. Women have rights and are capable of thinking on their own and as long as no major rules are broken, why not speak in church?
I do not consider it my mission to convert all my students to egalitarianism. (If so, I’m a dismal failure!) I do consider it part of my mission to force them to look at the New Testament in ways they hadn’t before. Not being sure what to believe is a very exciting thing. It may not be fun and it could even get you in trouble, but it is definitely exciting.
The semester is almost over. I hope the learning, wrestling, and questioning are not.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to link to this until I noticed the name of the writer. Why is it so hard for Christians to make films in Hollywood? According to Darrell Hugueley Jr it’s a matter of honesty. Christians have a hard time telling the truth:
I think the deeper fact is that we as believers have been traditionally afraid of telling the truth. We have been careful to sanitize and process the truth of the gospel and we have a nice package for that, the centerpiece for our worship experiences. But other truths that don?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t fit into our preconceived notions of reality are rejected as unsanitary or unseemly.
Until Christians can resolve ourselves to the presence of this tension and be willing to be honest enough with ourselves and our religion and our Lord to face it, we will never be honest enough for the movies. Unbelievers will always have the upper hand at influencing culture until we can embrace the world we live in. Christians must grow into an awareness that while we are not of this world, we are, by God, in it. Pretending that the stories we want to tell are anything else will always ring false.
Reminds me of all the times I tried as a pastor to tell the Christmas story in all its gritty Gospel realism: a young woman suspected of adultery, the child visited by ne’er-do-wells as he lays in a feed trough, etc. I’ve had one or two people effectively tell me that they didn’t want a “realistic” Christmas story. They wanted a Christmas card instead.
I haven’t seen The Nativity Story, although I may eventually get around to it. I did notice that a lot of the reviews make unflattering comparisons to Hallmark cards and Sunday school Christmas pageants. I wonder if these film critics saw what Mr. Hugueley was observing?