Monday, March 29, 2010

So You Want a Sign...

Ok, this is creepy...I was reading the devos for this morning and had my thoughts all lined out on what I was going to write about. The Old Testament texts come from Judges 6 and 7 and talk about God calling Gideon to lead the Israelites against the Midianites. That was what I was going to hit on.

Evidently, the Midianites had been giving the Israelites some problems, camping on their land, destroying their crops, overgrazing their pastures, yada yada yada, and leaving Israel with nothing to eat. So Israel cried out to God for help. Long story short, Gideon was threshing some wheat in a winepress one day, hiding what he was doing from hungry eyes, and an angel appeared to him to tell him that he was going to be the one to defeat the Midianites. Gideon, much like most of us, asked for a sign...not once, but at least 4 times.

Signs are good things, aren't they? If we are feeling like we need to do something, but aren't exactly sure, a sign straight from God would be just what we would need to convince us. it is. At least for me, and at least this morning. You see, we've got a very dear friend that had a really bad night at church last night. I'm not going to say who it is, but she knows, and since I'm not saying any names, I don't think she would mind me doing this. So, here goes.

As I kept reading, I covered the chapters from Judges, then the Psalm for the day, and moved on into 1 Corinthians chapter 14, still planning on going back and blogging on the signs that Gideon had asked for, but then I read this: (Warning...this is Paul speaking and not Jamie)

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. 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 church." (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)

It was a sign, and here's why. Our friend is a preacher's wife, or PW for short. Yesterday, her husband was called out of town for a hospital visit and was not going to be back in time for services last night. She decided to give a devotional during the service last night, instead of cancelling service, and in the middle of her devotional, one of the men stood up, looked around, and said that what she was doing was not scriptural and that there would be a board meeting to take care of this. I know! Can you believe that?

Allow me a moment to address what Paul has done here. A few days ago, I mentioned Paul being at his best with the "becoming all things to all people so that by some means I might win a few" thing. A couple days ago, I mentioned Paul was at his worst when he said that man was the head of the woman. Well today, we have Paul at his absolute worst with this little gem.

And here is where I become infuriated when someone says to me, "But the bible says..." as if that immediately makes everything ok. Yeah, Paul says that women are not to speak in church, but, sometimes, men in the church should be silent too. What Paul is talking about is building up the body...edification, if you would like a more fancy term. What this man did to our friend last night was the total opposite of edification.

Personally, I don't think Paul even said those words in 1st Corinthians 14. If that makes me a heretic, so be it. I think they were added later by some guy who had a burr in his britches about something, and was looking for someone to blame; probably not unlike what happened to my friend last night. Ok, I admit, I have no proof of that, but here's why I think that. Why would God cause a man to pen words that oppress any one of God's creations? God wouldn't. God wouldn't write something for us to follow, word for word, if those words would make any one of his daughters or sons feel like she did last night.

Folks can say that what Paul said was all about keeping order in worship, and that's even the subtitle of the section, but if you ask me, it's all about keeping a group of people, in this case women, from being what God has created them to be. If that's the case these words CANNOT be the words of God. I would much rather be labeled a heretic than to support oppression, and by claiming these words to be the words of God, that's exactly what I would be doing.

Now, If women can't speak in church, then I have to throw out my entire Sunday School education. Mrs. Marilyn...Mrs. Dorothy...Mrs. Mildred...even my mom...all women, and they were the ones that taught me growing up. So, here's my thoughts, and this may get me in trouble with some folks, but oh well, we know that hasn't stopped me before. I guarantee that in my friend's church, women teach 99% of the Sunday school classes. I would almost bet that if they have a choir, which I don't know if they do or not, that a woman leads that. I know for a fact, that the women do the cooking for their potlucks (which by the way, they put on one heck of a feed). But you're telling me, that because of one line in a letter to a group of folks 2000 years ago, women can't stand up and speak. Sorry, but I'm calling bullcrap on that one.

And somebody has to. If it gets me in trouble, oh well. I said in the beginning that you didn't have to agree with me, and I was very serious. I don't get easily offended, but someone has to begin looking at these things for what they are...leftovers from a patriarchal society in which women and children were just one step above slaves. Scripture is true, and the truths contained within it are timeless; but we do have to keep in mind the context of the time, who was writing, who was reading, who has edited, and sometimes, we have to take Paul with a grain of salt. Oh, and by the way, Paul never even meant for us to read his letters. Just saying.



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