I’m still struggling with the questions in the previous post.
What if Paul’s command explicitly says, “…women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.” (I Corinthians 14:34), but Jesus’ example is not to forbid a woman of poor repute from testifying about Him – or even to exaggerate it – so that “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers” (John 4:39-41)?
Who trumps whom?
What if Paul’s command above seems to contradict his permission for women to pray and prophesy in what seems to be a public worship setting – as long as her head is covered, possibly with long hair; possibly with a veil (I Corinthians 11:5 – a segment sandwiched between two discussions of what is permissible at the Lord’s table, and presumably having to do with a worship assembly)?
Does Paul, chapter 14 trump Paul, chapter 11?
Thank heaven the eating of meat sacrificed to idols is not an issue these days. I can’t even begin to sort it out. If you eat it in private, it’s alright because you know the pagan gods to whom it was sacrificed are nothing and God made everything good in and of itself (I Corinthians 10:25-26, 30). But if someone has a conscience problem about it, you can’t eat it in front of them. If someone offers you meat at their table or you buy it in the market, you should not ask if it was sacrificed to an idol (I Corinthians 10:27). But if they do tell you it has been sacrificed to an idol, you can’t eat it (I Corinthians 10:28-29). Sort of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? Yet, the fact remains that meat sacrificed to idols was actually sacrificed to demons, which are real, so you should have no part of it. (I Corinthians 10:19-20). So you’re pretty much danged if you do and danged if you don’t, so you might as well just do what your conscience suggests and glorify God for having one (I Corinthians 10:31).
But, in so doing, don’t cause somebody else to mess up and violate their conscience because of what you did (I Corinthians 10:32). Just try to make everyone happy (I Corinthians 10:33).
I know I’m paraphrasing wildly but … didn’t I get most of that condensed version right?
(Please don’t ask me to factor in Romans 14, too.)
Can ANYONE sort that out and make sense of it and figure out what the rules are – and live by them in any given real or hypothetical situation?
My inclination is to say “no.”
Maybe because that’s not the point.
Maybe Paul is pointing out how pointless it is to bullet-point a bunch of rules. Perhaps the gist of it is that people can disagree on matters of conscience and still eat or worship together without condemning and offending each other if they’re willing to respect each other, show a little deference, talk about it – even agree to disagree.
Maybe the point is that we need to struggle with questions of conscience together, and draw closer to God in the process by being transparent, listening, sharing, respecting, seeing the viewpoints of others and being enriched by them.
Or maybe I’m just really awful at turning the Bible into the right rules to live by.
Good thing there’s grace, huh?