Re: evil desires/lust or lust

Carl W. Conrad (
Mon, 18 Nov 1996 12:24:42 -0800

At 1:52 PM -0600 11/14/96, Jeffrey Gibson wrote:
>Thanks for your message. I, too, suspect that the substance of my posting
>is off topic for b-greek, so I'm responding to you directly.
>It was not my intention to give the impression that in the Symposium Plato
>supported the idea of fulfilment in male-male union. Just as you noted,
>Socrates (and therefore Plato) seems to diavow this in his report of his
>conversation with Diotima. But surely, the speeches of Phaedrus and
>Pausanius imply that this was at least a position taken seriously by some
>of the elite in Athens. The fact that Socrates/Plato in someways argue
>against it would seem to mean that it was also a consensus of sorts.

This is true enough, but I think that both of these speeches also involve the typical Athenian institutionalized relationship of older adult with older adolescent in military training. There is also, unquestionably, evidence for adult male homosexual relationships, but they same to be frowned upon or uncomfortably tolerated rather than spoken of with approval. I certainly am uncomfortable with what has now become an open discussion on the list, completely divorced from the context of any NT Greek text, although understanding any of those texts would involve delving into this whole topic.

>As to Paul, I'm following J.H. Yoder, who notes that while the household
>codes in Ephesians formally mirrors pagan codes, it is quite extrodinary
>that the typically inferior member (woman/slave) is addressed first (a
>reversal of the usual order), and that the fact that they were
>counseled to subordinate themselves implies a hearing of a previous
>message such as Gal. which would seem to imply that given the liberation
>found in the Gospel, they were no longer under the old order and actually
>had liberty to dispense with its prescriptions. The counsels are asking
>them to voluntarily submit, and thus recognize that they are indeed moral

This is an interesting argument, and yes, it would have to be said that the "inferior" party is addressed first in each of these instances, children, slaves, wives. What I find disturbing about the whole complex of advice here is that it is based upon assumption that hierarchical relationships are natural and part of God's created order. While I understand very well that there is a long tradition of Biblical interpretation supporting that position, I don't find it to be convincing, and it does seem to me to run counter to the implications of Galatians 3:28. Now it may be argued that this obedience or subordination of wife to husband is voluntary, but how much choice in the matter does the wife, the slave, the child have? It seems to me rather that the subordinate party in each of these relationships is being urged to acquiesce in the hierarchical pattern that is standard and normal in pagan society outside the church. And frankly, I think that's what IS going on here. What is more pro
blematic is the analogy in play: Christ is the head of the church, which is the body--the husband is the head of the woman, which is the body. When I confront this text and set it in the context of other Biblical texts on the subject of male-female, husband-wife relations, I cannot attribute the same or equal weight to this one as I do to others, and particularly to Galatian 3:28. And another of the factors that bothers me about this passage is that husbands are urged to love their wives--even as Christ loves the church and dies for it--but women are not urged to love their husbands, only to obey them.

It's a troublesome passage, in my view; it should be obvious, I guess, that while I take scriptural authority seriously, I am not an inerrantist: where I find difficulties in a text, I try to bring other texts to bear upon it and interpret it or, sometimes, to bear greater authority in the resolution of a conflict. This may not be what you were looking for, but I wanted to be clear about the way I look at the Ephesians text.

Regards, Carl