Am I an Anti-Feminist Hypocrite? Vote!

Apparently my HTML coding isn’t sufficient to create a pop-up with the following content warning: “The following theology blog is written by a woman and thus is not appropriate for Christian men to read. If you are male, please click away from this blog immediately. Thank you.”

But consider this your warning. Men, flee the devil and this blog!

boys

I also tried creating a Google filter to restrict readers of my blog to only women. Also, if you are under the age of 12, the filter will let you through. But once you hit 13, it’s over, kid (if you’re a guy). But this ended up not being possible either. I’m just failing at technology these days.

Okay, so none of that is actually true at all. Here’s a slightly more complex take on gender roles in Christianity and what that means for this blog.

I don’t actually know what I believe about women in leadership in the church. By which I mean that I’m not sure where I am emotionally on the subject or where I am in my interpretation of biblical passages. (If you think this issue is clear-cut, try reading some good, scholarly works on the other side and see if you don’t change your mind.) This is one of three theological topics I’m going to think about and research this year. (Yes, I have a list.)

Last week, though, I made a firm conclusion about how Christianity and gender relate: it is not a sin for women to cut their hair.

At age 10, the way I came to that conclusion was by looking around and noticing that a lot of the women in my church had short hair and God wasn’t striking them dead for their blatant sin. So I concluded that what I thought passages like 1 Corinthians 11:14-16.

In this case, that doesn’t seem like a bad way to do things. Because my original conclusion (“I am a sinner for having short hair”) is pretty obviously false.

In the same way, “No males should read this blog” is a conclusion that I think very few people would agree with, even though there are some passages of Scripture that could imply this.

Is it okay to start by saying, “Nope, this conclusion is wrong,” and then looking back at the Bible passage to figure out what it really means (since it couldn’t possibly mean this)?

Is it? Is it?

I get the feeling that ol' Inigo is going to be a regular visitor to this blog.

Exegesis Inigo strikes again!

People on either side of the gender roles debate will often accuse each other of starting with their conclusions about women and picking an interpretation of the Bible that fits with their preconceived ideas.

To some degree, I’d say that it’s pretty much impossible not to do this. In my example with the short hair, it doesn’t seem like a bad strategy. I mean, the conclusion, “Short hair on a woman is a sin” is not logical. Therefore, that can’t be what that passage really means. Any close look at the cultural context would agree that pixie cuts are not inherently evil.

But is this always a good way to do theology?

Force

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force…as if millions of prosperity gospel sermons cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

Let’s bring it right to a specific question.

In all of the churches I’ve been a part of, women were only allowed to teach children or other women. Yet I don’t think those same people, reading my blog, have any problem with me writing about the theology of suffering or worship or spiritual gifts.

My own position on the subject of women teachers is still under development. But let’s say for the sake of argument that I do not believe that women should have leadership or teaching positions in the church.

So, the obvious question is: am I a hypocrite for writing this blog? Not necessarily do you agree with a conservative position on women’s roles in the church, although you can talk about that if you like. But if you were me, how would you reconcile a belief that women shouldn’t teach with a blog that teaches?

(I dare you to answer this one. Or just say whatever comes to mind. Half-thoughts are welcome. This is an opinion poll, not an exegesis forum.)

GO!

 

6 comments

  1. Some main verses used in favor of view of non-women leadership in the church are 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:22-23, which both focus not on the church, but rather men being the head of the household. If this context of submission within a family is able to be equated to a position in the church and teaching through a correlation-proves-causation fallacy, then yes. It would mean that women would have to be submissive to men in all regards. And if so, then you would have to submit your blog posts to a group of stuffy men that sport theological backgrounds and large jowls, who’d make sure you weren’t spreading heresy.

    But I do not believe that idea, or any other idea, can be justly connected through correlation fallacies.

    Also, there are verses pointing out women within the church, especially Phoebe who held the position of deacon (Romans 16:1). If this were a detriment to the church, it’s hard to believe that it wouldn’t have been pointed out and corrected within scripture.

  2. I also don’t know how I feel about this, so this is one theological debate I don’t jump into much. It does, however, make me cry if I think too much about it, so it’s probably something I should address.

  3. Here’s something that’s slightly bizarre. I don’t know where I stand on these issues either, but according to Piper, your blog is okay, because since it is in written form, and you are not directly standing in front of him, and he is not “confronted with your femaleness” you don’t have ‘personal authority” over him, only “impersonal authority”. Your femaleness is mitigated by the written book/blog, and so it’s okay for him to read, learn from, or even quote your work. Which. Something about that is weird.
    http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/do-you-use-bible-commentaries-written-by-women

  4. Amy, I love you and I love your blog, and I’m super excited about this post. I’m actually doing a research paper on creation and the role of women, specifically looking at 1 Timothy 2:11-14. While I can’t really say all of my thoughts here (although my own blog deals with some of these things, too) I have looked into a number of resources on this topic. Craig Keener has a lot of good stuff on this topic, and so does The Junia Project.

  5. Women catechists I’m fine with, but not women as clergy. Call me un-progressive, but it’s worked for hundreds of years that way, and while I’m all for equality, I think that it works, so let’s just keep it…
    Oh, and I also am of the opinion that women wearing skirts and modest outfits promote a better, more respectful atmosphere for worship in general. (That’s just my personal opinion, though, and I’m sure that there are lots of churches where the ladies wear pants and it’s very respectful indeed. 🙂 )

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