PP: We did not have nearly enough time to answer all of your questions from a few weeks back, so here are a sampling of some of them. Please note that these are just my answers, are not at all final or all-encompassing, and do not include the sage wisdom of the Elder ODPC Pastors! I guess you could see my answers as a glimpse into how I think, not necessarily how YOU should think.
1. What do you believe on women’s role in the church (what types of leadership/authority and when not) & what basis do your beliefs come from?
I personally do not have a problem with women in authority, and even being ordained, although my position is different from the official one of our church. I believe this for two reasons. First, the context in which Paul spoke against women in authority was both Grecian and Jewish, which were incredibly male dominated cultures (for example, Aristotle believed women were born when a mother breathed in deadly vapors – women were a kind of mutant). So in light of those contexts, Paul’s understanding of women was revolutionary – it just seems backwards to us. In fact, some scholars argue that the prominent role of women in early church history is the root of modern female equality as it was far more egalitarian than most ideologies of its time.
Even within those biblical texts that state that women should not be in authority, that word “authority” is not the same as the authority that God has – it is better translated as “domination”. In the Greek temple context, priestesses often had dominating authority, usually through prostitution or acting as oracles. Some scholars say that it is against THIS kind of authority that Paul argues against, not good Christian servanthood authority. But some people don’t agree with this biblical argument, and I understand their points as well, and know that they are trying to protect the integrity of the Word.
But I’ll tell you this – it makes very little difference ultimately. The greatest are servants, regardless of their title or their position or their gender or their race. God loves women, and uses them mightily in almost every context around the world, and always has. Gender has absolutely no effect on salvation. And those who are against women in authority are still good brothers and sisters that are trying to be faithful to what they feel God’s Word says…
2. How do you discredit “evolution” by using scripture?
Haha, another example of where I really don’t fit in the mainstream conservative thought. As a former pre-med who took genetics, orgo, and biochemistry (barely passing all three), I actually believe evolution is a divine process of creation. Evolution is simply impossible without God – genetic drift, mutation, natural selection, all the forces that drive a scientific understanding of evolution are not enough to create the incredible abundance of biological diversity amongst us. Even scientists are beginning to admit that this is true: http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/070816_gm_evolution.html. Evolution simply is a miracle, God divinely, miraculously, wisely, sovereignly changing our genes to make us into who we are. The fact that this did not take a single day does not make it any less of a miracle.
The problem is that evolution initially did not have any religious undertone – Darwin NEVER intended it to disprove God, ever. Atheists took up his idea and used it to further their own agendas, and Christians played right into that ploy by getting pissed at the idea and at Darwin. But finally Christians are beginning to realize that atheists don’t own evolution…God does! That’s why Catholics officially believe that evolution is a divine process, not a natural one. If you want a book by a brilliant geneticist who has a personal relationship with God, look up Francis Collins – he’s the head of the human genome project, and a converted evangelical Christian. Very convincing!
So in essence, I believe that God miraculously created life through evolution. But remember that creation is not just evolution…evolution applies to biological life processes and specifically the creation of new species, which on a cosmic scale, is a microscopic event. Keep in mind that there is an entire universe that God created and ordered from nothing, energy exploding out of a single point, being ordered into mass in the form of galaxies and solar systems, planets, and this also is the event called creation, on a scale that boggles the mind. Evolution is a tiny portion of God’s work.
3. How relevant do you think topics not central to the Gospel (homosexuality, abortion, etc.) should be to college campus fellowships? In what ways should these topics be addressed?
When it comes to those issues, each group has their own stance. As far as our own church is involved, we believe homosexuality is a sin, as well as abortion; but there are churches and fellowships that do NOT adhere to this. I think when it comes to your fellowship, it would be important for you to know the group’s official stance on these matters as you would be a representative of that group.
As to whether it is fundamental to Christian doctrine, it isn’t, and it is. The issue is not central to salvation in that a person can believe these things and still be saved. However, it is a central issue in the fact that it divides people so passionately and completely, and exposes very different views on interpretation of Scripture. So it would not be right to simply say, “this isn’t important to the Body” because it is in its consequence, if not its content…
So I think when dealing with it on a personal level, the tone of response is as important as the reasoning. Whether in fellowship or outside of it, you should defend what you believe based on your convictions and faithfulness to Scripture. But in tone, you should allow for differences in opinion and admit that the issue is confusing and difficult for everyone. Just that tiny confession will really help people listen to you without digging in their heels.
When meeting people who are homosexual, you should treat them exactly the same as anyone else! Homosexuality is a sin, but one of many – it is not worse than lying or stealing or gossiping. I may not be willing to stop calling homosexuality as a sin, but I will not allow homosexuality to enter into a “greater sin” category that is worthy of more stringent treatment. So if you don’t treat gossips differently from others, you shouldn’t treat homosexuals any differently either. SIN should be stigmatized, not only homosexuality, and not sinners themselves! If we begin to judge sinners, we won’t escape judgment unscathed either…
4. What specifically can a couple do to grow emotionally, spiritually, etc. in a dating relationship?
There are a lot of important things, and here is my laundry list:
– transparency – make sure that you and your gf/bf don’t disappear into your own little world. your relationship should be transparent to others, where other people know what you are doing and can speak truth to you and your relationship.
– accountability – so important in all of our Christian lives, but especially in relationships. seek out older brothers and sisters, as they can keep you accountable to a holy relationship, but also give you perspective on what is normal/abnormal dating behavior, and what girls like to get for gifts and what they don’t.
– your personal relationship with God – couples often are too concerned with how they can grow as bf/gf, but that is of secondary importance. you must make sure that you are right with God personally, as any kind of growth as a couple overflows from personal intimacy.
– dating appropriate behavior/mentalities – often we inherit the mentalities of the world around us, which basically thinks that dating is “marriage lite”…this is not biblical nor healthy. that is why breakups are especially devastating in the modern context, why people go completely off the deep end, because it’s like a divorce – they were way too invested in one another in a relationship that had no real commitment – in other words, acting married while dating. dating is not the same as marriage, as there is a level of emotional and physical intimacy that should only be reserved for marriage. if you are dating, you should not look nor act like a married couple. this will protect your heart from emotional wounds, protect your body and holiness, and protect your future relationship (and your perception of the past).
and fyi, i know what i’m talking about when it comes to the above suggestions, as i ignored most of them and suffered terribly for it…
Ugh, that’s enough for now! Let me know if you wanted one of your questions addressed!