Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 163

The scriptures read are 2 Chronicles 35-36, Psalm 132 and 1 Corinthians 7.

2 Chronicles 35, 36. The end of Josiah. The new information here is that opposing Pharaoh Neco was against God's will. And God spoke through Neco!! So that's it for Josiah.

It all goes downhill from Josiah, king-wise. But the Chronicler, ever the seeker of silver linings, ends his tale with the decree of Cyrus the Persian king, letting the Jews return from the Babylonian exile to rebuild their temple.

Psalm 132. This psalm harks back to David and God's promises to him while sounding like a song sung as the Ark of the Covenant was moved to Zion and its resting place in Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 7. I don't know how the church got what Paul said in this chapter so screwed up. Paul is clearly responding to an assertion sent to him, and quoted in the first verse, that celibacy is better. Yes, Paul prefers the life of celibacy and recommends it but he says it depends on whether you have the gift. Marriage is not sinful. In fact, Paul's preference that people stay single if they can manage it has a practical reason: he thinks Jesus may return soon and obviously single folk can devote more of their time to ministry and be less entangled with the world. Notice that twice Paul says he has no explicit command from the Lord on certain matters. He freely admits that he is giving advice, albeit advice he is confident in. But his basic message is, as Peterson puts it, "where you are right now is God's place for you."

(BTW, did you notice that Paul says the husband and the wife have equal rights to each other's bodies. Paul is saying that you should make sure you are giving your partner pleasure. Doesn't sound like such a misogynist, does he? Paul gives such good marital advice [way more progressive than the pagan moralists] that I think he was once married and widowed. After all being married was a requirement to be on the Sanhedrin which he was. It explains his insights into things like, hey, your wives should enjoy sex too, guys!)

But your status can change. Yes, Paul tells slaves to make the best of their position but he also says that if you can get your freedom, do so. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the institution. But Paul is saying you can serve God, regardless of your status. And indeed some slaves became bishops in the early church. Besides, we are all slaves of Christ and that's a lot better than being the slaves of men, says Paul.

Anyway, Paul never says you have to be single or you have to marry. That's very freeing. Just ask single Protestant clergy or Jewish rabbis who feel pressured to settle down or Catholic clergy who by accepting the RC sacrament of ordination are forbidden to even consider the sacrament of marriage. Which would make it the only instance where one sacrament vetoes another.

No comments:

Post a Comment