Is This Discussion Really Necessary? -- By: Anonymous
Is This Discussion Really Necessary?
A pastor from the midwest recently wrote us, “I struggle with adapting Paul’s theology of women to modern times. It’s a true struggle. My tradition says I need to take him quite literally, but my sense is that there was a significant cultural aspect to this theology.
Unfortunately I possess neither the scholarship nor the inclination to attack the subject. It would appear that somehow Paul adopted the prevailing view of slavery in his writings. If he did that with slavery, what about other cultural issues such as male/female relationships? This discovery has troubled me over the last five years and forced me to back off on my traditional viewpoint. In practice I simply don’t deal with the subject.”
In this space, we will not examine the issue of cultural conditioning and adaptation in Pauline epistles, as that has been adequately addressed elsewhere, including in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Instead, the focus will be on the common attitude expressed here: if a topic is freighted with exegetical diffi- culty, or if strident views may surface in the pews, then the prudent pastoral thing to do is steer clear of the issue altogether —to say, “I simply don’t deal with the subject.” This seems to be at the root of the lack of “inclination” which our pastor friend senses.
First, while this may seem a safer course at present, it ultimately will result in shipwreck. At the foundation, the question of sexual identity must be addressed. The Bible does give us clear answers to the questions, “What does it mean to be a man and not a woman?” and “What does it mean to be a woman and not a man?” Failure to understand and apply one’s identity as a man can have grievous consequences: a man may violate his created identity as protector by putting his unborn child to death at the hands of an abortionist; he may seek sexual fulfillment through pornography or homosexuality; he may express his confusion as anger and rage and physically abuse his wife or child; or he may break faith and seek to divorce his wife. Likewise, a woman who does not have understanding of and comfort with her feminine identity may be more easily coaxed into a distortion of that identity via abortion, homosexuality, careerism, manipulation etc.
So, while a pastor may be able to maintain an appearance of peace by the avoiding the issue, ultimately this only results in greater problems! Under the apparent calm lurk all kinds of cultural and moral reefs. If we choose to ignore a subject directly tied to the most pressing societal concerns of our day—abortion, homosexuality, spousal abuse, divorce, and pornography—we should expect to see those problems multiply in our pews and counseling offices as men and women shipwreck on those h...
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