This post is part of our on-going series about Male Feminist Theology.
Yesterday I wrote about my fears of hypocrisy when it comes to Church and Theology in relation to Women and their experience in the world. I talked about how some people see the Bible as a product of patriarchal culture, and therefore is simply wrong when it comes to women. Others (like myself) try and argue that the Bible is itself in favor of women exercising full authority and presence in the Church and Theological consideration.
But when I do this, is it just another form of fundamentalism to doggedly refuse to let go of my belief that the Bible “has” to be right in this area? Here are a few things that have at least helped me sleep at night and move forward in this pursuit of a Male Feminist Theology.
If it’s not obvious so far, I wanted to make something clear before we begin: these posts in this series on Women the Church are walking through the same path my own journey took get to where I am.
In my last post, there was a concern that a friend brought up that I didn’t get to talking about the biblical texts enough. Well, this is because both egalitarians and complementarians are looking at the same biblical texts. In my own shifts on this issue, the key changes were not “new” Bible verses I found.
Well, we’ve gone through some of my own journey and some of the ways this discussion goes, but the real meat of this discussion centers around a few key biblical texts. Various refutes and refutations’ refutes can be found with any easy Google search. I don’t necessarily want to re-hash the more widely-publicized textual minutiae of the issue, though some of that will be necessary.
In this post, I could easily just list the three primary offending texts and then talk about how my view differs from others’ views. But those other people’s views don’t come out of thin air. They are based in many more (and, epistemologically more important) assumptions and bigger issues that usually never get touched on.
And so, as I continue this series, today I just want to touch on the ways people go about using the Bible in this, and then defending how I feel like we should use the Bible here. After this post, beginning next week, I promise we’ll start getting into actual biblical texts. But we need to do this first.
Because, as anyone that has studied theology begins to realize, everything comes back to your chosen interpretive method and filters–what’s usually referred to as a “hermeneutic”.
Proverbs is always such a weird book to try and apply to your life. The theme of the book is what? Wisdom. Is it teaching wisdom to give people a bunch of cookie cutter situations and tell them how to act? No.
In Proverbs 26:4-5, we see two Proverbs back-to-back that say opposite things. One says “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself”. The very next verse says “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes”.
Long story short, all of the book of Proverbs flows from Chapter 1, which talks about the fear of the lord being the beginning of wisdom. Those two contradictory proverbs show us that the book is not meant to be a cut-and-paste sort of thing. It’s not the case that a fool could simply read it, start acting like the “wise man” found throughout Proverbs and suddenly be wise (how would he apply those two verses above?).
Wisdom comes not from doing the things the wise man does, but by being the kind of wise man who fears the Lord and can discern what response to use in a given situation at the right time.
By the time I finished the next article in the series, it was substantive enough and socially-oriented enough to warrant being posted on my webzine Reform & Revive. The previous post was on on how secular Philosophy can inform our view of ethics and contribute to the discussion of Slavery, Atheism, and the Bible. This one is about how Christian theological ethics can uniquely inform our ethics in modern times. The article covers a LOT of ground and is the longest one I’ve written yet in this series. Hopefully that’s not a turn off. This article has more of my thought concerning truth and Biblical interpretation than perhaps any one article I’ve ever written contains. Here’s the link:
It seems in light of my earlier post I’ve decided to pour more of myself into this series, rather than just quickly finishing it off. Hopefully it’s helpful.
Lastly, I keep getting private emails, texts, and messages from Christians talking about how much they’re enjoying this series, and how helpful it is to them, but hardly any Christians are publicly commenting. I’m getting tons of comments from my atheist friends, though. Discrepancy? I think so. If you have a thought, please leave it. It could be really helpful to get more input on this and diversity of thought on this.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. It means a lot.