Friday, October 19, 2012

Gender Roles in the Church


A Year of Biblical Womanhood : How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master", Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans book is stirring the pot (so to speak) in the Christian media. Strong opinions have been expressed on both sides of the issue. Criticism of the book has created dialogue as well as heated debate about women's roles in the Church, specifically women holding positions of authority over men. 
Rachel is a popular blogger, she has many friends and fans that are swelling with pride over her choice of subject, research, and book.
I'm new to knowing Rachel, I just began following her blog in the past month. I don't consider myself a fan, but I do respect her opinions. 
I've decided to do a bit of research on this topic.
I've asked a few key people about their feelings on the subject of women's roles in the Church.
I interviewed my nearly 90 year old dad who had been involved as a deacon and teacher in Southern Baptist Churches since the 1940's.
I interviewed a close female friend who is involved in her Southern Baptist Church, as well as the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
I interviewed my sister who is Catholic for her feelings on this subject.
Lastly, I will give my own feelings of what Biblical womanhood is, as well as additional questions that I'll discuss.

Before I proceed I found 2 posts where Rachel addressed questions from her book, as well as her own beliefs about the Bible. I want to point out it is important to read these links to understand where she is coming from, and what her beliefs are on the book she's written, as well as on interpreting Scripture. Too often we accept what someone else has told us, which to me is second hand information. Instead, I've posted first hand information, the following links will express from the authors own words. 
http://rachelheldevans.com/bible-interpretation
http://rachelheldevans.com/biblical-womanhood-faq


I served on a Women's Ministry Committee for over a decade. My last role was leader of a book club group. I've also served as a Women's Bible study teacher for both Sunday and weekday mornings, I've facilitated Bible studies, I've written my own curriculum for women's Bible studies. I've taught Sunday morning Bible study to middle school girls. I've taught Vacation Bible school countless summers. I've worked in the Church nursery. I've also worked for pay as a Church secretary.
Never was I interested on serving on another kind of committee. Never was I interested in serving as a deacon.
Why?
  • The first reason would be I didn't feel called to do this. 
  • Second reason is that is not where my gifts and talents are. 
My dad will be 90 in December. He has a lengthy history with serving in the Church. He taught couples classes as well as mens classes on Sunday mornings for over 50 years. He became a deacon when he was in his 20's. He has served on several kinds of committees throughout the Church. As my dad has gotten older he has become more liberal on his views of women in the Church. He strongly believes women should be allowed to be deacons, as well as teach men, and serve on all committees. Further, he believes that if a woman is capable she should be allowed to be a pastor of a Church. He goes by what talents and abilities a person has, not their gender.

I have a close friend who is involved heavily in Church leadership. She has served on several committees, she attends all the state meetings for The Baptist General Convention of Texas. She is a born leader, multi-talented in the arena of expressing herself and in being an affective leader. I've never known another person whether a man or woman who has the gift she has. She is active both in the Church and community.
I asked her if her Church (which I was a member of for over 25 years) would ever have a female deacon. Her response was "yes, but would depend on what the future pastor believes should be done".
I asked her if women serve on all committees in the Church, she said "yes".
I asked her if women are allowed to teach men, the answer is "yes".
As far as The Baptist General Convention of Texas "there are women serving on staff at Churches, but as of yet no senior pastors are women". 

My sister was raised Baptist as I was, but married a Catholic and became a Catholic. At this time she attends a non-denominational Church near her home. My sister has a personality that is bold, frank, and does not hold back from expressing her opinion. In the Catholic Church women can give a sermon, they can give a small teaching which is called a homily. They cannot though become a priest. The Catholic Church believes and adheres to what Paul stated in the NT that men are to be the leader. Frances believes men and women should have clearly defined roles. There are roles for men and roles for women.
A few questions she and I further talked about were:
  • Do we need well-defined gender roles?
  • Are men stepping up to the responsibility in areas of the Church?
  • Is the role of women being in leadership a core belief, or moral belief, or a tradition?
  • If we believe this is a Biblical ,are we taking Scripture out of context in that what was meant for that culture of the early Christian Church who based their belief on the Old Testament?
Further, how many men who've been pastors of various denomination Churches have had affairs with women and then left the Church in disgrace?
How many men who've been pastors have molested children?
Often, women feel more comfortable talking with and being counseled by other women. Especially single parent mothers, or women who've been abused by men.
Could it be that men in the Church have fallen down on the job (so to speak) and it is the women who've picked up the slack? I know in a family home when the the man does not fulfill his "defined role perse" the woman picks up the slack, because someone must do it.  

My own feeling about Biblical womanhood is that I have never thought in terms of putting the 2 words together---Biblical and womanhood. I think in terms of the word Biblical period. I know what my talents and abilities God has given me are. My goal is to be His Servant. I don't think in terms of being a servant for my husband, although I do things that serve him because I love him, then again he would give the same response, he does things for me and his family as a servant because he loves us. Maybe that is what we're missing, the word love. Another important thing we may be missing is whom we're serving, Christ Jesus.
A division in the Church can happen easily, and over the slightest hurt feeling. The role of women in the Church for some is a major issue, for others it's laissez-fair. We should not let this become more heated than it already has. A watching world is observing our "Christian" response.

Information on the book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Published by Thomas Nelson October 30, 2012
Link for book @ publisher:
http://www.thomasnelson.com/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood.html
352 pages


Further Links on the Book:

http://www.blackchristiannews.com/news/2012/10/lifeway-says-poor-sales-is-the-reason-they-refuse-to-sell-controversial-biblical-womenhood-book.html
"One that's applicable here is previous sales of books by the same author. We carried Evans' first book for two years, and it sold less than one book per store, significantly less than one book per store, and we had 160 stores," King told CP.
http://www.christianpost.com/news/lifeway-drops-rachel-held-evans-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-82971/

http://urbanchristiannews.com/ucn/2012/10/lifeway-christian-stores-wont-carry-rachel-held-evans-biblical-womanhood-book.html#.UIFAblI9Ibg
LifeWay Christian Resources responded with a statement saying the company does not comment on reasons why it chooses specific products out of thousands that it reviews, but factors include "alignment with evangelical beliefs, past sales by an author and how they fit within LifeWay's values and vision."
 http://www.webpronews.com/woman-lives-biblically-feminist-calls-husband-master-2012-10

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-a-review

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/10/thoughts-about-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-by-rachel-held-evans/

http://www.campbell.edu/news/item/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-author-speaks-at-campbell

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/slices/lifeway-wont-sell-rachel-held-evans-year-biblical-womanhood

http://www.homecomingmagazine.com/article/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood/







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