From time to time, I get asked if I will put a post on my blog by a guest author. I often try to do so because I love to promote the work of others. Anne Garboczi Evans is a Christian fiction author with Hartline Literary Agency. She holds a Master’s in Counseling. She approached me a few weeks ago because she had found SimplyChurch on a list of the top 100 Christian blogs, (I know–crazy. I find it hard to believe too). She pointed me towards an article she has written. “All Men Are Created Equal–But What About Women” is on a subject close to my heart, and Anne writes with humor and a compelling logic. So here are the first few paragraphs of her article with a link to the remainder of the article:
The issue of women’s roles in marriage, the church, and the workplace is a sharply debated one. What’s right? Patriarchy? Complementarianism? *gasp* Egalitarianism? How do we avoid merely instituting the cultural norms of the Middle Ages, 1950s, or 21st century rather than actually doing God’s will?
As any Bible-believing Christian, when I want to know what God thinks about something, I look at the Bible. And no one can deny that the Old Testament is chockfull of Patriarchy: Solomon with all his wives, Naomi left penniless because she didn’t have a man, Nabal’s abusive use of Abigail. Yet, the Old Testament is filled with other things too: adultery, idol worship, unbelief, lies, and murder. The fact that God found something worthy of recording does not mean He approves of it. In fact, a major portion of the Old Testament is a lesson in what not to do. Hence, Stephen asked his countrymen which of God’s prophets they hadn’t persecuted or killed.
So the fact that Patriarchy and hierarchal relationships between men and women is in the Bible really tells us nothing about God’s will. We need to dig deeper into the Biblical text to discover not just what happened, but what God thought about what happened.
It’s well worth your time to read the remainder of Anne’s article.
Adam and Eve — Credit: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
My latest book, The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church is now available. Check it out.
I’ve spent the past two years compiling a book on women. Definitely a labor of love! The book should come out on April 1st next year. But now it’s time to finalize the book title.
The main title is going to be “The Black Swan Effect.” Here’s the rationale behind the title, taken from the introduction to the book.
“The term “black swan” was a common one in sixteenth century London. Everyone knew that swans were white, and black swans presumably did not exist, so the term came to mean something farfetched, not real. However, in 1636, a Dutch explorer discovered nomadic, red-billed black swans in Western Australia. All of a sudden, black swans were no longer an impossibility and the meaning of the term changed. There is now a well-known species of black swans, but at first, all it took was one swan to change people’s minds forever.”
Having talked with a number of people, everyone loves the main title and the obvious analogy to women in the church. The help we need comes with the subtitle. Here are some of the possibilities:
The Black Swan Effect: Men lead; women follow? A response to patriarchy in the church (Do you think people understand the term “patriarchy”? “Men lead women follow” is deliberately a simple definition)
The Black Swan Effect: Men lead, women follow? Responding to gender issues in the church
The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church
Please let me know which one you prefer.
Jesus refused to be bound by the conventions of his day. At times he even seemed to go out of his way to provoke the religious leaders. He chose to ignore manmade traditions.
One of the ways in which Jesus defied convention was in his treatment of women. Think, for example, of his willingness to have a conversation, alone, with a
Samaritan woman of very dubious reputation (John 4). Jesus always treated women with dignity and respect. Whereas I can think of several examples where he publicly rebuked men, I cannot think of a single example where he castigated a woman or publicly shamed or embarrassed one. On the contrary, he went out of his way to defend them (Luke 7:36-50, John 8:3-11).
But Jesus went beyond that. In a society that was highly patriarchal:
- He gave illustrations that women would relate to–for example, about yeast in a lump of dough (Luke 13:21), sewing a patch on an old garment (Matthew 9:16).
- Women, as well as men, were the heroines of his stories–the woman who lost a piece of silver (Luke 15:8-10), the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-5).
- He never told a story where a woman was the “villain” of the piece. (The closest example would be the five foolish virgins.) Men were often cast in that role.
- He publicly honored women as examples to follow–the widow who gave two small coins (Mark 12:41-43) , the woman who poured ointment on his head (Matthew 26:6-13).
- He welcomed their children. Although the text doesn’t specifically state so, I suspect it was mothers who brought their children to Jesus so he could bless them (Matthew 19:13-15).
- He defended their rights. Jesus stood against the common practice that a man could divorce his wife for no reason (Matthew 19:3-8).
Jesus didn’t dumb things down when he talked to women. Some of the most profound conversations that were recorded in the Gospels occurred with women. Think of the talks he had with the woman at the well in John 4 (the first time he revealed his Messiahship) or with Martha about the resurrection (John 11). The story of Mary and Martha shows Jesus encouraging Mary to sit at his feet learning from him rather than being relegated to the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42).
In a society where a woman was not viewed as being a credible witness, Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection to women, and entrusted them to take the news that he had risen to the disciples (Matthew 28:1-10).
I think another of the reasons Jesus didn’t have female disciples; he was protecting women’s reputations. The Pharisees were out to get Jesus. They accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard just because he shared meals with sinners. If he had given them any hint of an opportunity, they would have accused of him of immorality too.
Jesus’ actions speak of his attitude towards women–honor and esteem.
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