Saturday, July 10, 2010

Part Two of to be continued

Part of "blogging" for me is like therapy. Therapy is good, but it is usually done behind closed doors between two people who know and trust each other. At first my blog was kind of like that, just me and the computer. I didn't really think anyone read my blog, I wasn't in it for that; it just feels better somehow to get the words out. Therein lies the problem! Cyberspace is after all, very public. I knew that, but I think I might have been choosing to ignore that fact.

A couple friends have been bugging me for "part two" of my issue post. If you haven't read part one, you might want to go to my post called, "Texas Wildflowers" then come back and read this part. I'm just going to jump right in with part two......

I believe that all people are created in God's image, men and women. I believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to all those who have chosen to have Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I believe that the first gift, the Holy Spirit Himself, is given the moment somebody chooses to truly associate with Jesus and make Him ruler of his or her life. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are given by the Holy Spirit to believers for the purpose of building the body of Christ. I believe that those gifts are given in the same amount to both men and women.

Here is my line of reasoning for my beliefs:

1. Ephesians 4:4-7 "There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when your were called--one Lord, one faith, one baptism; and one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."
I see no distinction here between men and women getting different treatment. It says that we all have the same hope, the same God; even the same grace given to each of us who were called by Him to be His.

2. Ephesians 4 goes on to say, "It was he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure the fullness of Christ." (verses 11-13)

Again, I don't see a distinction here between men and women. The point is the gifts of the Spirit are to be used to build the body of Christ to unity in Him.

3. Galatians 3:26-28 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Ephesians and Galatians are both letters written by Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to churches to whom he was a missionary after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The letters were written to encourage, teach, and even correct these early believers. They are the words of Paul inspired by God.

I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. That means that I don't believe there are any mistakes in the Bible and that everything in it is there because God Himself wanted it to be there. I believe that in order to understand any of the Bible, one must be blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit. I don't believe there are any contradictions in the Bible, the Bible interprets the Bible. The New Testament only makes sense in light of the Old Testament, you can't have one without the other.

Now we come to the sticky point of something that Paul said. This is where I have met with disagreement with some dear friends. Listen to what Paul says in 1Timothy2:11-15 "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."

My dear friends believe that because of this verse women should not teach Bible studies or even give their opinion of scripture to men. They believe that church offices should not be held by women. And yet, to believe this--in my opinion--is to misunderstand the apostle Paul. There are many times in his letters where he encourages men and women to be equal. Did he not say that in Christ there is neither male nor female? The thing about Paul is this, when he was writing his letters to the early church, women were only considered property. They were not thought of as much more than clean laundry and food on the table. They certainly were not thought of as thinking beings.

Yet Christ taught true freedom. Christ gave Himself to any who would accept Him. Christ routinely associated with women; even women of ill repute whom the rabbis of the day would have spit upon. Rabbis prayed frequently, "Praise God that you did not make me a woman." Christ showed love. Christ did not say, because you are a woman you must only serve me. No! He dearly loved both Mary and Martha. In fact when Martha asked Jesus to chastise Mary because she was more interested in learning from Jesus than serving Him, Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42) Christ never said that the Holy Spirit would only be given to men.

Paul was writing in a time when women were nothing. He was helping to usher in world changing Christianity. He was well aware that the Christian views on equality among all people were earth shattering. He was writing to warn the early church that they were being watched and should be very careful with their new freedoms. The time period during which the early church was birthed was not ready for women to be given the same freedoms as men.

My very favorite Bible scholar and commentator, William Barclay, says this about 2Timothy:2:8-15 "..this passage deals with the place of women in the Church. This is a passage which cannot be read out of its historical context. It springs entirely from the situation in which it was written. It is written against a double background. 1. It is written against a Jewish background....It was absolutely forbidden for a woman to teach in a school; she might not even teach the youngest children....2. It is written against a Greek background. The place of women in Greek religion was low." Barclay goes on to say, "In Christ the differences of place and honour and prestige and function within the Church were all wiped out."

Perhaps the real issue for me is this: I feel that God has gifted me with the gift of teaching. I do not believe that He gave me this gift only to be used among women. I don't think God has given me a gift but then put conditions upon that gift. As long as my gift of teaching is being used to build the body of Christ, I'm using it correctly.

When someone tells me that they believe differently than I do on this issue I feel as though I have been told that my gift is counterfeit. How is it possible for my well meaning friends to understand what is between me and God? It is as though my friends have looked at my God given gift and told me that the gift I received is really junk.

My therapy session is over now. Thanks for your time! There has been so much written on this subject, I'm sure I have not covered everything. This is just my quick response to my well-meaning friends.

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