Sunday, November 25, 2012

1 Corinthians, Chapters 13 & 14: STFU, ladies

Chapter 13

Paul claims he loves us, otherwise he'd sound pretty brassy. He could know everything and be the most faithful person in the world, but with out his narrow version of hetero-normative love, he's nothing. He then says some nice things about charity, but you're probably more familiar with the NIV, which says Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (v. 4), which sounds lovely until you consider everything else in the entire book like just a few chapters ago, when Paul was going on about sleeping with your stepmother and making sure your sons have short hair. Then he says a couple of other well-known things: When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (v. 11) and  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (v. 12).

Chapter 14

Paul urges us to look for love's spiritual gifts, especially prophecy, which should be a hint that maybe a Middle Eastern religious zealot writing 2000 years ago wasn't quite working from the same definition as a 21st-century westerner. He tells us that speaking in tongues is great, because you're speaking to god and edifying yourself, but prophecy is better because other people understand you, so if you can only have one gift, take prophecy. Also, if you're going to play a musical instrument, use it to make music, not senseless noise, so people will know it's war time. Same thing when praying, otherwise the others won't know when to say Amen.

Paul claims to speak a bunch of languages, more than anyone else, but says he'd rather say 5 words in a language people understand than 10 000 in something they won't, and for once, I wholeheartedly agree.

He tells us to be mature in our understanding, and for gosh sakes, stop speaking in tongues lest outsiders think you're insane. If you must, bring an interpreter along. If you don't have one, talk to god in your head, at least at church. And if at all possible, just prophecy, which has a chance of convincing an unbeliever.

Then he gets into everyone's favourite subject, women speaking in church. Not allowed. If you have questions, ladies, ask your husband after you get home. Finally, if men want to prophecy, but don't follow Paul's rules, the rest of you should ignore them. And keep order.

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