Does the Bible Permit Slavery and Telling Women to to be Silent in the Church?

2Lately I have had an awakening in my heart concerning the Bible.  I feel as though Christians in general (including myself) have been taught to take the Bible too literally.  Oh before anyone gets all upset, I strongly believe that the Bible is true – every word of it!  But, and this is a BIG but; the Bible was never meant to be read as a systematic rule book.  Rather, it was meant to be read and understood as a whole story of redemption.

Christians continue to practice a very dangerous way of interpreting God’s Word.  They open it up, read a scripture, and then create whole sermons, doctrines, and ways of life centered on one (or just a few) Bible verses.

If we do this, we are in grave danger of changing God’s story without His approval.  For instance, our Christian forefathers opened the good book to Ephesians 6:9 and read “Masters treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.”

Early American ‘slave masters’ assumed that because the Bible gave instructions on how to treat slaves that it was OK to sale and own human beings.  The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians.  Paul was a practical man who was writing to an ancient audience.  In ancient Roman/Greco culture, slavery was a normal practice.

Paul was not condoning slavery, but encouraging Christians to treat their slaves better than they had in the past.  One may ask: why didn’t he just come right out and condemn the very practice of slavery? Well, because Paul was not a politician trying to change the normal cultural policy.  He was a man on a very specific mission and that was to share the Gospel with anyone who would listen.

Today, Christians are doing the same thing with women in the church.  They open their Bible and read in 1 Corinthians 14:34 which states, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”

Again, Paul is addressing an ancient audience in which women were treated like slaves to a certain degree.  The fact that Paul was even allowing the women to attend church was a step up for their society.  Paul was actually defending the woman’s right to even attend church in the first place. 

So why didn’t Paul just say, “Women should be allowed to speak just as much as men in the church?”  Again, Paul had a very specific mission and it was not to try and change the culture, but change the heart of the individual.  Paul knew that in time, as Christianity grew, culture would progress.  If we seek to change the heart of a person, people will begin to fight against ungodly injustices and pursue redemption in all situations.

The Bible should be read as a story.  Genesis is the beginning of all time and Revelations is the future (end times).  The Cross of Jesus Christ is at the center of the story and His teachings are the most universal principals in which we should seek to live by.  A lot of Paul’s teaching were specific to His audience.  Remember, he was writing letters to real churches with real problems that may not apply to us.  We have to be very careful not to create doctrines around Pauline teachings if they are not centric to the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

Is enslaving another human being contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ?  Is telling women to sit down and shut up in church contrary to the teachings of Christ?  Of course they are!  Why? Because Jesus Christ was about one thing and that was redemptive love!

The Bible is a story of redemption and we need to read the whole story to even begin to understand it.  While slavery was acceptable in America hundreds of years ago, it is no longer acceptable because we are slowly redeeming our culture through the good news of Jesus Christ.

There are still many churches who refuse to allow women to speak in their pulpits due to wrong interpretation of scripture.  They don’t allow women to be elders, pastors, or even teach/preach when men are present.  While many of the head pastors of these churches are well-intentioned and believe they are following scripture, they are actually holding back “God’s redemptive story” from being moved forward.

I will not longer attend churches that hold this doctrine just as I would never attend a church that permitted slavery.  I want to be part of a church that is moving forward in God’s story.  Think about it this way?  Half of God’s church (women) is being silenced in the name of wrong biblical teaching but we keep attending these churches because they offer nice programs and often the male leaders are very good, well-meaning people.

When will we start standing up for what is truth and say enough is enough?  Know what your church teaches on women and stand for what is right for the sake of your sisters being silenced and the good news being held back to a huge degree.  People need Jesus and when woman are fully permitted to serve side by side with men (holding equal spiritual authority), I believe many more people will come to know Christ as their personal Savior.

It is my personal opinion that Jesus will not come back to this earth until more people make Jesus their Lord.  I believe a huge “hold-up” to this is women being held back in ministry, societal influence, and leadership opportunities.  We can be sure that God’s story WILL move forward with or without us, but we can be part of helping redemption move forward faster!

Will you be silent or will you make a stand?

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