Jim Powers (Letters, March 2) asserts that “the written word of God is clear on sex, family [and] roles in the church.” However, family and sexual practices vary greatly across time and cultures, and the Bible presents a varied picture. Abram married his half-sister Sarai and passed her off as his sister and deposited her in Pharoah’s harem. Later, Sarah gave Abe her slave Hagar to conceive a child for her. The prophet Samuel’s father was a bigamist; David and Solomon were polygamists. Though women could not legally divorce, men had it easy. And if we read through the purity laws in Leviticus, we find no law about lesbian sex. Later, Paul thinks that the man who sleeps with his stepmother should be dismissed (1 Cor. 5:1-8), but even though Paul opposes men visiting prostitutes, he does not ask them to leave the church (1 Cor. 6:12-20). Concerning roles in the church, if we’d take the New Testament literally, no one would be formally ordained. All roles would be equal, according to 1 Corinthians 12. And there would be more women leaders, as we find in most Pauline churches, for example: Chloe, Prisca, Phoebe the diakonos, Nympha, Lydia, Junia the apostle, and seven other named women in Romans 16. Women would pray and prophesy in public worship (1 Corinthians 11) in spite of being told to be silent (1 Cor. 14: 33-35 and 1 Tim. 2:8-15). I fail to see how the Bible is clear on these issues.
Reta Halteman Finger
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