Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why it's hard to be a Christian Feminist

Scenario 1

Let's suppose that you consider it virtuous to speak (and act) against injustice and oppression.

Let's also suppose that you consider it virtuous to commit yourself to a church, which means, among other things, continuing to attend even if you have issues with the church's theology or practices or members. After all, you can't change the church for the better if you just up and leave, and frankly, church-hoppers are annoying.

Let's also suppose that your church refuses to give women and men equal status in the church. In particular, certain jobs that could be done equally well by both men and women are reserved for men, and this is reflective of a deeper misogyny woven into the fabric of the church and maintained by its traditions.

Let's also suppose that you're a man.

What do you do?

Scenario 2

OK, now let's say that you've discussed the issue in bible classes, and with church leaders, and you've already refused to serve the church in any office that is not open to both men and women: One Sunday, once you finished leading worship, you politely said that you wouldn't be leading worship any more -- that you wouldn't be doing anything that men and women weren't both allowed to do -- and that no one should be upset or agitated, and then you smiled and sat down.

So you've waited for a year or so, but none of the church leaders seem interested in pursuing the issue of whether the church practices are unjust, oppressive or unfair. And in fact there is no real forum for such a discussion.

And so you're thinking about taking some action to denote your continual displeasure ... if only make yourself a little less complicit in the sins of this church that you find yourself unable to leave or change. In particular, you're thinking about wearing a gag to church every Sunday. And because your denomination is ripe for a big messy schism, you're looking into recruiting like-minded people all over the world who will wear their gags to church, maybe every Sunday, or maybe just one Sunday a year. Like father's day or something.

How's that sound?

39 comments:

Connor said...

You've got to get some women on board. I know, most have been trained to let the men lead and therefore you as the male should be the one leading the call for change. I think that is the problem. Seems that most of the females don't see a problem with the injustice that you speak of (or hide the fact that they do) so its hard to enact change.

I suggest the women stop singing in church; that would definitely send some shock waves through a Church of Christ.

Matthew said...

"You've got to get some women on board."

Good point.

I've had several women tell me "thanks" for saying something, so maybe I can get them to broach the issue again. I don't think the problem is resistance to the change as much as it is general apathy, or maybe the women in question fear that they would appear self-serving or pushy.

And in our particular church, there's also the issue of our weird bifurcated leadership structure in which one half has all the personal investment and the other half has all the money. I had decided that the kindest thing to do would be let the paid ministers lead the way, but now that we only have one minister and he's changing jobs soon, I'm not so worried about ministers' paychecks.

On the other hand, I suspect that once again I'm the only oddball in our church who is absolutely convinced that this sort of segregation is unacceptable ... the rest are still probably still wrestling with what to do with the parts of the Bible that insist that women are second-class human beings.

Emerging From The Fire said...

Well, in your imaginary scenario, I would have to say that you are an awesome guy -- deeply thoughtful and a champion of crushing injustice! I LOVE the gag idea -- very silent revolution!

I find it hard to understand that the rest of the congregation would not share your feelings. But, alas. Some are blind.

My tendency in such things is to scream my displeasure at anyone who will listen, protest, etc. But, in the end, I think I only succeed in annoying people. The most effective strategy seems to be scheduling an appointment with head honcho, calmly voicing concerns, etc. etc.

But, my vote is still for the gag.

Matthew said...

"But, in the end, I think I only succeed in annoying people."

Meh, I'm there with you.

I really think the most effective way to advance this change is to subversively encourage a change in hermeneutic. In my fundamentalist tradition, prooftexting is a trump card that has to be dealt with before we can make any meaningful progress.

But it would be interesting to know whether there is a significant number of people in my tradition who feel so strongly about social justice that they would wear a gag to church.

Supafat said...

I think it has to do with education. I know i have been struggling with this issue for YEARS ever since my lest year in college. The problem i have there are plenty of examples or women leading the church, but there are plenty examples when they are told to act a cretin way. my struggle is that if think that that passage was meant for those people and not for me how do i know that the good example are meant for me and not to make a point for those readers. I think that it is a matter for education and talking about the issue. maybe there needs to be a bible study not at the the church building, where you can bring in other speakers and not have to worry about the church money leadership. I do not what to do i have been struggling whit this for awhile. IN the scenarios i would think that it is time to take a different approach, because being silent is not seem to be working. Also you got to think about the Women who are happy in the role, how do you address them who feel that there role in the church is not to be a Leader like a song leader, but a servant and make food, or clean the church. how do you not make them fill like what they do is not good enough cause they are not in front of the church Leading where people can see them.

Emerging From The Fire said...

I tend to think you can subversively bring change with some planning.

My church would LOVE the gag thing -- this is what they do -- but I doubt anyone from your church would know...

On to prooftexting!

Cody said...

I like it. I might actually attend a CofC once per year to see something like that happen.

I know it wouldn't be as effective if I didn't attend all the time, but I could gag my 11 month old daughter and that might get some attention.

A. Lo said...

Supafat brings up a good point: How can you convince women who agree with you that they can acceptably do this stuff without causing a rift, and how can you convince the women who don’t that the gifts they feel comfortable using are still useful and valued? (And still, perhaps, woo them over to your side.)

Although I suppose I am still a bit confused. Wasn’t the point of that class on the Kingdom to address some of that hermeneutical stuff? Why didn’t it “work”? Why are there still people who don’t agree with you?

I do have one suggestion. You could consider your first step to be fostering a change in the people who “fund” the church. (I’m thinking you might be able to hook up with a church that has lots of resources and is more comfortable with women in leadership roles and is also looking to become more missional. I’ve obviously got one in mind here.)

Other than that, though I can’t offer any good answers. I am still trying to get my stinkin’ small group to accept the fact that I am serious when I say I think we should exclusively call God “she”.

shane said...

Connor said, "I suggest the women stop singing in church; that would definitely send some shock waves through a Church of Christ."

Awesome idea, particularly on those "Someday" part songs.

This protest idea sounds like it comes straight out of the minor prophets: a song leader called to wear a gag and preaches a garbled (because of said gag) 'Thus saith the LORD' doom statement to a congregation that neither hears nor listens.

But then you get labeled a weirdo and you lose your voice too. My only hope is to subversively continue to build a group of people who are silently offended until we have a majority (ideally a consensus) and change our practice in a loving and graceful coup. I sadly believe it will take most of my life to get there.

Matthew said...

@Supafat:

I think that's a pretty good way of understanding at the problem: people want to say that the Bible is authoritative today, but they also want to say that a few things have changed over the last 2000 years.

It's hard to let yourself bring wisdom and nuance to the text, because your entire life you've been pounded over the head with the idea that only dirty rotten sinners "pick and choose" the parts of the bible should be accepted as true and authoritative today. But in my mind, the alternative to "picking and choosing" is an idiotic insistence that the bible is perfect, or a wholesale ignorance about how the bible arrived in our hands. It's not particularly popular to say those sorts of things at church, though.

Regarding the women who like cooking the potluck dishes and taking care of kids in the nursery ... I wouldn't want to say anything that belittles important tasks like teaching children, but I also hope that our female bible class teachers will be grown-up enough to see that a female preacher in no way lessens the value of a female bible class teacher.

Connor said...

I've been thinking about the whole causing a problem or split issue. It always seems to come up when talking about this topic; I remember the same being discussed in a class at "scenario church."

While I do think that such concerns are valid and good, I'm beginning to think that we often use it as an excuse not to act. I assume most wouldn't hesitate to initiate the split if blacks were being excluded from something in the church or to make it more relevant, if the church leadership decided that women shouldn't speak at church at all.

Jennifer B. said...

Well... I like the idea. But if you think being a male Christian feminist is hard...try being a *female* Christian feminist though, when your only "forums" are ladies days where the topic typically involves something about how God loves us without our makeup on, and we're beautiful princesses... (Seriously. My last ladies event involved adult women wearing plastic dress-up crowns.) *sigh* It has to start, I think, with discontent women who aren't willing to accept a secondary role that's not Scriptural... but because of our climate, it'll have to be publically led by like-minded men.

And might I suggest Mother's Day as the gag date... I think there's some appropriate irony there.

Matthew said...

@a.lo
Wasn’t the point of that class on the Kingdom to address some of that hermeneutical stuff?

I really don't know. What I do know is that the point of the class *wasn't* to seriously examine making changes in the way we view gender in the church. My insistence that we should came as a bit of a surprise.

"You could consider your first step to be fostering a change in the people who “fund” the church."

I've been attempting this for a couple of years, and it should be fairly easy to accomplish when we don't have any paid staff. Besides, some of the sponsoring church people don't want us anyhow. Honestly, though, I'd rather not have a sponsoring church at all. Those of us who have jobs contribute enough money to pay for utilities, or for renting a rec center if we have to go back to that.

Good luck with your small group. =)

Matthew said...

@Cody:
You're hanging out with the UUs now, right? How is that? I read this one UU guy, so I wonder sometimes.

@Shane:
Ya, right out of the minor prophets. Got anything you want me to pull while I'm visiting your place?

@Connor:
Yeah, my brain keeps going back to the race metaphor, but I don't know that it really captures the conflict that's introduced by Paul's continual insistence that women should shut up at church. Maybe I should grab hold of that metaphor anyway ... as much of a sucker punch as that might be.

@jennifer:
Yipes, I won't argue with you about that. I've heard the horror stories. I disagree though, that the secondary role is not scriptural ... the scripture is conflicted about it, and so the secondary role both *is* and *is not* scriptural. A lot depends on which parts of scripture you decide to listen to.

scoots said...

I would take Matt's point a step farther. Sure there are places in Scripture that affirm women's leadership, but you typically have to "mine" them to get at grounds for women's equality. The much clearer texts, it seems to me, say that women are subordinate.

If that's the case, then the only way to get women's equality in the church is to lower your view of Scripture. The problem is, for CofC folks taking a lower view of Scripture feels like rejecting God -- when perhaps instead God wants us to have a lower view of Scripture, and to change our practices as we grow and learn.

I have a good friend at church who basically rejects the faith because she has a deep-seeded conviction that it has to be all-or-nothing with the Bible. Oddly, she's just about ready to give up belief in God before she gives up the infallibility of Scripture. And she knows that doesn't make sense, but it's something that's pounded into us from childhood.

I'm just starting to get comfortable with the notion of taking some scriptures and leaving others, and it's taken ten years of studying Bible and theology to get here.

I should point out, though, I do think it's hugely problematic to reject scriptures we don't like, and that's precisely why it's so important to persuade the community and not just leave and start a new church. One person could reject a Scripture on a whim; a community will typically do so only after careful thought, hopefully prayer, etc. Working in community isn't the best way to get results, but it's often the best way to avoid overreacting and creating other problems.

The gag wouldn't work, it seems to me, if you did it in a group that totally disagreed with your view. But since there are people in the crowd who are sympathetic, I'd think it might be a good way to get them to think more deeply about what you're saying. It's certainly got me thinking.

How does the woman you sit next to at church feel about the idea?

Lindemulder said...

"when your only "forums" are ladies days where the topic typically involves something about how God loves us without our makeup on, and we're beautiful princesses... (Seriously. My last ladies event involved adult women wearing plastic dress-up crowns.) *sigh*"

Jennifer, I sadly can relate to this. It even irks me to attend a "ladies" event as opposed to a "womens." Who said I was a lady?

I like the idea of the gag. Not sure how it would play out though. I think you all bring up valid points. What am I doing about it? I am making art. One drawing I did was a self portrait with my lips literally stitched together (on the drawing with real thread, not my living lips...although that might have gone over well too).

I think one view about the scripture might not be to reject any of it, but to say parts of it trump other parts. New Testament trumps Old. Jesus words and actions trump the apostle's and Paul's words.

Matthew said...

@Scoots:
"How does the woman you sit next to at church feel about the idea?"

So far, I haven't been able to help her understand why I think it's a big deal. On the other hand, she isn't really interested in reading some of the books I want her to read, so it's not all my fault. In any case, I reckon she wouldn't be too keen on the gag idea.

"I do think it's hugely problematic to reject scriptures we don't like"

I have mixed feelings about this rule. Its pupose could be to preserve scripture as a source of subversive moral teaching, a place where people can learn things that run counter to their culturally conditioned instincts.

Or maybe the goal of the rule is to preserve a source of moral guidance for those who haven't given much thought to ethics and think of the Bible as the only moral authority ... I mean, who knows what wild and harmful things a bunch of Baptists would do if you convinced them the Bible wasn't authoritative?

In any case, I'm inclined to think that people pretty much do what their culture says they should do, regardless of what their scriptures say, and it may be that the only thing that interpretation in community does is put the cultural brakes on and ensure that the church moves slightly less quickly than the culture. (In times of moral progress, that would be bad, and in times of moral regress, I guess it would be good.)

But despite all my pessimism about the normative value of scripture, I think you are right; we should try to be honest and thoughtful when choosing what to take to heart and what to let go. Regardless of the hermeneutical guidelines we set for ourselves, I would like for us to be able to approach scripture expectantly, hoping to find encouragement toward the virtue that we seek, and thinking of the text as less like a guide and more like a traveling companion.

shane said...

Scoots said, "I do think it's hugely problematic to reject scriptures we don't like"

On some level every interpreter is drawn to the volume of some texts, and whether consciously or not, as a byproduct mutes other texts.

But what about rejecting Scripture that doesn't conform to the gospel?

Emerging From The Fire said...

I feel Jennifer B.'s pain. I have had the same plastic crown experience. Most outsiders would assume that the people most resistant to women holding a second class status in a church would be the women themselves, but in my experience it is usually the men.

Sometimes other women make me mad.
(**grrr***)

As far as picking and choosing Bible verses, everyone does it. I have had many religious people throw that line at me about makeup, women wearing pants, etc.

My answer is always the same: "When is the last time you put someone to death for working on Sunday? Stoned someone to death for cursing. Never? Really? Well, get back to me when you do." (Exodus 35:2, Leviticus 24:16)

I mean, if you wear the dress of a Hasidic Jew and spend half the year fasting and following the Bible to the letter, you can tell me about picking and choosing Bible verses. Otherwise, you are just using it as an excuse to do something dumb that you wanted to do anyway.

Kathy said...

I believe in the authority of Scripture.
I try to submit myself to all Scripture.
I think men (and women) who impose their will as they are lording it over others by preventing an entire portion of their congregation (usually the majority) from using their spiritual gifts because of traditional and cultural proof-texting rather than submitting themselves to the entire Word of God will have to answer to God for that.

Paul said...

I like the idea a lot. I suppose whether it seems like it would actually be constructive would depend on trying to read where the particular congregation/church is with this issue.

But seems like if it isn't pushed at some points, things stay the same.

While the idea of having women on board is important, I'd think having other men on board would be no less important.

And the more, of both, the merrier...

scoots said...

Shane said: But what about rejecting Scripture that doesn't conform to the gospel?

What doesn't conform to the Gospel? To teach against remarriage after divorce (like Jesus taught), or to accept people and let them remarry? To preach fiery sermons threatening religious hypocrites with hell (like Jesus did), or to always preach more pastorally?

The tradition, according to Paul (1 Cor 15), is that the Gospel is simply the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the promise that we will receive resurrection if we have faith in his. What that means turns into a huge matter of interpretation.

scoots said...

lindemulder said: I think one view about the scripture might not be to reject any of it, but to say parts of it trump other parts. New Testament trumps Old. Jesus words and actions trump the apostle's and Paul's words.

I like this in theory, but the problem is that the Gospels were written decades after Paul wrote, and their authors shaped the words and deeds of Jesus according to their own theology. It's true that Jesus doesn't have any teachings about keeping women in their place, like Paul does, but on the other hand there's no way to know if, e.g., the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 really happened, or if it reflects Luke's theology more than Jesus'.

One way to look at the tradition is to say that Jesus appears to have respected and included women, but that he never said much explicitly about their role. As time went on, some theologians introduced developments: the author of 1 Timothy (probably not really Paul) in the direction of women being silent, and the author of Luke and Acts in the direction of women being disciples with the men.

I'm not convinced that we can know exactly what Jesus said to the point that it can trump anything. Personally, I think it would be more accurate to say that the church is choosing to follow the trajectory that we find to be true in our experience and our theological reflection.

Matthew said...

<_<

>_>

Don't tell anybody, but I've turned off comment moderation (again). Your comments will now appear immediately.

Shhhh.

roxanne said...

Wow great topic. I have been waiting for someone to say something about it. I don't have much time to comment here, it's late and I also didn't get a chance to read all the other comments yet, will do that later though. I just wanted to say thank you for saying what you said and for sticking up for us "women." See I didn't grow up in the church and wasn't "trained" as you all so call it, to be "submissive" and all of that and when I was learning about this doctrine of women in the church are to be silent and all of that I was rather shocked. It didn't make any sense to me. Basically I could be anything I want, at least that is what I was told as a child, I could be a CEO of a company, be a doctor or lawyer, a helicopter pilot, even president of the United States, but I am forbidden to teach adult men and women bibilical matters. I am forbidden to be a pulpit minister. Nonsense. At one point I wondered if I could win a sexual discrimination case if I ever wanted to take the church to court for these reasons. I mean think about it, if I had the education to be a preacher I would not be hired simply because of my sex. sounds like sexual discrimination to me.

Anyway, this is a sore spot with me and I could really go on. If this discussion is still going on I will comment more in the morning. God BLess.

Lindemulder said...

scoots said, I like this in theory, but the problem is that the Gospels were written decades after Paul wrote, and their authors shaped the words and deeds of Jesus according to their own theology.

For me this is "newish." I have been raised/trained in a conservative and restrictive church environment with catechism classes (which i forget most of), obligatory profession of faith etc. Over the years, as a young mother and wife (committed a horrible sin - married outside the church), I was even taught that it was natural for a woman to want to be bosses, CEOs and so on. However, it was a part of the original curse...a woman's desire will be for her husband...therefore we should accept this and then fight it of course. I accepted this for a short time.

Things for me have changed a lot! (Still married to the same great guy though!) The trouble at this point is that I don't have time to do all the study necessary to form a new opinion (I'm pursuing a degree!). My opinions and beliefs at the moment are mushy.

When I can I will be doing more research and study so please bear with me.

Scoots can you point me to some reading on what you said below?
As time went on, some theologians introduced developments: ...[my edit]...
I'm not convinced that we can know exactly what Jesus said to the point that it can trump anything.


Thanks for the mind and heart food to chew on.

roxanne said...

This is great. I read all the comments and I am really enjoying them. I happen to believe that we shouldn't be asking what a woman's role is, but what is a woman. What is she designed for. I personally think that the way Sunday morning worship services (can anybody show me where those words appear together in scripture?)are set up is nothing but a waste of time. I am not angry at the fact that I cannot lead a song, but the fact that they tell me I can't simply because I am a woman. But in reality, who cares. What good is it to be a song leader anyway? See to me it is not about roles, it is about love and heart and desire and life. God made woman in His image. As women we bear the image of God. That makes us equal to man. As a woman I complete man. A woman is designed to be a partner to man. God did not create Eve as a second hand gender. He created her as Adam's helpmeet. This is in no way to regard this as women being less than man. In fact how many times did David call God his helper. God does have a lot of female characteristics and that makes sense because God made the female in HIS IMAGE. So we shouldn't say that it is God who has female characteristics but that females have characteristics of God just as men do.
I think that the church has placed the bible above God. I also think the church has fallen in love with her services and have exalted them too much than they should be. We are worshipping our worship!
I think there is confusion about what is a woman, much less trying to define her roles.
And to the women of this blog: I too have worn the plastic crowns...what's up with that? I think we need to unzip our mouths and speak up. We are women made in the image of God, and God loves us when we are messy, needy, tough, vulnerable, and everything else in between, and He is working on our transfromation, which in my opinion, is being true to ourselves. Because being true to ourselves is being like Christ. We need to take off our veils and stop the facade!

I am not a proverbs 31 girl. Not by a long shot. So I am not going to try anymore. I am thankful for women like that, but I am not any less feminine just because I don't help in the nursery, or sew, or bake. But I love to talk about theology, and read good books and make love to my husband. Life is busy enough and the last thing I need is to add to it by baking and sewing and changing diapers, and I am tired of being looked down upon because I don't do the proverbs 31 thing!

Just my two cents for today!! God Bless you all.

A. Lo said...

Roxanne,
I take personal offense to your claim that you’re not a Proverbs 31 woman. I mean, I don’t know you, but I get the feeling that you’re a lot more like the Prov. 31 woman than you think. I feel like you’re selling yourself short here.

Let’s recap, shall we? The Proverbs 31 woman didn’t work in the nursery either. Working in the nursery is great (and so is baking, for that matter), but those things don’t necessarily signal a good, worthwhile woman. No, the Prov. 31 woman was a hard worker who burned the midnight oil. She was a savvy business woman who bought fields and planted vineyards. She took care of the poor and her family, and was clothed “in strength and dignity”. She even spoke with wisdom. I think this might be a picture of feminism at its best: valuing women for their strength and appreciating their accomplishments in every endeavor without forcing them into one mold or ideal. This lady has got her hands in everything!

So don’t kid yourself. I think you are comparing yourself to the “traditional Christian view” of what a woman should be and therefore unable to really judge yourself in light of the Prov. 31 woman. Maybe if you took another look, you’d be surprised at what you see.

roxanne said...

a. lo.
You say:So don’t kid yourself. I think you are comparing yourself to the “traditional Christian view” of what a woman should be and therefore unable to really judge yourself in light of the Prov. 31 woman.

You are probably right. I look at the women in my congregation and I don't want to be like them. I think its great that there are women who do what they do, but I think it is wrong to put it on other women if it doesn't fit. I think of Saul trying to put his armor on David. Sometimes we want to put our armor on others when it doesn't fit.(i.e., baking and sewing may be for some women and not for others, our duties and hobbies do not define femininity) I think I have misunderstood the Proverbs 31 lady and I will definately look at it in a different light, Lord willing. Thanks for pointing that out.

scoots said...

There's a flip-side to women taking leadership roles in public worship, and that's for men to participate more in activities/classes for young children.

This is no good if it means that men try to dominate an area where women have typically served, so maybe it works best in a church like the one I go to, where we already have a woman planning and leading our worship service most weeks.

But in any event, if men *aren't* around for kids' activities, it just models for both boys and girls that teaching kids is women's work. (Then the kids go to big worship and see that teaching adults is men's work.)

I don't know if women are more prone to want to be around kids than men are, or if it's all just a big cultural game, but for the sake of the kids, I think more men should bite the bullet and show up for kids' classes, at least as teachers' aides.

George Cooper said...

Matthew,

Some of what you have started about here male and female here-- and which needs on-going discussion and reflection in the spirit of truth and love--can be found on my blog's most recent bost. In light of that blogpost, admittedly from a different perspective, I ask the question: do we have any other other choices beside silence or song when we--female and male--are in the presence of God?

Blessings,

George C.

scoots said...

lindemulder said: Scoots can you point me to some reading on what you said below?

This is a little tricky, since lots of books are either (1) very conservative, trying to reassure people of their faith; or (2) iconoclastic, trying to sell copies with the shock-value of attacking Scripture.

One book I'd recommend is Luke Timothy Johnson's intro to the NT ($25 used on Amazon--ISBN 080063439X). It has a 25-page chapter called “Jesus in the Memory of the Church,” which sets out a lot of the key issues. The book is long, but it’s clearly written and worth getting if you want to learn more about the NT.

If you want something quicker, I have a couple of blog posts that deal with some of this: see here and here. (Apologies for posting a link to my blog.)

By the way, Joyce, I went to your website. Great stuff--my favorite, I think, is the "Self-portrait exercise on an altered paper surface."

scoots said...

Oops, sorry. Try here and here

Daniel said...

Greetings from a newcomer. I'm a convinced egalitarian (so I would say that lowering our view of Scripture isn't necessary or desirable to support women in ministry), so I understand the frustration of being connected to a body that rejects this particular vision of the Church. I also commend you for refusing the tendency to church-hop.
At the same time, I wonder if it might not be best for you to move to a different church body. If you have in fact met with the leadership and they are in fact hostile to any kind of change... then nothing will change in the congregation unless the leadership changes. So I would suggest you respect the leadership, voice your objections, and move on (since this seems important enough to you to break fellowship).
Suggestions from an outsider, for what they're worth.

In any case, good luck, and God's peace and wisdom to you.
-Daniel-

shane said...

scoots said, "The tradition, according to Paul (1 Cor 15), is that the Gospel is simply the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the promise that we will receive resurrection if we have faith in his."

See, I think you nailed justification on the head. But what about sanctification? To quote our mega-popular minister, "God loves us just where we are, but refuses to leave us there." There is more than hope of resurrection when we die, there is also becoming like God while we live.

Matthew said...

Hi, everyone. I'm back from vacation!

@Scoots:
"There's a flip-side to women taking leadership roles in public worship, and that's for men to participate more in activities/classes for young children."

Nod, we discussed this side of the coin as well. Washing dishes and cooking meals might also be good things for more men to do.

@George:

Hi, George. I just went back and read your post again, and I agree with the commenters who observed that the imago dei seems to contain both "maleness" and "femaleness", and that as individuals, we also demonstrate the same mix of traits.

@Daniel:

Hi, Daniel. Glad you've arrived, or de-lurked, or whatever.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying about egalitarianism and not needing to alter one's view of scripture. Could you explain more about that?

Regarding the church leadership, we've just experienced a significant change in our leadership structure, and the previous leaders weren't really "hostile" as much as they were apathetic. So I think I can stay where I am for a while, at least. =)

rajpaul said...

Due to some weirdness about the way LiveJournal syndicates RSS feeds, this post just popped up on my friends list again and so I just now read it.

And I read all the comments. That's a lot. They largely digressed into discussion about scripture and not as much about your dilemma at hand. That is, what action to take? While the gag idea is clever, I think it may be premature.

If apathy from others is what you are dealing with, then you have to induce ... well, whatever the opposite of apathy is. Let's look at a cultural example to see what I mean. The recent changes in laws regarding allowing gay marriage have come about largely because some people have decided that it doesn't work to just say it ought to be allowed and debate the principals. But rather just showing up at the county office and asking for a marriage certificate. Then dealing with the results (lawsuits in this case).

My question to you, then, are there any women who have actually said "I wish I could do this ______ role, but women aren't allowed."? When you actually have a woman stand up and say something like, "I have some things I'd like to speak about, let me do the sermon this next Sunday.", or someone wanting to lead songs because they are good at it, or whatever; then I think you'll kill the apathy really fast.

It's easier to just go to church and play a passive role. So while there may be some women in your church who agree with you in principal, are there actually any of them that want to jump into any of the "forbidden" roles? So when you have some woman actually volunteer for something and they are told "no, you can't because you are a woman", then you have something to work with and it's time to break out the gag. Until then, debating the principals doesn't really matter much.

Matthew said...

Hi, Rajpaul. I think that's great advice. I'll talk to the women who would like to lead singing.

Lindemulder said...

...just now getting in a quick read again (I'm in school full time), thanks for the book recommendation...I'll add it to my preferred gift list.

Thanks also for the compliment on my work, scoots, I appreciate the feedback especially as I hone in on what I want to make and how I make it.

rajpaul said:
My question to you, then, are there any women who have actually said "I wish I could do this ______ role, but women aren't allowed."? When you actually have a woman stand up and say something like, "I have some things I'd like to speak about, let me do the sermon this next Sunday.", or someone wanting to lead songs because they are good at it, or whatever; then I think you'll kill the apathy really fast.

You are right about this. First, if the women is married she will need the support and encouragement of her spouse...unless she is willing to fight the battle on two fronts. Maybe a good strategy would be for several women to get together and act as a unified front.