Falwell and most born again/evangelical Christians prefer to use St Paul's letters as the basis of moral theology. They do not take into account that these letters were written to specific people in a specific time and place for particular reasons. Therefore what he wrote 2000 years ago from Palestine during the Roman Empire is not necessarily meant for us today unless you're a born again Christian looking to restrict some civil rights and then St Paul is just perfect for that.
I studied St Paul's letters in the seminary and once I learned where he was coming from, I hated him less. St Paul should be used sparingly when arguing Christianity though as he is so misunderstood. I'm in disagreement with the early church fathers for putting these Pauline chapters in the New Testament because if you just read them without any historical and situational background, they seemingly contradict Jesus in the Gospels and St Paul looks like a male chauvinist pig. But then again the early church fathers probably liked that. They took a lot of St Paul to heart in forming some unnecessary dogma.
The first thing we must know is that at the time of St Paul, Christians believed that Jesus' return was imminant. They expected Jesus to return in his firey spaceship and gather up his people at any minute. This preoccupation with the end of the world is evident in Paul's letters and evident by the christians in the first century who volunteered to be thrown to the lion's den (they weren't going to miss much since the world was ending anyway). St Paul lived in the Roman Empire during a time when women had no rights. It was a patriarchal society. Men were in control. It was not dogma.
When Falwell or Dr Land whipped out some St Paul quotes to back up their ridiculous positions, it became evident to me that neither on had any real biblical training. And here ya go...
TIM RUSSERT: We can try to find common ground, but there are differences, and I want to see just how profound they are. The Southern Baptist Convention in 1998 passed this statement on the family: "...A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband... She...has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household..."It is not a servant leadership role today. St Paul is actually making a radical departure from the usual servant leadership role of the time.
And, Reverend Land, you went on to explain it this way: "If a husband does not want his wife to work outside the home, then she should not work outside the home." Is that your vision of America?
DR. LAND: It's my vision for Christian families. I don't think that the law has anything to do with it. That was a statement about the theological belief of Southern Baptists. And, you know, George Will had a real great answer for that when somebody asked him, "Where'd they get this stuff?" And he pulled out the Bible and turned to Ephesians, chapter five: "He got--we got it from Ephesians, chapter five." We almost needed to footnote the Apostle Paul when he said that "Husbands should love their wives the way Christ loves the church," which means husbands will always put their wives' needs above their own. And they are to be the head of their home, which means that they're responsible. It's a servant leadership role.
These passages seem as if St Paul is anti-women but in fact he holds men to very high standards too and does not expect them to treat women as submissives or lesser beings in a marriage. So where Dr Land comes up with this "women shouldn't work outside the home" nonsense as biblically inspired, he is just plain wrong.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.Paul doesn't expect men to only be on the receiving end of the marriage deal. It's a 2 way street. Paul expects a husband to love his wife so much that he is willing to die for her. If a husband truly loves his wife, he isn't going to demand that she stay at home 24/7 if that is not her wish. Get it? Good. I can't believe I defended St Paul. He's not my hero. But lets move on to another letter of St Paul that discusses marriage.
For the husband is the head of the wife , even as Christ is the head of the church : and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing . Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (from Ephesians 5)
Here, St Paul only recommends marriage for those who are weak willed and lacking self control. (I just love this):
Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I (single). But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Corinthians 7:1,8,9 )When my dad was growing up Catholic, this was your choice: You either become a priest or get married. Period. My favorite line is "But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." It looks like St Paul is saying that marriage is a cure for horniness and those who get married are weak willed. Notice how the evangelists kind of skip this part of 1 Corinthians? St Paul is urging people who are living in the supposed end times to really try to refrain from getting married because technically everyone should be on watch for Jesus in the sky. It makes sense from a theological point of view. Evangelicals also believe that these are the end times and I am surprised that they haven't picked up on this passage and used it. It would make for fun debates.
MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask Reverend Falwell about something and broaden the conversation. We talked about Iraq and the war on terrorism. Something that you said two days after September 11, when you were with Reverend Pat Robertson: "I fear... that [September 11th] is only the beginning. ...If, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve ... I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle ... all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say `you helped this happen.'"Jerry Falwell, always eager to blame others for any misfortune clearly placed the blame on homosexuals for 9/11 and on churches for not making it clear to the sheep that if they sin, God will in fact, punish us... deliberately. Falwell leaves out the part that really really shitty foreign policy by a greedy power hungry government had something to do with 9/11.
DR. FALWELL: And I went on to say in a sleeping church, a lethargic church likewise is responsible. I do believe, as Ben Franklin said, that God rules in the affairs of men and of nations. I believe that when God blesses a nation, as he's blessed America for a lot of reasons, things happen that don't happen other places. I believe when we defy the Lord, I think we pay a price for it. So I do believe in the sovereignty of God.
When Falwell said this he was right though, "I believe when we defy the Lord, I think we pay a price for it." Another way to say it is: What goes around comes around or You get what you pay for. Those who follow Jesus truly and/or those who are ethical, and are sensitive to the needs of the poor and the oppressed, those who put people before money (corporations) are less likely to be attacked. Anyone can be a greedy piece of shit. You don't have to be an atheist, homosexual, feminist or an abortionist. You can be a rich white man working in government or a church and cause a punishment to come on you and your country in the form of al Qaida. I'm just saying...