13 February, 2006

Saints in Chains

I have been out here too long without going on record as egalitarian.

Let me correct that procrastination now.

I don't know that there is a bigger fish to fry in the church today than that of freeing women to minister to the body. The scripture has clearly called women to function in every ministry needed by the body, and if the translators have obscured that fact they have yet not hidden it completely.

Women need to be teaching, and teaching men. The church needs them. Could the church possibly have drifted so far from common-sense and love had women borne equal authority in the body for these last 400 years? Would we have thousands of denominations if women held 10, 20, or 50% of all decision making authority? Would I have to wonder how many believers lived on my street if women were in charge of anything? I doubt it.

Anyway, I say this now because of a post by Suzanne McCarthy. It's not about changing the world, but it sure could be. It contains one of the saddest sentences I have read in a long, long time:

All us girls put down our Greek, Latin and Hebrew at the age of 21 and entered the adult world.

May the Lord break the fetters of women like Suzanne in our churches.

12 comments:

Danny Kaye said...

I am not sure about this one. But I can be taught. Here are my thoughts.

(Let me just say that I am thankful that I am not the one who needs to make the decisions about this.)

I understand that much of what is in scripture could be recognized as cultural, and should not be applied to today's church.

But there are very specific commands in scripture that, though I may not like how uncomfortable they make me, I cannot go against.

Having said that, I do want to say that any man who does not get input from every person who is in a position to give great input is only a half-informed man.

I get input from my wife every time I am going to do a lesson or study.

Here is an interesting situation:
The women in our church do speak in our services, but it is more of a sharing than a teaching. And most of the time it is more convicting to hear them share the things they've learned and have changed than it would be to be taught Greek and Hebrew factoids.

I am not sure how this one is justified. But now that you have tapped into my curiosity, I think I'll look into it. (Thanks)

I might question the belief that if women were in charge of more things, then things would not have gone so astray. I read in my Bible that women are just as prone to mess up as men, and in just the same ways.

Just curious: What do you believe about the marriage relationship?

Not trying to make waves. Just wanting to understand your views. No doubt you've probably got more Bible education than I do (seeing as how I got "nada"). I look forward to your thoughts.

blestwithsons said...

Oh Kevin.

Dude, with great affection, I can not disagree with you more. Scripture is clear on the roles of women - and those roles are not chains.

I appreciate your tender heart towards women (and the idealized view you seem to have of us)...but this is not the answer. In my opinion, we need more men that are encouraged to be men and lead with vision, boldness, and discernment, than we need more mushiness and sensitivity. All this emotionalism is what has led us into the place where all we care about is whether or not someone is offended or feels bad. Never mind that conviction of sin is supposed to feel bad so that you want to do something about it....

I won't go off on a rant. (or did I already?) But I will point this out. In past disagreements on this issue, I have noticed the problem lies in perception of value. I was talking to a woman whose attitude was "It's not fair if I ONLY get to teach women and children" My response was "Whadya mean only?!" As if we are undervalued if we "can't have it all".

Also, just because women are not to be in the leadership position never was supposed to mean that we don't have input. (that 10, 20 or 50 you spoke of) A women with a husband who loves her the way Christ loved the church will always have his ear.

ps - equality has nothing to do with it. As a human being my Major husband has equal worth with the General above him or the PFC below him. They just have different jobs. But if the PFC gets carried away and starts insisting on running the show because of his inhererent equality -there's going to be a problem.

I'm proud to be my husband's XO.

Kansas Bob said...

Interesting stuff on women in ministry. Our church supports women in ministry ... I work beside several gifted and anointed sisters in Christ. That said I want to say how I love their femininity ... they have each learned to bring a very feminine aspect to ministry. In the past few years I have enjoyed it when these gals teach from the pulpit because they bring a message with a distinctly feminine perspective.

I think that many women in ministry are in contrast to these sisters ... their messages are manly and devoid of the qualities that make women in ministry precious and special.

So, on this Valentines Day, my hat goes off to all the many women in ministry and commerce that, having kept their femininity in tact, minister in glorious ways to children, other women and men.

Hey, I think I'll post this one on my blog.

codepoke said...

I will comment later, but I love all 3 comments so far. Thanks everyone!

:-)

codepoke said...

DK,

Great questions.

Before I go to answering them, I will tell you that probably fewer than 1% of Christians would accept my position. I'm pretty sure that makes me a heretic. Can I joke that everyone's wrong, but everyone doesn't seem to have quite the faith in me that they should? ;-D

There're some pretty stout scholars in my camp, so I'm not just going this alone.

But there are very specific commands in scripture that, though I may not like how uncomfortable they make me, I cannot go against.


If culture has changed in the past 2000 years, I don't care. The truth is the truth. If the bible commands that women submit, then I am there. I believe that it says the opposite, so guess where I am?

I read in my Bible that women are just as prone to mess up as men, and in just the same ways.

Women mess up in ways that balance the ways men mess up. I doubt that's really controversial. If women were fully in charge of the church, we would have gone down a completely different set of rabbit trails, but we would be just as lost.

Just curious: What do you believe about the marriage relationship?

I am for marriage. ;-)

In my marriage, I was not equally yoked, but I'll not go into that much more deeply in this comment.

Not trying to make waves.

I love waves, as long as they are going somewhere!

As for bible education, I have no more training than you, I'm sure. I can list a number of people the Lord used despite that little lack, though.

codepoke said...

Blest,

Dude, with great affection, I can not disagree with you more.

:-D

Right back at'cha, and thank you.

I have total respect for your position. I held it forcefully for over a decade, and I fully expect you to do the same. I left it only because the scripture moved me. I promise I have read and dealt with all the "usual suspects".

and the idealized view you seem to have of us

I'll admit to having blurry glasses toward ya'll from time to time. Still, as I said to Danny, ya'll make different mistakes than we do.

How many things can you do at once? ... Yeah, that's what I thought. Me, I can do one. I don't "multitask" - I "othertask!" When you give me a second task, the first one is forgotten. We need both. For about 1800 years, we have only had the male.

If women bring sensitivity and broad attention to the table, men bring goals and focus. I know that there are women who can out-concentrate me, but it's about as many as can out-do me at pushups. Many, but a small minority nonetheless. The church has been far too goal-focused for far too long.

In my opinion, we need more men that are encouraged to be men and lead with vision, boldness, and discernment, than we need more mushiness and sensitivity.

I have to challenge the stereotype here. You tell me that women lack vision, boldness and discernment? That's simply false. We need these strengths from our men and our women.

Right now, we have men in charge trying to do the function of both sensitivity and focus. Get women in there, and get the men out of the sensitivity business, and see whether things don't get better.

Again, every one to his or her gift. Let sensitive men be sensitive (even if our gatorade is yellow, and we don't get any chicks) and let the focused women be focused, but they will be the minority.

And as for men being willing to take leadership positions: You are discussing this with an ex-sergeant, and with a man who leads a team right now. I give orders, take responsibility, and bear consequences all without remorse.

Yes, we need more men willing to be men. I agree with you all the way. But, what does that have to do with women stepping up to the plate as well? What does it have to do with men stepping back from the plate when a woman has the needed gift for the moment? Red herring.

I'm proud to be my husband's XO.

Great line!

---

Does the topic seem worthy of further discussion, or have you said your peace? If you would like to throw down a gauntlet, I will happily pick it up. Here is a post in which I propose a set of rules for a debate, complete with judges, cat-calls from the audience, and a winner and loser (and the chance for a draw.)

Either way, I hope my reply shows continued great affection. Thanks again!

codepoke said...

Kansas Bob,

In the past few years I have enjoyed it when these gals teach from the pulpit because they bring a message with a distinctly feminine perspective.

I think that many women in ministry are in contrast to these sisters ... their messages are manly and devoid of the qualities that make women in ministry precious and special.


Amen! Amen!

The most aggravating thing about the feminist movement within Christianity is that it seeks to make the women into men when they hit the pulpit.

Why?!?!

We have enough men in the pulpit, thank you.

These women have had to fight their own internal stereotypes, the opposition of their own sex, the opposition of the opposite sex, and all the problems men have to fight in order to get into the pulpit. Once they get there, do we really need to force them to be "goal" and "focus" oriented? It's like anything else. When it's natural, you can tell, but I have listened to women who were obviously trying too hard to be someone they were not.

Let's open the door!

blestwithsons said...

I love to debate - but I skimmed your rules and quite honestly - I can't make a commitment like that. I do have these four little guys after all. Not only would that take some serious time on my part - but I get waaaay too emotionally involved. (My readers will never know all the angst which goes on behind the scenes of my blog!) When I get involved in intense debate - even if it's friendly - I lose a lot of sleep, literally. I get so wound up!

Anyway. Why do women have to be in specific leadership roles in order to "get the sensitivity in there". Why are we seen as not being able to use our gifts if we can't a)preach from the pulpit and b)teach mixed adult classes?

There are many, many ways that women can and do serve in the church without doing either of those things. Again - why should anyone see that as demeaning?

And here's another angle for ya! Speaking as a young mother - I can tell you that churches have a peculiar tendency to drain young mothers dry as it is. Cook the meals for the homebound. Work the nursery. Work VBS. Teach Sunday School. Lead Worship. Clean. Have all sorts of committees and activities and meetings and Bible Studies and and and and.... We don't really NEED anymore jobs. I know far too many young mothers who short change their own children and husbands in the name of serving the church. And they're exhausted and burned out. Tangential to your topic, I admit. And yet it is somewhat related.

Also - I read the post to which you referred. Tragic story. But what does the alleged misbehavior of some people really have to do with Scripture. The way the women in that story were treated was most certainly not in accordance with the Word. It's the people who were in the wrong - not the Bible.

Oy. I'm tired now.

codepoke said...

I get waaaay too emotionally involved. (My readers will never know all the angst which goes on behind the scenes of my blog!)

That's cool. I find a debate attractive because it puts limits around the discussion. The debate begins, it is about one subject, it ends, and nobody expects miracles. But, I can live without it. Single parenting is a chore, too, even if mine are pretty self-sufficient by now.

Why are we seen as not being able to use our gifts if we can't a)preach from the pulpit and b)teach mixed adult classes?

Ummm. I guess I don't understand the question. If Jane's gift is to preach from the pulpit and teach mixed adult classes, then she would be not able to use her gift. Either way, the issue is not Jane's feeling under-exercised, but what the Spirit intends for the church.

And they're exhausted and burned out.

Maybe they are exercising the wrong gift? That can be exhausting.

Tragic story. But what does the alleged misbehavior of some people really have to do with Scripture.

The tragedy to which I refered is not the one of the abused young woman. My heart goes out to her, but I was affected by the woman who put away her Greek, Latin and Hebrew because she became an adult.

I would love to have learned those things in my youth. I am personally jealous of those gifts, and she had them in spades, but had to put them away. Why? In what possible way did that help the church, or the cause of Christ?

That is the tragedy to me.


--

I hope you don't let disagreeing with me interrupt your usual persnicketiness. ;-)

Danny Kaye said...

I, too, read the "Rules of Engagement" and conclude the same way as Blest: I get so wound up that I don't sleep. And I usually end up finding myself being all prideful about stuff and need to humble out and drop the conversation because it has become a "foolish and stupid argument".

Having said that, the following is not debate; it is simply comment.

You suggest,
"Get women in there, and get the men out of the sensitivity business".

Um...Jesus was as sensitive as any human can get...an' He was a dude!

The solution is not to get the women in, but to get the "brute beast" men to understand that they are missing out on a very godly characteristic, one which the scriptures command us to attain.

codepoke said...

...get the "brute beast" men to understand that they are missing out on a very godly characteristic, one which the scriptures command us to attain.

I certainly agree with you on this, DK.

The solution is not to get the women in,...

Not so sure about this one ;-)

Thanks for playing!

Lynne said...

Can I speak as a woman who spent many years as a stay at home mum, bringing up my son and daughter while my professional husband worked long hours? I spent most of that time depressed and confused, because the conservative church we attended had no role for me. i'm not very good at all that domestic stuff, I can cook a meal for the needy when I have to, but I have no skills in child minding or craft groups or any of the other roles the church usually assigns women. In fact, I'm no good at doing things with my hands, full stop. Further, i had very little fellowship with the other women in the church, we simply didn't talk the same language or want the same things -- most of them would rather leave all deeper theological thinking to their husbands!! At age 47, when my younger chils was finishing school, i went back to college to start working part time on my theology degree. This has been my liberation, a life transformed! our present church allows me to preach occasionally, even though it is not general denominational policy. it is like finding wings when all my life I had been crawling in the dust. This is who I was made to be, a preacher and teacher of the word of God. i have no desire to run churches or tell people what to do in general, I just want to do what God made me to do, especially when i can see that he is using me in this sphere. But our woman-permitting pastor could leave soon, and at the end of nextyear I graduate, ready for larger ministry. I know now, after years of feeling useless, who God created me to be and what I am gifted to do, but where i live I do not know of a church that takes the bible seriously who will let me serve her ..