The comment which provoked the most response while teaching in Zambia was when we came to the 'submission' passages in 1 Peter 2:11-3:7 and I suggested that we needed to avoid two errors:
(a) the 'cut and paste' error
This occurs when we 'cut' these verses out of the context of this letter and the occasion and time into which Peter was writing and just 'paste' them into our own occasion and time ... and then sit back and pat ourselves on the back for interpreting the Bible literally - as if 'literally' means the same thing as 'accurately'. It doesn't!
(b) the 'delete and escape' error
This occurs when we see something we don't like in the Bible - like these submission passages. We kinda pretend they aren't there, skip over them, basically 'delete' them and 'escape' from them to something that rests more easily with us. The outcome? We shut down the possibility of the Bible ever saying something hard to us.
One of the benefits of living in another culture for awhile is that you see your own culture more clearly - together with its blindspots. And these blindspots do tend to develop and grow when we live our lives oblivious to one of these twin errors.
After two weeks mixing with pastors in Zambia I reckon some of our Kiwi blindspots came into focus for me. I offer my TOP SIX blindspots (in no particular order) and welcome additions or subtractions or changes from you:
Two extremes! One is the idolatry of family in which we worship our children and can't allow God to call us to do anything that we think might damage them. The second is where we are so intent on career-advancement and/or lifestyle-enhancing that we make decisions about the care of children that might well damage them over the longer term.
The poverty of Christians in so many parts of the world is just unacceptable. The wealth of Christians in so many parts of the world is also unacceptable. While some wealthy Christians are remarkably generous, far more of them need to be so. And we all need to be more content with what we have.
It was interesting to be in a culture where it is the older ones who are respected and exalted. In our culture it is the younger ones that are respected and exalted. Our obsession with youth and youthfulness really is very odd indeed.
It is not just about sex ... but having said that we have raised a young adult generation whose standards on sexuality owe more to a decade of watching Friends than it does to a decade of reading Jesus - which, of course, should not surprise us as more time has been spent doing the former than doing the latter.
"Israel put their hope in the judgement of God." Why? They were an oppressed people and so coming judgement was something to sing about and celebrate. Eternity is that time when all unpunished badness is judged for all time and all unaffirmed goodness is vindicated for all time. No wonder we can't make sense of this world. We think the present time is all there is...
Justice has gone from being something we fight for and protect for others (particularly other believers globally) to becoming something we fight for and defend for ourselves. Personal rights now eclipse personal responsibility ... and so something like submission having a beauty in a particular situation just cannot be entertained.
Which means I've ended up where I started and so I should quit and let you contribute something.