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Paul’s Sexual and Marital Ethics in 1 Corinthians 7

An African-Cameroonian Perspective


Alice Yafeh

Paul’s Sexual and Marital Ethics in 1 Corinthians 7: An African-Cameroonian Perspective provides readers with an innovative interpretation of Paul’s pastoral and pedagogical approach and solutions to the multifaceted ethical problems presented to him by the Corinthian community, revealing a wide-ranging, complex, and flexible decision-making process. Alice Yafeh’s analysis also illuminates two different evaluations of the same ethical problem may be simultaneously relevant where operating assumptions diverge: first as a community in pursuance of the goal of undistracted devotion to the Lord, and, second, as individual members who must pursue that goal within the specific lifestyles in which they have been called.
The author argues that Paul’s pastoral and theological approach, which is deeply motivated by a desire to inspire faithful Christian living and witness, can serve as a new model for evaluating pre-conversion polygyny; a model that is oriented toward positive and substantive change in the lives of women and children. Consequently, the implication of Paul’s approach and judgments for contemporary Christian communities suggests the same believing community may adopt different ways of faithfully living out the practical implications of Christian view of marriage extended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7.
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Chapter 4 Polygyny: A Test Case for an Afro-Womanist-Feminist Cultural Hermeneutics


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A Test Case for an Afro-Womanist-Feminist Cultural Hermeneutics

What also needs to take place is the recognition that context is a necessary interpretative ingredient … so that not only the contextual influences … of mainline scholars are accepted as legitimate […], but also that the contextual perspectives of marginalized communities be recognized as appropriate interpersonal determinants of and challenges to text interpretation.1

Defining the Term “Afro-Womanist-Feminist”

Before moving on to the body of this chapter, a few remarks are warranted concerning my term “Afro-Womanist-Feminist” as a point of reference for my cultural hermeneutics. My choice of the tripartite phrase “Afro-womanist-feminist” is informed particularly by my desire to move away from oppositional rhetoric that characterizes much of the conversation about women’s experiences and realities.2 As I see it, the term captures well the varied visions of women’s reality without undermining their respective singularity. The concept “Afro-womanist-feminist” carries the weight of the collective and multilateral experiences of women. It assumes and recognizes shared aspects as well as unique ones, thereby holding up the tension between real differences and commonality which the binary definitions of womanism/feminism do not properly capture. ← 153 | 154 →

The term “feminist” is an umbrella term for multifaceted perspectives. The common denominator is that the different perspectives take the experiences of women, especially women’s struggle for wholeness and dignity, as their central concern. The perspectives coalesce around key feminist principle of promoting “the full humanity of...

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