Monthly Archives: October 2012

What is a Polemicist?

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What is a polemicist?  Look here to find out.  Recently, The Gospel Coalition put out a post of warning for people like me, just to help us get our priorities straight;)  I want to say this loud and clear:  the most important thing is my life is Christ’s work on the cross and what his saving grace has done for me.  As a result of the Jesus’ work in my life, I am passionate about justice for all people coming from all walks of life, especially women.

My passion doesn’t appear to be shared by some in the church.  It seems unimportant, a secondary issue.  I disagree; I believe that what a girl is taught about how to view herself and how to plan for her future as a woman is extremely important.  Yet many move along with life, not really caring about this issue at all.  I can understand that life has its busyness and challenges, and we all get distracted.  For me, however, this issue is important because half the church is being taught to stifle their gifts in order to preserve the myth of “Biblical womanhood”.  Biblical womanhood is a myth perpetuated by years of prejudice against women, which has influenced the interpretation of biblical texts(in my opinion).

If people would just take a bit of time to study women’s history, they would find gross injustices done to the female population around the world, regardless of culture or time period.  It doesn’t take very much time or effort to educate yourself on the facts of the horrible actions, based on prejudice, that were done to women throughout the history(and are still going on today).  These actions are/were evil, and  something needed to be done.  That “something” is not the evil; it was a necessary step in the emancipation of women.  And yes, there are negative sides to the “something” that is feminism, but they are the minority.  The same negatives could be said of Christianity(ahem, ever  heard of the Crusades)??  I find many modern Christians to be completely ignorant of women’s history and what feminism actually is, and a troubling lack of interest in finding out the truth;   it turns out many just don’t care.

I certainly don’t want to go back to the sixties, when women had to have their husbands’ permission to apply for a credit card.  Or to the year of my birth(1976) when it was still legal for a man to beat his wife…but only in the day and evenings(before 10 o’clock) and NOT on Sundays(wow, thanks!)  It hasn’t been that long since brave women fought for the right to earn wages, own property, get custody of their children(nope, women have not always gotten custody of children; this is a recent development), or not get raped or beaten by their husbands.  These[1] are realities[2] we should never forget.

It seems to me that the church has gotten behind the times on issues concerning women.  Our culture is egalitarian(and rightly so, in my opinion), but the church insists on teaching different roles for men and women(men making all the big decisions and determining roles for men and women is abusive behavior), and will not support leadership qualities in women(unless she is leading only women and children).  I believe these teachings are based on thousands[3] of years of prejudice[4] coupled with a desire to be “counter-cultural”(Does the Bible tell us to go against our culture in every aspect?  Is this even possible?), which result in a male -biased interpretation of the Bible.

So yes, I am a polemicist(one who works to refute errors of doctrine), and I’m glad to be one.  I hope to uncover lies, help women get out of or avoid oppressive situations, and free them to use their gifts without the boundaries of gender prejudice.  Someone needs to start the conversation.

Here are some quotes from the links above(bold mine):

1. ~ “No matter how liberal-minded and generous a husband might be (and mine was, and is) wives were subordinate. We could not take out loans or mortgages or hire purchase agreements. Even on the consent form for a caesarean section my husband’s signature was required.”

2. ~ “During the early history of the United States, a man virtually owned his wife and children as he did his material possessions. If a poor man chose to send his children to the poorhouse, the mother was legally defenseless to object.   Some communities, however, modified the common law to allow women to act as lawyers in the courts, to sue for property, and to own property in their own names if their husbands agreed.”

3. ~ “Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men.”

4. ~ “Early Christian theology perpetuated these views. St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: “Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object.” Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Christian theologian, said that woman was “created to be man’s helpmeet, but her unique role is in conception . . . since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men.”

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What’s the Big Deal?

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I would like to share some links to articles that demonstrate my concern for women’s status in our modern world, an issue I believe we(the Church) should all care about:

~Girl Shot by Taliban

Surely, this young girl’s passion for education would not have met much resistance if she were a boy.  But then, a boy wouldn’t have to speak out for his right to be educated because boys already have that right in Pakistan.

~The Church Needs Dudes

Apparently, being a real Christian man means you’re not “chickified”, and that you like to beat up and slaughter other guys.  Mark Driscoll says he can’t “worship a guy I can’t beat up”.  He says he built his church by going after young, single, non-Christian, perverted, technological men.  Does that sound like a safe place for women to be?

Driscoll has a problem with the church being chickified.  So, to be clear, it’s not good for forty-year old women and their children to faithfully attend church, because the church becomes feminine, and because men, not women, are the innovators, the ones who get things done.  Don’t get me wrong, I value and respect the worthy men around me and I want them in the Church.  But if men alone are the innovators,  where does that leave us ladies?  Personally, I think women should be commended for being faithful by attending church, but according to Driscoll, too many women and “womanly” things(singing love songs to Jesus, soft, tender, and pastel colors), means the church is “chickified“.  Blech.

Mark Driscoll’s use of the term “chickified” is an insult to the feminine.  I thought I was supposed to embrace my femininity as a positive attribute, but what he says in this video makes it sound like being feminine(chickified) is for losers.  How can women feel valued after hearing a teaching like this?

I don’t know Mark personally, so it’s impossible for me to judge his character or intentions…but, what he is saying on video is damaging and hurtful to women.

~Child Bride in India

Do you think this young girl needs a masculine  “leader”, or should she be empowered to determine the course of her own life?  Would we go to this part of the world and evangelize, making sure to teach the essential part of the gospel that says men are leaders and women are followers?  That wives should submit to their husbands as an essential component of demonstrating the gospel?

Remember, in order to be appropriately “masculine”, a man must be a “leader”, and a woman must “affirm, receive, and nurture the leadership of men”.  So how can any girl or woman be a  “real” female without a man?

~Women Have the Right to Vote

Do you take your right to vote for granted?  I sure do sometimes.  Here is just a sampling of what women in our nation went through to “get the vote”.  I doubt the majority of men around them were trying to “serve and protect” them(Although I know there were some good men; I’m not doubting that).  I’m pretty sure that gender roles were alive and well at the time, and it was culturally acceptable for a woman to submit to the authority of her husband.  Yet this accepted belief didn’t seem to influence the majority of men to serve and protect the women around them being abused.

Those are just a few issues that make it extremely important to me to study, discuss, and debate the issue of roles, complementarianism, and leadership by men verses shared leadership between men and women.

Because the ideas we accept have consequences.

More Thoughts on Gender Roles

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Do Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7 prescribe “roles” based on gender for husbands and wives? 

Here are some questions that help me(and anyone else who is willing) to think critically about this concept:

~ Are wives NOT supposed to love their husbands(Eph. 5:25) because it’s not their role?

~ Is it okay if wives are harsh with their husbands(Col. 3:19), even though it is an instruction only for husbands as their role not to be harsh with their wives?

~ Should wives NOT love their husbands as their own bodies(Eph. 5:28) because this is the husband’s role?

~ Should a husband NOT have respect for his wife(Eph. 5:33) because it’s not his role?

~ Should a wife NOT understand and honor her husband(1 Peter 3:7) because it’s not her role?

~ Why do teachers on this subject always start with Ephesians 5:22, and ignore Ephesians 5:21(Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.)?

There are two ways to read the above passages…

~ They are new rules for us to follow.

or

~ They are not rules; they are principles to follow for all believers in all time periods, regardless of gender.

 

Here is a portion of a comment I shared on The Blazing Center last week, and I think it fits in with this subject:


I think it’s sad that Ephesians 5 has been reduced to a prescription for roles instead of a beautiful picture of the mystery of love and unity that happens in marriage. I don’t read it that way and I am completely free in my relationship with Christ to pursue my giftings and talents, without worrying about whether I’m fulfilling some “role”. And I realize that real life examples don’t always prove the point, but my husband is my best friend and we have a very close and wonderful relationship. We love each other, and are always seeking to put the other person’s interests above our own. We don’t worry about roles at all.

 

*This post by Retha at Biblical Personhood shows the humorous side of the concept of gender-specific roles… “humble headship” and “intelligent submission”.