Last weekend a wonderfully sweet friend came to me for advice. She had been leading a Bible study but had become uneasy doing so because of a verse she had read.
I Timothy 2: 11-13 New International Version
11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
She was wanting to know if I thought this was an absolute or was it perhaps something cultural that need not apply today. Because she believes the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God she thought it should still hold true. This was hard for me to answer. There are many instances of the import women played in the early church. Is it possible this Scripture is representative of how women were to behave in this culture? Even as Christ hung dying on the cross He made provisions for His mother. This He did because He knew she would need the protection of a male to reside in her society. I also believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. Does this mean I should do everything it says?
Just keeping up with the Old Testament regulations could give you a permanent headache. Fortunately this has already been answered for me. I am saved by the Grace of God through His Son Christ Jesus. I have no need to follow all the laws laid down before Him. He came to abolish the law. This is good news for me and makes my life much simpler,but there are still other questions to be asked.
I have worked for all of my adult life in the cause for life. I've prayed, worked, counseled, and been handcuffed for the cause. I am totally committed to the preservation of all life. Over the years I have come to expand my belief that all life is sacred. Even the life of those who have taken others. This seems to put me at odds with the Old Testament command to stone anyone who has taken the life of another. It also allows for the stoning of a bride who does not go to her marriage bed a virgin. I find I cannot find it in my heart to do either.
This total approach to the Sanctity of Life has put me at odds with many who protect the unborn but feel it is right to kill criminals. We both read the same Bible yet differ greatly on our views.
This caused me to ponder what I would have done had I lived in the middle of the 19th century. Many Christians were divided over the issue of slavery. Most on the pro-slavery side used the Scriptures to support their ideas. Even the New Testament called for slaves to be obedient to their masters. They often wrote that slavery was present in Christ's time and He did nothing to stop it. Jesus did not go around freeing all the slaves He found. He came to free us from the bondage of sin, not earthly masters. How then did the abolitionists come to the conclusion that slavery was wrong? Some spoke about the difference between the slaves of their day and the Hebrew slave system. I think they did some serious soul searching. I know that is what has wrought the change in me. I believe that my continued study of the Scripture has left my heart ready for where the Holy Spirit guides me.
This leads me to question the popular but inaccurate; what would Jesus do? In the first place I am not He nor can I ever be. Secondly I should do what He wants me to do, not only what He did. He didn't address the atrocities of His day. He remained outside of the political realm. He didn't fight the customs of the day. Does this mean I should not? Some would argue that my past history of being civilly disobedient means I do not support the inerrancy of the Scripture as I seek to make change where I should be obeying my government.
Romans 13:1-2 New International Version
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
So am I wrong it what I do? How do I live the way I do and then reconcile the Scripture above? I have come to the conclusion that there are many things I do not understand. Most of these I attribute to the Divine Mystery that is my God. I am unable to understand all that He is and how He works. This in no way lessens who He is. It just means that I as a flawed individual cannot grasp all that is God. My finite being is unable to fully accept His infinite being.
Each day I ask God where I should engage my heart. This has led me down some wandering difficult paths but they have always led to peace. I have decided I can wrap my brain around the commands given me by Jesus. They are the lighthouse I use to guide my journey.Mark 12:28-34 The Message by Navpress
The Most Important Commandment
28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"
29 Jesus said, "The first in importance is, "Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; 30 so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' 31 And here is the second: "Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."
32 The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate--that God is one and there is no other. 33 And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!"
34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, "You're almost there, right on the border of God's kingdom."
After that, no one else dared ask a question.
....and neither will I.