Thursday, July 3, 2014

Women Pastors And Galatians 3:28

This is not a post which makes a case for or against women pastors.  Not that I don't think scripture is clear on the matter, but I want to take a look at one favorite scripture used by some of my brethren who seem to be just as clear on the matter as I am, yet stand on the other side of the chasm.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  NASU
My point here is not to make a case for what this verse does mean, but to make a case for what it can't mean.  If we are going to approach scripture, we must approach it with consistent methods of interpretation, or hermeneutics.  We can't, for example, look at one passage written in the first century and dismiss it as pertaining only to first century culture, then use another scripture that can be applied to the same subject, and written in the same century, to make our case that the former ought to be dismissed.  Here is a case in point:
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor 14:34-36 NASU)
On the one hand this passage is dismissed in our present day as a cultural issue of the first century.  OK, all well and good but we can't then look at another passage and interpret that passage as if it is timeless when applied to the same subject.  We must, it seems to me that logic would dictate, interpret these two passages in light of one another.  Either Paul was not making the case in Galatians 3:28, that he was wrong in 1st Corinthians, or, he was teaching two different and opposing truths in the same age.

There is a third choice that I can think of.  Paul could have been teaching one truth to one culture, Galatia, and another truth to another culture, Corinth.  But this choice is worse for this would imply that culture dictates the interpretation of scripture.  Western Culture, for example, has embraced homosexuality as righteous and good, and deems those who oppose it as wicked and evil.  If we were to buy into the "cultural-filter method of interpreting scripture, I must say, they would actually have a valid point.


Timmy Jimmy said...

Hi Dan,
Actually, the focus of Galatians 3 is justification by faith in Christ. It uses the law as the back drop, but the focus is that we are saved through faith in Christ. This is why verse 26-29 do belong in chapter 3. Paul is showing the finality of this reality that through faith, it doesn't matter whether your are a Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave or free, we are all sons of God through faith and heirs according to the promise.

It is not speaking about roles we serve in the body of Christ, as 1 Timothy does. But dealing with the principles of the gospel, which are applied to all who believe, regardless of gender, tribe or nation.

Dan said...

Very well. That makes perfect sense to me. What doesn't make sense is the use of this passage to contradict what Paul says in his letters to Timothy and Corinth.

Timmy Jimmy said...

Well, liberals like to say that 1 & 2 Timothy, and any other passage that conflicts with their world view, were nothing more than cultural bias. But even then, Paul removes that argument through his use of creation as the reason for women not teaching men. The roles of leadership in the church are based upon creation, not culture.

Timmy Jimmy said...

As you pointed out, these texts need to be read in context, not ripped from context so that they can be used as one pleases. This is why so many liberal pastors get away with their false teaching for so long. They rip things out of context and the typical congregant fails to see it.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Timmy Jimmy is right on the money. Those who use it against what Paul says in Timothy and Corinthians are practicing major eisegesis to support their agenda.

Dan said...

I've heard the "culture" argument so often that I think it's all they have. But when Gal 3:28 is used in conjunction, as a battering ram, especially when Gal 3 is thrown in to help it fails miserably. This seems to me to be a last-one-in-shut-the-door argument. Feminism has gotten its way, now shut the door quick before others enter through that same door. Funny thing is, feminist are leading the charge in swinging the door wide for all kinds of no-repentance-required sin.

Heather said...

Hi Dan,

You certainly have a can-o-worms potential here :D

The tolerance of militant feminism within our ranks is most definitely a blight on modern western Christianity.It's not really even about "female equality" but about an unspoken drive to be recognized as superior to men.
As the marriage relationship is meant to reflect the Church's reliant and respectfully submissive position to Christ, feminism actively destroys that picture in glorifying the creature in rebellion to the Creator theme that humanity has been tempted to engage since the beginning of time.
When we've lost an understanding of scriptural symbolism, it becomes easier to worm around the plain meaning of certain difficult texts.

As one who subscribes to a more conservative understanding of Scriptural instruction regarding women, I'd agree that
1. The Galatians 3 reference is taken out of context when used to support women in the role of "pastor-teacher".
2. In our culture, there has historically been little excuse for women to covet this particular position.

Observation: Paul's instruction to Timothy with regard to women maintaining silence appears to refer specifically to wives. And the instruction to "ask one's husband" about something serves a very practical purpose as it urges the husband to personally study scripture for himself and step into his own God-given role of family leadership.

Questions I've had: If women are absolutely forbidden to hold positions of vocal authority within the church, what do we do with all of the apparently active women Paul lists in his letters? and how do we reconcile Paul's requirement of women's silence with his 1 Corinthians statement about women praying and prophesying? Are women in heavily persecuted populations who take up the role of teacher on behalf of their jailed/murdered husbands in defiance of a clear and immovable instruction?

Heather said...

I had to cut my comment in half :\ Please forgive my verbosity.

When consulting the whole counsel of Scripture, it appears (as in the case of Deborah the OT judge),that women can at times be raised up to positions of authority when there exists a scarcity of devoted men. But this would be an exception (due to a shameful degradation from God's ideal) rather than the rule.

I've determined to truly understand and obey what appear to be "clear" Biblical instruction and have had to admit that proper understanding of contextual meaning is essential if we truly wish to honor God with our religious efforts. Engaging in cut-paste theology in order to make the Bible say what we want it to say is inexcusable. On the other hand, there are instructions that appear "clear" on the surface but must also be weighed against cultural background in order to properly extract the underlying principles and apply them to our own lives today.

Some commands are obvious in their intent. But, There are many instructions that are given by Jesus Himself as well as the writers of the epistles that must be viewed in light of both context and culture before we simply apply them wholesale. Do we literally practice foot washing or greet one another with a "Holy Kiss"? Sell everything we have and give the money to the poor in order to genuinely follow Christ? Should women always have long hair and wear headcoverings while men keep their hair cut well above their ears to be sure it's short enough? Are women who wear jeans, makeup and wedding rings sinning be cause pride and reliance on outward adornment is discouraged? Some sects advocate all of the above as literal commands.
What about Christian political involvement in light of Jesus', Paul's and Peter's instructions to submit to even unfair taxation and laws of ruling authorities (given during the reign of a particularly corrupt and wicked governmental system)? Many ultra-conservative Christians who would be appalled at the idea of a woman preacher are intensely political and have NO reservations with placing the authority of the US Constitution right alongside that of Scripture--will even quote verses which they believe support their view. And this in spite of the apparent clarity of the unequivocal instruction to submit to (even unjust) civil authority.

This isn't intended to be argumentative. You just happened to touch on the subject of proper Scriptural interpretation/application, which is something I've been working through for several years, now.

May the Lord bless you and your family as you continue to search out and understand His truth.


Dan said...

I was in the midst of responding to you with what limited time I have. My hands have a habit of touching the mouse pad and somehow by doing so I erased a comment that I'd spent considerable time on. Perhaps I will find the time soon to respond.