Well… that was awkward

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Sometimes the Bible can make Christians seem like real jerks:

34 Women[a] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[b]

Ben TrubeThis week we’re reflecting on 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. In the midst of Paul’s continuing argument about spirit-given gifts, which are best, how they should be used for the benefit of others, etc. we have this little gem.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been in a conversation with a non-Christian or even a seeker who finds something really wack-a-doo in the Bible and either tries to argue that this is the way Christians really are, or this is a sign the Bible is imperfect and inconsistent.

As with many things, context is everything.

It’s hard to know the exact situation going on at Corinth at the time, but this was a group of Christians who were still coming out of an orthodox Jewish tradition. Meaning order, and ceremony, and discipline. It’s possible, and indeed likely, that there were many disruptive forces to that order, be they the somehow prized speaking in tongues of some members (mentioned earlier in the passage), or the chattering gossip of women.

Okay, not a whole lot better to say the women were gossiping. This group could just as easily have been disruptive children, teenagers, anyone being disorderly. Paul is just speaking specifically to this congregation in this situation.

Which means … this one doesn’t really apply to us. As Rich noted in his sermon, if anything our church is the exact opposite, tending toward being very quiet and orderly, the casual nature of these posts notwithstanding.

This doesn’t mean we just dismiss something in the Bible just because it makes uncomfortable. After all, the Bible does challenge us to change our actions, our thoughts and our wills. That’s usually uncomfortable. And it’s not a good habit to start dismissing parts of the Bible. Once we open that door, it’s kind of hard to close it.

But getting back to our conversations with non-Christians for a second. It’s difficult to know what to do in these situations, and again context is key.

Who is the person asking you the question and are they willing to hear the answer, or are they just trying to trip you up? The best people who ask these kinds of questions are the kind who will allow you to say, “Huh … that’s kinda weird. Can I get back to you?” Now the key there is that you actually have to get back to them, but it’s still okay to admit we might need a little time to think, pray, and study.

If the person is trying to trip you up, then you’re not really having a conversation, you’re having an argument, one with winners and losers. If you engage, you will probably be one or the other, but neither outcome wins you anything. Better to find something else to talk about.

What passages of the Bible trip you up? What do you do?

4 thoughts on “Well… that was awkward

  1. Ben, my sense is that the Corinthians were mostly a Gentile church – former pagans – who thought Christianity was like some of the popular mystery religions. If you join, you get to learn “all mysteries and all knowledge” (1 Cor. 13:2), and you get to have ecstatic experiences. Some of the mystery religions gave women a lot more freedom than the “mainstream” versions of paganism (and much more than Judaism!), and some had a reputation for riotous behavior. A lot of Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians seem to do with putting a damper on behavior the society at large considered disgraceful, so that the gospel wouldn’t be hindered.

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