7/1/18 – Paul’s bad teaching about women

Posted on : Jun 28th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

The last three Sundays we have been looking at some of the Apostle Paul’s greatest and best writings.  Paul’s own story of faith is rooted in his own enlightenment, his own transformation, his own conversion experience.  On the Road to Damascus, Paul experiences his own “blindness,” his own limited understanding of God’s love as revealed in Jesus, and he is changed.  Transformed.  Enlightened.  This story of human and spiritual transformation is summed up in our UCC slogan, “Never put a period where God has placed a comma.  God is still speaking!”

The second week we focused on Paul’s magnificent teaching about “All things working together for good.”  This quote is often misinterpreted.  Paul doesn’t say everything is good.  What Paul means is revealed a little later in his writing.  It is the profound affirmation that no matter what happens in our lives, nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.  That is the good that Paul speaks about. 

Then last Sunday we focused on Paul’s personally and politically challenging affirmation that “Together we are the body of Christ.”   We are not separated; we are integrated.  We are not “one-against-the-other,” we are all one.  Paul is so bold in this affirmation of our connectedness that he concludes: “When one among us suffers, we all suffer; and when one among us is honored, we all rejoice.”  Those are pretty profound words for our world and our country at this time in history.

But as I said in the introduction to this series, not everything Paul wrote was good.   Some of his teachings are bad and some are down right ugly.  This Sunday we’ll look at one of his bad teachings. 

Paul is more than a bit schizophrenic in his teachings on gender.  In Galatians 3:28 Paul writes “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”  But in Ephesians 5: 21-33, Paul writes: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

I have intentionally left Paul’s patriarchal language unchanged to highlight one of Paul’s greatest weaknesses.  While his head was in the right place, his heart never connected with the egalitarian Gospel that Jesus proclaimed, practiced and lived.  Paul gave up the essence of the beloved Community which Jesus ushered in, instead reverting to the old patriarchal order of the Greeks.  The million-dollar question is why?  Why did Paul do this?  Why did Paul sell out Jesus’ teaching – the very heart of the good news that Jesus proclaimed, practiced and lived?  Why did Paul even contradict his own teachings in Galatians – a teaching that was so revolutionary, it is believed to have been used as one of the very first liturgies for Baptism? 

The effects of Paul’s patriarchal teaching and corruption of Jesus’ gospel have fueled discrimination and oppression for women, gays, slaves and most recently, the transgender / non-binary community.  What Paul did was bad.  So why did he do this?  Come and find out on Sunday!

Blessings,

Dan

Ephesians 5: 21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

 

 

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