29 August, 2006

Presbuteras: The Early Church?

Do me a favor before you read this post, and count the number of "F" 's in this sentence.


Now, it is going to come as no surprise to you if the number you come up with, and the number a computer would come up with are different. The difference is conditioning. We see what we are conditioned to see.

If you saw three of our letters in that sentence, you are a perfectly normal person. Four is rare, and seeing six qualifies you as a genius.

The tenor of the scripture is often brought into this discussion. The problem there is that the tenor of the scripture is a function of our conditioning much more than of the scripture itself. We all come to the bible with glasses on. What you make of this verse probably has more to do with your glasses than with the verse itself. But, if you see three or more female elders and deacons in the following verses, you are a genius. :-)

4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

I once saw this verse through male-colored glasses. Paul had a male yokefellow, Clement, and some other fellow laborers. He also had respect for some especially helpful women. Paul's yokefellow was supposed to help the women and the other coworkers. The women needed help because they were the weaker sex, and the men needed help because they were doing important work.

Today, my glasses are of a different color. I see that those women labored with Paul in the gospel. They were doing important work, and needed help because of the importance of their work.

So, did my glasses change well?

I believe so with all my heart.

Did changing my glasses change the truth?


Those women did whatever it was they did, and Paul doesn't tell us what it was. We are left to ruminate and pontificate on the matter. Still, there is a lot of material with which to form our opinions. Karen listed a bunch of them in a previous comment, I previously linked a post from God's Word to Women that lists a bunch of them, and back in February I did a post that listed them all over again.

I read those verses with glasses on before, and I still do. I know that. I've just changed the color. I changed them because the scripture pushed me back into a corner. I was one of those fellows who was mad at Bobby Riggs for tanking every man's rep by losing to a girl at what was clearly a man's game. I wrote posters and otherwise campaigned against the ERA. Chauvinism was clearly God ordained, when exercised with the same loving care that Christ had for His bride. I was a loving, Christian, giving chauvinist, and I was proud of it.

Then the edifice of scripture started coming down around me.

After finding that Paul in Corinthians probably did not say what I thought he said, in Titus probably did not say everything I thought he said, and in Timothy said vastly less than I thought he said, my world started to spin a little more slowly. When I searched out Apphia, Junia, Tryphena, and all the other women whose necks and lives were found at risk for their their work with Paul, they began to look different. These were women of stature and substance. With my newly colored glasses, there was nothing to prevent these women from being of equal stature with Clement or Archippus (and slightly above Apollos ;-).

The tenor of scripture is that fewer women are leaders than men, but that they are effective when God calls them. DugALug has defended this position ably, and I agree with him. It appears that our only difference is that I believe women should be elders, and not just peripheral leaders.

In my next, and probably last post in this series, I will talk about why. For a preview, see this from the Milly Times!


Milly said...

As Codepoke fought against Milly fought for. Interesting how views change. I was a liberal, peace loving, ERA woman. Now I’m more conservative. I’m still all those things just a bit tamer.

I’m not exactly sure that Bobby didn’t want her to win. They were great friends after.

The thing is that we have seen great women leaders in the Bible, in our homes, in the church, at work and so on. I have wondered why God would give a being so much strength then not allow it to be used.

Andreia said...

Chauvinism was clearly God ordained, when exercised with the same loving care that Christ had for His bride. I was a loving, Christian, giving chauvinist, and I was proud of it.

Ah that more could say they have seen the light!

DugALug said...


Woah! This post threw me for a curve. Thanks for the nice words.

I look forward to seeing your thoughts on women as elders. You have me really curious.

God Bless

DugALug said...


CP, for the record, I saw all 6 'F's'....lol. I think that probably makes me a programmer (which I am), not all that smart.

God Bless