Thursday, March 13, 2008

A look at Loewen's "...Women in the Bible"

Things that no one ever told you about Women in the Bible: Theory vs. Fact was written by Mona Loewen (a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma) and posted on the Grace and Truth to You blog. You can click on the above link to read Loewen's writing. Below I give a few of my thoughts on it.

Loewen's thesis is "The real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives."

The logic appears to be:
1. The real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives.
2. Here are some real women, how they lived and acted.
3. These are the examples women should emulate, regardless of instructions on how women should live and act.

Mona Loewen does a service by calling attention to these women of the Bible. Chauvinists and feminists alike often mistakenly paint a bleak picture of all Biblical (and other ancient) women as mere chattel. Contrary to this, the Bible portrays historical women who had influence in their nations and in their families. I do not agree with some of Loewen's conclusions. But those who do not know about these women in the Bible need to start reading their Bibles.

Loewen paints a lop-sided picture (some of those in the opposition can be charged with the same). For example when she writes, "Tamar knew what was the ‘right thing’ for her father-in-law to do and made sure he did" she fails to address that the "right thing" was for her to obtain children from his other son, not pose as a prostitute and get with child by her father-in-law. Would she advocate that her daughter-in-law follow the example of Tamar, or her daughters act as did Lot's?

In her zeal to stress certain acts as examples for real women, Loewen writes, "Had [Tamar] not taken some leadership the lineage of Jesus would have fallen apart." To assert that Tamar saved the Messiah's lineage jettisons the Sovereignty of God, who works all things after the counsel of His will.

Loewen asserts the assertiveness of certain Biblical women is prescriptive, but makes no case to show why we should take the prescription. She does not present any case for the harmony of these assertions and apparent apostolic teaching to the contrary. To posit "real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives" (fact) versus "scripture from Paul's letters" (theory) creates an unbiblical dilemma. The actions of real women whom the Bible presents are heroines, when studied and harmonized with scriptural teaching about women, can help us understand the Biblical role of women. To do otherwise is to miss the full scope of Biblical counsel.

If her thesis is true, we could also say, "The real men who are the heroes of the Bible define the role of men by their real lives." Dispense with the theoretical will of God. The actions of men like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon define what men should really be like. Allowing your wife to be placed in another man’s harem, marrying two women and also having children by their handmaids, and having your lover’s husband killed were the actions of real men the Bible defines as "heroes". Do we really believe their actions define the Biblical role of men? Or should we perhaps compare their actions to the revealed will of God.

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