Ancient History 303 C: There’s Got To Be A Loophole
I’ll try to stay focussed on my own story, but will mention a few factors that entered into my thinking about the whole issue of a woman’s lot in life:
In the mid-60’s a song was recorded by Sandy Posey: Born A Woman. She sang, “A woman’s place in this old world is under some man’s thumb… You’re born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt….”
Tra-la-la. I’m sure the feminist movement was delighted with that one –or at least the resistance generated by it. But I came from a pretty rough-and-tumble people; as far as I knew when that song came out, that’s just how life was.
One time when I was spending a week “back home” with my birth parents, I woke up in to the sounds of a scuffle. I didn’t hear the cause of it, but Dad V had Mom down on the floor and was sitting on her, punching her in the face.
(In all fairness to my dad, it would have been very frustrating to be at work and know your wife was likely heading for the bar – without a cent. That she’d pay for her booze with sexual favours – not only there, but she’d bring them home where the children could observe the facts of life first-hand. It must be the ultimate grief for a man to not know who the fathers of his children are. Then to realize the whole town was aware of this, too…)
But now I was reading that a wife should be submissive to her husband. How far would you take this? Submissive to being punched in the face? No thanks.
One lady told me that the happiest day of her childhood was when her mother finally left her alcoholic, abusive father. She wasn’t much interested in hearing about submission, either.
By the time I was facing these scriptures (1974) I’d swallowed the feminist rhetoric of the 60’s hook, line & sinker. But the fact is – and feminists (deliberately?) ignored this angle – you can’t use the actions of ungodly people to pass judgment on the validity of God’s Word.
Back to my study of Chapter Eleven. By now I’d made a few observation:
— As I’ve already said, the evangelical church women I knew agreed with verse 3, but not verses 5-15.
— Most of the men I knew –Christian or not– would have removed hats or caps during prayer in respect to Verse 4. In their understanding it may have morphed from scriptural to simple cultural practice, but it was still done.
— Though times were changing, most of the older generation at that time would still have agreed with Verse 14.
— Most evangelicals would have agreed with, taught, and practiced the rest of the chapter.
Well, it didn’t seem ethical to me to just ‘white out” verses you weren’t happy with, so there must be some reason why head-coverings had been dropped and I just didn’t know it. So I turned to my fellow Christians and brought the subject up right after Bible Study one evening.
“It says here in I Corinthians… Does God expect us to observe this in our day and age?”
Interesting reactions! Mostly negative.
“That was for another era,” someone said.
Another woman, bless her heart, said, “We shouldn’t be too quick to discount some of these old-fashioned ideas. When I was a girl Christian women in my town all covered their heads for prayer and dressed modestly. Today you see young women walking downtown in their bikinis. We’ve lost something.”
One of the ladies said, “Well, the Bible says a woman shouldn’t wear pants, either. So if I’m going to wear pants then I don’t need to wear a head-covering.”
(I was shocked. The Bible really talks about women wearing pants? But then do two wrongs make a right?)
“It talks about nature teaching us… But it’s the male lions that have manes, so therefore it’s not wrong for a man to have long hair or a woman to have hers short.”
I heard a number of reasons why head-coverings were not necessary, but nothing strong enough to invalidate those verses, or give me the loophole I was looking for to ignore them without risking God’s displeasure.
Our pastor wasn’t present at this Bible Study, but he soon heard about it.
Sunday morning he got up and started his message by mentioning a few ways of studying the Bible. “For example,” he went on, “on Friday the question was raised in Bible Study: should women wear hats to church?”
I sank down in the pew, guilty as charged. EVERYBODY knew who raised “the question.” What would he say next?
And what would Bob say about all this? He’d missed that Bible Study; he’d gotten a job with the post office and was working that evening.
Then I sat up again. My question wasn’t about hats in church. My question was “Are these verse valid for our day and age, as some Christians claim?”