The #Bible’s New Testament: 1 Corinthians III- Paul’s Fun Ideas on Marriage and Women

Even before her whole VMA performance mess, I didn’t care for Miley Cyrus.  Part of it is an age thing- should adult men be cranking Hannah Montana music or her stabs at demonstrating that she was all grown up (like “Can’t Be Tamed”)? But I didn’t hate her, as if she had somehow insulted me with her music.  I didn’t think it bad, basically, it just wasn’t for me.

But then she thought simulating sex with a foam finger and bending over for Robyn Thick would be a good idea. Now I had a reason to at least dislike the message she was sending. Was this her definition of what it meant to be a mature woman? Is this what people in her audience would think? I don’t know to what extent she should worry about this impact, but she can’t pretend it doesn’t matter. It was her performance, so she was trying to make some point.  In any case, I now had a reason to avoid her music.  Even songs to which I was previously indifferent were marred with this distasteful impression of her and her sad grab at relevance.

Then her recent single “Wrecking Ball” hit.  I watched the video, like millions of other people, and saw the same needless over-sexed content.  What is this woman thinking? But then I listened to the song, and even I had to admit that there is a good song there.  And so I did my best to disassociate my impression of the person from the song and have allowed myself to admit to liking at least this part of her music.

I had a similarly difficult time letting my personal impression of Paul impact how I read his ideas in 1 Corinthians.

Although I didn’t care for a lot of what Paul advocated in this book, I did find some of his ideas interesting.  One of these involves his stance on marriage.  He believed that people need to marry for morality’s sake. Apparently this would bring people together to curb immoral behavior and perhaps raise a family.  He even adds that in marriage, the wife belongs to her husband.  But before a person uses this to say, wait a minute, more women being treated badly? he adds that men are also the property of their wives (7:1-5). So here’s a breath of fresh air, as it suggests that men and women are—and should—be seen as equal in marriage (and perhaps elsewhere).

But then I thought about the first point further: if joining people in matrimony curbs immorality, why wouldn’t this be an argument for gay marriage? If part of the issue people have with gays is the supposed immoral sex acts, wouldn’t the example of a committed relationship quell this impression? If marriage is about monogamy, wouldn’t you want people to coupled off so they weren’t out having all these gay orgies that apparently were common in certain religious practices (and perhaps elsewhere)?

But before I could take pleasure in finding this interesting point, he takes it even further. In extending his marriage ideas, he mentions something rather odd.  Although he sees the potential for marriage as positive, he would rather people were more like him (7:7). Although it’s unstated, I believe this is to mean celibate. He clarifies why: As a single person, nothing diverts your interest and attention from God—you would have to care for your spouse, after all. He thinks, in general, people should be spared the hassles of marriage (7:28, 32-33).

But isn’t part of God’s plan to couple men and women for the purpose of producing offspring? So if he truly believes that people are better God servants outside of marriage, doesn’t this go against how sacred this institution is? I thought being married was completing God’s plan, so why would he even mention otherwise?

And just when I was starting to think that Paul had respect for women, he really puts his foot in his mouth.  According to him, women need to recognize authority (11:10).  However, given his audience, he might be saying this specifically to recognize Corinthian customs. He then adds that they should cover their heads, not be bald.  He even states that men should have short hair, which is odd.  Didn’t Jesus have long hair? I can’t think of a representation of him that shows him with short hair.

But, at least if women had issues with any of this, they could bring up their concerns in church, right? Wrong.  Paul states that women are also NOT to ask questions in church. They MUST be submissive while there! (14:34-5).

Some people make it easy to embrace the message and ignore the messenger. Others make it difficult because of how much crap you have to ignore in order to get to something worthwhile.  Paul may have admitted over and over that he was not much of a showman, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t know what he was doing and saying. The few interesting ideas didn’t cause me to overlook all the stuff that rubbed me the wrong way.


About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: Follow his work at:
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