Living Forever in a Dead-End World: Knowing the Time and Place

Sixth Sabbath of Easter

May 24, 2014

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Are the words of scripture universally true for all people at all times in all places?  Are the Bible’s words so straight forward and clear that no one should raise an objection to what it tells us to do?  If so, what do we do with these words of counsel from the letter of 1 Peter?

  • 2.13:  Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right
  • 2.18: Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh
  • 3.1-6: Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear

So, if we believe the counsel of scripture, regardless of when and where it was written, is timeless, we should…

  • Always do what the emperor/president/dictator/governor/mayor says?
  • Not be opposed to slavery and, if we were to meet a slave, counsel that person to remain in slavery and be a good slave?
  • Always submit to our husband and call him Lord?

Or, as people who appreciate scripture, do we wrestle to learn what was happening when these words were written in order to understand why the counsel was given?  Do we learn what the context–time/place/culture/politics/economics/etc.–was at the time the letter was delivered?

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