Monday, December 03, 2007

Christian Gender Stuff

It just keeps coming up, like a disease that won't be cured. The subordination of women in the Church and in the family. I was surfing the website of a cool church that I've admired from afar for awhile. Neat church, involved with wonderful ministries, has great ideas about how to do church. And then I took a look at their leadership. All male elders, all male pastors. A female administrator and a female children's worker (not pastor).

A similarly cool church just recently posted their official position on women, in which they try to give women lots of opportunities, but are careful to make sure a woman is always under a man's authority. I appreciate that they are gracious to those who don't agree with their position, but I find their reasoning to be very flawed and their use of scripture inconsistent.

Josh and I have a traditionalist friend at school. Being a Foursquare pastor, he affirms women in pastoral ministry, but is adamant about hierarchy in marriage. He made the statement in class today that men and women are "100% different." (!!!!) He thinks that us egalitarians believe men and women are 100% same. But we don't, and the seemingly deliberate choice to misunderstand our position gets frustrating after awhile.

Some friends were just sharing the other day how they left a big church in town because of the consistent message of women's subordination. They didn't want their children growing up in a church where they would experience the demeaning of women in the name of being biblical.

Josh and I are starting up a church plant and we haven't spent much energy on this gender business. We've got ministry on our minds and this just isn't our issue. We are co-pastors and it just seems natural for us to work as a team. The full equality of women and men is a basic assumption that we share. But sometimes we almost forget that this isn't the way it works in lots of other churches. And I forget too, that lots of people have never heard a biblical case for gender equality. Maybe it's time to revisit this issue.

(credits: I stole this fun cartoon from deconversion dot com)


Karen said...

Hi Karlene,
I heard the comment too...and said nothing...because I'm tired of fighting city hall...but the comment still irked...So I hope you and josh write the treatise on gender equality in ministry and then i'll know what to say...because I think I just take it for granted too, after being at know, go out and change the world...
Best to you,

BigMama said...

As a complementarian, I still believe that while I am of equal value, importance, intelligence, worth, etc. to my husband, he still has authority in our family. I may be equal to a police officer as a citizen of the United States and intrinsically as a fellow human, but I don't think that gives me the same authority that they have.

IMO, an egalitarian marriage and a complementarian marriage with a husband who is a servant leader will look identical from the outside.

Karlene Clark said...

Hi Alise~ This reminds me a bit of some fun old jezzie conversations. :o)

I think there are places in life where authority is valid - like with your example of the police officer. As a society we grant authority to officers to deal with the misbehavior of people who cannot or will not govern their own behavior. When I go to work, my boss has some authority over me in the realm of my job. But I don't believe a marriage is a relationship based on authority. I cannot think of any practical application for a husband's unilateral authority. I think that what you said about these two kinds of marriages (egalitarian and complimentarian w/servant-leader husband) looking the same from the outside is very often true. I think they both look egalitarian.

I do think that the happiest marriages are those in which both spouses fully agree to the structure, whether egalitarian or hierarchical, and in which love is the guiding motivation.