Tomorrow is the second of our Great Debates and is on Women’s Roles in the Church. The first debate was on “Faith and Politics” and went very well. And even after the previous debate came on the coattails of a very emotional election cycle, this debate runs a far greater risk of being the opposite of what we want it to be – divisive. In preparing to moderate this debate, I have done a lot of “Crash Studying” on the issue of women’s roles in the church. And over the last two weeks I have discovered that I am very angry at the Western Church. (Not that it was really a surprise, but still).
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not mad a Christians for gross oversimplifications of SOME of Paul’s writings on Women’s Roles. I am not even mad that this has been used to make women second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. This doesn’t anger me, because I understand the power of assumptions and the power of our upbringing. What instead angers me is our failure to ask questions about scripture. (This of course assumes that a significant number of Christians actually read scripture enough to raise critical questions of it.)
For example, it amazes me that we think Paul has written a mandate to all churches that Women cannot be up-in-front figures in the assembly. Why does that amaze me? Certainly the passage in I Corinthians seems to advocate such a stance! It amazes me because in the SAME LETTER Paul encourages Women to pray aloud in the assembly (while showing reverence) and to Prophecy to the people there. Tell me… how can they do this and remain silent?
It is quite pathetic, not that we continue to hold fast to our old patriarchal culture that is quickly passing away (if not already dead). Instead it is pathetic that we cannot ask this question with any kind of integrity, thoughtfulness, courage, or willingness to be challenged.
I have much love, patience, grace, understanding, and mercy for my brothers and sisters out there that are either patriarchalists or radical feminists (I am neither). But I have no such love, patience, grace, understanding, and mercy for a spirit of idolatry that bows at the feet of their pre-understandings of God’s word.
We worship in the temple of the Lord, in the temple of the Lord, in the temple of the Lord!
This is their mentality. This is their hope. This is their salvation. So be it.