To Box a Parakeet

8x8x3-5cm-Vintage-Plain-Quality-Brown-Kraft-Jewel-Gift-Boxes-Jewelry-Packaging-Boxe-Bangle-Boxes-633x400For when I offered them this voice that you had given me
When I offered them these hands that you had strengthened
When I offered them these feet that you had guided

They gave me a box. (Kate Wallace, Junia Project)

Dispersed round about the New Testament, readers will find it difficult to not be confronted with seemingly straight-forward gender related statements that, as the author describes above, place the feminine side of humanity within a restricted box of confinement limiting their places of service within Christ’s Church.

Having spent the majority of my life within a specific denomination of Christianity, one with a very defined interpretation of these passages, it is a difficult thing for me to re-open my mind to the mounting challenges against traditional thoughts on these verses, for I try to keep in remembrance, history evidences that human nature is always questioning “Did God really say?”

With that acknowledged however, there are a growing number of persuading platforms for an egalitarian approach toward explaining that maybe Paul, as these verses are mostly from his letters, didn’t mean exactly what we assume he meant. A dabbling of these thoughts might be expressed in the following points.

1. Woman was created from the side of man to obviously walk with him, not behind. It is not until the fall that we hear the words, “he shall rule over you.” In Jesus’ kingdom, the curse is meant to be remedied.

2. Paul’s Corinthian letters are written as a series of responses to contentions this community had asked him to resolve. It is difficult to determine when he is quoting their questions and when  he is giving them his answers. With a little effort it is not beyond reason to assign the gender statements to the questioners, and then as some suggest, the responses Paul gives take on a differing meaning.

3. Paul could have been singling out unlearned women who were disrupting the worship services when he penned words to the Corinthians and to Timothy. This thought is solidified by showing women are portrayed in Scripture as having leadership roles and in their teaching of both women and men.

4. Through most of history, it has predominantly been in the hands of men to determine the status of women. As earlier mentioned, this reality was established in the curse after the fall. Because of this, it is only fair to remember that until very recently it was men alone who translated the texts of Scripture. It is not far-reaching to suggest some gender-bias played its hand into the work.

Of course these are brief points with little explanation, but the resources for further examination exist. I think though that many will refrain from investigating for the same reasons as I did for so long a time.

We remain creatures of presuppositions and tradition.

The purpose of my parakeet series is not so much to stand with or even against either side, but to learn to be eager to lend an ear, to find value in dialogue, even when in disagreement, and to refuse to force anyone unwillingly into a box. I close by admitting that I am coming to appreciate some very different while viable approaches to certain texts that maybe aren’t so clear-cut after all.

For further reading consider, The Junia Project, The Blue Parakeet, Junia is not Alone, What Paul Really Said About Women, How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership, Because of the Angels, and a commentary (not only for this topic) I recommend highly by Kenneth Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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2 Responses to To Box a Parakeet

  1. RJ Dawson says:

    Thanks Mike. Our Lord Jesus went to the cross to set us free. Paul certainly taught about the need to be set free. There is such a thing as the perfect law of liberty. Therefore, whenever real Christians of either gender are restricted from doing what the Lord Jesus called them to do, and from living the life God called them to live and wants them to live, it is not God who is doing the restricting, and the restriction must be eliminated or bypassed. Let us praise the Lord Jesus for the freedom to get out of the box and fly. Let us praise Him for the freedom to follow His example and serve. [Gal 3:28 / Gal 5:13 / 2Cor 3:17 / 1Pet 2:16]

  2. ccragamuffin says:

    “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.” ~ Abigail Adams.
    Your intelligence is shining admirably.
    Imago Dei. That phrase has become popular. But although it is often used, I am not sure we take the time to understand all that it implies. Our lives have been stamped by God with His image. We profess how that gives value to the very “least of these”‘ yet we often fail to follow the strand of truth all the way. What does it mean that EACH of us is stamped with the SAME identity? And since function always follows form then shouldn’t I consider what Imago Dei means in function? You are giving a good platform to carefully consider how to live out the glory of God. Mant thanks.

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