This is a continuation of the conversation that I had with a minister who had just found the Demand for an Apology from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood. July 24, 2011, was the one-year anniversary of that demand.
In the last post we had a question and answer. Then R.H. wanted to question me further about my answers. At times he seemed frustrated, annoyed, and testy by what I said. To me those are normal reactions and at times I felt the same way by his replies which I have omitted here.
This is my reply when he wanted to discuss some points further. “I have given serious thought to the questions and to the answers. But I am not going to pull these apart and answer my answers. I, too, appreciate this opportunity to discuss this with you. Hermenuetics is just a word to me, one that I can’t even spell, so I am certainly not going to go into detailed explanation of all this. One thing that theologians have forgotten is that Jesus and the apostle Paul were talking to ordinary folks who lived in that time and mostly understood what was meant. If it is too hard for us 21st century people to understand, then maybe we have missed the whole message.”
Following continues our discussion:
R.H. If the authority/submission relationship between two persons why would God give the people in government authority over us?
Shirley: The Israelites wanted a king so everybody could see who their leader was. It was hard to tell people that God was their king since the others couldn’t see him, and even they couldn’t see him.
This band of Israelites wanted a visible leader.
God listened to their desires, and allowed them to have an earthy authority over them. We know that God Himself wasn’t too nice to them all the time, but He warned them that an earthly authority would be worse.
You know Bible history far better than I do, but you know that they lost their nation and their kings, but under Roman law they still had a Jewish leader over their areas.
They still desired a leader who would come in like King David, and who would crush the Romans. The disciples even hoped that Jesus would be that Leader.
The Jews had hoped for a Messiah, but when He came, He turned His eyes on them, and their relationship with God. He did not look at the Romans, and He did not speak out against their authority over the Jews.
So we can see that God allows earthly government authority.
The Israelites/Jews knew better than anybody else that ruling authorities could be evil. They certainly lost their personhood under these authorities.
Now to Romans 13.
These new Christians did not have a ruler in Rome. But Paul knew from his own Jewish history that a visible king (now it would be a Christian ruler) could be called for.
So he admonishes them to accept the government authority (possibly to quell a desire for an earthly Christian ruler). After all, this was given to them by God (remember God gave them an earthly king because of their desire.)
Authority/submission has always damaged people: the Jews suffered and still suffer greatly; slaves, both black and other slaves suffer greatly; women have always suffered greatly from the hands of men, and from the government.
(added for this post: Early day Christians did finally choose an earthly leader. A Roman leader, in fact. The Pope became the Christians “bridge” between heaven and earth. As we know, people suffered under the heavy-hand of this religion when it became the ruling authority over people’s lives. The inquisition happened, and people lost their lives when they did not pledge fidelity to the church. Also, people were held in terror of their soul’s salvation since they believed that the Roman Catholic Church actually saved them. I believe this is what Paul was trying to tell the people to avoid. Perhaps without knowing it, Paul was telling them to keep separate church and state.)
These groups of people have lost their personhood due to authority/submission.
Now you want to know why God gave authority if it leads to the loss of personhood. I have asked God that question many times, myself.
Why God? Why have you allowed women to suffer so greatly?
I came to realize that God’s first chosen people, the Israelites, still suffer greatly and could be wiped off the face of the earth at any minute. I don’t doubt God’s love for them, and I don’t doubt his love for his persecuted women creation.
The realization that I came to is that God has always given people the chance to do right – individually and collectively.
So I ask you – are you a Saul, or are you a Paul?