Note: The title is not meant to be taken as a serious statement.
I've been mulling over my Ephesians post, and the reactions to it. The reactions basically went into two camps, which I figured would happen. Those who found it a disturbing verse, a voice of the time, and those who ... well, for lack of a better word, didn't. Now, this latter camp did find the prior treatment (as in, the verse used to permit subjugation of wives) deplorable, and did focus on the positives of the verse, such as the man must love his wife as the Christ loved the church.
I guess my question would be this: at what point is the verse simply allowed to be wrong, or a product of its time, rather than misinterpreted? In today's time, any verse that comes across as pro-slavery or anti-woman that was once vigorously used is now pretty much explained as a misinterpretation. It didn't really mean that slavery was okay, the people of that time were just blinded.
Okay -- but in 500 years, what else is going to be just a misinterpretation, and actually mean something else? Will there come a point at which everything in the Bible was just a misinterpretation? Where is the line drawn?
I've also noticed a trend with disturbing/bothersome Bible verses. They're almost not allowed to stand on their own, or allowed to say what's in them. In response to Ephesians, other verses were used to interpret it, in order to address the points I made, other verses were used to explain it. We don't do that with verses such as the Samaritan parable. We don't even really do that with the two greatest commandments. Those stand on their own a lot more than some of the other verses.
Now, I'm not denying that it's important to put the Bible in context. Otherwise, we could end up with a situation like saying that Peter was actually Satan in disguise, because Jesus called him Satan once, and so the Catholic Church was actually founded by Satan (although, there may be some who completely agree with the last portion of that). But there's also contextualizing a verse to the point where the interpretation doesn't match the verse at all -- it's almost been re-written through all the other verses. It's been completely twisted out of shape, in order to make people more comfortable. And then, in order to answer a question developed from the uncomfortable passage, another passage is used -- but used in a way that avoids the discomfort of the first passage, period.
That angers me, and I think that is because it comes across as sweeping the verse under the carpet, and moving onto more cheerful matters. I'm going to use a really extreme example here, but Hitler was swept under the rug through use of appeasement (although, in the end, he didn't stay swept under there). The European nations, rather than stopping Hitler when he started taking over other countries, figured that he'd have to stop after that one, and what was the harm in letting him keep it so long as there was no war? (No, they didn't do this casually, having just gotten out of a first World War that had devastating consequences, much of that due to, for those times, modern weaponry). The problem is that you can't do that with something unjust. You have to fix the causes, or you're never going to solve the problem.
In a lot of ways, that's what the Ephesians verse reminds me of. It goes back to the reaction of it was just a misinterpretation, and they didn't focus on the man loving as Christ (although, here's a sobering thought: what if that was forefront in their minds as well, and that was their idea of love?) It's like you can pat yourself on the back for fixing the misinterpret ion, or shake your head over how misguided prior generations were. But that's not fixing the problem, that's appeasement.
I'm not denying that culture played a role in how the Bible was read. It always does, and it always will. But that is almost placing the blame/responsibility solely on culture, and not examining the verse itself. Apart from culture, why was the Ephesians verse interpreted the way it was? What was it in those verses that people responded to? What are the root causes in the verse itself that sparked those ideas? The fact that the woman isn't compared to Christ? The fact that the woman is compared to the man's body? The fact that the woman isn't told to love, but just submit/respect? Maybe it really was the author's intent to portray a non-equal message? If it was, what do we do about it?
We need to address those questions, and not just say that prior generations got it wrong. We can't just use other verses in order to "clean up" the Ephesians verse. We need to be able to identify what the triggers are, what it was in that verse that made people cling to the notion of inequality so long, and we can only do that by taking a cold, hard look at it and going, "You know what? I totally see where they got that from." Otherwise, we're just changing the surface of the passage, and dragging another viewpoint out, trying to conceal the first viewpoint, rather than completely eradicate it. This can, in turn, lead to the danger of the prior interpretation asserting itself.
I still don't find the verse that liberating for wives. But at least now I understand why I'm being so forceful on this issue.