Showing posts from November, 2019

Male and Female: 99 Problems, the Church in Corinth

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 7) Rockstar Women of the Early Church 8) Was Paul Sexist? .......
Have you ever really read through 1 Corinthians? Like, just sat down and read it? Talk about ALL the drama. Their dirty laundry is on full display. If you ever think your church has issues, just read this letter to the Corinthian church.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that when you read the New Testament letters, you are essentially listening in to one side of a phone conversation. We are literally reading someone else’s mail. In many cases, we don’t really know why Paul is writing or what exact issues he is addressing. His exchanges with the Corinthians leave no doubt. We know they had written him with questions of their own, and 1 Corinthians is his response to those questions and then some.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul answers questions about leadership, marria…

Male and Female: Was Paul Sexist?

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 7) Rockstar Women of the Early Church .......
I have heard my fair share of critics call out Paul for being sexist and misogynistic. They claim that Paul was anti-woman. They point to his instructions concerning the household codes (Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3) and his prohibition against female leadership in the church (1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2).

Aha! There it is. No egalitarian would ever urge women to submit to their husbands! And no one truly concerned with equality would then prohibit half the population from joining in the leadership of the church. Would they?

And I would say those people are exactly right.

But sexist men who view women as inherently inferior to men would say those exact things while they translate and interpret Paul. In other words, it’s not that Paul is sexist. History has shown us that…

Male and Female: Rockstar Women of the Early Church

1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 6) Creation 2.0 .......
Just as you can’t help but notice all the women featured prominently in the gospels, so it is with Acts and the accounts of the early church.

Stop trying to force me to deal with Paul. We’re not there yet. We’ll get there when we get there! Haha

Right from the beginning, the women are fully included with the disciples. Check it out:
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14) Who are these women? We know Mary the mother of Jesus. We can safely assume that also included at least Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, and perhaps Mary and Martha along with others.

Multiple women and men joined the remaining eleven apostles in constant prayer. Then Peter addresses the group and the group appoints a man to replace Judas. That’s right…

Male and Female: Creation 2.0

The discussion so far: 1) In the Beginning
2) A Suitable Helper 3) Partners in Sin 4) Women in the Old Testament, part 1
5) Women in the Old Testament, part 2 .......
Now it’s time to get down to business. I still think I lost some of you by focusing so much on the Old Testament.  But I can’t - and I can’t emphasize this enough - emphasize this enough. We simply cannot disregard the Hebrew Scriptures. That’s the only Bible Jesus and the apostles had. That’s the only Bible the church had for hundreds of years of its existence. If we don’t examine the bulk of Scripture, we miss out on the amazing Story that unfolds - Creation, Fall, New Creation.

Jesus’ whole mission was to inaugurate the New Creation. It’s right there at his baptism - the voice of God, the light, the Spirit hovering over the waters. It’s there in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples - Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s there in all the miracles and signs Jesus performed. It’s there mos…

Male and Female: Women in the Old Testament, part 2

The discussion so far: 1) Male and Female: In the Beginning
2) Male and Female: A Suitable Helper 3) Male and Female: Partners in Sin 4) Male and Female: Women in the Old Testament, part 1 .......
So let’s take a quick look at what specific women actually did in the Old Testament.

Before we begin, I want to address a couple potential objections. First, the Old Testament was written for our learning (Romans 15:4). I believe it is entirely relevant to consider the bulk of Scriptures in our discussion of gender roles within the Kingdom of God. After all, whenever you read about “the Scriptures” in the New Testament, it only ever meant the Hebrew Bible, i.e. the Old Testament. Second, nowhere in the text does it say or even imply that these women were the exceptions. They may have been exceptional women, but the Bible does not attempt to portray these women as somehow working outside the norm. They aren’t so much exceptions to the rule as they are exceptions that prove the rule - the rule of…

Male and Female: Women in the Old Testament, part 1

The discussion so far: 1) Male and Female: In the Beginning
2) Male and Female: A Suitable Helper 3) Male and Female: Partners in Sin .......
I think it has been pretty strongly established that the Bible was written by men in a patriarchal culture. Men ruled the scene. Men were the kings and priests and business owners. Men made the decisions. Men had full ownership rights. Men could be educated and literate. Men made the laws.

But was all of this God’s will?

I think from our discussion of Genesis 3, it’s clear that this hierarchy is a result of the fall. Broken trust leads to broken relationships. Broken relationships lead to inequality and a power imbalance. We see that if men can oppress women without repercussions, then men will oppress women.

This comes to its most vile expression in Genesis 6. There’s a really strange passage at the beginning of the Noah story. We read that the “sons of God” were taking the “daughters of men” to be their wives. Ok…what?

One way of interpreting th…

Male and Female: Partners in Sin

Part 1) Male and Female: In the Beginning
Part 2) Male and Female: A Suitable Helper
....... You know what's really interesting to do? Try reading Genesis 3 through the lens of developing civilizations. Think about the transition humans made from hunter-gatherer societies to agrarian societies and see how it lines up with the transition we see take place through Genesis 2, 3, and 4.

The man and woman are in the garden. God has given them one rule - don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I don't want to dive into the whole question of why God placed that tree there or why it was so bad for them to do it. That's a whole other discussion.

The point is that they disobeyed God, sin and death entered the world, and there were major repercussions. One key consequence of their action was a rift in the relationship between the man and the woman.

So let's take some time to see how the story plays out and how it changes everything.
When the woman saw that t…

Male and Female: A Suitable Helper

Read part one of this series here >> Male and Female: In the Beginning
If you aren't aware, the Bible contains not one but two creation accounts. (Maybe even three if you count the first two verses of Genesis as a separate account entirely like some scholars do.) Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 is the great creation song, the epic poem of God creating something out of nothing. Well, not out of nothing per se, but rather out of his self-loving community and divine omnipresence.

Genesis 2:4 begins another account, zooming in on the creation of one man, one woman, and one garden. I appreciate that the Jews never tried to form a "reconciled" or "harmonized" version of the accounts by forcing them into one another. They are distinct. They are separate. And they are both telling a very particular story.

The Creation Song ends with God declaring his creation is "very good" and then taking a Sabbath rest (the 7th day doesn't "end," by the way). …

Male and Female: In the Beginning

In the beginning...

As often as possible I try to do two things when studying the Scriptures. 1) Look back at the beginning for how God intended to world to be, and 2) Look forward to the world as Jesus set it in motion to become. One of my favorite hymns is This Is My Father's World. That song does exactly that - it looks around to the awesomeness of God's creation, but it also looks forward to the day when "earth and heaven" become "one" again. And Jesus is at the center of it all.

That's my hermeneutic. That's my modus operandi for discovering what the Scriptures are all about. Obviously, there's more to it than that, but this is as simple as I can make it.

Too often, discussions about the role of women in the church are too quick to jump to the passages in Paul (all two of them) that seem to issue an eternal ban on all female leadership in the church. And if we do that, then we run the risk of thinking Paul is saying something I don't be…

GOD IS LIGHT: John is more right than he knows

How do you think about God? What image comes to mind?

Maybe you think of God as some cosmic grandfather, an elderly white man with a long, flowing beard reminiscent of Santa Claus.

Maybe God is some kind of universal policeman always on the lookout for people to mess up so he can zap them with lightning.

Maybe nothing in particular comes to mind.

John makes an interesting illustration for God in 1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. We're probably all familiar with what John says later in the letter: God is love. But here at the beginning, John says that God is light.

One of John's favorite binaries is light and darkness. It's all throughout his gospel, his letters, and Revelation. The opening paragraph of John's gospel concludes this way:
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. I think Light …