Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When Literalists Ain't So Literal...


Christians who pride themselves on being "biblical literalists," taking the bible for what it says at face value, seem to ignore or give little credence to the very literal translation errors that have crept into English/Western versions of the bible that differ from the earliest Greek manuscripts. Many of these mistranslations conveniently pertain to gender language, in effect building the case for women to be restricted in ministry.

At least with hardcore-complementarians, the reasoning remains the same throughout their biblical interpretation process: the bible, as we know it in English, had divine direction and therefore, can be read at face value without worry.

But moderate-complementarians run into a bit of a problem. By moderate-complementarians, I mean Christians who believe only men should lead the church, teach the assembly, and lead in their homes, BUT believe women may participate in the services, as long as they are not perceived has "having authority." So, a woman may get up and read a scripture, but she may not teach on it. A woman may get up and sing a song, possibly even lead a song. Women may pray aloud in the presence of men and even share testimonies. While I appreciate this more "liberal" approach, the issue of consistent biblical interpretation becomes problematic. For instance, a purely "literal reading" of 1 Corinthians 14:34:35 does not allow any of the aforementioned lenience.


Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church."--Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35


There are really only two verses in the bible that would appear to outright bar women from public ministry and holding positions of "authority," such as church leaders, church planters, pastors, preachers, evangelists, elders, and deacons: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (if read literally in English, this verse would silence women altogether: no speaking, no vocal praying, no singing.... ) and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Sometimes Ephesians 5 is thrown in for good measure. But even if one takes the view that the husband has all the authority over the wife in the marriage relationship, this hardly places all women under the authority of all men in the church! Nonetheless, it is these verses upon which the complementarian position hangs and the verses through which they interpret the rest of the bible: the creation account, Jesus' ministry, Deborah not being God's best, etc. etc. ( I am speaking here of complementarian scholars, I do not presume to know how each individual complementarian approaches the bible...)

Now, across-the-board complementarians have no problem with reading the above mentioned verses literally, at face value, with no qualification, or contextualization, for that matter. They certainly have no qualms about prohibiting women from teaching/preaching/evangelizing/leading, and women's overall public silence is just an added bonus.

But for the moderate-complementarian, this just doesn't seem right. So, most moderate complementarians have opted for a little more "in-depth" interpretation when it comes to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. They argue that this verse does not completely silence women in public church meetings or other mixed gatherings, was never really meant to be applied universally, or was never really meant to silence all women at all times.

Since the text ITSELF does not provide any of these convenient "qualifiers" or hints at a "temporary" instruction, moderate-complementarians refer back to the original language, appeal to the larger context of the verse, and what was happening culturally and historically at the time. Once it becomes clear, based on THOSE factors (not the text itself mind you), that Paul never intended to completely silence women, they feel justified in allowing women to vocally participate in public church meetings, as long as women are not leading or teaching men. Phew! right?

But the methods they use to come to this very logical conclusion about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are THE EXACT same methods they criticize and denounce egalitarians for using when applied to 1 Timothy 2:11-12 or Ephesians 5! They say things like: "You're reading things into the bible," "You're over thinking it," " You're using outside sources to determine meaning," "You're not just taking the text for WHAT IT PLAINLY SAYS," "History and culture are irrelevant and unreliable," "If the Bible is inspired, then that inspiration should have carried over with each translation" or Tonya's favorite line, "That's human reasoning!" (hehe). I can accept all of these arguments from hardcore, across-the-board complementarians, because at least they are consistent in their reading of the scriptures: all "command" passages are all literal, all-time binding, and can be taken at face value without qualification. But moderates who adhere to a "deeper" reading of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, while fancying themselves "biblical literalists," is a bit of a head scratcher. What's the old saying? Oh yes: Moderate-complementarians who live by glass hermeneutics should not throw stones. OK, now I'm just being snarky. I deserve whatever wrath is forth coming. :)

So, I would like to remind my moderate-complementarianish friends that if they believe 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 means anything other than completely silencing women in church gatherings, they have arrived at this interpretation through similar methods that egalitarians employ to arrive at alternate interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and Ephesians 5.

Now, on to business. :)

Before delving into whether or not it is allowable for a woman to teach/preach/lead in the presence of men, we must establish whether or not a woman is biblically permitted even to speak at all during church gatherings. So, the next three posts will be devoted to exploring 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and the verses around it. I'm curious to how my moderate complementarianish friends interpret this verse, since I know they believe women can speak in church, yet are at the same time, all about taking scripture for what it says, without making outside inferences or consulting outside help to understand a passage's meaning.

There are MANY different interpretations of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, and biblical scholars rank this verse within the top three hardest passages in scripture to interpret. Not because the meaning is unfavorable, but because nearly two-thirds of the surviving Greek manuscripts place these verses in entirely different places! Also, the language, syntax, and style seem to be uncharacteristic, inconsistent, and contradictory with Paul's other writings. The next three posts will present the following interpretations of this difficult passage:


1. The Cultural/Historical Reading

2. The Original Language Reading

3. The Quotation Theory

I personally find the third interpretation to be the most plausible. But we'll see what you guys think. I'm breaking this up into three posts so I can thoroughly explain each position and avoid overlapping confusion between them. Letters of Paul, here we go!

57 comments:

Michelle said...

You may be snarky but you've pointed out a glaring inconsistency that I've been waiting to see addressed. This should be fun... (I have visuals of folks literally rolling up their sleeves, taking a deep breath, and typing like mad!!!!!) :)

rev. todd said...

this is an awesome point and you are going about it in a very logical, rational way. I get pissed off when I make the same arguments, so I totally appreciate your approach!

Marcus said...

If I am not mistaken, I think you just just delivered a theological bitch-slap! LOL

I am very curious about this particular verse. Very puzzling.

Terry said...

Because you know that I am admittedly more open to discussion about women in minstry (simply because there are scriptural references to women in ministry), I don't feel particularly stumped by your question. However, because in 1 corinthians 14, the letter itself is written as a direct answer to a specific congregation about specific problems ocurring in THEIR specific meetings, I have never been one to use this Scripture as a Revelational mandate for women to keep silent in church.

As to the idea that a woman is subject to the authority of ANY man, where did you hear that? That's a new one for me. I absolutely believe in wifely submission, but when I walk into my church, I am not automatically subject to any man in authority there. While I respect authority and honor it accordingly ( as I would the President, or a police officer, or any authority anywhere), I am only required Scripturally to submit to my husband. If there is someone teaching that women are subject to ALL men, I beg to differ!

When we read the Bible (and I know this is your point, though I still disagree with your ultimate conclusions), we DO have to have some respect for the context in which it was written. 1 Corinthians, while certainly insprired, was Paul's response to a myriad of questions that members of the Corinthian church sent to him in an effort to clarify what is acceptable behavior during the worship service. We do not know for sure what the specific incidence was that caused him to say "YOUR women are to be silent?" The word YOUR is key. Whose women? I think this again points to the overarching theme found throughout Scripture that wives are subject to their husbands.

I want to wrap this up, but want to add one more thing: I don't think there is any question that the Bible clearly articulates to order for marriage and family. And I am also fairly comfortable saying that women are permitted to hold positions of ministry. Does this make me theologically wishy washy? You be the judge.

catrina said...

I guess that I am a moderate c if I must have a label for this discussion, but I am not sweating bullets over this one. First off if the Bible seems to condradict itself you look to the Bible for clarification, like in the instance where Jesus states that you must hate or despise your father and mother. Very few people take the Bible literally to the extent that you are trying to nail us on. We are required to study to show ourselves approved, so that we may give an answer to all who ask. So study of the greek and hebrew words is vital to proper interpretation. Just like the English language has many meanings for the same word, so does it apply to the greek and hebrew language. (although one of the 2 in much more literal but I can't remember if it is g or h, maybe one of the scholars following this will know.)

I have also heard the point that Terry made about it being obvious that he was responding to a particular church. The most interesting point I heard was that in reference to 1 Corinithians 14:34-35 the word speak translated in the greek means chattering and contentious speech. That certain greek word is only used in this and one other verse. (I believe it is laleo) if I am called to the carpet on this I will try and find out if that is the word. Nonetheless, it is intellectually honest to study the greek and hebrew for the variance of contextual meaning. It is not honest to add or subract from the word. I have problems with people that try to justify alther interpretations because they think there was some grand conspiracy to keep women down, and that God somehow dropped the ball when it came to who was translating the original scripts, and that they pruposefully deleted and changed things to fit the times. I have no problems with studying questionable things as long as integrity is kept.

I have to stop here for now.

Christy Fritz said...

just for informational purposes the widely accepted NIV translation doesn't say YOUR women...
33-35 states
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

Not sure how you can get around this being a universal principle for the churches if you just take it at face value, without any textual criticism or help from oringinal language,considering audience etc.

I will say, when I've read it (especially as a young girl) , this verse has made me feel like I should keep my mouth shut in church, since I've always been told to take the bible literally.
I have heard alot of women say their husbands instruction trumps this verse, so if they want to speak in church, they feel fine just getting permission from their husbands, rather than adhering to a strict interpretation of this verse.
Very interesting things to point out Tia. Thanks for taking your time with this. I guess I'm learning we all read, and read into things from various perspectives. I think that has been shown throughout this whole study. It has definitly made me dig into some of these scriptures myself again,and study various interpretations, so thanks for the inspiration.:)

Julie said...

First I just have to ask if anyone - even strict so-called literalists - actually takes the bible literally and applies it to their life. I'm sure they all have some excuse or other for their particular interpretation.

Catrina - would you care more about denying a "conspiracy theory" as you put it or discovering the truth of scripture? In your worldview of scripture translation, where was God when the 1642 version of the KJV had the phrase "thou shalt commit adultry"? This isn't about integrity, but about worldviews. You seem to think that God guided every scribe, every translator, every publisher to bring us perfect manuscripts. Others of us think that humans are finite and petty and make mistakes that end up in our bibles. I've personally talked to too many people who worked as translators for a number of the popular bibles we use today to not acknowledge that often power plays, personal opinions, grudges, and denominational loyalty play a significant role in bringing us the so-called God directed bible we use everyday. It's not that I don't think God can do great things, there are just too many discrepencies to assume God makes sure we get perfect translations every time.

Michelle said...

I looked this up in Young's literal translation - it is difficult to read because, well - it's literal from Greek, so the words seem out of order for us. Here's what they give:
34Your women in the assemblies let them be silent, for it hath not been permitted to them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith;

35and if they wish to learn anything, at home their own husbands let them question, for it is a shame to women to speak in an assembly.

I just want to add something too - I love the Bible. I love it - I mean, I feast on it! I think conversations like this can give it a bad rap. I do think it's taken too often to be used as a bludgeon, rather than a sword which is graceful and precise (makes me think of a surgeon's scalpel, the whole dividing image). The weakness is not in God's word, which HIS SPIRIT teaches us, but in us.

This issue, though, is tough because I'm not sure it can be considered a non-essential... I mean, one view pretty much deems the other truly WRONG, unlike some interpretations of other issues that can co-exist as non-essential points of doctrine. This is pretty core to understanding God and what He meant to create, which in turn leads us to what He meant to RESTORE as He redeemed it. So, I await more exposition! bring it on! :)

Michelle said...

Terry, this is for you! You seemed surprised that many folks assume women are to be submissive to men in general, all - not just in marriage. I found a transcript of a very well known pastor/author who would pride himself as being the epitome of "Biblical". Okay - I'll just go ahead and say so, it's John Macarthur, if you've ever heard of him. Here is what he has to say - excerpts:

" It is generally then true that a man, whether he be married or single, must think of himself as someone who has been given by God a responsibility for authority in one sense or another. A woman, whether she is married or single, must recognize the fact that in general, as a woman, she must have a spirit of submission to all men.

Now we don't want to carry that too far. You'll get yourself in a lot of trouble, but the idea is that the spirit of a woman is the recognition is that she is in the position of subjection to men, whom God has given authority in the world.

The head of the woman is the man." Man has authority over woman. He's not just speaking of marriage, people, He is speaking of every dimension of living in general. The man must recognize that God has given him authority, and he has to accept that and take it and rule for God. The woman must realize in any relationship that she has been given the place of submission.

This isn't wrong. This is the way God made it. This is the way He designed it. You don't play golf with a fishing pole, and you don't go fishing with a golf club. God has made people in the same sense to do a certain thing. That's the way they're made, and that's the way they function, and that's the way they're fulfilled. "Man has authority over woman."

end his words, back to me... first thing I want to know is whether I'm supposed to be the fishing pole or the golf club? :P

I should just let his words speak for themselves and leave everyone to chew on them for a while, but of course I'm not going to... point is that is where a lot of evangelicals fall, and they view anyone who says differently as "stupid" (he actually used that term once in the sermon, I was aghast but not totally surprised). And if his position is indeed Biblical and God's truth, then why tack on "we don't want to take this too far??"

I wasn't so much turned off because it offends me as a woman, I actually don't struggle there as I see others do - I just want to know Christ and live free in Him, I really am not interested in understanding what my "rights" are or anything... but I WAS truly offended by his use of scripture. He treated his own proof texts as "so easy to understand, not ambiguous at all, clear as crystal", etc, but he mocked the proof texts used by the opposing view, stating "They wave the flag of Galatians 3:28, that in Christ there is neither male nor female. On the basis of that and on the basis of I Peter 3:7, that a husband and a wife are heirs together of the grace of life, they postulate the fact that there is no such thing as authority and submission between men and women either in marriage, in the church, in business, in education, or in any other dimension". When I read that I thought... and you're not going to expound on THOSE verses? just sort of skip past them in a mocking sort of way and get back to the ones that support what you're saying? Ignoring the obvious difficulties in their interpretation?

So many times folks like him end up, to me, being like the boy who cried wolf... I want to show respect, but if they ever have something truly crucial and right to offer I'm afraid at this point I'll just glaze over and miss it because I've heard so much of this for so often now...

my original point, however, was to shed light on the fact that a large portion of the church would say that all women are subject to all men.

Michelle said...

I just re-read that and noticed there are quotation marks in the 3rd paragraph that make it look like the quote ends and I start speaking for myself - those are a mistake, the quote continues on until I point out the end of his words there at the 6th paragraph... sorry :)

Tonya said...

Michelle, you hit the nail on the head with that last statement up there (3? up). I keep thinking "this is ridiculous. We are arguing over a non-essential", but then I remember that this all began at creation and that marriage is a representation of Christ and the church so I guess it is important enough to hash out:).

Tia, I agree with you that the Bible, as translated into English, can not be taken at face value all the time simply because it is impossible to take an original language and traslate it word for word into the target language and still get the meaning right. Not only is the sentence structure different, but there are sometimes no words that equal the OL words in the TL. That is why one MUST go to the original languages when building doctrine.

I don't think the issue is really what methods we use to interpret the Bible. I don't know very many Biblical "literalists" the way you describe it. In fact, I cant think of any, other than children (but that is natural). I think the issue is this; ***what is your perception of God?- because this is going to affect your veiw of the Bible. And the way you veiw the Bible determines what you are willing to do to interpret it, and HOW you are willing to interpret it.***

You made a snarky funny up there about my so called "favorite line":):):). I am going to try to explain this in a way that gets my point across and then you can tell me if you agree with me or not.

Our reasoning must have a foundation. We can't reason properly without something to base our thoughts on. When I say "that's human reasoning", what I am saying is that the line of thought put out comes from a foundation other than that of the Bible. When E's say "If [complementarian's]believe men have authority over women, are women equal? No. If men have more authority than women, this is not equality." (from the CBE post you cited) this is human reasoning. This is NOT based on the Bible, it is based on someone's human perception of how things should be. The Bible tells us that we are all one in Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". (Gal 3). That is equality. We are all children of God without differentiation. Now to reason, as CBE did, that woman is not equal to man if man has more authority than woman is not based in the Bible. In fact, it is ANTIbiblical. It is based on human opinion. Do you understand what I mean when I say "that's human reasoning"? I am NOT talking about using the Bible (not verse picking) to make a point. I am talking about making a point and then trying to use the Bible to support it. One reasoning has it's fondation in human opinion, the other has it's foundation in the properly interpreted scriptures. People keep saying "that's not equality". What they should be saying is "That's not fair".

Now we come to the crux of the matter. A very wise man once told me "if you aren't in a neutral place, it is very difficult to hear from God". That is why I asked you the question, "if Gabriel came down here with a message from God telling you that women had specific complementarian or even patriarchal roles, would that upset you?" You have to dig deep and see what is really inside of you. If the answer to that question is "yes", then you are not in a neutral place. If you are not in a neutral place, then you are very likely to read the Bible to support your position, not in order to form your position from the Scriptures.

Many times, we struggle with parts of the Bible because they don't line up with our perception of who God is or the way things should be. I used to struggle with the OT big time. I couldn't understand how God could tell His people to annihilate Abab including all the people I thought were innocent. I thought and prayed about the OT and NT for several years and then one day, I started seeing God in a different light and things started to fall together. The Bible started to make sense in it's entirety. I studied the apparant "discrepencies" in the Bible and found that they weren't real discrepencies, and why. It took some time, but I learned to trust the words of the Bible and if I come/came across anything difficult, I pray and dig in. I find that the more I study, the more coherant the Bible becomes to me.

I found that digging into the original languages to get an expanded meaning really clarified things. There are no contradicitons and if there seem to be, the problems most often lie in our perception of God. If things aren't the way we think they should be, if they don't line up with who we perceive God to be, then studying the Bible becomes VERY difficult. And I can absolutely not write a blog post and explain this for anyone. It is something that one must do entirely on one's own. There is something life giving and amazing about the Bible that you can't find in any post on theology or in any author's work on the subject.

Agatha Christi helped, though:):):). I love Agatha Christi books and Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective. If you know anything about HP, you know that he solves all of his cases with the "little gray cells". He sits down with the facts and thinks them through until everything fits perfectly into place. When everything fits, He has solved the mystery. Since I believe, by faith, that God loves me enough to get His Word into me, and that He wants to reveal Himself to me, I can read the Bible and believe that it is understandable and that it can be used to interpret itself. I can study the Bible like HP - putting the peices together so that it all gels- but in order to do so, I have to spend a lot of time in it thinking, digging and studying. And I have to be willing to let go of a theory if the peices don't fit with the rest of the Bible.

Using your verses for example, in the NT, we see that women are told to be silent in the assembly. We also see that women are expected to pray and prophesy in the assembly. This would seem contradictory unless you dig in and study the original language. The words for quiet and silence denote a spirit of peace. A quiet spirit, if you will. No contentious behaviour or speech. The words can also be translated "Undisturbing" and "hold peace". Now, you've done your homework and you don't have a contradiction. In fact, your conclusion is backed up by other NT scripture such as 1Peter 3:4 which tells women that they should have inner beauty that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit. (Same root as the word used in 1 Tim 2:11).

You also talked about history and culture as tools for interpreting the Bible. The problem with using too much historical and cultural context when interpreting scripture is that you get different representations of history from different historians. You can probably find one to support your position. It won't be hard:). I found two opposing historical contexts when I was studying head coverings. I could pick whichever one upheld my opinion. This is why I read historical context but I NEVER use it as the foundation for choosing one doctrinal postion over another. It is interesting and helpful, but it should be kept in it's proper place.

Did I forget anything? I am leaving for vacation early Weds. morning and I have a LOT to do tommorrow to get ready but I will attempt to get back in here one more time before I leave to see if you blasted me on anything worth responding too:):):).

Hugs!

musicmommy3 said...

At the risk of snding like a complete dork-

I totally agree with what Tonya is saying...
well except for the Agatha Christi part. lol I've never read them. :)

Greg Anderson said...

Tia,

Good stuff you've got here. I tend to lean toward the 3rd option also, that Paul is refuting the Judaizers that had crept into the Corinthian congregation.

Same with the personal letter to his protege in Ephesus (1 Tim.), except there, he's probably refuting false teaching having to do with the cult of artemis.

There's a dear and wonderful lady (Cheryl Schatz) who's done a cogent and well-researched series of dvd's on women in ministry. They won't break the bank, and they're well worth it. Here's her link:

http://mmoutreach.org/wim.htm

catrina said...

Julie, I could respond with my own thoughts, but Tonya did it for me and stated it even better than I would have, so that is my answer to your question. I also tried to say that I am not taking every word of the Bible literally in the English language, but I believe that God had his hands on the original scribes. They were so careful to be accurate because they believed that they would roast in hell if they deviated from God's word. I by no means think that any of the translations that we use today are the be all end all. I hope that my position has become a little clearer to you.

Tonya said...

I re-read my comment up there and noticed a spot where I didn't clarify my point well. If someone is busy typing (or copying) a list of "contradictions" to prove me wrong, I would encourage you to do some personal digging before you post it. I have already seen the list and been through it. I don't have time to answer it today.

I'll say this though, while clarification often comes with a more correct perception of God, it sometimes comes when you realize that the person writing down the number of Solomon's livestock left the ending off of a word. Or that the first day of passover can be referred to as the actual first day, or the day they slaughtered the lamb. Stuff like that.

Personal understanding of Biblical coherency grows out of our perception of God and our veiw of the Bible. If you believe it to make sense, you can easily put the peices together so that it does, and perfectly using hermenutical tools. If skepticism suits you better, you can absolutely rip the Bible to shreds and make it either your tool or even completely impotent. It's the choice of the individual.

Which is why I said that your perception of God is going to determine how you veiw the Bible and your view of the Bible is going to determine how you interpret it.

I hope that heads off the long list. I have no time to refute it today, but if someone does publish it I encourage anyone who gets nervous to do the study. It is not difficult at all:).

Tia Lynn said...

Hello All! I’ll start from the top!

Rev. Todd- thank you very much!

Marcus- That cracked me up!

Terry- I do not think for a moment that you are theologically wimpy, nor do I think that if one comes to any other conclusion besides the egalitarians conclusion that they are somehow biblically retarded! I was saying that a common argument seems to be that egalitarians do not just take the bible “for what it says.” I wanted to point out that even “literalists” are guilty of selective literalism. I don’t think anyone actually IS a pure literalist. I don’t think anyone believes Jesus wanted us to dismember ourselves or that he was ACTUALLY a vine and we are ACTUALLY branches. That’s not a literal reading, that’s an insane reading. When people call themselves literalists, I assume they are referring to “command” passages: that if the Bible “commands” something, then it is totally applicable for today, universal, and all-time binding. But the point IS that no one is a true literalist in that sense either, but complementarians seem to argue that they take the bible for what it plainly says and egalitarians do not. Complementarians just “read” scripture and egalitarians “read into” scripture. When really both sides use the same tools to arrive at clearer understandings of scripture.

Now, I must point out, as Christy did, that there are other translations of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 that DO make that first sentence say: As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.... That is a huge difference in meaning just in two ENGLISH VERSIONS. BUT, even if you think the first sentence should be “let YOUR women...” you still must deal with the last sentence of these verses. Paul supports his command, “Let your women be silent” with a larger supporting statement. He says, “FOR IT IS SHAMEFUL FOR WOMEN TO SPEAK IN CHURCH.” He doesn’t say it is only shameful for YOUR women to speak, but WOMEN. SO the face value reading (in one translation) may be telling Corinthians to silence THEIR women, but it is followed with the reasoning that it is shameful for all women to speak in church. So again, we are faced with the fact that if you take this verse for “what is plainly says,” then one must conclude that Paul is commanding all women to be silent, because the only reason given in this verse is that it is SHAMEFUL for women to speak in church.

Catrina, I’m sorry but there were plenty of scribes that were agenda-driven, blatantly changing gender-neutral or gender inclusive language to masculine pronouns. And whether one believes Junia was an apostle or not, it does not change the fact that HER name was changed centuries later to sound male. But that’s a post for another day.

Tonya, I will openly say that I am NOT in neutral place in the least. It would be foolish to claim otherwise, It would be equally as foolish to think that you are coming from a strictly neutral place, for you have your own preconceived notions on this topic as well. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll provide a little background.
ALL of my church experiences have been in complementarian churches. All male leadership, all male speakers to mixed assemblies, all male bible teachers, etc. I never had, nor do I now, any desire to be a leader, pastor, public speaker, or teacher, so fighting for women in these types of ministry positions was never an alterior motive to live out my own dreams.

In high school, one of my close friends attended a church where the pastor was a woman! At the time I was appauled! I think I said to him, “Ummm... don’t you read the bible, women can’t be pastors!” “How can you go to a church where the leader is openly defying God’s word.”

So I was no innate egalitarian. I was fine with male leadership. In fact, women in general kinda bugged me. I hated women’s ministry at our church, I never went on ladies’ retreats, and overall did not like women in any type of authority role. So, I did not set out on some quest to find support for women in leadership.

The change began about three years ago. One of my favorite authors did a chapter advocating women in all leadership positions: women pastors, preachers, evangelists, etc. I was SHOCKED. I think I threw the book. That sent me on a quest, not to prove him right, but to prove him wrong! Slowly, I started to become more convinced based on scripture that this issue was no where near as cut and dry as I previously thought. Of course, now I am convinced and arguing for it. But my own journey began on the other side of this issue. Whether that invalidates my arguments or not, you can decide. But I did not start out as an egalitarian looking for biblical support. I began believing in women’s leadership in the church long before I even knew there was an official position on it.

Michelle, the John McArthur passage is an excellent example. The whole reason for barring women from public ministry is that this would be women exercising authority “over” men, when men are suppose to lead the church and their women. Thus a man should not “submit” himself to sound teaching coming from a woman. That’s really what that particular issue comes down to.

Tonya I agree with you analysis of 1 Corinthians 14:3435, but my point is that the same can be done to 1 timothy 2:8-15, Ephesians 5 and so on. The original language and larger context can completely change the prevalent understanding of those verses. Telling me that the bible doesn’t contradict itself is preaching to the choir. I believe the scriptures affirm each other, I just don’t think obscure verses can be taken at face value. And I find that people on the other side of the debate often accuse egalitarians of using "outside" sources to determine meaning.

Tonya, you should read Misquoting Jesus, I'd like to see you tackle that one. It'd be interesting.

I’m sorry if I missed any points raised, this was long....ask them again, and I’ll get to them!

Tonya said...

Tia, You have a lot of adult personal experience that would push you very easily into an egalitarian VP. It seems safer for those you love there. You may have held a different position when you were younger, but unfortunately personal experience is a strong factor in which position you adopt as an adult.

And believe it or not, and you will just have to take my word for this, if Gabriel came down here and gave me a message from God saying that men and women should follow egalitarian doctrine, I would be fine with that. And that is the truth:). I do have a position, but it is one borne of personal study (not reading authors and theologins) and not heavily influenced by negative or positive personal experiences. I do a lot of asking God to keep me in a neutral spot. I spent my 20's trying to prove my position using the Bible. I would hope that my 30's have been more about reading the Bible for Truth as a foundation to build my position on.

Okay, gotta go make a pot o' soup for the ole' camping trip:).

Tonya said...

Those positions I was trying to prove in my 20's had nothing to do with men and women, BTW. They were ridiculous things that I was working through. Things I had read or been taught but never researched for myself. Just so you know:):):).

catrina said...

Tia, you just proved Tonya's point. YOu are coming to the Bible skeptically where I am not. If the Bible was written by jerks then they could have changed anything they want to fit their agenda.

Fornication
Adultery
Homosexuality
Beastiality
creation account (maybe Adam ate the fruit first)
Jericho
talking donkeys

You can't honestly believe what you just said, otherwise you would have to concede that maybe Moses didn't receive the 10 commandments at all, but just hung on the mountain to get away from the people, or that the entire earth wasn't covered in a flood. If all of this is open for discussion then I am afraid it is a pointless conversation. Does God not have the capabilities to be choose the original writers with integrity. Do I think the NKJ, NIV, KJ, Living bibles are pure replicas of God's word? NO!, but I am a long way off from saying that the writers were woman hater, homophobic prudes with an agenda.

Tia Lynn said...

Tonya, as your position is the result of personal study, so is mine. I do not rely on any one particular author or theologian to spoon feed me my beliefs. Once I realized that there are Christians out there who believe it is biblical for women to be in leadership, I looked into for myself. I wasn’t convinced from the get go. I wasn’t convinced by any one person. But after looking into the original language, historical and cultural contexts, I was convinced the overall evidence sited to bar women from ministry was flimsy and that both men and women leading the church together fit better with biblical evidence and the overall heart of the bible.

Again, my personal experience was SOLELY male leadership in the church and not a negative one. I LOVED and still LOVE my old church. I love the leadership there. I did not leave on bad terms. Looking back, there are somethings that I disagree with, but I have NO negative association with my old church or our present church, which is way more lenient with women in ministry. So basically, on the gender front, I had positive experiences with my male-ran churches. But I was convinced through studying the bible that the ideal church body would include both sexes in leadership, engage in mutual submission, and that the top-down authority “over” people was not permissable for either sex.

So there was no heartbreaking bitter experience that drove me into the egalitarian camp. Also, I did not feel inclined to wholeheartedly agree with the author that first introduced the notion of women in leadership to me, simply because he is one of my favorites. I disagree with this author on a number of issues and feel no need to alter my beliefs just because he thinks a different way.

Tonya, I love you and I know you don’t mean it to come across this way, but it is really condescending to say that YOUR beliefs are based on personal study alone and that mine are formed by personal experience and reading authors and theologians. You are dismissing an entire stance, not based on evidence that is yet to be put forth, but on how you think I arrived at this conclusion. I don’t believe either of us is completely objective because we are human and BOTH are experiences and perspectives will alter the way we see things. But sister friend, we have both personally studied this topic, and if we have arrived at different conclusions, I can respect that. But I certainly won’t try to belittle or dismiss your stance by saying I personally studied while you are just a product of your experiences and authors you read.

Carlos said...

I said elsehwere I'd be more silent by the proverb "as iron sharpens iron..." motivated me tto briefly comment; Tia, wonderfull post and thanks for becoming vulnerable in your last comment. I just find Tonya's comment funny about not trusting theologians and writers as she writes epistles to convince you otherwise(sorry tonya)

Tia Lynn said...

Catrina, woah, settle down sister.

I don’t think the bible was written by jerks nor am I “skeptical” about God speaking through Moses or other prophets. But when the earliest manuscripts outright differ from what we have in our bibles today, rendering pronouns that are easily translatable as all male, you have to concede that certain changes were made. Some were not done purposefully at all, just honest mistakes. But other scribal notes and historical accounts do indeed reveal a HUGE bias against women in ministry, dating back to Constantine when the church became an institution. Wanting to get back to the most accurate, original versions of scripture that we have is not being skeptical about scripture, it’s showing the utmost respect for the scriptures.

Catrina, one could say all those topics you listed were changed, but they would be randomly guessing, since there is no evidence in surviving manuscripts that would suggest such changes. But with certain topics (not only women issues) blatant changes exist. There is no denying that. We HAVE thousands and thousands of early manuscripts that show such differences. When people argue that changes were made, they are not randomly picking passages or topics they don’t like such as adultery, they are studying the original texts and pointing out that the meaning is different or has been altered. Conceding to THAT, does not automatically group me with people who want to throw the bible in the trash.

I never said the writers of the bible were women haters, quite the contrary. However, the bible was in the hands of the catholic church for centuries, whose early leaders were not shy about their beliefs on women, among other things. This is undisputable. I don’t think scribes set out to change the entire bible, but to “correct” what Paul and others “couldn’t have possibly meant.” Thirteenth century readers plainly read Junia as an apostle, but didn’t believe women could BE apostles so they changed the name to Junias, a male name that didn’t even exist during the time of Paul. From that time one, the name Junias carried over to thousands of texts and versions. Again, this is just one example.

If being able to read that early versions of the bible say one thing and modern versions say another makes me an inborn skeptic, than so be it. But I am not going to turn a blind eye to blatant changes that could be easily remedied. Don’t dismiss what I am saying by labeling me a skeptic, dismantle my argument. Are there gender language changes between older and newer texts? Are there uncertain meanings in the original language of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, and Ephesians 5? Was Junia considered both an apostle and a woman for nearly 1300 years before her name was changed to a man’s name and status attacked? When Paul uses words like “ones” and “people” are they often translated as man and men?

Tonya said...

Tia, Your mom and step-mom are experience enough to make you desire to see women in co-leadership.

You set up a straw man in this post. The core issue is not methods of interpretation, but how we perceive God and how that affects our interpretaion of the Bible. It goes way beyond methods of interpretation and who is allowed to do what.

And I NEVER said that you were not arriving at your beleifs due to personal study. That thought never crossed my mind. You LOVE study and I know it! I was simply saying that nothing terribly personal hinges on my interpretation of this issue. I also happen to know that you read a LOT of books and that it is very easy to be swayed by an author's opinion and interpretation of the facts, especially when people you love are hurting and said author's VP could seemingly help the situation. I know this because I read too. This is why I ask God to keep me in a neutral spot before during and after study. My postion should never be one that couldn't be contradicted by God without my immediate, happy submission.

I APPLAUD your study. I LOVE it! I think it is excellent that you are digging in and finding out why you believe what you believe, but you are going to struggle with any interpretation other than yours because this issue (at it's root) has personal consequenses to your family and maybe to other people you know.

In trying to establish the strongest Biblical position, we have the same set of "facts", which we find in the Bible. We are looking at them through different sets of glasses, if you will. If your glasses are tempered by desire for a certain position to be right (so much so that direct revelation from God favoring the opposite postion would upset you) then you aren't going to be able to see as well. That is all I'm saying. I hope that makes more sense.

Throw it out there and we'll hash through it. Please don't think that I am slamming your study. That was never my intention. It was just to help you see that you might be latching on to something and interpreting the facts in a way that supports what you feel must be right.

I do love you, and you know it:).

Tonya said...

Carlos, where did I say that I didn't "trust theologins and authors"? I missed that part:)
:):).

I don't know why everyone wants to put words in my mouth. Especially when I am supposed to be doing something else besides writing epistles re-explaining things:):):)

I think what I said was that we shouldn't base our theology on the opinions of authors and theologins. Wouldn't you agree that we should do as the Bereans and study the scriptures for ourselves?

Great Icon, BTW, you look relaxed:)

Terry said...

I was tempted to stay out of this, but as I have had numerous reasons (it seems you may have as well Tia Lynn) to be skeptical of the doctrine of male headship, I think neutrality is an issue and that it is something we have to pray diligently for if we want to accept God's commands- specifically those that are fairly clear throughout Scripture. I know you read my post about how I evolved to where I am so no need to rehash the ugly details, but I grew up with an innate distrust of men and my hubby had to work hard and suffered through years of my neuroses as I came to understand that God's order is in my best interest and not designed to bind and harm me or make me powerless. So while I agree with you that it is difficult for us as human being to approach any topic from a completely neutral ground, I also agree with Tonya that we can, through prayer and internal honesty, become more neutral and more open to the idea that our agenda is coloring our interpretation of Scripture. As I began to trust God more and fear the potential evil in man less, it became easier for me to see that my insistence on doing things my own way and rebelling against my husband was wrong- because God says so. Does that make any sense?

Carlos said...

Sorry to be a horses ass, but some of you hitting on this neutrality key is so not the right focus; what are the characteistics of a Brazillian apprentice of Christ vs a Filipino vs an American vs ad infinitum. God has created a diverse humanity and each one of us come with such cultural and colorful differences - i.e. Christianity is not American; the more approriate question should be how do I do what the Father prefers within my contex/culture....Ahhh the diversty of God's shapes...and how we negotiate our roles within our knowing the Father as who Christ is as each of one of us... Christ in you the hope of Glory...

I keep telling myself resist, resist but I succumb and comment...what a weakling....

the icon pic - St. George Island, FL - I'm ready to be there again, soon June 1st.

Michelle said...

yes - thank you Carlos, I've been biting my tongue in two and deleting comment drafts like mad because I want to say something but I'm not sure what...

this idea that any of us are neutral is ludricrous. we have stories - we have teaching we've receieved, both good and bad - we have what we understand of the Bible and what we DON'T - we are none of us blank slates and we aren't supposed to be. It's not that black and white. We are complicated creatures in a complicated world and that is exactly as it should be. God meets each of us in process, in flux, and He's always showing us new things and new parts of Himself.

So to give Tia a condescending (sorry, but that's how it comes across) pat on the head and one of those Southern "bless your heart"s as you assume that her background is what led her "astray" .... ooh, it just really rubbed me the wrong way 100 times over (though to be fair I can tell from what I've read from each of you that this is not at all how you intend to come across). And yet, you are. And so to not say so would make us a lot like the folks who let those poor people go audition for American Idol, with all of us at home wondering, "Didn't anyone ever love that poor soul enough to look them in the face and tell them they can't sing!!???"

musicmommy3 said...

I hear what you are saying Michelle
but I know that, for me, I want to make sure that my sister isn't following a teaching or a Biblical interpretation simply because of her past,present, or because she feels a certain way. I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. She certainly is doing the same thing to me. :):):)
Sometimes our hearts DO get in the way of hearing God clearly.

I'm not taking a "right" or "wrong" stance here in this discussion. I am waiting for Tia to finish laying out her study and I am chewing (to use your word which I like) on it and also using it to see if I personally have any bias to the position I have held all my life. I only comment when I feel that I want clarification as to why she thinks things are a certain way.

Sometimes comments can take on a life of their own. I have read comments about comments and thought, "that's so not what she/he meant". Without the 3D relationship things can seem very different.

It depends on the person too. I tend to be a very very black and white thinker. God has had to show me that there is gray in the world too.

I don't think we need to forget who we are when we come to the Word to study but I DO think that we need to be humble, listening, have a teachable heart and not have an agenda.

And just to say this...I am GLAD that Tia is telling the background to why she ended up believing this way on this issue. I TOTALLY think that she is a sincere believer. She is a student of the Word, she is well read. I DON'T think she chose this out of "convenience".

good night all! Blessings!
-Angela :)

Tia Lynn said...

I’m going to do a little AA thing here:

Hello, my name is Tia, and I have some baggage. :) However, I do my best to keep my baggage from tainting my study of the bible.

Tonya, I’m glad you elaborated. While I openly admit to being a biased human being, influenced by personal experience, worldview, and the dreaded books, I don’t see how my experience with my mother and stepmom equate with a belief in egalitarianism. Yes, they went through horrible marriages with my biological father, but I would hardly have to turn to egalitarianism to justify a divorce in their situations. There are plenty of complementarians that would allow divorce for women who are married to UNREPENTANT beaters and cheaters. One need not be an egalitarian to recognize that wives married to husbands who serial beat and cheat are not required continue in silent endurance. I would not need to abandon complementarianism to reconcile a past divorce and currently dysfunctional marriage with biblical principles. Outside of my biological dad, my personal experience with male leadership has been positive. Two men lead me to the Lord, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for my previous male-run churches.

As far as setting up a “straw man,” I only brought up the methods we use to interpret the bible because that seems to be a reoccurring criticism among complementarians of egalitarians: that egalitarians don’t read the bible at face value. My point was not that everyone should agree with the egalitarian perspective, but that we should all admit to both sides using the similar methods in different situations. Of course, how we view God will also color the way we interpret scripture, but I was responding to a specific criticism that keeps popping up within this specific debate: that egalitarians “don’t believe what the bible plainly says.”

Terry, I am totally with you that we should TRY to be as neutral as possible when studying the bible. If I thought that the egalitarian position was flimsy, I wouldn’t argue it just because “it’s convenient” for me.

Tia Lynn said...

I also want to make clear that I do not subscribe to an egalitarian position because I am wary of male leadership. I don’t wish to see female-only leadership or men stripped from their leadership roles. I want men to be all that they can, go as far as they can with the Lord, and be respected and valued within the church and home. I only want to see women afforded the same support. I want to see men and women leading together, submitting to one another, and serving the church and the world together.

musicmommy3 said...

"Hi Tia."

Sorry, I couldn't resist a little AA humor back at ya!! lol

Michelle said...

#1 - I'm extra comment-y this week because I'm suffering from insomnia - my husband is working out of town and I barely sleep when he's gone, it' ridiculous - so sorry but you're stuck with me. I promise I'm going to bed after this; there's nothing left to clean and as for reading, the words are starting to run together :)

but I have to say this to Angela - how do you do that? :) You have a way about you that just sucks any conflict or tension right out of the room (or in this case, blog). I love that. Thanks!! It's a great quality.

I get what you are saying. I agree, no agenda - no preconceived notions that we are trying to justify using scripture. yes - amen! all the rest of what I meant up there, I can't elaborate on any further because I didn't sleep much last night either and I don't trust myself... I must go to bed :)

Tonya said...

Tia, you were trying to put the moderate complementarians (and I assume you put me in that category) off balance by suggesting that they are inconsistant. I would have assumed you weren't baiting except that you said "I am curious to know how my MC friends interpret this verse". Only you had already set us MC friends up by saying that we were inconsistant if we used any Egalitarian sounding methods of interpretation which you were careful to point out in detail. You set it up so you could tear it down. That's a straw man.

The problem here isn't methods of interpretation and who is inconsistant (although I will admit that any non-literalist who uses some of those arguments is doing so), it is that our view of God heavily influences how we interpret the Bible.

Carlos, I totally agree with you about the cross-cultural-Christianity thing. But Neutrality is KEY in any culture when you are reading the Bible to gain understanding for building a position on something such as what we are discussing here. Is St. George Island the place off the coast of the pan handle? Because if it is, we are planning to go camping down there this fall! Ive never been before, but we've heard that it is fantastic:).

Michelle, when I use the term neutral, I am NOT talking about a blank slate. I am talking about being in a place (in regards to your postion) where, if God sent word to you that the opposite of your position was Truth, that you had been wrong and that it would behoove you to adopt and live out the "other camp's" position, would you have a problem with that? If the answer is yes, then you will have a difficult time hearing from God on that issue. Your own opinion will get in the way. Hence, then need for neutrality. It is possible to get close.

And if I come across as "poor Tia, bless your heart" it is because you don't know me:). I am NOT a head patter. Tia can tell you that. And I guaran-dang-tee you that Tia would (and does) call me on whatever theology of mine that she has a problem with. She threw this big juicy bone out there on the table and asked us to pick it. So we are. If you guys feel sorry for Tia because she has such mean friends, you need to come hang out with us sometime. Disagreements or not, we love each other. And we are good for each other:). There are more of us who have not stuck their necks out here either. They are probably just reading and chuckling.

Michelle said...

Tonya, on the neutrality thing - the point I was making is that I come to His Spirit and His Book not attempting to be neutral but being completely transparent about where I am, who I am, all that is wide open before Him - clinging to none of it but only to Him. And I ask Him to teach me - show me. If He wants to teach me from a song or a blog discussion or a verse or a sermon or a word from my child, I'm always (trying) to be attuned to what His Spirit might be saying to me exactly where I am. Then I don't need Gabriel to come down from the heaven's and slap me across the face with it. I've been in a teachable position all along, and not one that involved this striving.

Carlos said...

Tia, Hear!!!Hear!! Bravo!!!! and you can use, as examples of people on the dark side of "E", my wife and I married for almos 38 years of relatively stable and solid families and she even went to Moody Bible Institute and I was a member of the traditional Moody Church (how's that for conservative bonafides :-)) and God has been working in our lives and moved us to where we are now but sometimes we had to be hit across the eyes with a 2x4 (I think a visit from Gabriel would have been more desirable) to adjust and keep fine-tuning our understanding of Scriptures and who the Father is.

I think a better word for neutral is objectivism, which everyone will tell you that total objectivism is impossible, never the less I highly recommend stepping out of the proverbiall 9 dots and outside of the paradigms that we all have. Most of the time we do not like what we find; case in point, when my wife (a Southern Belle from Memphis) and I moved to Brazil and went to our first social event where most of the people were Brazillians, I reverted to my Brazillian nature/culture as we interacted with the people, and she didn't like and told me to quit acting that way because it wasn't me; I started laughing and told her that it was the real me that she didn't know and needed to learrn to love as weell....

any way...Tonya, yes it is in the forgotten coast of FL and you'll will like the state park on the East side. We stay right at the entrance in the Sunset Beach and I go running on the beach inside the park; it is awesome.

Thanks a lot guys for dragging me back in when I vowed to stay out; but I figured y'all needed some balance and a male voice in the mix.....

catrina said...

In all fairness, this is not a study on C and E, this is a postrt strictly for the E position. In order to make her position Tia has to tear down the C position, which in itself is condescending. She is not presently both sides with nuetrality and letting us mull over the 2 positions. Which is perfectly fine because after all, this is her blog,it's interesting, and I for one was enjoying dragging out my Bible and looking at this anew. However lets look at some of her terminology and see if it is not a bit condescending:

Deborah: A Fundamentalist's Worst Nightmare!

There are very few jobs that actually require a penis or vagina. All other jobs should be open to everybody. ~Florynce Kennedy

But moderates who adhere to a "deeper" reading of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, while fancying themselves "biblical literalists," is a bit of a head scratcher. What's the old saying? Oh yes: Moderate-complementarians who live by glass hermeneutics should not throw stones. OK, now I'm just being snarky. I deserve whatever wrath is forth coming. :)

In her own words she was being "snarky" with us moderates, was I offended?, NO! She gave us fair warning and told us to get our big guns out. I know her in real life and I try really hard to NEVER be offended with ANYTHING anyone says. Notice I said try, in case someone wants to slam me for being prideful. Last night in person Tia and I were hashing through it all again. In real life it is easier to catch the non verbal and see someones heart, online that is incredibly difficult. I have felt dismissed, condescended too, like a pest for asking "obvious" questions, but I had to remember that I did not know them so who was I to judge their heart towards me or anyone else that I felt was being slighted. This is what the body is for, this is how you have differing opionions and can still be best of friends, this is how God MEANT it to be, and I for one praise God for the diversity.

catrina said...

I am apologizing right now to all the grammar Nazi's for this post filled with errors and typos. I am flying through this because a strange man will be visiting me soon and I am in unsuitable attire.

Tia Lynn said...

OK Tonya, I see what you are saying about the straw man. Ofcourse I put it out there that way, not to knock down the complementarian argument, but to knock down the literalist argument. There are a whole batch of complementarian scholars that do not shy away from cultural/historical studies, original language studies, and larger contextual studies. I was not implying that if one concludes 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 means anything other than an all time command of publicly silencing women than that the only logical option for them is egalitarianism. I was challenging the forth coming criticisms that have popped up all along to show that BOTH sides use the same methods. I realize for YOU, that these methods are not the problem, but I have had comment after comment, email after email, saying, “your not just reading the bible for what it says,” “your questioning what we have in our bibles today...” and the other examples I included. I wanted to show that we all do this when interpreting scripture, that it’s a good thing, and not to automatically dismiss the forth coming studies because they take original language and culture/history into consideration.

But let me as you: What is it about your view of God (presumably that differs from mine) that colors this specific debate? Is it that you believe God would not allow us to go so long thinking one way when something else may be true? Or that the English/Western versions of the Bible, though not perfect, are ultimately correct when it comes to male/female roles in the church? What is it about your view of God that shapes your opinion in this debate.

And BTW, if God opened the sky and told me complementarianism was IT, I would do it because God says so, no question. But until that happens or I find concrete evidence in the bible, I honestly believe God’s hand has guided me to this place.

Ashley Dumas said...

Tonya,

You said, "I was simply saying that nothing terribly personal hinges on my interpretation of this issue."

I can think of many terribly personal experiences in your life that would 'predispose' you to a complimentarian view. I don't want to talk about anything personal here in detail, but your views and attitudes made a great change in regards to how you behave as a wife and how you view your role as a female. Your relationships have since flourished . I don't think it is fair to point out Tia's life experiences without honestly examining your own journey toward a successful relationship. How you have viewed the success or failure of relationships in your own family could easily help form your opinions due to 'your personal experience'. I think it is important not to claim neutrality.
I am only commenting here to say while I feel that your intended tone is one of cheerful victory in Christ and a celebration of your growth and maturity in the study of and understanding of scripture, unfortunately your tone sounds arrogant and self satisfied. Please do not mistake these for 'fighting words'. I am commenting also because I am 100% sure that this is not your intended tone but one that presents itself very strongly soley based upon the nature of your neutrality claim. When one person claims a neutral stance it is against the static background of one's own experience. None of us live in a vacuum (as mentioned by some other commentors)
As a younger sister in Christ, and one who has always admired and sought to emulate you from the time we were kids! I have always admired your humility and struggle through life and your victorious conclusions to many difficult problems. I wish to say that as I have witnessed (from afar) your varied and troubled, joyous and miraculous experiences which have shaped who you are, I am filled with admiration and respect. However, your experiences have not been neutral, God does not grant neutrality, he grants us a life, rich and varied.
I think that it important for us to honestly accept and reflect upon all the stages and moments in our spiritual maturity so that we may remain humble, forgiving and patient with others who are in various stages of development. Of course you know that, but you seem to want to arrive at conclusions based soley on the "true' intentions of God minus your own 'human' reasoning or biases. Now I will make a general comment about this.

To all,

There seems to be a preoccupation to discover the " TRUTH" or the "REAL" intention of God. I feel that these strong desire to be 'right' or correct' leads to divisiveness and heel digging. The bible if we believe it is indeed the word of God is a labyrinth of commands, comments, stories, chastisements, exhortations and sometimes (at least for me) mystery. If God expected us all to arrive at a neutral, solid, mathematical, 'truth', then he would as Tonya has so often said before, "Send the angel Gabriel right down to say.......(such and such)" end of discussion, end of story. Well, the bible demands constant attention, constant study, constant evaluation and constant revelation (often times based upon experience). I believe that trying to PROVE a one truth is not at all what God has in mind for our relationship with him. Although he represents and is the "one truth", the discovering of it as humans is a many faceted journey. God is infinite, his ways are not our own. Trying to define and understand him by carefully constructed, logical arguments using various bible verses to 'prove' our point (in my experience : )) is often counter productive. We must grow as a child. Changing, learning, understanding in the present continuous tense not in the perfect past. One example of the fluidity of the bible (though not of God himself) is Of course, even the "clearest" of commands such as 'do not murder' which presents a myriad of gray areas. Catrina has commented that if you gave a 'primitive native' a bible translated into his/her language they would arrive at a more or less unadulterated interpretation of what God was "plainly' saying. So would they stop all war, or just stop killing out of anger, how about killing as punishment. Anyways, I just think the attempt to become a neutral and passive accepter of the "Truth" by asking for neutrality in one's perception of the bible, might be missing some key ingredients that God has asked and even demanded due to the very nature, structure and content of the bible.

I am simply talking about celebrating our own unique experiences, and how they can usefully contribute to our interpretations of the bible instead of disparaging or trying to remove them, and the importance of assembly in order to be enlightened by others and to discuss these various interpretations. Gaining insight through others and our own experiences is what makes us human and God made us humans!

That being said, I am really enjoying this discussion and have followed it for quite some time. I just hope that the insights revealed here are not seen as a rebuttal vs. rebuttal type of conversation and a "Oh yeah...well you OBVIOUSLY haven't thought about THIS!" but one of curiousity and interest and respect.


Tia,

I am following your posts with interest. Thank you for your effort and transparency.

Ash

Carlos,

Sorry, this is totally off topic but I have gathered from your comments that you are um brasiliero? I am living in Brazil now and am interested to here about your relation to Brasil.

Ash

Tia Lynn said...

Catrina brings up a good point....

This series is not balanced in the least, and it’s not meant to. The reason I am doing this from an egalitarian point of view, is because most of my readers ARE complementarians and already know their own position, at least I hope they do. Since complementarianism has been the reigning perspective among fundamentalists and evangelicals (as we discussed last night Cat, you are not a fundamentalist!), I did not see a need to outline their specific stance, it’s kind of common knowledge. But if anyone would like me to outline the complementarian position, I’d be happy to.

The Florence quote was not condescending! :)

But yes, that last quote was indeed snarky! But again, I was not ragging on moderate complementarians for their BELIEFS or the validity of how they came to those beliefs, but how in the past, they have dismissed egalitarian evidence when they themselves have used the same methods. You yourself Catrina said at the beginning of this study, that you were already going to have a huge problems with this it because it wouldn’t just take the bible for what it says and you were passionate about the actual words on the pages of the bible. I was pointing out (although rather snarky-ley), that no one really takes all of the bible for what it says without contextualization, especially with the obscure passages. So that ALONE would not be enough to dismiss egalitarian evidence.

Carlos said...

Ashley, sou brasileiro sim de S. Paulo. Voce onde esta? Tentei entrar no seu blog mas e so por convite...ok those of you with the gift of tonges can translate :-)

catrina said...

Carlos, I'll take a shot at intepretation of the tongue. (heehee) "I am from San Paulo," "How are you" or "where are you" and then "why is your blog private?" Was I close?

Tia, I don't want you to put down the C position, I was just reminding everyone that this is biased position from the author, (you)and when you debunked someone else's theory, idea, belief it can be taken as condescending, like we are so stupid, all we do is read the Bible and anally adhere to each literal word. I know that you don't think that I or anyone in the discussion does that, but that is how it comes across at times. You are absolutely right that I said I was going to have a problem with this, but not so much of a problem that at the end of the entire posting I won't give an honest evaluation of what traspired.

When someone has a firm belief in something that they feel has been given to them by God, it is wisdom to be leary of contradicting theories. We should examine, pray, study, meditate, dig, whatever, to see how it holds up biblically. You did that, and now I am doing that, and we may arrive at different conclusions. Go figure! You should not be surprised if people "fight" for what they believe in. My children never, ever eat (to my knowledge) aspartame. I think it is poison. There would have to be extensive studies, years of research done before I would ever concede to its safety. Does that make me a little bull headed?, you bet! I find it important to know what you know and why you know it, at the same time I have been proven wrong many times in my life or been gently rebuked by God's spirit. But it didn't mean that my beliefs were bad.

The florence quote was a little annoying because it was the 2nd or 3rd time that genitalia was brought into the discussion and it sounded like E's think that C's look to that as the measuring stick for leadership. (I'm not mad though)

Ash, my point about the natives was to say that there has to be a starting point, and "plain" is where I start, even though to some that would make me a simpleton. If all I had was the "plain" text in front of me, that is how I would try to live out my life. (staying as close to text as possible) Would I be missing a bunch of stuff?, yes. I always tend to lean towards the cautious side. (the way I see caution) Since I live in this country I have more opportunities for study and I am responsible for more knowledge. Hope that makes a little sense. The bible is all that some people have and they tend to be more of the literalists and legalist.

catrina said...

I just wanted to let you know that Tonya is camping so she probably isn't reading this anymore.

musicmommy3 said...

Ashley,
I love your way with words. (no sarcasm-I'm being serious)
I'm glad you put a perspective out there. :)
BTW- remember Cat's post awhile back about rebuking in love...I think you just did that. :)

Cat-
Don't worry about the grammer Nazi thing. Please don't be nervous about that. I'm getting better. Plus, I'm also making too many mistakes lately myself due to getting interupted about 10 times each comment I type.

Tia Lynn said...

Ashley, thank you for your comment, it is greatly appreciated. I just want to make it clear that the reason I am doing this study is to present the egalitarian point of view, since so many are unfamiliar with the reasons and evidence behind their equality beliefs. At the beginning of this series, I got all kinds of e-mails and comments from people who never studied egalitarianism, but because they knew they did not adhere to a gender hierarchy in marriage or the church, said things like: they overlook and twist scripture, they don’t believe in male headship, they are not biblically based, and they don’t just read the bible for what it plainly says. I have no issue with people who study for themselves and firmly believe in complementarianism. My issue is when one side (and it goes both ways) judges the other or dismisses the other for using the same methods that they themselves employ. You have to give the same freedoms to others you claim for yourself.

Catrina, I would hope complementarians would stand up and fight for what they believe, if they truly believe it! It’s the premature dismissal that annoys me. For instance, you said that I approach the bible with skepticism and you don’t and that seemed to be enough to dismiss the issues I raised with specific translation errors within scripture. I went back and read one of your earlier comments:

“This will be my biggest problem with this discussion, the fact that history and culture and various "opinions" will be brought in to change or "reinterpret" what is really there in black and white. It comes down to a matter of trust. Do you believe that God's hand was involved in picking and choosing the scriptures that were canonized and that his message in the word remained pure? Or do you find that you have to add to it so that it is relevant and works for today. Proverbs 30:5 "Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in him. "Do not add to his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar." I am passionate about the actual words that are in my Bible, I don't believe that what is written there is somehow not what he really meant to say.”

Based on what you said there: do you not think it was fair for me to bring up the discrepancy of methods as it pertains to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? And by the way, I still haven’t gotten a response from anyone that has clarified HOW it’s any different to believe Paul really didn’t mean to silence all women, (although that black and white text appears to say otherwise) and to believe “Paul didn’t really mean a woman can’t teach a man.” So neither you nor anyone else actually dismantled the points.

Terry raised a very valid point that neutrality should be sought after when studying the bible, but did not refute the point about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 sounding like a universal command with a face value reading.

I’m all about debate. I love it. But I want to debate points and arguments, not possible ulterior motives, whose personal experience outweighs the merit of their study, or who really takes the bible more seriously, or who stands to gain from egalitarianism being true/false and if one is convinced of one option, then their study must be automatically tainted.

And one more thing on the neutrality topic. When I started out, I most definitely would have considered myself a complementarian, though the marriage has always functioned egalitarian-style, but I was avidly opposed to women pastors, preachers, and the like. Once some people poked some holes in preconceived notions, I was unsure...not immediately pledging allegiance to egalitarianism. I looked into this topic off and on for nearly three years and during that time; I could have gone either way. I was not passionate about either side, because I honestly was not convinced either way. It was only once I became convinced that I now vocally advocate it. So, if the concern is that I started out with an agenda, I really did not. That’s not to say that I am somehow exempt from error, misunderstanding, or faulty reasoning. But I did not set out to prove egalitarianism was the way to go, I swayed for a long time.

Ashley Dumas said...

Hi Tia,

I think that your description of your post and your intentions are super clear. I was less commenting on the comp./egal. debate than on the nature of how we arrive at any belief or debatable issue. That's all : )

Ash

catrina said...

Oh I shouldn't be commenting now because I am cooking dinner, but I thought that I gave my counter argument to the Corinthian verse. If one verse doesn't make sense to me, I search the scriptures to determine what the meaning may be. I happily acknowledge that I use human reasoning for this. So since this verse seemingly contradicts other verses, I used other guidelines and instructions for women to determine intent. I also believe that it is highly possible that the greek word lalea(I think that is it) can be defined as contentious, so that makes perfect sense too me, that women weren't suppossed to be bickering and scrapping during church. It also lines up with a meek and quiet spirit. It was a poor phrasing choice to say that part about the actual words, (that makes me sound too much like a literalist) because as you stated I don't believe that I am should dismember myself if I sin. I was not responding to you when I used the word you. (make sense,lol) I was using it generally. I believe that tons of people read the bible skeptically, looking for discrepancies, looking for ways to discredit christianity,(not accusing you personally)and since none of us can read the actual original manuscripts and since none of us were actually there, I believe that God's word remained pure for me. Not to the minute detail of a left off number or punctuation but contextually pure. You(not you) can't convince me that homosexuality was not a sin, as some E's have tried to do based on scripture or culture, because I can't read the bible and come to that conclusion. I'm not trying to start another thread with that comment just trying to clarify how I see scripture. As Angela poined out long ago, A good C marriage looks like an E one. I don't take much issue with women in leadership roles in the church, I have said numerous times that it is a mute argument for me. I don't think it matters a whole lot. I could be wrong in my position. The marriage side of C is much more important to me.

I am waiting for overwhelming evidence to prove me wrong. Which if you can convince me of, I will gladly acknowledge and it won't shatter my faith or beleif in who God is too me. So far I have not been blown away by any huge revelations.

Attention smart people, would someone please tell me how to use the words to and too. I know that if I say I am going to the store, that is correct. I also can say, I am excited too, and that is correct, but what are the other uses. It is driving me insane!

Michelle said...

Ignoring the whole call for smart people (LOL) I will speak up as a simple word lover... too is a synonym for also - so, anywhere you'd use also you can use too. It is also a synonym for very... same thing, if you'd use very you can use too. "To" is used (I think I've got this right?) in basically every other use, as a preposition... except for the occasional use as an adverb (i.e. "after fainting, she came to").

Tia Lynn said...

The irony in all this is that I agree with you Catrina! And that was my original point. That verse is obscure and weird and doesn’t jive well with the whole of the bible or the heart of the bible, so you to do some digging, whether it’s with other examples of scripture where women are not silent and this is a good thing, or the original language adds a new dimension to the verse, or whatever. I’ll I ask is you consider that the case COULD be the same with 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and Ephesians 5, etc. That’s it!

And yes please, no homosexuality debate, we’ve had them here before and I’m spent!

catrina said...

Really! we're done with this one? Yea!, Phew!, I made it out alive. I'm not skipping ahead so when you get to those verses I'll see what I think.

Tia Lynn said...

Deal!

BTW peeps, Catrina is one of my favorite people in real life. this is just what we do! :)

DeeAnn said...

You can also you "Too" in the phrase "that's too bad" or something like that. Other than that and "me, too", I think you would always use 'to' or 'two'. I'm sure you know when to use 'two'. (Insert smiley face, I just can't do that. It feels so fake when I do it)

Tonya said...

Well, I just got back from a rainy camping trip and found that I have been confronted for sounding condescending. I am sooo sooo sorry if I came across that way, Tia. I didn't feel condescending, snippy, angry or hurt when I wrote any of that. If I was too straightforward, it was because I was trying to keep the fluff out so that my comments wouldn't get any longer than they already are. I was trying to be concise and in the process, I came across as rude.

I certainly agree with everyone who pointed out that our experiences are anything but neutral. My point was that you can't base theology on experience. Thus the point about asking God to put us in a neutral place. I won't try to explain anything else because I have a feeling that everything I am saying is lost in the offense I have caused. That should teach me!

Again, I apologize profusely if I hurt your feelings in any way. I am truly, truly sorry.

(((hug)))

Tia Lynn said...

Oh Tonya! I didn't think you were speaking from an angry place at all! I just thought you might have been prematurely dismissing evidence or this position based solely on the fact that I obviously have personal experiences with this topic. I totally agree that we must ask God to show us truth despite which positions best suit our personal experiences! Love you!

Tonya said...

I love you too! Thanks for being so understanding:).

Ashley Dumas said...

Dear Tonya,
Since I penned a comment to you personally I thought I must respond to your response. I am so sorry that you felt sad about the comments. I only wanted to point out which tone I felt was showing itself although I knew with certainty it was not the tone intentionally being put forth. I hope that I did not offend you in any way. The second reason I posted was just to state my point of view on debate in general. I love to read your comments and your thoughtful responses to Tia's posts. You are and have always been such an inspiration to me.

Love,

Ashley

Tonya said...

Ash,

Don't worry about it at ALL! You did not offend me. A good rebuke is vital every once in a while. Point taken. And I am doing some soul searching to make sure there isn't anything nasty in there, that I am not aware of, coming out through the keyboard:). Thanks for calling me to the carpet! "A rebuke from a freind is like a kiss", and all that:):):)