Thanks to the encouragement of Rachel Held Evans, some bloggers wrote last week about gender equality–particularly within the Christian church and home.
One of my favorite posts is from Tony Jones who provides a pointed interpretation of Mark 3:29: “If the Holy Spirit has given the charism of preaching or teaching or pastoral care to a woman, and you deny the authority of that charism because of some head-in-your-ass biblical hermeneutic, you are committing an unforgivable sin.”
Can I be honest? The phrase “head-in-your-ass biblical hermeneutic” makes me giggle. And then it makes me think, “Ha! All of you ignorant people who disagree with my reading of the Bible–take that!”
Without going too deep into apologetics, I can make a few points about why people who claim the Bible prohibits women from preaching likely have their hermeneutical heads planted firmly in their own posteriors:
–They are only looking at very particular–and not especially attractive–portions of scripture while ignoring parts of scripture that do not back up what they want to believe.
–They are overly focused on their own time and place–ignoring the historical context of the biblical writings and pretending like Paul’s letter was to their particular congregation instead of the Christian community at Ephesus.
–They are poo-pooing the experiences of many, many, people who have ministered as women and been deeply ministered to by women. Some of us people with ovaries are kick-butt preachers, thank you very much.
“Head-in-your-ass biblical hermeneutic” could prove to be a very useful phrase.
Of course, after the giggles and the (self) righteous indignation comes the niggling worry. That pesky Bible voice: “What about the log in your own eye?”
It’s a lot of fun to point out other people’s contorted theology. Not so much fun to think that my own viewpoint might be limited as well.
But of course there are times when my own head is uncomfortably twisted into a not-so-pleasant place.
From my rationalistic world view, I pretty much psychologize all the stuff about demon possession in the New Testament–and there’s a lot of stuff. From my privileged North American perspective, I do all kinds of hermeneutical gymnastics when Jesus says things like: “Sell all you have and give the money to the poor.” As someone who has not suffered from any extreme forms of oppression or violence, I tend to spiritualize parts of Scripture that are probably intended to be political.
It’s human nature to focus on parts of the Bible that appear to support what we already believe. It’s human nature to think about the text in light of our own historical contexts. It’s human nature to disregard the experiences of others when those experiences are essentially different from our own.
Which is why we need the church. The local church. The church universal. We need other people to help us position our heads more comfortably (and wipe away any residual unpleasantness).
Not that we will all see eye to eye. But it would be nice if we could all see.