Saturday, January 27, 2018
1 Thessalonians 4:4 Men, Don't You know that the Main Purpose of Wives is to Satisfy Your Lust for Porneia?
Each of you should know how to possess your [own] vessels in purity and honor
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour
that each of you should learn to control your own body [alt] Or learn to live with your own wife; or learn to acquire a wife] in a way that is holy and honorable
that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor
that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor
Etc., and so forth, and on and on and on, world without end....
Come on, guys, purity is good. So what's the problem?
 This verse is an example of how extensively misogyny and gender-biased-English-translation-theology has been integrated into English Bible translations, and through these, into the very warp and woof of Christian thought and life.
1 Thessalonians 4:4, is written in gender neutral terms and should be translated as such. Yet, with few exceptions, in virtually every Bible, the verse appears to be speaking to men only, by saying, “Every one of you possess his own vessel…”
The word (in verse four), almost universally translated as “his,” is a gender neutral word. It should always be translated as “your,” [in this verse] because the verse is speaking to both women and men—to all Christians, equally, regardless of sex.
God has no double-standard when it comes to sexual purity and morality, but apparently, Bible translators and commentators do. And they have generally misapplied this verse, misleading God’s people to generally understand that it speaks to men only. This misunderstanding has, in turn, caused much consternation among men, who, apparently have been so stymied by the plain sense of the words, “Each of you possess your vessels in purity…,” that they have gone to ridiculous lengths to interpret it in a way that men could not only live with, but also have a possible excuse when they fail to obey it.
No interpretation of any verse in the New Testament, illustrates the low esteem in which women have traditionally been held, nor the lengths to which Bible translators and commentators have been willing to go in order to objectify women, nor the depths to which men have been willing to sink in order to excuse immoral behavior.
Despite it being a well known fact, that having a wife is no deterrent to a man hell-bent on immorality, respected and honored commentators suggest that 1 Thessalonians 4:4, speaks to a need for men to “procure” wives, so that the wives may “contribute” to the “usefulness” of husbands and “satisfy,” their sexual passions.
Though the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:4, clearly speaks to all Christians—including women—instructing all Believers to possess the vessels of their bodies in holiness and purity, lexicons do not reflect this. No more than a surface perusal of popular resources, brings the shocking revelation that men simply refuse to take the admonition for what it clearly is, and can only see see it through the lens of a double-sided moral standard.
In expanded and more explanative terms, 1 Thessalonians 4;4 clearly says: “Without excuse, control yourself! Do not let lust and porneia rule you. Whether you married or not, whether you are a woman or a man, keep yourselves pure!”
Yet despite the simplicity and self explanatory nature of this verse [verified within context of the entire passage], there appears to have been such a desperation among [the all-male body] of commentators and most Bible translators concerning such an admonition, that they obviously began casting about in their minds how this could actually be accomplished in a way they could live with, and they seem to have come to an early consensus.
It is a sad fact, almost universally acknowledged, that historically men have been held to lower standards of morality and accountability than women. And a mere surface perusal of respected and much used Bible lexicons and commentaries on 1 Thessalonians 4:4, illustrates how perfectly this double-standard has been accepted as the norm. Probably the most popular is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, where James Strong spells out the androcentric bent of both himself and his peers, when he defines the word, skeuos (G4632 which can refer to a vessel or, metaphorically, a body).
He makes the unusual claim, the word, vessel, can also be translated as wife?! Strong's G4632, reads as follows: …“a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively [specially, a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband].”
With one stroke of his pen, James Strong, one of Christianity’s most respected scholars, reduced women to little more than objects, whose only purpose for existence, is to contribute to the usefulness of men. H. H. Halley, thought highly enough of Strong’s alternative definition, that he alluded to it in his own publication, Halley’s Bible Handbook.
Can things get any worse?
When we look at the word “possess,” as used in verse four [G2932], the lexicon suggests that the words “possess your vessels,” could alternatively read “Marry a wife.” Another alternative given for the the entire verse, reads: “to procure for himself his own vessel (i. e. for the satisfaction of the sexual passion;”
Why, has no one challenged these hateful and evil interpretations until now? This writer challenges them and refutes them, and calls them out as being from the evil one, from the seed of the serpent who is perpetually at enmity with the seed of the woman.
Men of God, stand up. Speak out. Reject doctrines that give men “a pass” on immorality, and allows for blame to be shifted for this reason or that reason, and reduces your God-given equal counterparts to mere objects created for your “use’’ and sexual “satisfaction.” Reject this destructive paradigm and publicly renounce it.
Women of God, stand up. Speak out. You are not objects to be used. 1 Thessalonians 4:4, is not speaking of marriage, but even within the context of marriage, you were not created to satisfy lust and porneia.
As far as usefulness goes, with the help of the holy Spirit, both men and women are capable enough of finding ways to be useful to God, on their own, without reducing the status of their equal counterparts to that of mere servants.. Do the alternative interpretations of 1 Thessalonians 4:4 make you angry? They should. And it is a righteous anger indeed.
People of God, stand up. Speak out!
The above is an excerpt from the Hungry Hearts Online Bible Commentary HHBC
Posted by Jocelyn Andersen
Labels: Gender-Biased-English-Translation-Theology, Misogyny in Bible Lexicons and commentaries, Misogyny in Bible Translation
Pastor and founder of Hungry Hearts Ministries, Jocelyn Andersen is the author of, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, For more information about all her books, visit her author page at amazon.com/author/jocelynandersen