Saturday, August 29, 2009

boy's club: no girls allowed

Recently heard in a sermon: "The Bible clearly teaches that women should not be pastors and that the husband is the leader of the home."

Actually, it doesn't. I know, I know. Anyone who has known me for a long time probably cannot believe that I just said that. I was the one who used to make those tired old points. Like the one that women are ontologically equal to men but just differ in their roles. Or the one about how women can do lots of great things in the church, but not teaching or having authority over men. How about the one that women were not supposed to work outside the home if she was married with children, which of course she would be if at all possible.

But I got this one wrong.

Thank goodness I never made the argument that women don't make good leaders because they're too emotional. Perhaps I had attended enough professional sports events to know that's not actually the case.

During grad school, I became unsure about my position. It had a lot to do about the things I was learning in my classes, taught by male and female professors on both sides of the issue. I finally got to the point where I realized that I was not comfortable with real, practical, pragmatic equality for women, but I also realized I couldn't get that from the Biblical text. So either I had to ignore what I felt Scripture was saying or I had to make myself change. It was a difficult but obvious choice.

I also realized that almost everything I had ever learned in church and school was from a male perspective. There's nothing wrong with the male perspective, but it cannot wholly represent an accurate view of the world around us.

The tribes of evangelicalism that still silence authentic female perspective do so by taking a few tiny pieces of Scripture out of their historical and grammatical context and carry them over to extra-Biblical issues like ordination and seminary professorship.

The Southern Baptists have really lost their minds and the rest of their credibility because of this. Just ask Sheri Klouda. Don't worry, though. Women will still be able to attend the seminary and can now exclusively participate in the academically rigorous homemaking program, and (I'm not making this up) wrestle with these deep theological problems:

  • textile design and clothing construction (with lab), 7 hours
  • meal preparation (with lab), 4 hours
  • financial stewardship, 3 hours
  • interior design, 3 hours
  • something called "the value of a child" (no medical exam prerequisite), 3 hours
  • home and family management, 3 hours
  • senior practicum (hmm...using a real man or a close facsimile?), 1 hour
As for men who are attracted to this program, no dice, but there are a lot of other programs in which men can contribute in ways more suited to their God-given role. I guess we should just stick to making the money.

This is hilarious on one end, but it should make any Southern Baptist, or evangelical Christian, angry. What a damaging witness.

As for the issue of women in marriage, I also realized that there were many couples who would adamantly argue for the complementarian position, but for whom it made no practical difference. This was the case in a couple I was very close to growing up. I'll call them Burt and Sally. Burt was the ceremonial leader of his family. He prayed before dinner at family gatherings, made big announcements on the family's behalf, etc. But in reality, he and Sally shared the important decisions and Sally was the one who really made things happen. Burt was the King of England, really a figurehead, but Sally was the Prime Minister; the one who drove the policies and decisions.

Look around. Most complementarians are in an egalitarian marriage. Those who aren't are often in abusive unions. Complementarians know this on some level. They even laugh about it constantly (insert cliche "better half," "earners and spenders," or "she's my boss" joke).

But they just turn their heads. It's kind of like Ted Kennedy. Everyone knows the guy was a creep. He was a womanizer and a heavy drinker and a cheater and should have gone to prison for letting Mary Jo Kopechne lie in her watery grave for hours. You wouldn't know it from watching the nightly news today.

Augustine said that "sin is to a nature what blindness is to an eye." God, please open our eyes.

1 comment:

E. A. Harvey said...

Another great post, and since I've already commented on a different post of similar content, let me just say, "God bless you, sir!" :-)