Experiental Gender Theology

This is just my observation from life… the more responsible and caring a woman’s husband is, the more likely she will read the NT submission passages literally. The more passive or mean or noncommunicative her husband is, the less she will be able to comfortably imagine that God really made gender as a functional heirarchy. And “imagine” is indeed the right verb. Our vision of marriage comes from our experience of our parents’ marriage and of our marriage. Vision first, before we even approach the texts. So if Paul’s comments jar us, we either respond as if he represents God’s view and therefore that his vision is right, no matter what ours is, or we look for some exegetical trick to make his vision like ours.

Universality is a handy exegetical diluter. It works like this:  If you can find a passage that connects a word to everyone, you can use it to modify a more specific passage.  You just brush off the more specific language as if it does not actually say anything. So, submission: because Paul tells the married couple in one place to submit to one another, the other places where he tells the wife to submit to her husband do not actually mean anything additional. (Which means, of course, the more specific application is redundant.)

In this way, the several plain and simple passages describing a submissive wife are reconciled with a highly personal idiosyncratic imagination.

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