In order to understand events in the Bible, it is useful to know the customs and culture of the day. Recently, our Pastor had a sermon on win in the Bible using as a start the command for Pastors and Deacons to abstain from wine and strong drink. To make the argument that a Christian shouldn’t drink, he took us back in time through historical accounts to prove that the wine of today is not the same as wine in Bible times.
We recently held a discussion here in regards to what you should wear going to church. In order to really understand the Bible commands, we have to go back to the culture at the time and figure out what was going on at the time. I’m unsure as to whether people dressed up to meet each other in house churches, but I’m fairly certain they dressed up to go to the temple.
But let’s get back to my main point– when does the Biblical setting influence our understanding and when doesn’t it? It seems like in some cases like whether women should wear hats in church, have long hair, or be silent in church we trot out an argument that it was only something for that time period
and not for today using the premise that if Paul refers to something in isolation it was just for that time, and that if he appeals to other Scripture it’s something for all time.
Then we turn around and try to make arguments based on something that happened in that culture and say that it should happen today. Women instructors is one of those things. Some of the arguments for women in positions of authority revolve around whether Phoebe, Lydia and Deborah were leaders, prophets, or communicators in that day. We take passages of Scripture and argue that because of a stance taken in the culture at the time things should be one way.
So, how can one consistantly argue that based on the culture of the day one thing is permitted, but argue at the same time something else should be ignored because it was in the culture of the day?