Academic Papers

Author: Carmen J. Bryant

(Click on one of the links below to access a paper.)

Command or Curse

 A Look at Genesis 3:16 in the Light of Abuse

God said to man, “The earth will bring forth thistles.”
      Man replied, “I’ll weed them out. I’ll develop weed killers and make my garden a paradise.”
God said to man, “You will work by the sweat of your brow.”
      Man replied, “I’ll invent tools that will make my work easier: the plow, the hoe, the tiller and the John Deere tractor.”
God said to woman, “You will have pain in childbirth.”
      Man responded, “Yea, so be it, let her suffer so my quiver can be full. It is God’s will.
      My work was made hard because of her.”
God said to woman, “Your husband will rule over you.”
      Man responded, “Of course that’s the way it should be. I am to be her master. I was created first.”
And woman bowed her head and said, “I am indeed under a curse.”
 
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Sabotaged Submission
 
     “Wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” So says Paul in his instructions to the Ephesians when outlining several examples of Christian submission in society.
 
     Evangelical denominations today do not suggest that all things would include actions that violate specific laws of God. Nevertheless, many women in evangelical churches live in constant turmoil of conscience because they have been taught they should always obey their husbands, regardless of how sinful or abusive the husband’s orders may be. Going against their husband’s wishes, they are told, is going against God. The husband, as God’s designated head of the wife, is accountable for the results of his commands and so his wife, even though she is technically disobeying God, does not bear the guilt of the sin.

     Such views persist among some evangelicals because the scriptural teaching is being sabotaged by individual ministers, organizations, and churches within Christendom who all label their distorted views as Christian submission. A husband who buys into this extreme view is in danger—at the very least—of spiritually abusing his wife by setting himself up as a god to whom complete honor and submission are due. The wife who willingly practices such submission is guilty of idolatry.
 

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The Proverbs 31 Wife: Fact or Fiction?

      “I hate Proverbs 31!” a missionary colleague once said. Now, this was a woman who loved God and loved her family. She was dedicated to serving her husband and training her children, devoting herself to what many would call traditional family values. In a moment of frustration, however, she vented her resentment toward the woman she could never match up to, Superwoman, Mrs. Palestine of 900 B.C.

     Some Christian women wince when reading Proverbs 31 because they feel inadequate. Others cringe because they only know the idealized version of someone’s imagination. The text has been used to create a woman who is like the touched-up model on a magazine cover, made to fit an editor’s definition of godly femininity. Driven by peer pressure into following this model, Christian women develop spiritual anorexia, not realizing that the image shoved before them is just as fake as the computer-enhanced photograph in the magazine.

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 Engaging the Culture or Embracing It? The Subtle Danger of Syncretism

     The Church has continually been faced with the challenge of purifying itself of syncretistic doctrine and pagan practices. A Christianity untainted by corrupt practices can identify syncretism with little difficulty. However, a Christianity that has lost its holiness will not only fail to recognize the full extent of a culture’s depravity but will also end up embracing some of that culture as its own.

     Such is the danger for those who want to reach out to pop culture in American society. In an attempt to follow the model of Christ’s incarnational ministry, they move into a foreign culture to engage its citizens, sometimes forgetting that they are in the territory of Satan. The risk is syncretism, a baptizing of pop culture into Christianity.

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Inclusive Language: Will It Solve the Problems?

     The present discord over gender-inclusive language in the Bible points to an underlying unresolved issue: the ongoing tension between men and women in the Church. So-called sexist language is only a symptom. Making a new translation of the Bible for the purpose of ridding it of perceived sexist language will not solve this root disease. Even if someone were successful in providing a translation completely free of gender-exclusive language and at the same time completely faithful to the meaning of the original, this will not solve the male/female tensions that exist in the Church. There still will be people who will mistakenly declare, for example, that an inclusive they is he in the original and cannot include she, or that humankind in the original is really mankind and has nuances of male superiority. Sin will always twist God's Word, regardless of the form used to express the meaning.

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The Christian's Battle against Disinformation: The Clashing of Swords

Satan is a master of disinformation, false information that has been deliberately spread, often covertly, with the intent to deceive. Disinformation is to be distinguished from misinformation, which is merely false information disseminated due to a lack of understanding or based upon a false impression. The principle difference is in the intent of the action. Disinformation is passed on deliberately. Misinformation comes by way of unintentional error. Satan functions at the disinformation level, for his intent is to deceive.

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