July 22, 2019

Quotable Quotes: Women in the Church

Welcome to a new occasional series of mine: “Quotable quotes”. I will from time to time pass on some interesting quotes that have been brought to my attention, often as a result of the sermon I watch and hear each week.

An argument commonly used by Complementarians is that the church has 2000 years of tradition of men being in leadership.

To which the Egalitarian replies dryly, “Yeah, look how good that has worked out.”

Indeed when we look at church history, we see a history of division. Perhaps if there had been a few more collaborative types in leadership along the way it may have been quite different. Instead we have gotten smaller and smaller islands of “doctrinal purity” where minor issues become elevated to salvation issues as to who is in and who is out. As the joke goes: “As far as I can tell, the only people who are getting into heaven are me and my wife – and I’m not so sure about her.” Not sure if this joke is funny or sad, because it is so close to true.

In fact the church, to its own detriment, has had a long history of disparaging women which continues to this day. For those who think they stand on the side of tradition, here is what tradition has brought us (quotations come compiled via my church’s recent sermon series):

“Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman” – Clement of Alexandria (2nd Century)

“Women are the Devil’s gateway” – Tertullian (2nd Century)

“God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more beneficial and necessary aspects to the man, and the less important, inferior matter to the women” – Chrysostom (4th and 5th Centuries)

“The woman together with her own husband is the image of God, but when she is referred separately, which regards the woman alone, then she is not the image of God.” – Augustine (4th and 5th Centuries)

“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while the production of woman comes from a defect.” – Thomas Aquinas (13th Century)

“Because the female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men; because being formed from a man’s rib, they are only imperfect animals and crooked whereas man belongs to a privileged sex from whose midst Christ emerged.” – Malleus Maleficarum (15th Century)

“Girls begin and to talk and stand on their feet sooner than boys because weeds always grow up quicker than good crops.” – Martin Luther (16th Century)

“Since God was thinking of the man, it certainly follows that the woman is only an accessory. And why? Because she was only created for the sake of man, and she must therefore direct her whole life toward him.” – John Calvin (16th Century)

“Nature I say, paints woman further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish: and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel, and lacking in the spirit of counsel and leadership.” – John Knox (16th Century)

“A woman ought not to teach because she is more easily deceived, and more easily deceives.” – John Wesley (18th Century)

“God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.” – John Piper

“I would have given my Church my head, my hand, my heart. She would not have them. She did not know what to do with them. She told me to go back and do crochet in my mother’s drawing room; or if I was tired of that, to marry and look well at the head of my husband’s table… ‘You may go to the Sunday School if you like it,’ she said. But she gave me no training even for that. She gave me neither work to do for her, nor education for it.” – Florence Nightingale.

How do you respond when you read these quotes. Women, especially those who might not usually comment much or at all, I am especially interested in hearing from you.

Comments

  1. And today, I believe there is a subtle theology of men’s inferiority – a taint of privilege and toxicity that is like original sin.

    • Expressions of impatience at being accorded rights and dignity do not equal charges of inferiority. Unless you are so wedded to your own gender’s superiority that any hint of egalitarianism is taken as an insult.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Yep. The Zero Sum fallacy.

        My neighbor having rights, dignity, and access does **not** reduce any of those things for anyone else.

    • This discussion is supposed to be about the unequal status of women in the Church. But we men have a habit of turning everything around to be about us, don’t we? The Church’s oppression of women has been anything but subtle.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Frank, you have somehow managed to become exhibit no.1 of the problem, in the first comment. Somehwere there is a lesson in this..

      • Spell it out for me Klasie. What is that lesson?

        • Clay Crouch says

          Frank, I think Robert’s comment adequately spelled it out.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Exactly.

            • Nope I still don’t get it. What s the lesson that I specifically need to learn Klasie?

              • It’s not always about men. In a post about women, can you just pass up one opportunity to have to wring your manly hands saying ‘poor me’?

                That is the lesson to be learned here. Let women have some space without having to muscle your way in.

              • Your comment is an example of the self-imposing male dominance the post is decrying; as such, it is an object lesson of what the post is saying for the rest of us, if not for you. “Let him who has ears hear…”

              • Clay Crouch says

                Frank, if you really don’t get it, I recommend you ask women about your supposed “subtle theology of men’s inferiority”. I’ll bet they can give you some specificity.

  2. As for all those quotes… what it brought to my mind is a blogpost I read recently on this subject. The author reviews many of the same quotes, and asks where all that misogyny came from. His answer is that it came from both the inherent iron-clad legal and social patriarchy of Roman culture, and the massive influx of slaves (and by implication, sexual slaves) into the Republic and Empire. The resulting war between the sexes was, as we would call it today, asymmetrical – men had almost all the legal, social, and economic power, so women fought back emotionally and relationally – hence, all the accusations that women are inherently evil and untrustworthy. And of course, this war and its assumptions bled into Christian theology and practice.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      #sadness

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The resulting war between the sexes was, as we would call it today, asymmetrical – men had almost all the legal, social, and economic power, so women fought back emotionally and relationally – hence, all the accusations that women are inherently evil and untrustworthy.

      Asymmetrical Warfare.

      Men come from a one-up position and fight directly from a position of strength — whether that strength is physical, legal, social, and/or economic.

      Women start at a one-down position and have to fight indirectly — a guerilla war whose weapons are manipulation and deception, not going for power directly but as “power behind the (male) throne”.

      Direct vs Indirect, vastly different styles and tactics.
      “A man will shoot you in the face; a woman will smile sweetly while she puts poison in your drink.”
      And both live unhappily ever after.

      • Patriciamc says

        Hmmm. Interesting. I’ve always wondered where the anti-women crap came from in the first place. After all, we’re just people! No better, no worse. Just people. Surely, our “feminine wiles” and sex appeal don’t intimidate men to that extreme of an extent.

    • Extremely plausible.

    • Patriciamc says

      “So women fought back emotionally and relationally..” Yes, not being as strong physically plus being in a much weaker position in society caused women to develop more underhanded and subtle ways to fight, and to use our words. It’s called survival.

  3. Richard Hershberger says

    I am always struck by the argument based on “tradition” coming from a Protestant. The entire premise of Protestantism is that tradition is not normative.

  4. Longtime female reader here, who rarely comments.

    Those quotes leave me feeling mixed-up. I have been a Christian since the age of 7, grew up in a Christian home, attended Bible College, and have attended various churches, depending on where we lived, but have attended church regularly since birth. Led numerous Bible studies and served in various capacities in church. I am a white collar professional with a Master’s degree. I have raised four children and been married to a man I love deeply for over 25 years. All of that is to simply give you my background.

    After all these years, I’m still unsure of my beliefs. What is most frustrating is that it is nearly impossible to process and discuss quotes like these and the various Bible verses that we all know by heart re: women without people getting defensive or angry. One side wags their finger in my face because it’s so obvious that men are supposed to lead everything, all the time. The other side rolls their eyes at me because I’m so far behind times and don’t understand the original Hebrew/Greek and the context.

    I long for a discussion on women in the church that can be intelligent and kind, with everyone being OK with others respectfully disagreeing. I have only found one person IRL who I can discuss issues like this with.

    I do think the incredible amount of care, nurturing, and emotional support that women have given children (and the world, really) is often overlooked and dismissed. That makes me sad.

    I know that in one church we attended, everything was fine until women came into leadership. Then the women were the ones that led the complaining about the pastor, stirred up cat-fights between families, etc. Of course, a painful split soon followed and it was easily traced back to two or three specific women.

    Those quotes make me angry. And sad. And confused.
    I could write random thoughts for quite awhile, but I’ll stop here, partly because I have to go to work and partly because I don’t know how my comments will be received.

    • anonymous says

      “I long for a discussion on women in the church that can be intelligent and kind”

      try reading Emily Hunter McGowin for something scholarly, intelligent, and very understanding of the vast ‘traditions’ of the Church and women’s issues

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Of course, a painful split soon followed and it was easily traced back to two or three specific women.

      In the original language, doesn’t the clobber verse “woman shall keep silent in church” have a definite “The” article which refers to a SPECIFIC woman in Ephesus?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective, Fedora.

    • Patriciamc says

      Fedora, was their behavior because they were women? Can women not be unique individuals with good and bad qualities? If they were men, would we be noting their gender?

  5. Martin Luther wins the prize for funniest!

    I have seen in the corporate world, whenever there is a culture of ethics violations, it is always when the organization is male dominated. A diverse egalitarian culture rarely has a widespread culture of ethics violations. I believe the same culture that teaches respect for diversity also encourages a strong moral and ethical environment.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yep.

      This is due to the reality that Power is a moral good. The problem in most ethical/moral situations is not too much Power, but too little Power. A context where everyone has Power is a context with morally superior outcomes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Martin Luther wins the prize for funniest!

      Luther is well-known for having a Mouth.
      Not that much of a stretch to see him on AM radio as a shock jock.

      However, Calvin…
      Who has More-Calvinist-than-Calvin fanboys to this day (including the Pious Piper, who filmed his retirement video in Geneva presenting guess who as the True Heir to Calvin’s Iron Throne).

      And Knox (an early Calvin follower) who was quite down on “The Monstrous Regiment of Women” until Queen Elizabeth got on the throne with power over Knox. He changed his tune at that point.

  6. anonymous says

    “God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.” – John Piper

    my response is unprintable

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      John Piper is five-foot-four, built like a wet noodle, and has one of the most histrionic “matron-with-the-vapors” personalities you’re going to find in a male. Not only most men but the average woman could fold him up and chuck him into a dumpster. So he has to weaponize his Sacred Testosterone and always be In Control. “ME MAN! RAWR!”

      “Think he’s compensating for something?” — Shrek

      • He’s compensating for the LACK of something.

      • Piper and the Neo-Calvinist brand of Biblical interpretation continuously strike me as astoundingly hypocritical and selective. Case in point, there’s the whole TULIP nuttiness, which claims we’re all totally depraved; but apparently women are more totally depraved than men, because “according to the Bible” it’s only men who are allowed to lead.

        So… are we equally totally depraved or not? Or are there levels of “total depravity,” like the First Circle of Total Depravity, which is where men reside, and the Second Level of Total Depravity, which is where women reside? (I could make further jokes about a Third Level of Total Depravity, where maybe liberal Democrats reside, but I’ll resist. Oops. I guess not.)

        And for a theology so centered on “only by God’s grace am I a Christian,” it’s bafflingly legalistic and grace-less. The praises of “only by the grace of God am I saved” so quickly becomes, “Now that I’m chosen, these are the rules we must obey, including the exclusion of women from leadership.”

        Ugh. (You can see that it’s a pet peeve.)

      • I am no Piper fan, but to comment on someone’s physical appearance and what they have no control over (height and to some degree, physique) is a kidney punch. It’s disrespectful and not honoring to someone made in God’s image.

        If you want to critique is quotes, his articles, his sermons, his books, etc. ~ go for it! I disagree with many of them myself!

        But please don’t comment on physical features.

        • HUG’s not saying that Piper is defective physically, and he’s not criticizing his appearance; he’s pointing out the Napoleon complex in operation as it relates to the oppression of women, and how it sometimes motivates aggression in men toward those socially if not physically weaker than themselves.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            That’s how I read it!

          • Patriciamc says

            Exactly.

          • I think there’s a big correlation between men who would be considered ‘betas’, or a bit lacking, in the male secular world, & the use of patriarchal religion to bolster their sense of masculinity by the reduction of women that they can then do in the name of God.
            Piper, Driscoll & all those guys would not have got as far in relationships as they have done, without that.

    • Pellicano Solitudinis says

      The only appropriate response is “Bollocks”, as the Brits would say.

  7. The attitudes of the ancient speakers is perfectly reflected in the Thomas Aquinas statement that women are “a defect”. The perception was that biologically females were “incomplete” males.

    Sad.

    • Christiane says

      worse, women were thought to be responsible for physically determining the sex of a baby, so if a king wanted to have a SON, and his wife did not have a boy, she might face dire consequences (ex. Anna Boleyn, wife of Henry the Eighth) and then the king, having rid himself of the wife who ‘failed’, was on to the NEXT wife (Jane Seymour).

      Truth be that the sperm of the father is what determines the sex of a baby, not the egg of the mother. But this was not known until modern times.

      The idea of ‘incomplete’ women shows up in military life. Hopefully, very soon, women will be as much a part of combat in the military as men, INCLUDING eligible for the draft. Time to close all the miserable loop holes that have ‘belittled’ women in this country, and serving in the military is one area where much of the misogyny has shown up and in some areas, been encouraged. That needs to stop. Can women serve in combat? Well, ask Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth who now continues her service in the Senate of the United States:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammy_Duckworth

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The attitudes of the ancient speakers is perfectly reflected in the Thomas Aquinas statement that women are “a defect”. The perception was that biologically females were “incomplete” males.

      Straight out of Aristotle.
      The woman is only an incubator for the man’s Seed. If the incubator is working right, the Seed grows into a boy; if not, the defective Seed is a girl.

      Sounds like something that would come out of a culture where The Way Things Are Sexually was “Women for breeding stock, Men for love, Boys for pleasure.”

  8. I don’t believe it is by accident that women are being brought to the fore. I believe the Holy Spirit is bringing it about. God’s image is male and female. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27, KJV). Sure, the male pronoun is used but there it is in black and white. Male and Female are images of God.
    Then El Shaddai is a curious name. From Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg at The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies:
    “El Shadai ??? ??????? does have another meaning though. The word ???? ShaD has a much closer grammatical connection to ShaDai and it means – “breast.” Moreover, when a word ends with an “i”or “ai” it is almost always means “my”. So, literally, “El Shadai” could very well mean “God (is) my Breast/s”.
    If we consider this intriguing imagery as interpretive possibility we may see that the breast is one of the key symbols of sustenance and parental love passed on from God, the parent, to humanity, God’s child. So instead of “God Almighty”, El Shadai should probably be translated as “God All-sufficient” instead.” Clearly feminine imagery. I think balance is being created in this era.

    • The Hebrew got turned into ?????.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Blog platform must be ASCII, not Unicode.

        • Excuse me Hugger. You’re talking to a house painter. Letters turned into question marks. That’s as far as you’re going to get me with that. Your magical words have no meaning in the world o shackle and caulk.

          • Spackle – no glasses on

          • Michael Bell says

            Was trying to come up with a painting analogy, but couldn’t. In short, it takes a larger amount of data to be able to represent multiple character sets, and not all software supports it. ASCII supports English and Western European characters. Unicode supports just about everything. Often it is just a setting that has to be switched.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          ASCII is the basic character set used by hardware & software since the first non-IBM “minicomputers” of the Seventies — uppercase/lowercase alphabet, numerals, punctuation marks, special non-print characters. Pretty much anything you could type in basic English.

          Unicode is a later development expanded to handle non-Roman Alphabet characters, including Greek, Hebrew, Chinese, Korean, etc. Internally, Unicode is more complex and “bloated” than ASCII, and had to wait until available compute power was able to handle the overhead.

          The tipoff is the non-ASCII characters coming across as “????????”s on the thread. Just had this happen on one of my work orders that involved adding Unicode capability to a field on a screen.

    • Dana Ames says

      The “image of God” argument makes me a little nuts.

      First of all, the ineptitude regarding interpretation of that Genesis passage in a misogynistic way because of literalism that sees only the male made “in God’s image” because God formed Adam directly out of the earth.

      But, secondly, the clumsiness of the argument of the last number of years (by people who are genuinely trying to help) that, because both male and female human beings are made “in the image of God”, that primarily means that God has both “male” and “female” “personality characteristics”. While one can legitimately say that Scripture portrays God as maternal and tender, the point the Genesis passage is making ***isn’t*** that. God as Spirit has no gender. (And don’t talk to me about “ruach” being “female”. Grammatical gender has no bearing on the definition of a word, so that argument does not hold water.)

      The point of the Genesis passage is that GOD CREATED (in a peaceful, loving manner, in contrast to the other ANE creation stories). We know this because of how the phrases in question are structured in parallel:

      “he created them in the image of God”
      “he created them male and female ”

      The “image of God” is not about genderedness at all. It’s about other-centered, self-giving love-unto-death, which is the image of the true kind of god that God is. Though in the Incarnation Jesus was a human male, that self-giving love transcends gender. Christ on the Cross IS “the image of God” – and not because as a human he was/is male.

      Dana

  9. Christiane says

    The idea of ‘God’ as ‘mother’ or ‘nurturer’ seems to offend so many, but in sacred Scripture, we find references to a way of compassionate caring like that of a ‘mother’, which REALLY offends them what worships the ‘God of Wrath’.
    Is it possible that those who are more open to the idea of the God Who Nurtures are more receptive of Jesus Christ as the Revealer of God?

    My own favorite reference, this:
    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

    (from the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew 23:37)

    • Yes. And of course all the references to Wisdom as “her”. It seems that the face (nature, character) of God is revealed in different ways in different ages and a feminine face is being revealed. That represents a threat to macho man who equates that with losing his manhood. In fact it is quite the opposite. It is a truer, stronger manhood that develops for a man but it requires the ego crucifixion that we avoid at all cost. It’s an arduous process.

  10. My wife was brought up in a Missionary Baptist Church. She has a MS in Chemistry and is far better in math and science than me, her biologist husband. She told me early on that women in her church were taught they were a copy of a copy of the image of God.

    We tried for many years of our now 30 years together to fit in various conservative/fundamentalist churches and finally gave up. We have decided we will no longer attend churches that deny science and do not give full ministerial equality to women. These quotes highlight a long steady attitude of some degree of misogyny that my wife has experienced personally all of her life. It is indeed sad and regrettable.

    • –> “These quotes highlight a long steady attitude of some degree of misogyny that my wife has experienced personally all of her life.”

      Yep. And it’s why I cringe when my “men only in leadership” Christian friends continue to tow that party line, because it perpetuates the misogyny under the guise of “Biblical truth.”

      It is also why the males among us need to be less obnoxious about these things, because we will never know what it feels like to experience that kind of constant suffering/shame.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    You said that up top, dude.

  12. On this issue, my personal view is that the role of women and the equality of all people was based on the status of women in the culture at the time the Bible was being compiled and certainly written. Like I feel about the founding documents of this country planted the seed, the impetus and the power to give women equal access to leadership positions, change the status of women, the seed was there , it had to be watered by time, knowledge and advancement of society. This was the way the Bible was to expand and change as mankind grew in knowledge and getting to the core message of the Bible, Jesus.

    I thought in biology men were underdeveloped females but I probably got that wrong as I did not pay attention in biology

    Anyway, there are many women in leadership positions in many a Protestant church and of course Paula White and Joyce Meyers are women and done pretty good in getting out in the public arena. Always liked the movie Emery Gantry with Jean Simmons as the preacher lady.

    I love women, my Mother was one and I married a woman, not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • “I thought in biology men were underdeveloped females but I probably got that wrong as I did not pay attention in biology”

      that would explain those two useless things on male chests

    • Clay Crouch says

      You have answered wisely, johnbarry, and are not far from the kingdom of God. Welcome to the slippery slopes of evolving Christianity. :o)

  13. –> “Women, especially those who might not usually comment much or at all, I am especially interested in hearing from you.”

    I’m kinda disappointed that we’ve only heard from a couple of female voices today. Instead, it’s mostly the familiar male voices we hear almost every day.

    🙁

    • Patriciamc says

      I’m fasting from most of the Internet for Lent. The Meuller report brought me back to the net for a while, so I thought I’d drop in here too. Plus, there are more male commenters in general on this blog.

  14. thatotherjean says

    Pfffffft! Mark Twain is the antidote to misogyny:

    “What, Sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce.”

    There is also the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.”

    Imperfect men? The Devil’s gateway? Not in the image of God? I don’t think so. Try to do without us!

  15. Dana Ames says

    While cultural conditions most certainly played a large part in how women in the Church have been viewed, as Eeyore notes above, I would like to see the context of that Chrysostom quote particularly. Like Bible verses, quotations can also be cherry-picked and taken out of context. People dump on Chrysostom a lot, but there is always a context, and he was primarily a pastor and preacher, not an academic theologian. He actually urges that men and women in marriage NOT have any particular “roles”, but that they relate to one another on equal footing in the realities of living together. Sometimes women were taught not to come to church or take communion when they were having their menses; Chrysostom didn’t.. He never forbade women to come to Liturgy or partake of the Eucharist for this reason. He left it up to the conscience of each woman, according to her own sense of piety in that culture. He had a good relationship with his mother, and they were close until her death. Knowing this, and actually having read some of Chrysostom, it’s difficult for me to believe he was somehow in his heart anti-woman.

    I’ve written before about my own experiences in EOrthodoxy. Beyond that, through Christ we have a relationship with Mary his mother, the one who bore God (different in some respects than how Roman Catholics see her). This throws a different light on how things are “on the ground” in EO in so many ways – but it’s one of those things a person knows and understands “from the inside” – difficult to explain if you’re not. Again, see Fr Stephen Freeman’s blog.

    Dana

    • Michael Bell says

      That is a good point about cherry picking. If I had had more time I would have looked up each quote in its context. I did not but decided to trust my source which has generally been pretty reliable. I may have a follow-up set of quotes from church leaders with a very different view.

  16. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    “Nature I say, paints woman further to be weak, frail, impatient, feeble, and foolish: and experience has declared them to be inconstant, variable, cruel, and lacking in the spirit of counsel and leadership.” – John Knox (16th Century)

    The best reply to John Knox is in the words of another Scotsman:

    “Auld Nature swears, the lovely Dears
    Her noblest work she classes, O:
    Her prentice han’ she try’d on man,
    An’ then she made the lasses, O.”

  17. –> “‘A woman ought not to teach because she is more easily deceived, and more easily deceives.’ – John Wesley (18th Century)”

    Gotta laugh at the flawed logic of that statement! If she more easily DECEIVES, then isn’t it the MEN who are more easily deceived???

    • Absolutely.

    • Like someone else mentioned, I would like to see the quote in context. John Wesley was strongly influenced by his mother in matters of the faith. While he didn’t encourage preaching by women, he encouraged women in leadership roles in the Methodist societies.

  18. senecagriggs says

    A Gallup study showed that while both genders prefer a male boss — sad enough — more women have this preference than men (39 percent compared to 26 percent).

    • Which relates to the quotes in the OP, how?

      • senecagriggs says

        You’re offended Eeyore?

        • You’re irrelevant senecagriggs?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            His just being an ass, as usual. At least he isn’t being an open space in the ground on top of it as well today.

            • Patriciamc says

              Seneca can never quite do the regular back and forth of a conversation that normal people do. He throws out a random comment like this, does a comment that is still not quite part of a conversation, and somewhere along the way reminds us how much more holy he is – totally without the spirit of love that a true Christian has.

              • After thousands of years of cultural brainwashing, what would you expect? It’s in the same family as the Stockholm Syndrome, only universally pervasive. You can’t expect the effects from that to disappear over night, especially when the many of the social conditions that caused it still exist.

                But ask those same women if they wouldn’t like having the option of accepting a promotion with raise that would place them as bosses over both men and women, or ask the ones who are bosses in one capacity or another over both men and women if they would be willing to step down in deference to the Gallup study you cite and let a man have their position and pay. The results would be far different.

    • After thousands of years of cultural programming, you can’t expect the effects of it to disappear in a few decades, especially when many of the conditions that caused them continue to exist. But if you asked those same women if they like having the option of accepting a position with commensurate pay that places them as boss over men and women alike, or if you asked the ones who now are in a position that involves being the boss over men and women if they’d be willing to step down and let a male take their job in deference to the Gallup study results, look for very different results. Leadership in business is not awarded on the basis of opinion polls.

    • Clay Crouch says

      The Gallup poll you cited is more nuanced than you seem to understand. The poll also found that 44% of women and 68% of men express no gender preference for a boss. These percentages are skyrocketing for both men and women. You also don’t seem to understand that no gender preference is at the heart of egalitarianism. Even though you are way off topic, the very poll you cited disproves your premise that it runs contrary to the “liberal IMonk narrative”.

      Better luck next time.

  19. Klasie Kraalogies says

    His just being an ass, as usual. At least he isn’t being an open space in the ground on top of it as well today.

  20. “Women, especially those who might not usually comment much or at all, I am especially interested in hearing from you.”

    I’ve been reading for a while and never comment, but since you asked… 🙂

    Reading those lines gives me the same cynical and resigned feeling I often get when pondering church culture. Given that we attend a relatively healthy Evangelical church, and my complete lack of any sort of personal calling to any position of church authority, I tend to roll merrily along, mostly oblivious to its misogynistic tendencies since they don’t affect me personally. Until, that is, someone gets up at the women’s Bible study to remind us all not to get so excited about what we’re learning that we go home and, “usurp our husband’s spiritual headship”, or someone posts a list of asshole comments on the internet and I realize that many of those comments were made by men held in high esteem by our church.

    Am I going to leave the church? Probably not. There is a lot of good there too. And I’ll be surprised if the moratorium on women in leadership roles lasts in my church beyond my generation. but do I fully immerse myself in the church culture? Also no. I go because it feels like a necessary discipline – the spiritual equivalent of eating my vegetables. I’d like to blame my disconnect all on the church but the reality is, it’s also my personality, the flaws give me an excuse for an attitude I would tend towards anyway.

    I also do not volunteer at church. The main outlet there for women is Sunday school but I work with children five days a week and that’s plenty. Instead, currently I’m helping set up a homeless shelter here in town. Interestingly, maybe, it’s a faith-based but not church-affiliated organization and the majority of the people in it are women, middle-aged and older. Just goes to show if the church has no occupation for those of us who have our own children out of diapers and have no desire to help raise someone else’s littles, we’re perfectly capable of occupying ourselves. Their loss. And I suppose that’s the summary of my feelings toward the church’s traditional attitude towards women – you don’t want me, fine. I’m not going to fight or beg for a place at the table. I have better things to do.

    • Michael Bell says

      Thanks for your input Amy. And awesome that you are helping to set up a homeless shelter! (I would have more to say about that, but it would be a little too off topic)

    • Patriciamc says

      Amy’s comments remind me how here in the West, the secular world in general treats women with much more true respect than many parts of the church do. That said, I’m extremely blessed to have found a church and a denomination where our diocese openly encourages women to participate in all areas of leadership.

  21. Since I’ve led a pretty non-traditional life (I am married, but we couldn’t have children so I’ve worked all my life), I feel somewhat left out of the gender wars. Like Amy, I felt my calling wasn’t to be in leadership in the church, so I’ve been active in parachurch work, which isn’t technically a church. I am not comfortable attending “women’s ministry” events because I don’t think they “get” me. I feel blessed to have had a husband who believed that God could have a calling for me that wasn’t necessarily an auxiliary to his calling. Maybe if we had kids we’d be more traditional? Only God knows that, and He’s pretty quiet about it.

  22. Clay Crouch says

    The Gallup poll you cited is more nuanced than you seem to understand. The poll also found that 44% of women and 68% of men express no gender preference for a boss. These percentages are skyrocketing for both men and women. You also don’t seem to understand that no gender preference is at the heart of egalitarianism. Even though you are way off topic, the very poll you cited disproves your premise that it runs contrary to the “liberal IMonk narrative”.

    Better luck next time.

  23. A female here who seldom comments. I’ve long ago left the building (not the faith), but from what I’ve observed in the evangelical churches I attended is that without women volunteers those churches would quickly disintegrate. And the more regressive the theology the truer that seems to be.

    It’s discouraging to me that there are so many women that have bought into the less than narrative, and allow themselves to be manipulated and shamed into acquiesce. Or in too many cases cheerfully accept the status quo out of ignorance. Because together we women really do have the power to effect change.

    Here’s to education, to all women insisting on parity in church roles, and to all the good men who are willing to speak up and stand together with them.

  24. Contrary to Adam above, I’m not so sure that power is a moral good. I think it’s ambiguous at best: and a lot of Jesus’ actions seemed to be about foregoing power that was legitimately his to use.

    And I am especially wary of people (of either sex) who *want* power and influence. As Jesus (again) said: the one who would lead must become servant of all. The lack of that spirit preoccupies me more than male/female representivity.