Discussing
Making room for Tina Fey

Caryn Rivadeneira

Caryn Rivadeneira
April 29, 2011

Tina Fey's book, "Bossypants" talks about "The Myth of Not Enough." How does this relate to the church?

Xioc1138
April 29, 2011

Speaking for myself, I think the "not enough" argument as put here is nothing but sexist. There will never be too many workers in the Kingdom.

Paulvanderklay
April 29, 2011

It's kind of a "set aside" argument. You need to have male "set-asides" otherwise they'll flee the coup. I personally don't like the argument because I find it demeaning to men (men aren't spiritual enough) but there does seem something to the fact that women thrive in some church traditions/communities and outnumber the men substantially. If men are a minority in certain contexts and the goal is some gender balance shouldn't we consider set asides for them as well?

Tim
April 29, 2011

Who is making the argument that men would not have anything to do if women were doing more? I've never heard that argument before.

Xioc1138
April 29, 2011

To dispute myself, I guess it doesn't have to be sexist. There could be a number of other problems in place - including traditions, lack of vision, etc. Sexism doesn't have to be at the core of this.

Caryn R
April 29, 2011

Really? You've never heard this? I hear it a lot. By folks who are worried about the "feminization" of the church (like this is bad...) or about men leaving. I agree with the comments below about the problems with this. It IS offensive to men (like they don't really want to serve God, like they're only in it for the "big titles" or whatever) and it IS sexist--among other things. : )

Idle Chatter
April 29, 2011

Excellent observation (drawn from a very funny book)!

Bethanykj
April 29, 2011

I would suggest that traditions and lack of vision is what fuels a good deal of sexism.

valleeCaz
April 30, 2011

Not to sound "old fashioned" but aren't men suppose to be leaders, and us women "helpers". Isn't that the role that God has set forth for us. I know as wives we are to be the help meets, and let the husband lead. Does this not extend into the world as well? Please don't beat up the naive :)

Bethanykj
April 30, 2011

There has been a lot of debate about that very question. There are a few passages that cause some Christians to take the position you just repeated: wives should be helpers and let their husbands lead. Men should take the visible leadership positions in the church. There are other readings of those passages and passages elsewhere in the bible that make other christians, myself included, believe that position is reading the bible through assumptions about gender that are incidental and not part of God's perfect plan. After all, "in Christ there is no male or female."

Edbonderenka
April 30, 2011

I'm with Tim. I've never heard of this, and I've been a member of many different churches over the years.<br>As for the feminization of the church. Yeah, I'm worried about the feminization of anything. It implies a political correctness and emasculation of the men who are there.<br>I prefer a gender neutral church where each member operates in his or her calling (not desire) and the confines of scripture (which does not seem to be the present subject of discussion).

Rickd
April 30, 2011

I agree with you Bethany. A lot of Paul's misunderstood gender observations were based on local cultural customs and he often would make it clear that this was his opinion, not settled doctrine. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons, there is no male nor female in Christ as the many female missionaries, prophets, church leaders and business women made abundantly clear in the first century. The only set aside we should have is respect for the Holy Spirit's calling, regardless of the gender. He knows what He is doing and you have obviously responded to His call on your life.

Caryn R
May 2, 2011

For more on this, check out Carolyn Custis James' "Lost Women of the Bible." She talks about how the word "ezer" which is normally translated as "helper" really means something closer to "warrior helper." And--more importantly--it's a word that's also used for God. So, it's hard to imagine that God is just some kind of man's little helper. : )<br><br>And I don't believe it's what he meant for women either. <br><br>Also, even if one believes a husband should be the "leader" of the home, I'm not sure how that can translate into the world. That seems quite a stretch to say all men should lead all women. That's a dangerous, unbiblical assumption, I think.

Sheldonsmann
May 2, 2011

I affirm that all who follow Christ are given spiritual gifts, and as such ought to be exercising them for the benefit of the whole body. In the absence of qualified leadership, it seems that the person who steps up to fulfill the void ought not to be criticized but supported. Now, what I mean by that is, in the absence of godly male leadership women will fill this function but I think a good case can be made that this is not by design but by our fallen nature. So my thesis is that women are not inferior but are functioning out of their intended design within the church and I might add, men are doing likewise when they do not fulfill their function as godly me who exercise humble leadership.

Rickd
May 2, 2011

In absence of qualified leadership? Missionaries Euodia and Syntheche, Junia the apostle, Priscilla the teacher and pastor, The 5 female prophets who were daughters of Phillip, Phoebe, Julia, Nympha, Chloe’s church, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord, the many unamed woman prophetesses that Paul refers to in Corinthians (for those that want to believe that prophecy was inspired preaching...then they were preachers), were they just simply filling in till the Holy Spirit could find some men to take their place or male seminaries founded? That is simply misguided Christian misogyny. First century missionaries were apostles and evangelists. Is our sister Bethany to be admired but simply filling in until a man can be found to pastor or does she have a true call of God? The Lord uses whomever has a willing heart, there is no male nor female in Christ.

Bethanykj
May 2, 2011

I am actually not a pastor, nor do I feel called to be, but many other women could serve as a relevant example to support your point.

Sheldonsmann
May 2, 2011

It seems Rick that on first read, you simply ran with a with one of your own prejudices against one who would take a position in opposition to yours, that in general men are to fill the function in church order, as teachers and pastors. You have cited a number of female servants of Christ, well done! If you will notice, I did not say that women should be banned from the work of the church, nor did I deny them leadership roles. Paul commends those women who are active in church work (e.g., Phoebe, Rom. 16:1; Priscilla, Rom. 16:3). Paul also notes the importance of women teaching other women.<br><br>On the other hand I should note that Paul has two prohibitions, the first is that women should not teach men (1 Tim. 2:12). This is in all likelihood the teaching of a group of men. The individual instruction of Apollos shared by Priscilla and Aquila does not fall into this category of group instruction. <br><br>Second, "not to exercise authority over men." This has been a hotly debated passage, nevertheless the passage is straight forward, in that, the prohibition should be taken positively, a woman is not to teach men or exercise authority over men-and not merely a reference to forbidding the oppressive or improper exercise of these functions by a woman.<br><br>Your commentary lacked clarity, because you jumped to a false conclusion. But make no mistake, I do not believe that a woman should function as a leader in the church over men. That is not bigoted nor, as you would provocatively say,"misguided Christian misogyny." Rather, it is a beautiful illustration of the Divine imperative found in the creation passages of Genesis (1 Tim. 2:13; see Gen. 2:4-24 and 1 Tim. 2:14; see Gen. 3:1-24).<br><br>Paul argues from creation and then illustrates this argument from the fall. He demonstrates from the fall the dire consequences of a reversal of leadership roles.<br>

Rickd
May 2, 2011

Does this ban include women seminary professors? Is it against the law to have a woman seminary professor teach Christian subjects to men? Does this include preaching? I’ve sat thru many sessions where women have taken the pulpit and preached to a mixed audience. Is prophesying preaching? Can a woman like Hilary Clinton be a president of a country, or Margaret Thatcher or Golda Maier? Paul talks about women offering public prayer and public prophecy in the church and that they should wear a head covering when doing so according to local custom in 1 Cor. 11. Doesn’t Paul say that prophecy is for strengthening, encouraging, comfort revelation and edifying the church? The Old testament references Paul cites in 1 Cor. 11 are used to reinforce head coverings for women. I know Southern Baptists are vehemently against women teaching men and will actually walk out of a conference when it happens. I was raised Conservative Baptist and believed the same til I really dug into it. This is probably no place for full debate, many books have been written on the subject so at this point I would say we are brothers in Christ who disagree over a nonessential.

JCarpenter
May 3, 2011

Queen Elizabeth I was referred to by 17th cent. clergy and lay scholars alike as having "a man's head on a woman's body." :?)<br>As you rightly suggest, the most controversial (and exciting) classes in seminary would be studies of Pauline epistles: what of his teachings are universals for churches world-wide, through all time; what of his teachings are suggestions, culturally-bound, to the specific time and place and even local church of the epistle title? <br>Lots of anecdotal evidence out there, across the span of denominations, of churches who have had women serve/lead as pastors, preachers, evangelists, missionaries, elders, deacons, seminary professors, Christian school principals K-12, teachers of every subject, including Bible----and the roof didn't fall in, the walls didn't crumble, and may I dare say, with their efforts and missions and institutions even _blessed in countless ways. <br>To the "set-aside" concept of the argument, in my observation over three decades in my present church/denomination, including three terms as elder---I saw many men whose concept of leadership/servanthood was challenged and expanded, not supplanted, by the outstanding examples of gifted women serving as pastors, elders, and deacons (as well as in other service roles in church and Christian organizations). Thanks for your comments, Rickd!

Jason Summers
May 3, 2011

Sheldon, I am curious, in writing "[Paul] demonstrates from the fall the dire consequences of a reversal of leadership roles," are you suggesting you interpret 1 Tim. 2:11-15 to mean that the fall is a result of a "reversal of leadership roles" --- i.e., an instance of Eve exercising authority over Adam? <br><br>js

Rickd
May 3, 2011

I think because pentecostal denominations emphasize Pneumatology over Ecclesiology there tends to be a greater openness to women’s ministry. My home church is affiliated with the Foursquare denomination which was founded by a woman and has never had an issue about ordaining women. Amy Semple McPherson was all about missions and evangelism and those histories of the 20s and 30s read like the gender mixed roster of workers in Romans 16. During the great depression McPherson opened her church 24 hours a day, seven days a week and became active in creating soup kitchens, free clinics and other charitable activities and was responsible for keeping hundreds of thousands of the destitute of LA alive.

BB
May 3, 2011

For a woman gifted for leadership; and passionate about the church, the Word, and the lost, yet denied the full privileges of membership in her church community, this not a "nonessential."

Rickd
May 3, 2011

I know. I was trying to be conciliatory and gracious, and what I meant was nonessential to salvation. But you are right. How can we even begin to talk about race and justice issues, much less gay issues in the church if we can't even get a handle on women and the church. Stunning really. Sad.

Dave
May 4, 2011

Bingo!

Aimeelynn77
May 6, 2011

I guess my question is, where do we draw the lines between what women should and should not be allowed to do in church? What constitutes women "functioning outside of their intended design?" Serving as a preaching/teaching pastor? Making announcements? Leading the congregation in a prayer? Serving as a youth leader? (Where young men might also fall under their influence.) Leading hte missions committee? How do we decide?

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