My church had some interesting discussions last night at our Bible study. We're still going through our study on the Gospel of Luke. I'll use as my starting-point a question on page 35 of the curriculum that we are using, Luke: Gospel of Reassurance With Michael Card.
"Read Luke 10:38-42, another passage from Luke that Michael views as dispelling the idea that the Bible is 'anti-woman.'"
10:38-42 is the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is working in the
kitchen, upset that her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus' feet, learning
from Jesus, instead of helping her out. But Jesus commends Mary.
Michael Card was saying that Mary's sitting at Jesus' feet and learning
was revolutionary in those days. After all, Michael Card notes, rabbis
didn't even speak to their own wives in public, and they were against
women learning Torah.
I didn't care for
Michael Card's point that the story of Mary and Martha dispels the idea
that the Bible is anti-woman. I wouldn't say that the Bible is
anti-woman, per se, but I would say that it has passages that are sexist
and patriarchal, as well as passages that are liberating and
progressive. "The Bible" does not say the same thing all the way
through, for it is a collection of documents with different ideologies
and writers. Even a conservative Christian in the group remarked that
the Bible has its ups and downs when it comes to its views on women,
since there are times when women are portrayed as strong or as leaders:
Deborah and Esther are examples. I'm not sure if he was dismissing
biblical inerrancy, though. I may not have made clear to the group that
there are patriarchal passages in laws that are attributed to God,
and so perhaps he thought that I was merely describing features of
ancient Israelite culture, which did not necessarily come from God.
Someone else in the group, however, said that men wrote the Bible, and
they were reflecting the sexist and patriarchal notions of their day.
was thinking some about Michael Card's statement that rabbis wouldn't
speak to their wives in public. I do recall rabbinic passages like
that. At the same time, I'm hesitant to say that rabbis didn't speak
with women at all in public, for I have read rabbinic tales about
matrons asking rabbis a question. Moreover, while Michael Card is
correct that there was a rabbinic aversion to women learning Torah, that
wasn't the entire story. See my post here.
We talked in the group about whom we identified with more, Mary or Martha. A lady in the group said that somebody
needed to cook to feed all those people, so she could understand
Martha's concern. A man in the group, whom I usually call "Bob" on this
blog, said that he identified with Mary, since he was a man. Bob said
that women back then were expected to do the cooking and cleaning,
whereas men could pursue other things, such as learning. Society
allowed men the luxury to be Marys, in short. Bob lamented that it's
still like that, regardless of how far society has advanced. Bob asked
why a man couldn't have helped Martha out.