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Old 06-05-2001, 02:36 PM   #1
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Post This Atheist Needs Help!

I chose this site for what follows because there seems to be a fair amount of Christian apologists who frequent it, and I need some quick advice. Input from biblical literalists would be particulary appreciated. Since the New Testament is routinely referenced as proof of God's existence, I feel the post's presence here is most appropriate. However, if a greater power than I determines it to be improperly placed, I shall accept that judgement in all humility, and will follow the errant post wherever it journies, even unto the ends of the earth.

See, I have two young girls in my extended family who are about to get into a serious phase of their Christian upbringing. It's been troubling me for a long time because it all seems pretty clear to me, but I'm reluctant to approach their parents with the problem because -- as many of you know -- I'm anything but a Christian apologist. So, if they're going to follow their religion, I think it should be done right.

Now, I notice that apologists these days seem to place a high value on the good St. Paul's epistles in distinguishing REAL Christian truth from obvious heresy. He seems to be referenced far more often than even the gospels.

Of course I realize that this won't seem like a crisis to some. But, after all, inerrancy is inerrancy, is it not? And, if I'm to approach my young relatives' parents, I must be armed with an accurate interpretation of Christian theology! Hence, my problem:

In 1 Corinthians 5-6, Paul tells the faithful:

"But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil."

The apostle goes on to say (7-9):

"A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man."

Finally, he says (13-15):

"Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given to her for a covering?"

Now, it's readily apparent that the girls must cover their heads anytime they pray -- home, church -- anywhere, or they'll be comitting a shameful transgression by the dictates of their own religion, and the same is true should they feel the urge to engage in prophacy (and I don't want THAT on my conscience). But how should they be told that they were "made for men" (they're just about to enter puberty)? And what exactly does that mean, by the way?

Also, how can their folks explain to them that "Man is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man."? (Again, if they ask me what that means, what should I say to remain biblical?)

Also, the father in this case has shoulder-length hair. And of course Paul, as pointed out above, says:

"Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him..."?

How do I overcome his possible argument that Jesus himself had long hair if he thinks to bring it up, and stay within the bounds of true Christian doctrine?

Finally, what if the father points out that Paul is being self-contradictory when he cites "nature" as evidence that long hair is a disgrace to a man? Especially since he goes to great lengths elsewhere to say that what he preaches comes directly from God? Of course I don't know that the girls' father will think of such things, but if he does, I need to be prepared to set him on the proper path.

So, you see my dilemma. Any help provided will be be given the greatest possible attention.

[This message has been edited by fred pratt (edited June 05, 2001).]
 
Old 06-05-2001, 06:20 PM   #2
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Why bother. You don't even believe any of that crap. Just tell the girls God is make-believe, like Santa and Superman.

Of course, I'm kidding, you can't really do that unless you want to cause a big fireball of controversy in your family, which I assume you don't really want to do. I see your point, you'd rather point out in a rather subtle way some of the inconsistent, selectively blind practices that are in mainstream Christianity... Even if they don't have answers to your questions, they're already entrenched, and likely they will find some answers, via their minister or some apologist claptrap. Funny, isn't it? Like some kind of big, goofy game you have to play. I'm kind of in the same situation, I have some young relatives, and sometimes they ask me stuff or try to talk to me about religion, and I have the reputation as the hell-bound blacksheep of the family... I just tell the kids, "Hey, think for yourselves, and don't believe everything you're told. Use your mind." What else, really, can you say?
 
Old 06-06-2001, 09:32 AM   #3
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Hey Fred, I understand your dilemma. I've been studying the Bible since about '96 (for academic purposes if nothing else), and that whole section of Paul's epistle is one of the most misunderstood and mis-quoted verses in Scripture. For example, members of the Church of Christ use those verses to demonstrate why it is wrong for women to speak in church and preach or teach the Bible to males. What the C.O.C.'ers miss is the dispensational character of this passage. At the time Paul said this, women had just been allowed to join in on worship services. Since women were new to the Gospel teachings, they would often whisper and "murmer" to each other during the services, causing a disturbance in church (the women sat on one side, the men on the other...like a junior high school dance). Paul was basically saying, "Ladies....quit yer yakking during church. If you don't understand what the preacher is saying, wait until you get home, and ask your husbands or fathers, but please stop being distractive during the worship services." But the C.O.C.'ers have used this to "train" their women to be submissive and passive to their husbands. Furthermore, if a woman wants to share her "testimony" in front of the congregation, the "males" of the church won't allow it since she'd be "speaking" in church in front of men. This has been a fundamental criticism of many of the extremist sects of Christianity (like the Church of Christ, whose doctrine is just plain bad). They are notorious for using passages out of context to the "whole" of Scripture (worse than atheists pointing out Bible contradictions), and often use it simply for their own subjective purposes (ie; subserviance and domesticity of woman). This is NOT what Jesus communicates throughout the Scriptures.

Anyway, specifically to your question, I don't have a real good answer to the specific points you raised, but I know where you can get an honest, objective answer.... even if you don't agree with his position or beliefs. Either call Hank Hannegraff at the Christian Research Institute (1-800-ASK-HANK), or send his organization an e-mail with your question exactly as posed above. Their website is www.equip.org. You can copy and paste the above question in an e-mail at that website. It may take a few weeks to get a response, but they will get back to you. Good luck!
 
Old 06-06-2001, 10:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fred pratt:
Now, it's readily apparent that the girls must cover their heads anytime they pray -- home, church -- anywhere, or they'll be comitting a shameful transgression by the dictates of their own religion, . . . "</font>
There is a lengthy response to this question, but it takes a understanding of some underlying Biblical principals that would need to be discussed first.

I suggest you simply stay out of it since your concern is (shall we say) disingenuous at best.

BK
 
Old 06-06-2001, 12:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by BK:
I suggest you simply stay out of it since your concern is (shall we say) disingenuous at best.</font>
In other words, "I'm not gonna tell you, neener neener."

C'mon, BK -- this is a chance to defend that book of yours, and you bail. Why bother hanging out here if you aren't gonna mix it up?

However, this thread is probably better off in Biblical Criticism.
 
Old 06-06-2001, 01:58 PM   #6
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Well, BK! You LIVE!

Yeah, you're right. I'd obviously have no knowledge nor understanding of "underlying Biblical principles". Hey, I'm lucky to find my car in the morning.

But, ya know? The shielding of the faithful from the Bible by the Catholic hierarchy was one of Luther's pet peaves, as I recall. And I think he held that each individual would be given the guidence of the Holy Spirit in understanding sacred scriptures. And, therefore, each of us has not only the right, but the obligation to consult the Good Book for spiritual insight.

But, if that's so, BK, why should a poor layperson like I have to be taught some arcane "underlying Biblical principles" just to understand some rather clear Pauline passages like I've cited? I realize that from time to time around here I may appear a little dense, but my main question had to do with how to explain Paul's diatribe to the parents of my young relatives. Only a small part of my inquiry was about explanations.

So, expert that you are, you gonna help me out or not? (Yeah, I know, which way did I come in. . .)?


 
Old 06-06-2001, 02:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fred pratt:

Well, BK! You LIVE!

Yeah, you're right. I'd obviously have no knowledge nor understanding of "underlying Biblical principles". Hey, I'm lucky to find my car in the morning.

But, ya know? The shielding of the faithful from the Bible by the Catholic hierarchy was one of Luther's pet peaves, as I recall. And I think he held that each individual would be given the guidence of the Holy Spirit in understanding sacred scriptures. And, therefore, each of us has not only the right, but the obligation to consult the Good Book for spiritual insight.

But, if that's so, BK, why should a poor layperson like I have to be taught some arcane "underlying Biblical principles" just to understand some rather clear Pauline passages like I've cited? I realize that from time to time around here I may appear a little dense, but my main question had to do with how to explain Paul's diatribe to the parents of my young relatives. Only a small part of my inquiry was about explanations.

So, expert that you are, you gonna help me out or not? (Yeah, I know, which way did I come in. . .)?

</font>
Well, Luther would point out that, as an atheist, you definitely lack the guidance of the Holy Spirit to assit you in interpreting the scriptures.

But I'm not a Lutheran.
 
Old 06-06-2001, 03:45 PM   #8
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Umm, how do we know Jesus had long hair? Just wondering!
 
Old 06-06-2001, 03:47 PM   #9
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First off, I marvel at the ingenuity of some apologetics; they seem to me so much wasted mental effort. Like the apologetic that women had been talking too much in houses of worship and that that justified claiming that women ought to shut up. Not to talk too much, to just plain shut up. Which is an excessive reaction, to put it mildly. The interesting thing is that there is not a shred of independent evidence that any apologist has ever offered for this claim.

Furthermore, the claim that one sex is a copy of another is grossly stupid.
 
 

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