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Paul on Women, Sex and Dress

In Jesus's day, there were "prohibitions against teaching women Torah." ("Women in Judaism," Wikipedia accessed 6/4/2010).

Orthodox Jews still struggle with their oral law prohibition against teaching women the Torah. (Think of the movie Yentyl.) They try to find ways to limit the rule or have loopholes. See Rabbi Kahn's "Jewish Education for Women."

How did Judaism ever reach this unbiblical view in the first century when the Law itself contains commands to the contrary? What are these?

First, the Law commanded a communal reading of the Law to everyone - men and women - on the Day of Atonement each year. See Graves, Public Reading of Scripture in Early Judiasm at pages 470-71. 

Second, and more astonishingly, we read Moses sets the stage for delivering his own commands by mentioning all the "people of Israel" had journeyed to a spot (Deut 10:6) and then he addresses the audience as "Israel" (not men of Israel) (Deut. 10:12), ending with a strong endorsement of everyone learning and studying Torah: 

 

18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut 11:18-19 ESV.)

However, because women by the time of Christ couldn't be taught the Torah, women obviously also couldn't teach the Torah.  

The Pharisee party in Jesus's day was the only party that believed in oral Torah.  Thus, the Pharisee party is the only party that held these views in Jesus' day.  The Sadducee party believed the only Torah was the written Torah. They rejected the Pharisees' doctrine that there could ever be an oral Torah  delivered at Sinai that was not written down.  Hence, the only source possible of this doctrine about not teaching women the Torah in Jesus's day were the Pharisees.  By the oral Torah prohibition that women should not be taught Torah, this prevented women under the authority of Pharisees from teaching anyone else since they obviously knew nothing about Torah without being permitted to have a teacher.  The Pharisees dominated the synagogues while the Sadducees controlled the priesthood. Hence, weekly the Pharisees had their way. And Paul was a Pharisee. This explains his variance from the Law, besides Paul's general derogatory statements about the written Law.

By contrast, Jesus repeatedly challenged this gender restriction about teaching the word of God to women. He encouraged women to learn from Him the Way of the Kingdom despite oral Torah doctrine being to the contrary. Jesus clearly elevated women to equality with men as able to be taught God's principles, e.g., talking to the Samaritan woman by the well; his relations to Mary and Martha (Luke 8:38), Jesus talking outdoors to crowds with obviously no segregation by sex preceding his talks, etc. 

By Jesus teaching Mary and Martha, now they obviously could teach other what Jesus taught. Mary and Martha, if asked by a young boy or even an adult male like a husband "What did Jesus teach?" knew that they could now teach what Jesus taught. They didn't have to keep silent because of the old oral law of the Pharisees.  

Or do you think Jesus intended that the women, if asked the same question by anyone -- boy, husband or a male acquaintance -- had to say "Well,  I'm sorry I know what Jesus taught, and I would love to share it with you, but you are a male and I'm a woman, so I have to say nothing to you about what Jesus teaches?"  Of course not. By Jesus teaching women about the word of God, Jesus implicitly was authorizing them and mandating them to teach men and women what Jesus taught about the word of God.

Paul emphasizes, however, oral law principles nowhere uttered in the Bible that restrain women's full and equal role as disciples in the church. Thus, these restraints solely rest on Paul's authority.

Now, before I mention Paul principles, I wish to declare that if God in the Law or from Jesus truly demanded women must not speak out at church, raise no questions there, and not teach or not ever have authority over men, or that women must wear a head-covering / veil in church, I would obey.

But all these notions appear from only one voice in the entire "Bible." And as discussed below, they are often at odds with inspired Scripture. Why so late in God's self-revelation would Paul uniquely be given a set of commands seemingly so at odds with equality and kindness that Jesus offered to women? Paul's words read like unique ordinances that nowhere else have any analog in the true Bible. So what is the impression left by Paul's words?

 

The Ugly Impression of Paul's Words

A defender of Paul, Henry Chadwick, in his book The Enigma of St. Paul. The Ethel M. Wood Lecture delivered before the University of London on 27 February 1968 (London: The Athlone press, 1969) at 8 puts it succinctly:

[An] accusation against the apostle has been that he is principally responsible for introducing into the stream of Christian history a deep-seated fear and hostility towards sex. And it should be conceded at once that there are passages that make it easy and natural to interpret him as a misogynist celibate, with an obsession about women’s hair so acute that he demands the wearing of hats [sic: veils] in church, and with the strongest views of female subordination. ‘It is good that a man should not touch a woman.’ ‘The women must keep silence in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.’ And so on.

As to marriage itself, contrast Jesus who speaks of celibacy as something for some but not all disciples. It is not a command or even an exhortation. Matt. 19:12.

But in 1 Cor. 10:27-28, Paul advises those not married to stay that way: "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.  Are you free from a wife?  Do not seek marriage." While Paul then says it is not a sin to marry, he clearly says in the literal Greek "do not seek a wife." 

 

How Paul can utter "do not seek a wife," in violation of the Law's well-known advisory to be "fruitful and multiply" is puzzling. It is even more astonishing that elsewhere Paul ironically says that it is a "doctrine of demons" to "forbid people to marry." (1 Tim. 4: 1, 3 KJV.

 

How does Paul think people will not interpret "do not seek marriage" as less than a prohibition on marriage when Paul speaks so emphatically? Oh, yes, he adds it is not a sin to marry. But later next we will see that he even walks that back, and has a bizarre 'isolate-yourself' solution for married men.

In this next passage discussion, we will see Paul first makes marriage an institution antithetical to serving Christ, implying possibly that it is a sin to marry. But you will see his solution is not a flat prohibition of marriage as a sin, but something more cruel and worse: married men must isolate themselves from their wives.

 

For Paul makes clear elsewhere that by deciding to marry, one necessarily takes their focus off God and becomes worldly, focused instead upon their spouse. Paul thereby undermines the message of Holy Scripture in Genesis that it was "not good for Adam to be alone." Paul says the opposite -- that it is antithetical to your spiritual walk to be married. It is thus adverse to God for  a man to marry, which clearly implies it is good for a man  to be alone when the Torah said the opposite. Paul seemingly thinks he knows better than God! 

32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Cor. 7:32-34 KJV.)

 

And it is in this same context Paul teaches "it is good for a man not to touch a woman." (1 Cor. 7:1 KJV.)

 

But for the moment, put a pin in this discussion of what a man should do about marriage.

 

In the meanwhile, after instructing men above "not to seek a wife," Paul gives more latitude to women, allowing them to marry but at the same time saying it is better if they don't marry. So Paul says a daughter is better off unmarried than married: "So then both he that giveth his own virgin daughter in marriage doeth well; and he that giveth her not in marriage shall do better." (1 Cor. 7:38 KJV.)

 

But here is the kick in the face that will jar you.

In 1 Cor 7:29, Paul says

 

“the time is short [so] from now on those who have wives should live as though they do not.”

 

What does this mean? Paul is speaking to men, not women. Men should essentially shutter their attention exclusively on God, and pay no attention to their wife's interest, just as if they were never married. Marriage from the man's perspective, Paul egregiously says, should have a man pay zero attention to his wife just as if you were not married. Quarantine your focus on God,  shutting your wife out of your life as much as possible -- that's Paul terrible solution to the alleged 'focus on God' issue. This is Paul's unequivocal command to those men who get married despite their knowing this risk to their spiritual focus.

 

This message, if nothing else, clearly implies a man no longer should seek to have children with his wife.

 

But God says to the contrary that marriage is good for a man, implying marriage for both men and women is a more honorable estate than perpetual bachelorhood or maidenhood. God said: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Gen. 2:18.)

 

Also, God's principles were that a woman has the right to expect her husband will give her a child. The Law even protects such right of a woman to expect children from marriage, that God provided the Law of the Husband's Brother to protect a woman's right to have a child from wedlock. (See Deut 25:5-10.) However,  Paul's principle violates Gen. 38 where we read the story of Tamar -- a childless widow. Her husband Shua dies before she can have children. Under the Law of the Husband's Brother, Onan -- brother of Shua -- must fulfill Shua's duty to give Tamar a child. Onan weds Tamar to do so, but uses Tamar solely for sexual pleasure but does not allow any culmination sufficient to allow Tamar to have a child. (See Gen 38:9.)  Because of Onan's abuse of Tamar's rights, God took Onan's life.

 

The moral of the story: Paul's solution defrauds the wife of her rights to have children just as Onan defrauded and abused Tamar's rights, and God made him suffer the consequence.


Not surprisingly, Paul's views are admired as the basis for admitting that that the church under the influence of Paul contradicted Judaism (i.e., the Law). Ernest Renan in The History of the Origins of Christianity. Bk VII Marcus Aurelius (London: Mathieson [1947 reprint][books.google.com] at pages 317-18 says:

 

"At last the church placed itself in full contradiction to Judaism by the fact of considering celibacy and virginity as a preferable state to marriage."

 

 Paul's error besides contradicting inspired scripture is obviously wrong because one has to think God knew they would touch each other or God would not have made them physically attractive to each other. Hence, forbidding touching ever appears never to have been God's plan.

 

It gets worse -- if that is possible -- in the next passage.

Paul elsewhere makes it appear that for a certain category of women marrying, they betray their first husband -- Christ. It starts with this passage: "I have espoused you to one husband," Paul tells the Corinthians metaphorically, "that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2).

Thus, while previously in 1 Corinthians, Paul said marriage was not a sin, the implication could arise from this metaphor in 2 Corinthians that all women or a class of women necessarily become adulterous towards Jesus -- their first faith in Jesus -- by marrying a man. As we shall see, Paul says a category of women are supposedly taking their eyes off Christ and putting them on another -- their contemplated new second spouse. Paul in this next passage says this marriage-step negates the salvation of this class of women.

Can you believe it? Please read on. 

 

Paul says this in 1 Timothy 5:9-12,14 KJV about widows under 60. Paul's implication about this class of younger widows is that  remarriage is a salvation-killing sin. (Paul adds that younger women -- obviously never previously married -- may marry to have children, as long as not purely for companionship. 1 Tim. 5:14.)

 

As to this class of widows -- widows under 60, Paul says a "wantonness against Christ" is reflected by such a young widow's "desire to remarry" which brings the widows under 60 "damnation" as this desire to remarry means they have "thrown off their first faith" toward Christ:

Let not a widow be taken into the number [for charity] under threescore years old [i.e., 60 years old],..11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry (sic: "desire to marry" ASV); 12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

Obviously, Paul is repeating the same notion we read in 1 Cor. 7:32-34 and 2 Cor. 11:2 that somehow, by marriage to another human, we necessarily take our eyes off Christ, our spiritual husband, and hence these "younger widows" become "wanton against Christ" reflected by a "desire to marry" which here Paul says results in  "damnation," because they have thereby cast off their first faith. Wow! 

Paul said it best elsewhere  -- a "doctrine of demons" will "prohibit marriage." (1 Tim. 4:3.) That is what Paul is clearly doing for female widows under 60.

Now let's step back and put two-and-two together.

 

Returning to Paul's Command Married Men Behave as if Unmarried to Their Wives

 

Men are strictly commanded by Paul that if they do marry they should live as if they are not married. (1 Cor. 7:29.) What does this mean? One thing it means at least is that Paul says he has a right to take a "sister wife" if he wished, and so does any other Christian man. This means no sex at all. Just a union with as little physical contact and time spent together as possible. The term Paul created for this was "adelphaen (sibling, sister) gunaika" - mistranslated by the NIV as a "believing wife" to hide the embarassing fact you were to regard your wife as a "sister wife." See 1 Cor. 9:5 KJV (correct "sister wife") vs. NIV ("believing wife," Bible Hub - Greek Tab.) 

 

Incidentally, once Paul's words were now influential, and a hierarchy of priests and deacons were added, the church created a rule obviously derived from Paul that a married man who sought any active affairs at church could no longer live with his wife. Epiphanius in his work Panarion from the mid-300s wrote:

 

"But the man who continues to live with his wife and to sire children is not admitted by the church to be a deacon, priest or a bishop even if he is a husband of an only wife." (GAS 31, 367 quoted in Christian Cochini, S.J., Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy (Ignatius Press, 199) at 229.)

Paul's reasons were clear how this applies to ANY Christian man (and not just deacons or bishops): you will otherwise divide time and attention in favor of your wife, when God is supposedly owed 100% of your time and attention.

Likewise, Paul says any widowed woman under 60 who re-marries suffers damnation because now it implies she is abandoning her first husband - Jesus - casting away her "first faith" in him. (1 Tim. 5:12.) 

 

These are very ugly passages. There is no doubt about it.

This is why no pastor ever currently teaches you that Paul taught any of this. It is extremely embarassing. But it explains alot about why prior Victorian generations behaved the way they did.  Especially men.

Now consider this. Paul's ideas are directly contrary to the Law given Moses / the Torah on so many levels.

God never teaches a 100% love and devotion for God necessarily means that human love is such a distraction that we should abandon human love, even if we make the supposedly unwise decision to marry, as Paul clearly indicates. Since God does command love for our neighbor (who is everyone, Jesus teaches) and otherwise does not like 'long prayers,' as Jesus taught (contrary to Paul's requirement that we "pray incessantly"), then God has not only allowed us time and flexibility to form loving relationships with others, but also has commanded it. Therefore, we must conclude the love and devotion to God does not mean cutting off all other human love and devotion. As Jesus taught, such loving human relationships simply cannot be a love deeper and bigger than our Love and Devotion for God.

 


Recap Thus Far

 

So in sum, Paul teaches that one "should not seek to marry," and that those who do marry necessarily for companionship (ordained in Genesis) are no longer concerned "about the Lord's affairs." Thus Paul has changed marriage to a nonbeneficial institution. Paul's message is clearly contrary to God's word to Moses. As Paul's sympathizers even admit: "He is counseling Christians of both sexes who are unmarried to remain so, and thus to be celibate." (Decker, "Patriarchy.") 

And even though early on Paul in 1 Corinthians said it was not a sin to marry, later by the time of 2 Corinthians and 1Tim. 5, Paul implies by marrying -- at least widowed young women marrying -- they adulterously have abandoned Jesus. Paul even says widowed-women under 60 who remarry lose their salvation!!!!

That means Paul set aside his 'eternal security' promise for this exception. Amazing! Yet no one tells us that Paul has these literally immoral and law-negating ideas. 


Why Stop At Age 60 For the No Remarriage Rule?

 

Subsequently, Paul's views were used to justify banning all remarriage for women. Paul's general principles clash with the fright he gives only women younger than 60. Paul's freightening depiction of any marriage as an obstacle to our relationship to God portends Paul truly wants no one, even those widows over 60, to remarry. This was what the Montanist sect from the early 200s deduced Paul must have intended, but Paul pulled back short of that for temporary reasons which we supposedly can infer no longer restrain us to take Paul to his logical end. Tertullian joined the Montanist sect, and clearly articulated their reasoning based upon Paul's words to support a complete ban on any remarriage, as discussed momentarily.

For if all Paul's views are taken together to their logical conclusion, one would deduce that Paul's arbitrary ban on remarriage only to widows under 60 -- damning them for doing so -- should extend to ban all remarriage by even those women over 60.

Tertullian says no distiction should apply because of the way Paul speaks disparagingly about married men any longer enjoying the rights of marriage, and should live as if they are not married in 1 Cor. 7:29. That passage is what Tertullian will tie together to ban any remarriage for women of any age as truly sinful.

First, Tertullian explains Paul stopped short of a broader rule banning all ages of women to remarry because Paul limited himself to what people could tolerate, and not from principle:  "[Paul was dealing with] the inexperience of a just and new rising church which he was rearing, to wit, with milk and not solid food." (Tertullian, On Monogamy PDF 78  pg 68 of text.) 

Tertullian then uses Paul's words in 1 Cor. 7:29 that married men should refrain from enjoying marriage as guiding how to construe remarriage rights of females. Thus Tertullian next says:

 

"How does he [i.e., Paul] call away from the enjoyment of marriage such as are still in the married position saying that the 'time is wound up' [1 Cor. 7:29, "time is short" in KJV] if he calls back into marriage such as those who through death escaped marriage?" (Id., Tertullian, On Monogamy at PDF78 / pg. 68 of text, col.1)

 

Tertullian is saying that it is inconsistent for Paul to say what he says in 1 Cor. 7:29 about men abstaining from within marriage, and Paul's allowance to remarry in some cases. Tertullian says such allowance is truly in conflict with 1 Cor. 7:29, and we should not read Paul as having "seemingly diverse" opinions. Id. 

Tertullian adds one more log to the fire. He follows up saying that even though Paul says he gives permission to marriage, that Paul "willed rather" that all should be what he himself was -- single. (Id.) Tertullian is reading in the early 200s the Greek, and that is what comes to mind to him. But today1 Cor 7:7 reads in English: "I wish that all men are as I am." (Link.) Well, the Greek often means "will" and not "desire," but it can be either one. See "will" -- not "desire" -- is the KJV translation in Matt 9:13; 15:32; 20:15 for thelo. We thus cannot say Tertullian is misreading Paul in 1 Cor. 7:7. We can only say it is not necessarily a command to be single but very possibly was a command by Paul. That's how Tertullian read it, and so too the Montanists. This shows you, however, how far one can go down the rabbit hole in Paul's principles contrary to (a) Torah on Marriage being good for man, and (b) that God encourages us to be fruitful and multiply.

 

Why Are You Never Taught These Principles of Paul?

 

How many Paulinist churches preach all Paul taught, like "do not seek marriage" if you are unmarried? Or that by marrying you become worldy? Or that by a female remarrying after their husband dies when she is still under 60 has lost her salvation?  That class of women should realize, says Paul, that marrying some human makes them an adulterer against Christ, and hence damned. If true, how can anyone feel comfortable getting married and pay any serious attention to their spouse's needs without being concered that by doing so they become damned?

 

Do you see how crazy Paul's doctrines on marriage truly are?

 

Instead of our pastors admitting they know Paul has obviously wrong teachings in this area, they just ignore telling you about these messages. Instead, they urge marriage, are pleased to marry off your daughters, and even conduct young-widow marriage ceremonies despite  Paul saying the young-widow's taking the vow will supposedly damn herself.

 

How do die-hard Paul fans handle this when they cannot get away ignoring the passages?

Scholars suspect, based on style as well as content, that Paul's words to Timothy and Titus are not Paul's words at all, but those of someone writing in his name, years after Paul's death...." (Decker, "Patriarchy.")

 

But that is not good enough, because the theory of dividing-attention in marriage is a problem Paul raised in 1 Corinthians. Thus ripping Timothy and Titus out of the Bible does not solve the problem. You have to go deeper.

 

As to other points of tension between Paul and Jesus in this general area, we will expose them next, beginning with head coverings. 

 

Head Coverings: Does God Command This?

 

One of the proofs that Paulinists are selective in what they obey from Paul is not just that they ignore Paul's command "not to seek to marry," or his command against remarriage after a husband dies which damns you, or his command married men should treat their wives as "sisters," but also his command that women wear veils at church. Paulinists contort his words to try to claim he is talking about long hair, but this is contextually and historically false. These evasions fail. They must know Paul's words on head coverings for women appear contrary to Biblical commands / observations.

Let's start with Paul's command on veils. Paul stated that the head covering / veil by a woman was to be observed not for cultural reasons but because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10): “For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” It appears Paul is saying that the angels command this or are known somehow for doing this

Paul then says in 1 Corinthians 11:5: “Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head…” Hence, Paul makes wearing a head covering / a veil a MORAL command.

By contrast, a man was not to wear one. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:4 says: “Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered dishonors his head.”

Some insist this covering is simply long hair because Paul uses as a proof that "nature" proves similarly that long hair is a glory for women but long hair is shameful for men. (1 Cor. 11:14-15.) However, Paul means that "nature" shows you a similar principle to what he is saying. Paul is not talking about only hair length when he speaks of having a covering while praying. The problem was not short-hair among women while praying. We know the true meaning is demonstrated by the words Paul uses -- a "covering" and the tradition found in the early church (under Paul's influence no doubt) of women wearing a veil while praying or reading Scriptures. Paul writes:

"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn [i.e., head shaved] but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." (1 Cor. 11:6.)

The reference is to a veil, not hair, as we shall demonstrate. Paul means that being shorn of hair is as shameful as having no head covering. Paul in essence says: if you go without the veil, you might as well go without any hair. Both are supposedly shameful. The fact hair length is a natural example of the same principle proves Paul is not saying "long hair" is the covering during prayer or 'prophesying,' but the natural principles about "hair length" is a reflection of the same principle of why women should wear veils while men should not.

 

How Do We Know Paul Speaks of A Veil?

How do we know it is a veil? Because Paul brought from Arabia and placed in the Christian church the practice of veiling woman in worship. The Christian leader, Tertullian of Carthage, North Africa in 200 AD describes the need for this practice of modesty of veiling women -- first generally and then during worship activities in church, identical in verbiage to that which Paul was talking about. Tertullian first makes clear he is talking of a veil over one's hair in this first quote:

But we admonish you, too, women of the second [degree of] modesty, who have fallen into wedlock, not to outgrow so far the discipline of the veil, not even in a moment of an hour, as, because you cannot refuse it, to take some other means to nullify it, by going neither covered nor bare. For some, with their mitres and woollen bands, do not veil their head, but bind it up ; protected, indeed, in front, but, where the head properly lies, bare. Others are to a certain extent covered over the region of the brain with linen coifs of small dimensions—I suppose for fear of pressing the head—and not reaching quite to the ears. If they are so weak in their hearing as not to be able to hear through a covering, I pity them. Let them know that the whole head constitutes the woman. Its limits and boundaries reach as far as the place where the robe begins. The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound ; in order that the necks too may be encircled.***

Tertullian in this next quote in the same passage then clearly says the head is properly "covered" (same as Paul's language) during reading of Psalms or using God's name when a woman wears a "veil":

But how severe a chastisement will they likewise deserve, who, amid [the recital of] the Psalms, and at any mention of [the name of] God, continue uncovered; [who,] even when about to spend time in prayer itself, with the utmost readiness place a fringe, or a tuft, or any thread whatever, on the crown of 'their heads, and suppose themselves to be covered? Of so small extent do they falsely imagine their head to be! Others, who think the palm of their hand plainly greater than any fringe or thread, misuse their head no less....  (Tertullian, The Veiling of the Virgins Ch. XVII, in Tertullian, Writings of Q.S. Tertullian (1870) Vol. 3 at 179-180.)

Thus, Paul was enjoining a woman wearing a veil while praying or worshipping in a church meeting -- for within just a bit over a century after his death this was the demonstrable practice in Tertullian's church in North Africa.

 

Where Did Paul Get This Practice?

Where did Paul get this notion in favor of women wearing a head covering / a veil? It is not in the Bible. Not once! It even appears to be condemned for women.

 

1. Bible References to a Veil -- Almost Exclusively Negative

To the contrary, the prophet Ezekiel quotes God as condemning the "prophets who prophesy out of their own mind...who make veils for persons of every stature in the hunt for souls." (Ezek. 13:17-18.) God promises the false prophets that one day "your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand." (Ezek. 13:21.) The false prophets had invented the idea that women should wear veils, and gave them out. God hated this practice and condemned this as a false practice of false prophets. 

A second reference is negative as well. In Genesis, the use of a veil was shameful. A veil that also covered the face apparently indicated one was a prostitute. Timnah "covered herself in a veil" and when "Judah saw her he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face." (Gen. 38: 14, 15.)

The only mention of a veil that was not necessarily negative was when Sarah veiled herself in Genesis 20:16. It is just a fact mentioned, with no observation whether it was right or wrong.

Hence, this practice of veiling a woman does not come from any command in the Bible. If anything, the Bible appears to view it negatively especially if some self-proclaimed prophet commands its use.

Thus, where did Paul find such practice of veiling at worship time done for modesty sake?

 

2. Secular Source For Paul's Positive View of a Veil

Paul likely got this practice of a head covering at worship time from Arabia. In Arabia, women also made the covering cover the face, allowing only the eyes to see through. (Tertullian mentions this in the passage quoted above. Id., at 179.)

We thus realize it is no coincidence that Paul says after his conversion that he went to Arabia (Gal. 1:17) where he stayed for 14-17 years before embarking on any missionary activity. Arabian Jews had a distinct practice on Sabbath from all other Jews. Within Judaism in the 2d century, Judaism did not allow a woman on Sabbath to veil herself unless she lived in Arabia, where it would be permitted. This was in the Mishnah. The command from 2d century Judaism's Mishnah text reads that for Sabbath:

A woman may go out in hair ribbons...and with a headband, sewn head bangles, a hairnet or false locks...Arabian women may go out veiled. Median woman [i.e., women from Mede] may go out with cloaks looped up over their shoulders. (The Mishnah (trans. Jacob Neusner)(N.Y.: Yale University Press, 1988) at 186, from Shabbat 6.5 & 6.6.)

At all other times except Sabbath, a Jewish woman outside Arabia was allowed to go out veiled. In fact, Jewish woman were recognized in public by such practice on non-Sabbath days. Tertullian mentioned, "Among the Jews, so usual is it for their women to have the head veiled, that they may thereby be recognized." (Tertullian, De Corona ch. 4, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3 at 95.)

Hence, only Jewish women in Arabia wore a veil on Sabbath, but it was otherwise prohibited on Sabbath for Jewish women elsewhere as apparently too attractive of an adornment.

Thus, it appears, unless Paul is a proven prophet speaking always under inspiration, that Paul lays down commands of wearing a veil in the religious assemblies of Christians nowhere found in the Law or Scripture. It was only practiced among the Jewish woman of Arabia on Sabbath, but everywhere else was prohibited on Sabbath as too attractive. Despite Sabbath-veiling only being the practice of Arabian Jewish women while prohibited on Sabbath (then a traditional day of worship) for all other Jewish women, Paul elevates veiling at worship time to a moral command for every woman, including women in the assembly at Corinth / Greece.

Paul relied therefore on heathen practices to influence the Christian church which in the Bible were condemned as an unnecessary requirement taught by false prophets who "imagined" such commands. (Ezekiel 13:14-21.)

And Paul's commands are in accord with the gender prohibitions that suppressed women's full participation in religious life that Jesus clearly was breaking down. Paul made this explicit, saying the veil was necessary to demonstrate at church assembly the superiority of a male over a female, while a male being uncovered proves he is the image and "glory of God." (The latter quoted statement opens a whole other can of worms beyond this article.) See 1 Cor.11:7-10.

Hence, it appears that the spirit of Paul's command on head coverings / veils (a) lacks corroboration from inspired Scripture; (b) is at odds with inspired Scripture;  and (c) is at odds with Jesus' deliberate breaking of the gender restraints on women.

 

Must Women Not Speak or Inquire At Church? What Is The Garden Ideal?

God created the woman Eve to be a friend / companion of Adam, and to allow humans to be fruitful and multiply. In Gen. 1:28, we read: "God blessed them saying: 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it". God then saw that "it is not good that the man be alone, I will make him a help mate ..." Gen. 2:18.

Nowhere in the Original Bible does God ever say any  woman should be silent in the congregation or all women are subject to any man they encounter, or that a wife must only ask spiritual questions from her own husband.

The only verse that potentially is relevant is Genesis 3:16 that Eve is told that due to her part in the fall she now has to deal with a struggle from her husband that previously was not present. It says her husband "will dominate you." (Friedman, Commentary on the Torah, pg. 24.) This means equality and non-domination was the Garden condition of Adam and Eve.  This is the Garden ideal to be sought by any husband and wife because of Love.

Please notice the tone: it is not a command to Adam to behave this way. In fact, it is purely a statement by God to Eve on what to expect from her husband Adam.

Please also observe that 3:16 is not addressed to anyone but Eve. It says nothing about Eve's posterity who are innocent of playing a part in a husband disobeying God's command.

 

This is confirmed by the Bible study on the passage -- Teshuqah: The Woman's 'Desire' in Genesis 3:16:

 

Furthermore, while Cain is directly told by God to master or rule sin, Adam is nowhere told by God to master or rule Eve. In fact, God never tells men to rule women. The 'rule' spoken of in Genesis 3:16 is a consequence of sin; it is not divinely commanded, as in 4:7 [same word but God commands Cain to dominate over sin, but the same word is not used to command Adam to dominate Eve], and it does not refer to a beneficial domination [i.e., unlike with Cain]. The contexts of 3:16 and 4:7 are different, even though they share two keywords. [Link.]

 

Thus, in Gen. 3:16 the woman Eve will now confront the desire of her husband Adam to dominate her. God does not command the woman Eve to just take the domination. She can resist. But it also means a loving husband  -- possibly only Adam -- knows his desire to dominate is an affliction, a negative thing. And thus knowing that his desire to dominate his wife Eve is a negative affliction, the husband Adam should do all he can to suppress that desire, not hurt and painfully afflict the one he loves, especially if she does not deserve it. 

God thus put it in Adam's hands to subdue his desire to dominate if he truly loves his wife Eve. Hence, if this desire was put in men in general beyong just Adam (unclear to me, and unsupported by the passage), we should aim not to dominate our wives out of love, and pray for God's strength not to afflict our wife with this supposed new instinct, if it was added as a result of the Fall to afflict and punish Eve's female ancestors. (Again, that is neither stated nor clear.) The Garden state must be our ideal.  

Also notice this desire of the husband Adam as a negative impact on Eve did not say God will give non-husbands this desire to dominate non-spouse women. Any man who does that is exceeding the scope of what some see in the passage as what would arise as a desire in a husband's heart to afflict a wife.

What does the latter mean if it truly were put in all husbands' hearts? This would be  a change from God's original plan -- where husband and wife were in the Garden entirely as cooperative partners. The woman was a helper, not a servant. Eve, like Adam, heard directly from God His commandments.  God, not Adam, was Eve's ruler. God also ruled Adam in the same way. Eve could thus talk freely to her husband, and her only ruler was God.

However, that new condition some find in Gen 3:16 where the husband Adam has a new urge to dominate Eve is not a command. It is a penalty. Her husband is not commanded to rule over her. He can choose not to exercise the desire to do so over Eve which apparently serves as a penalty over Eve, and thus the husband Adam more wisely should let God alone rule over his wife.

Thus just as God's plan was not to allow any divorces from the beginning, and Jesus said God allowed it after the Fall due to man's evil stubbornness, it was also not God's original plan to have a husband have any desire to rule over his wife. God was always her ideal ruler. If God gave this as a new instinct of Adam as Eve's husband to dominate her (again it is not clear it means that), it was only as a penalty on Eve.  It did not mean it was right to afflict Eve when acting as an innocent and virtuous wife, which likewise must be true for Eve's descendant-females who marry. In the Garden, husband and wife were equals.

Thus, just as Jesus said we should strive to not take advantage of the Law allowing divorce because the Garden ideal is that there should be no divorce, then for the same reason a husband should strive to not take advantage of the desire given as a penalty on Eve that her husband Adam would desire to rule over his wife Eve. It too is contrary to the ideal in the Garden period where God alone rules over the woman just as He rules over the man. By refraining from such desire to dominate, the husband does not sin, as Genesis 3:16 is not a command upon Adam or any husband to dominate over his wife. It is merely a penalty on the wife Eve that the husband Adam will seek to do so.   

Furthermore, while there is no express prohibition on a husband Adam from desiring to dominate his wife Eve, it implicitly violates Jesus' principles on how to aim at the Garden state before sin marred things. This means, if one is true to Jesus' principles that the Garden state is the ideal, then impliedly a husband in Adam's line should not exercise any desire to rule over his wife any more than a husband should divorce his wife even if grounds were available, if possible.  Jesus told us to strive against undermining the original Garden ideal in even exercising what is expressly permissible under the Law when Jesus spoke about divorce. 

Does the Bible show us that equality of husband and wife in a partnership such as existed in the Garden remains the ideal, and thus should be sought for after the Fall? And thus a husband should ideally not desire to rule over or dominate his wife? Yes, there is such a passage.

The Proverbs 31 wife is dynamic and a co-leader in her home whom her husband "trusts" -- she "considers a field" and buys it, using her earnings evidently as she sees fit "to plant a vineyard," with no hint that she must run by her husband how to run the house and its farming activities. For indeed, as verse 10 says, he "trusts" her. Here is a snippet reminder of this strong woman extolled in the Bible who is an equal partner to her husband, having domain over the house and buying land for crops and then buying seed to buy the crops while her husband is doing the hard labor:

 Proverbs 31:10-28 NASB:

10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her [a]hands [b]in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And [c]portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From [d]her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds [e]herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her [f]hands grasp the spindle.
20 She [g]extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And [h]supplies belts to the [i]tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the [j]future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the [kteaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

By contrast, we read in Titus 2:4-5 an emphasis on the penalty condition of Eve toward her husband

so that they may [aencourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,to be sensible, pure,workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbandsso that the word of God will not be dishonored.

And compare: "the wives [are subject] to their own husbands in everything." (Eph. 5:24 YLT.)

This encourages a wife to be a servant of her husband which is not commanded in Genesis 3:16. At most it is arguably a pressure Eve was under toward her husband, if she refused to resist his desire, as a penalty. However, if you see the Garden ideal is the point to emphasize, Paul should rather be instructing the husband "strive not dominate or rule over your wife, but show her love and support as an equal partner whose only true ruler is God Yahweh." Paul should be upholding that ideal that both are equals raising a family who shoulder a partnership of responsibilities. This is what God in Genesis implied -- she was a help mate - someone matched to his needs to help him, not serve him. God made it clear that the Garden-ideal of equality was not a forced service of the wife to the husband. A husband in Adam's line should not exploit any penalty of affliction by God saying Eve now had to confront Adam's desire to dominate Eve as Adam's wife after the Fall. That may be individualized to just Eve as the Law generally says the penalty that applies to your prior ancestor does not apply to you.

 

Paul's Mandate of Women's Silence at Church

 

In the spiritual activity of congregating, Paul insists on a subjection of all women -- not just wives to their husbands -- to men. Hence, even the most extreme reading of Genesis 3:16 cannot even arguably support this broader principle stated by Paul.  In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 we read:

[34] Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law.

[35] And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

In 1Ti 2:11-12, we similarly read: "Let a woman learn in silence, in all subjection. But I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, rather, to be in silence."

 

Does anyone find these commands puzzling for reasons other than the odd - "funky" - subject matter?

First, the written Law given Moses has no such command, contrary to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:35. The only potential Torah provision on topic was solely a penalty upon the wife Eve from her "husband" Adam's new desire to dominate her due to the Fall (Gen. 3:16), not a duty of all women toward all other men. Even if we assume it applies  between every husband and wife (this is never clearly stated), the Garden ideal remained in play -- that the husband and wife should be equals. The man Adam had no command to rule over his wife. He was free to strive for the Garden ideal of equality.

But if this is the "law" to be obeyed by all women toward all men, as Paul claims, isn't this the same Paul who says the entire Law is abrogated? Could Paul not keep things straight in his head?

Paulinists explain these incongruities by claiming Paul is not referring to the Torah-Law given Moses, but to the "law" in the sense of ordinances of the apostles for women to be silent in church. (Nesch.) There is no basis for that but sheer imagination.

 

Rather, Paul calls it by the Greek word for the Law of Moses -- NOMOS. When Paul meant "ordinances," he used that alternative expression often. Hence, the Paulinist explanation does not explain away the problem. Rather, Paul clearly says the Torah (nomos in Greek) teaches a woman must keep quiet in church. Because no such command exists in the written Law given Moses, then we must ask what did Paul mean by NOMOS in 1 Cor. 14?

What Paul meant truly was that the Pharisee's oral LAW (also known as the oral TORAH) was valid. The Pharisees taught that on the Mountain with God, Moses was given an Oral Torah that was not written down. The Pharisees claimed it was as much a part of TORAH as the written Torah. (The Sadduccees and Samaritans rejected this.) Thus, this oral TORAH in Greek was apparently also referred to as simply NOMOS by Pharisees (like Paul) who saw no distinction between it and the written TORAH.

It was the oral law which restrained women to not speak up in religious assemblies. Women perhaps (it is not clear) had to, as today in synagogues of the Pharisee heirs renamed the Orthodox, sit separately from the men (and obviously had to keep quiet). [FYI: Many synagogues outside Jerusalem in Jesus' day were not under Pharisee influence.] This is not a subjection of only a wife to whatever rule an individual husband may have about his wife speaking in church, but goes further, implying that all women are subject to all men.  

Again, unless Paul is a prophet, he is relying obviously on extra-Biblical principles. Paul was enforcing gender prohibitions of the Pharisee party that Jesus was trying to break down. Jesus obviously intended that women could participate equally with men in religious discussions. This is why He openly dialogued with them on such topics. He also taught to people on sides of hills where no segregation was ever feasible to practice. Jesus must have intended that women could fully participate in assemblies of worship,  exemplified when he taught outdoors to large non-segregated crowds who made comments and asked him questions often while he was teaching.

As an aside, note that in 1 Cor. 14:34, Paul prohibits women to speak at all in church. But in 1 Cor. 11:5, Paul says a woman should not pray or prophesy with her head uncovered, not identifying whether this rule is at church or not. To reconcile the passages, one would say Paul permitted a woman to pray out loud or prophesy --  modes of speech -- everywhere except at church. Hence, if correct, Paul deliberately bridled prophesy from a woman even though given by God because she was at church! Paul's notion is not a very godly interpretation of how we should behave, is it? This is the kind of incongruity one finds in the thought of Paul on the role of women.

 

Women Cannot Teach or Have Authority over Men?

Paul in 1 Tim. 2:12 says: "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man."

Calvin said this meant: "Women are by nature to obey men. Men are by nature born to govern and control women." (Trombley, 1985 at 71.)

However, even dogmatically pro-Paul people admit they do not believe this is a command they must follow:

I don't see where Jesus told women to do this so no - I do not abide by this. Paul is speaking regarding the customs of the day. Men were steeped in their religious practices and pride while women are of a much more receptive heart. It is for the sake of the man's religion and pride that Paul says such things. Not because it is a requirement of our Lord. (Emily 8/16/2010, at this blog.)

Other Paul-followers try to weasle around its meaning, claiming women can teach the faith, but only men are permitted to "regularly" teach the foundations of the faith. (Dan Doriani, Women and Ministry: What The Bible Teaches (Good News Publishers, 2003) at 177.)

But Paul says "I do not allow a woman to teach" -- end of sentence. It does not say "sometimes" a woman can teach. It does not imply that women are prohibited only from "regularly" teaching men. So Paul-followers do everything to skirt the obligation their self-proclaimed apostle declares by means that are clearly outcome-determinative.

I have to admit that as a man, it is very appealing to hear these 'commands.' How all men would love if Paul indeed were inspired!

But unfortunately for Paul's inspiration and my male ego, Paul's command that women cannot have authority over men or teach men is at odds with the book of Judges in the Bible. God made Deborah (a woman) a Judge over Israel as well as prophetess. She also taught ALL the people as a Prophetess. God also blessed her in battles. (Judges chs. 4-5.) See "Deborah," Wikipedia. 

Miriam, sister to Moses and Aaron, was also a "prophet." We read in Exodus 15:20: "Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister...." Are God's prophetic words ever truly only for men to hear? And not women?

So God through true prophetic writings in the Law given Moses gives us an approving depiction of a woman's role totally at odds with Paul's prohibition.

Who is right? God or Paul? Whom do you follow?

Even Paul seemed not to know. Paul, apparently inconsistent with himself, said Junia was an "apostle." (Rom. 16:7.) Did she never teach a man? It does not seem likely since apostles were supposed to teach 'all peoples' what Jesus taught.

Regardless, if Paul is unauthorized in his command, and in conflict with God's word, what implications does this have?

We go back to Jesus. That simple.

 

Female Pastors?

The issue of Paul's prohibition on women teaching includes a prohibition from women serving as pastors but is much broader. Paul also prohibits a woman having any authority over a man, like Deborah, the Judge, had over Israel. (I guess someone better tell God that He got it wrong with Deborah based upon Paul's supposedly greater message. Chuckle.) This means Paul gave two reasons why a woman cannot be a pastor.

But does Paul's anti-Biblical doctrine once exposed as false mean we can have women pastors? Nope! It means we follow Jesus. And Jesus said there is not to be such authority of ANY of us, male or female, over any other Christian! If Jesus is the SOLE TEACHER (Matt. 23:6-11) and SOLE PASTOR (John 10:16), then none of us can take such titles. We may teach and preach, but only what Jesus teaches and preaches, keeping Him as the foremost teacher and preacher / pastor.

For detailed discussion of this topic, please see this webpage "Jesus on Church Structure."

 

Are These Words Against A Woman's Equal Role from Paul Proven Wrong In Practice?

What harm has Paul's doctrine done to Christian women's consciences if Paul's words were not from God and yet we insisted Paul is 100% inspired?

Listen next to the sincere pain of this female who had taught the Bible for years but found herself told she must stop teaching in obedience to Paul. I don't sense any desire on her part to become a pastor and thus lord it over the rest of us, usurping Jesus's rights. This is just a sincere heart, broken by the words of Paul thrown at her forcing her to shut up in church and stop teaching God's Word! She writes:

In fact, I believe I first have to answer to God for his gifts and calling on my life. I don't want to get to heaven and hear him say, "Half-done, thou half-faithful servant." Prayerfully, I exercise my gifts to the blessing of believers when I'm invited to do so and seek to utilize my strengths without being a stumbling block to others. Women should seek to use their gifts in ways that are acceptable to their community of believers. Ask God for guidance, and read as much as you can. I don't believe women should bury their gifts or let anyone else bury them. There's a lost   world (of men and women) waiting to hear what God's gifted women have to say to them. The eternal destiny of these souls may depend on it. (Does the Bible Really Say I Can’t Teach Men? by Jill Briscoe 2007.)

 

Baptist History On The Role of Women Has Swung Back And Forth - A Lesson from History

The Baptists started with giving women full and equal roles in church ministry. Then they slid back into Paulinistic exclusion for a time. Then in the Great Awakening the equal participation of women resumed. Later Paulinistic exclusion from ministry reimposed itself. This gives us a hint on what blessings can come from following Jesus's rule on equality for women in the church (as long as no one serves as pastor and leader but Jesus). In an article from January 3, 2007 by Lydia Huffman Hoyle, of the Baptist Women in Ministry, we read the historical account of those transitions back and forth:

The history of Baptist women in ministry is not a simple story of progress in one direction. It is a story of starts and stops. Among the earliest accounts of Baptists, we find stories of women who founded and served congregations. Some even preached. ****

Although some, but not all, early English Baptists (known as General Baptists) allowed women to preach, the women apparently did not serve as elders or pastors of churches. They testified and preached as deaconesses or simply church members. A second group of Baptists, the Particular Baptists, formed some thirty years after the General Baptists. From the beginning, the Particulars, who were theological Calvinists, supported a male-only ministry. In time, women’s leadership roles decreased across the English churches. The Baptists, in this respect, became more like the Anglican Church from which they had withdrawn.**** 

A widespread eighteenth-century revival, known as the First Great Awakening, brought changes however. A new group of Baptists called the Separates developed who were very open to the spiritual enthusiasm and emotionalism of the revivals. These Baptists expanded rapidly in the South. Among the Separates, women played prominent roles. Their voices were
heard preaching once again. The Separates also included women as deaconesses and eldresses.

This tends to confirm that Paulinist exclusion of women from ministry is at odds with Jesus's teaching on equality, as it suppresses a true spiritual role of women that God intends in church gatherings.

But to repeat, this is not to endorse women pastors, as Jesus likewise insists there is "one pastor" and "one teacher" -- Himself. For more on Jesus's principles on church structure, see this webpage. We need to retire the word pastor for men as much as for women. The title exclusively belongs to Christ who said He was our "sole pastor." (John 10:16.)

 

Conclusion

If Paul were a true prophet, then this means the Bible would sanction these "funky" commands as some call them. We would have no right to reject commands that are distasteful or strange.

However, their distastefulness and unique 'funkiness' are the first hint that they do not come from the God of the Bible. These strange commands of Paul also seem totally out of sync with Jesus. In various points, Paul even contradicts Jesus.

The explanation is sad: Paul believes in the oral Torah of the Pharisees, and even calls it the Torah. Paul says women must follow this oral TORAH/Law about head coverings / veils while praying or prophesying. He commands this even though the true Bible appears to condemn wearing veils during sacred times as inappropriate. (In fact, Paul obviously picked up the practice of Arabian women while he lived in Arabia who wore veils on Sabbath when everywhere else in Judaism it was then thought shameful / inappropriate to do so on Sabbath.)

These examples show Paul had beliefs identical to the flaws of the Pharisees identified by Jesus. Paul here has clearly a decisive affirmation of a principle from the oral Torah while elsewhere Paul degrades the written Torah  - the Ten Commandments -- "commands written in stone" - saying they have faded away, they were a mere shadow, etc. (1 Cor. 10.)

In other words, Paul made the oral traditions of the Pharisees more important than the written commands given Moses -- a flaw Jesus condemned in the Pharisees in Matthew 15:6. This led Paul to contradict Jesus on specific points.

What more proof do we want that Paul's doctrines are not of Christ? That they undermine the doctrines of Christ? And that they oppose the doctrines of Christ?

END


Study Notes

David Bercot's Pauline View of Women Despite Holding Other Anti-Pauline Doctrines. 

 

I have introduced many of you to David Bercot's book Common Sense. He endorses the idea that when Jesus speaks, we do not read him through the lense of Paul's teachings. Bravo!  Bercot denigrates eternal security and faith alone in Paul based upon Jesus' words to the contrary.

 

However, David interprets Jesus as not saying or doing anything in a "feminist" (pro-woman) direction. This allows, he says, an opening for his congregants -- as he serves as a pastor -- for all Paul's doctrines that women must be subservient to a man. This is reflected in Mr. Bercot's book entitled Was Jesus the First Feminist? Or How to Fabricate History.

A customer's summary of this book by Bercot is posted at  Amazon at this link.  We read in part: 

Many Christian books and commentators today portray Jesus as the first feminist. They claim Jesus ushered in a new era for women. “But Jesus didn’t teach feminism,” someone might object. He introduced a number of new teachings to mankind, but He never said a single word indicating that God’s order of headship needed changing. So how could anyone possibly argue that Jesus was the first feminist? If you’re willing to bend the facts and fabricate history, it isn’t difficult at all.    

Modern commentators typically point to the Mishnah to argue that Jesus’ treatment of women was nothing short of revolutionary in His day. However, Bercot goes to the Mishnah itself to show that such commentators typically have never even read it. He demonstrates how feminists and modern commentators have fabricated history in an attempt to show that Jesus overthrew the very order of headship that He—as our Creator—instituted.
 
Let's assume this customer comment reflects Bercot's logic. What are the flaws?
 
First, it asks whether Jesus is a full blown feminist. Well, obviously not. Jesus does not say a woman marrying a man is to be discouraged, and it is better to remain unmarried and independent. This is the  Gloria Steinam lesson on Feminism. This attitude, and other similar values, is what most of us understand by the word Feminist.
So the title of Bercot's book itself creates a false dichotomy which guarantees a victory to Bercot, as none of us would say Jesus was a feminist as that term is used today. A false dichotomy is a fallacious way of winning, by giving a false set of choices. Just because Jesus is not a Feminist in its self-described sense by the movement's founder, Gloria Steinam,  does not mean Jesus was not pro-women's equality. For example, some, as I do, claim Jesus was acting in opposition to the restrictions by Pharisees that women could not be taught Torah.  There is no Christian who cites Jesus to introduce Gloria Steinam's principle of women abandoning marriage altogether.
 
So had the title been meaningful to typical Christians, it should ask: Did Jesus have actions and words that reflected that women were equal with a man? The answer would be yes on three grounds.
First, Jesus taught women equally, without excluding them from teachings.
Second, Jesus said that upon marriage, the man and woman become "one" -- which reflects equality of mind and body, not that half of them is superior to the other half. See Matt 19:5, verbatim quoting Genesis 2:24 - both are at this link.  This is antithetical to Paul's claim the man is "head"of the woman. (1 Cor. 11:3.)
Nowhere in the Torah or Jesus' words do we find women must act subservient to a husband, i.e., obey him. Yet, this is written  into the standard marriage vows of Protestant denominations. 
 
Third, Jesus said the apostles should not rule over the flock like the Gentiles do, for we are "all adelphoi" - which does not exclude women. (Matt 12:56?) How do we know that? While the typical translation is "brothers," it also has the generic quality of "siblings" -- children of the same parent. For example, we know John 7:5 likely means "siblings" - including sisters -- because John says that even his "adelphoi" did not believe in him. We independently know Jesus had sisters, and not just brothers.  (Matt 13:55-56.) Jesus mentioned he was not accepted by his own family, and thus we know the sisters were included in John 7:5. Hence, "adelphoi" can signify siblings. Then going back to Jesus saying we are "all adelphoi," and his point none of us is subject to any other adelphoi -- whether brother or sister -- means men and women are all equal in Christ's view.  Jesus is our "sole teacher," "sole master" and "sole pastor." A husband cannot rob that from Jesus.
 
Hence, without Paul,  neither does Jesus in Matthew nor Yahweh in Genesis say a man is superior to a woman. Nowhere does Jesus or Yahweh ever say a woman must obey her husband.
The question becomes whether Jesus is clear enough to erase such a view. I would say yes. For when Jesus says they are one flesh, quoting Genesis, He does not include any headship superiority, such as 'wives obey your husbands' or 'the husband is the head of the wife' (1 Cor. 11:3). I would say "one flesh" appears to emphasize their entire body is integrated with the other, and now they are one physical body. This would imply their heart and mind in one flesh are one. They need to think and work together as equals is the only way one flesh can function.
 
Why does Bercot ignore this possibility or apparent likelihood?
 
Because Paul is so clear and blunt, obviously.  But then Bercot should teach all Paul taught, including damnation to Christian widows under 60 who remarry; that Paul says  marriage divides the attention of a man, and those men who are married as Christians should behave as if we are not married, i.e., ignore our wives so our attention remains focused upon God.  I doubt he does, and if true, this means he is selective, and does not count all Paul says as inspired. In fact, Bercot seems elsewhere to respect the notion that if Jesus clearly says something, we disregard Paul when he appears to speak to the contrary. This should mean or imply that Paul is not inspired enough that we give him an equal weight as Jesus on the same topic. 

Thus, if Bercot cannot treat Paul as on the same plain as Jesus when they would otherwise bluntly contradict, then we have no justification to take even blunt teachings of Paul as valid when they in the slightest rub against something Jesus probably is teaching us.
 
Thus, because the fact Jesus uttered the words "they are one flesh" and He taught women equally, we must bar the door to Paul on anything which would invert or alter those relationships Jesus created or affirmed.
 

 

 

Edward on WWJD

 

Edward on April 18, 2005 recognized by common sense that the words quoted above from Paul just do not jibe with Jesus. He wrote:

WWJD (Jesus) vs WWPD (Paul)

Remember when kids wore WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets? I really liked that. But you know that really was for kids. You knew that didn’t apply to you? Or did you figure that out?

I’ll keep this very short and use the illustration of what several denominations insistence on women being barred from being pastors/preachers. Can you imagine Jesus saying that women need to ask their husbands later rather than joining into important conversations? I can’t. Jesus didn’t send women nor children away. But Paul comes along and addresses situations that came up in the various early churches, and ends up saying that women ought to sit down, shut up and ask their man later (my own paraphrasing). I don’t think he intended to set up rules that governed women’s participation in the Gospel, do you?

As crazy as it sounds, many adults live their lives as though they depended on WWPD (What Would Paul Do?)


 JWO Friend Had 2015 College Paper On Point

In 2015, a colleague shared a scholarly paper to his professors he wrote on the issue of women in the church. He canvassed the efforts of those trying to open the church for a greater role of women who are then rebuffed by clear quotes from Paul. So Mr. A then provides the solution: 

This paper declares that both sides have gone about the

question in a misguided manner.  The real question should

be whether Paul’s claims to apostleship and revelation are

legitimate, as the only authoritative and objective way of

determining legitimacy is to test whether one’s teachings

with those contained in the Pentateuch (or Torah), which

nearly all in the Judeo-Christian creedal communities have

recognized are the most attested, most consistent, and most

essential, portion of all of Scripture.

 

Then after quoting that Jesus said we are all brothers and

sisters, he concludes that we cannot proceed to adjudicate the

authority of women to teach unless first we validate our own

right to adjudicate, after removing those who had no authority

to teach us (like Paul) in the first place:

One can only proceed on the question of legitimate leadership after one has established the proper understanding of who is authoritative according to the teachings and mandates of YHWH.  As far as authority to teach doctrines is concerned, only the Father or, by extension, his chosen earthly “representative” and mouthpiece, Jesus, have such authority.  The present hierarchical structure has no biblical warrant, if we are judging on a biblically warranted and tested canon, which would exclude the writings of all unsuccessfully tested self-styled apostles.  Thus the issue of the legitimacy of female teaching leadership is a non-issue because leadership itself, as it is currently structured and practiced is not legitimate on a moral, i.e., scriptural, level provided that we insist on a coherent and internally consistent canon.

So his wise point is that the very question whether women have authority to teach in church assumes there is a church that can prevent a sister from teaching in the first place. It becomes a non-issue until the 'church' claiming this authority proves its moral authority to teach, especially after it has mistakenly been using non-inspired materials like Paul's for a long time without carrying out the role Jesus tasked it -- i.e., to test for false prophets. 

Next, he gives us the criteria to make a decision:

The only way that the church can recover the true gospel is to throw away the superfluous secondary one, which claims for instance that women are “saved through childbearing” and other such specious teachings[i], which YHWH never taught.  Only a church having an internally coherent doctrine based firmly on one master and one teacher will last the trials and tribulations of the future.

****

It is high time for followers to follow the true Master and reject those who have usurped his authority.

 

Note on so-called Authority

In 1 Cor. 11:10, Paul actually oddly says that the woman in church should have the "authority" on her head. The word is exousin. Scholars believe there was an item of dress called The Authority, and this must be on a woman's head in church. Some claim there are references in the Original Testament to this. See this link from the Calvin Commentary on First Corinthians.