Why not go out with a bang this week? Tonight I'll briefly write about what is probably the 2nd most controversial topic in Churches of Christ (mine and my family's long-time congregation).
The role of women in church services.
That may sound ridiculous to those of you without a deep religious background in your family. And it probably sounds ridiculous to those from other walks of faith as well, but this is hardly just a Church of Christ issue. Catholics, Episcopalians, even Muslims are wrestling mightily with this clash of 21st Century cultural values and much older religous values and traditions.
I won't go into those cultural values... that would take too long. Instead I'd like to consider the writings of Paul that have led to this clash in the first place. Upon a quick reading of our English translations, it appears in his letter to the church of Corinth and in other places that Paul feels women should be silent in church.
More examination complicates matters, as usual. The context of his writings involved a time of pagan worship on a massive scale, which also came with prostitution, drunkenness, loud and chaotic assemblies, and role-reversal (women and men mixing clothes and mannerisms). Each of these topics get addressed in his letter to Corinth -- it appears to me that Paul wants to distinguish Christians from these other groups such as the cult of Dionysus. And 1 Corinthians 11 seems to make it clear that women are indeed allowed to pray and prophesy in worship assembly.
And if you dive into the Greek text, "silence" doesn't seem to be the only translation of Paul's instructions. In 1 Corithians, the word "gentleness" would be equally accurate, and in 1 Timothy... well, the Greek word "authentein" is the word translated as silence, and it appears nowhere else in the entire New Testament.
Perhaps today's church interprets the texts correctly, and women should have been held out of ministry, speaking and worship positions for the past 2,000 years. Or perhaps we have it wrong.
Either way, in my opinion this is one of the top two issues in our church today, in terms of tension and explosive potential. Tomorrow I'll wrap up the week with what I feel is #1.
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