The Core Sunday Gathering

November 13, 2011

Series: The Sexes
Week 7: The Misunderstood Misogynist

-I have to admit, this is the part of The Sexes series that I’ve been dreading.

        -Why? Because I can’t reconcile what I see in the church today with the church run by Paul

        -More specifically, I can’t agree with the way he constantly held women back

                -[SLIDES] Look for yourself: Paul never talks or ministers to women, and never addresses them in his letters

                -Paul never allows them any high-profile or important tasks… only minor support roles

                -He teaches that women are inferior to men, and instructs men to rule over them

        -[SLIDE] The reason I can’t buy any of this stuff, is that EVERY WORD OF IT IS FALSE.

                -Paul, unlike other rabbis, talks and ministers constantly to women, and writes to them directly

                -He credits several women as his teammates, who work hard right alongside him

                -He insists that women are of equal value in a culture where they are listed as property

                        -and he teaches men to serve their wives lovingly, and lead them sacrificially

-Now that I’ve played around with you a little, let’s get really real…

-I want you to ask yourself: What do you want out of this?

        -Do you want me to explain away all of Paul’s seemingly sexist teaching?

        -Do you want me to give you Biblical reasons to believe that women should be pastors?

        -Or maybe you want me to close that door in a sensitive but inspirational way?

        -OR! Do you simply want to walk up to the Scriptures empty-handed, allowing God to say whatever he wants.

                -What’s your agenda here? Are you waiting for God to make a sensible argument?

                -Are you trying to make sure you like everything you believe?

                -Question: If you find all your beliefs pleasant, what are the odds that your all beliefs are true?

-Everyone looking for all the unpleasantness in Paul’s letters to be explained away, will be disappointed

        -And everyone looking for every church tradition to be upheld and enforced, will also be disappointed

-There are about half a dozen passages in Paul’s letters that get under our modern skin

        -And we tend to instantly misuse them in all different ways. But I see two problems in particular…

-Our first problem is that we jump to conclusions based on a few snippets of Scripture

        -True understanding comes when all of it is taken together, especially when different parts seem to conflict

                -Ideally we should read the entire Bible… then you can ask “Is this interpretation the heart of God?”

        -But at the very least, we need to take all of a particular author’s words into account

                -So when we hear Paul saying words that don’t seem Christian, we don’t have to doubt his place in the Bible

        -When interpreting Paul’s tough sayings, we don’t have to ask whether he is in disagreement with Jesus

                -but whether Paul disagrees with himself. Don’t take any of the ought sayings at face value

                -Because he says (and does) so many other things that round out the complete picture of Paul

-Our second problem here is that we read everything in light of the modern church.

        -We forget that God has been growing us and moving us forward all these centuries

        -And we impose all our modern sensibilities on an ancient culture, expecting them to transform in a flash

                -And instantly become something that modern Christians can appreciate

                -Like an accomplished artist looking with embarrassment through a box in her parent’s attic.

                -Those finger-paintings bore the seeds of the master painter, but they can be tough to look at

        -And one of those embarrassing finger-painting moments for the Church is right here:

-Assign Scripture: 1 Corinthians 14:34

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

        -First let’s look at the thrust of Chapter 14. The whole point of the chapter is that things should be orderly.

                -The Corinthians had a problem with this… everybody wanted to speak or prophesy all at once.

                -One of the ways the Corinthians caused disruption was by stopping to question everything that happened

                -And since the women were less educated, they were the primary culprits.

                -This is why Paul told them to ask their husbands later, at home. At least until their education could catch up.

        -Still, it looks an awful lot like Paul is short-changing women’s right to participate in worship. But look at everything!

                -In chapter 11, Paul affirms the right of women to prophesy! Just not in a disruptive way

-Assign Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:11-12

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

        -We don’t practice slavery anymore. But the culture of Paul’s time did

        -So Paul instructed masters to be kind and fair to their slaves, and slaves to accept their position and do it well

                -And reminded them both that they are equal in Christ

        -Even in Paul’s time, the marriage imbalance was not as severe as slavery

                -but he still taught the importance of not brazenly jumping your station in life

                -As James said, don’t pridefully grab the best seat at the table.

                        -instead take the humblest seat, and wait to be invited forward

-I want to tread carefully here… because I don’t want to give any excuse for the oppression we men have caused

        -But I also can’t get past the way of Jesus for those who are oppressed

        -If you are oppressed, Jesus is especially with you, and for you. But he doesn’t tell you to revolt or complain

                -Jesus set the example by patiently enduring suffering, and praying for those who persecuted him

        -Ladies, you do deserve everything you’ve been denied. Men, we ought make things as right as we can

                -But as Christ-followers we are never called to fight for our own rights

                -But to find our strength in our reliance on God. And in his assurance that JUSTICE WILL COME.

        -To some degree it has. It was prideful in Paul’s day for a woman to jump her station and start teaching

                -But not so much today. In many ways, Justice has come. And we have to trust that there’s more coming.

-But we have to start by understanding the facts about the 1st Century church, and what Paul really said.

-Assign Scripture: Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

        -Offer copy of “What Paul Really Said About Women”

        -Paul did not use the common word “arche” to mean “head” – primary in origin and power

        -He used the word “kephale”, meaning “one who points the way”

                -Rather than a coach, imagine the quarterback, or the team captain

                -The Kephale is not above others, but simply at the forefront

                -Jesus became the Kephale of the church by becoming one of us, and even lower than us

                -And that is how husbands should behave toward their wives

        -And when he tells the wife to submit to her husband, notice that Paul doesn’t tell husbands to rule their wives

                -He instead addresses the women directly, as adults, and calls them, in the Greek middle voice

                -Which is a very respectful tone, asking women to make themselves available to their husbands

                        -In the same exact way that Paul calls all of us to be available to each other in Ephesians 5:21

-And in case you’re still a little uncertain of Paul’s attitude toward women, let’s look at how he interacted with them

        -[SLIDE] Mary and Persis are honored for hard work, not submission (Romans 16)

        -[SLIDE] Euodia and Syntyche aren’t mentioned submitting to Paul, but contending at his side. (Philippians 4:2-3)

        -[SLIDE] Eunice & Lois (2 Timothy 1:5, also Acts 16:1)

                -Get credit for raising Timothy in the Faith, and the Scriptures

                        -This is isn’t that “behind every great man there’s a supportive woman” business

                        -They were his mentors and his educators. They were well-versed in Scripture and Theology

        -[SLIDE] Lydia (Acts 16:11-15,40)

                -A businesswoman (dealer in purple cloth)

                -She led her household to the Lord, invited the missionaries to her home.

                -Lydia is the spark that initiated the Philippian church, and her house was its hub.

                        -And because women were home-experts, as hosts they had special prominence in house churches

                        -If this group met at our house, Christina would be considered the host, not me. Same in the 1st century.

                -So she’s largely responsible for the birth of the church that became Paul’s favorite.

        -[SLIDE] Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3,18-19,24-26, Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19)

                -Shared her husband Aquila’s tentmaking trade

                -Always mentioned along with her husband (6 out of 8 times, mentioned first.)

                -Hosted the church at Rome, much like Lydia in Phillipi

                -Taught the gospel more accurately to Apollos, who becomes a pillar of the early church

                -Priscilla may be low-profile, but she’s one of the heroes of 1st century Christianity

-But here’s the stinger… the one catch-all verse that we can’t get past when we discuss gender in the Bible.

[SLIDE] READ TOGETHER: Galatians 3:27-28 "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

-Still, the Apostle Paul is a very controversial figure

        -And his motives are questioned all the time. Was he a homophobe? A sexist? Was he pro-slavery?

                -We love Jesus, and we’re skeptical of Paul. Are his words really scripture?

        -But if you really read through Paul… from cover to cover, and you just soak up his heart…

        -You can’t get past his true motive. What does it all come down to? Question: What was the last word of Verse 28?

                -Over and over it’s all about Jesus.

                -Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It’s Paul’s absolute passion and obsession.

                -What did Jesus do? What did he teach? Where is he leading me? How is he shaping his Church?

                -Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Paul would be dead last of all people to claim perfection. The opposite, in fact.

                -So he made mistakes. And some of his words are hard to understand. Peter even says so.

        -But when you read Paul’s heart between the lines, and you seek out his cultural backdrop

                -You’ll see that Paul is not only a radical lover of Jesus

                -He is a revolutionary lover of the hearts of both men and women. He longs and prays endlessly for both.

                -He recruits them both, admonishes them both, empowers them both,

                -And proclaims “You are both one… in JESUS.” He is the only source of real unity.

                -Women, you don’t have to claw for your rights. You are already unified with men… in JESUS.

                        -Because there’s no gender distinction, no ethnic distinction, no class distinction.

                -If you want a glimpse of heaven, look at us! Unnatural, impractical, irrational unity. In JESUS.

        -This is the beat of Paul’s heart, because it’s the beat of Jesus’ heart

                -And should be the beat of my heart, and yours.

        -If you want unity… if you want us to fulfill our created potential and tear down the walls

                -Don’t look at what I have, or what anyone else has, so you can figure out how to take it from them

                -Look at Jesus, and allow him to redeem all of it.


NOTES

Note: All the Women in Paul’s life

        -Apphia (Philemon 1:2)

                -Wife of Philemon, hosted house church

        -Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11)

                -Host or matriarch of household with close connection to Paul

        -Claudia (2 Timothy 4:21)

                -Sent greetings to Timothy through Paul

        -Eunice & Lois (2 Timothy 1:5, also Acts 16:1)

                -Get credit for educating Timothy in the Scriptures

        -Euodia & Syntyche (Philippians 4:2-3)

                -Contented “at Paul’s side” as his equal but now have a disagreement

        -Lydia (Acts 16:11-15,40)

                -A businesswoman (dealer in purple cloth)

                -She led her household to the Lord, invited the missionaries to her home.

                -Lydia is the spark that initiated the Philippian church, and her house was its hub.

         -Mary (Romans 16:6) -Persis (Romans 16:12)

                -Honored for their hard work (not their submission or quietness or sweetness.)

        -Priscilla (Acts 18:2-3,18-19,24-26, Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19)

                -Shared her husband Aquila’s tentmaking trade

                -Always mentioned along with her husband (6 out of 8 times, mentioned first.)

                -Hosted the church at Rome

                -Taught Apollos the gospel more accurately

Mysogny?

-1 Corinthians 14:34 TNIV

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

        -Asking lots of questions was disruptive to the worship gathering, and women were mostly uneducated

        -The church’s revolutionary inclusion of women was such a new thing

                -Most women didn’t know what to do with it, and over-reacted by speaking too much and disrupting worship

                -Paul, in chapter 11, affirms the right of women to prophesy, but not in a disruptive way

                -It was still culturally impossible for women to teach the assembly, but some were pridefully jumping the gun

-1 Timothy 2:9-15 TNIV

9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 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. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

        -We don’t practice slavery anymore. But the culture of Paul’s time did

        -So Paul instructed masters to be kind and fair to their slaves, and slaves to accept their position and do it well

                -And reminded them both that they are equal in Christ

        -Even in Paul’s time, the marriage imbalance was not as severe as slavery

                -but he still taught the importance of not brazenly jumping your station in life

                -As James said, don’t pridefully grab the best seat at the table.

                        -instead take the humblest seat, and wait to be invited forward

        -Women, in some but not all instances, have now been invited forward

                -By education and by social norms

-Ephesians 5:22-24 TNIV

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2003/07/What-Paul-Really-Said-About-Women.aspx?p=2

        -Paul did not use the common word “arche” to mean “head” – primary in origin and power

        -He used the word “kephale”, meaning “one who points the way”

                -Rather than a coach, imagine the quarterback, or the team captain

                -The Kephale is not above others, but rather at the forefront

                -Jesus became the Kephale of the church by becoming one of us, and even lower than us

                -And that is how husbands should behave toward their wives

Trajectory

-Jesus and Paul established a trajectory for gender equality in the church

        -Before Jesus: Women had almost no part in religious affairs

                -Not allowed into main gathering area of Temple

                -Not allowed to participate in education or the activities of the Synagogue

                -Not allowed to talk to unrelated men

        -With Jesus: Women were included, invited, valued

                -Jesus’ ministry was actually funded by several female disciples who traveled with him

                -Jesus healed and helped women as often as men, related to them, featured them in parables

        -With Paul: Women fully participated in life of the Church Family

                -Priscilla is mentioned before her husband Aquila ¾ of the time

                        -as a tradesperson, teacher, and a house church host. She is a hero of 1st century Christianity

                        -she and Aquila together get credit for the education of Apollos, one of the top teachers

                -Eunice and Lois get the credit for the education of Timothy, another top teacher

                -Lydia is the founder of the church at Philippi (Paul’s favorite.)