A man of his time

A well-known New Testament scholar made this remark: “At least some of the calumnies down the years are unfair, even ridiculously incorrect.  For example, he was certainly no misogynist!  For one thing, his numerous positive references to women co-workers and leaders in his churches testify otherwise.  He was, to be sure, a man of his time, and so he seems to have held (with most others of the day) that a wife was bound to her husband.  But he also held, unusually for his time, that a husband was equally bound to his wife, including a sexual exclusivity that husbands as well as wives owed to their marriage partners (e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).  This effectively challenged the “double standard” in sexual behaviour otherwise commonly approved in the Roman period.”

The “Conversion” of Paul

The disappointing aspect of this paragraph is in the remark that pertains to the sentiment of Paul being a man of his times and seems to have held that a wife is bound to her husband. The author of the blog is not speaking against Paul, it must be said. I am only troubled by the words used and what may be conveyed with the use of them.

That Paul was a man of his times is perfectly normal to understand, and even accept. We are people of our time also, struggling with the variety of opinions holding sway. So fluid are some of these opinions is almost boils down to what day of the week the opinion holds sway, and on that day some accept, but on other days not.

Yes, it is true that Paul was a man of his times, but that which he wrote was not as a man of his times, but by the authority of God (1 Corinthians 14:37). When Paul spoke favorably about women he did so, not as a man of his times, but by the authority of God. Whatever Paul thought about the role of women, to himself he kept it and allowed the authority of God to guide his pen and his teachings. I am confident, however, that God’s opinion became Paul’s.

Would it not be great if preachers did the same today?