Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hierarchical Godhead is the Nexus of Gender Hierarchy Debate

According to Charles Stanley (in his book, A Man's Touch), if there is no hierarchy within the Godhead, then there is no basis for hierarchy in marriage. There we have it. There is no hierarchy within the Godhead, so there is no basis for gender-based hierarchy in the church, home, or society.

1 Timothy 6:13 [I] charge you [I] declare before Theos[1] the GODHEAD [Colossians 2:9] who makes alive all things and Iesous Christos who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession

[1] Hierarchical theology assumes that all mentions of Theos refer to only one person within the Godhead—the Father, when in most cases, the reference is to the Godhead itself Colossians 2:9

There is no such thing as the first, second, or third persons in the Godhead. Such designations imply an exaggerated importance of the Father over the Son and Holy Spirit, that does not exist. 

Jesus is Jehovah John 1:1. Jesus is the Everlasting Father Isaiah 9:6. The Holy Spirit is Jehovah Acts 5:3-4. The Holy Spirit is the father of that holy thing which was conceived in the womb of Mary Matthew 1:18 & 20, Luke 1:35. The name Jehovah YHWH encompasses the fullness of the Godhead.  In Heaven, there is no BIG GOD who is the Father, followed by two little gods who are the son and the holy spirit. Elohiym is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. 

The Being who created and redeemed all things, the Godhead Elohiym [Genesis 1:1] is not a three-god triad. “Hear O Israel YHWH Jehovah Elohiym OUR GODS is ONE YHWH Jehovah”. 

The Hebrew word, Elohiym, is the plural form of the word, Elohwahh. Elohwahh, is the singular form of the word for God, which occurs in Deuteronomy 32:15 and 56 more times in the Hebrew text. Elohiym is the plural form of the word, God, that designates three. There is a Hebrew word for Gods that designates two. Elohiym is not that word. It means three and occurs 2,606 times in the Hebrew text. 

Elohiym is our creator Genesis 1:1. That means the Godhead is the Creator. Jehovah is our Creator Isaiah 44:24 Jesus is our Creator Colossians 1:16-17, John 1:1-3.

   When Jesus said that God was His Father, He was referring to the Godhead. The Bible says that God is not a man, so we will not refer to the One God as the first, second, or third persons of the Trinity. Those are hierarchical designations that do not exist.
   The Father is the one who beget Jesus?
   Who did the angel tell Joseph that Holy Thing within Mary’s womb was conceived by? 
   Wasn’t Jesus conceived by the Holy Spirit?
   Isn’t a child’s Father that person by which he is conceived?
   Wouldn’t that make the Holy Spirit Jesus’ Father?
   Do we find a contradiction here? No, there is no contradiction when we understand that the prophets spoke the truth when they foretold the coming to earth in the form of a man, not the “second person of the Godhead,” but rather, the Almighty.
   In Colossians we read that all the fullness of the Godhead resides in our Savior in physical form.
   This had to be so because the Almighty declared that there was no Savior but Himself. He also declared that He created all things by Himself, alone.
   Out goes the theory that the Father used a subordinate Son to create all things. That “subordinate Jesus” the Father used in creation goes hand in glove with the insidious Arian lie that Jesus was Himself a created being—the first creation of God—who was then used to create all other things (complementarian expositors conveniently cherry-pick Arius’ teachings expunging overtly unacceptable portions).
   The Bible says that in the beginning Elohiym (The triune God) created the heavens and the earth.
   Who created man?
   Elohiym, the Triune God in its fullness—the Godhead—created audawm...not the "first person" of the trinity. 

   " Let Us create man in Our image.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Paul never condoned gender role religion or slavery

1 Timothy 6 :1-5, is relevant to the modern-day issue of gender role-religion and Christian women's equality.   

1: Let as many slaves as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed 2: And they that have believing masters let them not despise them because they are brethren but rather do them service because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit These things teach and exhort [1] 3: Whoever teaches otherwise and consents not to wholesome words even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ[2] and to the doctrine which is according to godliness 4: [They are] proud knowing nothing but doting about questions and strifes of words whereof comes envy strife railings evil surmisings 5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth supposing that gain is godliness from such withdraw yourselves

[1]  The subject of 1 Timothy 6, is slavery. Paul did not change the subject after verse two, but because he could not safely or legally speak against the sin of slavery, he sought the spiritual and physical welfare of all his flock (both slave and free) by addressing the root causes of all sin.

There had obviously been disputes about the rightness or wrongness of slavery. And, in chapter six, the apostle deals with the issue in a way that could have resolved the issue completely, if Christian hearts had been dedicated to living in God's love and Christ's humility. 

As late as the 19th Century, many Christian leaders insisted that the first few verses of Timothy chapter six, taught that slavery was mandated and ordained by God. This passage was wrongly used to that effect. Most contemporary Christian leaders agree that the verses in Timothy have historically been misused, and great harm has been done because of that. 

Slavery in ancient Rome was just as wrong as slavery in the the British Empire or slavery in the United States, but early Christians cannot be criticized for not becoming the first abolitionists. From this letter, it appears that some were and hot debate on the subject was going on. But few among the ancient peoples ever publicly questioned slavery. It was too dangerous to do so and simply part of life. This writer believes the modern mind is so far divorced from the context of our forebear's living reality, that great effort must be made to understand the risks and fear [associated with cultural change] that must have been an ever-present part of ancient life. 

Slavery was the law of the land, and early Christians faced crucifixion or worse for fomenting rebellion against Roman policy. At first, most believers were not citizens and were protected by few rights—and those, only if they toed the line. 

Slavery was an institution of Rome, passed down from the Greeks. Ancient Rome was a Greek culture. All ancient cultures had slavery. Some modern cultures still do. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now, but few people, even today, would risk crucifixion or some other cruel death, in order to become change agents. In the Roman Empire, death was guaranteed for dissenters.

Throughout history, conviction in Christian hearts, has brought about much improvement and relief from suffering, including the abolition of slavery in the British Empire and the United States…but not in ancient Rome. That culture did not permit such movements, and mass-killings quickly discouraged any who might get any such ideas.

Paul was a great traveler, spending his life for the gospel. He eventually became a prisoner of Rome, continuing his care for the churches while living under house arrest. The death penalty hung over his head for years. He knew the sentence would eventually be executed, and for nothing less than preaching the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He understood better than most, that causes must that time. 

There is a time and a season for every purpose under Heaven. Nothing could be gained by fomenting rebellion against Rome. The time to rise up against slavery had not yet come. Nothing but mass death could be gained by fomenting rebellion over it in the Roman Empire. All abolitionists would die; all rebellious slaves would die. But this was not to be a permanent situation. The time would come when that would change. But not in Paul’s day. So the apostle did the only thing he could. He wrote to the young pastor and did his best to squelch the fiery debate between those who rightly saw the evil of slavery and the slave-holders whose hearts were not surrendered to God.

The only thing Paul could do, was encourage discipleship and Christian growth through love and humility. When the Holy Spirit has control of a heart, that person will do what is right. Paul knew that change comes from within. Outward laws must be enacted to protect the oppressed, only because people do not heed the laws that are already “written on our hearts.” Until hearts change, restraint must come through civil laws. But, concerning the sin of slavery, abolishing it was not a possibility in Paul’s day.   

Paul did what he could to mitigate the cruel effects of slavery on both slave and master, but he never condoned it.

[2] Paul appeals to the Words of Jesus. Jesus said to treat others as we would have others treat us. If we do that, we fulfill the Word and Will of God. The apostle knew that, if they were so inclined, slave owners had the legal right to free their slaves, but he could not suggest such a thing. His letter to Philemon, concerning the slave, Onesimus, shows how sensitive and dangerous the subject of slavery was. It also shows how much faith Paul had in Philemon to read between the lines, do the right thing, and not kill Onesimus, but rather, to allow him to return to Paul and fulfill his calling and service to God. 

This passage on slavery, is relevant to the issue of gender-role-religion. Like slavery, gender-role-religion was never mandated by God and the cultural context is no longer relevant. Many of the same arguments used to keep slaves in bondage are still used today to keep women in illegitimate subservience to men. Paul dealt with the woman issue along with slavery and racial prejudice in his letter to the Galatians. He chided them for not tearing down the walls of prejudice that separated races, masters, slaves, women, and men. He said that even though the secular world was full of those things, they did not belong among Christians, who were all ONE in Christ Jesus. 

The book, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System, illustrates extensive parallels between the historic issue of slavery and the contemporary issue of women's equality. Similar [sometimes identical] arguments were used to support both the enslavement of human beings and the subjugation of women to men. There is little difference between how Christian leaders have dealt with the "woman" issue, even in the current century and how Christian leaders dealt with the slavery issue in previous centuries. 


Sunday, July 1, 2018

1 Timothy 5:5-6, 9-15: Women are Naturally Immoral and Cold-Hearted

       1: Rebuke not elders but entreat as fathers and the younger as brothers 2: The elders as mothers the younger as sisters with all purity [1] 3: Honor widows [who are] truly [destitute] widows 4: But if any widow have children or grandchildren let them [the children or grandchildren] learn first to to put their religion into practice at home and to recompense and repay their parents for that is good and acceptable before God [[[5: Now she that is a widow and truly desolate left all alone trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day 6: But those who are wanton are dead while they live]]] 7: And these things declare that they may be blameless 8: But if any provide not for their own and especially for those of their own house they have denied the faith and are worse than [those who are] faithless [[[9: Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old having been the wife of one man 10: Well reported of for good works if she have brought up children if she have lodged strangers if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted if she have diligently followed every good work 11: But the younger widows refuse for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will marry 12: Having damnation because they have cast off their first faith 13: And withal they learn to be idle wandering about from house to house and not only idle but tattlers also and busybodies speaking things which they ought not 14: I will therefore that the younger women marry bear children rule the house give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully 15: For some are already turned aside after Satan]]][2] 16: If any man or woman that believes has widows let them relieve them and let not the church be [unnecessarily] burdened that it may relieve them that are widows [who are] truly destitute

[1] The elder women [presbyteros] and elder men [presbyteros] are treated with perfect equality in these verses, as are the younger men and younger women. There is no difference in role or function detected. It is unfortunate, that translators saw fit to separate verse :2 from verse :1, as both verses are part of the same thought, which commands purity for both young men and young women [purity is not limited to the younger of course, but is accepted that it is usually more of a struggle for the young]. 

Our Creator and Savior commands purity in all his children—not just his female children. To apply the word purity only to women [as the translators make it appear in this passage] is certainly in line with history and virtually all cultures, but is opposed to the entire volume and message of the Holy Scriptures. The word “presbyteros in these verses, appears to refer to age rather than leadership, although the same advice applies to dealings with leaders in our congregations. 

[2] The apostle Paul, wrote that there were counterfeit letters, sent to the churches, “as from” him 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Because of this, in Pauline letters, deviations from style, thought, and most of all, agreement with the entire volume of scriptures as a whole, should always be suspect. Using this standard, verses :5-6 and :9-15, of 1 Timothy chapter 5, are suspect. 

The prophet, Isaiah, wrote that if anyone wrote or said anything that did not agree with what had already been written, that it was false. The Christians of Thessalonica checked Paul's claims against scripture, using Isaiah's criteria, and were commended for doing so. 

This passage [1 Timothy 5:9-15] is nothing short of a diatribe against women, which contradicts the entire volume and tone of scripture. It contradicts even verses one and two of this same chapter, where older women are affectionately described as mothers and declared to be treated as such, and where younger women are affectionately described in the same familial way and commanded to be treated as sisters. Yet the suspected interpolation [vs 9-15] categorizes these same “mothers and sisters” into two groups diametrically opposed to the idea of how either mothers or sisters should be viewed. 

Christian women are described, here, as either wanton or pious (The accepted opinion of the time)—with near impossible standards on the pious side, demanding absolute perfection. This makes no sense outside of the context of the times and unless the higher [double] standard for women is taken into consideration.

Any "so-called" God-breathed scripture, will not not defend cultural standards against the entire volume of sacred writings as a whole. Though 1 Timothy 5:5-6, 9-15, is in perfect accord with the cultural paradigm of the time, it is jarringly out of step, not only with the context of the chapter it is written in, but also with everything we know about the scriptures and our Creator, who made many provisions to protect women from misogyny. 

Yahweh, understood women would be the mercy of a fallen world, producing fallen systems, designed to keep men in power. This can only be done by oppressing women--keeping them in utter subjugation. 

It is written, that God sent his prophet well out of his way to provide for a widow and orphaned boy who did not even live in Israel—the scriptures provide no qualifiers that aid in judging her “worthiness,” outside of faith, for this miraculous intervention (whether she had only been widowed once, etc.. She was likely under age 60 as her son is generally understood to still be a boy--not a young man). We do not how many such missions of mercy there were [to widows] that went unrecorded in scripture. 

When bracketed off from the rest of the chapter, 1 Timothy verses :9-15 are easily seen to interrupt a clear and related train of thought concerning the responsibility of children to widowed mothers or grandmothers. The interruption is a barefaced tirade against women, painting them with a broad brush, accusing all women of being busybodies and sexually immoral, or both. The passage contradicts itself, painting marriage as an act of rebellion against Christ [while at the same time commanding young widows to marry] and gives excuse to the greedy or stingy for withholding aid from destitute widows under the age of 60, whether they were pious or not.

This writer believes the hateful stereotype in 1 Timothy 5:5-6, 9-15, to be an  interpolation, the work of a malicious scribe. Paul himself, warned about forgeries of his letters were circulating. They must have been abundant, and from the few examples we have seen, where the authenticity of a passage is in question 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, it is usually the status of women that is being addressed/corrected. 

Women in the early ekklesia, had broad discretion and large freedom under Christianity. Perfect equality was practiced, and many did not like this. Opposition began immediately. Thus, forgeries and interpolations.

There were few places in the economic structure of the time, for women alone. If they had no families, it did not matter if widows were 16 or 60, widows of any age were completely dependent. Younger widows were likely to have small children to provide for, and if they had no families, they were in dire straits indeed. Most widows with no relatives, were utterly destitute. This makes the instruction to provide no relief--at all--to widows under age 60, particularly heinous and contradicts clear scriptural instruction from James [1:27 and 2:14-18], where the brother of Jesus [without qualifiers of any sort], gives explicit instructions to care for widows and orphans. 

If a professing believer told someone to go, be fed and clothed, without giving them the things needful for the body, then their religion is in vain. Yet the Pauline forgery [1 Timothy 5:9-15] mercilessly instructs Christians to just that. Believers are instructed not to provide for any widow under the age of 60 (tell them to go pray). The brother of Jesus, wrote that a believer’s generous response [or not] to widows and orphans, reflected the true status of their faith. 

What if a widow was 59 years old and married more than once? That would not have been uncommon. The Mosaic Law provided for this eventuality and commanded men to marry their brother’s widows Matthew 22:23-28, Genesis 38:8-26, Deuteronomy 25:5-10

This law was purely a protection for women, that, sadly, had to come with a necessary caveat to male pride as an inducement to obey. 

In light of the fact that God commanded men to marry widows, marked them as disobedient if they failed to do so (a scarlet letter for men, so to speak), how could a widow be considered as "casting off" her faith and condemning herself to hell…if she marries

What possible difference could the fact of previous marriages have to do with whether a widow is destitute and worthy, or not? Yet, according to the spurious instructions of verses :9-:15, a young widow (with or without young children), or a widow who had been married more than once, was to be ignored by the church regarding provision, because, according to the scribe, such a widow would most certainly fall away into immorality--or, God forbid, get married again. 

This was the prevailing opinion of men towards women in the Greek culture of the day [and beyond], but is a blatant contradiction to both the spirit and the letter of both the Law and of the Christian New Covenant. Even if young widows did not "damn their souls" by marrying again, the interpolation informs us that they will fall away anyhow--by falling to immorality, or by becoming lazy gossipers and busybodies. 
   So what was a woman to do? 
  Note the writer contradicting himself, by going on to instruct the younger women to condemn themselves anyway. He commands them to get married again! Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t. 
   A note about the idea of marrying because one has abandoned Christ. Since when is marriage a sign of rebellion against God? The Bible says marriage is honorable. It was ordained by God Himself in the very beginning—one man, on woman (at a time). After the Fall, polygamy quickly became common [still is in patriarchal cultures around the world]. 

God permitted polygamy (never ordained it) in ancient times because of the desperate straits patriarchal cultures and widowhood plunged women into. But Jesus made a point that polygamy was never God’s perfect plan for marriage. Under the New Covenant, polygamy was not permitted for men who aspired to church leadership (the husband of one wife, meant polygamy—not divorce**). 

Under the both Covenants, marriage is honorable and provisions for the care of widows is explicit. So, how, under the New Covenant, could marriage suddenly be interpreted as rebellion against Christ? How can abandoning widows (and by extension, fatherless children) become a good thing? 

Are men who marry widows also in rebellion against Christ? That omission is another clue that we are reading a forgery. 

Where do we read, aside from 1 Timothy 5, that widows who have been widowed more than once or possibly have been divorced by treacherous husbands [either before or after becoming believers] are disqualified from aid in receiving basic necessities of life? 

This writer does not believe there are contradictions in the Word of God, which God declared he would preserve to every generation. Yet this passage is so fraught with contradictions [both within the passage itself and with the Bible as a whole], it so utterly opposes both the letter and spirit of what had already been written Isaiah 8:20, that fakery is obvious. 

[[[9: Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old having been the wife of one man (James gave no age qualifier) 10: Well reported of for good works if she have brought up children if she have lodged strangers if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted if she have diligently followed every good work  (what if she was a new believer with no history as yet? Again, James gave no such qualifier)11: But the younger widows refuse for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ they will marry (Misogynistic Stereotype. And so what if they do? Why wouldn't we care for them during their time of need, and then, later, celebrate their happiness in a new marriage?) 12: Having damnation because they have cast off their first faith (where does the Bible say that marriage is sin?) 13: And withal they learn to be idle wandering about from house to house and not only idle but tattlers also and busybodies speaking things which they ought not (evil woman stereotype. Misleading Broad Brush) 14: I will therefore that the younger women marry (contradiction of verse 11 where marriage is viewed as a bad thing and defection from the faith bringing damnation) bear children rule the house give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully (the forger flip-flops, now marriage is Ok) 15: For some are already turned aside after Satan (Look at those faithless wanton women! They are all alike!)]]]

The scriptures command accountability in believers. "Let the prophets speak... and let the others judge."  Unless this passage can be authenticated “in the mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses [let every word be established]--which it cannot--this Believer has judged 1 Timothy 5:5-6, 9-15 to be a malicious fraud:

1.     Where are two or three witnesses found [in the Bible] that all young widows are prone to immorality, laziness, and gossip? Plato would agree to that, but he doesn't count. He held to opinion of all ancient philosophers (and beyond). But the scriptures never accuse women as such.
2.     Where are two or three witnesses [in the Bible] where men are commanded not to marry widows? We see the opposite in scripture. The Bible contains at least two or three witnesses where men are commanded to marry widows and are censured if they do not. The Bible contains more than two or three witnesses about God’s will towards marriage, that men who find a wife find “good” and that marriage [if not a “good” experience for one or both of the spouses] is always honorable.
3.     Where are two or three witnesses [in the Bible] that show “damnation” connected to widows who marry? This passage stands alone in stark contradiction to scriptural declarations that wives are good for men and marriage is honorable.
4.     Where are two or three witness [in the Bible] commanding backs to be turned on widows and orphans? We read just the opposite--care for them.
5.     Where are two or three witnesses [in the Bible] that show it is God’s nature to give a person only two choices—either to be pious and starve or to condemn one’s self to hell by marrying again. Both are ludicrous ideas with not one word of supported in the sacred writings of Jews or Christians.

The possibility is high, that the passage [vs 5-6, 9-15] in 1 Timothy 5,  is a malevolent and misogynistic forgery, that was copied, re-copied, and freely shared among all the churches, and eventually adopted by early church “Fathers,” as authentic. 

There were undoubtedly many who understood that only male dominated structural hierarchies, could effectively combat the elevated status and influence of women in leadership, which influence was not only common but encouraged in the early ekklesia.

Anti-woman Jewish Tradition, was rife among early Christian converts (for a time, almost the entire early ekklesia consisted of Jews—even the twelve were aghast when Jesus spoke with certain women, allowed women to touch him, and spoke against putting wives away for just any reason). Paul’s letter to Galatia contested the Law of Judaism, along with the racism and misogyny that its Traditions fostered. Here are a few examples from third century Christianity and Jewish Tradition; (Ecclesiasticus) Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good; and it is a woman who brings shame and disgrace. Ecclesiasticus (also called the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach) is 3rd century BC. Things could only have been worse—if possible—in the 1st century. Tertullian (c. 200 AD) wrote to women: You are the devil’s gateway; you are the unsealer of that [forbidden] tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law; you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die. Precursers to Tertullian and his ilk, were do doubt just as numerous in the 1st century.

**One possible motivation for the forged stipulation of a widow being the wife of “one man” (thereby disqualifying all women who had been widowed more than once from receiving assistance), could be that it was written as a backlash against the stipulation that male leaders in the church could only have one wife at a time. The forger could have been a polygamous scribe who was disqualified himself from church leadership, and therefore bitter. The restriction referred to polygamy and not to divorce.

1 Timothy 5:5-6, 9-15, as far as this writer knows, is found in virtually all extant manuscripts. That does not mean, however, that the original autographs and earlier non-extant copies contained the anti-woman invective. The same can be said of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, as is said of 1 Timothy (that it is found in all extant mss), yet, despite this, many reputable scholars believe that the 1 Corinthians passage is a scribal interpolation. Unlike the Timothy insertion, this writer concedes that there may be some scriptural arguments for the 1 Corinthians inclusion, along with egalitarian interpretation of (Fell and Boothe). What is astounding, though, is that the unscriptural broadside against women in 1 Timothy, has never once been challenged as being a fraud, though it has no redeeming quality nor merit to it.

Read 1 Timothy 5:9-15, and experience the seamless unity of the message, without the interpolations: 1: Rebuke not elders but entreat as fathers and the younger as brothers 2: The elders as mothers the younger as sisters with all purity 3: Honor widows [who are] truly [destitute] widows 4: But if any widow have children or grandchildren let them [the children or grandchildren] learn first to to put their religion into practice at home and to recompense and repay their parents for that is good and acceptable before God And these things declare that they may be blameless 8: But if any provide not for their own and especially for those of their own house they have denied the faith and are worse than unbelievers 16: If any man or woman that believes has widows let them relieve them and let not the church be [unnecessarily] burdened that it may relieve them that are widows[who are] truly destitute 

Woman this is WAR! examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). 
   These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. 
   Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a historical and Christian perspective. 
   This book traces history of women’s rights, much further than usual, to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.