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Month: July 2007

Pastor Paul and women in ministry

Pastor Paul and women in ministry

Every once in awhile I link to a blog that has material that I really like.  Today I want to link to a blog by Pastor Paul Burleson which has some good things about women in ministry even though Pastor Paul is “going against the flow” in the Southern Baptist Convention.

The first link is to a humble admission of his own problems in marriage that came from an old view that he used to believe about women as second class citizens.  He calls this one dealing with differences part 3.

The second link is a piece that he wrote concerning authority in the local church and women.  Pastor Paul has my deepest respect for his humble attitude and his willingness to speak his mind even when he may be in the minority in his denomination.

Where to next?

Where to next?

Hello all,

I should be done the verse-by-verse discussion on 1 Corinthians 11 (the head covering & hair issue verses) this week and I was thinking that I would move on to a discussion of God giving teachers to the body of Christ – are teachers part of the gifts of the Spirit or “offices” that must be filled by men?

While I am still considering my next set of posts, I thought I would open a post up for you to give some input.  What would you like to see discussed?  What questions do you have that could work into a post of their own?  What would you like to see me teach on?

God’s richest blessing to all, and thanks for popping in on my “Women in Ministry” blog!

Interdependence in the Lord

Interdependence in the Lord

In our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we now come to verse 11:

1 Corinthians 11:11  However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

Paul once again breaks with tradition.  Paul gives the woman the right to make her own decision in verse 10 about what she will or won’t wear on her head when he says the woman ought to have “authority” (exousia) on her head.  Although the cultural tradition gave a woman no authority to make her own decisions, Paul dismisses that tradition as a non-Christian tradition.  However Paul quickly follows the woman’s authority to make a decision (exousia) with the qualifier “however”.  However, Paul says, “in the Lord”, woman is not independent of the man.  She has the right to make her own decision but she is not independent of the man.  In what way is she not independent of the man?  She is not independent of the man in the exact same way that the man is not independent of the woman.

Paul gives the reason for the interdependence in 1 Corinthians 11:12 –

For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

Paul makes use of the Greek word “gar” (for) which is a primary particle; properly assigning a reason  for his argument.  The woman is not independent of the man Paul says, because the man is the original source of the woman and she wouldn’t exist without him.  Paul also says that the man is not independent of the woman because the woman is the original source of all men since her creation.  No man would have his existence now without her.  Adam’s position of primacy as the first one created and his being the source of the woman is balanced out and equaled with the woman’s primacy as the source of all men.

Paul sums it all up by saying that the woman is dependent on the man and the man is dependent on the woman but the ultimate source is not man and it is not woman either.  The ultimate source is God.

So how does this all play out regarding decision making?  The woman has the right to make her own decision, but since she is also joined in a one-flesh union with the man, she must consider her husband and his conscience with the issue of the head covering because what she decides to do may bring his weak conscience deep shame.  The cultural tradition of the head covering which brought shame to a man whose wife was uncovered in public needed the time to be exposed and accepted as a faulty tradition.   Instead of bringing the man shame, Paul said that the woman is his glory.  The decision is now in the hands of the woman with her full knowing that she is not completely independent of the man.  As a Christian wife she is to respect her husband and to consider his conscience in her decision.

The woman is the only one given a choice regarding what she will do regarding the head covering.  The man is never told that he can choose to wear the head covering or not.  For him, the decision has already been made because there is only one who is shamed when he wears the head covering.  The cultural tradition that brought shame to Christ is to be abandoned.

Next post we will get into the “hairy” issue of the length of one’s hair in 1 Corinthians 11:13-16.

Shaming the head – 3

Shaming the head – 3

Continuing our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we come to verse 6:

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

We have already discussed that the cultural view of women’s hair coverings is “covered” in verse 5. We have also seen that Paul takes a non-traditional view of women by telling the men that his wife is his glory. Paul reveals that the tradition of women being covered is not God’s way of dealing with glory. Glory is meant to be shown or revealed and not covered up. Just as a man reveals God’s glory and is not to cover his head, so a woman reveals the glory of man and she too should be uncovered.

Women whose husbands are Christians and who understand the women’s freedom in Christ to reveal the glory of the Lord just as men reveal the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have no reason to insist their wives cover themselves because of man’s tradition. So Paul says that “if a woman does not cover her head” then “let her also have her hair cut off”. Here Paul is talking about a woman’s freedom to have her hair cut. Is it wrong for a woman to get a hair cut? Is it wrong for her to have short hair? Paul says the tradition of not cutting one’s hair is in the same category as the tradition that women must wear a head covering.

The woman is her husband’s glory and as such she should be free from the tradition of having to cover her head. Covering the head symbolized both modesty and shame. See the previous post about what the culture thought was the woman’s shame. Once a woman is free from the tradition of covering her head, she is also free from the tradition that a woman must have long hair. She may cut her hair and this act is not breaking God’s law. This tradition is not God’s tradition. Why is that? We know that God does not forbid a woman to have her hair cut because God had regulations for a Nazirite vow that required men and women to grow their hair out when they took the vow and then later when the vow was finished, both men and women were required to shave their hair off. So if God required the woman who takes this vow to shave her hair off, then it could not be against God’s law for her to cut her hair.

If a Jewish woman who had become a Christian wanted to take a Nazirite vow, when the vow was finished, she would be required by God to shave off her hair. If a woman who had shaved off her hair was in the congregation without a head covering, she may experience shame because she had no hair. Paul made allowance for this last “shame” and he said that if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or her hair shaved off, then she was allowed to cover her head if she had a bald head or her hair had not yet grown out. Paul gives her permission to cover her head by saying “let her cover her head”. Paul never demands that she cover, he just gives her a choice to cover.

The rules for the Nazirite vow are in Numbers chapter 6.

Numbers 6:2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,

Numbers 6:5 All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.

Numbers 6:13 Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 6:18 The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.

The man or woman who had taken a Nazirite vow was required to shave off their hair and put it on the fire as a sacrifice. Both men and women then who had taken this vow would be bald. Men would not experience shame from being bald, but many women would experience shame from their baldness.

Paul allows a woman who has a bald head and who would experience shame because of her bald head to cover her head with a head covering. Paul has given two reasons for shame in chapter 11 that a woman may want to continue to wear a head covering. The first reason was that she may bring her non-Christian husband shame if she is caught in public without her head covering, since he may divorce her for defying the cultural tradition of the head covering.

The second reason that a woman may be covered is because of her own shame. If she was bald or if her hair had not yet fully grown out after she had taken a Nazirite vow, Paul allows her to cover her head. Paul gives a woman permission to veil because of two possible kinds of shame, but Paul never gives the man permission to veil since the culture of the day did not bring shame to a man who had a bald head and the only cultural reason for a man’s head covering shamed Christ.

Paul’s purpose in the discussion of the head covering is to bring Christians to a biblical view of our reflected glory and to discard the faulty cultural view of shame. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 the importance of the unveiled face:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

While some have seen 1 Corinthians 11 as a mandate for women to wear the veil, a close inspection of the passage shows that Paul is advocating the exact opposite. He is not upholding man’s tradition, but blowing that tradition out of the water. Paul shows that it is God’s will that glory is to be uncovered not hidden, and man’s tradition of forcing the woman to be covered because her uncovering shamed him, is the complete opposite of what God teaches. The woman is the man’s glory not his shame. And as the man’s glory she is to be revealed not hidden.

Since we have already covered verse 10 in a previous post, the next post will pick up at verse 11 and discuss the importance of origins and interdependence.

Here are links to the posts in this series:

Shaming the head 1

Shaming the head 2

Shaming the head 3

Thinking outside the box

Thinking outside the box

The one thing that God seems to have gifted me with is thinking outside the box.  I quite enjoy reading from others too who have this gift.  It stretches me and gives me that “ah ha” moment which I really love.

Today I had an opportunity to read a blog from someone whom I sense is also gifted with thinking outside the box.

So today I give my first “outside the box” award to “Justa Berean” at http://exegetist-theberean.blogspot.com/

Outside the box

Congratulations and keep up the good work!

Shaming the head – 2

Shaming the head – 2

Several posts back we talked about how Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 11 that the head covering shamed Christ. This post will discuss why a woman without her head covering shamed her head. Let’s start again with 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5 –

Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

Paul has identified the man’s head as Christ and the man who had his head covered during his praying and prophesying shamed Christ. Paul also identified the woman’s head was the man. When she prayed and prophesied with her head uncovered she shamed her head which is her husband (verse 3). Paul doesn’t say why going without a head covering shamed the woman’s husband since the Corinthians would have understood the cultural reason. However we need to do some research to find out why a husband would experience shame when his wife exposed her head in public.

Both the Greek women and the Jewish women wore head coverings in that day but the Jewish women had a stricter standard that punished them if they were caught without their head covering. John Lightfoot gives us a glimpse into the mindset of the Jewish culture of that day. Lightfoot was a Hebrew Scholar who lived from 1602 to 1675 and during his day there was a revival of the study of the Hebrew Bible as well as other Jewish works. Lightfoot’s scholarly writings produced several volumes called “Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica”. In these volumes Lightfoot discusses the reasons why married women wore the head covering.

On page 231 of Vol. 4 Lightfoot writes

“It was the custom of the women and that prescribed them under severe canons, that they should not go abroad but with their face veiled. If a woman do these things, she transgresseth the Jewish law; if she go out into the street, or into an open porch, and there be not a veil upon her as upon all women…”

On a woman’s wedding day she was required to veil herself. The Jewish law was that women who were married were required to cover their hair. The Talmud interprets this custom as a sign of a woman’s shame – guilt for Eve’s sin. Lightfoot elaborates:

“And they fetched the shame of the woman thence that she first brought sin into the world.”

That was their view – that the woman brought sin into the world and her veiling at her marriage was a sign of shame, because they said the woman led the man into sin. The Talmud said that as a result of Eve’s curse women must go about covered as mourners. In the Jewish culture when a woman got married, from that day on she was under compulsion to veil herself and if found in public without her veil, the Talmud prescribed strict consequences.

If she was found without the veil in public her husband could divorce her without payment of her dowry. Without her dowry she would be destitute.

The Talmud explains the reason for the shame of a uncovered head. The husband considered the hair on a woman’s head to be part of her sexuality so the public viewing of her hair was a great shame.

“Some rabbis considered the exposure of a married woman’s hair to the exposure of her private parts since they felt that a woman’s hair could be used for erotic excitement. They forbid the reciting of any blessings in the presence of a bare headed woman.”

Lightfoot goes on to explain that although women wore a veil in public, they unveiled for worship.

“But however women were veiled in the streets, yet when they resorted unto holy service they took off their veils and exposed their naked faces; and that not out of lightness, but out of religion.” Vol. 4 pg 231

 

Wouldn’t this have shamed their husbands by exposing their hair publicly? No, because no man would have seen them because in the synagogue the women were kept separate. Lightfoot continues:

“…that women should sit by themselves, divided from the men, where they might hear and see what is done in the synagogue, yet they themselves remain out of sight…when the women therefore did thus meet apart, it is no wonder if they took off the veils from their faces, when they were now out of sight of men, and the cause of their veiling being removed, which indeed was that they might not be seen by men.”

So the veiling was a sign of shame before men but worshipping before God she was to go with a bare face.

In Paul’s writings we find that Christians are meant to reflect the glory of God. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Men and women were both meant to reflect the glory of God and both were to come with unveiled face before in worship. Yet for those Jewish women whose husbands were not yet saved and who had not yet come to understand the glorious liberty we have in Christ, these women were in a predicament. The problem came when Christians met in homes where the men and women were together. If a Jewish woman whose husband was not a Christian found out that she had unveiled in public, he could divorce her, often at the insistence of his family for her public shame.

Paul could not tell her that she needed to unveil in worship in the Christian congregation because that would have infringed on many of their marriages. So although men were forbidden to wear the veil of shame and must pray and prophesy in public without a head covering, women were allowed to make a choice when they prayed and prophesied. Next post we will discuss more about the woman’s choice and the third reason for shame that might require a woman to veil.

But for now let’s talk about the culture that promoted the cultural sign of shame. Paul in this passage rejects the cultural sign of shame. Instead Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:7 –

“For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”

Do you see that? The woman is the GLORY of man. As his glory she brings him honor. As his glory she needs to be uncovered so she can shine forth his glory. Just as the man is to shine forth the glory of God, so she is to be allowed to shine forth the glory of man. Do you see that Paul is dispelling the myth that the woman is the shame of the man? Do you see that Paul is dispelling the myth that the woman is to be hidden and kept away from the congregation and hidden and kept away from men? Paul is telling the men that the woman, his wife, is to be his glory. He is not to be ashamed of her. She is not his competitor, she is not to reflect shame – she is to be his glory!

What a marvelous freeing word from Paul! Paul hasn’t used this passage to say that women are not in the image of God nor is he saying that they are not the glory of God. He is comparing one glory with another glory. The Corinthians should be able to see that the man is God’s glory and as God’s glory he is not to be covered. Men are to be uncovered in worship in order to shine forth God’s glory. In the same way they are to see that the woman in the very same way is the husband’s glory. As the husband’s glory she is not to be covered instead she is to shine forth the man’s glory. As the glory of the man, the glory is to be barefaced and he is to be proud of her not ashamed. The culture had taught them that the woman was not the man’s glory, but Paul’s correction changed all that. Now they knew that God intended the woman to be the outshining glory of the man!

Have you ever wondered why Christian women do not wear head coverings? Now you know.

Here are links to the posts in this series:

Shaming the head 1

Shaming the head 2

Shaming the head 3

Paul refutes a faulty tradition

Are females saved just like males?

Are females saved just like males?

Before we continue with our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, I wanted to share a question that Jen had who watched my clip of “Women in Ministry Silenced or Set Free” DVD on YouTube. She said:

“Nowhere does Scripture tell us that there was a wall of separation, a wall of enmity, between males and females, or between slaves and free, that was brought about by the Mosaic Law, and that was then abolished by Christ’s death on the cross. There are plenty of verses regarding women in the Bible, but this passage in Ephesians is NOT one of them. This is twisting Scripture to make it so.”

My reply to Jen (edited to make this issue clear):

Thank you for your comments.

What I was speaking from was Galatians 3:28 – 4:7 Here Paul says that there is neither slave nor free, neither male nor female. What is Paul saying? We need to research to find out because if we only take this as salvation then we have a problem. There was no difference between male and female in salvation. Female’s received salvation in the Old Covenant just as in the New Covenant and no scripture ever questions the salvation of females so there is no point to say that females receive salvation the same way as males. So what kind of situation is Paul referring to that necessitates him saying that there is no male or female?

Paul goes on in chapter 4 to give us the answer. Paul says in Galatians 4:6, 7

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Paul is talking about all of us being joint heirs together – something that was not thought possible in the Old Covenant. Salvation was available in the Old Testament to all who joined themselves with Israel but the foreigner and the women were not allowed to be heirs.  This was reserved for Jewish men. There was a tremendous separation between each group where one group had all the privileges and the other group had none. At least this is the way that the Jews understood it at the time. It was not made known yet that the Gentiles were to be fellow heirs with them. Ephesians 3:5-6 says:

“which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”

Neither did the Jews understand that women were also fellow heirs. In the Jewish faith the men were able to go into the temple while the women were given only a court on three sides. There was perceived a separation from God because the women were not treated as “sons” of God. Women were not given the same closeness to God as the men, they were not involved in the services and were not allowed to read the scriptures publicly. As the Jews worked out their “privileged” state, they separated themselves from the Gentiles, from women and from the slaves. Women were assigned to their court and the Gentile’s court was outside the temple. The Jews were the heirs and they were the “son’s” of God while everyone else was not on the same standing as they were. There was a separation between the groups because there was a separation regarding their perceived position with God. But with the death of Christ, the barrier was been broken between the groups and no longer were Gentiles, slaves and women kept out of the holy of holies and it was revealed that they all are joint heirs.

It began with the gentiles who were despised by the Jews. Now the gentiles have been shown to be joint heirs with the Jews, fully reconciled to God and joined to his family. The women were also brought near in an equally close relationship and they are now called “Sons” of God, equal heirs with the men.

Slaves too were brought near to God. While slaves were allowed to experience salvation within the congregation of Israel, they were never allowed to participate in the worship services and they were never allowed to be inheritors in the nation of Israel. So Paul said in Galatians 3:28, 29:

“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. And if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”

Do you see that the “if” and “then” relationship? “If” they all belong to Christ “then” they are all heirs according to the promise. Scripture never once rejected any of these groups regarding salvation if they came into the nation of Israel, but the right of “heir” never belonged to the slaves, the women or the Gentiles in practice.

In Ephesians Paul talks about what the wall of separation is between the Jew and the Gentile.

Ephesians 2:14-19 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”

The key is verse 19 where Paul says that the Gentiles are no longer strangers and aliens but fellow citizens with the saints. You see salvation was always offered to the Gentiles in Israel’s midst but they were never given sonship or the privileges of sonship. They were never thought of as equals. This was a HUGE barrier between the Gentiles and the Jews. But Jesus broke down that barrier between the two and made the Gentiles joint heirs with the Jews. He made them into ONE new man and as one new man we have been reconciled both to God and to each other.

Paul states this in Ephesians 3:4-6.

“By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”.

What has been revealed? It is that the Gentiles are “fellow heirs”. The disadvantage between the Gentiles and the Jews and the barriers to God himself have been taken down in Christ. Both have been made into one group – one body in Christ. Has this same disadvantage been broken down for women too? Are they too to be “sons” of God? Peter agrees with Paul that it has:

1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

The inheritance that had been denied women, slaves, and Gentiles has now been revealed that it has been given to all. All are equal in that all are “sons” of God.

So while Ephesians doesn’t specifically mention women and slaves, we see that the disadvantage has been done away with regarding the Gentiles and the barrier between them and God is taken care of by the blood of Christ and their inclusion as full “heirs of God”. Paul then tells us that women, slaves and Gentiles are all sons of God too (Gal. 4) so we know that the barrier has been broken down for women and slaves and not just the Gentiles. This isn’t just salvation, because they already had that if they were within Israel and followed God. This is talking about the equal inheritance and privileges of being in the family of God. The Holy Spirit has been given to all as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13, 14).

I appreciated that you checked up on me. That is a good and noble thing! When someone says something about scripture they should be willing and able to prove their point from the scripture in context. I believe that I have proved that the barrier is the inheritance – “heirs of God” that kept the groups separate and if you want to see the scriptures that prove that Gentiles and slaves received salvation in the Old Testament, I can show them to you if you want. Salvation was never an issue with those in the nation of Israel. However there was an inequality as far as the inheritance in God. Praise the Lord that women too are heirs of God and “sons” of God!

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