There was a lot of outcry over my last blog post, and much of it was not really “interact-able” if you will. (Shrieks and howls aren’t terribly well-reasoned, and thus are hard to answer in any meaningful way.) One notable exception, however, was from Jory Micah – who wrote a response which was both sane and charitable. I’d like to walk through her post, but before I get to that I want to just make a general observation.
I wrote that last post entirely pointed at a particular form of “patriarchy” (or “complementarianism” if your prefer) which I have seen with my own two eyes, and to which I object on every level. That was the point of the post. Yes, I made it clear that I don’t believe feminism is the answer to the problem . . . but the point of the post was to emphasize that I actually understand the feminists’ antagonism to certain kinds of patriarchy.
And yet, it is noticeable that not a single squawk did I hear from any misogynists, telling me to not be so rude to them. On the other hand, many feminists are currently still rolling on the ground, clutching their skinned knees and shouting about their hurt feelings or my terrible manners, busily being deeply wounded on behalf of abused women everywhere, or just calling me names. That tells me something about their general thin-ness of skin, and also about their ability to read carefully and follow an argument.
But like I said, Jory’s post was not like that. One thing I particularly appreciated was that she was actually able to see that I was cracking myself up as I wrote . . . not, as certain people assumed, typing on the brink of an especially judgey, rage-induced, apoplectic fit. What this tells me is that she is actually able to read, and this gives me much more confidence that we could have a sensible exchange.
She opens by observing that had I been born into her home I probably would have been a feminist too . . . and I’m pretty sure she’s right. In fact, once again, that was one of the points of my previous post. Just as far as my personality goes, I could easily have ended up there.
She then goes on to say that as a feminist she embraces a life of contrasts – tough and tender at the same time, high heels and boots, wine and beer. I would simply answer that you don’t have to be a feminist to do that . . . I’m all over that! I love a black tie dinner and I’m also very fond of my red bandana. I like my stilettos and I like my Chuck Taylors. I have nothing against contrasts – that’s the stuff of life after all. But I do try to draw that line at contradictions. High heels can live in the same closet as boots and there’s no problem there. But there would be a good deal of mental confusion involved if I liked to attend vegan, animal rights marches on Fridays and then go elk hunting on Saturdays. A lady confidently told my sister one time . . . “I’m a Calvinist AND an Arminian!” . . . and that’s the kind of embracing of contrasts that I would object to – on the grounds that it makes no sense.
I happen to think that much of the current evangelical feminist rhetoric falls into that contradictory category – but it should be noted that I would not have the same objection when confronted by the radical feminists, say, of the ‘60s. The second wave feminists at least had the virtue of maintaining their aggressive rhetoric across the board. The reason I said that “evangelical feminism” is an oxymoron is because ladies in this camp want to have it both ways. They want the shock value, the punch, and the follow-through that attends actual aggressive radical feminism, but they also want to be able to retreat into a place where no one is allowed to say anything unkind or hurtful, where everyone is loved and affirmed, where a wounded feeling is the ultimate trump card, and where we see micro-aggressions everywhere. I have a hard time envisioning Gloria Steinem insisting there be a giant trigger alert on the cover of the famous 1976 MS issue on battered wives. I would take issue with the whole project of the radical feminist movement, but I do at least respect them enough to think that those ladies could take it as well as dish it out. But, as witness the sheer number of wounded sensibilities caused by my last blog post which wasn’t even aimed at them, evangelical feminists do not appear to have that same ability.
In the next section, Jory asks me how I would feel if someone told me it was against God’s will for me to create a line of children’s clothes or be a high school teacher. And again I would refer her back to my post. I have actually had patriarchy super-fans tell me those very things – so I can answer the question by drawing on auto-biographical information. When I was 17, and someone said that kind of thing to me, I was tempted to feel excessively irritated. My contrarian streak would generally fire up on all cylinders, I would mentally say something like, “Yeah? Well watch this you little fathead!” But because of the splendid father God gave me and the time he put into teaching me to think in a straight line rather than ricocheting all over the place like a reactionary pin-ball, I don’t actually respond that way anymore. These days my response is a bit bland I’m afraid. I, in fact, don’t care what they think. You can’t fathom the depths of my indifference to the opinions of little bossy-boots, for whom what I do with my life is none of their business.
But I can’t let this pass without taking a moment to also point out that “how I feel about it” when someone is a pain in the neck to me has absolutely no bearing on on whether or not their opinion is true. How I felt about it when I was 17 was different than how I feel about it now, and that doesn’t make the slightest difference to the truth of their claim, nor would the truth be affected if I suddenly felt differently. If I want to know whether it’s against God’s will for me to do something, there’s a very straightforward way for me to check. I search the Scriptures and see what God actually said. I do not answer the question by taking the temperature of my feelings. No sensible epistemology was ever derived from emotion. “How I feel” is utterly and completely irrelevant to truth claims . . . and this is something which our latest wave of crusading feminists would do well to stop and ponder.
Jory then goes on to say that it’s quite rude of everyone to say that the women who feel (there’s that word again!) that they have been called to the ministry are mis-hearing Jesus. But here’s the thing. There’s a pretty simple and straightforward way to determine whether or not you’re mis-hearing Jesus. Let’s look at what God says, and let’s remember that He doesn’t contradict himself. He was helpful enough to give us a book. What does he say there? Note that this is a very distinct question from “What do I feel like in my heart?” I have no idea what you may be sensing in your heart . . . but again, feelings have no part in a discussion of truth claims. A statement is either true or it isn’t – and it remains true whether I am alive or dead, victim or perpetrator, cranky or excited, wounded or happy, have a headache, or am feeling hormonal. It remains true regardless of how many people wish it wasn’t.
So if we want to talk about women’s roles, that’s great. I think there’s a stupendous, fulfilling, brilliant answer in the Scriptures which far exceeds the extremely low bar which the feminists have set for their aspirations, and which far exceeds the “let’s smother the women” approach of weak, threatened men. On the other hand, if we would prefer to talk about our feelings, let’s make sure we notice that’s a separate discussion. The difference between subjective and objective is not a a small quibble. They’re related of course, but it’s a bit of a one way street. Objective truth does and ought to have direct implications on my subjective feelings, but my subjective feelings have not the slightest impact on objective truth. So if we want to talk about God’s will, we need to look at what He said, not at the state of our own emotions.
I totally see that this kind of thing can sound a bit brutal – a sort of, “your feelings don’t matter and no one cares if you’re hurting” approach. But in truth it’s actually nothing of the kind. It’s ridiculously freeing. Why? Because emotions are ruthless little tyrants when given too much authority and they will happily enslave you. If I allowed myself to be driven by an emotional reaction to feminism and started wearing only bonnets and calico dresses, the only person who would suffer would be myself. In the same way, if I had allowed myself to be driven by an emotional reaction to the little patriarchy nerds and refused to ever have children, I would have lost out on more than I care to think about. Being able to say, “Take that patriarchy nerds!” would be a shockingly poor trade. By refusing to let my emotions sit in the driver’s seat, I’m actually freed from being dominated by other people’s sins.
Jory concludes with the hope that one day I will be converted to feminism. But I’m afraid I’m not willing to settle for the anemic vision of women’s roles offered to me by feminism. I believe the Scriptures offer us something far more glorious than “equality of authority” which sounds pretty boring and tedious after all. The feminists seem to have set their sights on the dream that one day we women will be allowed to drink light beer – when actually God is offering to pour us some whiskey.
38 thoughts on “I’ll take whiskey”
Rebekah — I always enjoy the spitfire in your posts.
Being a bit of a stubborn contrarian myself, what would you say the difference is between apathy and letting something roll off your back? Or in other terms, what qualifies an unhealthy Stoicism from even-keeledness? Sorry if it’s a bit off-topic. I ask because it’s something I’ve been working out. I’m sure it’s an obvious answer.
Become a feminist?? Like…why??? I don’t have to push and pedal for my liberties. I just put my hand up and yeah…I can have whiskey too.
Brava! Delightfully well-said!
I’d like to point out that it’s not always something “hurtful” or “unkind” feminists want shelter from , but shelter from simply being challenged or questioned. This is disappointing since many will tell you how educated they are, but then sit in a corner of a room flipping a light on and off like Glen Close in “Fatal Attraction” when you don’t say “you go, gurl!” at their every pronouncement. I’ve been to a few churches, but I’ve never encountered the kind of Patriarchy that feminists describe and wonder if they’re creating a caricature or straw man to knock down as their sisters cheer them on. (They do it for the applause like Lady Gaga?)
Nice post. I plan to respond asap. Too bad we can’t do this over whisky! ❤
I would love to be better at “thinking in straight lines” and grown up enough to like whiskey.
I’m curious, what do you mean by ministry exactly?
I think some people have different definitions of the word, which is why I’m asking. In our church, we do have women who are considered ministry staff. But they aren’t Pastors or Elders or teaching/leading men.
As your father once said to me when I was explaining the state of affairs of women in Turkey (or in other places of the world), “It would be rational to be a feminist under those conditions.”
When reading your first post I thought it very clear who your target was and wondered why the comments were attacking you the way they did. ‘Didn’t they read it?’ I thought the your attack on the misogynistic petty tyrant was pithy in the extreme. The women should have been cheering you on.
I am supposing Jory knows you personally, or at least can see your laughter through the writing. I can only suppose that the other women don’t know you and their feelings were all out there like the tentacles of an octopus just willing for, waiting on and wanting them to be stomped on.
Also, I’m kind of surprised that your last post kicked up a fuss. I think you are a good deal more conservative than I am, and I didn’t read anything outrageous or offensive.
Well done on this post and the last one, by the way.
“But I’m afraid I’m not willing to settle for the anemic vision of women’s roles offered to me by feminism. I believe the Scriptures offer us something far more glorious than “equality of authority” which sounds pretty boring and tedious after all. ”
This confuses me. What do you believe are the roles for women offered by Christian feminism/egalitarianism and how are they anemic? And how are those roles boring and tedious? Then what is the “something far more glorious” that you believe scripture offers?
I am curious what you do with women and men who come to believe that God has released full privileges to both his sons and his daughters based on scholarly, prayerful consideration and study of Scripture? I can understand that you could easily dismiss those who are led by emotion (I do as well), but can you engage thoughtfully with those who have studied Scripture with passion and a desire for truth more than anything else? Because there are a lot of us out there.
What you say about emotions not dictating truth claims is excellent. The ‘how would you feel if… ‘stuff could be used against Jesus in so many cases. “How would you feel if someone told you you have to hate your parents?” “How would you feel if someone told you to forgive someone one who keeps hurting you seventy times seven. Do you even know what I have been through?” The thing is that what Jesus says doesn’t have to make you feel good initially, but he is always always good. He absolutely knows how it feels and he absolutely knows how to give us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think, with no regard for our feelings about it thank goodness. So yes I’ll take the whiskey.
Well said. I just finished reading Jory’s blog and the word “feelings’ kept coming up. Since when do we base the truth of God’s Word on our feelings witch change so often throughout our lives. His Word is where we need to be grounded. I have been struggling to understand Calvinism but as my pastor said “if you don’t like what it says don’t take it up with me, take it up with God.”
Bravo! Even better than the original post! You expressed several of the ruminations I was having this morning in regard to this discussion…only much more cleverly.
My life as a Christian feminist is robust and glorious. I have a PhD in psychology. Every day at work I get to provide evidenced based treatments to mostly men to treat their mental and behavioral health concerns – often in a small clinic office with a closed door or in a group or class that I lead. At church, I preached my first sermon a few weeks ago and received feedback that it was a blessing and challenge to many. I get to hear gifted women and men preach and teach a mixed gender congregation on a regular basis. I’ve led mixed gender prayer groups and bible studies and ministers have told me that I’m a spiritual leader. In my relationship with my boyfriend, we both pursue and lead one another. Because of our personality differences, I am often the one to take the lead to plan things for us or to bring up potential challenges for us to work through. If we marry we will continue to navigate our relationship in an egalitarian way.
Some or all of these things complementarians (though perhaps not you) would tell me that I should not do because I am a woman and God has other roles for me. The lives of those I serve and my own life would be more boring and stifled if I could not do these things that our Creator has led me to do because of my giftings, personality, and opportunities.
Let your words be seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word that is good for edification. Ephesians 4:6
A tale told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5
Wise words bring approval, but fools are destroyed by their own words. Ecclesiastes 10:12
Your words are not Christlike. I would not want to be like you.
Here is my response to this post: http://www.jorymicah.com/open-letter-2-to-rebekah-merkle-doug-wilsons-daughter/
P.S. This is fun. Thanks for engaging! Xo
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
6 Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.
7 Don’t consider yourself wise.
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Yeah,…what God said! I’ll submit to that, and drink to that as well.
Bek’ and Jory, good luck and Godspeed in your very sensible dialogue. Honor God as you honor each other.
This is completely tangential, but your sympathy for and beef with feminists mirrors my experience reading Marx. If you grew up in a conservative Christian home, you know socialism is a dirty word. But when I finally read Marx myself in grad school, the man was so right! He got the solution wrong, but he nailed what the problem was.
Rebekah, I’m not sure why you’re surprised that feminists felt that they were being called out as well as the misogynists and milk-toast men. Did a quick count of the pejoratives used for each group and it was about 17/20. If you divided the “chump” subgroups, it’s more like 17/10/10. Here’s the full list:
Dichotomy of machismo and victimhood
Which is funny
No clear trajectory
Poor at defining
Led around by “mushrooms”
Shocking lack of insight
Taken the weak road
Leading weak men around
Men in the Chump camp
Provide ammo to feminists
Anti-disagrement with women
Want women to have a gentle and quiet spirit
Want woment to just be mothers and cooks
Led by feminists
Camping out on their testosterone
Weak-sauce little putzes
Faux alpha males
Threatened by intellectual women
If you prick us do we not bleed? Just sayin’.
Had never heard of you or Jory until your posts/letters to each other. Has been great to read both or your blog posts!
I was raised in a fairly conservative home, have had pretty conservative Christian education throughout (all the way through to my masters), and have really grappled with the context and interpretations of the verses that people interpret differently re: the role of women in leadership (anywhere). For years I was uncomfortable about women in leadership in the church but eventually I grew more uncomfortable with the double standard….they can teach if….Scripture didn’t but the exceptions in the “troublesome” verses so the tap dance done at times seemed dishonest. Interpretation….I don’t see you addressing this at all in either of your posts–that’s where doctrinal differences and theological differences break down. I feel Jory has. She did a thesis on it!
I’ve wrestled with the Scriptures in focus for years and finally landed where I am (a Christian feminist) not just because of my feelings but in spite of some of my feelings based on my upbringing. I believe sincere, passionate, God-loving, soul-surrendered believers can disagree about this issue and we need to honor and respect our sisters and brothers who submit to Jesus even if we don’t see eye to eye about it. I felt very disrespected by your post and wonder if you ever read things from other points of view (besides Jory) besides the ones you’ve learned by our upbringing. It might be uncomfortable but we have a whole life to learn and sometimes our theology changes based on how we interpret Scripture differently AND our experiences.
My world was rocked by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and it is one reason that although I don’t like the word feminist, I now will say I am one. Would love to hear your thoughts on that book and Rachel Held Evan’s A Year of Biblical Womanhood. : ) Both were good reads and the second one was written with a sense of humor, which I saw a little of peeking out in your writing too!
Sincerely, a very analytical, thinking female believer who reluctantly thinks she’s a feminist….
Really like that pattern of crystal.
Jory looks like a hoot–just read her reply and think you two debating would make great TV. I might have missed something but I think her rebuttal to “I do not allow a woman to teach” amounts to complementarians do let them teach so there. Seems weak.
Thanks Rebekah for taking this topic on; a battle never for the faint of heart. I sometimes shrink from such conversations online because I despair of the enormity of the task of turning the ocean liner of our culture’s thinking on this matter.
But I love reading novels from older times, such as Austen novels, because it reminds me of a time when the basic differences of the sexes were simply assumed, by Christians and nonchristians alike. But in these times, the most basic and obvious sex differences cannot be assumed and I often weary of the task of pointing out the painfully obvious.
Painfully obvious point 1: men were created by God with a nature more suited to warfare and women’s nature is more suited to nurturing. This is not to say I’ve never met a nurturing man or a belligerent woman–I surely have–but one must always consider that each sex’s respective callings may not come as easily to some members of the sex as others.
We all have inherent strengths and weaknesses, yet we learn to die to our weaknesses for the sake of our calling. A woman born with a contentious spirit can learn the art of nurturing–in fact, she must. Rather than model her behavior after a man because that’s what comes naturally, the simple act of believing in the beauty and goodness of nurturing can start one a long way down that road, no matter ones’ personality or upbringing that may make that climb uphill. But the first step must be to acknowledge the goodness of God’s design of the difference of the sexes.
It is sad when those who refuse to see God’s good design for the sexes then claim that they were created by Him to act like the opposite sex when they have never tried obedience.
Painfully obvious point 2: preaching is none other than the front lines of spiritual warfare. The church is the buttress of truth against the constant lies of Satan. Men were created for this front lines battle. Women have other equally glorious, important, God-honoring battles to fight as well. The words ringing in my ears right now are from a John Piper sermon (I can’t remember which one) where he yells on the top of his lungs: YOU! WILL! NOT! INHERIT! ETERNAL! LIFE! IF YOU CONTINUE IN SIN!” (I apologize that I have forgottent the exact context of this fiery statement, but it was surely from one of Paul’s texts saying the same in context of unrepentant sin.) I want to hear a woman compete with his thunder. Go ahead and submit your audio files.
A sermon must not be a nice little talk filled with inspiring quotations. This is spiritual life and death. Satan doesn’t give over his lifelong slaves to pornography, to anger, to greed, to idolatry without a huge spiritual fight. And the preacher must be a fighter. He must trample the young lion and the adder (Ps. 91). In C. S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce, a man has to choose between giving up lust or eternal damnation. After a long struggle, when he finally gives up lust, he lets out a terrifyingly loud shreek and this experience is the most painful thing he had ever had to go through. This is what preaching is up against.
I’ve given talks to groups of women before, and I have no doubt that God gives to women as well as men the gift of teaching. But the question here is the gift of dragon slayer; the gift given to the church with which the gates of hell will never withstand. It is a fearful gift. It takes all the testosterone that a man has, plus the Holy Spirit. He made men for this.
There is no doubt in my mind that the serprent purposely approached Eve, not Adam, with his cunning lies. He approached the nurturer and not the protector. But why should anyone become offended that men should be protectors and women nurturers? Has any complementarian ever hinted that protecting is better than nurturing?
Why should some be offended that they are kept out of the office of preacher when they have a thousand other roles in the church they could fulfill. Jesus gave the highest praise to those who cared for “the least of these” and “the little ones.” He went so far as to say that he will reward you for handing then a cup of cold water–you know, those little dixie cups we line up in the nursery and distribute? Yes, God is going to reward you for that unsung job.
In the character of God there are both feminine and masculine characteristics displayed. He is both the mighty warrior and the mother gently comforting her child. Men and women then both display together the image of God. If there were just men, we would only half of God’s character. If there were just women, the other half would still be missing. But rather than make all creatures of one sex, God in his wisdom saw that it would be more beautiful to give some jobs more to one sex and the other jobs more to the other sex. Neither of the sex’s jobs are more important. Why do we always have to think along the lines of better? They are both indispensible.
A woman may want to teach men and preach to them. She may despise handing out dixie cups of water to slobbery little people. She may feel nauseated at the task of “keeping house.” She may desire with all her heart to be heard by men, appreciated, revered as teacher, preacher, and be disgusted by the idea of being told she was not created for those tasks. And the idea of submitting in everything to a husband, a fallen, fallible, football watching, imperfect, insensitive human being–the thought! Ah! It makes her want to scream! So obedience does not come easy to you. What else is new?
Maybe half the gospel has been missing from the egalitarian Christian’s experiences up to now: the half about dying to yourself, about taking up your cross, the part about denying yourself, about obeying Jesus on His terms, the part about friendship with the world being hatred toward God. Yes, the world hates this message with every vibe of it’s being. So what else is new? Jesus said a student is not above his teacher. They hated Jesus, they will hate the message of complementarianism too. A woman’s high calling is to stand, in her home, with her children, under the authority of her husband, to stand. This will take all her courage.
“A woman’s high calling is to stand, in her home, with her children, under the authority of her husband, to stand. This will take all her courage.”
Leslie … you don’t mention single women. I have to smile. I’m a life-long singleton, never-married, and I am totally used to how so much of the evangelical sub-culture I belong to takes hardly any notice of its faithful celibates (not least the people who would have liked to marry, but were never chosen by anyone). Let me tell you: it takes no small degree of courage to be a celibate single woman (or man, of course) in today’s culture. But as so often happens in conversations about the paradigm of complementarianism, the ‘high calling’ of single people gets ignored.
Whose ‘authority’ do you suppose I am under, as a single woman? Christ’s, of course (and that applies to us all, whatever our marital status).
I enjoy being a woman, always have done. I have no desire to be a man. But my calling is not to work with small children. I like children, but that’s not my calling. In the past I was a mentor to some young people, but at this present time I’m a lay minister (not ordained) in the Anglican church and preach and lead worship on a regular basis. And I love it. God gave me that gift, and it’s deeply fulfilling – as well as deeply humbling.
‘A sermon must not be a nice little talk filled with inspiring quotations.’ Indeed not. I’d be very concerned if my own sermons aimed no higher than that. (God never fails to challenge me deeply whenever I prepare a sermon or preach it.)
Women can be dragon-slayers too, you know. 😉 Gentle, nurturing women can also be fiery and passionate.
Who is this Leslie Taylor and can I shake her hand? Pleased to meet you. 🙂
Wow , Leslie Taylor, “not for the faint of heart”, You say. You write well and clear. Thank you for your thoughts. Well said.
Rebekah, I know, I’m a guy so therefore my response is somewhat muted in the opposing views blog. However it seems clear to me that they are defending a point of view rather than finding a truth. Much like other denominations would defend there doctrine. Thank you for your thoughts and your skills to put them to words. To me it will be fun to see how far from the mark we all missed, when we close our eyes in death and our Lord reveals to us all things.
Before I knew Christ (notice, I didn’t say knew about Christ) I acted just like you. Tearing people down with my wit and intellect was both fun and funny. But now? Now that kind of pride makes me want to puke a little in my mouth. If you know Christ, you love what he loves and hate what he hates. He loves people. So for you to act smug and rude toward the very thing he loves – and attach your name to His while doing- is at best a sin and at worst repulsive. If you really do know Christ, please act like it.
I think Oswald Chambers says it best. In ” My utmost for His highest” daily devotional, which i thought all believers read year after year, the second we start looking around to see how we’re doing and stop looking heavenward, we miss the mark. Pretty much what Taylor said.
So happens the devotional was out together by Oswald’ s widow.
Hi Elyse Jacobsen! Kathy Keller has written a brilliant review on Rachel Held Evans’ book on “biblical womanhood.” http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a_year_of_biblical_womanhood
Wow, camo pejorative posts about alleged pejorative posts.
Scoldings about how to “act like” Christ, absent The Word of Christ’s acts.
7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Femina girls, keep loving others in the rigorous way that you love yourselves.
Continue in good faith, with the prayer that we will all know the difference between obedient admonition and disobedient aggression, yea even micro aggression. ; – ) Cautions and admonitions are a way to encourage one another and build each other up! Even your critics would have to admit they “act like” that! ; – )
There are two arguments that seem recurrent in various discussions I have with evangelicals and both of these arguments often come across as if the argument will be understood as the ultimate trump card. This discussion about complementarianism is shaping up to be no exception.
The first such argument is the “But God called me to do such and such” argument. I always imagine this argument being followed by the following thought bubble: “Bam! Whatcha gonna say to THAT!” I don’t feel like I should need to say anything to that. But I will, because despite the silent treatment that I continually give to this argument, it keeps reincarnating itself. This argument is a glutton for punishment.
I have on a few occasions been informed that Hitler “was a Christian” and that he “believed he was called by God to murder Jews.” This information did not rock my world. I did not instantly crumble into an easy chair and begin tapping my pointer finger on my temple as if I were working out a complicated math conundrum. I didn’t linger long over the information, saying to myself: “Huh. That’s weird. I always thought murder was wrong. But now I come to find out that Hitler believed in his heart of hearts that he was fulfilling God’s calling on his life. Well now what am I supposed to make of the 6th commandment? Could there be a new interpretation?”
Of course I am not meaning to equate the cruel slaughter of millions of people with the misdirected beliefs on manhood and womanhood. But I used an extreme example to show where the slippery slope of “God called me to do such and such…” could possibly lead. This conversation on what the Bible teaches on gender roles could be carried out with much more rigor if people would leave off the “But God called me to…” argument.
The second argument that seems also self-styled as a trump card is the “But I don’t wanna” argument. After this one is unloaded on me in all its various forms, I always get the feeling that the arguer is expecting me to slap both my hands on my cheeks and let out a faint yet heartfelt gasp. They envisage the next words out of my mouth to be: “But I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say this at the outset and we could have finished this whole debate long ago? You don’t WANT to do what the Bible appears to be plainly telling you to do. Well then there must be another interpretation. Surely!” I have tried the silent treatment on the second argument as well, with little success.
From these two arguments, I am grieved to conclude that evangelicalism has fixed itself up on two new commandments: 1) Thou must never question another’s claim that God called one to do something, no matter how unbiblical that calling may seem and 2) Thou must never imply that God would ask anyone to do something uncomfortable, humbling, or against their desires.
And then of course is the blending of these arguments, the one that goes like this: “I don’t like working with children and that’s how I know I’m not called to..” Thought bubble: “Bam! Shazam! What ya gonna say to THAT! She is so awed by my arguments that she can’t think of anything to say.” From an argument like this, I can only concluse the American Christianity has been dangerously duped by the lie that God wants us to be happy in some superficial way. He wants us to have true joy for sure, but that is only found on the road to suffering, hence Christ’s example.
We are called to obedience, to count the cost, to die to self, to follow where our heart would rather not go, to trust not in our own understanding, to reject the Spirit of the Age, to humbly submit our ideas to the word of truth which is able to save us.
I once read an article by a man who had been a homosexual. It did not seem from anything he said that he had become a Christian but he did describe an experience that lead him to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
One day he was overcome with awe as he observed the gentle yet firm way a father was treating his very young son. He witnessed both strength and tenderness, and this came to him as an epiphany. He had never understood what manhood was for, what fatherhood was for. But all at once he witnessed something worth fighting for. He walked away from the homosexual lifestyle that very day and was determined to learn how to be a man. He wanted to protect the weak. He didn’t emote about how hard this decision was for him because of his genetic disposition or make excuses about the home he was brought up in. He was simply changed by a vision of the glory of manhood. And this is what must happen to women everywhere if we are to recover biblical womanhood. We must again see the beautiful vision that we are called to. Once we see this, we will strive to make it happen despite our inherited or learned weaknesses.
I can think of a dozen close friends that seem much more “naturally” suited for wifehood and motherhood than myself. These are sweet, gently, nurturing, caring, tender, sensitive women. They were born kindergarten teachers. This is not in my human nature. Left to myself, I possess none of those qualities. I’ve been a bookworm and nerd since I was in first grade. My human nature would make me a much better… just about anything than a mother. So being a mother became an opportunity for me to daily practice humility, repentance, and asking the Lord to give me more of His Holy Spirit. (This last petition, by the way, is never a one-time done deal, or a so-called second awakening. It is a moment by moment, day after day, pleading for more grace.)
Living out God’s calling on womanhood becomes the time where we despair of ourselves and any goodness we once thought we possessed, and learn to rely fully on the finished work of Christ. Paul had to endure shipwrecks and beatings to bring him to the point of despairing of life itself and entrusting himself to the God who raises the dead. Oh Paul, didn’t you hear there’s an easier way? Spending a week with toddlers can have the same effect, especially when you throw the stomach flu in there (two of my kids have the stomach flu at this moment. Why do all the best kids stories involve the stomach flu?) On second thought, maybe Paul was acquainted with this “other path” to sanctification. And perhaps this is why he wrote: “They will be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith, in love, in holiness…” 1 Tim 2:15.
I’m British, Leslie. I find it intriguing – and somewhat sad – that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that many Christians of the egalitarian persuasion know about obedience, and sacrifice, and suffering. I described to you the high cost of being single and celibate in a sex-obsessed world. You chose not to engage with that point. Your prerogative, of course, but perhaps a missed opportunity …
I am living a beautiful, biblical vision of womanhood. Although my singleness has aspects of loss and grief, sadness is not the whole story. There are blessings to being single, as well as difficult aspects. God graciously and generously bestowed on me the gift of preaching, which blesses others. I didn’t even particularly WANT the gift! 😀 But He stirred it up in me.
What is the highest calling of womanhood, Leslie? Being a wife and mother are wonderful things. But if being a wife and mother is a woman’s highest calling, that leaves a single woman absolutely nowhere, does it not? Thankfully, our highest calling is to be like Christ, to serve Him and this world. And that, as you have so vividly described, is no easy thing.
I know a bit about sacrifice and suffering. Not nearly enough, I’m sure, but I’m well on my way. I know what it’s like to worry about elderly, sick parents and do my bit in caring for them. I know what it’s like to sit at the bedside of a dying friend, holding their hand as they journey into eternity. I know what it is to battle the nasty little demon of jealousy and put it to death when I look longingly at the lives of my happily married friends: that is no light-weight battle, part of ‘crucifying the flesh’. There is nothing superficial, nothing shallow, nothing self-obsessed, about the many men and women I know who are committed to celebrating the gifts of women in leadership alongside their brothers. I am so grateful for the godly men who have encouraged and supported me.
You cited Austen earlier. Although I doubt she would have seen herself as a feminist (the movement was in its infancy, in her day), her strong female characters are rational creatures and she portrays, with much poignancy, the often bleak fate of single women in that culture. A marriage was as much about security and property as it was about romance (although Austen’s heroines do often challenge the class system of their era and marry for love).
Rebekah, will you be addressing Jory Micah’s second response? Found here:
It is free of appeals to emotion and instead deals primarily with hermeneutics.
I also wonder if you would speak to the “boring and tedious” “anemic vision of women’s roles offered to me by feminism” and why you consider complementarianism to be “something far more glorious” (i.e.; examples of this based on scripture, or specific examples of how it manifests in the lives of egalitarians vs. complementarians). Thank you.
Philipa and Leslie,
I think The Word, in Romans 14:5+ and Galatians 6:6+ shows quite well the lattitude Christians have, when not within the specific commands of The Word. Speaking as a man, men have to submit to The Word, the same as women have to submit to The Word, and of course there are bits of The Word everyone has a hard time submitting to.
Finally, God calls all parts of the Body of Christ to do some different things, though He calls them by the same Word and the same Spirit.
Rather than insist on any particular personal point, I will “let” the Word and the Spirit guide you and all of us from here, as The Word and the Spirit always do. 😉
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Bekah, I appreciate your sentiments and agree with most of what you’ve said in your last two posts. However, your snarky and sarcastic tone really didn’t help your cause. Maybe you were giggling while you were writing it, but it came across like you had a Franken-bee in your bonnet. 🙂 And it would be my guess, looking at this from a distance, that if you had said all you did but in a more gracious (or if you want to go for funny, then do funny but without the sarcasm) tone, you would have had far fewer “howling” replies and perhaps more constructive dialogue, like you’ve had with Jory Micah.
Franci, I could not agree more. That is why I have appreciated Leslie’s comments so much. Sound, loving, bold – a gentle answer, if you will, that deters wrath.