I seem to be coming across this idea, this mindset, and it has been causing me to think and ponder. It is this thought that there is some sort of utopian circumstance, in which you live exactly as God intended and spelled out in the Bible, but that there are exceptions made to certain commands if one does not live within that utopian circumstance.
For example, all women should be stay at home mothers/homemaker – unless their life circumstance requires them to work outside the home, such as in the case of their husband leaving them, or dying, or being physically unable to work at all.
Or that a woman can NEVER teach a man... unless there are no men willing/worthy to do the teaching, THEN a woman can take up the duty. (The reason for this is cited as the story of the Israelite Judge, Deborah (Judges 4-5), though upon reading the passage, there is not even a hint of such an idea. I'd think it would be important enough to mention “there were no worthy men, so a woman was made judge.”) Much as we may want to, we can make no such inference into the text, the idea is simply not there.
The truth is... There is no 'utopia principle' of Christian life. The Bible never hints, much less states, that Christians should act one way in a certain situation, and a completely different way in a different situation. Where does it say a wife is to submit “except in sin”? And if the submission teaching is quite solid, and implies a wife ought to sin on behalf of her husband, then perhaps we ought to reexamine our interpretation of those verses.
The idea that Christians should act one way in a utopian situation and a different way in a third world/persecution situation or a “less than desirable” situation is completely false. Are we to be peaceful only when our “utopian” situation allows for it? Are women only allowed to lead men if they are within a less-than desirable situation? And if it is permissible for Deborah, why is it not permissible for me?
If our dogmatic ideas about a select few verses does not hold up against the rest of the Bible, or if there are certain “exceptions” made to them in the Bible, should we not examine those verses to make sure we are understanding them correctly?
“Thou shalt follow all of these rules... when in a utopian ideal situation, otherwise you'll have to ad lib.”
If it doesn't make sense for the commands to pray, love, witness, be truthful, faithfulness, and the myriad of other Biblical commands to be on a “utopia principle” basis, how can it make sense in the case of women teaching, working outside the home, never cutting their hair, men never growing their hair long, the man always being the breadwinner, etc?