It has taken a long time into the gay marriage debate to reveal the actual way gay marriage accepted as a legal right could change the general landscape on marriage as a whole. For most of the years in which it was actively debated, the premise put forth and accepted by most was simple, “It won’t change marriage, either in concept or law”.
The fundamental matter of what change might take place in our concept of marriage and the protection the laws now give it… and ultimately constituting a change in status for children and women in a marriage relationship (which is legally defined), had always been my main concern on this question.
Now that the debate is almost over and the idea of gay marriage as a right is generally accepted and being instituted in law, some inconvenient facts have risen to the visible surface. So, the question still remains how the legalization of gay marriage changes the definition of marriage and the legal complications of that change. Is anyone willing to address that yet?
That is always where I believe the point of the conversation should take place. Will definitions and permission for adultery change inside the state of marriage? Will polygamy become a part of the legal definition? What does this do to benefits for marriage partners and offspring?
Those are the questions that everyone seems to ignore, but can we afford to continue this omission?
Marriage Minus Monogamy VI the fifth part of a series on marriage and monogamy in this issue highlights some of the difference between the customary definition of a “committed relationship” between two people, and that recognized in the gay community.
Not that the gay community is one homogeneous unit. There are scientifically demonstrable differences in how the sexual relationship, including gays, is different for males and females (1). At least at the theoretical stage (the interpretation of data is not fully conclusive), but there has long been a difference noted, if not proven conclusively. Yet, the discussion has moved forward upon the ideas that all gays have the same ideas of what constitutes gay marriage. In all the definitions possible, marriage is more than a simple business contract, and implicit within it are certain constraints on behavior. Is this included in the way the laws are outlined? I am unsure of what the actual legislated demands for a married partner consists of, at this time, but presumed it still held the monogamous view of exclusivity of one partner.
In what way might this be changed, if at all under the addition of untraditional partners? this is th ematter that I haven’t seen addressed, but the one that I believe should most be addressed.
Would it make a difference to you if you knew more about these points?
Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
Or others? Given the stories about Tiger Woods which hit the news, and became the hot topic of the month, do you think there might be some of this influence at the beginning of his present troubles? Makes me wonder.
People don’t just throw away their marriage and reputation for nothing… there is a hook in there somewhere. Here is the research link, Ed’s pdf document
So little time, so much to say. That might be the motto of many of us, especially of bloggers, or maybe it is just noticeable in bloggers -especially by other bloggers? Crafting our word choices is often a lost art, and perhaps why we so easily miscommunicate. Then there is the truncated ability to decode actual word meanings (which could inspire a digression into the state of today’s education degeneration).
I noticed this in the brouhaha engendered by Pyromaniacs set of posts on “Manly Men” and More Thoughts on Effeminate Evangelicalism . In carefully reading through the first post, I began to think that the author wasn’t really describing “effeminate” with its (rightly) criticized “homophobic” connotations, as he was something that the word “effete” might better have defined. But then it might have been more precise and not aroused the ire of those who resent the implications and connotations of the word “effeminate”. Unmanliness just has such a cultural buzz right now.
I don’t know of a more hot-button topic for both the churched and unchurched than this one. For that reason, we should probably try to take a fresh new look at threading out the various views on just what a woman’s place in society consists of.
It seems as if there are more presumptions on what the Christian scriptures say than there are authoritative doctrines. And of the authoritative doctrines, few are widely agreed upon as to how they work in the modern world. I’d like to look at that. In fact, I’d like to look at that with one of the more curious variations of recent memory: that blogging is a questionably womanly pursuit.
But first, what are some of the controversies? Women themselves are not agreed on what woman’s freedom, rights, and dignities are or ought to be. And this has lead to some confusion about what the reaction of re-instituting traditional roles should look like. An example: Feminists of today would eschew the mid-twentieth century persona of “June Cleaver”, TV mother. Neo-traditionalists seem to view those scenes with scentimental nostalgia. But what are we really looking at when we review mid-twentieth century female roles and lifestyle? Aren’t we seeing the Feminine Mystique generation? The women who oftentimes threw off the homemaker’s mantle and went into the workplace in hordes, who sometimes left home to ” find themselves”? Or had to make new lives for themselves as divorce rates skyrocketed? I know my mother had ‘Feminine Mystique’ on her bookshelf, had to become a breadwinner, and lived a very different life from the Donna Reed Show, et al. This is why I don’t think it is in looking backward culturally that we may find the defining roles of women.
And where has the Church been in all this? Pretty much where the rest of the culture has been: experimenting and floundering around to define women and understand how society should work. The Church hasn’t had a voice of consensus. And I think it is out of laziness and self-protection that it hasn’t yet produced clarity for even women in the Church, let alone a view of women in the Culture.
Further, the responsibility for this has lain with the Protestants. The ones who lay claim to Sola Scriptura, and studying to show oneself approved. But instead we are tangled up with reiterations of traditions and slipshod adoption of the culture’s lead on this. The Worldly culture. We are the ones who ought to be able to work at rightly applying how the Bible’s directives appear in our culture.
The Churches View
So first, what do the scriptures teach? Undoubtedly, the Bible gives a view of order and hierarchy. This is underlined in nature, but doesn’t have to be to give it moral force. The hierarchy of the Bible is: God, the man, the woman. Before I lose you modern souls, here, I ask the question: does this mean in all ways and at all times? If it did, there would not be so many permutations of leadership roles, and the reason I would give for this is contained in the word,”delegate”. Hierarchy is only the basic structure and not the immutable law of how all the players interact. But it is how responsibility is divvied up, and it is also the authority structure. Everything in life operates with authority structure of some sort:”You Gotta Serve Somebody” as Bob Dylan put it.
I heard a teaching long ago that made alot of sense to me. It was this: that in the Genesis curse the paths of success and downfall for men and women, respectively, was stated. Men would gladly give up the mantle of authority if they could also divest themselves the burden of responsibility, women will gladly shoulder the most onerus amounts of responsibility if they can only be in charge. That was the reasoning given on how the famous curse helped outline where people go awry in their gender roles.
To move on to a specific instance of scripture, let’s look at one chosen by so many raise controversy:
That seems quite clearcut until you add Paul’s epistle to Titus:
Titus 2:3-4: 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…
Apparently, there is a place where women can teach.Then you have examples such as Priscilla, in the company of Aquilla:”when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately” -Acts 18:26
John MacArthur points out:”In Romans 16:1, Paul indicates that women possibly serve or minister as Deacons (Diakonon) in the church. Then in I Timothy he sets forth the qualifications for a Deaconess.”
If we understood that there are times when women are delegated place in the Church to minister in such ways we wouldn’t have foolish contentions about whether women may say things of substance in blogging, etc. If it were sin to blog it would be sin to write, and all women-authored books should be rejected on that basis. That is how I see the logical progression of such thinking. Yet, I don’t believe we see any such idea like that from the scriptures. I do think that the final authority in spiritual matters is given to men, but not just any men. Again, the hierarchy is that God calls and ordains who He wills, and this is the outline given for the Church.
Is it an abrogation of hierarchy for women to produce something intellectual just because some man somewhere might view it and thus “be taught”? In the light of day that sounds a bit silly, but when a respected teacher throws out such an idea it stirs up doubts and confusion. I call it as I see it: such are irresponsible teachers who are sloppy when they ought to take the admonition of James,
This sloppiness gives occasion for misunderstanding to a listening world. More circumspection and less retraction in important doctrines and controversial views becomes the more necessary when hostility and high rhetoric are rampant on a topic.
But the counterbalance for women who minister through preaching and teaching should be:”What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” Our Churches and society as a whole welcomes and gives a place to women, but in the economy of God the truth is not in any one persons personal possession. If there is not a position given to a woman within a Church that does not mean that there is no avenue for teaching, simply that there is no officially ordained position within that group. No Christian ought to strive for pride of position, and it is disappointing to see so many women disdain opportunity unless it comes with a full set of perks and prestige.
I think the example of Deborah in the Old Testament is one of the most telling on this subject.
The Christian Opportunity
Should the Church abide by these standards enough to have a body of evidence for the culture to view, I think the high esteem for women, and their opportunities for fulfilling their potential could be seen plainly. In fact, I think this is what we see in the the way Western culture has grown to give Women the place they enjoy today. Unfortunately, the extrapolations of those high views under the secular watch seems to be leaving women highly vulnerable to harm. This is seen in too many ways to go into with proper depth here. Everything from increased vulnerability from easy divorce to the emerging picture of exploitation due to ideas of “sexual freedom”. This is all hotly debated even within the feminist camp. Not just between Christian traditionalists and Feminists.
Some of the examples are enumerated by Melanie Phillips, arguing in books such as “The Sex-Change Society Feminised Britain and the Neutered Male” that “feminism has distorted its own agenda of equality by replacing it with sameness”, “women are being encouraged to work at all times, whether they want to or not” . (I cite this book because it articulates some of the conflicts and issues. It makes some accusations that I am not prepared to defend. )
Is this the pattern the Church wants to emulate? One which has not and will not work? Or ought we return to looking at what our own guidelines and mandates say? And figure out which is which?
I’m not sure we can do that if we forget Christ’s example of Lordship was also one of humility and service, and think that men in authority means that women’s voices are silenced. In all cases, if God gives us words to speak, how can we not speak them?
When qualms such as these are brought up, I ask myself, what is the actual articulated fear here? Is it blogging and accidental teaching?
Is it the idea that women must have a restricted place in the church ministry? I do not think this is what is actually being verbalized. I think the actual fear is the breakdown of accountability, and that is something that doesn’t get addressed in the calls to shut women away from the internet or to stop blogging or writing books. It is a different problem that has symptoms and poor outcomes in some of these areas. Putting a band-aid on the gushing hemorrhage, or cutting the rest of the hand off, isn’t the solution. The solution is to strengthen the Churches structure to function properly. And just as there are times a husband should listen to his wife, there are times when men in the church should give ear to women. Not in exchanging authority roles but in the mutual respect and honor that Christ teaches and Paul explained.
If we restored such accountability in the essence of Christian brotherhood, we would make inroads against other problems such as pornography use, that is eating many men alive. Men in the Church. Accountability would strengthen them and help them to grow into the husbands and fathers that watch over the welfare of those in their care. I think this is the needed emphasis and that the squabbling over women somehow wandering into conflict with biblical wisdom is a red herring. The reason Deborah was called to lead, (Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.) may well have been due to a dearth of men vigorous enough in the service of God. But perhaps I am wrong about that, perhaps there are times that God shows His sovereignty in working through those whom He chooses.
Please do not take this as a doctrinal statement on the idea of women leading the Church, the only expression given us is that women have callings and gifts, and that these should be used. I have no ambitions for women in specific roles, and I think there are many ways to serve God, some of the best without titles. Best because they are the more free, and I would conclude my thoughts here with the idea that our expression, as Christians, about the place of women in society is that they should be free to fulfill their potentials, and that we all appear before our maker without designations of gender or nationality or prestige. We ought to value that freedom and use it to its fullest in the service of God and mankind. It isn’t the licentiousness of the worlds version of women, it isn’t the subdued version of domination from the power hungry, either. What it is, is a respectful and responsible form of what best expresses woman in the full version of her humanity, and spiritual heritage.
“What of the future? We live in a day that is fast-moving. The United States is moving at great speed toward totally humanistic orientation in society and state. Do you think this will leave our own little projects, our own church, and our own lives untouched? Don’t be silly. The warnings are on every side. ”
A Woman’s Place, in the Culture, what might that look like? What does it look like now? Who’s going to draw the template?
No feedback yet. We think our views on sex and gender are in a separate category from our religious life, and how we express the gospel and ourselves often is full of mixed messages. I wonder how much of our own understanding of God and of how we should live our lives is influenced by our need to rationalize our thinking on the conflicting ideas vying for attention in our own minds?
I briefly touched on the label that some use: “Gay Christian”. Almost always, the gay identity trumps the Christian one. They don’t peacefully coexist within the person claiming them nor in our reception of the idea. But neither do some of our heterosexual actions or traditional role models. Case in point: the new “manly man” testosterone pumped Christianity. The theological doctrines work backwards to try and support the view promoted in recasting gender based role modeling and lifestyle. Which was the original contention of the post that inspired mine, by ‘The Heresy Hunter Hunters‘.
Dinesh D’Souza takes Freud, and Marx along with him, to the couch. Making the pointed observation, “It’s hard to believe so many intelligent people spent their lives studying these two thinkers. Intellectuals, we have to conclude, are often fatally attracted to far-out theories that tease the mind but that bear little relation to what’s actually going on in the world”.
People like to remark how evolved we all are in our vastly more intelligent modern society, but somehow points like this get conveniently overlooked. Psychiatry today is more oriented towards chemically handling mental illness and psychological troubles than with other forms of therapy. Is it because it is more effective, or because the bottom line is better? Whatever the reason, Freud is on the outs with today’s experts and scholars in the field that some might say he fathered.
D’Souza discusses one of Freud’s propositions: “that what we are secretly attracted to, we make into a taboo”, and in doing so reveals the basis for one of the often heard remarks from the gay community. Whenever someone argues with anything in the gay lifestyle it is implied, or sometimes outspokenly proclaimed, that it is because the person is secretly a homosexual themselves. For this conclusion the same logic that is applied in the context of the essay can also be applied to this situation:
The cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker pointed out the shortcoming of this theory. Pinker notes that by Freud’s logic the fact that humans are averse to eating cow dung shows that we secretly want to eat it. Pinker’s point is that there are sound evolutionary reasons both for avoiding cow dung and for avoiding incest. The former is unhealthy and attracts disease-carrying insects; the latter results in biological abnormalities. So natural selection produces humans who avoid both.
It isn’t quite so easy to explain it all for you, Mary Ellen, and so the question must get asked, “In the idea of a “fatal attraction”… just what is going on with us humans to trigger such a thing?” Are we so evolved, or have we simply exchanged certain superstitions for other more modern and fashionable ones? Have we accepted a knee jerk way of thinking about science and religion that we so easily label one as a search of truth and one as mere superstition? Which one is which? And when do we cross the lines?
I was intrigued by some of D’Souza’s thinking in this post and while it isn’t going to make final statements on the matter, it still jogs us out of the usual rut we find ourselves in some of these conversations on the origin of religion, guilt, taboos, …. and fatal attractions. He has written a book and now I would like to find a copy and read it, What’s So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza.
“A Woman’s Place, In The Church – summing up my own view” is the first repost (the original appeared on Intellectuelle in March 2006) here to provide background in the continuing conversation on women authority and roles in the Church. The entire series is listed in links at the bottom of the article.
My view is not going to be a definitive statement on the matter, but a look at the scriptures and extrapolating some of the cultural realities within some of the answers that are forwarded by others.
I stated previously that there is a hierarchy within God-given parameters of this life, and within the Church. The question is not whether there is such a hierarchy, but what form that takes in practical expressions of life. I think this is what Paul expressed in “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” 1 Timothy 2:13, that the hierarchy of God, man, then woman, was still in place. Our freedom and egality of position in Christ does not abrogate the order of the natural position in this life (stated in 1 Corinthians 11, as well). These scriptures do not preclude leadership positions for women, but indicate recognition of the ways in which we are to interact as men and women.
While looking at this section of scripture, 1 Timothy 2, I’d like to examine the context. Paul is a church planter, an apostle, and he is writing to Timothy on the topic of instituting sound doctrine in the church, so this is a foundational type of teaching. These are general admonitions with an overview of what best serves the promulgation of the gospel. If we don’t see these things as general, rather than specific, I think we run into several problems. One is that of outward dress. When Paul first is mentioning proper demeanor for women, he addresses the tendency to use appearance as a measure of importance. Thus the admonitions to “tone it down”. This is a decisive break with the standards of the culture, and placing the standards of the inward character prominently, instead. It is not a commandment for Christian women. IOW, we are not in defiance of the gospel when we wear pearls, etc. The text that follows is also problematical if taken in this “commandment” type of view. It would then stand against the practice of the early church as recorded in other places, where women do teach, and do have positions of recognized authority,i.e. deaconesses.
So what does this mean?
“11 Let a woman learn in quietness, in entire submissiveness.
12 I allow no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to remain in quietness and keep silence ” ?
Wycliff ‘s version says it this way:
“11 A woman learn [she] in silence, with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, neither to have lordship on the husband [neither for to have lordship on the man], but to be in silence. “
And another place in scripture (1 Corinthians 14, Amplified version) says this,
“33 For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people),
34 The women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.
35 But if there is anything they want to learn, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to talk in church [for her to usurp and exercise authority over men in the church].
36 What! Did the word of the Lord originate with you [Corinthians], or has it reached only you?”
In both places there are ideas of women in a learning capacity, and of the inappropriateness of “lordship over” or usurpation of authority over men. This is all in the context of “order in the Church”. The commandment is in forbidding the usurpation of authority. This is quite an old issue, and one dealt with continually in the account of Moses in Genesis, as well as earlier. It is a general principle in the Word of God.
In this specific instance, women will not always be unlearned in the scriptures or doctrines, but they will need to operate in an attitude of respect for men. The idea of this respect is mutual (1 Corinthians 11:11-12), but it seems that women need to be reminded of it in these scriptures. Experience says this is the case.
Michele @ Life Under the Sun has been discussing the “women in church” question. I had grappled with that gender topic awhile back @ Intellectuelle I’m still of the opinion that it is an authority question rather than a division of ministry question. God allows for women to hold places of leadership when the men in authority allow it, with everything done in order. The portion I did not yet pursue is the principle of freedom and of men growing into the truth of that. As men understand God’s view and desire for human freedom, they will open themselves to recognizing the gifts and callings of women to an ever greater degree. The end of this is to come into a fullness of understanding and manifestation of there being no Greek or Jew, no male or female, classes in the body of Christ. I think it is the superiority of class that God erases in Christ and not the differentiation of of our personal components. I think that allows for the full blossoming of the personal components to the glory of the Creator God, the Father. This is my vision of what we become in Christ Jesus as one body.
Right before the Virginia Tech massacre, a post came to my attention from halfway across the world. We see violence and become aware of how very damaging it is to our world, how much loss we are suffering from the destruction of souls, especially young ones, but anyone who somehow was deterred from fulfilling a destiny. The difference with this damaging issue is that it is often invisible to us while it wounds and eventually kills the soul… that is, pornography.
Rodney Olsen has an informative discussion posted April 11 that you may want to listen to [mp3]. Some practical steps are presented as well as making some points about the many ways the blight of p0rn affects us as a society. We don’t need hysteria, but we do need more awareness which is what podcasts like Rodney’s provide. Let’s bring things into the light and overcome.