I had a sudden realisation in the night
One of my problems with Simple Pastor's post "What the Bible clearly says women can do" that I have not covered in my earlier posts More nonsense on what women can do and What can women do? is this:
The Bible is neither an encyclopedia not an Argos catalogue.
We do not decide what kind of home to build by looking through the Bible and listing all the buildings and choosing which one to build.
We do not decide what clothes to buy by looking through the Bible and listing all the clothes that people are wearing.
We do not decide how to decorate our homes by looking through the Bible and listing all the different styles of decoration used.
The Bible is neither an encyclopedia not an Argos catalogue. Unless of course you can persuade the Methodist Church to decorate our bathroom in the style of King Solomon's temple!
So why would we list jobs that women do in the Bible thousands of years ago and use that to decide which jobs they should do today? It is a misuse of the Bible and it is very telling that the Bible is only being used in this way in relation to what "Women can do".
After my annoyance expressed in More nonsense on what women can do about a post "What the Bible clearly says women can do" I thought I would write a more positive post on the subject.
So "What can women do?"
Short answer: Anything.
Slightly longer answer.
Biblically we see in Genesis 1:27 that men and women are both created by God and in God's image. Nothing about a hierachy here.
However, I recognise that in the Bible we see a patriarchial society. Yet despite that human structure God continually calls and equips Women for a wide variety of tasks that their society frequently believed were for men only.
When we come to the New Testament we see a very different picture in Jesus. Among other things he taught women, he learned from women, he called women as evangelists and he was financially supported by women. Jesus tells us he came to bring us life in all it's fullness and he does nothing to make it appear that this is a promise for men only.
We also see early Churches led by women in their homes, we see Paul praising women in many ways and clearly he worked with them in different places. Given that the (very) few occasions when Paul restricts the role of women must be connected with specific circumstances or individuals as otherwise he would be contradicting himself. Paul recognises that in God's kingdom there are no distinctions based on gender.
In the Church and world today we see that God blesses the work of women just as much as the work of men.
In the Church the Holy Spirit is active where there are faithful women in leadership just as the Holy Spirit is active when there are faithful men in leadership.
In business writers such as Tom Peters have consistently pointed out that businesses with women in senior positions tend to do better.
So are there limits on what women can do? Yes but they are the same ethical and moral limits that apply to men and so are not connected to this post.
Got to dash now as I have a membership class of people wanting to celebrate all God is calling them to!
The Simple Pastor writes "What the Bible clearly says women can do" and sadly it is the usual mix of nonsense.
Two obvious general points.
- A better title would have been "What a MAN thinks the Bible clearly says women can do".
- If the line of logic followed in the post were applied more generally then nobody would drive a car or ride a bike (the Bible does not say we can). Of course as Simple Pastor is trying restrict women he only applies this logic to women and then is very selective about how he does it.
The detail is also based on very selectively presented arguments. They do not stand up to much scrutiny. The very first point illustrates this nicely
A helper – this is one that has been overplayed by both sides but Gen 2:18 & 20 calls women helpers. I’d say that this likely meant helping man in the increasing, subduing, ruling that God charged mankind with in Gen 1:26-28.
What of course Simple Pastor misses out is that God is also described as a "helper" using exactly the same word. So women are limited to being like God, seems a pretty limited limitation to me!
What Simple Pastor does is use every example he can find of God calling, liberating and working in women despite the patriarchial culture they lived in and then use them as reasons to restrict rather than free.
A typically sad and fearful male response to the power of God revealed in ordinary women and men.