The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

Monday, July 29, 2013

Because Culture

Inevitably when bringing up what the Bible says about gender roles, whether in regards to the church or to marriage, some one will say that due to differences in the culture at the time the New Testament was written and now we can ignore what the Bible teaches.

And of course comment #3 on the last post made just that case.
This is similar to the argument slave owners in America had. The Bible condones slavery and even has teachings on how slaves should obey their masters. I am assuming you don't slavery. It seems to me you are skipping any cultural and historical context. If you are following the Bible literally, please explain how we are to pick and choose which teachings to follow. Why not have slaves? Is it too uncomfortable for you? Or do you value a person's life as a child of God? 6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slavesOh and that scripture is also from Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:1-2

So the arguemnt is that
1. Everyone knows slavery is wrong.
2. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 supports slavery.
3. There must be some sort of difference in the institution of slavery in the culture of Rome during Paul's time and our time, so it's not the same thing.
4. Gender roles are not the same thing! I can be a feminist!

Of course the main problem with this argument is that 1 Timothy 6:1-2 most certainly does not endorse slavery, out of context reading or otherwise. On the contrary 1 Timothy 1:10 out right decries the act of enslaving anyone, listing it as a sin on par with fornication, homosexuality, lying, and perjury.

Instead 1 Timothy 6:1-2 is not aimed at those who own slaves, but at the slaves themselves, telling them to respect the worldly authority that they find themselves under in the tradition of David under King Saul, which one would assume was as true in America when slavery was legal as it was in the days of St. Paul. David's deference to King Saul did not mean that King Saul was a good king, nor does the admonishment of slaves to respect their masters mean that slavery is a good institution.

The real alarming thing about Jessica's way of viewing how the Bible handles slavery is that it means that from a Biblical standpoint that there is nothing inherently wrong with slavery. If we were to return as a culture to the times of Rome, one could dabble in slavery without fear of sinning.

But whether it’s slavery or some other passage, the point isn’t to gain the best and most honest understanding of the Bible, it’s to develop a tool for dismissing the parts of the Bible that they disagree with.

The Bible’s views homosexuality?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on premarital sex?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on abortion?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.
The Bible’s views on gender roles?  Doesn’t apply today because culture.

Inevitably people who do this resort to bait and switch tactics because the cultural case things like tattoos and head coverings is actually somewhat strong.  But you don’t often see the cultural case made for the items listed above, with the exception of perhaps aspie atheists spouting one liners, for the very good reason that the direct cultural cases are absurd.  They simply don’t fit what’s in the text.  Jessica accused me of leaving out context, yet if you look at the passages that I quoted, you’ll note that I always included multiple verses. I didn't stop with the verses that made my point, but also included verses that had the rationale behind the point.  And the rational is not culture.

The doctrine of “because culture” is a prime example of churchianity: a doctrine that does not come from the Bible and is used to avoid conflict with modern culture.  


  1. Unfortunately this blog is dead, because you sir, are me, but older.

  2. I'm still around, and comment on some other sites. I haven't written any posts in a while because I don't really have that much more to say. I'd just be rehashing things better said by other writers in my side bar.

  3. Still reading through your archive.
    And not having anything to say never stopped a great many writers.