Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Commands

I claimed in my last post that I was planning on trying to update occasionally with thoughts on my devotional readings. That hasn't really panned out thus far, mostly because I usually read pretty late at night and I don't feel like spending the time on it before bed. Tonight I'm getting an early jump on sleep though, so I can carve out some time.

Several of the last few passages that I've read have been from I Corinthians, Titus, I Peter, and Ephesians. These books are letters, and are full of different commands from the author to his audience. Among them are mandates to be loving, to be pure, and even to disallow women from speaking in Churches. It's passages like these that make me wish I could sit down with a pastor or religion professor or some sort of expert on the Bible and find out exactly what is being asked of modern Christians.

Some commands are easy (in concept). Love. Fair enough. I am supposed to love God and my neighbor. I can live with that. I will fall short of the perfect standard given me, but I can make an honest effort and I can usually figure out what loving God or my neighbor involves.

Other commands are a little trickier. Be pure. Hmm. What exactly does this mean? (You'll notice that this command evokes more questions than statements from me.) I'll admit this is something I've struggled greatly with this for a long time, and I've spent countless nights in prayer trying to figure out how to improve in this area of my life. Lines and boundaries are implied, but not defined concretely. There are black and white areas, but between them is a huge no-mans-land of gray inbetween. How far is too far? What types of media should we be subjecting ourselves to? What should be permissible in conversation? What types of language are acceptable? (See? Questions.)

I think the area of purity is one where God utilizes our conscience. We are given a sense of right and wrong, and we also have the ability to develop it as we grow. Our conscience is able to, or should be able to, tell us when we're toeing the line and when we've jumped across altogether. Sometimes it's just a little nudge that says, "Maybe I shouldn't have said that." Other times it grabs you by the brain stem and squeezes until you hear a buzzer going off in your mind indicating, "Wow, I really shouldn't be doing this right now." Tuning your conscience is harder than it sounds, and it's even harder to act on the messages it's giving you, but it might just be your only method of determining right from wrong.

Finally for tonight, there are the commands that just make no freaking sense. Women can't talk in Church? Huh? Sorry Bible, but that just sounds like something a translator in the middle ages would have thrown in there because his wife was ragging on him to keep his eyes open and listen all throughout the sermon that morning. "See honey, it says right here in THE HOLY BIBLE that women will SHAME THEMSELVES if they talk in Church!" This is where I'd like to get the whole story, straight from the Greek, told by someone who knows what they're talking about. I don't know how this should be interpreted, but I have a hard time believing that God wants us to duct tape every female's mouth shut upon entering a sanctuary. Something to think about at least... maybe I'll do some poking around on the subject when I've got some time.

This has been good. More another time. I'd also like to try to take a few posts to get my political views out in sentence form, but I need some more time to determine exactly what my position is on most of the major topics (abortion, gay marriage, universal healthcare, etc.).

As always, feedback is encouraged. Let me know if you agree with me, or even better if you disagree completely and would like to persuade me that you're right. I'm always up for a good discussion.

2 comments:

  1. Jacob VanderWallJuly 23, 2009 at 6:45 AM

    Hey Paul,

    I found your blog in passing and was intrigued by your question of women in the church. While I am not a greek scholar, I found this article that talks about it in detail. It was written by some reformed proffesor.

    http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_70.html

    Other things:
    Google Chrome is my new favorite browser.

    I have been tinkering with an open source developer called AVR studio for use with Atmel microprocessors. The amount of functions available inside each processor is mind boggling. The data sheet for one 8 pin microprocessor is 231 pages long!!

    Hope that your summer is going well

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  2. Interesting read (well, skim so far... I plan to go through more thoroughly later).

    While I agree with many of the arguments put forth by the author of the pamphlet, I think he dodges the notion of context. It is my understanding that in the time in which the New Testament was written, the authors often used the "moral code" of the day to mask their message so that they could minimize their persecution. At the time, the moral codes were much stricter even than those put forth in the NT when it came to the role of women in a household. The authors seem to be refuting the status quo more than putting forth their own new rules.

    That being said, I think the heart of this issue for me is that this just isn't an issue that will decide our salvation. The lines seem much too blurred for a true position to be held. For example:

    Should women be allowed to speak during services? (the pamphlet says yes)
    If so, should they be allowed to speak to others?
    If so, what volume should they be allowed to speak at?
    Should they be allowed to speak to everyone?
    If they are allowed to speak to everyone, can they speak from the pulpit?
    If so, how is this different than preaching?
    If it isn't, why should they not be allowed to study and become ordained?

    It's a slippery slope, and I'd be surprised if anyone has a truly concrete position on this issue that can't be refuted by scripture in some way. It's a tough question, I would put it in the category of transsubstantiation and the method of baptism as an issue that will ultimately not decide salvation.

    Also: Yes, Google Chrome is amazing. I'll have to check ou tthe Atmel microprocessors, sounds pretty interesting.

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