“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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