Ancient History 303 B: New Words I Don’t Like
In time Bob had developed serious allergies to grain dust and farm chemicals, which ended his job as a grain buyer. The spring of 1973 found us moving back to Moose Jaw, SK, where he got some temporary work and he eventually got on working at the post office.
We began attending a small Mennonite Brethren church that was starting up in MJ; we never officially joined but we fellowshipped there for a year without any major problems. Bob and I both taught Sunday School and we were treated pretty much like full members. Our fellow believers became very dear to us. At one point the Protestant Evangelical churches in the city joined forces to sponsor a big Evangelical Crusade and we were as involved as anybody in the preparation activities.
The winter of ‘73-‘74 brought record snowfall to southern Sask and spring brought floods in various places. Both of the small creeks that ran through Moose Jaw overflowed and flooded houses in low lying areas. Once the flood waters subsided homeowners needed help to get rid of mud and ruined belongings, so the pastor of our little church asked the Mennonite Disaster Service to get involved and help with that. The MDS put out an appeal for volunteers from other Mennonite churches nearby. This was intended to, and did, bring much publicity to the little MB church.
Our pastor went to City Hall to discuss the MDS offer to help and he was told that a Henry Regehr, representing the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, from Linden, Alberta, had been in touch with them. “And here’s his phone number. These fellows want to come and join in the cleanup, too.”
My husband, because of his allergies, was not able to help with the actual cleanup of flooded homes and he was between jobs right at that time, so he and our pastor were co-ordinating the activities of the crews that came. The pastor came back to the church and told Bob about this offer. He knew nothing about this CGCM group but Bob did, having bought grain from a few farmers of that persuasion back in Manitoba.
“Well, for one thing the men all wear beards…” Bob began.
Our pastor hurried to his office, grabbed the phone and called Henry Regehr. “We have things under control here, all the help we need. You don’t need to come. Thanks anyway.”
Bob was surprised, as the work had barely begun. He realized, though, that our pastor had been trying hard to cultivate a “we’re just your neighbours down the street” impression. He was trying to grow this church and appeal to the neighbours; if any odd-looking men would come, it would destroy the image of Mennonites that he was working so hard to build up in the community. He wanted folks to see we were as just the same as them –just Christians– so they’d feel comfortable if and when they attended our services.
But he wasn’t able to deter these men and they did come. (Bob got a warm feeling when he heard they were coming; he felt from prior contact they were serious Christian people. In fact, it had been through the witness of one of those customers that he was born again.) When the men came they bedded down in the MB Church basement and in the evenings after the work was all done, Bob and I would visit with them about issues of Christian life.
After the cleanup was ended and these men went home again, I began reading some tracts they’d left behind. Good sound teaching here; much as we’d been hearing all along. Guarding your speech from swearing or profane slang; being honest; keeping yourself pure in thought and deed – nothing wrong with that.
Then I picked up another tract – this one written for Christian women – and ran smack into a new word:
Submission. That God had an order…
“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” I Corinthians 11:3
I Corinthians chapter 11 meets North American child of the ‘60s with strong feminist leanings. Fireworks follow.
We’re in the 20th century now, Lord. Remember: liberty… equality… 50/50… equal rights for all. I read on…
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head…” Verses 4-5
God, this is archaic! Yes, I see it’s in the Bible, but no one can expect this ancient thinking to apply to us today. These people have been seriously misled.
It must be that Paul, some kind of woman-hater, scribbled his own views into this passage. How could you let him do that, God? Couldn’t You foresee the confusion it would cause in our day?
Submission to man? As in “subservience”? As in “inferior”? I’m supposed to go along with that?
Put on a head-covering as an outward sign of my submission to this “order”? NO WAY!”
I thought of other Christian women, my good friends. Of course we all believed in submission to God generally; we were all committed to obeying what we understood of His will. And the Christian wives I knew would all say their husbands were the head of their homes. In fact, trying to keep this principle was bringing a few of them into conflict when non-Christian husbands asked things of them that violated their consciences. But none of them wore a head covering – not even in church services.
So there has to be misunderstanding somewhere. I need to read I Corinthians 11 again.