Wednesday, October 01, 2008

random thoughts on women in ministry

Now, let’s consider several different scholar’s work regarding this topic and, of course, to answer the other question (which I will do further in another topic post) I will support all of this with Scripture (even if I think it is not completely necessary):

Genesis 1:26-27
Paul Jewett, using Karl Barth, explains this about the “imago dei”:
…now comes what may be called the first great surprise of the Bible… Genesis 1:27b (“male and female he created them”) is an exposition of 27a (“in the image of God created him”)… God created Man male and female. The primal form of humanity, then, is the fellowship of man and woman.”

A task Force of the World Council of Churches:
Genesis, chapter 1, describes God’s creative act in entrusting dominion over the creation not to man in the singular but in the plural. The plural is used in verse 26b, even before the mention of “male and female” in verse 27. Note also that their common mission is primarily to rule, while their fruitfulness… is described as God’s blessing upon them…. [This fruitfulness] is placed under… joint authority which characterizes the mission of man and woman.

Perry Yoder, agrees, and argues that “Adam” should be translated “humanity” since both sexes are included. A plural verb is used in “let them have dominion” (verse 26), and a plural pronoun occurs in “male and female he created them” (verse 27).

Neither is given priority over the other and neither is more godlike. The fact is that they are both created in the image of God which bestows inestimable worth!

Genesis 2:18-25
The Hebrew Word (thank God for Hebrew class) for “helper” is ezer. And this does not support the notion of inferiority or subordination. Ezer is found 21 times in the Old Testament. It is used to designate YHWH (in 9 different places). In 16 cases the word indicates a superior who “assists” us. In the other 5 verses it has no hierarchical sense. If the word ezer is to be interpreted as “an assistant or inferior” this would contradict its constant use in the OT.
In King Jimmy’s Version, the word “helpmeet” comes from the Hebrew word neged. Neged is a preposition meaning “before,” “in the presence of,” or “adequate” to meet all man’s needs for physical, intellectual, and social commission might be better translations for the Old-English “meet.” Meet in the Old-English means “fit” or “suitable.”
Yoder notes that the formula, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh” binds men and women together in all things. This should all emphasize the interdependence of men and women.

Genesis 3:16
Here I seems obvious that the Fall has caused this male domination. Phylis Trible explains that up to this point, as explained above, they are equals. Now, after the Fall, having been totally deprived the man asserts his domination. He names Eve asserting his rule over her. Don’t you see it is a curse.

Throughout the rest of the OT, women play important roles in leading the people of Israel, including being a Judge!
As already noted, once we step into the NT, we see Jesus and his care and compassion for women. He makes them equals without regard. He shows no prejudice. Women sat at his feet in places of high position. In the Resurrection narrative his first disclosure of His victory was to women. His relationship with women is distinct form the prevailing culture and the curse of male domination.

Now to Paul.
Gal. 3:28
I disagree with Berman. Richard and Joyce Boldrey regard this verse to be a manifesto of Christian freedom, mainly from sin and law, but also from the limitations of creation, since the phrase “male and female” follows the technical formula of Genesis 1:27. The two terms of the pair are not joined with “nor” as are the terms in the other two pairs, but with “and” (kai), thus showing dependence upon the Genesis formula. So Paul is saying that “in Christ.” Relationships between men and women should transcend the male-female division created by the Fall.

Paul here breaks down all barriers between the sexes (and races, social status). John Neufeld notes that while the early church did not succeed full female liberation from the curse, we should not use that cultural accommodation as a principle (cf. Slavery). Gal. calls us to a fully liberation reality.

I will save the discussion on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34-36 for the other thread. And so moving on…

Timothy (all Pastoral Epistle references)
Most scholars agree that this was a local situation in which women’s teaching exacerbated heretical developments. In viewing 2:11-15 within the context of the book’s wider teachings, one scholar notes that the congregation was threatened by various heresies (1:6-7, 4:1, 6:20) in which women played significant roles – leading worship and even teaching—which their newfound faith, in contrast to Judiaism, allowed. And so women were supposed to learn not teach because they needed to be instructed before they were qualified to teach.

The one wife qualification possibly is more about polygamy, but more likely about divorce. Divorce seemed to be a concern for Paul, as it was for Jesus… but unfortunately is not for us today, as we have many divorced pastors in all of our churches.. even the SBC.

And let’s get serious about all our cannons in the Canon. Why do we focus on Paul’s call for women to learn in silence and overlook what was stated just before it. I mean how many women will follow Paul’s instruction to “dress modestly.” How many women will worship with braided hair? How many will wear their gold wedding bands? How many wear pearls? How many have on “expensive clothes” (as if this isn’t subjective)? We ignore these, unless we are some form of Fundamentalists, and focus just on the silence part. And if that is true then why are so many women Sunday School teachers or worship leaders? Are they exercising authority over men in those position, or do we have to put some modern interpretation into Paul’s words regarding how we worship and teach children and small groups in the 21st century? We must be hypocrites.

Or maybe, more of you interpret scripture like me than you think. (again see my other thread about Scripture).


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