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Culture In Scripture

Now to idea that the culture in which the Bible was written needs to be considered when interpreting certain passages. In the early 1970ís a legalistic type Christian man rebuked me for having long hair. He told me that "somewhere" in the Bible God said that men shouldnít have long hair. Hoping not to embarrass the poor guy too much, I told him that the verse he was attempting to quote was found in 1 Cor. 11:14. The man was taken back, not thinking that a guy looking like me might know exactly where such a verse would be found, but it was only one of more than 1800 verses I had memorized to that point. Whether right or wrong, I told the man that Paulís statement was based on his cultural upbringing.

Paul also told women not to have braided hair. Most scholars tell us that prostitutes had braided hair in those days and so Paul didnít want Christian woman looking like prostitutes. Iím not sure prostitutes have braided hair these days, so I really donít think braided hair is a relevant issue for todayís Christian woman. Ironically enough, the manís wife who rebuked me for my long hair had braided hair. The point here is that Paulís statement concerning braided hair was based on the culture of the day and doesnít have the same relevance for woman today.

Then thereís the matter of women being silent in the church. Most women believe this statement is based on culture, while many men believe itís God directive to women. Iíll let you figure this issue out for yourself.

The idea of culture influencing certain Biblical passages does have "some" validity. Thereís just one problem though, and that is we need to be careful lest we culturalize the Bible away. We need to be sure what is cultural and what is Godís directive or else weíll misinterpret the Bible.

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