(NOTE: I’m going to write today in terms of blunt logic. If I come across as harsh or “unwomanly,” please remember that it was Aristotle, and not Christ, who denied logic to women. Nothing I say is to be construed as an attack on anyone. I am merely taking a certain reading of a certain portion of Scripture to its inherent conclusions, to see if it makes sense.
- KR Wordgazer)
Galatians 3:28 reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Many Christians read this verse in a very limited sense, saying that in order to reconcile it with such “clear” restrictive passages as 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, we have to understand the above verse as applying only to our standing before God in salvation. We are all the same at the foot of the cross, the saying goes, but in the church and in the home, God has set forth male authority.
Galatians 3:28 cannot mean that gender is not important to what men and women can do in the church. So they say.
A man involved in a conversation on a blog I was reading put it this way: being “in Christ” is one thing, but in our everyday living, in our homes and church congregations, male and female roles are defined by God as separate. Only men may lead the congregation. Only men may lead their homes. Women may teach other women or children, but they may not lead or teach men. And yet, he assured me, these “separate roles” are still “equal.” Men are not superior to women, and women are not inferior. They are equal. They only have different “roles.” Somehow it escaped him that the “roles” are completely, irrevocably and unchangingly unequal, and that being permanent and tied to one’s personhood at birth, they are not really “roles” at all. They are castes.
I keep asking myself this question: why do Christians who believe like this have to keep insisting that they do not believe men are superior and women are inferior? Is it not because everything they teach and practice contradicts this idea? Men are not superior– but they are leaders and in authority by divine right. Women are not inferior– but they are to be subordinate to men without escape. Where is the equality, then? In name only. It’s a word to make us all feel better, and nothing more.
Did Paul really mean that in Christ there is not male and female, but in the church male authority and female subordination is to be carefully observed? So does that mean the church is in Christ? Or not? Does being in Christ only happen when we get to heaven?
What, then, do we do with verses like this one?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10; Emphasis added.)
The “good works” must be spiritual, heavenly works only, and we are exempted from such earthly good works as feeding the poor or visiting the sick. If being “in Christ” when it comes to “there is not male and female” has no practical bearing on what males and females can or can’t do every day in their churches, then how can being “in Christ” have any practical bearing on what Christians do in any part of their lives?
And if this earthly-heavenly split applies to male and female, does it not also apply to Jew and Greek and to slave and free? Paul mentions them all in the same passage. Was Paul saying, “In Christ there are no racial distinctions, but in the church we’d better make sure the races stay properly separated”? Was Paul saying, “In Christ there is neither slave nor free, but in the church we’d better keep class distinctions intact and make sure everyone knows their proper place”? If this is what Paul really meant, then earlier in Galatians 2:11, why did he rebuke Peter for not eating with the Gentiles? Peter was only observing the distinctions he had learned, in a gathering of the church.
But if this is not what Paul meant, then how could he have meant the opposite when it comes to race and economic status, from what he meant when it comes to gender? No racial distinctions in the church, and no economic distinctions either– but we must keep the gender distinctions as long as we live on earth!
Does that make any sense?
Unless that makes sense– then that is what Galatians 3:28 cannot mean.