I love this Opinion Page and the Letters to the Editors. When I get my Sunday paper, I always come here first. This is where controversy can flourish in a totally unimpeded way because “it’s my opinion versus yours.” I can’t claim to be “right” and scream out that you’re “wrong” (although this happens often), because most of the time we’re not talking about “provable facts.” We’re talking about the way each of us sees the world: race, politics, religion and sex -- all the things we were taught never to discuss in public.
D.T. Wallace from Byron wrote a letter to the editor, saying the Bible is very clear on “certain things and does not need any interpretation.” That’s D.T.’s opinion. Could this mean that the Bible is not very clear on certain other things and really does need somebody to clarify it? That’s my opinion.
For example, I quoted the Pauline controversy in 1st Corinthians, where Paul states very clearly that a woman can preach in church if she wears a veil, (1 Corinthians 11:5) and then two chapters later (1 Corinthians 14:34) says very clearly that she cannot, that she is to remain silent.
People who want women priests and pastors will quote 1 Corinthians 11:5; people who believe women should be silent and never ordained will quote 1 Corinthians 14:34. D.T. misreads both texts (sorry about that) and says there’s no problem. That’s D.T.’s opinion.
D.T. wonders if I “still believe the Bible.” Yes, by all means. I believe the Bible has some of the most profound and uplifting statements I have ever read, like the parables in the synoptics, like the introduction to John’s gospel, like Paul’s poem on love. I marvel at the wisdom of the Psalms and the Proverbs, the anger of the prophets, and the sensuality of the Song of Songs. I read the Bible every day, sometimes in the original languages, and I love it.
However, I also believe the two infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke are more mythology than history. Beautiful myths, but not history. I believe the five resurrection stories (including Paul’s) are blatant (and contradictory) attempts by the early Christians to explain how the dead Jesus still lives among us today.
Which is to say: I believe the Bible is written in many different genres by many different men with many different agendas. Moses certainly didn’t describe his own death in Deuteronomy 34:5; I bet Luke would wish he had chosen a different verb in Luke 14:26 where he has Jesus saying: “If anyone comes to me and does not “hate” his mother and father, he cannot be my disciple.” (There is a Greek verb for “love less.”) When Matthew says in Matthew 1:23 that the birth of Jesus was to fulfil what Isaiah had said in Isaiah 7:14, he knew very well that Isaiah was not thinking about Jesus; he was talking to King Ahaz about a boy to be born in his castle.
These are just my opinions. D.T. feels that opinions like mine could “confuse people.” Perhaps. But I have seen a lot more confusion in the minds of people who are ordered to be silent; people who are not allowed to speak and think and discuss these issues, and then wake up some day in disgust when they realize they’ve been treated as children.
Whoever wrote 1st Corinthians 14:34 (and I don’t believe it was Paul himself) wanted to silence women. Now, maybe the women in his day were mindless, vapid, giggling girls with no opinions worth hearing, or maybe they were “pushy broads” who refused to listen to reason. Today that Bible text won’t hunt.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corp. and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.