Clarifying Thoughts on Women in Church...

Kim Said…
Great post!! I'm a recent "outted" liberal Christian (i.e., a liberal who is also a Christian) and you said perfectly what I've been trying to say to friends and family.

There was one part of your post I didn't quite understand: "My wife and I were at George Fox last night and saw a poster for a women's conference: Warrior Brides. That kind of language and rhetoric is b.s. It's like telling a field slave to be satisfied with becoming a "house slave." Awful becoming better isn't redemption. It's patronizing. Some second-class wives are treated more lovingly and respectfully than other second-class wives. But none of them are equals."

Could you try to explain? Thanks!

I Said…

Kim, that's a great question, and looking back at it I realize I left some ambiguities - as well as making some comments that sounded more hostile than intended.

What I wanted to say is that a lot of churches have programs "for women." Many of them even use empowering language like "rise up" or (as mentioned) "Warrior Brides!"

The problem is, my wife and I feel most of the underlying messages from such rhetoric and/or ministries is narrowly focused on "empowering" women to stay in their existing traditional roles. We (I should speak for myself now - I) completely believe that women can be empowered feminists and still completely healthy and happy in "traditional" femine roles: like stay-at-home-mom, homemaker, etc... but that shouldn’t be a boundary or limit.

I believe some of these ministries subversively try to use empowering language without actually empowering. They affirm and excite women into... well... submission. And if every woman at the seminar is excited, and the female seminar leader is excited, well, "I should be excited too!"

So we're telling women to have a "warrior's heart" (already patriarchal language) “but do it in the confines of your existing role, which we have deemed acceptable."

Another example: when women are constantly affirmed for being "prayer warriors," (as I've found to be the case) it's often probably true. But it's often true because prayer is the only place we've allowed women free expression. Especially if they're not allowed to teach over men (“children's Sunday school is ok”).

Does that make more sense? Churches should be empowering women and positioning them as equals, not pretending to, as is so-often the case.

As an aside, what’s really sad and convicting about all of this for me personally, is that I didn’t believe or acknowledge these things until I was nearly twenty-five or twenty-six. I’m a slow-read.

Thanks for pressing me on that, Kim, and welcome to the conversation.


Sarah said...

uh oh, Peter... this is how long it's been since I read your blog: November 12!!! I have some catching up to do. Life has been crazy lately, and my ol' dial-up connection just hasn't given me the time to check up on blogs. ;-) Hopefully all is well in your neck of the woods.

My guess is that I will have a lot of random comments as I read this morning.

For instance, just for the record, I already disagree with this entry. I am always interested when people imply that 'equal' means 'exactly the same.' Is it not possible that God has uniquely outfitted women and men for different puposes? Not because one is better or superior, but because He purposely designed women and men to complement and balance?

And perhaps a lot of confusion comes from the term 'submissive,' which has been misused quite often. But the truth of the matter is that submission is a display of strength and beauty, as a wife graciously submits to her husband as her husband submits to Christ, and, in turn, a husband loves and cherishes his wife in the same way Christ loves and cherishes the Church. Neither role is for wimps. And it will probably read out in different ways for different couples.

But the point is, Scripture is pretty clear about these things, whether we like it or not.

Ah well. I'm going to read on. Maybe I can find some more controversy. ;-)


Peter said...

Ha, ha! Sarah, I'm glad to see you back! You know, from your first visit, though we've disagreed on quite a bit, I've never had the sense that you were angered or disgusted by my opinions. I continue to appreciate that, and the humor you bring to the dialogue! Bless you!

I'm curious: do you think - as the woman submits to her husband and the husband submits to Christ - that the husband must also submit to his wife? Or is the submission, in your view, one-directional?

Thanks again,

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