Women in church

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Kendall K. Down

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Nov 3, 2021, 12:50:09 AM11/3/21
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In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul gives some instructions that are controversial
in this day and age. I notice that in the NIV the qualifying statement
"as in all the churches" is not linked with the preceding "God is a God
of peace" but with the following statment, "women should remain silent
in the churches".

Modern expositors usually claim that what St Paul said was local to
Corinth, linking it to the "priestesses" on the Acro-Corinth who were,
perhaps, too used to getting their own way (unlikely given that they
were slave-prostitutes by another name) and were not to be allowed to
dominate in the church. However the qualifying statement indicates that
the command for women to be silent was common to all churches or, at the
very least, to those churches established by St Paul.

This conclusion is confirmed by what Paul wrote to Timothy, for in the
second chapter he instructs that women should dress modestly (all would
agree that that is a universal command) and then adds that "I do not
permit a woman to teach". Timothy was in Ephesus when Paul wrote this
and while it may be possible to argue that Ephesus too was devoted to a
female deity - Artemis of the Ephesians - there is no evidence that
Artemis had a female priesthood who might be tempted to get above
themselves.

Furthermore, Paul attempts to claim that there is an innate reason why
women are not allowed to have authority over men, on two grounds. The
first is that Adam was created before Eve, the second is that Eve was
deceived and Adam was not.

A moment's thought will show that these arguments either do not hold
water or, in fact, prove the very opposite to what St Paul was
advancing. It is commonly accepted that that which is made first is the
prototype and the bug-free corrected version is superior to it. And if
Adam was not deceived into sin we must conclude that he sinned
deliberately, which makes him less worthy than someone who was deceived
and tricked into sinning!

Nevertheless, although we can dismiss Paul's arguments, what about the
conclusion? Is there something innate in the female sex which
disqualifies them from any active role in a church?

Certainly there are some women whose womanly characteristics ought to
bar her from office - but then, there are some men whose manly
characteristics ought to bar him from office! I see no reason to
conclude that it is the sex rather than individuals who are not
suitable; both sexes need to be aware of their own strengths and
weaknesses and take steps to become fully rounded ministers of Christ.

There is, however, a very good reason why Greek women of the 1st century
AD were unsuitable for church office - and why women in some parts of
the world today are unsuitable for office. In one of his dialogues,
Socrates is reported to have asked a certain man whether his wife was
educated. The man's response is illuminating: "Good heavens no. Her
parents had taken care that she should know as little as possible!"

It is, I think, a fact that the ignorant and unlearned are more prone to
superstitions and less able to understand complex and abstract issues
than their better educated fellows (whatever their sex)! If Paul wanted
the church to be led by individuals able to read and expound Scripture
in a logical and rational manner, it is no wonder that he excluded women
from that role!

Socrates' interlocutor goes on to describe how his wife had very quickly
learned to manage the household, leading Socrates to exclaim, "Why, on
that showing, a woman is as good as a man!" The fact that Paul speaks
glowingly of numerous women in his letters, implying that some of them
are actually leaders in their local congregations, indicates that Paul
held a similar opinion.

The basic rule was that women, because of their ignorance, should keep
quiet in church and ask their husbands quietly at home if they wanted to
learn anything. However once a woman had shown that she was capable,
Paul had no problem with recognising her gifts and her leadership.

Today, in the West, women are at least as highly educated as men and on
that basis St Paul's basic rule can and should be discarded. In other
parts of the world, however, where women's education is neglected or
non-existent, that basic rule still holds, though if a woman shows that
she has the necessary qualities she should not be excluded from office
merely on the basis of her sex.

God bless,
Kendall K. Down


Mike Davis

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Nov 4, 2021, 7:30:08 AM11/4/21
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On 03/11/2021 04:43, Kendall K. Down wrote:
> In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul gives some instructions that are controversial
> in this day and age. I notice that in the NIV the qualifying statement
> "as in all the churches" is not linked with the preceding "God is a God
> of peace" but with the following statment, "women should remain silent
> in the churches".

[snip]

> Today, in the West, women are at least as highly educated as men and on
> that basis St Paul's basic rule can and should be discarded. In other
> parts of the world, however, where women's education is neglected or
> non-existent, that basic rule still holds, though if a woman shows that
> she has the necessary qualities she should not be excluded from office
> merely on the basis of her sex.

I think that's a well presented case, Kendall. I'll give it some thought.

Mike
--
Mike Davis


David Dalton

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Nov 5, 2021, 2:55:43 AM11/5/21
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On Nov 3, 2021, Kendall K. Down wrote
(in article <slt41k$4fn$1...@dont-email.me>):

> Today, in the West, women are at least as highly educated as men and on
> that basis St Paul's basic rule can and should be discarded. In other
> parts of the world, however, where women's education is neglected or
> non-existent, that basic rule still holds, though if a woman shows that
> she has the necessary qualities she should not be excluded from office
> merely on the basis of her sex.

In any part of the world, if a woman has the desire to be
ordained and teach/preach and does not yet have the
required education, that education should be provided
for her. Ordination of women, including in denominations
which currently do not allow it, along with ordination
of married individuals, will solve the current shortage
of priests/ministers in some parts of the world.

--
David Dalton dal...@nfld.com https://www.nfld.com/~dalton (home page)
https://www.nfld.com/~dalton/dtales.html Salmon on the Thorns (mystic page)
“‘You could lay down your head by a sweet river bed/But Sonny
always remembers what it was his Mama said” (Ron Hynes)



Kendall K. Down

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Nov 5, 2021, 3:40:07 AM11/5/21
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On 05/11/2021 06:38, David Dalton wrote:

> In any part of the world, if a woman has the desire to be
> ordained and teach/preach and does not yet have the
> required education, that education should be provided
> for her.

I am all for women being trained, but the problem is that you would also
need to train society at large. There is little point in training an
individual woman if no congregation will accept her or if she causes
scandal wherever she goes from the mere fact that she is female.

That said, it is right that the church should be in the forefront of
challenging harmful stereotypes, but it is a case of making haste
slowly. Going too fast will actually set things back!

> Ordination of women, including in denominations
> which currently do not allow it, along with ordination
> of married individuals, will solve the current shortage
> of priests/ministers in some parts of the world.

There is only one church which refuses to ordain married individuals and
I see no reason why I should be exercised over a problem which is of
their own making.

A more serious problem is the lack of ministers in other denominations,
which can be linked to the perceived loss of status of the ministry.
That, in turn, is a sad commentary on the reasons why men chose ministry
as a career; too many, I fear, went into it because they saw it as
glamorous and powerful rather than as a way of serving God.

I personally knew and know ministers who are careless about a small
church with only a handful of members and one who even refuses to preach
to such a small congregation. Jesus never despised the one-person
audience and neither should we. After all, He is present where just two
are gathered together in His name.

Jason

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Nov 7, 2021, 3:06:42 AM11/7/21
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On Wed, 03 Nov 2021 04:43:32 +0000, Kendall K. Down wrote:

> In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul gives some instructions that are controversial
> in this day and age. I notice that in the NIV the qualifying statement
> "as in all the churches" is not linked with the preceding "God is a God
> of peace" but with the following statment, "women should remain silent
> in the churches".

[snipped well-put case]

I don't disagree with any of that, and indeed I agree completely with
your conclusion: I don't (personally) see any reason to bar women from
holding any and all roles within the church.

That said, I think if you started with the Bible and the Bible alone as
the final arbiter on the matter, it would be hard to read it quite the
same way. Moreover, I'd suggest tht the weight of church history is not
on your side either, so obviously caution needs to be taken.

It seems to me that your position is argued from "well I'd like the Bible
to say that female bishops (for example) are OK, so I'll read the Bible
through that lens". There are certainly overtones of "clearly when Paul
talks about XYZ he clearly had in mind PQR" as used by others to advance
their own positions.

To summarise then, while I agree with your position (and hold that view
myself) I'm not sure that this is the 'plain reading of Scripture'....



Kendall K. Down

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Nov 7, 2021, 3:30:07 AM11/7/21
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On 06/11/2021 12:14, Jason wrote:

> That said, I think if you started with the Bible and the Bible alone as
> the final arbiter on the matter, it would be hard to read it quite the
> same way. Moreover, I'd suggest tht the weight of church history is not
> on your side either, so obviously caution needs to be taken.

With regard to your first point, women leaders were a minority, but they
were definitely there, from Deborah the prophetess to Priscilla whose
name always comes before that of her husband! Thus the fact of female
leadership cannot be doubted, only its frequency.

With regard to the second, there is *some* documentary and
archaeological evidence for women in priestly roles in the early church.
(It is scant and possibly contentious, but there nonetheless.) But given
the widespread male dominance in society I am not sure whether history
is a good guide to God's will.

> It seems to me that your position is argued from "well I'd like the Bible
> to say that female bishops (for example) are OK, so I'll read the Bible
> through that lens". There are certainly overtones of "clearly when Paul
> talks about XYZ he clearly had in mind PQR" as used by others to advance
> their own positions.

That is certainly a danger that must be recognised and, so far as
possible, allowed for. Equally, of course, the cultural and historical
background to Scripture must be taken into account when interpreting it.

Jason

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Nov 8, 2021, 3:31:39 PM11/8/21
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On Fri, 05 Nov 2021 04:08:34 -0230, David Dalton wrote:

> On Nov 3, 2021, Kendall K. Down wrote (in article
> <slt41k$4fn$1...@dont-email.me>):
>
>> Today, in the West, women are at least as highly educated as men and on
>> that basis St Paul's basic rule can and should be discarded. In other
>> parts of the world, however, where women's education is neglected or
>> non-existent, that basic rule still holds, though if a woman shows that
>> she has the necessary qualities she should not be excluded from office
>> merely on the basis of her sex.
>
> In any part of the world, if a woman has the desire to be ordained and
> teach/preach and does not yet have the required education, that
> education should be provided for her. Ordination of women, including in
> denominations which currently do not allow it, along with ordination of
> married individuals, will solve the current shortage of
> priests/ministers in some parts of the world.

I agree completely, and am perfectly happy with the ordination of women
to any and all roles in the church. However, if I may sound a note of
caution with your final sentence regarding the "current shortage of
priests/ministers". This reads a little like 'putting (genuinely held)
theological differences aside (i.e. women's orders) for the pragmatic
reason of priest shortages'. I'm not sure it is a good idea if it is
done for this reason.....



Kendall K. Down

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Nov 8, 2021, 4:10:05 PM11/8/21
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On 08/11/2021 17:35, Jason wrote:

> I agree completely, and am perfectly happy with the ordination of women
> to any and all roles in the church. However, if I may sound a note of
> caution with your final sentence regarding the "current shortage of
> priests/ministers". This reads a little like 'putting (genuinely held)
> theological differences aside (i.e. women's orders) for the pragmatic
> reason of priest shortages'. I'm not sure it is a good idea if it is
> done for this reason.....

I sympathise with those who have a theological bias against women
ministers, but if the alternative is that the church (local congregation
or denomination as a whole) withers and dies because there are no
clergy, it seems to me a high price to pay for theological integrity.
After all, whatever comes along to replace the now-defunct church will
probably allow women ministers, so they might as well adjust their
theology and continue in existence!

Jason

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Nov 9, 2021, 3:34:59 PM11/9/21
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Phew! Thank goodness we have all these homosexual clergy who can step in
and save the day.


Kendall K. Down

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Nov 9, 2021, 4:00:08 PM11/9/21
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On 09/11/2021 12:30, Jason wrote:

> Phew! Thank goodness we have all these homosexual clergy who can step in
> and save the day.

Only at the cost of forfeiting God's blessing - which, I would have
thought, was far more important to a church than quibbles over women
ministers.

Stuart

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Nov 9, 2021, 4:50:07 PM11/9/21
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In article <smen0b$7l0$3...@dont-email.me>,
Kendall K. Down <kendal...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> On 09/11/2021 12:30, Jason wrote:

> > Phew! Thank goodness we have all these homosexual clergy who can step
> > in and save the day.

> Only at the cost of forfeiting God's blessing - which, I would have
> thought, was far more important to a church than quibbles over women
> ministers.

Indeed.

--
Stuart Winsor

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http://www.twam.co.uk/


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