It may be difficult to reconcile some of the biblical passages about women and family relationship with a belief in equality between women and men. Even professing Christians now say that a discriminatory approach to women is found in some parts of the Bible, particularly in Paul's epistles.© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com July 18, 2018, 2:37 pm ad1c9bdddf
New Testament Dilemma: Text or Context
It may be difficult to reconcile some of the biblical passages about women and family relationship with a belief in equality between women and men. Even professing Christians now say that a discriminatory approach to women is found in some parts of the Bible, particularly in Paul's epistles.
First of all, even though Christians accept the Bible as a sacred text, it is important to understand that text is not a standalone and isolated phenomenon. It always emerges, develops and exists within a context. Even more, it is every time interpreted and reinterpreted within a context. Those contexts may be individual. Indeed, we can all testify that reactions of people to other people, to what they hear read depends on a wide spectrum of factors, such as level of education, cultural background, age, personal experiences, health condition, etc. The conditions may also be cultural and specific to a time and place.
It is crucial to understand that Paul's ancient Roman and Jewish contexts were culturally a world apart from accepted views on gender relations in Western countries nowadays, and this understanding needs to be our starting point. As Bernardette Booten put it, "New Testament scholars have long recognized the necessity of placing the study of women in the New Testament in a historical, cultural context... It appears that on the question of women, more than on many other, scholars recognize that one cannot understand the New Testament in a vacuum."
So it is imperative to know what kind of family and gender relationships there was in the times of Paul to understand what he really wanted to say and in order to determine how relevant his words are for us. So my first recommendation for my friend would be to get acquainted with a context before pronouncing any judgement on the text. The worst interpretation of the Bible would be, as William J. Webb put it, to "read the words of Scripture only in an isolated sense (up and down the page) without any ancient-world movement meaning so that they can anachronistically "trash" a biblical ethic as seen within the slavery or women ...
The expert examines new testament texts and discrimination of women.