Friday, November 5, 2010

The Sarcasm of Paul

Did the word of God originate from you?

I am sure that most of you, dear readers, are familiar with the ages-old debate in the Christian church over women in the church. Can they speak? Be ministers? Hold positions of authority over a mixed congregation?

It could seem as if there isn't an simple answer. I hold that there is a simple one and it's been right where we would least expect it! But prepare yourself, because this post and this topic requires logic and reasoning. Reader beware!

Let's start off with some good, old-fashioned Pauline epistle. How about Corinthians? I love me some good Corinthians. Nothing like a Snuggie and Paul's first epistle of the church in Corinth to complete the FOREVER ALONE
expectations I have for my life. But I digress.

In this letter, Paul is dealing with some upset in the church. In the chapter I'm about to discuss, Paul tries to set some grounds for orderly worship. I, for one, love nothing better than a worshipful brouhaha but evidently the Holy Spirit doesn't work that way. Too bad God doesn't work the way I want God to. That sounds like another post, though.

Chapter 14:26 starts off the section. Paul tells the Corinthians that it could be that everyone has something to add to the worship experience- rock on! However, those contributions need to be added in orderly, respectfully, and most of all, worshipfully. I think that from time to time, we as Christians forget just how worshipful peace and respect can be. I'm glad that Paul brought this up- the sovereignty of God strikes again! (Perhaps "strikes" wasn't such a great word choice.)

But then we get to a troubling passage at verse 33b and following
(As in all the churches of the saints, 34women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.* 36Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?)

What is this? Does Paul, who believes that God doesn't care what sex we are, really believe this? What is he saying?

The answer to this is quite simple, but I wouldn't expect your armchair theologian to know it. Why? Because it's all in the Greek pronouns! Of course! (Done in my best Mr. Portokalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding impression)

Let me paste in the Greek text for verse 36.
ἢ ἀφ’ ὑμῶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθεν, ἢ εἰς ὑμᾶς μόνους κατήντησεν;
with a literal English translation being "Or did the word of God come out from you(male, plural) ? Or came it only unto you (male, plural) ?
See those plural male pronouns in there? Oh, Paul! You slay me! Your sarcasm knows no bounds.

What is Paul getting at?
Paul is asking the men of the congregation if God's word came only to them, or if comes only from them. Now, Paul could have said this a number of other ways to avoid a gender distinction, but he said it in this particular way. Why? Because Paul wants to make certain that the Corinthians understand that although the women of this church are causing a problem right now (most of it related to Docetism if I'm not getting my history too flubbed), women can hold positions of ecclesiastical authority just as men can, and can speak in a church just as the men can.

The moral of the story is this: Paul is trying to disciple the church in Corinth while reminding them that all Christians- male or female- can hold positions of authority if God ordains them to hold it. Context is absolutely crucial to the formation of doctrine, as is taking the Bible as a whole.

Did God's word originate from only you?

Use Scripture in Context!

An exegetical how-not-to.

"So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself." Jesus said, "Go forth, and do likewise."

Dripping with sarcasm,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I haven't neglected you, dear blog!

I have been overwhelmed lately!

I am behind in my classes (but I'm getting back on track, thank God!)

Also, I have had a tough time on the family front lately. My paternal grandfather passed away a few weeks ago and I'm a very slow griever. I get really tired and lazy when I grieve, which explains my terrible work ethic. However I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so I hope to be able to invest some time in this blog again, soon!

Upcoming post:
The Sarcasm of Paul: "Did the word of God originate from you?"

In everlasting arms,