December 13, 2017

Recommendation and Review: Jesus Girls edited by Hannah Faith Notess

OK. Lots of book reviews and book plugs coming. I’ve got a bit of a window here in the final stages of my book and I am woefully behind on some of these reviews. (**He bows to those he has offended, begging mercy.**) So stand by.

One note: If you are an RSS reader of this blog and you haven’t resubscribed to the feed since we redid the front page, that’s why you only get the short version in Google reader. Re-subscribe and you’ll be a happier person.

JESUSGIRLSrealSomeone wrote me and said they’d heard of a book I might like. I said can you get me a copy. They said it wasn’t published. They contacted the author, who had the publisher send me a pdf, which I’ve been reading on my ipod Touch for a couple of weeks. The book arrived today.

It’s Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical, edited by Hannah Faith Notess. It is part of a series called Experiences in Evangelicalism and is published by Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock. Mars Hill Graduate School (not associated with Driscoll, etc) is involved somehow.

There are 22 authors, 22 essays in the broad categories of community, worship, education, sex and identity. Actually, the essays are more precise than those categories, covering topics like testimonies, ordination, end of the world fever, church splits, dating, abortion, feminism, quiet times, Christian music and many other aspects of the recent evangelical experience.

The writing is a bit uneven, and several of the essays should have been longer, but the overall product is excellent. I was captivated by many of them. This is one of those books that is so full of truth and the way reality actually feels and happens that many in the IM audience will find it a great read.

Of course, the main benefit of the book is that it is women doing the talking for a change, and not just talking about the three approved topics of submission, parenting and being a good pastor’s wife. No, these are women telling us all what it feels like to have male teachers in Christian schools say it’s your fault boys are looking at your chest. (Oh yeah, I’ve heard that one plenty of times.) These are women talking about the dark side of evangelical dating and the pure weirdness of the Stepford-esque seminars on marriage many evangelical young people are put through. (“Always let the man pick out what you will be eating….”) These are women talking about the quiet time Olympics (a phenomenon that has impacted my family deeply) and the experience of making up a fictitious testimony for the applause of youth group audiences. (Ahem. I’ve been complaining about this for years, and now I have proof!!)

I have to tell you this is fresh stuff, and it’s provocative. You’ll wish there were 50 essays in this book and that all of them were longer. The experience of the evangelical family is there is all its good and not so good, as is the common experiences of church going during the post Jesus-movement era. This is our world and it’s our stories. But it’s not men saying what should be. It is women saying what is.

This is the kind of book that all the right people will dislike and ignore. I highly recommend it for every man out there, and I hope it gets major exposure in Christian publishing. It deserves a very wide hearing, simply because it’s true. Complex, sad, bittersweet, funny, painful and true.

If you are an evangelical woman thinking “Am I the only one who ever feels this way or ever has this experience?” then this book will be an unforgettable experience.

Amazon doesn’t have it yet, but it is available from the publisher.

Comments

  1. This sounds challenging.

    You make the statement, “But it’s not men saying what should be. It is women saying what is.” That is definitely the delimma among Christians today. The bible and the English language into which it is translated is decidedly male-leaning, but themainstream church has moved past the patriarchy into a type of egalatarian equality.

    Evangelical men still hold to the idea that they are to be bread winners, spiritual leaders and “the head” when the church has proven that women can fulfill the same roles just as good, if not better. So Christian men may be caught between what they feel a masculine-oriented scripture is saying (and what the church is requiring) concerning the sexes and the fact that women are just not walking the same path and suffering if they try.

    Sola scriptura seems to have failed here.

  2. Man alive, it’s about time. How do women cope, honestly? I’m tired of hearing of all these women going through church praying for a husband and trying to become the perfect wife, then discovering that Christian men are pretty much looking for the same stuff as anyone else in a woman. They become broody matchmakers later in life, and everyone despises them, even though it’s not their fault.
    Then there are those conversations young Christian guys have about how much better looking non-Christians are, while many Christian girls choose not to wear make-up or wear shorter skirts so as not to display themselves or be ungodly. I’m sure they feel betrayed about the fact that if they did dress immodestly, the guys in their youth group would come running.
    And they always seem to marry such dull men. I’m not saying they’re dull because they are abstinent. Millions of men full of character have been abstinent, but often you can see Christian couples who are engaged or married, and you can see why the man never had a girlfriend before. This is a problem made all the worse by the fact that there are so many more women in church than men, and the women usually remember the fact they are supposed to marry within the faith.

    • Abstinence does get some much needed truth-telling here.

    • There is a difference between modest clothing and just plain dowdy.
      Some women work at looking shabby and shapeless:
      unattractive clothing, long unkempt hair with a bushy bang, and the ridiculous long, long skirt and flat shoes. OMG If Satan wanted to ruin a marriage, he couldn’t do a better job of turning the wife out in some of the hideous clothing that is worn by these ‘Christian’ women.

      No offense to any people here, just a kick in the pants to those husbands who insist their wives dress like bag-ladies while they, and they know they do, cast an appreciative eye at the well-dressed secretaries in their office. For shame. They have beautiful treasures at home: their wives. Somewhere underneath all that frump and dowdy, is the girl they fell in love with.
      And ‘heads up’ to the frumpees: you don’t have to look like hell in order to get to heaven.

  3. Duly ordered. I’m looking forward to reading this and imagine I will find a lot of familiar stories.

  4. I find that reading Christian feminist theologians is both frustrating and enlightening. It is frustrating because there is a tendency to buy into some odd liberal theology. But it is enlightening because I have seen several Scriptures with a new eye, as they point to the women who are mentioned throughout Scripture, but are generally ignored. In the same way, there are some Scriptures that make more sense if they are interpreted from a “feminist” perspective rather than from a Medieval perspective. And, lo, I then often find that at least some of the Early Church Fathers, or even the Talmudic commentators agreed with that interpretation!

    Yes, I need to read more women theologians to check myself out and make sure that I am not missing the mark through my personal biases.

  5. Where Can I Get My Copy? says:

    I could add 20 chapters myself. I think the worst, most demeaning, humiliating thing is foundational in teachings to evangelical men: that all women are “Jezebel” — only here to take down a good man and cause him to stumble and sin sexually. Since the evangelical church seems to have no view of women apart from biology, sex, reproduction and marriage, sexual relations seems to be the only paradigm through which men are taught to view women in the church. To sum up my experience after twenty years in the evangelical church: I feel more highly valued as a whole human being, an adult, a social equal and moral agent with worth and dignity in secular settings –even male dominated ones — than I have ever been made to feel in the church.

    Just to give you an example, after some really bad experiences with Christian counselors I went into therapy with an extremely skilled and accomplished psychiatrist, a Jewish man on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was a warm, witty, funny man, and I sat in his office on a weekly basis and was never made to feel sexualized in his presence, i.e., that I was a threatening, sexually uncontrolled female who couldn’t be trusted to be alone in his office. And the door was always closed.

    Contrast that with going into my local pastor’s office where the doors are always left open when a woman seeks counseling, no matter how sensitive or private the issue, even when the office is on a major corridor and others can hear. Men, not so much. They get to have respect, privacy and dignity, and the door is closed. “Don’t want to ever be alone with a woman, you know. Billy Graham and all that stuff.” And what made it worse was women were never warned, never asked permission to have the door left open, never given the option of having some third party in the office and having the door closed, much like a nurse in the doctor’s office when there is a female patient. Nope. There was no acknowledgement that this was . . . . rude? Insulting?

    I wanted to scream: “Get over yourself. You’re not that hot that every woman who enters your office wants you.” The last time that happened to me, I decided that it would be the last time, and I have never gone back into that pastor’s office for anything.

    • Outstanding comment, that.

      IMonk, in February you listed the following among several random things you said that you do and don’t believe: “11. I’m going to be in trouble now: I believe the blindness towards the general bias against women and the actual mistreatment of women is a failure in evangelicalism that far outweighs the issue of racism. Evangelicalism has a lot of men who respect and love women as Christ did, but it also has a massive amount of men who don’t like women, disrespect and mistreat them.”

      I haven’t been able to get that out of my head. You can’t say it enough.

      • ….and that my friend is the impetus to shoving good people (females) out the door of your church never to come back again. If you don’t think that is an issue, stop and think a minute about all the support women give to the church doing things the men would never do; babysitting services, children’s church, fundraisers, shuffling papers, feeding the poor, actually attending services and bible studies when the men won’t, and last but not least for those of us women who can make a paycheck (and a darn good one at that) you miss out on all that tithe money. Shame on you!

    • You are absoutely right in pretty much everything you say. One comment though – in our church offices all have small vertical windows in them. The reasoning is not to worry about ‘jezebel’ women (half the clergy are women anyway – and the best counsellors!), but on the advice of the diocese in response to a false allegation that was made (not involving women) elswhere.

    • Frankly, it’s not that the pastor is afraid of you. He may be afraid of the gossip that some people would spread. The unfortunate fact is that we Evangelicals handle male/female relationships very poorly. The default assumption is that if you put ANY man and ANY women into a room by themselves and the resultant reaction will be necessarily sexual.We just haven’t gotten out of a certain mind set that views everything in black and white.
      Not all men are looking for sexual relationships and not all women are “Jezebels”

    • I can tell you that The Episcopal Church requires that glass in the door as a result of insurance company requirements. The over reaction to the scandals in some church groups has led to that type of lawyer driven requirement otherwise the insurance company refuses to insure the group. So, please do not blame the pastor for the window in the door or the open door.

      • I doubt the insurance company would mind if pastors counselled men with the door open or in a room with a window in the door. I think the comment had as much to do with unequal treatment as with poor treatment. Pastors can fix that.

    • We have the same requirement by our insurerers. As well as many others.

    • Read all the time here, never comment. But have to respond to this one.
      As a minister’s wife, I have to tell you that the reason that door is open isn’t because my husband thinks he’s “so hot” it is because people have issues and in our world today unfortunately you have to protect yourself from situations. I’ve known innocent men that have almost been ruined by false accusations. Their situations made believable, of course, due to the not so innocent ministers.
      I agree that in general evangelicals suck on this subject, but could we not blame ministers for protecting themselves from harm or malicious gossip?

      • Where Can I Get My Copy? says:

        None of these replies deals with the fundamental issue of the differential treatment of women. I have no problem with the small window in a door. A universally applied solution removes the differential treatment I mentioned of having women selectively targeted as though we pose a unique threat. Many of the small counseling/individual prayer rooms at my church have these, and they are helpful in locating a person without having to knock on closed doors and interrupt sessions. However they are also usually soundproof (at least the best designed and constructed) and protective of the privacy of the men and women who are using them for counseling.

        What I was addressing was the century-old underlying attitude of woman as temptress/seductress/false accuser which continues to manifest itself.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I agree that in general evangelicals suck on this subject, but could we not blame ministers for protecting themselves from harm or malicious gossip?

        Especially these days when malicious gossip has become a Christian Virtue. (“I’m just telling you all this so you can Pray for Him… JUICY! JUICY! JUICY!”)

    • Where Can I Get My Copy? says:

      None of these replies deals with the fundamental issue of the differential treatment of women. I have no problem with the small window in a door. A universally applied solution removes the differential treatment I mentioned of having women selectively targeted as though we pose a unique threat. Many of the small counseling/individual prayer rooms at my church have these, and they are helpful in locating a person without having to knock on closed doors and interrupt sessions. However they are also usually soundproof (at least the best designed and constructed) and protective of the privacy of the men and women who are using them for counseling.

      What I was addressing was the century-old underlying attitude of woman as temptress/seductress/false accuser which continues to manifest itself.

  6. So much for paring down that ever-lengthening to-read list. *sigh* Looks like this book just elbowed its way to the top, and that’s quite an accomplishment!

    “If you are an evangelical woman thinking “Am I the only one who ever feels this way or ever has this experience?” then this book will be an unforgettable experience.”

    That’s the curse of studying the Bible and thinking for yourself in what can be a very conformist evangelical culture (spoken from experience!)

  7. Hooray! I’m proud to be that “somebody” who knew you’d like it.

  8. Imonk and this blog serve as my window into the evangelical world. I learn so much. All women as Jezebels? And this is an issue that people relate to? Please excuse me, but it all sounds so unbiblical and cultish. I am the father of two daughters and the husband of 30 years to a gift from God. Call one of them a Jezebel and I will knot up a scourge in a heart beat. I might not take you, but you will know you were in a fight.
    Why do people stay in this system? Why would women stay in this system? Honest amazement reigns. How can this occur where people read of the way Jesus talked to women, and how Paul spoke of women. It hurts my head.

    • Willoh,

      Part of the problem is the portions of Paul’s letters that are emphasized over and over again, are the “Keep silent in Church”, and the submitting ones. Not the ones where he praises his women co-workers, and women church leaders.

      Growing up Baptist, I never heard any teaching/preaching on Luke 8:1-3, which is the passage about the women who both travelled with Jesus and supported him financially.

      As an adult, I was treated poorly, by a woman who had bought into the system more than I ever did. I had discovered (and researched on my own to verify ) that what we were taught about Halloween was incorrect. So, I planned to teach my very small class of adult women the truth. It happened that we were supposed to teach a special mission study that week. I refused, but where the shocker came is that one of the women leaders recommended that I claim PMS as causing my refusal. (I thnik that I gave up the battle, but the whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth.)

      I admit that I didn’t have much respect for the departmental director, because it was clear that he was in leadership due more to being male rather than a mature Christian.

      • What were you taught about Holloween?

        • The misconceptions that many Baptists have about Halloween are: it’s derived from the pagan festival Samhaim; bonfire is bone fire where either bodies or people were burned; witches and demons celebrate that night, etc.

          What I heard, actually on a conservative Christian radio program, (censors must have slipped) is that the dressing up, and collecting goodies came from Purim; the date was moved by a Pope, and that the original dressing up in scary costumes came from dressing up as martyrs and they chased the witches and demons.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Standard post-Mike Warnke boilerplate.

          IMonk has a posting on the subject every Halloween — excuse me “Christian Harvest Festival (with Hell House/Tribulation Trail)”.

      • Why would a woman stay in this system?

        Willoh, I’ve asked myself, now a woman in her mid-forties who has dealt with this nonsense as long as I can remember growing up in an evangelical church and attending a “Christian” school, that question many, many times. The bottom line is where else will we go? It’s not as if there is a branch of evangelicalism that we can retreat to, where our theology minus the misogyny is somehow intact. There is no place for us to go without being willing to radically change our theology and traditions. Which is something else I’ve considered from time to time. It has also caused me to consider faith with no community, as well as deconversion. After all, if God really meant to place me in this weird, no-win situation based on my chromosomal make-up, which He presumably bestowed upon me, can I really believe in a God like that?

        I believe, help thou my unbelief.

        Anna, in my fairly comprehensive experience with this problem, it is generally the women who have bought into this hook, like, and sinker who are more problematic than the men who are the perpetrators of this belief system. Almost every problem I’ve had had ultimately had a woman like this at its root. For instance, when I was 13, singing in choir, the female choir director accused another young girl and me of placing our bodies too close to our male counterparts, apparently in an effort to “lead them into sin”. On m side of the choir, we were lined up with our right shoulder behind the left shoulder of the person to the right of us. This choir director took it into her mind that some of us girls were pressing our breasts into the boys in this situation, but for me, at least, that was total lie – as in: never crossed my mind, never happened. The other young lady and I were publically humiliated by the choir director, and being a shy, modest teen, I never returned, ashamed to face my friends and deal with the giggles and sidelong glances. This situation and many others that either happened to me or I witnessed happen to other young women, stuck with me for years. To this day, despite a decent singing voice, I have not sung in a choir.

        And despite a recognition of this problem by many good men who have made the types of observations about it that IMonk has, they are largely unwilling to “take it on”, relegating it to a “secondary issue” which apparently does not warrant the good fight on behalf of at least half of the evaneglical population. And I don’t know what to make of that any more. Other than to feel deeply disappointed and feel that no one who can really do anything about this cares enough to try.

        I look forward to reading the book. I already know that I “am not alone” with some of these issues, and look forward to what all the participants have to say.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Anna, in my fairly comprehensive experience with this problem, it is generally the women who have bought into this hook, like, and sinker who are more problematic than the men who are the perpetrators of this belief system.

          I second that — it’s a major reason I’m still single at 53. Who’d want to be associated with these uber-Christian women? I ran into too many of them while wasting money with “Christian Dating Services”. Nothing about them is attractive, and being the ATM while she spends 24/7 in prayer/church with her REAL perfect husband Jesus is NOT my idea of a marriage. I want a co-equal partner, without my boot on her neck or her boot on mine, and those are the only two choices you get these days. (While I’d rather have my boot on her neck than hers on mine if those are the only alternatives, I don’t want either. In a Handmaid’s Tale/male supremacist situation, I’d be too likely to throw my weight around HARD (“Woman, Submit!”) and take out 30+ years of the hurt I’ve gotten at the hands of all the other women. How can you have any respect for an always-submissive domestic animal? Post-conversion Chloe from Left Behind is as repulsive to me as any “Jezebel”.)

          My doodles and artwork and female leads in my fiction are chaste but glamorous, with decent fashion sense and with a weakness for “the cuddly amazon” — nurturing and gentle, but with a core of tungsten steel. A sleek velociraptor who keeps her kick-claws sheathed around me because I mean so much to her, that can also be vulnerable and show it. Why can’t you ever find that combination IRL?

          P.S. Regarding “Jezebel Paranoia” in general, Christians are as seriously hung up on sex as any fanboy I’ve encountered in Furry Fandom, just one-eighty in the other direction. Conservative/Orthodox Jews seem to have their heads screwed on a LOT straighter, but then Judaism has always struck me as much more “earthy” than American Evangelical Christianity

          One Web essay (I remember the title as “The Christian Sex Cult”) traced it all back to St Augustine’s influence. Monica’s son Auggie was a real horndog before his conversion experience and in a celibate monastic environment afterwards. In neither case did he have an opportunity to interact with women as people, only (before) as sex objects or(after) as forbidden fruit. And when his theology influenced Christianity as al-Ghazali’s later influenced Islam, the resulting gaps in his experience got propagated.

          • HUG, My experieces, on the other side of the sex gap are similar to yours. The only men that I attracted were the ones who wanted me to be the strong one. I didn’t want that, I wanted a man strong enough so that I could be weak at times. Not all the time, but hey sometimes you just want someone else to make some decisions, etc.

            In honesty, it probably didn’t help that I didn’t know how to be female, how to dress to attract guys, and was smart and felt more comfortable, growing up, with the male of the species. I still do. You are easier to work with, to tease and I love having my out, when things get bad, “MEN”

            Double grin, and chocolate, if you like it.

  9. Thank you! I will look for this book.
    Sounds wonderful!

    Whoever wishes to come after me must deny herself, and take up her cross, and follow me.

    • Emilie, I wish you would explain exactly what you mean by the your last sentence in this context. And yes, I do know that it is a statement that Jesus made, but in this context, it seems kind of cryptic, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions.

      • I meant that the first time I heard that statement in a way that applied so directly to me, I felt it anew, and much more powerfully, than I had ever felt it before.

        I know the argument is that whenever we hear general statements that speak of men or mankind we are supposed to mentally understand that they refer to everyone, male and female. But it feels so different to hear them in a manner that directly applies to us!

        If men could try to imagine being in a service where every statement was feminized, but they were told to just realize that they all really apply to them anyway, and then imagine how alienating that would feel . . . . How well would they respond to “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all women unto me”?

        • By the way, I understand that gendered language is a difficult topic, and we can’t just reinvent the English language to accomodate our contemporary sensibilities – but still, just try changing the pronouns once in a while, and see how you feel – either alienated, liberated, or just puzzled — it really might give us a sense of how women feel, sometimes unconsciously, about their value in church.

          • Insightful viewpoint – thanks for clarifying!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I get into fights about gendered language all the time. “Gender-Neutral (TM)” English is too much like Newspeak for me. (And like Newspeak, the intent of it all appears to be to lock in a force-my-way-upon-you Power Game.) Classic English defaults mixed or indeterminate gender to masculine — what part of that doesn’t anybody understand?

            P.S. When talking about animate nouns (like people), the property in question is called “Sex”, not “Gender”. “Gender” is reserved for INANIMATE nouns. Things. “IT”s.)

            P.P.S. In fantasy fiction, you can make your own rules. And in my fiction, I have fantasy critters whose language is completely gendered — not even a word for “it”. The opportunities for misunderstandings between them and gender-neutral-speaking humans provide for a lot of comedy relief and unintentional insults. Victorian English has a lot of feminine forms of nouns that never saw much use, and using them makes the dialogue more exotic.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy – this is in response to your comment below (I don’t think the system embeds them any further than that) –

            Just want to point out that the correct term when discussing language is gender, not sex. In Latin and Greek, as well as many other languages, nouns are declined according to gender, person and number. Words can have grammatical gender, but they don’t have sex! We’d be doing something entirely different if we were talking about “sexed” language. 🙂

            And yes, I completely understand that classic English defaults to masculine gender – that’s EXACTLY my point. Use your fantasy fiction talents to imagine living in a world where the default position is feminine, and imagine how that makes you feel. Empowered, much?

  10. Would female commenters please go home and ask their husbands or the oldest man in their family any questions they have? And if there isn’t a man in the comment thread directly above you, please don’t post.

    🙂 ***ducks***

    • That’s funny. Point taken, but still darned funny.

      • I am sorry, as I usually am not accused of having any sort of underdeveloped sense of humor, but I’m not at all sure why that is funny.

        • I believe (Mike correct me if I am wrong) that it is sort of poke at the idea that women should keep silent and learn in all submission (if we take 1 Timothy 2:11-12 letter-literal). Also by having a man comment directly above a woman, then the man is over the woman as a symbol of authority.

          Such ideas is utterly absurb, almost satirical, which is what makes it humorous (to me anyway).

          • Yes, I get all of that. And perhaps would have the ability to judge it as humorous in a satirical sort of way if a sizeable portion of the evangelical community didn’t still believe these “utterly absurd” ideas.

            Thanks, though.

        • Savannah,

          Those of us who hang out here, have to laugh, cry (or both) at Michael’s comment.

          I want to thank you for causing me to realize how fortunate I was, because I wasn’t exposed to a church like that, as a youngster. While writing this, I am wondering if something similar could have happened to my slightly older cousins which turned them away from the church.

          • Yeah, I “hang out” here a lot. I pretty much check it out every day for a new post. I like IM a lot, and I usually do appreciate his humor. I guess I’m trying to make the point that since we’re not exactly making fun of some dinosaur-like ideas, as in “things of the past”, it is hard to see the humor in some of it. I know IMonk doesn’t like it when the high-profile theologians that actually – in this day and age – right now – believe this stuff are pointed out, I will not, but let’s not pretend, even for the sake of “humor” (something I’m mighty in favor of), that thousands of women are subjected to poor , destructive treatment in the Church – right now.

            If that makes me a “dour feminist” (as IMonk pronounces in his post below) because I refuse to find the humor in pretending these are just “absurd ideas” that have no current traction, ), then mea culpa (I guess).

            Keep telling yourselves that, folks.

            I have ordered the book. I appreciate the review. The last word belongs to whomever wants it.

          • Don’t let me be a name caller, but the better side of this conversation will let a kind of joy triumph in the midst of the pain. One thing I’ve learned on the net is that our opponents in these things HATE to hear us laugh, because it means they have’t oppressed our hearts with their cruel legalism. There’s always something left unbound.

            It’s not all laughter, but there is a laughable side to this comedy of gender. Women in the church should weep and tell their stories. They should also laugh outrageously at some of this nonsense.

    • I refuse to sponsor a conversation where you can’t poke fun at the extremists. Sorry. We get no points for being sour, no matter what the topic. The logic of the oppression of women is pathetic a nd comic. I refuse to be sucked into the dour anger of the feminists. If we can’t find the silliness in all this gender obsession- including telling men they must be chest beating brutes- then we won’t talk about it.

      The emoticon and the “ducks” were enough to signal anyone with a lack of humor to step aside while I come in and razz the extremists.

      peace

      ms

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If we can’t find the silliness in all this gender obsession- including telling men they must be chest beating brutes- then we won’t talk about it.

        I am definitely NOT a “chest-beating brute”, no matter how much Conan the Barbarian I read or how many rednecks I hang out with. (Rednecks are a LOT more open and honest than the Yuppies my age, single status, and income would lump me together with. They get mad at you, they’ll do it to your face with a fist instead of smiling then stabbing you in the back with lawyers or gossip.)

        One guy I know in Michigan (I call him “The Michigan Wildman”; if you ever saw him you’d know why) described me as the type of guy “who’d be happiest in the stacks of a university library, researching something obscure.” I’m more of a scholar type, and I find myself a lot more welcome among chest-beating-brute types than chest-beating-brute types are welcome among scholar types.

        • HUG,

          I noticed the same phenomen between drinkers of adult beverages, and non-drinkers. AND I was the non drinker at a frat party.

      • I refuse to sponsor a conversation where you can’t poke fun at the extremists

        Amen to that……and poke fun at ourselves now and again, as well. If there is ZERO possibility for humor, then something is wrong with us.

      • iMonk, thanks so much for reviewing the book! I’m one of contributors, and I’m incredibly glad to have a chance to get one piece of my story “out there.” It makes me even happier to see people talking and engaging about these issues — something that doesn’t happen nearly enough!

        I would, however, like to point out, re: your comment above (“I refuse to be sucked into the dour anger of the feminists”), that I am a very strong feminist, but I do not consider myself to be dourly angry. Certainly, some feminists could be described this way, and I know a lot of feminists (including myself) who are at times, understandably angry about specific issues, but none of them/us are dour, and by no means angry overall. On the contrary, we’re hopeful and compassionate and doing work that we believe can change the world. Today’s feminists aren’t the furious, bra-burning 60s sort that many people fear or imagine.

        To approach it another way, I would hope I wouldn’t refer to “idiotic evangelicals,” as there are some evangelicals who are idiots (and of course many who are not), but: a) implying that the adjective is inseparable from the noun is untrue and, b) actually not helpful, and can be hurtful to people who embody the best that the word can mean.

        Thanks for the chance to state where I stand on the feminism issue — and thank you again, so very much, for spreading the word about the anthology!

    • That Other Jean says:

      *blows raspberry, pitches tomato at iMonk*

      ***ppppbbbbbbbbhhhhhhhttttt!!!*

      • That Other Jean says:

        Wait a minute, that didn’t go where it was supposed to, under the “go home and ask their husbands” comment.

  11. I wonder how this issue affects, or is affected by, the fact that men are leaving the church in large numbers. Is the mass male exodus related to this issue?

    • As a male I will tread very carefully into this conversation. Having been raised in an evangelical (Methodist) church, and finding the hypocrisy unbearable (though for different reasons than you might suspect), I abandoned the church and Christianity altogether for a number of years. I may be reading too much into my own anecdotal experience, but in the two decades since rejoining the *church* I find that that many husbands simply decline to stomach the foolishness that comes along with the faith (ie., if they like beer they are damned). The constant need to be something you are not in order to avoid *offending* a weaker brother, etc. is something men can do without, and the social aspects of *fellowship* are far less important to them than their wives; they do most of their socializing on the job. Hence, the proliferation of Sunday *widows*. As I say, purely anecdotal; no elaborate Barna-esque polling data.

  12. Just wondering if anyone has read the author Christa Brown?

  13. I know of two very educated women who took on a pastor over his bizarre response to a pedophile on staff. Basically, the pedophile was excused and reinstated. The two married, educated women took him on by supporting the victims in bringing in the civil authorities and confronting the pastor.

    They were stunned to find out that he and his staff were telling everyone they were both menopausal, over emotional and that is why they ‘over reacted’ to a situation that was under control.

    Expect more books and blogs on this topic of women in the Evangelical world.

    • Several years ago I was a witness to an unprofessional action by a senior co-worker. I immediately reported it, not as anything more than what it was, but certainly nothing less.

      For months, I was called an “over reactor” and worse by those protecting the co-worker. The co-worker spent hours each week talking to everyone I worked with villifying me and calling me a liar and worse. This behavior never stopped. I was eventually accused of complete fabrication of the incident and the co-worker hand slapped.

      It’s part of the culture that has invaded the church. Protect leaders and blame whistleblowers.

      • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

        I’ve been mediating on the phrase “love rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6) for the past few months. I have come to realize that we have more or less cut this phrase out of our Bibles, our churches, our marriages, and our relationships.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        It’s part of the culture that has invaded the church.

        What my burned-out pastor bud calls “the Passive-Aggressive Culture”. Whose main weapon is behind-the-back gossip and whispering campaigns.

        Protect leaders and blame whistleblowers.

        “Touch Not Mine Anointed!”

        Anyone remember the context of the related line “Are They God’s Anointed?” in Gordon Dickson’s classic SF novel Soldier, Ask Not?

    • I think “under control” is the key phrase there; the leadership didn’t like having his control questioned. Been there, done that.

  14. This reminds me of a quote from Dorothy L. Sayers:

    The many women who appear in the gospels, says Sayers, “had never known a man like Jesus—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about women’s nature.”

    Sadly a lot of Christian men have not followed Jesus’ example in their treatment of women. This looks like an interesting book, I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  15. “If you are an evangelical woman thinking ‘Am I the only one who ever feels this way or ever has this experience?’ then this book will be an unforgettable experience.”

    Michael (or someone else who has read the book),

    Is the book mostly about the experiences younger women/older girls have in evangelicalism? Does it also seem to be written mostly by younger women? Having read the book website and your review, I’m guessing that is the case, but I couldn’t quite tell.

    When I was a younger woman, I managed to navigate around much of the evangelical weirdness directed at younger woman … and fell right into the trap of some of it, much to my regret. But as I am reaching middle-age, the cognitive dissonance between real life and the (evangelical) Christian Woman way of life has ramped up to almost unbearable levels. Much of the pain has to do with being old enough to see what kind of fruit years of being a Good Evangelical Woman seems to bear … and it isn’t pretty. As a vast generalization and in the tiny little slice of American evangelicalism I know personally, it seems that by the time they reach middle age, women have either been silenced or speak pretty much exclusively in platitudes. Honestly, to me, many of these evangelical woman seem terribly stunted compared to my secular female coworkers, who are capable of having and expressing original thoughts, capable of organizing and running complex projects, capable of being inquisitive and enthusiastic about all manner of thought and endeavors. I find myself wondering what I have done/am doing to myself deliberately continuing to spend significant focused time with Christians. Yet, there are pearls of great price that I can not abandon. But, I wonder how much longer this tearing cognitive dissonance can go on. But in order to maintain what tiny toe-hold I have on remaining in church, it is forbidden that I ever voice any of my distress or thoughts out loud. So my thoughts wrap in on themselves and build and build and build. (I guess I’m one of the middle-aged women who has been silenced.)

    Savannah, “Where can I get my copy”, and Anna A (in many comments over the months) your comments very much resonate with me.

  16. can I get a copy of this? (willing to pay, and wanting to do it legally of course)

  17. It saddens me sometimes to think of all the great writing and teachings we have not had because women were told to be quiet or else. I thank God for the women who DO speak up and say, “This is not right,” or “This is not fair,” etc. And I do wish we could have heard more from the female followers of Jesus. We know they were out there and supported Jesus and his closest disciples financially. We know that Paul called Junia an “apostle to the apostles.” I know some theologians try to make Junia a male, but people have pointed out that there were no records of any men named Junia. It makes sense that we never heard of a female Junia before because women were often not considered important enough to mention. But if there had a been a male Junia somewhere in Greek society or history, we would have heard of it. That’s what I read anyway. I only know what I read, since I can’t do the primary research myself, not knowing Greek.

  18. People who think like this might even choose not to sit under a woman professor, of say Hebrew, or choose to employ her as an educator for future pastors. What a shame.

  19. Willoh,
    Why do we stay? Because we are told that if we don’t believe this teaching we don’t believe scripture and therefore we really don’t believe/trust God. Our salvation, our faithfulness to Jesus, our intelligence, our consciences, our ethics and our motives are all called into question. It’s manipulation with the weapon of fear of being “out of God’s will”, plain and simple.

    This is one of the reasons I left evangelicalism nine years ago.

    Dana

  20. I can’t wait to get this one!

    I’m a pretty newly minted stay-at-home-mom after being a work-outside-home-mom for 3.5 years. And so the new-to-me Evangelical world of SAHMhood is a little startling to me. I was forced out of my employment because I said, “This theology is lousy. What are we doing here?” And my “more enlightened” male students and friends cheered and applauded. But now that I’m getting my roots in SAHMhood, I’m finding that all the lousy ideas we’ve kicked out of the pulpits and seminaries are pushed in the ghetto of Evangelical women’s literature/bible studies. It’s like how the first world saved its mercury-laden vaccines for the third world. Thanks, dudes!

    Of course, we women have such a white-knuckled grip on the idea that our singular, all-encompassing effort keeps our families safe and healthy. Once we all hit 40, I think it’s all gonna blow.

    This book might be the start of that explosion.

    • Wow – you’re making some very insightful observations, and you’ve only just begun down this road.

      I remember the transition that you are undertaking, although it happened 20 years ago for me – the age of our eldest son. Of course, I had grown up in evangelicalism, for better and for worse, so I was not unfamiliar with some of these issues, but it is different when one finally “graduates” into SAHMhood and the barren wasteland of that state becomes apparent. You finally have the opportunity to attend the women’s Bible studies – you know, the ones that take place on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. when you’ve always previously been a student or in the workforce. It makes you wish you’d never left your job, except for that precious baby.

      The “women’s Bible study books” cause your IQ to drop as you’re instructed how to be the best wife and mother ever – from their viewpoint, which may have nothing to do with how God has gifted you or why your husband married you. My Christian husband read some of that twaddle and only half-gesting told me that if I adopted those ways of thinking and being, there would be serious issues – LOL.

      I now lobby for more serious, scholarly books in my women’s Bible study, but only succeed now and then, and usually end up offending someone. Last time we were choosing a book, I just came right out and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not doing any books by Beth Moore or Joyce Meyers; if that’s what everyone else wants to do, go right ahead, and I’ll catch you the next time around”. Women were stunned. I was lobbying for C.S. Lewis (because nobody in our group had ever read him beyond the Chronicles of Narnia except for me – which totally blows my mind) or Tim Keller (even though I am uneasy with his views of women, his book, The Prodigal God, had had a tremendous impact on my life).

      When we plan “women’s retreats”, I am unwilling to attend if the highlight of the weekend is constructing a “mother’s day basket”. I don’t want to travel four hours to hear Joni Earickson Tada speak – nothing against her, but this Christian celebrity cult that has developed seems weird and creepy to me. I just can’t pretend to get all revved up about it.

      It’s frustrating, as if I’m missing that uniquely feminine gene that is supposed to allow me to subjugate myself to stupidity and banality. It would be so much easier to be able to play the game. Occasionally, though, one runs across a kindred spirit, and it makes it a little more bearable, if only for someone else in the group who rolls her eyes and looks like she wants to jam a stake into her skull, which is just how you feel.

      And you’re absolutely right – when I hit 40, it definitely blew. I started saying “no” to this nonsense and I was willing to accept the consequences of being one of just a few voices, or even the lone voice, of dissent over what this bizzare subculture was demanding of me. And it’s okay, as I really don’t mind how things look from the outer reaches.

      So I don’t know if it helps at all, to know that you’re not alone, that there are so many of us who walk this road everyday and have the same thoughts and feelings and sometimes wonder what is wrong with ourselves, and wonder what is wrong with our faith, and wonder where is Jesus in all of this. But He is there. Of that I am sure (generally).

      • Sooooooul mates!! ::run pounce hug:: Seriously! And if we find out we’re in the same church, there just might be a revolution on our hands. 😉 I’ll warn the elders.

        I just don’t understand why we have to read *women’s* books in those things. Why can’t we read *books*? Like you said. I’m not of the ilk that we need to just read the Bible because, I believe, that merely and uncritically reflects our own image and our own problems. Reading “secondary sources” of Scriptural truth is very healthy. But these “women’s” books all say the same thing, the same lousy thing.

        I’m still “new” in my church because our forced resignations forced us out of our old church too. So I’m trying to bide my time. But these books don’t match the Confession. They don’t match the preaching on Sunday AM. Maybe no one else can see the giant eye roll we women are collectively giving as we read this twaddle.

        How does Steve Brown say it? Since women as elders is out of bounds (and I’m perfectly fine with that personally), then we need to do everything possible to make sure we are as generous as possible in every other regard. He says it more concisely than that.

        It’s not really about anything more than the Gospel is not reaching to the corners of the church. It’s in the Sanctuary. It’s in the choir. It’s in the baptismal font. It’s in the lobby. It’s in the mixed-gendered Sunday School rooms. But it’s not yet in the nursery and the fellowship hall on Tuesdays at 10. Not yet.

        It feels like the 1960s all over again. We need “consciousness-raising groups.” We need an Evangelical Betty Friedan. We do. We really do.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You finally have the opportunity to attend the women’s Bible studies – you know, the ones that take place on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. when you’ve always previously been a student or in the workforce. It makes you wish you’d never left your job, except for that precious baby.

          Just like retirement: “If you want to take early retirement, first stay home for a week and watch daytime TV. That’ll cure you of wanting to take early retirement..”

          Sooooooul mates!! ::run pounce hug::

          Glomp. The word is Glomp, not “run pounce hug”.

          I just don’t understand why we have to read *women’s* books in those things.

          Have you even seen the covers and title fonts of those Christian Women’s Books (TM)? Somebody posted a lot of covers on the Web once and invited readers to click over and take a look.

          I did — and felt my gonads shrivel up and fall off from the sheer estrogen overload. Between the pastel floral covers and overly-flourished script title fonts, I had to bail before I got castrated. Just from viewing the cover designs and title fonts. How can anybody take anything with those covers seriously?

          And how can any male take a female who reads and follows them seriously? It makes them look worse than even Twilight fantards.

        • Camille and Savannah…I really appreciate your replies. Savannah, keep pushing for reading C.S. Lewis. I grew up Catholic and we didn’t spend a lot of time studing the Bible and what it said about women, but I also spent a few years in a non-denominational “born-again” type of church and also an Assembly of God church. I think people fear that if women start speaking their mind and doubting what they are being taught to believe that the whole Christian “system” will soon fall apart as everyone interprets the Bible as they wish. But…with all the various Christian groups that are out there, people are pretty much interpreting as they want anyway! And what is to say that the minister really knows anything better than you know it?

          Though my husband is not a Christian, he says things like he doesn’t like women who just say and believe whatever they are told to say and believe. Yet, I find that when I have an opinion that is inconvenient to him or challenging to him in some way, that what he is REALLY saying is: “I want women to have all the rights that men have, but when it comes to YOU, I want you to have your own thoughts as long as they are like mine.” Ugh.

        • Savannah and camille,
          PREACH IT.

          Oh my goodness…. This is one of the reasons I left evangelicalism. I can’t be authentic to myself and stay.

          I was a good little minister’s wife for a while there….even ran some of those “good wifey, good mommy” studies… (wince, wince)…. I tried to go to Beth Moore and Kay Arthur Precepts classes and find the deep deepness that everyone else seemed to find… It was like everything was totally spoon fed to everyone…no actual thinking…no actual thinking required at all….textbook/workbook style stuff, with some frills….and the weird thing was that everyone got SO much out of it (which indicates to me, anyways, the deep VOID in much of evangelicalism for both genders)… I always felt like such a misfit, but I never could make myself attend after three or four (okay, sometimes just one or two) valiant attempts to join the current study of the year…

          Can’t do it. That stuff has secret brain paralyzer rays in it or something. (As if staying at home talking to toddlers wasn’t mind-numbing enough… Gaaaahhhh…)! I was married to a, “you’re not allowed to speak during adult sunday school” type, too, which wasn’t like it helped matters any. My penchant for reading systematic theology books and whatnot was looked upon like a personality defect in so many ways…or like a sweet little side hobby… “Isn’t that cute, she reads and knows stuff?”

          Meanwhile, year after year of the same tired *male* teachers led us through our weekly textbook/workbook studies, very little brains required…. I sat there, silent (well, until that last year when I finally rebelled against my husbands authority and started talking), knowing that it didn’t matter how much I studied or how much I loved to learn, that I would always be seen as a student needing to be taught, never as a teacher with something to feed others with… It’s not that I wanted to be a teacher, persay, though I know it’s one of my giftings…it’s just the futility of it all….knowing that you could be a teacher, that you would be a *good* one, and yet that it will never ever be allowed…

          And, in fact, because you are a woman, the fact that you would *want* to be a teacher indicates that something is WRONG with you. Whereas if a theologically inclined man mentioned that he loves to teach, it would be considered a blessing from God.

          I mentioned this to a friend of mine once, a strong complementarian/patriarchalist who LOVES preaching and is certainly gifted…I remember his eyes widening as I said, “How would it feel if someone told you that even though you are good at preaching, you will never ever be allowed to do it because you aren’t the right gender.” His eyes got big and I could see the horror on his face, the thought that his precious preaching might not be allowed him…and then his face relaxed and he said, “Yes, but women aren’t given those gifts, so it’s different…”

          What can you really say to that…? Many evangelical men can’t even empathize with women’s plight, even if they have the natural ability to empathize, because they’ve been taught that the differences between the sexes are SO extreme, that the way YOU feel isn’t the same way THEY feel. Ergh.

          It is highly demoralizing. If I had been male, it would have been different, of course, but without that special secret key appendage, well….you know. Sorry, boys only.

          One of the things I love about my little Episcopal church is that I can have a brain and no one thinks it’s odd or expects me to hide it. OH. Sheer joy. I can just be myself, and the fact that I don’t have a male sexual organ doesn’t count against me!

          With all the evangelical anti-Pope talk about how we don’t need a mediator, it seems like the truth is that only MEN don’t need a mediator. Women, on the other hand, need mediated an awful lot, a male authority in there making sure our “delicate female emotions” don’t cause us trouble or something……

          The first time I attended the Epis. church that would become my home, a woman was presiding over the Eucharist. She was an older retired school teacher minister, and obviously gifted to do exactly what she was doing. I almost burst out into deep sobs when she raised her arms with the bread and wine and said, “The gifts of God for the people of God.” I cannot tell you how moving it was (for someone like me, who’d crawled in from the evangelical dessert) to recieve communion from a woman’s hand.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I was a good little minister’s wife for a while there….even ran some of those “good wifey, good mommy” studies… (wince, wince)….

            I’ve seen “good wifey, good mommy” in application. It wasn’t pretty. Wife had “I Must Always Be Right” husband and three hyper toddlers with twins on the way. She just burned out. “Good Wifey, Good Mommy” — more like regressing into early childhood herself — was a symptom of total burnout.

            I tried to go to Beth Moore and Kay Arthur Precepts classes and find the deep deepness that everyone else seemed to find…

            I’m from Southern California, Weird Religion Granola Bowl Central. When you say “deep deepness”, I think the like of “channeling the spirits of dolphins off the coast”. (That got a lot of gushing about Deep Deepness, though Penn & Teller BS found some couple in Arizona who not only Deep Deeply channel dolphins, but Seaweed for Spiritual Growth at $2000 a pop.)

            Can’t do it. That stuff has secret brain paralyzer rays in it or something. (As if staying at home talking to toddlers wasn’t mind-numbing enough…

            Actually, we call those “stupid rays”. Shine the ray on someone and they turn stupid.

        • Savannah and camille and all the other gals out there who have more than two brain cells to rub together! My PEEPS! My GIRLS! I thought I was all alone in loathing the drivel that we Christian Evangelical Women (TM) have to wade through. We need a wake-up call, to band together and stop accepting the rubbish that says we need to be stupid little unthinking Beth Moore clones in order to please God! Come ON! He’s the one who created us to be interesting, smart, sassy, intellectual, spiritual, deep-thinking PEOPLE, not little maid-robots who find emotional satisfaction in keeping the floor clean. (Yes, I happen to be a SAHM at the moment, but I don’t consider my self either unemployed OR wasting my time, thank you very much.)

          I don’t usually read IM (Sorry Michael) but my husband does and he’s the one who gave me the link to this review and the terrific comments that this post has inspired. I sincerely hope it continues and I am delighted to find that I am not alone!

        • Unfortunately, my experience is that better study material doesn’t necessarily help the weekday morning women’s study. My first introduction into that world was when I retired (very) early from a challenging corporate job (early 40s). My parents and in-laws were aging, having some major health issues, and needed assistance; I was experiencing corporate burnout and some health issues after years of fallout from the dot-com collapse; my husband and I finally decided that having me retire was the best option for our family. So, for the first time in decades, I was available for that weekday morning women’s study. I was really looking forward to some friendships (not working any more left me more socially isolated than I expected) and support (lots of issues arising with aging, ill parents and in-laws.) I was thrilled that the women’s “Bible” study was actually going to be a Bible study…a real, honest book of the Bible (with support from a study guide from Tim Keller’s church.)

          Let me say that I appreciate many things about my current church, which is a PCA church of the Tim Keller wing of the PCA. I’ve been around evangelicalism some, as I’ve moved around the country, and I really, really, really appreciate the combination of liturgical and evangelical sensibilities in the Sunday service. I appreciate the thoughtful discussions that are facilitated in the mixed-gender Sunday school. I love the lack of the evanglical circus. I have definite hesitations about some aspects of Reformed theology, and some of the young, restless and reformed make me want to pull my fingernails out, so I appreciate the generally generous spirit of the church in not making Being Reformed front and center.

          Honestly, the workbook seemed rather shallow and surprisingly “evangelical-speak” (given that it came out of Tim Keller’s church) to me, but I know it is hard to write a study guide for some faceless audience. I can see the study guide meeting the needs of secular New Yorkers with minimal Christian background fairly well. With a reasonably sensitive leader for a study, I can easily see it adapted to other environments.

          So. The women’s study starts. It is mostly young stay-at-home mothers, with a few older misfits like me. As I try to talk to the other older women, most of their conversation revolves around the other (mostly women’s) bible studies they go to on other days of the week sponsored by various Christian organizations. I’m sorry, but the Christian bubble creeps me out, and multiple Bible studies a week really seemed an extreme case of hiding inside the Christian bubble.

          So the leader (a young stay-at-home mother), starts us on the study, which consists of going through each study question in the guide EXACTLY. Of course, the SAHMs haven’t had much time to preview the material, so they are mostly silent. The older women are so busy with multiple studies (one of which, in particular, required lots of preparation with consequences if you didn’t), that they hadn’t prepared. So there is lots of uncomfortable silence, with what comments are made being the typical women’s study good wifey/mommy stuff or prosperity lite stuff that they must have been getting from elsewhere. It certainly wasn’t what was taught on Sunday or in the mixed-gender classes. The leader, in particular, seemed to have swallowed some of the prosperity-lite, happy-clappy evangelical stuff hook, line, and sinker. This did not go over at all well with me, newly retired from an intellectually challenging job, assisting a parent showing signs of early Alzheimer’s and an in-law with cancer, feeling isolated and overwhelmed.

          I tried. I really tried. If I tried to direct the discussion to the actual text or to bring up questions that I had had while reading the text or that I thought might be relevant to other people, I got shot down by the leader “That’s not in the book.” (i.e. that is not one of the exact questions in the study guide.) I tried getting people to think about the prosperity-lite evangelical speak coming out of their mouths by relating how I my thinking had changed over time (I used to be a good evangelical girl in my younger years. shudder. wince) or relating some issues I was dealing with with Alzheimer’s/cancer/aging. I’d get told “That’s not what Tim Keller says.” I really doubt that’s what Tim Keller says (besides, he didn’t write the study guide anyway), so if I asked where in the study guide I could find this information, since I seemed to be missing it. I’d get “It’s in the leader’s guide. I don’t think this is relevant to other people, so we’ll have to get together for lunch sometime and I’ll explain it to you.” And everyone else just looked at me with these big eyes, silent. There were a couple of people I thought might have said something at least a bit sympathetic to my position, but, nope. Silence.

          After 3 or 4 sessions of this, I felt it was just developing into an unproductive tussle between me and the leader. So I had a private discussion with the leader, telling her some things I appreciated about her leadership (hey, I was a young, stupid evangelical girl once and could have used some mentoring), but saying that although I used to agree with some of the theological positions that she was taking, I had found them to be toxic over time; that I seemed to be in a different life stage than the rest of the group was interested in; and that I had decided not to come to the study any more. All smiles and “I understand completely.”

          Stupid me. I should have just left silently. The next day I got a call from the pastor asking me to come to the principal’s … err pastor’s… office to meet with him and the women’s study leader. When I got there, the chairs were arranged in “conflict resolution” configuration. Sigh. I repeated what I had told the leader previously (including what I thought the strong points of her leadership were), with some more theological details about how I was interpreting the text of that particular week’s study, as an example of where the theological disagreement lay. The women’s group leader was a talker, so I didn’t even have to hand her any rope. She ran her mouth and lots of prosperity-lite stuff came out. The pastor never left his silent “conflict resolution” state except for some non-committal sputtering. I eventually got a we-think-small-fellowship-groups-are-important-for-spiritual-growth, iron-sharpens-iron, you-should-pray-about-this lecture, mostly from the women’s leader. We left.

          I didn’t go back to the women’s study. I’m still lonely and isolated, though, despite trying some (secular) community volunteering. I tried a study at a more liberal church with a female pastor, and that was, well, extremely elderly. I don’t understand what was going on with the pastor’s silence. I know that what the women’s leader was promoting is absolutely opposed to what he preaches. I got a couple of decades of good performance ratings in corporate America, where presentation skills, negotiation skills, and conflict resolution skills are important, so I don’t think it was all my fault. Probably some, but not all. Did he not care about a women’s study? Did he have it set in his mind that this was a personal conflict resolution meeting and he was taught in seminary to be a silent mediator in these things? Was he just caught off-guard that a supposed “women’s spat” wasn’t what he expected? Did he consider it politically unwise to oppose the women’s leader, so he let me hang out to dry?

          Anyway. So much for the “real” Bible study with non-Beth-Moore material.

          • I think there is a scripture somewhere that says, “lay hands on no man suddenly.”

            A preacher preached about it once. After the jokes about laying hands suddenly being about manhandling a person, the preacher went on to say the best leaders are older, using Moses and Abraham and Joshua as examples.

            That young Bible teacher didn’t know what she was doing.
            But just as much, there are many young men behind pulpits that are too young to be there. They haven’t been seasoned well enough and are causing way more problems that they are solving.

            Anyway, it may have been more of a lack of maturity problem than a female Bible study problem.

            I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the way you discribe it makes me think that might be it.

          • I completely agree that on the micro level of this particular study, the problem was a leadership problem. I also agree that in many evangelical churches I’ve been in, leadership development issues are the dark side to the push for lots of small groups, independent of whether those small groups are male, female, or mixed gender.

            But the bigger question, to me, is how leaders are chosen for a women’s study, what qualities are considered good leadership qualities for a women’s study, what kind of leadership development or mentoring is done, how any problems are recognized and resolved, and whether those procedures differ from those that would apply to a man wanting to lead a men’s or mixed gender study.

            Even for men in leadership of a church who do care about the quality of the weekday morning mostly stay-at-home-mother women’s study, these issues start interacting with issues discussed elsewhere in these comments.

            -A male pastor or other male church leader can’t just pop in and sit in on a women’s study to see what is going on and whether any mentoring needs to be done or any problems needs to be addressed. The study suddenly changes to a mixed-gender study, and the women act differently.

            -If a woman (and I’m thinking particularly a young woman) expresses interest in, or shows talent for, leading the woman’s study, the pastor or other male leader can’t show the same type of interest or spend the same type of informal mentoring time that he would be likely to do for a man (and I’m thinking particularly a young man) who showed similar interest or talent for leading a men’s or mixed-gender study. The whole gossip, open-door/closed-door thing discussed above comes into play.

            I suspect it is often just easier for a busy pastor, even if he is sympathetic to the problem, to push it to the bottom of his to-do list.

            Another subject I ponder along these lines is that in the recent past, corporate America, especially multi-national corporations, decided that it was essential to achieving their mission to start having employees who were not white males. (Basically, they wanted to sell stuff to people who were not white males, plus they discovered there were some really smart, educated, less expensive potential employees who weren’t born in the United States.) My professional expertise is in a technical field, so I watched up close while my company struggled with issues similar to those above.

            I don’t want to argue whether corporate America’s mission is valid or their resolutions to the struggles of diversity valid. What I do wonder is how the American evangelical church (and I probably mean individual churches at this point) thinks about how women fit into their mission. Approve of the cultural changes or not, many American evangelical women are currently talking with our secular neighbors, caring for our doubting parents, chauffeuring children to soccer teams that include children from non-traditional families, working with our Hindi and Muslim coworkers. Is everyone really comfortable that the mission of the church is best met with adult women doing fill-in-the-blank worksheets, restricted to a pretty small set of approved subjects, and talking in platitudes when we get together to study?

            Of course, the same concerns apply equally well to men and men’s and mixed-gender studies, in many cases.

          • Actually, on further thought, I do have a question on the quality of leadership issue in the particular case I described.

            From my point of view (and apparently MR’s), the women’s study was a clear case of bad/immature leadership with lots of egregious examples of how a leader can kill discussion.

            But the pastor, when the issues were laid out in front of him, was silent. He let her lecture me in front of him. He never gave me any word of encouragement whatsoever. The other women in the study were silent. Is is possible that he and they thought she was being a *good* leader in putting down the heretic who dared stray outside the unwritten rules of the women’s study? Did I just stumble across some unwritten rule of how women are really viewed in this church?

            Or did the pastor just stumble on a people issue, and I seemed confident and together enough that it didn’t occur to him that I needed some encouragement? Or he hasn’t been exposed to some of the weird stuff that goes on with women in evangelicalism, so it never dawned on him that I might be having the thoughts above?

            Even if I asked straight out, I’m not sure I could trust the answer. Sometimes the official spoken party line and what is actually the truth in the real social order are different.

            One woman from the study did come up to me after the year ended and said “You know that women’s study? It never did get any better.” So I asked her why she hadn’t said anything, and she said “Oh, I could never comment in a study.” I’m still chewing over that one.

          • You bring up a lot of good points, Becky. Things I just haven’t really encountered.

            On the one hand, I see how it might be nice to divide up and have men’s and women’s studies.

            On the other hand, like you said, how can the young women be mentored? The older men really can’t do it. So again, that leaves the older women.

            I remember once my mom talking about a gal that came and preached at her church to a mixed group. The women just all loved what she said and how she said it and it hit right home for so many of them.
            But when asking the men what they thought, they said, “It was all right.”

            Right or wrong, my mother came to the conclusion that women listen to men preachers all the time and have simply had to adjust themselves to understand the male point-of-view (pov) to get stuff out of their messages. When churches don’t believe in women preaching to mixed groups men don’t have to adjust to the female pov. Old saying. It’s a man’s world. In spite of one bitter male’s idea that the church has become too chickified, really, it’s a man’s church, when women can’t speak to mixed groups. The woman’s voice, the woman’s pov is only heard by other women and therefore can’t be assessed by the whole body. Plus, if women think there are certain limits and expectation placed on them, this reduces their voice even more, or warps it or something so that it is not true to the woman.

            I know, I’m rambling and probably not making much sense.
            The point of this post, more than anything, is just acknowledging what’s in yours and letting you know I’m thinking about it.
            Just thinking and meditating, not answering or solving.

          • YOU ROCK for your honesty and being straightforward with all parties involved. I had a similar experience with a questionable type of prayer ministry/training that was being pushed for a awhile at our church. I got the same silent non-response from the pastor on that one, tho it was exactly what the pastor did NOT preach , ever. I have only guesses about “WHY ?”

            nice post
            Greg R

            PS: my mother-in-law died of Alzeimer’s about 7 yrs ago, I”m sad with you on that one.

      • Savannah,

        I must be missing that same gene that you are. GRIN. I’ve never been that interested in feminine stuff. I never could figure out why (and how) women go ga-ga over babies, etc. It’s just not in me.

        And I agree completely about women’s Bible studies. Even if they were decent about content, they have little to nothing to say to the single career woman.

      • I’ve been a lurker for a little while, but I had to say something to this one… specifically, “AMEN”.

        I have long been frustrated by the huge rift between the theological depth of men’s and women’s Bible studies. It has pained me that many women haven’t studied the Word at all outside of Ruth, Esther, Ephesians 5, and 2 Peter 3. While men’s Bible studies actually…. like… study the Bible, many women’s Bible studies are all about being good wives and mommies and are interspersed with frugal recipe tips. Not that there’s a thing wrong with finding out what the Bible says about being a wife and mommy, but goodness, 99% of the Book is about other stuff! And as a single woman, it is disheartening to constantly see my life calling cast in light of that husband and those kids who may or may not materialize one day.

        I am very grateful to be in a Christian community right now where men and women alike are encouraged to study the Word in depth and are free to teach and preach inasmuch as their gifting allows. Even so, I still find residual hesitancy among some of the women. I have met ladies who are sharp as anything, can run logical circles around anyone in any argument, love good intellectual discussion–and yet still somehow clam up when theology gets introduced into the conversation. I guess old habits die hard.

        Back to the point–amen, amen, amen. Let the women study the Bible for real.

      • GLOMP! (Is that right, HUG?) 😉

        Turning 40 is incredibly freeing; since most people in America assume that women go crazy at that age anyway, you can now say what you think and do what you like and everyone just says, “Early menopause.” It’s great!

        I, too, am sick to death of having to choose between attending a conference or a Bible study that leaves me emptier than when I went into it, or being deemed “unsociable” or “uninvolved.” Bring on the Lewis, the Tolkien, and the Sayers. Let’s get some real meat on the table, Church, your women are STARVING and most of them don’t even know it!

        • If you are serving Lewis, Tolkien, and Sayers, can I be a waiter in the kitchen or something at the meal ??

          right now we’re getting Warren, Arterburn, Eldredge, and the current sports voice du jour (this week it’s Tony Dungy). We’re all getting some kind of fast food.

          Greg R

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That sounds more like Junk Food than Fast Food.

            (And if you REALLY want to see Empty Calories, just step into any Christian (TM) Family (TM) Bookstore. Fiction sections of Left Behind knockoffs, Bonnet Romances, and Jack Chick tracts with or without the pictures. Women’s sections of Good Wifey Good Mommy and Jon & Kate Plus Eight’s favorite Scriptures. And I’m not even starting on the kitschy Christian (TM) knicknacks…)

          • come on HUG, you have to admit that the Chick tracts are (unintentionally) an absolute laugh riot, I LOVE/HATE the super hairy villains….where else can you find THhAT ??

  21. Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

    So I’m a guy. I became an egalitarian in seminary. I started to notice all the nonsense that the church lobs at women. I am not surprised by any one of these stories. I am very pro women in ministry at all levels, and heck, I’m very pro women in general. I hope and pray that this BS stops.

    However, then I read a book “Why men hate going to church” by David Murrow. It resonated with me in a really powerful way. The book’s point is not that men should take over everything, but that there must be a balance.

    Just as women are being reduced and belittled, men are being neutered by churches. I do think that women are treated far worse by churches. Men just leave.

    I know to most women that this sounds crazy, since you yourself are often being treated so poorly simply because you are a women, but ask a guy. I think that part of the reason Mark Driscoll is so popular with men is that he let’s us know that Jesus loves our “frat-boy” side too. The guys who are reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Now, I don’t want to get into a “who’s more the victim” game, because everybody loses. And women are treated worse by churches. My point is that I believe that these issues are deeply interrelated. I’m not sure how. I have a hunch that it has to do with all of us being stifled by Victorian gender roles. But I dunno.

    I also think there is some connection to MLK’s idea that hate poisons both the oppressor and the oppressed.

    I don’t know what to do about this, and I may be wrong, but how are these things interconnected? How can all of us get past this nonsense?

    • Jonathan, I think you’ve nit the nail on the head when you’ve said that “everybody loses”. I would agree. My husband certainly has been turned off by the vacuous nature of a lot of this stuff, both for men and women. A lot of the stuff that’s targeted to men is not that much better.

      Plus, men do not gain by fellowshipping with women who are not “their best selves”. By talking about our “best selves”, I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for the Army, but the pressure for women to “dumb it down” is tremendous. We recently left a mixed group study and my husband asked me when we got into the car about a particular woman, “Does she always talk only in platitudes?” Unfortunately, the answer is “yes”, although I don’t believe it is a problem of native intellect.

      I have talked to men who deliberately looked outside of the church for companionship (and there are probably women who do, too) because they want to spend time with someone who is self-confident, not afraid to use her intellect, and actually has an opinion or two. Most secure men want these things in women, and are turned off by less.

      IMO, there has also been a huge pushback against “intellectualism” in general, and certainly against science. I know people of both genders that have not yet read a book that wasn’t a mass-marketed “Christian” book in years. It’s hard to converse with them about too much. I personally never darken the door of a Christian book store, although I do purchase many books by Christians.

      • Savannah: EXCELLENT post; and IMO, the pressure to “dumb it down” is on everyone, male and female, layperson and clergy, teacher and student. Push the edge of this envelope, and you become a “brainiac”, and there are more caustic ways to put that.

        I love your call to be “our best selves”, and it turns out that some of the women in the body of Christ are better teachers, writers, thinkers than a great deal of the men. That’s God creating something awwsome in their “best selves”.

        I feel utterly clueless and helpless as to how to fight all this. I’m open to any suggestions.

        Greg R

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Push the edge of this envelope, and you become a “brainiac”, and there are more caustic ways to put that.

          Tell me about it. I survived being a kid genius (estimated IQ 160), and the damage is still there.

      • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

        Great insight. I’ve known for a long time that evangelicalism is anti-intellectual, but I’d never connected it to this gender stuff before.

        Is this all just repression? Is the church just trying to teach us control our doubts, emotions, feelings, desires, etc? I’ve noticed in churches and evangelical subculture that there is very little room for disagreement about minor issues.

        I mean, it’s like they hand you a checklist when you become a Christian: you must be a republican, complementarian, creationist, believe in penal substitutionary atonement, premillenial dispensationalism, etc. The only allowed topics of discussion are: Pre or Post trib rapture, Is speaking in tongues ok, and everyone’s favorite: Is Obama the anti-Christ?

        What does any of this have to do with the gospel? Can’t we talk about this stuff? Imagine a church where we held debates about real topics!

        This is part of the reason I’m thinking about becoming an Anglican, since they have a strong intellectual tradition. They also have a strong sense about what’s really important vs. not important.

        • Jonathan, Anglicanism has a lot going for it, in my opinion. Two of my theological heroes (C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright) were/are Anglican so that must count for something. I was brought up Catholic and there is still something about Catholicism keeping me there, but in regard to certain topics within Christianity, I probably lean more toward the Anglican view in some ways.

          Oh, and in regard to the list you mentioned above that is kind of “handed” to you when you become a Christian…I wouldn’t satisfy any of those!

        • Strong post. And AMEN. Connect the dots: if we are insecure about the utility, and God-centeredness of using our brains, fighting an atmosphere of disagreement makes a lot of sense. More people might find out what I don’t know, and maybe on issues that I spoke about very passionately, very BIBLICALLY. Contrast this with the right kind of academic, or even commercial setting, where we aren’t given the bubble-boy treatment (at least not in alert companies, and solid schools). The higher you go up the leader chain, the more pressure is on you to ‘get it right’, so again, disagreement will not be your BFF.

          I think the more fundamentalist the mindset, the more entrenched the above.

          end of rant….for now
          Greg R

          • PS to Jonathan: I’m praying that you would find a context, a platform, a ministry or job where you can be you, where you can speak your mind (within the limits of love) and be passionate about all you believe. I’ll even pray that you get paid some kind of wage to do so. Yeah….that would be miraculous.

            Greg R

      • “IMO, there has also been a huge pushback against ‘intellectualism’ in general, and certainly against science. I know people of both genders that have not yet read a book that wasn’t a mass-marketed ‘Christian’ book in years. It’s hard to converse with them about too much. I personally never darken the door of a Christian book store, although I do purchase many books by Christians.”

        AMEN, sister!

        I think I may have to add this book to my list as well.

    • That *has* been a problem for awhile. Here’s a good historical review of the problem by Ted Ownby.

    • Jonathan Hunicutt: “I think that part of the reason Mark Driscoll is so popular with men is that he let’s us know that Jesus loves our “frat-boy” side too. The guys who are reading this know exactly what I’m talking about.”

      You know, you really may be on to something here.
      And in fear of using out-dated terminology around such a modern and cutting edge thinkers, still I’d like to add my two cents.
      Driscoll, may be all about men getting to come out of the box and express their frat boy side.
      But on the other hand, he is very much NOT into letting women come out of their boxes and express whatever it is that women want to express.
      He is very much into women having limited roles and expressions. He wants men out of the box but to keep women in their boxes.

      What really needs to happen is for both genders/sexes to have the liberty to live free outside the box. Both genders need healed of their insecurities and prejudices of each other so that the freedom Jesus and Paul talk about can belong to both, and not be the exclusive property of one gender.

      Where is that place of reckless abandon for both?
      Does it exist in this world, or must we wait for the next?
      God, if we, men and women together, can have it in this life, set our feet upon that path.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        He is very much into women having limited roles and expressions. He wants men out of the box but to keep women in their boxes.

        These two sentences bring to mind an Excedrin commercial of the Sixties:

        “Me Man! Me want fill-in-the-blank!
        You Woman! You Shut Up!”

  22. Don’t know if anyone saw the latest Barna research, but it says the number of female senior pastors in Protestant churches had doubled in the past decade.

    On the average they are more educated than men but paid less, perhaps because they pastor smaller churches.

  23. I have a friend whom I fear is being drawn into the full quiver movement. I was just talking with my husband yesterday about this strange tendency too many women have to do something just for the acceptance and not because the thing itself blesses them. “This person says to have a lot of kids, so if I have a lot of kids, they’ll validate me.”

    There’s something to be said for doing something in community, whether it’s a Beth Moore study or Tae Kwon Do. And both require a discipline which is certainly aided by the encouragement of others around you!

    Very, very, tragically often, it is the woman who pushes her husband to lord over the household. It is the woman who thinks she’ll be fulfilled if she dives into full quiver. And it’s the woman who forces her daughters to be circumcised. If you’re not one, keep up those “subversive” Bible studies. Give people around you something to think about. Some will listen.

    • Beth, the book, “Gender and Grace” talks some about that very issue. Mary Van Leeuwen suggest that part of women’s nature to need approval, etc. is from the punishment for original sin. (And man’s is to dominate). Very interesting book, and I believe well worth trying to find a copy.

  24. Good Lord help us if we think Joyce Meyers and Beth Moore are considered the epitome of women’s faith.

    Some of the best and deepest Christian literature I read has this ecumenical quality to it. A man and women can read the same text, respond in different ways and still arrive at the same place .. closer to Jesus.

    Instead of being a church of the Truth, we’ve become a SuperBowl commercial … sigh.

  25. Interesting discussion. I’m glad people are speaking up. My personal experience as a woman at a few Evangelical churches in the Northeast has been much different. I wonder if it is because I live within an hour of NYC? I think there are certain things that NYC women and Jersey women simply would not put up with! Just FYI, I was raised Catholic, though not strict, and didn’t go to church for decades until ending up in a nondenominational Christian Missionary Alliance church. I went there for six years and now attend a different nondenominational church, just for logistical reasons.

    I personally have never sensed repression from either of the Evangelical churches I’ve attended and I’m pretty sensitive to that. Since I was out in the non-evangelical world for so many years, I think I would have noticed a big difference. I met my husband at an Evangelical church and he has always championed my dreams and appreciated my individuality, not tried to extinguish it. (As I’m guessing is the case with most of the men who comment on this blog!) Whether at church or at home, people don’t tell me whether or not to work, what to wear, how to think/act/vote etc.

    On the other hand, the “blogworld” of conservative Christian women reveals a different story. After surfing the blogs of Christian wives and homemakers, I became aware of the “dominion” movement, fears about sending daughters to college, such questions as “should I wear head coverings?” & “can you be a Christian and not home school?” etc. It is the women themselves who appear to judge themselves and each other by these standards. There is much good to be gained from reading the blogs of other Christian women, but I never realized the extra layers and rules some of them have created. Most of these blogs seem to originate in the South and the Midwest, hence my question about geographical factors. Of course, it could just be a coincidence.

    I wonder why my experience at Evangelical churches has been so different? Am I in some sort of denial…or is it because I am within the New York Metro area? Or am I just lucky? Just thinking out loud here…

    Anyway, I love this blog and delurked to show a different experience from some of the comments.

    • P.S. I should have said “patriarchy movement” instead of dominion movement.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        All that’s missing is FGM, honor killings, and burqas.

        The “Dominion” name comes from the idea that they are to “exert Dominion” over the earth. The most extreme (with Culture War overtones) are the “Christian Reconstructionists”, who WILL Take America Back and Build a REAL Christian Nation (TM) under Scriptural (TM i.e. Levitical) Law. I call them the “Handmaid’s Tale for Real” types.

        “Most of these blogs seem to originate in the South and Midwest.” Well, the South (presumably the former CSA) is called “the Bible Belt” and the Midwest is the default location of Mythic 1950s Small Town America… (And if you take Left Behind: Volumes 12-13 as Inspired Scripture, the entire New Earth will become one global American Midwest of flat plains and rolling hills dotted with small towns…)

  26. I hope I do not offend anyone, and I’d consider it a kindness if my comments were to be read as arguments for a case, and not personal attacks. I am, I think, sensitive to some of the suffering of women in the church, and I do try to keep it in mind when I think about these things. To my mind, it’s hard to think of a more important social issue in the Church, and I do seek to learn from views that are not mine. Some times I’m more successful than others.

    Several quotes really grabbed my attention, and will hound me for a few days. (That’s probably a good thing.) I copied them below:

    “It feels like the 1960s all over again. We need “consciousness-raising groups.” We need an Evangelical Betty Friedan. We do. We really do.”

    “What really needs to happen is for both genders/sexes to have the liberty to live free outside the box. Both genders need healed of their insecurities and prejudices of each other so that the freedom Jesus and Paul talk about can belong to both, and not be the exclusive property of one gender. Where is that place of reckless abandon for both? Does it exist in this world, or must we wait for the next?”

    “Though my husband is not a Christian, he says things like he doesn’t like women who just say and believe whatever they are told to say and believe. Yet, I find that when I have an opinion that is inconvenient to him or challenging to him in some way, that what he is REALLY saying is: “I want women to have all the rights that men have, but when it comes to YOU, I want you to have your own thoughts as long as they are like mine.” Ugh.”

    “Don’t know if anyone saw the latest Barna research, but it says the number of female senior pastors in Protestant churches had doubled in the past decade.”

    “So I’m a guy. I became an egalitarian in seminary. I started to notice all the nonsense that the church lobs at women. I am not surprised by any one of these stories. I am very pro women in ministry at all levels, and heck, I’m very pro women in general. I hope and pray that this BS stops.”

    “I’ve known for a long time that evangelicalism is anti-intellectual, but I’d never connected it to this gender stuff before.”

    TONS of comments about some apparently appalling female Christian literature. (I’ve not read them, so I’ll take your words for it.) TONS of comments about bad leadership in churches.

    This seems a far cry from a discussion about some essays on the troubles women face in evangelical circles.

    I’m reminded of my old days, when I was angry at God. When would I witness a miracle? When was he going to talk to me like everyone else in Sunday School said he did them? He “led’ those people all over creation; through failed ministries, divorces, bankruptcy… Worst of all, He “led” them into completely mundane situations. “I feel called to take this banking job in Missouri.” I can worship a Lord that tests His followers, but I draw the line at one who sends tellers into heart of the Midwest!

    Those poor people–and myself for many years–bought into the idea that God works in the world today like He does in the Bible. That’s probably true, but it would have been good for us if we had been reminded that those events take place over thousands of years, and to very particular people. One hundred billion people have walked the Earth; God the Father actually spoke to, what, 50? I doubt Jesus was heard by anything approaching 1,000,000. And those were written down because, for the rest of the whole time of creation–and for approaching 100% of the people–God said…nothing. That, of course, makes those very rares times even more special and poignant. I’ve come to this same conclusion about female leaders in the Bible.

    Some of those quotes suggest that as the idea of women in church leadership rises, there is an inversely proportionate decline of ideas by–and about–women. Seminaries and seminarians don’t go through overnight “Ah-ha!” transformations from lightless strongholds of evil patriarchy to bastions of bright egalitarianism. Men didn’t just recently lose their way, become bad leaders, or suddenly go AWOL. Women haven’t suddenly realized that they’re human too, and just now stumbled upon their voice.

    I can’t say exactly how St. Paul would have us read Ephesians 5, or his letters to Timothy, but I must trust that he wasn’t being frivolous; as I must trust the curious separation of the all-male apostles who often showed MUCH less faith than the female followers; Ecclesiastes harsh words about wisdom found among the genders; the justice of God’s pronouncements in Genesis. Though, neither my experience, nor the comments above do much to persuade me that they are errant.

    It seems to me that G.K. Chesterton, (whose words I now likely butcher before you) said it best: “Christianity has not been tried and found hard, it has been found hard and not tried”, and, “Men are men, but man is a woman.” One day, perhaps we’ll see a Church that is led by good, spiritually strong men; who in turn submit themselves to be husbanded by Christ. But I doubt it will be in this lifetime. I don’t think that gives us the right to set up church practices democratically, or even by merit–that is, to fashion idols. I wonder what we should have thought of St. Peter? I think he would not pass our muster. I’m prepared to believe that many women would make better decisions than most men–the person of Mary could make that case very strong. Yet Jesus chose him.

    Just as I cannot believe in a God of power and might that calls every cashier into a personal relationship with First National of St. Louis, neither can I believe in a God of truth and love who lies about His plan to His sinful children because of their personal hang-ups in a particular point of history.

    • Sorry.

      “Ecclesiastes harsh words about wisdom good found among the genders”.

    • BB said, “This seems a far cry from a discussion about some essays on the troubles women face in evangelical circles.”

      Really??????

      • Yes. If I came here with no knowledge of the subject, I would have read iMonk’s review, and concluded that women have some problems in evangelical church. By the time I finished the comments, I’d believe evangelical wives are mostly slaves, and among whom there is no dissent. If true, that would certainly be a problem, but the review didn’t lead me to believe we were talking about a spiritual holocaust.

        • BB wrote, “…neither can I believe in a God of truth and love who lies about His plan to His sinful children because of their personal hang-ups in a particular point of history.”

          BB, I think you are aware that many bright, truth-seeking people read and study the Bible and come to different conclusions than you do about what God wants. Read Ruth Tucker’s Women in the Maze: Questions & Answers on Biblical Equality.>/u> Or read Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry by Stanley Grenz and Denise Kjesbo.

          • Oops, sorry about my HTML coding in the above post. I obviously made a mistake when I was writing the code to underline the titles to the two books I mentioned.

          • I hate the technique of “if you disagree with me on Scripture, you’re saying God lies.”

            And if one does define a misstatement of fact as a lie, then indeed the Bible is full of lies, beginning with creation of the earth in 6 days, and continuing on to any story told by two people without exact agreement on each and every detail…

        • I must have missed the post where women were referred to as slaves. What I read from other women (and posted myself) were actual experiences women have had growing up and “residing” in the evangelical Christian church. I have not received my book yet (although I have received notification that it has been shipped and I am looking forward to receiving it), but from IMonk’s review and other information I read about the book, it is a compilation of stories/essays by young women growing up in the church – not so different than what some women have posted here, I don’t think.

          No, it does not rise to the level of genocide, spiritual or otherwise (although some could certainly make an argument for the spiritual version, but I don’t think anyone here has suggested that it does). I don’t know if you are male or female, but if you are female, and you have not been wounded by sexism in the church, then I am truly happy for you. Of all of the women I know and whom I have crossed paths with over the years in the church, you would be in the minority.

          Either way, I am a bit perplexed at your doggedness in seeming to seek to minimize the experiences of others. Yes, there is always someone worse off. If we precluded discussions on such a premise, no discussions would ever be had.

          • I do not minimize the experiences of others, or even question them. I’m taking them at face value. I think there may be a general misunderstanding that I’m saying things have always been good, stop screwing them up. No, no–things have always been bad. When I wrote that men didn’t suddenly go bad, or stop being good leaders I meant we’ve always been so.

            I do accept that different people honestly come to different conclusions about what the Scriptures say. Furthermore, I don’t want them stopped! I’m glad the book was written, I’m glad the topic has drawn so many topics. But I do believe that there are recognizable, useful instances and patterns in Scripture that are clear. I believe male leadership of the Church is one of them. So when the discussion started to shift away from “women in church suffer some serious problems” to unorthodox solutions, I wanted to make an argument for orthodox ones. (Can I say led by the Spirit? I’ve always wanted to. No? Bummer.)

            Said another way: The book and the comments ask the question, “In what ways is the evangelical church failing women.” The answers I saw mostly considered that the leadership was bad or lacking; which naturally lead to the question, “What sort of leaders do we need then?” The remarkable answer was to have better women leaders! And I didn’t hear anyone even raise a question about it. Your keyboards are too quiet.

            Mr. Hunnicutt’s response to my statements was one of deconstruction–as any decently educated person in the post-modern world (post-post-modern? modern post-modern?) should do. Coming from the post-in-my-eye world, I find the Bible much worse for wear when read in this fashion because it turns the Living Word into a cadaver. However; I did find his estimation of God’s reasoning fascinating.

            “What I meant by “6 men and 6 women would not have been able to symbolize that in Jesus’ culture” is similar to the fact that if Jesus spoke the King’s English in Galilee, no one would have been able to understand him. Nor would most Americans today.”

            This is very clever, but very misleading, too. As I admitted somewhere (once, out of earshot) all analogies fail in the end. While it is true that the King’s English would not be understood by ancient Israeli’s nor modern Americans it ultimately is a false dichotomy. Understood, in the sense we’re using it here, would probably be better said as accepted. Those Jews knew what men and women were, they knew what judges were, they even knew what queens were. Jesus’ time here was nothing but a series of unaccepted events and sayings, and the disciples (and the population generally) could have understood female leadership. After all, they must have known who and what to oppress, right? What was Jesus trying to communicate then? What was He trying to avoid–being abandoned by His disciples? Crucifixion?

            That conversation is largely unimportant anyway. It’s fun for me to think about (and I suspect for Mr. Hunnicutt, too. I feel ya!), but ultimately it is the pattern, the relentless way God reveals Himself, His word, and His traditions to us that I believe in; over and above particular unknowable point about the exact reasons Jesus chose the disciples as He did.

            So, to restate and sum up: I am looking forward to reading the book. I think a good many problems women suffer are caused by the failings of men to live up to their duties, and I’d like to see more advocacy for good male leaders than for more female leaders because it’s scriptural, traditional, and visible. And I think a lot of women put a lot of pressure on themselves and others to be what most were never meant to be.

    • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

      First off, why can’t someone be called to be a bank teller in St. Louis? I mean seriously, is that job too little or too lowly, too common, and God doesn’t call people to common tasks? Our Lord was a carpenter for like 20 years, is there no divine dignity in such work? No sense of calling?

      The book of Esther does not mention God, or God’s action. The rest of the Bible is quite overt in talking about God’s action. Esther is silent. And yet, God is active in Esther, even if his name is not on the page. I think the book of Esther is trying to teach us how to discern God’s action, even when God doesn’t show up with a sign that says: “Hey stupid, it’s me.”

      As for the 12 being male, what was the purpose of the twelve? It was the symbolism of the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel, the return from exile. 6 men and 6 women would not been able to symbolize that in Jesus’ culture. Similarly 6 camels and 6 men would not have been able to symbolize the restoration of Israel.

      Also, yes our Lord did pick 12 men to symbolize the restoration of Israel around himself, but when he was raised he first appeared to women. The Risen Jesus chose to reveal himself first to women. What does that mean? Is that important? I think so, especially since ultimately, all Christian preaching is resurrection preaching. What’s more important, the resurrection or the picking of the twelve? I’m betting on the resurrection every day, and twice on Sunday.

      • All analogies fail at some point, and you’re precisely right in your sentiment about people being called to lowly positions. However; I think you’re straining the flea and missing the camel of my meaning. And I never questioned the dignity of any work.

        “6 men and 6 women would not been able to symbolize that in Jesus’ culture.”

        This is exactly what I was talking about when I said I can’t believe God lies to His sinful children. He didn’t actually think it would have been more fair to choose halves, but didn’t because we wouldn’t accept it. We have never accepted any of His prophets, or even His Son! I’m stating flat out that in no culture–ever–would a different 12 have been God’s choice. This gets to the heart of what I think is truly an arrogance we have. We tend to think we’re better–more enlightened–than those who came before us. There’s nothing new under the sun.

        I surely do think it is important He appeared to the women first–they were looking for Him! If you said that women–generally speaking–have a greater gift for faith, I would agree. And if you said that men–generally speaking–are cowards unto God, we would again find no disagreement. The persistent 60/40 women/men split in church also speaks to these. Where we disagree is that you think our recognition of these failings gives license to judge the system that was given to us through scripture, and the tradition of the Church. Having eaten of the fruit, you think you’re of a standing to judge the goodness of the garden.

        • Jonathan Hunnicutt says:

          OK, the twelve were also all Jewish. Must all the leaders of the church be Jewish? Maybe they just need to be circumcised…

          My argument (and the argument of other egalitarians) is not that we should throw out scripture because we don’t like it. It’s that scripture doesn’t actually say what you want it too say, or it says more than you want it to say, or it doesn’t make sense when it seems to be arguing against female leadership. The question is not about the authority of scripture, but the interpretation of scripture.

          God did not lie to his children. God spoke to his children in their own language at their own place, at their own time. Part of our job is to translate that for our own day. What I meant by “6 men and 6 women would not have been able to symbolize that in Jesus’ culture” is similar to the fact that if Jesus spoke the King’s English in Galilee, no one would have been able to understand him. Nor would most Americans today.

        • I couldn’t reply above, so I will here:

          “So, to restate and sum up: I am looking forward to reading the book. I think a good many problems women suffer are caused by the failings of men to live up to their duties, and I’d like to see more advocacy for good male leaders than for more female leaders because it’s scriptural, traditional, and visible. And I think a lot of women put a lot of pressure on themselves and others to be what most were never meant to be.”

          Thanks for pointing out how scriptural it is for for everything to always be about the men. The male leaders in particular. Can never have enough of those. Never.

  27. Bob Sacamento says:

    I can’t resist saying it: It wasn’t easy growing up evangelical and male either. In my church and college groups and so on, it was just kind of assumed that the girls were all pristine and pure and represented the stirling future of the America and the church (in that order) while the boys were all lunkheads and testosterone-poisoned heathen ready to turn into not-so-Incredible Hulks at a moments notice if anyone let their guard down.

    Not to take away from the validity of what is expressed in this book (which I admittedly haven’t read), mind you. I’m just sayin’ …

    • IMO women are stereotyped one way, and men another. What you mention here is all too true. And what comes of this is stuff like (for example) women must dress extremely modestly because men are so out of control that *anything might happen* if the wrong clothing is worn. As if men are incapable of thought and reason.

      • Bob Sacamento says:

        Amen!

        • Maybe you’d like to check out the next book in the series. It’s not about gender, but it’s pretty male…

      • Wenatchee The Hatchet says:

        The result of these stereotypes within evangelicalism can often be a nasty double bind for both genders, can’t it?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And what comes of this is stuff like (for example) women must dress extremely modestly because men are so out of control that *anything might happen* if the wrong clothing is worn.

        Doesn’t Islam use the exact same reasoning to justify the locked harem and the burqa?

        With the additional “Death to Jezebels!” upping the ante?

        • A late note and example
          At our Lutheran church my wife was asked to join a committee that provides mentoring and Bible study, particularly to people who’ve had drug additiction problems. All members have to sign a form in which they pledge to conduct themselves like Christians. Odd, but OK. Women, however, must take an additional pledge to ‘dress modestly,’ though the term is undefined. There is no additional pledge of any kind for men.
          My wife signed it, but felt demeaned by the language and is working to get it changed – or to at least add a requirement (tongue in cheek) that the men can’t get drunk while mentoring. She will likely fail since her efforts will be interpreted to mean that she wants woment to dress like tarts. And her main opponents will be the other women on the committee.
          My wife and I are over 50 and have been Christians about 10 years. We’re still haven’t learned to not let this stuff bother us.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      In my church and college groups and so on, it was just kind of assumed that the girls were all pristine and pure and represented the stirling future of the America and the church (in that order) while the boys were all lunkheads and testosterone-poisoned heathen…

      No wonder Christianity’s historic rival has been called “The Real Man’s Religion”… After growing up male under the attitude described above, you’d want to convert to Islam for the payback angle alone! “Me Man! Woman, Submit! Or Die! Al’lah Saith!”

  28. I’m looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for letting us know about it. For various reasons I don’t feel as much angst about the “women in the church” issue as I have in the past, but I will always enjoy contemplating and discussing these ideas. Jesus Girls has definitely grabbed my attention.

  29. KR Wordgazer says:

    On the issue of why Jesus chose 12 men to be apostles, the answer seems perfectuly obvious to me. Jesus knew that in that culture, women were not considered reliable and their testimony was not believed ,(When the women testified that they’d seen Him risen, did the male disciples believe them? See Luke 24:11.)

    It seems like common sense, that if Jesus, in that culture, had chosen His first 12 to have some of them be women, He would have doomed the movement from the start. Sometimes even the Lord must be practical.

    But– Christ’s first act upon His resurrection was to show His intention to circumvent the common beliefs about women among His own followers, by appearing first to women! His church was to be different– it was to be a place, as Paul said, in which “there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ.”

  30. Truth Seeker says:

    My belief is that the Bible teaches and models the Complementarian stance for the home and church. I reject Egalitarian theology as false teaching. The form of patriarchy we see taught and modeled in Scripture is nothing to be afraid of and those who live it are very happy and fulfilled. It is the splinter groups that distort those teaches, such as the IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist), that the evangelical feminists use as their examples of the norm. That in itself is a willful and deliberate mischaracterization of the healthy mode of Biblical patriarchy.

    I am sadden that some women have faced the unhealthy brand of patriarchy such as seen in the IFB. Please let me assure you that abusive conduct is NOT the norm, it is the exception. That is no logical reason to be afraid of balanced patriarchy. That is God’s design. It is normal. It is healthy. It is freeing, for both genders.

    • Where Can I Get My Copy? says:

      “I am sadden that some women have faced the unhealthy brand of patriarchy such as seen in the IFB. Please let me assure you that abusive conduct is NOT the norm, it is the exception.”

      And I have a bunny that comes to my house every spring and it leaves me a lot of pretty colored eggs.

    • KR Wordgazer says:

      And I reject Complementarian theology as false teaching. The Bible, before it became God’s word to us, was God’s word to the groups of people who first received the writings. They were living in certain times in history, within certain cultures (ALL of which included “he shall rule over you” as part and parcel of their existence). What I see in complementarian teaching, are scriptures lifted out of their historical context and treated as though the Bible were a memo from the Boss, left on our desks yesterday. I will not submit to the cultural norms within which the BIble was wriitten, being carried forward as being somehow God’s chosen and holy culture for all time. If I did, I’d be living and working in a big house full of relatives and slaves, with my husband’s grandfather as the patriarch in charge of all of us.

      I follow the BIble. I submit to my husband, and he lays down his life for me, every day, in every area. This is called “mutual submission” according to Eph. 5:21. My husband doesn’t want to be in charge of me; he thinks I’m an adult and should be in charge of myself, responsible to God for my own actions. We’re best friends. Best friends don’t need one of them to be in charge. Best friends love and give in to one another.

      I do not believe that when I stand before God, I’ll be standing there with my husband, or that he will somehow be responsible for my actions, or me for his.

    • Truth Seeker,

      Can you show us an example of heathly patriarchy in history? Most of the ones, current and historical have all been bad for the women.

      Thank you.

      • Truth Seeker says:

        The most vivid example in history of patriarchy being healthy is in the Bible itself. Then, you add to that the example of how it was practiced in the USA until the advent of radical feminism, and in the church before the advent of Evangelical Feminism. The error the Egalitarians make is that they take the patriarchal teaching as somehow being “cultural”. Mix that in with VERY poor hermenuetics …. such as we see with Eph. 5:21 being applied to marriage ….. which it isn’t in Paul’s writings. Paul’s teachings on marriage begins in verse 22. Verse 21 refers to conduct from one believer to another in the church, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Even with that, he builds on that elsewhere as it pertains to the roles of men and women in the church service. It is a part of the Egalitarian error to claim that ALL societies that modeled Bibilcal patriarchy “have all been bad for women”. They haven’t! But, like today, there were certain fringe groups who took what God has decreed to be good and they have corrupted it. Please keep in mind that unlike me, the vast majority of contented patriarchal couples NEVER post on these sites. They are the silent majority within the church who don’t the validations found in these places. They know they are in the will of God, they are peaceful and contented, and there is no strife. My marriage is like that, praise Jesus!

        • Are you talking about the same biblical patriarchy that requires unbetrothed virgins who are raped to marry their rapist? The same patriarchy that has such severe consequences for a woman losing her virginity before marriage but is curiously silent about men in the same predicament? Yeah, America was a real paradise before all those uppity woman had to go ruin it by voting.

  31. Truthseeker: “The most vivid example in history of patriarchy being healthy is in the Bible itself. Then, you add to that the example of how it was practiced in the USA until the advent of radical feminism, and in the church before the advent of Evangelical Feminism.”

    And how do you know that it was healhy for women in all those instances. Women’s voices were not allowed without being mediated by men. Which is EXACTLY what the original post of this thread is about.
    You do not know what was suffered by any of the women in any of the time frames you mentioned because you never heard their voices.
    Now you hear the voices of women because they have a voice and you don’t like what you hear. And your basic answer is that these women’s voices are not acurate. You don’t know. You have an opinion. But you don’t know.

    You want patriarchy to be healthy, therefore, in your mind, it is. Not because you have proven it to anyone.

    I am glad for you that your marriage suits you. By your words, you imply that it suits your wife as well. And that very much may be the case. However, though I don’t automatically assume that your relationship with your wife is unhealthy, neither do I assume that it is healthy just because YOU say so. Where is the voice of your wife? Does she say so? And if she says so, does she say so because she knows there would be no living with you if she said otherwise and so agrees with you to keep the peace? Or is it really healthy?

    I hope so because I wish misery on no one. But neither do I automatically assume that just because there is an out ward peace, so also is there a peace beneath the surface.

    You cannot hear the true voices of those who have had their voices mediated by others.
    This is why books like the one reviewed here are needed and I appreciate imonk for doing this service.

    • Truth Seeker says:

      Concerning the biblical examples of patriarchy, we simply take the Bible as 100% accurate and we accept it by faith. Based upon that principle which I assume every Christian would see as reliable …. please show me ANYWHERE in the Bible where a professing believer abused the patriarchal privilege. You can’t, because it’s not in there. But … feel free to try.

      I’m not intimidated by anyone “having a voice”. I have mine, which DOES intimidate those who mischaracterize biblical patriarchy. In fact, it is the Egalitarians who seek to hush the voices of anyone daring to disagree with them. Also, you’ll just have to take it at my word that my Comp marriage is exactly how I describe it …. and from both of our perspectives.

      I’m deeply sorrowful that there is a minority of people who have been abused through the misapplication of patriarchy and/or Complementarian teaching. That is no reason to willfully mischaracterize the Comp position or to through the baby out with the bathwater. That is extremely narrowminded and in some instances can be downright abusive toward the one backing the Comp platform ….. and we wouldn’t want that ….. now, would we????

      • Truth Seeker says:

        MR, sorry for the typo. Please allow me to correct it …… “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

        Also, I can easily turn your comment to me around and put it this way, to you.

        “You want patriarchy to be unhealthy, therefore, in your mind, it is. Not because you have proven it to anyone.”

      • KR Wordgazer says:

        TruthSeeker, given your reasoning, it is also God’s will that we continue the institution of slavery. And it isn’t God’s will that people vote for their leaders. The Bible supports judges and kings.

        Yes, the way you read the Bible has also been used to support the Divine Right of kings,, and also the right of people to own slaves, as long as they are good, kind slaveholders. The problem with slavery is simply that some slaveholders abused their privilege. But there were “happy” slaves, and that proves there was nothing wrong with slavery per se.

      • Truthseeker: “please show me ANYWHERE in the Bible where a professing believer abused the patriarchal privilege. You can’t, because it’s not in there. But … feel free to try.”

        Are you serious?
        When you say believer, are you including the OT? Because often Believer is used for NT believers. Not that OT persons weren’t Believers, it was just different.
        You must have some seriously narrowing definitions of what a believer is because I can think of several men who, as leaders of their families and part of the promise of Israel, have made some serious sins of commission, and omission. At least three that caused the death of someone, all three female. One wife, one concubine, and one daughter.
        I could start listing them, but rather than have you shoot them down because they don’t meet with your idea of what is a patriarch or believer or something, I’ll wait for you to define what you mean.

        Truthseeker: “I have mine, which DOES intimidate those who mischaracterize biblical patriarchy.”

        This statement of yours is so incredible and speaks such volumes I cannot even comment. But not because you intimidate me. It’s for other reasons.

        Truthseeker: “In fact, it is the Egalitarians who seek to hush the voices of anyone daring to disagree with them.”

        I see that your experience with egals is quite different than mine and many others. This is fine. Each person’s experience is his/her own. But know that your experience does not define all egals anymore than my experience defines all patriarchs or comps.

        Truthseeker: “Also, you’ll just have to take it at my word that my Comp marriage is exactly how I describe it …. and from both of our perspectives.”

        Sorry, can’t do that. Since you are so inimidating, how do I know that your voice isn’t intimidating her into agreeing with you.

        Lovely conversation TS. I may come back and see what you’ve written or not. I may start my list of men in the Bible who were believers and abused their ‘patriarchal privilege’ as you call it. I’ve not done a study on it before. But you have inspired and challenged me to take another look. If two or three popped into my head immediately, how many are there that I haven’t thought of. Because you are right about at least one thing for sure. The Bible is completely accurate. And it lays out the sins of our greatest and best Bible heros right along with their triumphs.

        And about throwing the baby out with the bath water, there are many women doing just that, not with patriarchy, but with Christianity all together BECAUSE of patriarchy and what it has robbed from them. It is easier for them to quit being a Christian than to try to navigate the choppy waters of doctrine that gives men privilege over them. Sorry, sorry state. I wish these women knew the love of their heavenly Father, but it has been so warped by earthly fathers and husbands who view themselves as privileged and entitled, these women are fleeing the church in larger numbers than polite Christians want to see or acknowledge.

        • Truth Seeker says:

          Well, first you say you have several examples …. then you say you won’t share them because I would “shoot them down”. If you are on sound theological footing, then you should be able to at least share those “that have popped into your head”. If it is as you say, that these “abusive” men go on to be labeled heroes of the faith, then isn’t that what the Word of restoration and reconciliation is …. to begin with???? None of us are without sin. Each of us have the promise of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that a handful of the old patriarch MAY have abused the intent of Godly leadership, is that just cause for us to blindly cast out ALL patriarchy? I think not! The Apostle Paul addressed certain excesses of the Spiritual Gifts in his letters to the Corinthian church. If we apply your standard, then he would have insisted these exercises of the Gifts cease entirely because of those misuses. But …. it is quite the opposite! Paul encouraged the liberal use of the Gifts WHILE he offered needed corrections. Can you see where it is unfair and unbalanced to deny ALL biblical patriarchy becauseof the callous actions of a few? What about the VAST majority of those patriarchs in the OT and NT who DID manage their affairs in a GOdly manner? Why not point out those successful cases ….. as we should the VAST majority of contented Complementarian marriages today …. is as more accurate and fair picture of patriarchy? You see, if we insist on fixating on the negative, we remove the positive. I’m not willing to do that! I know what works …. it works for my marriage and the VAST majority of others …. and I refuse to cast aside the whole patriarchal concept just because some goofballs are in the extremist minority. It’s obvious there are some legitimate victims of the excesses. There was in the Corinthian church, too. There will always be exceptions to the rule, in anything. It is not true biblical patriarchy …. or the Comp position …. which is the culprit here. I would offer up the fact today that there IS hope for those harmed through extremist fundamentalism.

          • KR Wordgazer says:

            Yes, there is hope for those harmed through extremist fundamentalism. I would suggest that one of the greatest “hopes” is that the Bible is more flexible than extremist fundamentalists think it is, in that it’s intended to be workable within a variety of cultures, rather than imposing one cultural norm– even the cultural norm of 1st-century Ephesus,–on us all.

            This being the case, TruthSeeker, if you and your wife are happy with you as the leader and her the follower (which must mean that you’re laying down your life as the Ephesians passage says, and not taking advantage of the male privilege you believe you have), then great! But that doesn’t mean my marriage, where neither of us is the leader and neither the follower, can’t work too. The Biblical principle is that Christians should be yielding to one another and putting one another’s needs before their own. If that’s happening in both our marriages, then God is glorified and we are loving one another– which is really what it’s all about.

          • Truth Seeker says:

            We shouldn’t “flex” the Bible to accomodate modern culture. Postmodernist thinking is part of the Egalitarian arror. We are to humble ourselves and submit to the Word, not twist it through poor hermenuetics and exegesis to cater to us and our perceived “needs”. There is no place in the Bible where Complementarianism in church and home has been revoked. Mutual submission in marriage is also not taught or modeled in the Bible. The Egals base this error through a misapplication of Eph. 5:21. Paul’s teaching on marriage clearly begins in verse 22, as any reliable biblical scholar will attest to. The only “male privilege” I have is the joy in submitting to Jesus as servant-leader of my family. My wife is blessed with a “female privilege” to submit to Christ by recognizing her role as helpmate and mine as servant-leader. This is exactly how it is played out in the VAST majority of healthy and contented Christian marriages. The main people group posting on these anti-male and anti-church sites are those who have been wounded through extremist fundamentalism. They will never get a true and lasting healing by such a close fellowship with hateful and unforgiving Egalitarians. The problem here lies in the extremes from BOTH groups ….. the extremist patriarchs and the extremist evangelical feminists.

  32. KR Wordgazer says:

    Briefly, TruthSeeker,

    The idea that the message of the Gospel isn’t to be accommodated to the culture in which it’s presented, is against everything Paul himself preached. He said, “to the Jews I became as one under the law, to the Gentiles I became as a Gentile. . . I became all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some.” (This is a paraphrase because I’m not in a place where I can look up the passage right now.) In Titus 2, where he said women were to be submissive to their husbands, he gave the reason– “so the gospel will not be hindered.” In other words, Paul was asking women to accommodate themselves to the cultural norms, for the sake of the gospel, which would have been hindered if Christian women were perceived as too “uppity.”

    Notice in Acts how different the sermon Paul gave in Athens was to sermons directed towards Jews. Everything Paul did and taught, by his own confession, was intentionally tailored to suit the culture in which he was presenting it. Why, then, do we assume that we are all now to accommodate our own methods and messages to the cultures Paul was accommodating? What hinders the gospel today is when we preach that men are created by God to to be wife-leaders, and women are created to be husband-followers.

    As for Eph 5:21-22, in the earliest manuscripts they read as one sentence, with the word “submit” in v. 22 actually missing! A good translation will at least have a marginal note to this effect. The earliest manuscripts read (translated), “Submit to one another in the fear of Christ; wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” This makes it plain that verse 22 is indeed a continuation of verse 21.

    I know you say you have no “privilege” — but being born to lead your wife, however much you turn it into servanthood, is indeed a privilege. Paul was speaking to cultures where men were indeed so privileged, by their cultures. He was asking them to lay down their privilege and be servants. When we understand what he was telling them, what it means for us today becomes much clearer.

    • Truth Seeker says:

      I now notice that my comments on this particular thread are “pending moderation review”. Strange …. indeed. Not so strange when I understand this has happened to me elsewhere. A VERY familiar pattern! So, here are my boundaries …… as long as I abide by the posting rules ….. which I have ….. I will tolerate NO editing or willy-nilly cutting and pasting of my remarks. If they are not allowed to remain in their entirety I will do what I have done with so many other Egalitarian sites. I will gladly leave while shaking the dust from my feet. That is my healthy boundary for myself.