Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Challenge

Jeff the Methodist (of comment fame) and I were emailing each other earlier this week about scripture passages which would be challenging to use as the basis of a devotion. Several were listed -- Song of Solomon, Hosea, Psalm 137, the story of Judah and Tamar and the death of Uzzah after touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-8). At the end of the list, I threw out 1 Timothy 2-8-15.

I didn't issue it as a challenge, but Jeff accepted it as one, and decided to write, "just for fun," a meditation based on this scripture. He sent it to me yesterday, and graciously agreed for me to publish it here.

So today, as post #300, I am very pleased to present a guest blogger -- Jeff the Methodist. He is the Lay Leader of our church, one of our Lay Members to annual conference, and our District Lay Leader. He teaches Sunday school, leads the youth, and volunteers in countless ways to share the gifts God has given him to the edification of the Body of Christ. He is a Man of God, and a friend, who wrote a devotion that I couldn't write (all I could come up with was, "No No NO." )

Thank you, Jeff.

The Role of Women

Read 1 Timothy 2: 8—15

This is considered a harsh passage, one that is troubling for some people. For those who read the Bible literally as the inerrant Word of God, it is not so troubling. They accept it as having the same applicability for our churches today as it did at the time it was written in the First Century. They use it as positive proof that the Bible is against the ordination of women. And their women, I suppose, keep silent about it.

I think we run into trouble when we try to use a passage from the Bible to support “my issue.” The first pitfall is that of context. Can you really take a letter that was written to a specific person at a specific time to address specific concerns, and extrapolate it to fit all circumstances in the here and now? To give an extreme example, I could support infanticide (or abortion) by referring to Psalm 137: 8—9. Of course, that would be absurd and you would rightly say that I was taking that verse out of context. And that is what I say to those who point to 1 Timothy to support the submissiveness of women to men in the church. The roles of men and women in our culture are different than in the Middle East in the beginning years of the church. So context matters.

Another pitfall to using a singular passage to support your side of a debate is that I might find a conflicting passage, and then you have to explain it away. I could point to many influential women of the Bible whose leadership, if not “authority” is hard to ignore. If you believe women should be quiet and submissive in church, what do you do with Priscilla, whom Paul called a “fellow worker” and Junia who is “outstanding among the apostles.” (Romans 16: 3, 7). And how would you argue against the equality of women to men when Paul makes the bold statement in Galations 3: 28 that “…there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” So there appears to be some conflict among different passages. I’ll err on the side of inclusiveness, thank you very much.

But there is a more practical reason, I think for me anyway, for affirming leadership roles for women, including the ordination of women. I would have missed the pastoral and lay leadership, teaching, and sermons of people like Grace, Kim, K, Maryanne, Carol, Heather, Maudie, Patricia, and many others who responded to God’s call to serve, even when it wasn’t always “the popular” response. I give God thanks for their courageous leadership.

If God calls someone to a leadership position, who am I to question that call?

1 Comments:

Anonymous S the Husband said...

Clap...clap...clap...clap...

11:25 AM  

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