Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Context Revisited (Biblical Equality)

I think I finally got some semi-original insight into one of the pro-patriarchy rationales for women being subject to men. It came from a woman whose writing I read from time to time, and who in her own words "hates egalitarian feminism." OK, that's her right. I happen to hate the effects of patriarchy that I've witnessed in society, family, and church. And that's my right. The difference is, I can acknowledge that this woman is still my Christian sister, despite what I absolutely believe is her blindness about the equality the Bible teaches us is our re-birthright in Jesus Christ. She, sadly, has declared that we biblical egalitarians are heretics. Ah, well...so be it. Her opinion may separate us in some ways, but despite that opinion, we both belong to our Lord.

Anyway, I commented on another blog in response to her direct question "Is woman made for man?":

"Of course woman was created for man, [her name]. Contextually, it is clear that they were created for each other and, together, for the purpose of glorifying God and partnering together to do God’s will."

I read several of her non-approved responses that expressed strong disagreement with this statement of mine, because she posted them on a public forum. I also read the one that eventually was approved and posted on the blog. From what I can make out, she completely missed the word "contextually," and she seems to see no distinction between Paul's "man was not created for woman, but woman for man," and my observation that the full witness of Scripture does indeed teach us that womEn are made for mEn even as mEn are made for womEn. Paul begins with giving the summary of the creation order, then reminds us that man (that is, subsequent men) are now born of woman (subsequent women), and all find our source in God.

What this woman seems be saying, which I find fairly original among patriarchalists, is that this one phrase ("For man was not made for woman, but woman for man") constitutes an ordering of women to be subordinate to men. Try as I might, I cannot find anything that makes this true. But again, that's her argument.

So my point in blogging about this (and I do have one) is to ask whether anyone else who embraces biblical equality has encountered this argument before. A second, more general question is, how have you addressed the issue of biblical context with people who hold opinions like this (framed by proof-text), yet who are genuinely interested in understanding a hermeneutic that permits one to recognize equality as God's intended "order" for men and women in church, family, and society?


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

This doesn't answer your question, but there are some "humor" articles at http://www.equalitycentral.com/eca/humor/ that might not be humorous to some. But their point is to show that people have used more than literal Bible interpretations to interpret the man/woman scriptures.

For me, Paul's words about how we are in Christ are enough.

Psalmist said...


Yes, I'm familiar with those. Quite good, and equally abysmal hermeneutic.

I'm trying not to just brush off opinions like this, nor the holders of them. Maybe it's a character flaw to want so badly to understand where someone's coming from, and where their logic is actually breaking down.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

That assumes they use logic, or try to.

On the other end of the logic spectrum : I've been told by the JWs that some of my beliefs (Christian theology, ie trinity) aren't logical. And my response is, What does logic have to do with it? I would hope that God's mind is greater than mine and that God's logic is also greater than human logic.

So how does this differ from other people using what seems to me to be a convoluted scheme of logic to stick to a point they would believe anyway?