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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Jul23WedJuly 23, 2014
You’ve probably never heard of Augusta and Adeline Van Buren. But on July 4th, 1916, the sisters, aged 32 and 27 respectively, set out from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn New York to cross the continent on two specially prepared Indian Power Plus motorcycles. They became the first women to do so as well as the first women to ride motorized vehicles to the 14,109 feet summit of Pike’s Peak. “The sisters were ‘society girls’ out to prove that women could ride motorcycles across the then treacherous continent…” And even though they didn’t convince the Army that women were fit to serve as dispatch riders they did ride victoriously into Los Angeles on September 8th and, just to put the icing on the cake, rode on down to Tijuana to cross the border into Mexico.
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This is just one example among thousands of women who have excelled in arenas usually held to be the province of men alone. Perhaps one of the best outcomes of the women’s movement is the demonstration that women, short of things that require a lot of upper body strength, can do just about anything that men can do and in some cases do it better. And men, short of having babies, can do anything that women have traditionally done.
We see these stories, or read about them, and then we sit down one day to read our Bibles, open them to 1 Corinthians 11:3 & 10, 1Cor. 14:33-35, or 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and read:
1 Cor 11:3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Cor 11:10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
1 Cor 14:34-35 …women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35) 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 the church.
1 Tim 2:11-14 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12) I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14) And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (NIV)
We stop, and scratch our heads, and say, what’s up with that? Why did Paul say that stuff? Was he just having a bad day? Had he just had a fight with his wife? Oh yeah, some people think he was divorced. Maybe he just had it in for women?
At this point it’s important to realize that we have four options, four approaches for dealing with what the Apostle Paul said.
First, we can do what the culture has done and disregard it as antiquated, selfishly motivated, anti-feminist rhetoric clothed in religion and designed to keep women under the domination of men. But if you disregard one part of scripture you might as well disregard all of it. It is both inspired by God and authoritative in our lives, or it isn’t.
Second, we can take the other extreme. We can literalize these teachings, ignoring the context and taking them only on the surface and applying them literally to our day and time. Many, many people have done this over the years and much harm has been done to men and women and the kingdom of God in the process.
Apologize For It
Third, we can take the approach that many leading evangelicals have taken: apologize for the Apostle Paul, relegate these teachings to a bygone age, and ignore their intent. Bill Hybels, among others, a man I deeply respect for his development of the seeker church model and leadership of the Willow Creek Church, has taken this track.
Submit Ourselves To It
Fourth, and of all the options this is the most difficult and the most rewarding, try to understand God’s intent in the inspired words of his apostle, take it to heart and apply it appropriately in our age. That is the approach that FCC takes.
Our task, as we study God’s word on men and women and their roles in the Church and the home, is to submit ourselves to the scriptures, to put ourselves under it, in the late John R. W. Stott’s words, and not over it. We believe that represents the humility we are to take in all things pertaining to life as followers of Christ. We will try to understand what God was communicating through the pen of his apostle and apply it to our age. Our method (known to theologians as our hermeneutic) is careful, respectful, exegesis and application. Exegesis analyzes five elements: The cultural / historical setting of the text, the literary genre’, the vocabulary and grammar of the text, and the rest of scripture as it pertains to the text, with the intent to understand what it meant to the Corinthians in their context. In other words, what were they hearing? How does it relate to the rest of scripture on this topic? How does that meaning come forward twenty-one centuries to us? And finally, how can we respectfully, humbly, and diligently obey it?
To do that, we need to put our text in context with the rest of scripture. We’ll begin to do that next week.