Tuesday, March 07, 2006,9:22 PM
Grid Blog for Int’l Women’s Day: issues with the issue
So I wanted to be part of this gridblog thing about dismantling patriarchy for the international Women’s Day (March 8) click here for more info . Yes, some may call all this extreme, but I see it as a vital issue. Granted it has been some time since I’ve personally encountered sexists in the church, I mostly run across them online or in publications. But I’ve come to realize that the oppression of patriarchy is still alive and well, just often conveyed in more subtle forms. Even among those who generally think women in ministry is vaguely okay the bias is still alive and well. So here’s my incomplete and personal list of the things that bug me in regards to this issue – basically what I find stupid and annoying in the way the women in leadership issue is dismissed or denied.

1. The lip-service issue. In many Christian circles the powers that be say they have no problem with women in leadership, but pragmatically it is never realized. There is never a female pastor appointed (although the books say its okay) and never ever are women asked to guest preach when the pastor has to be away. Not only is it not done, it is never considered.

2. The equating being female with sin. Okay so this isn’t the main intention of most people who hold this stance, but it is what I hear. When the argument is given that when women are called by God to serve it is wrong to quench the spirit/tell God he is wrong by denying her an outlet to do so – the most common response I hear is “well what about the homosexuals who think they are called by God?” I don’t want to get into that whole other debate here, but the people who give that response are people who do think homosexuality is a sin. So when they say that, it comes across as if to be a woman is a sin as well.

3. The brush-off. This is one I hear often in the Emerging Church. That we care about women and think they should be in leadership, but there are more important issues that we need to be talking about. So this issue, and women in general, just get ignored.

4. The let’s all just get along response. The “I personally think women should be in leadership, but I understand that others don’t agree and that’s okay – I respect what they think.” I’m all about respecting others opinions, but there are things that are justice issues and should be fought for. What if you substituted black people or the handicapped in for women? Would we still be okay saying that we respect people’s opinion if they say blacks can’t be in leadership in the church or would we fight to change that?

5. The separate but equal issue. The argument that since God has given women the much harder leadership role of being a mom and taking care of the house, therefore this higher calling grants her leadership even if it isn’t the “mundane” forms she seems to want to have.

6. The play with the big boys issue. The “of course women are accepted in leadership as long as they act like men” issue. Women must buy into traditional male power structures, talk like men (i.e. interrupt everyone by talking louder and over them), have the same time and money to attend seminaries and conferences, write books, and network like men (forgetting that the men aren’t also the primary caregivers and housekeepers), and basically be labeled a feminazi bitch in order to exist in that world.

7. The token woman issue. The “we can look all equitable and stuff if we stick one women (or minority or better yet a female minority) into a leadership postion (staff member, conference speaker,…)” thing. Of course she can’t deliver a real Bible message, just something about health or social issues or children).

I’m sure there are many other participants in this gridblog who have more intelligent things to talk about. These are just some of the thoughts that come to mind when I consider “dismantling patriarchy.” I look forward to reading other’s thoughts as well as seeing the results of this effort.

Edit --- So there are many great posts so far ( click here for the list of participants). Stories, theology, deep thoughts, and funny stuff. Since I always seem to post funny stuff I want to highlight this post about why men shouldn't be ordained. Its really funny in the ironic sort of way. Enjoy.

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posted by Julie at 9:22 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/08/2006 10:49:00 AM, Anonymous Nuno Barreto

    We still have a long way to go in this respect...

  • At 3/08/2006 12:39:00 PM, Blogger anj

    Your list rings very true to me.

  • At 3/08/2006 06:31:00 PM, Blogger B-W

    Thanks for contributing, and for your kinds words about the top ten list. As Nuno says, 'we still have a long way to go," even when patriarchy isn't as blatant as it once was (and in some cases, sadly, it most certainly still is....).

  • At 3/15/2006 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Brian

    Hi Julie. I think this is a good list and we certainly have not arrived but my experience in these areas has at least given me hope. Responding through your list:

    1. Lip-service -- The pastor at our other Church of God in Mattoon is a woman. She is a tremendous preacher. She has not gotten invited to speak much, but then again, neither have I.

    2. Being female is not a sin. Help me out here (seriously). Gender is not the same as race. Men and women are different. Blacks and whites are not different. Rather than double standards, aren't there different ways of approaching men and women?

    3. The brush off. I'll give you that one. But I have been part of a church that purposely put women into leadership for the sake of having women leadership and it was not good because it wasn't done for the sake of leadership.

    4. Let's all get along. You're probably right. I don't like conflict. I cringe at it. I take it personally. And sometimes it is good just to get it all out there.

    5. Separate but equal. You're right. That doesn't hold water. That bubble needs burst.

    6. Ouch.

    7. The token woman. At The Crossover, until recently, my two top leaders, members of the vision team, were women. They weren't token. They were the visionary leaders of the church. They didn't act like men. They acted like women and it was a real benefit to The Crossover. And actually, in our church, it isn't token women I'm looking for. Sometimes I feel like I'm looking for token men because the men are not stepping up to the major leadership roles, at least not the ones gifted for those roles.

    Personally I am a fan of women. Recently I stepped into a part-time position so that my wife could begin teaching full-time. She is fantastic and gifted. It felt like it was her time. I sacrificed my career, my time, my freedom, in order to give her the opportunity to step up. She has stepped up and I believe really grown from the opportunity and become much more the person God has created her to be. There are times I fear that I will be seen as less of a man because she makes more money than I do, but that is sin, and I remind myself how great she is doing and how much fruit she is bearing.

    This is a very real issue for me and I appreciate your voice on the issue. I hope it helps someone have the opportunity to more fully become who God has created them to be.

  • At 3/15/2006 09:26:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    In regards to #2, I think Julie was referring to the way some people compare the women issue and the homosexuality issue. We have both encountered this in discussions. We will make the argument that women should be allowed in ministry if God calls them to it, and the response that we get back is "Well, should homosexuals be allowed in ministry too if they think God is calling them?" By making this analogy between the women issue and the homosexual issue the implication seems to be that since homosexuals shouldn't be allowed in ministry because they are "sinners", that therefore women shouldn't be allowed in ministry for the same reason.

  • At 3/20/2006 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Brian

    I remember having a conversation with my dad about gays in the military. He's mildly conservative and a veteran of the front lines of Korea. And he said, "I guess gays in the military are like blacks in the military."

    I do have a question about the nature of homosexuality and sinfulness, but I do not have a question about women and sinfulness (not being black and sinfulness). I do have a question about the role of women in relationships (including ministry) and am concerned about what Scripture says about it.

    If this is a stereotype that women are sinful and therefore do not belong in ministry, I agree we should blast that one to hell. I'll load the gun.

    In light of my being unsure about the exact nature of a woman's role, I try to land on the generous side.

  • At 4/14/2006 06:22:00 PM, Blogger Marty

    Hi Julie - I had not scrolled down to this thread. I believe in total equality between men and women. I would be delighted to have a woman President. I would have no problem working for a woman. I am involved with several religious communities - Quakers, where woman are as likely as men to be in any role - while at the same time there is absolutely no heirarcy within the Quakers - Presbyterians - where the church that I attend has a male minister - while the one a few miles away has a woman minister - who I also enjoy very much. I sometimes attend a Unity Church where a lesbian woman is minsiter. Before that there was a husband/wife ministry team. I would guess there are more woman ministers than men ministers in the Unity or Church of Relgious Sciences Churches. I also attend a very progressive Catholic Church where the Priest is obviously a male - but it is a laity driven Catholic Church where woman play a major role. I was very dissappointed and surprised to here that you feel that women are brushed off in the "Emergent Church" I don't really know Emergent Churches other than what I read on the net/blogs - but it seems so incongruent (and dissappointing) to me if that is what is happening there.

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