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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Women and the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism

Women and the Word of God: A Response to Biblical Feminism - Susan T. Foh This book is an old friend. I have recently dusted it off to read again after recommending it to a friend who will be married this year. The contemplation of a Christian woman living single or living in marriage brings always questions – what does it mean to submit? do single women submit? if so, to whom? are women to submit to all men or just their husbands? if you submit are you inferior? are women inferior to men? did God restrict women from preaching or was that just Paul who was reflecting the cultural times? The author, Susan Foh, wrote this book in response to Biblical feminism. Biblical feminists agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, however they reject those passages in the Bible where they see irreconcilable contradictions regarding the Bible's teaching on women. These contradictions include cultural elements which portray women as inferior, thus limiting them from complete participation in the church – inferiority of Eve because she was created second, inferiority of women because they are prohibited from becoming pastors, to name a few. Biblical feminists have tried to prove from scripture that these elements were never meant to be propagated as scripture, and thus should be rejected. However by rejecting passages they personally do not like, human reason is set forth as the final authority and judge of “what is scripture” and “what is not scripture”.I will not be able to review every aspect of this book, because it is detailed and thorough. So I will summarize the portions that I learned most from, and were most significant to me. It is important to know that I first read this book when I was single and working outside my home as I made a living for myself in the work world. Subsequent readings have been after my marriage (working outside our home, then working inside our home) before and after children were added to our family. The most significant portions of the book for me wer the linking of the Genesis 3 passage (the judgments pronounced on Adam and Eve after the fall) and the Ephesians 5 passage (commands to the wife to submit to her husband, commands to the husband to love his wife).In Genesis 3: 16b, the judgment against Eve after she sinned against God says “Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Interestingly enough, the word “desire” is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 4:7b where God is speaking to Cain after he has killed his brother Abel. God tells Cain “its (sin's) desire is for you (Cain), but you must master it.” Eve somehow desires her husband, and sin desires to control Cain. Quoting the author in the chapter “What the Old Testament Says About Women”, “So after the fall, the husband no longer rules easily; he must fight for headship. The woman's desire is to control her husband, to usurp his divinely appointed headship. And he must master her, if he can. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. And so, the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny, domination, and manipulation.” And a bit later on, “As Cain did not rule over sin (Genesis 4:7b), so not every husband rules his wife. Wives have desires contrary to their husbands' and often have no desire (sexual or psychological) for their husbands. But wives do have a desire, whether overt or covert, conscious or unconscious, to control or manipulate their husbands.”Then the passage in Ephesians 5: 22 - 33, where wives are commanded to submit to their husbands (v 22) and husbands are commanded to love their wives (v25). I had always wondered, why is the wife not told to love her husband too, and why isn't the man told specifically to submit to their wife also since in Ephesians 5:21 it tells believers“submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”? The answer to these questions has to do with the judgments back in Genesis 3. If you remember, women were told that “ your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you “ (Genesis 3:16b). Before the fall, it was easy for a woman to accept the headship of her husband. After the fall, submitting to her husband would be one of the hardest things she would do, because she would be fighting the sin nature she had to control or manipulate her husband. So in Ephesians 5, the wife is commanded to DO that hardest of things.... submit to her husband! In Genesis 3: 17 – 19 God explained to Adam that his judgment would have to do with the struggle to work and make a living. Before the fall, it was easy for the man to work and also love and cherish his wife. After the fall, taking time out from his busy and hectic work schedule would be one of the hardest things he would do, because he would be so busy fighting his sin nature which leads him to focus on work above all else. God then instructs the husband in Ephesians 5 to DO that hardest of all things.... love his wife! So what is hardest now for the man is to take time aside and cherish and love his wife. He is so busy struggling with work and finding his fulfillment there, that often he neglects to nurture and care for his wife. So in both cases, God explains the commands he gives in Ephesians 5 in light of the judgments of Genesis 3. The wife is not told to love her husband, because she has that more naturally in her nature. But in obeying God's command to submit to her husband, she will fight against the “desire that sin has for her, and will master it”. This was hugely important to me, because it explained submission to the creation order God had established, and also explained some of the differences between what God wants women to do and what God wants men to do and how the fall and sin messed that up. Sin separates husband from wife and puts strife between them. Obedience to God's commands restores the right relationship between husband and wife, and allows both husband and wife to indeed fight against sin's desire to have mastery over them. This becomes a life long struggle because you cannot just do it once and have it over and done with. And it is impossible to do in your own strength. God tells us the result of our sin (Genesis 3), then tells us what we must do to live in obedience (Ephesians 5), and then enables us through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to DO what is hardest for us. But DOING that hard work does not mean recasting it in terms we like better (rejecting Paul because he was a cultural bigot against women), or rejecting what God has put in place (the creation order). Another huge issue for me was the assumed inferiority of women simply because Eve was created second after Adam and told that her function was to help him. The author shone a blazing light of truth on this issue by reminding me that Jesus himself came to “serve”, to be humble, to love others more than himself such that he died for them. Jesus submitted himself to the will of God the Father. So to submit is not an act of inferiority, but is actually an act of great humility. A wife who submits to her husband willingly puts herself in a position of great vulnerability. Husbands are not Jesus, and will not always treat their wives as Jesus would treat them. So the wife may be treated unfairly. But God honors obedience, so wives are told without exception or excuse to submit to the authority of their husbands. To put this submission in the same light as the way Jesus submitted to God the Father was a great joy for me. Jesus was in no way inferior or a doormat because he submitted. And wives are in no way inferior either when they willingly submit themselves to the authority God has placed over them in their husbands. Wow. I could go on. This book just has so many wonderful things in it, but I will leave it as these. In summary (and adding a few items that I did not have time to go over), 1)men and women are in the image of God in exactly the same way. God created Man in two sexes in his image. Both male Man and female Man are in God's image. So men and women are equal as persons, and men and women should treat one another with kindness and respect, as persons made in the image of God.2)Wives are to submit to their husbands, and woman are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church. This subordination to her husband and in the church is NOT BASED ON MERIT OR LACK OF IT. It is based on God's appointment. So while God has created men and women equally in personhood, God has ordained a difference in function. 3)God has ascribed HONOR to the place of subordination. Jesus himself was not ashamed to take the form of a servant and humble himself. It is pride and rebellion against God that moves Christian women to refuse to fulfill their positions in marriage and the church. This rebellion is part of the judgment in Genesis 3:16.4)It is God alone who decides what justice is. Justice is defined by God's word, and not by human reason. Therefore, it is just and fair that women cannot be elders in the church, even though an equal partnership of the sexes in marriage and in the church may seem like a better idea to many persons. I would recommend this book with 10 stars if 10 stars were available. This book helped me understand and articulate a Biblically grounded position about women as Christians – whether single, widowed, divorced, married, working outside the home or inside, with children or without. We are Christians first and foremost. God created us with great care and love to be women. With the creation of Adam and Eve came an order (Adam first, Eve second), and with that creation order came differing roles. To live within the roles God has established in the creation order brings great peace and joy. To kick against the goads of the creation order, to reject that God can choose how he has ordered things, and to fight against obedience is to live in strife and anger and frustration. Women, there is still forbidden fruit today, just as there was in the garden. That fruit is role interchangeability in marriage and in the church. I'm glad the author has written to show Christian women that, like Eve, they are being tempted with half truths (such as subordination implies inferiority) and are being told that God (or the Bible or the church) is depriving them of something quite arbitrary. Let us with the Psalmist resist this temptation and say,“Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.Psa 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.Psa 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.Psa 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.Psa 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.“