Paul’s view are a simple reflection of the cultural mores they lived under, no more no less.
Okay, I’ll answer it. Paul expressed the mind of God. He wasn’t merely expressing the culture of the day. If it had been the culture of the day, there would not have been the necessity for him to have given these instructions to women. They would have simply followed the culture.
Because a person has a different function than another doesn’t make him or her inferior. Jesus ALWAYS submitted to the will of His Father. That didn’t mean that He was inferior to the Father; He was and is just as divine as the Father. But the fact that He is equally divine doesn’t imply that He can strike out on His own and do things that were not the intention of His Father.
It is the same with a woman and her husband. Her submission to her husband does not mean that she is inferior as a person or is his slave. A good Christian woman submits to her husband of her own free will; she is not forced. And if he is a good Christian husband, he won’t attempt to force her, but to lead her. Such a relationship is beautiful, and such a woman is beautiful, feminine, and attractive. Such a marriage is one of harmony.
On the other hand, we have all seen the results of marriages where women insist on “equality.” Either the husband gives in, and she dominates him, or they are in a constant state of fighting, or he lives his life and she lives hers even though they dwell in the same house.
Thank you, Davo. So how do you know when Paul’s writings represent God’s moral standards as opposed to Paul’s culturally biased personal views? What makes you think his writings on women in church, hair length, and slavery were the latter?
Paidion, From this point of view, it seems:
- God only speaks to men.
- The woman has no mind and heart of her own and cannot determine the difference between right and wrong.
- God does not give you wisdom if you are a woman.
- The man is always right and always knows what’s best.
This also works the other way around, where the wife gives in and the man dominates her.
In looking at the story of Abraham and Sarah, had Sarah not listened to her husband when he told her to say she was his sister, a lot of trouble could have been avoided.
qaz, From what I understand, we are to rely on the Spirit of truth that is within our own hearts and minds to confirm these truths. As is said, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you in all things.
Nope. None of these four follow from women being in Godly submission to their husbands. Quite the contrary. It is then that:
- God will reveal himself to such Godly wives.
- She will have a truly feminine mind and heart that will be a joy to her husband and to everyone else among her acquaintances. She will have proved that she knows the difference between right and wrong in that she has chosen to conduct her life in the right, Godly way as God designed her.
- Such a woman has already demonstrated her wisdom in following God’s way for her.
- This does not follow either. A good husband will value his wife’s input,though he is the leader of the family. Just as in a business, the person who runs the business, values the input of the workers, even though in general he is responsible for the business operation.
This is a very fundamental view that totally disgraces the position of women today in the role that God has laid out for them. Shame on you Paidion.
I’d assume your “God’s moral standards” are summed up in holding to the likes of…
Follow this and the spirit of decency will translate into respect where one’s gender or length of hair ceases to be determinants as to one’s use or place in God’s hands. As for slavery… that also is a no-brainer in that in Paul’s day and age such was normal — thankfully times have changed.
There is nothing disgraceful about it. There’s nothing fundamentally different about women TODAY than there was about women 2000 years ago.
I am not ashamed to stand for the Godly understanding of the husband/wife relationship.
This is turning into an argument with Don (Paidion), who is a good and loving brother and too venerable for us to be scrapping with over things about which he is not going to change his mind. He believes what he believes in good faith and undoubtedly treats women much more respectfully than many men who are far more liberal than he with regard to the “place” of women. Just my opinion on that front.
This is what I would say about the actual OP. Paul IS speaking to the people to whom he is speaking and not necessarily to us–certainly not directly. He had no idea we would be reading his words two thousand years later, nor any idea what the world would be like today. NONE. He expected Jesus to return probably within his lifetime. Maybe Jesus returned in the person of the Church–or maybe at least the church is a type of His future bodily Return.
Concerning women, if you read the book of Romans as a whole, you will notice a very curious thing. First we see Paul saying that if a woman wishes to prophesy (presumably this involves audible speech) in church, she should have her head covered (because of the angels/messengers? I don’t get that one and I don’t think anybody else gets it, either). So here is Paul saying women SPEAKING under the influence of the Holy Spirit, should be sure to keep their heads covered. I’ve read various cultural things about the head covering (tho no one who pretended to understand the ‘angel’ reference). One commentator said that women prophesying in pagan temples would remove their head covering as a sign that they were now not under their husbands’/fathers’ authority, but were speaking for the goddess/god. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see that Paul might not want to encourage the local church to be imitating the practices of pagan temples.
Head coverings for women were not a Jewish thing until Israel was conquered by the Greeks. It was a Greek thing, and the Greeks were extremely misogynistic, even by the contemporaneous Jewish standards. The law of Moses nowhere calls for this sort of thing. It also doesn’t call for women being silent in the church–that was the Rabbinic law.
It’s important to realize that Romans had a precursor (or probably two, from competing factions) in the form of the Corinthians writing to Paul. This is Paul’s answer to their questions, and if you study the book closely, you’ll see that Paul seems to be quoting the Corinthians and then answering them. I had to have this pointed out to me, btw. It never occurred to me, but you know how he says
Isn’t that bizarre? It is if you don’t get what’s going on. First, it’s never talking about food; it’s talking about sex. That’s what the proverb is about and the meaning is that the body is made for sex, so basically, what’s the big deal? It was probably a gnostic idea (my guess) because the gnostics felt that what you did in the body didn’t matter–it was only the spirit that matters. So the first phrase (the proverb) is Paul stating what the Corinthians said to them. Then he responds. Now it makes sense. That was a revelation to me. Duh! How did I miss that? If you look, you’ll see other instances of this kind of interaction. No punctuation in ancient Greek, you know. The recipients of his letter knew what was going on.
Something of this kind is happening with the “women keep silent” passage. Paul rebukes the people who wrote this to him with (so I’m told) the same phrase that is in other places translated “God forbid!” Funny how that didn’t make it into the medieval translations. I wonder how that happened? Hmmm… could it be that someone else–someone other than Paul–was a little bit misogynistic? First Paul tells the ladies “cover your heads when you prophesy,” and then later in the SAME letter, he tells them, Shut the heck up–your voice is shameful!" I don’t think that makes sense at all.
There is the Timothy passage, in which Paul tells Timothy to allow “a woman” (probably speaking of a specific woman who had been a bit troublesome) to learn in “silence” though the word used does not imply that she should never speak–but rather that she should learn in peace. IOW, she can learn (which at the time was considered dangerous–women’s brains weren’t made for that sort of thing after all…) Later on he goes back to simply saying “women,” but I’m not going to get into the whole passage–though it IS fascinating. That might seem a bit of a stretch, and it IS somewhat speculative, but based on Paul’s actions in other places, he had no problem with women teaching men. Because of that, I can only say for certain that we are misunderstanding this passage in Timothy in some way–possibly in the way I’ve briefly sketched out above.
Why? Well, there is the little matter of Priscilla and Aquila. Notice who is mentioned first? That is (so I’m informed) a telling thing. Priscilla was the more learned or spiritual or at least better at explaining, and that’s why her husband is mentioned after her name rather than before, as the custom was. This couple had instructed Apollos in the Way. (Yes, both of them), and Apollos later became a prominent figure in the early church. Priscilla and Aquila were also key players and often traveled with and worked with Paul. Paul didn’t have a problem with Priscilla’s ministry.
And we also have the example of Junia, whom the religious scholars tried to make into a male (the boy named Sue?) although there is no Roman name “Junio” (which would be the male form of that name). Translators called her a “servant,” but when the same word is used of a male, they translate it “Deacon.” She is mentioned among the apostles and no distinction is made between her and the men.
My point here is that (while I agree that Paul isn’t necessarily always right), we very often completely misunderstand Paul. Part of this is due to the male-centric views of early translators of the scriptures into English, and part is that, very early on, the church became very Greek. With that came all the Greeks’ baggage regarding women. AND a large part is us pretending that Paul was thinking of US when he wrote his letters. We forget the important cultural and personal surroundings–the setting of his epistles–and that is our largest mistake.
Cindy, I really appreciate your thoughtful writing on this topic and will be sharing it with others, as well as the Richard Murray piece. Excellent, excellent, both.
To say Paul was talking about body parts is not the deciding factor – it is the whole body and whole physiological makeup. Anyone can get a body part changed or attached.
Have you met Jordan Peterson? A courageous man who has made a study of people for decades – teaches at U of Toronto and is under fire there for political incorrectness. Here is his piece on gender differences. youtube.com/watch?v=ewvqEqIXdhU
My husband and I fellowship with Anabaptists as well as another group that adheres to Paul’s teachings. Both groups are open to women participating when the floor is open and I have had no problems there. I have never needed to get behind the pulpit to teach – there are many ways other than that to share or get one’s point across.
Once the 1Cor11 chapter was being studied and oddly, it fell on me to read the verses about having the head covered. I gave testimony how I had lived in Santa Fe in the 70s when all sorts of religious groups with all sorts of religious garb were living there and when I met the Lord, I gave a sigh of relief that I did not have to adhere to any particular type of dress to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I told them that I respected what their decisions were for themselves, but I just could not ‘do it’ – wear a hat or doily on my head with the belief that it meant something to God or the angels. I did not argue about the scripture – just spoke my conviction. They seemed to accept what I said.
I have seen women with heads covered being extremely bossy with their husbands and my thought has always been, what about common courtesy and respect?
I was always taught that a woman needs to be loved, and a man needs to be respected. I generally hold to that and see it in relationships we are privy to. We have seen relationships in which the woman is concerned about her equality and they have not lasted. A close friend of mine almost came to divorce because of that attitude. She is learning to love, truly. Marriage is 100% / 100% both ways.
I really appreciate Paidion’s view and know him to be a kind man, not authoritative or overbearing. He takes good care of his household; his wife feels protected, provided for and loved. He and his wife have division of labor because that is the practical way to do things, though he is not above getting himself something to eat, and will ask his wife concerning the food supplies when doing so out of respect for her oversight of the kitchen.
I was really sorry to see the brother say to Paidion, “Shame on you”. That hurts one’s heart. Otherwise, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you.
Cindy, I appreciated much of what you wrote in your recent post. However, I believe you to be mistaken about the “Junia” matter.
Why do you suppose so many translators translate the name as “Junias” (a contracted form of “Junianus”, the masculine form)? We find “Junias” as the translation in the following versions: ASV, Darby, Diaglott, Douay, EMTV, NASB, Philips, Rotherham, LO, Message, RSV, and YLT. Are all these translators male chauvinists?
No, there is a reason for this that lies in the Greek form of the word. The name is in the accusative case (used for direct objects of a verb) and is singular. Now it so happens that the Greek form for the accusative singular of the feminine “Junia” and the masculine “Junias” is IDENTICAL!
This accusative singular word in Greek is “ιουνιαν” (iounian). What do we conclude from all of this? That no one knows for certain whether Paul is asking the brethren in Rome to greet a man “Junias” or a woman “Junia.” I think it more likely that the person who is “among the apostles” would be a man. There is no indication that any of the overseers that the apostles appointed in the churches were women, and so it would surprise me indeed if one of the apostles were.
However, from the name itself, being the same in the accusative singular for both “Junias” and “Junia”, we cannot determine which of the two it is.
I made a pitch for women. I believe women are equal to men in every aspect of life.
We are all going to have to make a decision as to if we are going to take what ‘Paul in the bible’ says as literal for us 2000 years later or accept that ‘Paul was talking about’ what was happening in his time with his culture and people.
You may have good intentions but you may not realize the ramifications.
The ramifications are the best possible: beautiful, submissive wives as God intended them to be, and loving, supportive husbands as God intended them to be.
Thus I have made a pitch for women, also. I also hold that they are equal to men, though as wives they are positionally different—just as the Son of God is equal to God, though as the Son, He is positionally different. He said, “I do nothing of Myself.”
Can you explain a beautiful submissive wife as God intended?
Are men allowed to do things that degrade their wife into submission? I have seen it. Are men allowed to yell down their wives because God said that the wife was to submit to the man? I have seen it. Men that do detestable things to their wives because somehow they are assured that God demands that of them. I have seen it. It is horrible and ugly and all done in the name of God.
By gosh I have seen men scream at their wives in fellowship. Made me want to vomit. All because of this idea of being submissive.
There is another side to your coin Don. I’ve seen it.
The exhortation is complete if you add: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church”.
That’s not another side of the coin, MM. That’s a different coin.
Submission of the wife is not forced. It is her choice whether or not to be what she was created to be.
Right on, Dave. Husbands have the more difficult role. To actively love one’s wife as Christ loved the church is a high goal. Perhaps no Christian husband has achieved it, but every one of them ought to be continually striving toward that goal!
First of all Paidion, you did not answer my question (Can you explain a beautiful submissive wife as God intended?) and that is okay… you have to understand that there are men who *listen to you *and read a few verses in the bible and think that they have to force or at least cajole their wives to be submissive (listen woman: the bible says it) when none of the parties are really comfortable with the said submission. Paidion there are all kinds of small churches and cults that promote the submission of the wife to the husband. But your own words seem to suggest that you agree that marriage is a co-operation between two people that become one.
So at the end of the day, in your view are men and woman equal in the eyes of God?
I have already answered that question. But I’ll repeat my answer:
The Son of God has always been submissive to God.
So is the Son equal to the Father? Yes. He is just as divine as the Father. John 1:1 says that He was “God” in some sense right from the Beginning.
But the Son has a position that differs from that of His Father. He has always been submissive to the Father.
Is a wife equal to her husband? Yes. She is equally human, and she is as likely to have equal intelligence (though she is less likely to have equal physical strength). But if the husband and wife are following God’s order, they will both know that she holds a position that differs from that of her husband. She recognizes him as the leader of the family. Many wives don’t, and the usual result is conflict, or indifference, or growing apart.