227: EQUALITY IN THE GREEK SCRIPTURES (N.T.)

“Thanks for accessing Zingcreed, the totally unique Christian/ Atheist bog, that should read blog, where I muse aloud about religion and life. Have a good one!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

In the recent Zingcreed Post “Was Jesus a babe magnet?“, I put the case that women were seen by Jesus and Paul as – almost – equals. Jesus broke Jewish law to be inclusive with the fair sex, and Paul gave them top positions in the early church. Nevertheless one is left with the nagging thought that Paul was a terrible misogynist; and as I write, Anglican evangelicals are arguing on the British TV news that if Jesus had wanted women bishops he wouldn’t have appointed 12 male disciples.

In an upcoming Post “Christian atrocities#8 :the defamation of sexuality and of women” I shall be arguing that 2000 years of women being treated as second class citizens, not to mention being burned at the stake as witches, can be laid at the door of Jesus and his teaching.

So what does the Bible actually say about equality between the sexes? Is there a clear line or is it just plain contradictory? Galatians 3:28 stands out here “There is neither Jew nor Geek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. (No discrimination, or sexually neutered?)

That mid 19th century Christian Communist Wilhelm Weitling  collected together a few verses from Acts and the Epistles that threw some light on economic equality. It’s a start.

  • “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality. As it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little’.” (2 Cor.8:13-15)
  • “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-5)
  • “All the believers were in one heart and mind. no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned houses or lands sold them and brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need”.(Acts 4:32,24)
  • “Religion that god our father accepts as  as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by this world.” (James 1:27)
  • “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
  • “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26)

This all seems to me to say that if you want  an economically egalitarian society, the rich have got to be prepared to give and to share. Voluntary pauperisation is the way forward! But I think this would only work if other members of your community were doing the same thing. There’s no point in becoming destitute – you’d just be a burden on others, wouldn’t you? And how do you define community? And how do you apply Weitling’s list to gender issues and having female bishops?

I suppose men have to give ground and let women step in front of them if they are blocking the way.
Historically , the church’s treatment of women has been pretty shameful. It’s surely time for full reparations, and for taking on board the full feminist case – lock, stock and barrel!

Time for reflection!
“There are more questions than answers, and the more I find out the less I know!” (Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican singer)

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