“The Woman’s Role,” An Anathema?

The other day, at the post office, I stood agape watching as a man leaned across a woman bent to pick up the stamps she dropped and handed his envelop to the teller. Where is chivalry? Sadly, more often each day, it’s a casualty of the feminist war on culture.

Feminists have won, let’s face it. Everywhere accept in religious circles, or so says Washington Post Faith columnist Lisa Miller (no relation) in her article “Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.” Certainly feminists have influenced culture, even in unexpected ways, as Mike Duran’s recent article “Chuck Norris Does NOT Exfoliate!” reveals.

What troubles me is that much of this push to bring feminism into the church comes from within the church. The reasoning seems to be twofold. First, women are talented, capable leaders, so the church is missing out by not putting them in places where they can do the most good. And closely connected to this, women who aren’t finding a place to use their skills and abilities are leaving the church. In droves. In fact, the implication seems to be, unless the church gets with the feminist program, there will be no church.

Here’s what Jim Henderson, author of Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? said in an article excerpt of that book:

How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping and forming a spiritual community but were denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the Church, Christianity and in some cases God.

Many women are discouraged. And while some of them, particularly young women, leave the organized church only, others walk away from the faith altogether. (from “Jesus often gave women a platform. Why doesn’t the rest of the Church?” – emphases mine)

Leaving the church because they don’t get to be up front? Or don’t get to perform wedding ceremonies? Or conduct elder board meetings?

I’m sorry, but how genuine a faith can someone have if she comes with an attitude of my-way-or-the-highway? Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell all his stuff and follow nomadic Jesus, not because all people everywhere are supposed to have nothing and wander from town to town, but because the stuff that guy owned was his idol. He cared more about his belongings than he did about a relationship with God.

How can Mr. Henderson miss the fact that these women walking away from church because their desire to lead isn’t met within the body of Christ are just as surely putting their own self-importance ahead of their relationship with God?

What’s more, Jesus let the man who loved his wealth so much walk away. He did not run after him saying, Never mind, just kidding. It was only a test and it doesn’t really matter that you failed. I really, really, really do still want you in my kingdom, so come on back, stuff and all. In fact, maybe we can crash at your place tonight.

Yet that’s the approach Mr. Henderson seems to be advocating when it comes to women who are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Church. He advocates “staying in the room” and having a conversation because we’re supposed to love one another.

But frankly, I’m at a loss. I don’t feel oppressed by my church because I can’t be the pastor. And actually my not being qualified to be the pastor puts me in the company of ninety-nine percent of the men there too. So do they get some kind of special charge, empowerment by proxy, because our pastors are men, not women? How is my need to submit to the pastor different from their need to submit to the pastor?

I don’t see how women in the church are marginalized. We are to disciple one another. Older women are to teach the younger. There’s nothing in Scripture that indicates women aren’t to have key roles in the church.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul mentions two women who were squabbling, but he refers to them as fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. (See Phil. 4:3.) In Colossians he sends greetings to “Nympha and the church that is in her house,” so apparently she had some key role in facilitating the gathering.

When Martha was exasperated with Mary for not helping out in the kitchen, Jesus didn’t scold Mary. He chided Martha for not wanting to soak up spiritual wisdom at His feet.

So too, today. In my church we have women who plan and organize and lead and learn and disciple. But the teaching role belongs to a man. It’s the one thing, and the only thing, I’ve ever seen in the churches I’ve been a part of that limit women.

What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.

Much more to say on this subject, but I’ll save further remarks for another day (when maybe I’ve calmed down some. ;-) )

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (25)  
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25 Comments

  1. Ms Miller- Thanks so much for taking time to review my book. It was very kind of you to spend time especially since you disagree with me.

    Should not women also not be “allowed” to wear makeup and be required to wear a head coverings as well, or did Paul only mean those injunctions as cultural? Please inform me as to how you came to understand how to determine what Paul meant as for all time and what he meant for cultural only. Also if you could explain to me why millions of Christians have disagreed over these passages for hundreds of years and continue to this day why we shouldn’t let people simply do what they’re convictions tell them to do and focus on larger kingdom issues

  2. You said, “I’m sorry, but how genuine a faith can someone have if she comes with an attitude of my-way-or-the-highway? ”

    If you equate going to church with faith in Christ, then I suppose that this type of attitude could be a problem for you. However, increasingly these days, people are starting to view faith in Christ as something separate from the corporate church. From what I have learned in my life about churches, it pays to be discerning and not turn over the keys of my faith into the hands of just anyone. Sometimes, church people are wrong, and when that happens, we have to call them into accountability. I can understand that you don’t feel oppressed by your pastor, but how do you think the girls of today and the women of tomorrow will react?

    Also, it seems counter to me that women, who are gifted by the Holy Spirit, should be restricted from using their gifts in a place where it should be a safe haven for them above all other places.

    I do ministry outside of the corporate church and I have found that it is much easier for me to do God’s work outside of a church than to get anything accomplished within. This isn’t because I have an egocentric attitude, but rather because those within the church are constantly requiring me to give my Christian credentials because they fear that my faith may not “come from a right spirit.” The seniors I hold hands with and encourage don’t care whether I am an ordained minister or not. They are looking for love, acceptance, and hope.

  3. Rebecca, I disagree with much that you said, for Biblical reasons. But let’s step back for a minute and look at a birds-eye view:

    Can we agree to define feminism as a geopolitical movement — the economic, political, and tribal power of women? And can we define the spiritual role of women in the church as something entirely different — not a matter of power but of whether or not the spirit of God is being given free reign or else “quenched” by tradition?

    No question these two issues intermingle a bit because lots of churches are more like political entities than assemblies of God’s called children; and whatever is happening in the world system has an impact on the thinking of people in the church.

    But if we keep these matters separate, than it’s easier to see that what Jim is considering is a narrow question: what example did Jesus set in the treatment of women, and do we read Paul as contradicting the example of Jesus? Jim says, Jesus must trump Paul. His argument doesn’t hinge on the meaning of what Paul taught. But I disagree with your reading of Paul, and I think Paul’s example and teaching DO harmonize with Jesus. I’d like to discuss that more.

    Regarding the larger feminist movement, I would argue that the church is out of harmony with God on that one, too. Since “looking to your husband” was part of the curse placed on Eve, I think if we find evidence of those curses being lifted, we should recognize that God is behind the changes in the way people think. The abolitionist movement, the industrial revolution, the explosion of travel and knowledge and invention … and the feminist movement … all began about the same time in the last third of the 19th century and have kept expanding to the present day. Laborious labor has been on the decline world-wide ever since.

    For over a century now, pain in childbirth has undergone major reductions, the world has grown a million times richer while the labor required to create wealth has shrunk markedly; and the economic independence of women from oppressive marriages, cultures, and governments has grown steadily. To me these are signs of the hand of God, reversing those ancient curses that he imposed for the bulk of human history.

    So I think the church (and right-wing political candidates) who try to roll back these trends are on the wrong side — not only of history, but of God’s will for the transformation of human society, in an era just ahead.

    And those who squelch women from contributing as gifted in the church have ALWAYS been quenching God’s spirit.

  4. Becky, you’ve taken a tiger by the tail, but I am not surprised. It isn’t your way to let people get away with things contrary to the Word of God.

    Some thoughts: some women may be rebellious; but some may have to endure less than Biblical views of our gender and our submission. I’ve been told that my thinking will never be as clear as a man’s because as a woman my response will be first and prevailingly emotional. This upset me, because it means that whatever I add to a conversation will be judged from this basis; and I always try to get before God and ask for the mind of Christ.

    I do agree with you that we must be submissive to whatever, and to all, that the Lord requires; that this submission includes following God-given, gender roles. Also, that feminists should concentrate elsewhere, on the issues you mentioned, not primarily the Church.

    Have I told you this before? One thing I’ve noticed about women seminary professors (forgive me, reader, if you are one and would NEVER do this) is that they tend to treat the Word more lightly. As a Christian Ed major, a woman professor encouraged us students to ‘come up with’ our own names for God. Such foolishness is mindboggling and heart-wrenching. Also, a woman pastor I know undercut the Gospel when leading a funeral service for a relative by calling Christianity ‘our faith tradition.’ I realize that there are many men pastors who fail the test of faithfulness. However, I really feel about women in pastoral/teaching ministry, that If we begin walking away from the Lord’s plan for us, even slightly, we will end up far afield.

    Maria

  5. Wait–a man acted rudely and that becomes evidence of a feminist war on culture? I did not know there was a feminist war on culture, but this individual act of an adult male does not seem to me to be proof of the death of chivalry, or of a feminist war. It seems more to be proof that he is a jerk. The death of courtesy is much more worrisome than the death of chivalry.

  6. Mr. Henderson, thank you for stopping by to discuss this issue. I really appreciate the opportunity, though I have to clarify that my engagement with your material was through your article rather than your book.

    I’m assuming your questions about a headcovering and makeup has to do with whether or not we are to understand the Bible literally or not. The fact that the Bible gives no command against wearing makeup shouldn’t be a point of contention, then.

    Scripture does give some general principles to women that are timeless even as they must be interpreted within the culture. For example when Paul says in 1 Timothy that women are to “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly,” what is considered modest in the 21st century is quite different than what would have been modest a hundred years earlier.

    However, the fact that the role of pastor-teacher is reserved for men is not such a cultural issue. In the 1 Timothy passage I mentioned, Paul gives a couple why‘s, both anchored in history. In the first place, order of creation gives Adam the position of teacher. Second, the fact that Eve, not Adam, was deceived, means women are to refrain from taking on the teaching role in the Church.

    This position of the man as teacher in the church is validated by the passages that give the qualifications for pastors and elders and by Jesus’s own example. He had, as you pointed out in your article, a generous attitude toward women and certainly they were numbered among His followers, and still He did not choose any to be part of the twelve.

    Why, I wonder, do women chafe under this idea? Men can’t be mothers, nor can women be fathers. Gender actually does matter, so why is it upsetting to see that it matters in the Church?

    I’d also challenge your idea that “millions of Christians have disagreed over these passages for hundreds of years.” I don’t suspect there were means of surveying people’s opinions all those hundreds of years ago, and there certainly isn’t documentation to indicate there was the kind of mass uprising against the Church that you indicate.

    But even more importantly, the Bible isn’t really the sort of thing that’s to be put to a popular vote. If every last person on the earth thought abortion was right, it would not make it right, because we have God’s command not to murder.

    In the same way God’s design for Church leadership is clear.

    Becky

  7. As a feminist who is a Christian in a complementarian marriage I waited a few days until I had time to sit down and approach this analytically.

    First off, the church does better when it says “tell me why you think you’re right” instead of shouting down people with the bully stance of “YOU ARE WRONG”. As a young girl I was called to ministry, but as the member of a church which teaches women could not be pulpit ministers I was conflicted and angry. A lifetime later I see how God has made literally thousands of opportunities for me to minister outside the confines of the pulpit. God wanted me to fulfill a call. God made the internet so that I’d have a place to do so. God is so much bigger than the confines of man.

    “He advocates “staying in the room” and having a conversation because we’re supposed to love one another.”

    Yes, I advocate that too. You keep using Jesus as your example, and I agree that as Christians we should. But it’s really dangerous to cast yourself or those in your position as being automatically in the “Jesus” role and then deciding that everyone who is outside those bounds is automatically in the “Not Jesus” role. You aren’t Jesus. Your pastor isn’t Jesus and your deacons aren’t Jesus. So staying in the room and having a conversation is PRECISELY what Jesus asks us all to do in Matthew.

    “What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.”

    Do you even know what you’re talking about?!? In your desire to hate feminism you’ve done parlous little research. Feminists–and in particular Christian feminists–have done a great deal about these things. I was fighting pornography as a feminist for FIFTEEN YEARS (1) before the church would even talk about it from the pulpit. I’ve been working against sex trafficking for decades; in fact it was feminists like me that brought sex trafficking to the attention of the church. You seem to see feminists solely as a bunch of pro-choice activitists who bully their way into the pulpit and enjoy casting them as villains. You seem to be closed off to any positive news about feminists. I could be wrong, but that’s how this article read. It reads as though you’re saying “shut up or get out of my church.”

    Google:

    (1) Feminists Fighting Pornography
    (2) The Trafficking Project: Exchange on Feminism and Trafficking
    (3) CHASTE history

  8. April, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your thoughtful response.

    You said, in part, If you equate going to church with faith in Christ, then I suppose that this type of attitude could be a problem for you. Actually, the quote from Mr. Henderson’s article said that some of these women are walking away from “the faith” and in some cases, from God. So I’m not equating going to church with faith in Christ.

    On that point, however, I think we’re seeing people evaluate Biblical injunctions based on personal choice rather than on acceptance of God’s authority. So if we don’t like the fact that the Bible says men should be pastors, not women, we believe the church should change. On the other hand, if individuals want to walk away from the church we don’t think the Scriptural injunction to keep meeting together needs to be obeyed.

    So in reality, I think the Bible itself is under attack today. We don’t view it as authoritative, which gives us the right to pick and choose what we want to follow. But that’s another subject for a different day.

    April, I agree with you that people in any church can be wrong. Maybe here’s where we need to enter into a conversation, though, rather than leaving.

    You also said Also, it seems counter to me that women, who are gifted by the Holy Spirit, should be restricted from using their gifts in a place where it should be a safe haven for them above all other places. The problem I have here is that the Holy Spirit authored the Bible, and He gifts believers. Does He work against Himself? I don’t think so. I accept both to be true and believe that He will resolve how we women are to use the gifts He’s given us in ways that are consistent with His commands for us.

    And April, if I came across as saying that I think people ministering outside the church are egocentric, I am very sorry. That was not my intention.

    Rather, I was equating those Mr. Henderson said were leaving God with the rich young ruler who left Jesus because he loved his stuff more. I think there are women who love power more than they love God. It’s an idol, and instead of us standing up and saying, I love you too much to let you put that idol up along side Jesus, we are accommodating that kind of idol worship. We are hurting our sisters by doing so.

    Becky

  9. Owen, thanks for your comment. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, too. I think a thoughtful interchange of ideas is healthy.

    As you noted, we do disagree on some key issues. One that seems central is the idea that tradition quenches the Holy Spirit.

    Paul actually wrote a command to Christians not to quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) tucked in behind rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in everything. It’s hard not to see this as a command to individuals. In other words, the traditions of my church cannot quench the Spirit in me. Only I can quench His Spirit in me — which I can do by how I respond to adversity or whatever.

    Another key difference is the idea that Jesus trumps Paul. Since I believe that the Holy Spirit wrote all of Scripture, I don’t see one as better or more right or closer to God’s mind than the other. All Scripture is revelation of God’s Person, plan, work. When we see things that don’t seem to go together, we have to wrestle with them, not pick and choose between them.

    I guess the third area we differ in is the idea that the curse is lifting. I don’t see that taught in Scripture so any perception that things are getting better is inaccurate. I would challenge that on observable grounds, too. Take the feminist movement, for example. While I agree with much on principle — people should not repress people — the working out of feminist aims has led to an astounding number if abortions. If there was nothing else, that would be enough for me to say, this feminist movement is not good for our culture — anyone’s culture.

    Becky

  10. Maria, thanks for your comment. I understand what you’re saying. For years and years I worked in an environment where I felt valued and respected, in no way marginalized because I was a woman. Then I switched to a job held predominantly by men–a job requiring me to do a number of interviews, mostly of men. Many responded in a positive way, treating me kind of like a sister, but a few acted as if I had no business talking to them. It was an eye opener.

    I’ve also faced some similar treatment online, but I think that’s more because I’m a Bible-believing Christian. The attitude is, OH, so THAT’S where you’re coming from. Now I know you — you’re hateful and a bigot and can’t think straight.

    In these instances, I’ve had to do a lot of forgiving, and ultimately a lot of trusting that God will take care of me and of His reputation.

    Becky

    • Becky, thank you for sharing your experience; it’s an eye opener in general, as well as providing insight into your life and experience. We know that the Lord sees us as we are, and loves and affirms us, and gives us avenues of service and joyful achievement that are tailor-made.

      Yes, we must forgive! Yes, we must obey.

  11. Hi, Mary Mac, thanks for stopping by.

    You began your comment by saying Wait–a man acted rudely and that becomes evidence of a feminist war on culture?

    Actually, no, I intended the story to serve as an illustration. I’ve also posted an article about a man who stepped up and was particularly helpful to a couple women who were in need, so I’m not saying “All men behave badly, which proves feminism is ….” First, all men don’t behave badly. Secondly, one man doing so doesn’t prove anything.

    That being said, as you point out, common courtesy says, help the person bent to the ground in front of you; don’t step over him or her. Maybe the guy was just a jerk as you suggest, but I also know men have become conflicted about how they are to interact with women. Are they supposed to help strangers? Open the door for a woman? Those questions didn’t use to exist. They do now, and in that situation, it appeared this man was “liberated” from any need to treat a woman with kindness. And that’s sad.

    Becky

  12. Katherine, thanks for taking time to read this post and comment. It’s always interesting to get different views on any subject.

    I wonder if I wasn’t clear in some of my statements. I don’t equate myself or my pastors with Jesus. I use Scripture, however, as the starting point in forming my views.

    As far as “staying in the room” and “having a conversation” is concerned, perhaps you missed what Mr. Henderson said in his article — that it is women who don’t agree with the Biblical admonition about women and the pastorate who are leaving the church and in some cases, leaving the faith and God. How then is the church to “stay in the room” with people who aren’t there? Who is it that actually needs to “stay in the room”?

    You then asked Do you even know what you’re talking about?!? Well, yes, I’m talking about a Washington Post article that says religion is the last frontier feminism needs to conquer. Clearly the implication is that feminism has already settled in all other segments of society. The author is not addressing the huge problems I mentioned. No. The real issue feminism needs to tackle, apparently, based on Mr. Henderson’s book and article, is not the egregious things happening to women all over the world, with governments doing little to nothing to intervene, but women not teaching in the Church.

    Katherine, I’m happy to know you’ve personally been in the fight against some of these problems. There are lots of people — men and women — who are. I’m not suggesting that you or other Christians or feminists may not be doing something. But if women like the Faith editor at the Washington Post believe religion is the last frontier for feminism, then clearly, there’s a lot of ground still to cover.

    Obviously I gave you the impression that I “hate feminism.” Honestly, I’ve never given it much thought — whether I hate the “feminist” philosophy or not. I do know that I hate some of the things that have resulted from the feminist movement in the 60s — legalizing abortion being the most egregious.

    Katherine, the tone of your comment came across as angry. If I said something that personally offended you, please forgive me. I had no individual in mind in any of my remarks, and I was in no way aiming anything I said in your direction.

    Becky

  13. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting such a flurry of comments when I stumbled upon this post either. In fact, if you ask me about teaching, I would point to a number of women I know who are involved in teaching ministeries–the majority of my church’s Sunday School teachers, Awana leaders, and VBS volunteers are women. While I realize there’s a difference between those roles and serving from the pulpit, I think there are plenty of oppuritunites for women within that setting.

  14. Great point, Galadriel. Without a doubt, God does give women an opportunity to teach if He’s equipped them to do so.

    And yes, I was surprised at the flurry of activity, too. Mr. Henderson posted the link to the article to his Facebook page, which brought some folks that don’t normally visit.

    But I’m happy for the discussion. I think it’s important for us to think these things out.

    Becky

  15. Rebecca,

    Could you explain why the “order of creation” gives Adam (males) an exclusive role of teaching.

    Also, if Eve being deceived precludes her (females) from a teaching position why would Adam’s sinning with eyes wide open not preclude him (males) from teaching?

    These are genuine questions. I hope you can help me understand.

  16. Angie, I appreciate your questions. The thing is, I’m not aware of any place in the Bible that tells us why God put a premium on the order of creation. I will say that God did establish Adam’s relationship with animals before He created Eve. So in that respect, Adam already was in a leadership role. If God had created Eve after Adam and given her the headship, we would undoubtedly be asking why He took it away from Adam and gave it to her. The fact is, if someone is to lead — and that’s the ethical structure of every institution — then why not the one who was first?

    In the same way God didn’t explain His thoughts about giving Man the leadership role because He created Adam first, He didn’t explain why Eve’s consequence for falling to Satan’s deception played a part in the assignment of roles in the Church. I can speculate on that one too, but it’s simply me coming up with ideas that I think plausibly answer the why question.

    Most prominently is the fact that it’s shaky business to put someone easily deceived in the role as teacher. Are all women easily deceived because Eve was? We know there are gender differences, so who’s to say we’re not, though I hate to think that might be so. What is clear, though, is that Eve was given a consequence — that Adam was to rule over her — and we “inherited” it, in the same way that Adam’s willful sin brought Humankind’s sin nature into being.

    As I think about this issue, I think what’s really at stake is our willingness to bow to God’s authority. If He is the just, good, sovereign ruler, then He can set up the consequences for disobedience and the structure of His Church as He sees fit. He doesn’t need to run them by us for our OK because it’s His call. If we don’t understand them, that might be because we don’t see what He sees or know what He knows. Our role here is to trust Him. As soon as we think we know better than He or take on the role to judge His decisions by our standards, then we are no longer bowing to His authority.

    Hope that’s helpful in some measure, Angie.

    Becky

  17. Becky,

    Since God didn’t explain why men have authority over his wife, as you said, and since there is no prescriptive or imperatives for marriage to be set up in a corporate or military paradigm, I think an interpretation of male and female as co-vice regents and stewards of creation (Ge 1) as co-heirs of the grace of life (1 Pe 3:7), and kings and priest (1 Pe 2:9, Re 5:10) using their gifts and talents for the mutual building up of the other, and particularly in marriage as “one” as the head-body metaphor of Eph 5, without hierarchy is just as valid. Without a doubt, the authors and original audience of scripture lived within a patriarchal culture, but scripture does not endorse this paradigm but works beautifully within it.

    For God to assign Eve (females) a subordinate role to males for all time because Eve was deceived says something about God’s character that I do not believe because it makes God less holy and just than I. As a parent, I consider mitigating circumstances when my children err, I expect God to do no less. Adam’s ruling over Eve (Ge 3) was not prescriptive but descriptive within narrative prose. Prescriptive commands are contained with the codified laws. Genesis one makes clear that male and female were both given co-vice regency with the equal responsibility to steward, rule, and be fruitful and multiple (which is mutually dependent on both to accomplish). In Genesis two, Eve is described as an ezer (from words meaning to rescue, save, strength, power, aid, help) kenedgo (facing, corresponding). As ezer kenedgo Eve is created as a strength, power, aid that corresponds and is equal to Adam and she has equal responsibility for stewardship of creation and for being fruitful and multiplying.

    To believe that Eve was deceived and therefore, to “think that [women being more easily deceived] might be so”, is to read the text with a presupposition (which we all are prone to do and must fight hard not to, myself included). First, to believe so denies the reality that men regularly are deceived and make poor decisions. Second, how can you have any certainty about anything, if you believe by your very nature you are prone to being deceived. Even if a man told you, “This is truth,” how would you know you are not being deceived by his truth claim.

    I see at stake a willingness to bow to what we know to be good, true, holy, and just about God’s character especially as revealed in Christ Jesus rather than tradition.

    I appreciate your attempt to help me understand, but rather than settling any issues, I think it created more questions and doubts. For example, you assume because of gender differences that it is likely women are more easily deceived because Eve was “deceived and fell into temptation” and for that reason all women for all time are relegated to a subordinate position. You did not surmise the gender difference that gives males the right to control, direct, exact obedience (authority) over their wives despite that Adam sinned with his eyes wide open.

    Thank you again for your gracious response.

  18. Angie, I appreciate your well thought out response. Your remarks brought a couple things to mind. First, I agree with you, apart from the Holy Spirit, I would have to question every thing I believe, wondering if indeed I might be deceived.

    Scripture says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else/ And is desperately sick;/ Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). The answer is, God searches the heart and tests the mind.

    But my point is, we are all deceived in that way, apart from the Holy Spirit. Men too.

    But here’s what’s pertinent for our discussion. Eve was deceived, so she had one set of consequences whereas Adam willfully sinned, and therefore had his set of consequences.

    We know that Adam’s consequences have affected us all. Eve’s seem to have a carryover only to women, the pain in childbearing being the most obvious one.

    As to the husband/wife relationship not being structured like a military organization, I have no argument with you there. But every institution has someone who says, The buck stops with me. I bear the responsibility. When the husband is in that role, the wife has the opportunity to submit which in turn completes the picture of the Church, the submissive bride of Christ. I just heard a great sermon by Alistair Begg this morning that says it much better than I can.

    One more point which I think is central, Angie. You said, For God to assign Eve (females) a subordinate role to males for all time because Eve was deceived says something about God’s character that I do not believe because it makes God less holy and just than I. I’m wondering then what you do with 1 Tim. 2:14 that clearly states why God’s standard is for women not to preach.

    I guess I’m concerned that all of us, men and women alike, are forgetting how to submit to God’s authority. If He being omniscient, says He wants men to preach, why is that hard to accept? Are we smarter than God? Is He less holy because He knows something that we don’t know and has given us a command we don’t like? How many times do you as a mother give your kids some command they don’t like? They may not understand, even after you explain, but does that make them right and you wrong? Of course not. Some times, it’s necessary to bow to God’s authority, much like Job did when he couldn’t understand what God was doing through all the adversity he suffered.

    OK, sorry I got so long winded.

    Again, I appreciate you willing to discuss the issue, Angie. God’s blessing on you.

    Becky

  19. “Katherine, the tone of your comment came across as angry.”

    Because I very much was. When you say strident and dismissive things that are categorically untrue such as “What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.”

    That? That makes me angry. Because it seems that you (and you admitted you were angry in the body of your article) have a bone to pick with what you view Feminism to be. You’re not the only one. But in your desire to write off feminism as a dark and corrupting influence you pay absolutely no heed to things that Christian feminists were doing, and in many cases doing decades in advance of the organised Church.

    Some feminists may be out to change the way their corporate church functions. That’s between them and God. That is no reason to continue to paint feminism as a destructive, malign force.

    “I’m not suggesting that you or other Christians or feminists may not be doing something. ” It’s what you said, though. Right there. In the body of the article.

    • Katherine, I’ll try to address some of your concerns. First, I’m sorry you read that statement you quoted as dismissive and strident. I said I was vexed and earlier that I was troubled. I said I needed to calm down toward the end because I was getting exercised over the idea that a Christian would write a book about whether or not women can be pastors instead of addressing egregious offenses against women. I’m still exercised over the issue (you can interpret that as angry if you want to and I’d say, yes, I’m angry at sin). I’m exercised over the idea that women could “leave God” over wanting to be a pastor. I’m not sure why you think these are dismissive and strident.

      I’m sorry you’re angry that I conclude that what I termed the “triumph of feminism” hasn’t reduced pornography, prostitution, or sex-trafficking. While one study shows that 67 percent believe in the equality of men and women (the triumph of feminism), we haven’t made a dent in pornography or prostitution and are only just now making a small dent in sex-trafficking because it’s reached the awareness of the media.

      The truth is, leading feminists bicker over these things, some believing the woman has the right to choose prostitution and pornography and some believing they exploit women. Meanwhile, I hear on the news another plea for prostitution to be legalized and I read about city ordinances being debated regarding whether or not to require condoms for those in the porn industry. So, no, I don’t see that feminism has made any progress toward bringing an end to prostitution or pornography.

      You’re absolutely right when you said I paid no heed to what Christian feminists are doing. I was writing about feminism’s influence on society. Perhaps Christian feminists have more influence on the movement than I’m aware of. Here’s what I see though:

      And because “women” is an all encompassing term that includes middle-class white women, rich black lesbians, and working-class straight Asian women, an organic intertwining with movements for racial and economic equality, as well as gay rights, is inherent to the feminist mandate. (excerpt from “What Is Feminism?”
      by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

      Add in the advocacy for abortion, and I don’t find feminism as a philosophy to be bibliocentric.

      If other Christians such as yourself have resolved the two, that’s fine. However, in this article I was not addressing a variation of feminism that doesn’t represent the mainstream.

      Katherine, if you are still angry with me, feel free to vent as you must. I am sad that you view me in such negative terms, but I guess I’m getting used to being misunderstood. :lol:

      Be that as it may, I probably won’t have any more to say on the subject.

      May God richly bless you in your efforts to serve Him as He leads you.

      Becky

  20. Becky,

    Good morning. I appreciate the response.

    First, for Adam’s consequences to affect us all, plus to have Eve’s consequences also affect only women, again seems unjust for a just God. It is likely we read the Genesis account differently. I read it as narrative and not as law. I read it as descriptive and not prescriptive. The ideal for male and female is as a Blessed Alliance as co-vice regents and stewards of God’s creation (Ge 1).

    Second, corporations or platoons may have a person for whom “the buck stops”. However, marriage does not have to have a person for whom “the buck stops” (i.e. the husband b/c he is male) therefore granting privelege or preeminence (i.e. authority and tie-breaking power).

    If the state holds both custodial parents responsible for malnutrition, for not reporting knowledge of abuse at the hands of the other parent, etc. God is no less just. Like the state, I do not believe the mother/wife has less responsibility for the care and protection of her children. If a couple is late on their mortgage, the lien holder is not going to hold the male (husband) more responsible. The wife is not going to be allowed to stay in the home and the husband foreclosed upon because “the buck stops with him.” I expect God is no less just.

    I agree that a husband and wife (in our culture) can mutually consent to a hierarchical arrangement, and so long as they are transformed by Christ, their marriage can be God-honoring. I also believe and live out the arrangement of a Blessed Alliance as co-vice regents with equal responsibility to use the gifts and talents to steward creation and their spheres of influence. If I don’t use my influence and gifts well, I and only, will be responsible to God. If I do well, I expect to hear, “Welcome, thy good and faithful servant.” Likewise, with my husband. “The buck”, the responsibility for using our own gifts, knowledge, experiences, etc. stops with each individual.

    The idea of a male and female stewarding their gifts, talents, experiences, and knowledge as a Blessed Alliance is a superb example of the Church (female/Bride) empowered by the Holy Spirit working in a Blessed Alliance as one symbiotic unit with Christ (male/Groom) which seems to be the significance of the extended head-body metaphor of Eph 5.

    Usually, the argument goes: there must be a tie-breaker and because “the buck stops with the male” he gets two votes. From my perspective and experience, I just cannot imagine having a marriage like this. I suspect there are couples whose values and missions are so opposed that a hierarchical arrangement is necessitated and then there are those who believe a hierarchical arrangement is most God-honoring.

    As far as 1 Ti 2:14, I suspect again it has to do with the way we read the bible. I read 1 Ti 2:14 as a personal letter addressing real people, in real time, with real cultural and situational contexts which I may not fully grasp. I do not read it as codified law but read as best possible through Christological lenses; therefore, I do not see it as a command for all women for all time, even if it is a command for all Ephesian women or one woman at that time. So, for some, it is not about not submitting to God’s authority or being smarter than God by women teaching or preaching, but about not submitting to to God’s authority by not taking responsibility for their part of the Blessed Alliance and stewarding well.

    Thanks again for your efforts to help me understand. I hope I have helped you understand that a non-hierarchical marriage arrangement can be just as God-honoring.

    Blessings and peace.
    Angie

  21. Angie, I agree. I do think our views of the Bible are different. I read much of it as a narrative (some is poetry or prophecy), but one that is true and also authoritative because God Himself authored it through the Holy Spirit working in human writers. Hence, what He chose to reveal has the significance it states — it’s instructive, corrective, it’s illustrative, and, yes, it’s prescriptive.

    I believe the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible, so I believe it is to be understood as a whole, not as isolated verses or passages. Also, the entire Bible gives the picture God wants to reveal, so I can’t ignore or dismiss passages or books I don’t like.

    All that background to lay the foundation to my response to your comment: First, for Adam’s consequences to affect us all, plus to have Eve’s consequences also affect only women, again seems unjust for a just God. My approach is to start with what I know according to the Bible: Since God is just and good, and since He said what He said about women not being pastors as a result of Eve’s creation order and deception, I believe that is a just decision, one that has only good in mind.

    That’s why I’m willing to submit to it. Not because I like it. Not because I don’t think women could preach well or aren’t capable of understanding Scripture in the same way that men can, but because I trust our loving Heavenly Father Who knows more than I do and has revealed His will for the Church. Why wouldn’t I want to submit to Him?

    But would it really be submission if I only do the things I like? Would it really be trust if I only do what I could see was good for me?

    The sermon I linked to in my last comment is all about how the Biblical husband-wife relationship is a silent sermon of Christ’s relationship with His Church — He the self-sacrificing One, His bride willing to submit to Him.

    You said of your own marriage, Angie, I also believe and live out the arrangement of a Blessed Alliance as co-vice regents with equal responsibility to use the gifts and talents to steward creation and their spheres of influence. I have no argument with this at all.

    I do, however, believe God has also provided “gender roles,” if you will. Not the stuff based on tradition, but let’s face it, childbearing is a gender role. (Why do so many people bristle at the idea that women and men are actually different and therefore that it’s really OK for us to like different things and want to do different stuff? But that’s my question and really has no bearing on this discussion.) Since God gives gifts and talents and roles to individuals, why wouldn’t He also do so in His Church? In fact, we know He did. Paul writes extensively about the gifts of the Spirit. He also addresses the role of pastor and elders. I don’t see why I should accept the one and not accept the other.

    But that brings us back to the differences we have about the Bible.

    One last thing. You said about “hierarchical marriages,” Usually, the argument goes: there must be a tie-breaker and because “the buck stops with the male” he gets two votes. I don’t know about that kind of marriage. The Bible doesn’t talk about votes at all. It talks about a wife willing to do what a husband who loves her so much he would die for her decides to do. I can’t imagine a woman on the planet not wanting to submit to someone who says, My life is all about serving you. That’s the symbiotic marriage you were talking about, and I suggest, the only way to achieve this is through this Biblical model.

    Interesting, interesting discussion. Again, I appreciate the time you’ve put into it, Angie.

    Becky

  22. This has all been a hotly debated topic in my own denomination, with some churches requesting that we have deaconesses, while others maintain we should not. It’s given me a lot of great material to read and ponder on the equal but different roles of men and women.

    I appreciate, Becky, that you always ground your posts, comments and responses in scriptural authority.

    May I recommend another great preacher on the covenant of marriage? Tim Keller has recently published a book titled The Meaning of Marriage. His wife participated in the writing of it, and they were recently speaking about it on Focus on the Family. She gave one of the best descriptions of a submissive wife and a sacrificial husband I’ve heard in a long time (but I love Alistair Begg’s take, as well!).

  23. [...] LuElla Millerm, from A Christian Worldview of Fiction,wonders about the Woman’s Role being anathema saying “”Feminism has affected all [...]


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