This is symptomatic of male privilege to begin with, I begin with that confession, to think that it would be easy to squirt out a reasonable blog post about such a complex topic in evangelical circles. In doing a brief survey, I was overwhelmed at the strength of the emotions expressed by people I would gladly call sisters in the faith.
And then in my “research” I was reminded of this song by Kate Bush that again captured some of the strength and toil of what it means to be a woman. I found it somehow affirming and ironic that Maxwell (a man) covered the song. Here’s a video with the lyrics; it’s actually a beautiful song – check it out:
Now, theology is not my department. I say that knowing that it is a cop-out, but as I’ve mentioned here on the blog before on other issues, there are other areas in the Christian life where the connection between what you think about an issue and how you behave is convoluted. In other words, much like the name of our ministry, Samaritan Way, one of the reasons why the Samaritan is good is that he didn’t have the concern of purity that the priest and the Levite did in reaching out to the apparently dead man on the road. In other words, while I believe that theology is important and doctrine is central to our beliefs, the posture and practice of those notions sometimes should be suspended (not dismissed) when reaching out and walking in the pain of others. As reconcilers, we begin with a sincere heart to listen to the pain. I don’t know what to say to a woman who says emphatically that complementarianism sucks; or that John Piper says it’s OK to listen to Beth Moore; or that as someone who grew up in Korean immigrant churches, I know that women were and are the backbone of many a church. The notion that we are equal in our inheritance in Christ, as we are equal in our depravity, as we are equal in value to the Lord doesn’t seem to quite scratch where egalitarians are itching. And then it seems that complementarians can’t seem to rise above this nervous twitch whenever a woman speaks beyond a traditional role, although there is clearly room to do so. In many cases, the polarized argument becomes either the baby never takes a bath, or we have tons of bathwater and no baby. Or for our purposes, no women in leadership at any capacity or women who are embittered and are more involved with rectifying problems in the church rather than witnessing to the world how great our God is.
As my opening foray into the discussion, I just want to begin by saying, regardless of theological position, there needs to be a loving posture towards the other side. I’m not saying we’ll agree — clearly there’s a difference in hermeneutic here. But what we need to acknowledge is the amount of pain and resentment this discussion can create. Similar to discussions of race and sexuality, there needs to be an awareness of the dimension of privilege and power at work here. And that is the first step. Some of us have never been dismissed out of hand, ever. We walk into a room and immediately feel as though we have the right to speak. But we need to humble ourselves and take on the posture of a servant, laying ourselves low, what is it like to not be asked to speak? What is it to speak and be ignored? What is it like to passed over time after time? Regardless of the “right” answer, a change of posture will change your voice, and the tenor of the conversation.