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Isn't the Bible Sexist?Amy Orr-EwingThere is a widespread belief around about the Bible that it is some kind ofpowerful patriarchal conspiracy which has been used to oppress women. As afemale speaker I find that this question is frequently asked: "How can youas a woman promote such a sexist book? The church has tried to keep womendown!" As Christians we need to be sensitive to the issues which underliesuch an emotive question. While it may indeed seem to be the case thatwomen have been discriminated against by religion, the Bible itselfdeserves closer examination on the subject. How is it that many of thegreatest Jewish and Christian pioneers have been women? What does theBible really say about this subject?(1) Throughout the Bible there are numerous positive images of women andstories that involve women. In the Old Testament women share the image ofGod at creation. At the end of time at the Second Coming of Jesus, thechurch is represented as the bride of Christ. All the way through frombeginning to end, the Bible includes the feminine as an integral part ofthe Judaeo-Christian tradition. While it is true that the Bible iswritten over a long period of time into specific cultures and that some ofthese contexts did not give equal social advantages to women, it would notbe true to say that the message of the Bible is sexist or discriminatoryagainst women.In the New Testament, there are quite a number of significant eventsinvolving women, particularly considering the conservative culturalattitudes of the context into which it was written. This context isdemonstrated by a simple statement in John's Gospel in the famousencounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. There is atelling little sentence in 4:27 which sheds a great deal of light on justhow radical the Bible is in affirming women. The disciples come acrossJesus during his conversation with the woman and we are told they "weresurprised to find him talking with a woman." This is the context ofJesus's ministry and yet he goes against these cultural trends time andtime again. He does this firstly by having female disciples. In a culture where theidea of women travelling around with a group of men, or having the statusof disciple was seriously questionable, Jesus has a number of women whoare included in his travelling circle who contributed financially to theneeds of the group. In fact, when Jesus is told that his mother andbrothers are waiting outside to see him, he points to his disciples andsays "here are my mother and brothers." This statement is unthinkableunless there were women among his disciples. In the Middle Easternculture of the 1st century, it would be unspeakably offensive to point tomale disciples and use female imagery to describe them. The group ofdisciples referred to must have included some women. We also see Jesus teaching women in the New Testament. In Luke 10:38, weread of Mary who "sits at the feet of" Jesus and engages in theologicalstudy, much to her sister's chagrin. This phrase "to sit at the feet of"is the same formulation as Acts 22:3 where Paul describes his trainingunder Gamaliel. The clear implication here is that Mary is affirmed asworthy of a Rabbi's theological instruction; indeed, it is interestingthat later on in John's Gospel we read of Martha, Mary's sister, who isthe first to be taught one of the most astounding theological statementsof the New Testament. Jesus says to her "'I am the resurrection and thelife. He who believes in me will live even though he dies" (John 11:25). In contrast to the cultural norms of the time, Jesus made a habit ofrevealing great theological truths to women. The first person whodiscovers Christ's true identity in John's Gospel is the Samaritan womanat the well. We must not underestimate how radical this is: Jesus wasturning cultural taboos on their heads by teaching women and allowingwomen to be his disciples.In reality, it is clear that women played a full and vibrant role in theministry of Jesus, both as examples within his teaching and as recipientsof it. While this may seem absolutely right and proper in our 21stcentury context we must remember how radical this was in first centuryPalestine. Jesus intentionally affirmed and included women. We see acontinuation of this in the early church, from Lydia and Tabitha toPhilip's daughters, where women undertook various roles. While it is trueto say that there are two particular passages in Paul's writings which seemto go against all of this, by commanding some women to be silent andforbidding others from teaching, these must be read and interpreted in thecontext of the rest of the Bible. Paul himself gives guidelines for womenwhen they publicly prophecy and mentions women who do teach likePriscilla.When we come to the text of the Bible with the issue of sexism in mind, wemust be clear that while God is predominantly spoken of with male imageryand ultimately is incarnated in the man Jesus, this is not to say thatwomen are undermined or undervalued. Some female imagery is used of God,and Jesus constantly affirms the value of women, teaching them andinteracting with them as human beings. Both male and female are createdin the image of God and both are so precious that Christ comes to theearth to redeem both male and female with his blood shed on the Cross.Amy Orr-Ewing is Training Director at Ravi Zacharias InternationalMinistries in the United Kingdom.(1) A version of this article was first published in Idea Magazine,Jul/Aug 2005. See also Is the Bible Intolerant? by Amy Orr-Ewing(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006).-------------------------------------------------------------------Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words ofchallenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others whowould enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day,tell them they can sign up on our website athttp://www.rzim.org/slice/slice.php. If they do not have access to theWorld Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).
Did you hear about the lawyer hurt in an accident?An ambulance stopped suddenly.
Things That Take Years To LearnThe badness of a movie is directly proportional to the numberof helicopters in it.You should never say anything to a woman that even remotelysuggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actualbaby emerging from her at that moment.The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age,gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deepdown inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human racehas not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, thatword would be "meetings."The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests isto annoy people who are not in them.You should not confuse your career with your life.A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter/janitor,is not a nice person.
A Cause for All of Us It started out as an unimpressive ripple in the weather off the coast of Africa. By the time it was over, it had become Hurricane Katrina, pummeling Florida as a category one storm, and then surprising most observers by becoming a category five monster over the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina's last minute shift to the east nearly destroyed the city of New Orleans. Yes, we saw some of the darkest side of human nature as people looted beyond things they might have really needed, and some even tried to shoot some of the very people who were coming to help. But on a much greater scale, the aftermath to Hurricane Katrina was a massive outpouring of heroism in many flavors. As Americans learned of the desperation of the victims of the storm, thousands mobilized to give them a chance to live. We won't soon forget the military helicopters, launching and re-launching every fifteen minutes to look for more people stranded in the toxic floodwaters that buried parts of the city. There were those memorable scenes of the rescuers coming down the rope from those choppers to save people trapped on their roofs. Doctors and nurses came from all over the country. So many came and did what they knew how to do - from cooking, to counseling, to contributing, to caring enough to take in whole families - because lives were at stake. Thousands of lives were saved, many of whom would have died otherwise because of a massive rescue operation where everyone did what they knew how to do; each one realizing that a rescue effort means all hands on deck. It's a picture of the largest scale rescue operation on the planet. It is the rescue mission for which Jesus Christ gave His life, to as His personal mission statement in Luke 19:10 says, "to seek and to save what was lost." His final command: "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15). Because it really is a life-or- death situation, where the eternal destiny of millions of people depends on the rescue efforts of God's people - all of God's people. The orders are summarized in Proverbs 24:11-12, our word for today from the Word of God. "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter." Those stark words describe every person we know, every person on this planet who has not grabbed the only one God provided to rescue us from the eternal punishment that our sin deserves. That Rescuer in Jesus! The next verse says, "If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this, does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?'" God will not excuse us for being AWOL in His all out mobilization to rescue the dying, whatever it takes. He's expecting you to do what His Son did - to do all you can to rescue the lost. If you cook, cook to rescue the dying. If you're musical, if you're mechanical, if you're a techie, if you're in the media, if you're a prayer warrior, if you contribute to God's work, do what you do to help people go to heaven instead of hell. And if you have influence in anyone's life - and we all do - don't just use that influence to be a nice person for them. Use the relationship you have to tell them about the Rescuer from heaven who rescued you - and who is their only eternal hope. In the wake of a hurricane, we saw thousands of people on the verge of dying without hope - and an army of us who said, "We can't just let them die." If you'll ask Jesus to help you see the world through His eyes, you will see millions on the verge of dying with no hope of heaven, headed for an awful eternity. And some of them are right there within your reach. Can you see them? Will you do something about it? Will you do more than you've ever done before? We're losing so many because no rescuer came. Ron Hutchcraft To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit:http://www.yoursforlife.net/alpha or call 1-888-966-7325.
A married couple (both UNC grads) trying to live up to a snobbishlifestyle went to a party. The conversation turned to Mozart."Absolutely brilliant, magnificent, a genius!"The woman, wanting to join in the conversation, remarkedcasually, "Ah, Mozart. You're so right. I love him. Only thismorning I saw him getting on the No. 5 bus going to Coney Island."There was a sudden hush, and everyone looked at her. Herhusband was mortified. He pulled her away and whispered,"We're leaving right now. Get your coat and let's get out of here."As they drove home, he kept muttering to himself. Finally hiswife turned to him. "You're angry about something.""Oh really? You noticed?" he sneered. "I've never been soembarrassed in my life! You saw Mozart take the No. 5 bus toConey Island? You're crazy! Don't you know the No. 5 bus doesn'tgo out to Coney Island?"
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