Monday, January 15, 2007

Whoa! Back the Truck Up

In an earlier post, Conversation at Our House, an interesting conversation about beliefs concerning "scriptural" gender roles began. From the comment section:

"I think most every true bible believing Christian would agree that God intended for man to be the leader in the marriage."

Not intending to single out a commentor, I pulled this quote to show that we all have a tendency to claim that our understanding of certain issues is "the truth." The reality is that we filter our understanding through our current grids.

I have read what seems like millions of posts on this topic. I think that egalitarians and complementarians will probably be debating the meaning of the same few scripture passages forever, always reaching the conclusions that support their position.

I'm not really interested in getting into an exegetical discussion about specific Scripture passages. That has been done extensively in many places. I appreciate those who have done the work of researching these scriptures. However, as I said, I have little hope that conclusive agreement will ever be reached on this issue.

What I would like to do is share more personally how and why my understanding about the topics of submission, authority, and hierarchy have changed during the last couple of years.

For those who want more scriptural background, I've read through plenty on this topic and rather than parrot their conclusions, I would rather simply point to those who have done the research.

Just for the record, I am a true bible-believing Christian, and I would guess that many of you are also, even when we don't agree.

12 comments:

Joanne said...

Grace
I look forward to hearing how and why your understandings have changed. (Also wouldn't mind some of the better sites you have seen discussions on this).

I think we all can recognize this is a challening issue where many will disagree, but it is one worthy of learning more about through discussion. Thanks for this!

Gary Means said...

I have seen incredible displays of venemous hatred from complementarians on this subject. I believe that behind all hatred is fear, and usually it is fear of being or feeling powerless. Compounding that fear is the revulsion at the idea of someone they consider to be inherently inferior having equal or superior power. Making this even more complex is the deeply emotional notion that God is on their side, that God says they are superior and that they should be in authority over the "lesser" group. So, in addition to fear of losing power, there may be fear of displeasing God. But, in my experience, that last element is just smoke. They're only using God to support their claim to power. Any interpretation of scripture which differs from their own is vehemently denounced. Sometimes the opponents of the complementarians are accused of not being Christian, or of even being possessed. People who are in power, especially those who have been in power for generations, even Christians, will stoop to incredibly low and base tactics to maintain their power. Guilt, shame, and intimidation are favored tools.

But then again, that's just my view on the matter.

PJ said...

Grace-
Looking forward to what you have to share on this topic. I haven't really come into this debate until recently. I always knew there was one out there, but because the church I belonged to believed women were equal in all ways even in ministry I just thought this was the way all people thought other than Southern Baptists. Not to pick on them, but my boyfriend was Southern Baptist and his beliefs on women eventually is what cost the relationship. Thank you for putting it out there. I just can't believe how much hatred and venom is spewed at this subject.

Pastor Astor said...

The denomination I trained as a pastor for have had women in leadership since the 1850:s and the revival movements where instrumental in the democratization process. On person, one voice has been the norm since then. The idea of judging someones capacity by their sex seems very strange to me, like making slavery legal or forbidding all footwear but sandals.

David Cho said...

Although a single man at 40, I am still interested in this issue.

As I may have shared with you before, I was my college friend's best man at his wedding. But I was also great friends with the girl who became with his wife. She was spunky and independent.

Now as they have become deeply entrenched in a fundamentalist church, she puts the Stepford Wives to shame. Everything she does and says now looks and sounds robotic, and having known her before her "transformation," I feel sick every time I think about it.

KSG said...

As I started to re-examine leadership in the church I found that I too have had to rethink the marriage relationship... ideas like servant leadership & plurality in leadership don't lend themselves to situational exclusivity.
Ironically it's been me having to model a co-leadership style to my wife (and therefore really work on my patience) in order for her to see some stuff about our soon-to-be CLB that caused me to believe we had to leave it, when, if I had used the leadership style that I was rejecting, could have just said, "We're moving because I heard from God... submit woman!".

So, needless to say, I'm looking forward to your posts.

Robbymac said...

Glad you've got Molly in your blogroll -- she's done some incredible theological work in this area in recent posts.

I'm looking forward to your posts, as well!

(btw, I'm not avoiding your question on the Missional/Charismissional post -- I'm doing some (hopefully) deep thinking on that topic and will get some thoughts online soon.)

truth said...

Wow, you might be stepping into a passionate topic. I used to be, as a previous commentor described "a transformed robotic." It took me many years to come in to a new understanding of what submission and such entailed. And you are so right that we pull "truth" through our own grids. Most do so in their best attempt at trying to please God, while others go so far as to pull it through a very warped and distorted grid to make it fit how they want it to. Look forward to reading more.

molly said...

Wow---looks interesting. I look forward to reading more. :)

grace said...

joanne,
I'll work on compiling some links when I get a chance. Molly (on my blogroll) has had some great posts on this topic. She has done her homework.

gary,
I try to stay away from the more hateful discussions. When the verbage is especially dogmatic and strident, I have trouble reading. I would have to say though, that I think there are equally sincere believers on both sides of this topic. Hopefully I'll be able to facilitate open dialog here, especially amidst differing opinions.

pj,
I'm hoping it won't be a debate. :) I would really just like to share more personally about how my views on both the gender topic and church authority have developed.

pastor astor,
Depending on one's views about how the kingdom functions, it does seem a bit strange.

David,
When you see the fruit of that perspective up close and personal, sometimes it is hard to believe that it is the "best" way.

ksg,
You might keep trying the "submit woman" thing until it no longer works. ;) I'm looking forward to more discussion about the leadership issues.

robby,
Molly's latest post about this was awesome! I have no intention of trying to repeat what she has done so well.

No pressure on the charismissional vision. I'm looking forward to the results of your deep thinking.

Hi truth,
I hope that it will be a passionate and interesting discussion. It seems to take certain life experiences to cause us to challenge our ingrained beliefs.

Molly,
I hope you don't mind me linking to the fantastic posts you've done on this topic.

Ari said...

grace - that's something I always iterate to the women I talk to about this issue. I am not suggesting that I hold the monopoly on the "truth of the matter" in this subject and all I ask in return from those who disagree is a little humility to say "yeah, you're right, both sides can support their view and I might be wrong"...because I sure know I could be wrong on just about everything, ya know?

Barry said...

Just to comment on your quote, I think some people would be surprised at just how many things Bible-believing Christians disagree over, gender roles being just one of them. I think that often people use the term "Bible-believing Christians" to mean "Christians who believe what I do".