Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wacky Bible Verse of the Day

1 Timothy, Chapter 2

2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.



I have two thoughts:

1) You know, Paul sounds like a real jerk.
2) Why do I see women dressed up for Church every Sunday?

20 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

Just for the record--I'm usually silent on these kinds of posts because it is pretty pointless to argue doctrine with someone who doesn't even believe in God. True enough?
I just don't want you thinking I'm silent on these issues because you "stumped me" or something.

Jewish Atheist said...

You know how I feel -- if the doctrine were true, Sadie Lou, it would make sense even to people who didn't already agree with you. :) Although you don't believe that the theory of evolution is true, for example, you can recognize that it is at least self-consistent. I can't say the same about the Bible.

However, you're under no obligation to argue.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Paul may not have been as much of a jerk as you imagine. Though it's clear that he was a rather prickly individual!

First, scholars are virtually unanimous that St. Paul didn't write the "pastoral" epistles (1&2 Timothy & Titus).

Second, my own view is that Paul started out quite progressive on the role of women in the Church. One of the earliest epistles is Galatians, where Paul wrote, "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (3:28).

Some time after Paul wrote those words, it appears that an anti-egalitarian reaction set in. Of course, the controversy has to be considered in its historical context. It may be that the elevation of women to positions of leadership was viewed by outsiders as a black mark on the Church. In which case Paul may have compromised his earlier principle for the sake of the Gospel. (That's the way he would put it — not me. But I'm writing in a completely different era.)

Your second comment amuses me more. People feel free to ignore the verses that would require them to reform their conduct, while taking a passionate stand on verses that accuse third parties of sin.

Mind you, this is a merely human phenomenon, not unique to Christians. Jews do it, too. I assume that even atheists fall into the "double standard" trap, though they don't derive their values from a Bible.
Q

Laura said...

This type of subjugation of women isn't limited to Christianity (or even Abrahamic religions overall). We (westerners) often point to Islam as oppressive to women - but if taken verse by verse with the Qu'ran regarding women, it's the Bible that is worse. The Qu'ran actually afforded women rights they were denied in Christianity and Judaism. That just goes to show that it's not the doctrine itself, but how it is applied and how it is used by those in power in a given society.

But again we get into the problem of literalism. If the Bible were taken literally true, then Christian women would be dressed much like the Amish and be in full subservience to their husbands and fathers (the very behavior we denounce in other cultures).

Jewish Atheist said...

Q,

Thanks for the info about Paul. Pretty interesting.

I assume that even atheists fall into the "double standard" trap, though they don't derive their values from a Bible.

No doubt. :)

Sadie Lou said...

if the doctrine were true, Sadie Lou, it would make sense even to people who didn't already agree with you. :)

That couldn't be less true.
Some of the things God asks us to do are difficult for Christians and would be even more of a challenge for people who don't even believe God exists.
A strong love of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the seriously, the only way some of the more delicate issues can be understood and practiced.
Do you honestly think that if Abraham didn't love and trust the Lord he would have still brought Isaac to the top of that mountain for "sacrifice"?

Random said...

To be fair to Paul, what he is essentially warning about is the sin of vanity, indulged in by the wealthy flaunting their cash on vulgar display. In this day and age a nice haircut, a pair of gold earrings and a smart dress do not seriously come under the heading of "costly array", whereas they certainly did in the first century AD.

Churches today do occasionally try to enforce the "modest apparel" rule however - at least, hardly a summer seems to go by without me seeing a story somewhere of some church rather plaintively imploring the ladies of the congregation not to approach the communion rail in miniskirts.:-)

Sadie Lou said...

random--
There's that common sense thing again.
Women should know, without being told, that it doesn't do anybody any favors to come to church in revealing clothing.
You have men in there that are trying to stop looking at porn or stop cheating on their wife or women with insecurity issues and here comes Little Miss Clueless dressed immodestly.
The Bible shouldn't have to warn women of the way they can stumble men; it should be common knowledge.
duh.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou,

Some of the things God asks us to do are difficult for Christians and would be even more of a challenge for people who don't even believe God exists.

At what point do all of the "difficulties" add up to "Well, you know, this whole thing is starting to seem just a little bit unlikely?" How far do you trust God?

Do you honestly think that if Abraham didn't love and trust the Lord he would have still brought Isaac to the top of that mountain for "sacrifice"?

I'm on record as saying that Abraham should have said "no" to that request. What would you have said? However, as a moral fable explaining that Yahweh doesn't want child sacrifice as did Baal, it makes perfect sense.

Random,

To be fair to Paul, what he is essentially warning about is the sin of vanity, indulged in by the wealthy flaunting their cash on vulgar display. In this day and age a nice haircut, a pair of gold earrings and a smart dress do not seriously come under the heading of "costly array", whereas they certainly did in the first century AD.

That's actually a very good point.

Sadie Lou said...

At what point do all of the "difficulties" add up to "Well, you know, this whole thing is starting to seem just a little bit unlikely?" How far do you trust God?

So just because I find it difficult to forgive or pray for my enemies I should just roll over and recant my faith? :)

I'm on record as saying that Abraham should have said "no" to that request. What would you have said? However, as a moral fable explaining that Yahweh doesn't want child sacrifice as did Baal, it makes perfect sense.

I would have found it extremely difficult to walk my son up that mountain but I would also bear in mind that God made me a promise that Isaac would inherit the promised land and that being said, God would provide a sacrifice and no go back on his promise by having me sacrifice Isaac...it was a trust issue between God and Abraham.

Shlomo said...

What did one mink say to the other before it was killed?

"I'll see you in shul!"

DNA said...

JA, I think you're way off on this one. First, you completely lack the cultural frame of reference needed to judge whether this makes Paul "a jerk."

Second, your strong belief in unscientific principles is amusing, as skeptic's convictions always are. (No disrespect intended.) Men are stronger than women. We are not equal. Black widow spiders frequently eat their male mates. In our species, we're the stronger. It's science, my man.

Jewish Atheist said...

JA, I think you're way off on this one. First, you completely lack the cultural frame of reference needed to judge whether this makes Paul "a jerk."

I thought Christians always complain that everybody else believes in relative morality.

Second, your strong belief in unscientific principles is amusing, as skeptic's convictions always are. (No disrespect intended.) Men are stronger than women. We are not equal. Black widow spiders frequently eat their male mates. In our species, we're the stronger. It's science, my man.

I have no idea what you're responding to here.

Sadie Lou said...

dna--
unscientific principles?

DNA said...

Sorry if I am being unclear. Your calling Paul a jerk stems from a conviction that women ought not dress modestly or, more importantly, be subservient to man. I wonder from where a skeptic draws such forceful conviction; surely it is not from looking at other species, where one gender frequently dominates the other.

Jewish Atheist said...

DNA, all you have to do is look around at the millions of successful women today and you'll realize that what had been holding them back for centuries wasn't their natural (dis)abilities. It's simply factual that women aren't inferior to men in anything that matters. (Average maximum bench press, for example, not being a metric that matters.)

In other species, as in ours, one gender frequently dominates simply because it can. That doesn't mean it's moral*. In our species, men are on average larger and stronger and consequently dominated for as long as they could get away with it. In much of the world, they still do. When part of the world changed to reward brains more than brawn, though, women proved to be men's equals.

*Please don't start about how can an atheist/skeptic have morals. It's been done.

DNA said...

I agree with you that the status of women has improved as a result of society shifting from a brawn to brain mode of success. What I found interesting was the conviction that women _should_ be equal, I suppose what you dismiss as a moral issue which has "been done." I've actually never seen it done well, if at all. Part of me isn't religious, but I think that that part is honest enough to accept the nihilism that goes along with it.

Shlomo said...

There are different forms of power. Simply to rate this power in terms of physical stature or force is misplaced. As long as we view civilization (if it could be called that) through the warrior/warmonger mindset, then of course, one will always think that physical might always prevails.

There are more subtle and peaceful forms of power, be they coyness, beauty, kindess, biological necessity, and (believe it or not) rational discourse.

We have come to think of the warrior as the powerful one because he (and sometimes she) carries flags, holds gala victory celebrations, and most often write his or her self-flattering version of history.

Kol Tuv

smoo said...

Scholars say that Paul didn’t write the ‘Pastoral’ epistles of 1,2, Tim & Titus. See Women in early Christianity section of Truth And Fiction in the DaVinci Code by Bart D. Ehrman (chair dept religious studies univ NC at Chapel Hill) p. 171.
Pauline Christians stressed the equality of women and they should be active in the church.
Paul said that those who are baptized experience freedoms from social distinction ... “ No longer Jew or Greek...male or female...”
Both Jesus and Paul felt the new age would be one of no marriage, no sex differences (sounds boring!)

smoo said...

oops, someone beat me to the punch. I guess I should read other comments first