April 17, 2016

A Silenced Reply

In one of my games, there as a punishment called "silencing" basically, all the chat features would be disabled so that there was no possible way to communicate in-game. Sometimes bloggers can block their foes, effectively silencing them.

And while we we say that we can't make an argument based on silence - all too often, it speaks volumes. In the ancient world, being silenced or shut up was one and the same as losing honor. Always having an answer, a response and always winning the last word was honorable. Not having an answer, or a response or the last word was shameful. Jesus' followers wrote the Bible in such way where he never lost a debate. That's high praise.

Anyway, today my e-mail told me that somebody had written a response to a comment I made months and months ago. Sadly, months ago, I was blocked, silenced really, and I couldn't post a reply if I wanted to. Well, not on the site itself. So I thought I'd look back on the conversation and say whatever I want right here, right now. So here I go:

I said: (something irrelevant/unimportant) ... I will tell you that aside from kephale there is a word in these verses that says that the person referred to has authority; it was used by the centurion speaking to Jesus, when he said "for I am a person under authority, when I say come here, a person comes. When I say do this, a person does it." It's the word exousia and it always refers to the subject of the sentence, not the object. It's used in the verse 'for a woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels'. I just find it odd that the same word being used to describe being under authority shows in one instance a centurion who while being 'under authority' actually wields authority and gives out commands. Yet when this woman is 'under authority' she has no power to wield authority is and is forbidden from giving out commands. If Paul wanted to say in no uncertain terms that man was 'the leader of' the woman, Christ was 'the leader of' man, and God was 'the leader of' Christ, then archon would have been the word to use - but he used kephale. I'm not sure that the argument that leader or authority is meant in the head verses is a strong one given the word choice. (New Thought: The verse in question can't really mean that women have to wear a veil / head covering / token of the authority of the woman's husband over her, but people keep on saying that because it's what they believe it to say and they've put so much weight on it that they don't realize that it can't support their arguments. What the verse literally says is that: "For this reason, the woman ought to have power on her head because of the angels." Because the woman is the subject of the sentence - the doer of the action, she has authority. Even looking at the grammar of it, it's not possible that it's suggested in the passive that somebody else has authority over her. That would make her the object - the receiver of the action and authority is a word that just isn't used that way.)

Person A replied: Jamie Carter, it seems you would advise Paul to use the much more clear word "archon" for leader rather than the word "kephale" for head if he wants to talk about hierarchal authority here. That got me meditating on the question - why would Paul prefer the word head/kephale, both here and in Ephesians 5?
I think it is because there is something beautiful in the imagery of a head and a body. They are synergistic. They work together. My hand does not rebel against my head. My head does all it can to protect and nurture my body. They are one. What hurts one affects the other. This beautiful equality and unity is how Christ relates to the Father (John 17) while yet submitting himself to the Father. When I consider it this way, there is no fear in submitting to my husband as head. Perfect love casts out fear.
What a glorious reason to use the word kephale!

I said: We have to remember that when Paul was writing the household codes, precious few families married because of love which is why the Bible so often instructs men to love their wives and women to respect their husbands. Most marriages were arranged and were little more than a business arrangement between families meant to strengthen the bonds of community and their own positions within it. He begins Ephesians 5 talking about mutual submission in verse 21, then he specifies three types of relationships: husband/wives, parents/children, and masters/slaves. I don't think that he meant to nullify verse 21, it applies over all relationships - including friendships, and other ones that weren't specified. A husband was generally the head of the household in an economic sense, he could do business in ways that his wife could not, he was a provider in keeping with the culture in which he lived - a patriarchy. So in that sense, he was the source (kephale) from which all others were nourished; wife, children, and slaves. But that doesn't mean that it works in a modern contest where our household are often five people, not eighty. There are instances in the Bible where Sapphira submitted to Ananias and she was killed for it, and Abigail did not submit to Nabal's that David be sent away unaided and she was rewarded for it.
One major problem I have with these teachings is that single people, such as myself are often side-lined. The emphasis on 'marriage, marriage, marriage!' hasn't caught up to the statistical reality that there is not a ratio of 50:50 single men to single women in Christianity and there will never be one, ever. The head covering movement affirms that all women (married or not) must wear head coverings, but only some women (wives) must submit to certain men (their husbands) (and single daughters to their fathers) (and widows to church elders) in order to fulfill these verses. They forget that ultimately the source (kephale) of men and women, single and married, is Jesus who is God. Some of the teachings technically border on the heresy of the Eternal Subordination of the Son which Athanasius fought so hard for when Trinitarian doctrine was formed at the Council of Nicaea. (New Thought: When we think about 'authority' in terms of a body part, the 'head' wouldn't have been the ancient equivalent of authority - ones heart was. "head" gets about 50 New Testament mentions, "heart" gets closer to 150 mentions. Your head and your hand aren't two separate being with two separate wills, your head isn't male and your hand isn't female, one subject to the other because it lacks what the other has. Though  I did read a recent article about a woman whose "head" told her to rinse the dishes more thoroughly and her actual arm resisted her actual head and her actual heart obeying what she was ordered to do, but she finally worked up the will to make her own arm move and having obeyed her "head" she felt happy. One of my games actually uses the labels "hand" "mind" "eye" for the agents of it's tyrannical boss aptly referred to as "THE Head", the "hands" always had a choice, obey the boss completely and exactly, basically obey but be opportunistic and demand payment for your services, be disobedient, or work as a spy, weakening the boss' power so that he will fall and either you or your allies can replace him guess which one is the most boring option? Guess which one has the best storyline. Colossians also uses a head/body metaphor for Christ and his church in the sense of a source of life, those who are not connected to the head ceases to grow, however Christ has no direct authoritative role - God is the one causes growth. If one were to use this metaphor seriously - then most of the other teachings would be rendered invalid. It's worth it's own blog entry, but I'll try to remember to save it for another time.)

Person B replied: Sapphira died (there its no evidence that anything but her own fear killed her)because she lied. She submitted even though she must have known that lying was going against God, and that is a case example of when it is not right to submit. How is a household to run efficiently if both the man and woman both have authority over each other. When in the woman to rule? When the man? How does this interpretation jive with the idea that God said women's desire will be for her husband, and that he will rule over her. Lastly, if a physical covering here were not being referred to, why did women cover their heads?

If I weren't blocked, I would have said: I can't tell you how many times I've heard complementarians tell me that women who submit to their husbands, even when he says "I need you to go along with me on this tax evasion scheme ..." will be spiritually protected because of their obedience even if their heads do have criminal inclinations. They take that verse: "Women should submit in everything" very seriously, in the process they basically tell women to never tell their husbands "no."
Depends on the household - men and women talk together like adults, bringing up the pros and cons of the matter and decide whats in the best interest of the family. There's no need for a man to have the final say or the tie-breaking decision because he's male, usually they're so reasonable they just agree, even if the idea was something the woman suggested in the first place.
Genesis was describing the consequences of the fall, not commanding how men and women are to relate to one another.
Women covered their heads because the Pharisees told them to. (Made it a divorce-able offense not to.) That was just in Judaism, Greek and Roman cultures didn't have any cultural laws that required them to do so. Archaeologists have found wigs that date back far old than that time, and most of the time wealthy women wore elaborate braided hairstyles that showed off their wealth. Not everything old has to have a religious reason.
(I hope this comment is accepted, I've been blocked from this site for months.)

But I am blocked - silenced - and unable to comment on that site ever again. Sure, I could start a brand new E-mail address, new Discus account and start all over again - but I suspect it wouldn't be long before they get around to blocking their devil's advocate all over again. I just hope they don't interpret my silence as not having an answer, because I do. I just can't tell them what it is. But at least I get a few ideas for a blog while I"m at it.

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