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October 02, 2014

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Women are only equal up to a point in Christianity. When it comes time to lead or make the big decisions, in the church and in the home, that's for a man to do.

I find this system to be gross and infantilizing, but it's not hard to see why so many find comfort in it.

Let me ask you some questions, Tekeny :)

1. are you a Christian?
2. if yes to #1, was (or is) what you said your experience at the church you currently attend, or have attended in the past?
3. if no to #2, then what do you base your statements on?

The roles that we women fill in the 21st century Christian Church are not uniformly defined across all denominations and local assemblies.
The church where I fellowship and worship now (an evangelical Baptist denomination) has women as deacons and on the board of elders, so women in our church do get to make the big decisions there. The pastoral staff is made up of both men and women - granted, our teaching pastors (for adults) are the men, but I don't know of any women in my church who feel that this demeans us. Women lead worship in public prayer and music, speak up in worship services, and in general meetings to give counsel and opinions. At home, we encourage husbands and wives to make decisions jointly and by consensus as much as possible, and to seek God's counsel first (He does make His will known, and He always gives the best advice), and also to seek wise counsel from other members of the church family when reaching a consensus is problematic. This is the ideal to aim for, of course - I'm sure you agree that we humans don't always hit the target, and fail.

If you are a Christian, surely you must realize that we are called to serve in God's kingdom and family in different capacities, with different roles and responsibilities - Christianity is a life of servanthood. If you are not a Christian, then don't complain about Christians living out our service as we see fit.

oops - that should be 3. if no to #1 - apologies

Tekeny,

I think we have to shift this power paradigm, this perception of the big decisions and clout in the hands of some paternalistic group. When Jesus commissioned His disciples, He did note their power, or better, their authority. The Greek word used in this case is exousia. This is one word that connotes a lot. But it isn't simple power as exercised by governmental bigwigs. The word combines the ideas of power and responsibility. But this specific power is a range of opportunities to be of service, to offer positive impact, to make a difference in the corner of the society you inhabit. This exousia claims no prestige, no plush office, no palace. It is the strength of noble purpose. The responsibility factor is this recognition of being enabled for charitable service, and not to be exploited for self-promotion.

Victoria has already spoken of this servant's attitude. Many women of the New Testament did great work of using their opportunities for service. Priscilla did what she could to set straight the intellectually gifted but somewhat misinformed Apollos. Lois and Eunice did splendid work in bringing up young Timothy without a dependable father. This is the exousia of the occasion, noting the need and supplying the necessaries.

In short, it is a power not for the history books. This man noted the number of times he brought up the rear of the family (head counts by the thousands and beware of the malls). In that my four daughters grow up Christian (and not practitioners of paternalism which protects its own), this has been the goal. Chesterton, in noting the value of a Christian family, acknowledged the queen-ship of the wife, noting his role in lowliest of terms.

Perhaps in understanding the power of service, you might reconsider Melinda's post.

@DGFischer
Are you the same DGFischer who is a member of ASA and has written articles for PSCF? I'm a member of the ASA and the Canadian offshoot, too :)

“Women are only equal up to a point in Christianity. When it comes time to lead or make the big decisions, in the church and in the home, that's for a man to do.”

Hi Tekemy,

I can’t speak on the lead or making big decisions in the church parts, because the church’s structure is not something that I know a lot about. Making autonomous big decisions in the home is something I am even less familiar with.

I can’t speak for all Christians, but I’ll admit that I do lead my home. I am the head of my home, and I wear the (swearing is not permitted on this site) pants in my house. That’s right, I said it! But, my wife holds the purse.

I don’t say that I am the head of my home with arrogance or due to testosterone (although, I have plenty of both), but with humility because I pray every day that God’s Word leads me to be good at it. I’m also praying on the arrogance (I’m kind of fond of the testosterone).

Ephesians ch5 also says, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it”.

1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;

Christ demonstrated his love and led the church through example and sacrifice. As long as I strive to make Christ driven decisions for our home, my wife not only allows me to lead, but is happy to do so. If you even joke about who wears the pants in our relationship, she’d be the first to correct you, not me (I say this as a witness).

Ephesians 5, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Maybe the secular worldview offers a better way for husbands to approach marriage, but I haven’t seen it.
When joking with a secular friend on this subject, I said that I would sacrifice my life to protect my wife. She laughed not at my joke, but at the thought of her husband protecting her.

I know that my wife does not see her role in our family as less significant or unequal to mine. And, I value her and what she brings to my family as something worth sacrificing my life to protect.

Why should the church specify any particular role for any large diverse group? Why not let individuals decide for themselves? I just don't see why social roles end up being a religious issue.

Certainly women are different from men, so they might tend toward certain roles, but why does the church need to enforce those tendencies? Why punish people who don't fit their typical gender role? Is it a sin to be a misfit?

>> Are you the same DGFischer who is a member of ASA and has written articles for PSCF?

Sorry, I am not that fellow.

John:

You ask why the church should specify a particular role for someone? That is such a weird question. Every organization does the same thing. Not everyone brings the same skills or talents to the table. In a business, leaders identify individuals' talent and place them in a role. It's perfectly logical.

You also say "church" as if it is some homogeneous group. I'm sure there are some people that claim to be a church and "punish" those that don't do as asked, I guess. But your question hints at how much you misunderstand how church leadership works and how people in a church look at it.

In Christianity, there is not supposed to be any such thing as despotic leadership. Those that are at the top are supposed to be the deepest servants. There's no such thing as equality in the church. Everyone is supposed to be less than the other.

The early church placed women as deacons (which should actually be translated "servant") and apostles. There were also female "prophetesses." If someone in the church wants "equality" in that they want to be in a leadership role, then they've already missed the whole point.

OK, let's say "God" instead of "church." Why should God specify a particular role for any large diverse group?

You point out that many organizations specify roles for particular types of people, but women are a huge and very diverse group. It's unrealistic to expect all women to be submissive, or to devote themselves to child-bearing, or to do anything in particular.

Again, this is because the group is large and diverse.

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