Biblical Manhood…or Biblical Jesus?

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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A Year of Biblical Manhood Cartoon by Wes Molebash

Today we’re pleased to present another comic strip by Wes Molebash with some commentary by Kate. See more  from Wes here.

2012-12-31-a-year-of-biblical-manhoodclick picture to enlarge

A lot of things are being said these days about being a “biblical man”.

It just seems like many people are using scripture to bully others into their view of what men and women should be.

But let’s remember:

NEVER ONCE does Jesus tell men to “man up”

NEVER ONCE does Jesus tell women that their place is under the authority of men

NEVER ONCE does Jesus say that remaining single is selfish

NEVER ONCE does Jesus elevate the nuclear family above the family of God

Let’s evaluate where our ideas of biblical manhood and womanhood are coming from.

They don’t seem to be coming from Jesus…just something to think about.

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Your Turn: Which characteristics or actions of Jesus would you add to this list?

 

Kate Wallace Nunneley

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16 Comments

  • It is simply not accurate to say that contemporary scholars “think up” the cultural context of the New Testament manuscripts. Rather than being invented, it is uncovered through rather painstaking research. Discovering the original meanings of key Greek expressions in the New Testament also calls for meticulous research, and a willingness to suspend our preconceptions.

    Unfortunately, the wisdom contained in the New Testament has gone through a process of interpretation and translation that has evidently skewed the authors’ original intentions, especially concerning the role of women.

    Interpreters such as St. Augustine and translators like St. Jerome put their own slant on what the Bible says about women, and it wasn’t a positive one. Augustine believed that women are morally and intellectually inferior to men. He believed that they need male leadership because they are incapable of thinking properly for themselves. Jerome simply thought of women as “classed among the greatest evils.”

    It is through the eyes of these men that we read negative generalizations about women in our Latin and English Bibles. And yes, I do question their “wisdom.” Augustine taught that feelings of attraction were selfish and evil, even in marriage. Jerome taught that women are literally saved by bearing children.

    Sadly, these traditions have been carried into Evangelical Christianity by reformers like John Calvin. Many complementary preachers today interpret the Bible through the lenses of Calvin’s commentaries.

    Augustine, Jerome, Calvin all demonstrate the misogynistic cultural norms of their eras. When we read the Bible through the lenses of their theology, sadly we perpetuate that misogyny, even if that is not our intent.

  • Subject matter aside, this blog seems to imply that there’s nothing to be learned from the individuals who populate the other 62 books in the Bible…

    • Chris, not really seeing how you arrived at that conclusion. I took it more as the author seeing Jesus as the ultimate “logos” – the living Word, God with skin on, and the highest authority. It makes sense to me that he would be the ultimate role model for “personhood”, whether male or female. This is obviously a short commentary on a short comic strip – to say the author means there is nothing to learn from the humans in the bible seems assumptive. But I think it would be great to talk about who the positive role models in the other books would be. Where would you start?

      • I want to talk about true ‘biblical womanhood’ not the modern unusual and contrived version formulated by CBMW. True biblical w’hd is what Kate and Gail brought forward last night; it’s what the Bible presents: active, clever, faith-full, imaginative, obedient, creative, wise, willing, useful servants, leaders, mothers, apostles. I call Mary Magdalene the first apostle–JESUS sent her to tell the other disciples about his resurrection. And others, namely Junia, followed. We can use the term biblical womanhood if we redefine it as what the Bible describes. And yes, in response to the post below, some women in the Bible, like some (many) men in the Bible and everywhere else, are also sinners and use their position in idolatrous and vindictive ways. Most of the women in the Bible are heroines to be emulated by Israel and the church! Even and especially those who are outsider women–non Israelite women.

  • There is a reason why Jesus Christ didn’t have a woman among the twelve.

    I know we all can think up whatever cultural reason is behind the choice of Christ and the letters of St. Paul as we wish, because we are ‘obviously’ more learned than the ancients.

    Without being or sounding Misogynous, take a moment to remember that it was Herod’s brother Philips Wife that got a powerful and respected Prophets head on a platter, and it was Jezebel who made the Prophet of Fire flee, then the Queen Vashti episode. So Women did have some authority too.

    Again there is a reason why Yahweh didn’t make Miriam ‘Priestess’, but rather Aaron and his sons, and He again shows difference in the Numbers 12 incident, which involves another topic concerning skin color (as there is only one race, the human race! but I digress) Aaron is unscathed Miriam is leprous!

    Now, let wisdom/the Spirit tell the Author and the modern Church a thing or two about the all consuming fire!

    It is for the Author and readers to study and begin to understand why God; who is all just and righteous, acts rather strange somethings.

    “but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:24

    • Paddy, I’m not sure exactly what point you’re trying to make with those examples. Your reference to the Levitical priesthood being only males does not negate the fact that JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!!!
      The New Covenant has come and the New Kingdom has begun!!

      Women are not “priestesses” and men are not “little high priests” with a higher priestly office than women. Through the redemptive work of Jesus, women are now fully qualified as priests just as men are. We have ONE High Priest, we are ONE body, and we have ONE Head. Men and women both share in the Bridely role that belongs to the Church and Jesus is our only Bridegroom.

      Gal. 3:28 reminds us how the distinctions and hierarchies of the past have been completely levelled by the Cross. Let’s not rebuild the structures that Jesus came to destroy.

      • “Let’s not rebuild the structures that Jesus came to destroy.” – LOVE that, Anne. As others have said, I choose to live under grace, not the consequences of the fall. Lately I’ve been appreciating Jesus’ words in the Lord’s prayer in a new way – “your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

    • I’m sorry, but I read your comment three times and I still don’t know what you are trying to say. And I’m afraid you do sound mysogynous. Do you believe that any time a woman has “authority” that bad things result? And I wouldn’t call Salome’s dance and subsequent request “authority.” Not at all.

      And Wes, thanks for this succient post.

      • I’m with you, Dorcas. The comments seem petty and definitely give the impression the author does not believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to fully redeem women – even to the point of sounding like the restrictions on women are some kind of punishment. Perhaps this reader is joining in the wrong conversation? The purpose of this space is to support and encourage women, not to argue against their full status in the church.

    • Paddy, I agree with you that the first twelve apostles were men, but think that had more to do with the fact that they were Jewish and symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel (but that’s a different post!). The fact is that after those first twelve (well, eleven – one of those men didn’t work out so well, did he?), a whole group of men and women, both Jews and Gentiles came to be known as “the disciples”. To read more on that see the earlier post at https://juniaproject.com/disciples-unschooled-ordinary-men/. And then we have the example of Junia, the woman apostle commended by Paul in Romans 16:7. Early church documents also suggest that Mary Magdalene was considered an “apostle to the apostles” by the early church community.

      If you read Paul’s letters comprehensively and weigh the whole of what he says about men and women, you get a completely different picture than what you are painting here – there is no prescription for all male leadership as any kind of official doctrine for the Church for all time. If you’re going to teach 1 Timothy 2:11-12, then teach the whole of 1 Timothy. Require men to pray always with their hands up, do a “dress check” at the door of your church, forbid men to have long hair, teach that women are saved through childbearing, encourage people to stay single (unless they are young widows being busybodies). I have found the exercise of reading all Paul’s letters and weighing the whole of what is said about women much more helpful than picking and choosing a half dozen verses from a half dozen NT books and making doctrine out of these verses taken out of context.

      Thank you for pointing out the failings of Jezebel and Miriam. Jezebel has her counterpart in Ahab, of course, and there were far more evil kings than queens. I’m not sure I agree with you about Miriam, one of the many women in Exodus responsible for making sure Moses survived long enough to carry out God’s plan, and of whom the prophet Micah tells us the Lord said “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam” (Micah 6:4). With Christ’s coming the whole priesthood thing was done away with anyway. You are right that God acts in ways we cannot understand at times – Aaron and Miriam committed the same transgression, but only Miriam becomes leprous. And Moses never enters the promised land. Strange indeed.

      I was quite surprised at your examples of the women responsible for John the Baptist’s beheading and “the Queen Vashti episode” as showing that women had authority. The first case was pure manipulation and in the second example the woman is “dethroned” essentially. But I would agree that God bestowed authority on women throughout the Old Testament, for example, telling Abraham to listen to Sarah, directing Israel and King Josiah through the female prophet Huldah, and the example of blessing Deborah’s term as judge over Israel, to name a few.

      Not “thinking up” cultural reasons for Christ’s choice and Paul’s writings – just studying the Word and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit – and finding that many old interpretations are based on a lot of commentary and assumptions that just aren’t in the text, thankfully!

    • Wasn’t it a man who betrayed Jesus? And wasn’t it a man who denied Him three times? Wasn’t it male disciples (with the exception of John) who forsook Him at the cross? And wasn’t it a woman who was entrusted with the most important and wonderful news of His resurrection? As for Miriam, she was a prophet (not prophetess)–and weren’t prophets held to higher standards? Under Deborah’s leadership, the land knew peace for 40 years. And this thanks to Jael (also a woman), who killed Sisera, the general of Israel’s enemies. Oh I’m so very sorry–this woman shouldn’t confuse you with the facts.

    • Miriam was a prophet. She did not need to be a priest. Priests brought the people’s sins and sacrifices to the altar; prophets brought the WORD of the LORD to the people.
      Numbers 12 shows representatives of prophetic and priestly orders are not comparable to Moses, the servant of the LORD, who is the most intimate friend of God. He is the one who brings and then represents TORAH, the instructions/teachings/covenant obligations of the LORD. As Deut 34 also notes, there is no prophet equal to Moses, not Miriam, and no later prophet. Miriam and Aaron should not have complained about Moses’ Cushite wife or developed an it’s-not-fair ruse to disguise their real complaint.

    • So, what do you think all these examples point to? What lesson are you implying we should learn? That women will do bad things more often than men, and shouldn’t be trusted with authority? Or that God likes men better? Those seem to be the common denominators in the examples you have used.

      If so, why are you bragging about believing such awful things?

  • Thank you for this reminder!

    The apostle Paul exhorted the Church to “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)
    EVERY believer is being conformed into the image of Jesus. We are all declared to be “sons” of God through Christ (Romans 8).

    When men are taught that “only men” have exclusive entitlement, privilege, and responsibility to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and Paul, and that the bar of “imitation” is somehow lowered for women, then Paul’s message to the church has become this:

    “Men, you are to imitate me as I imitate Christ. Women, your imitations will have limitations because you are a woman.”

    This is the tragic reality of how gender role theology has distorted and undermined the revolutionary gospel impact on the hearts and lives of so many women within the Church.

    Only Jesus has the right, authority, and leadership over our souls! Only Jesus is qualified to lead us where he has called, gifted, and empowered us to serve!!! Let God’s calling be true and every contradiction of that calling be a lie!

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