I hope you saw my last post where I suggested books related to current events about race. With all that is going on, maybe I shouldn’t shift back to women in the church (a frequent topic on my blog) but I wanted to share this before I forget to do so.
To be clear, I am egalitarian, but there are a number of soft/mild complementarians that share similar concerns about women not being valued and utilized in the church in the ways God has gifted them. We should be allies with these individuals, as we agree on much, even if they fall short of believing in female ordination. A number of complementarian women speak out, and we should encourage them, as some take heavy criticism. Look at the reaction to Aimee Byrd’s recent book!
Below is something complementarian Elyse Fitzpatrick (@ElyseFitz) recently shared on twitter. Fitzpatrick’s recent book is: Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women. BUT DON’T miss my comments after Fitzpatrick’s challenge, as that is the point/frustration I really want to get to.
“Here’s my challenge: Let every pastor who reads this thread determine to understand what it’s like to be a woman in his church by sending them letters that can be answered anonymously. Ask them,
Do you feel valued in this church?
When I preach do you know that I’m thinking of both men and women or do you constantly have to translate it into your gender?
Is your help valued and sought after by the leaders here (aside from in the nursery and kitchen)?
When decisions are made do you know that women were consulted and their perspectives valued?
Would you feel safe bringing concerns about how women are treated to the leadership of this church, or would you assume we would accuse you of trying to usurp our authority?
Do you feel safe in this church?
Do you know that the leadership of this church would believe you and seek to protect you if you were in an abusive relationship or if you brought concerns to us about abuse?
Is this a safe place for you?
I challenge all pastors, esp you who identify as complementarians, to step up and ask the women you believe you are called to protect, nurture, and lead, these questions. (I’m suggesting mail not email for fear of reprisal and in search of truth). Please. Do it.” – Elyse Fitzpatrick @ElyseFitz
Okay, back to me! Yes, a good challenge for male pastors. I live in the Bible Belt, in an extra conservative area, and I find far too many women around here just would NOT “get” -or- relate to -or- see the need for the above challenge! (Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.)
When I have encouraged women in a similar way, to see their untapped potential for the Kingdom of God?
♦ They view me as “dangerous” – I’m a rabble-rouser! That’s not Christian-like.
♦ They view me as dangerous in another way – that I am going against Scripture about women’s place and role. Indeed, for a woman to even question certain things is sinful, as they are stepping outside of their God-ordained place! That is what Eve did and look what happened! See my review of a book Biblical Femininity published by a large, influential church in my area.
♦ They just view me as odd – why aren’t I content in the nursery?
Some have never seen a woman step outside the spheres of the kitchen, nursery, or women’s ministry. A question that Fitzpatrick asked above about being valued aside from the nursery/kitchen would be viewed as de-valuing such work! “You don’t care about children!” – And, of course, that is not it at all. Some women are gifted and enjoy such, but what about women who are gifted differently and do not enjoy such?
♦ They are stupefied. I remember casually sharing with a husband and wife (who hosted a small group) examples of women in the Scripture doing significantly more than our church (that we attended at the time) permitted. They were pretty close to speechless. They had clearly never heard anyone share such concerns, and had no idea what to say to me.
♦ Or…they try to engage, but quickly retreat, and not because I was forceful or pushy. I have learned to gently and diplomatically approach things in certain situations. In these cases, they are retreating not so much because I am dangerous but that they lack an ability to think – see part 3 of the Biblical Femininity book. Women are “received knowers.” Received knowers rely on an authoritative source to tell them what is right or wrong, and as a result lack critical thinking and reasoning skills. They lack an ability to engage in thoughtful discussion.
I often feel so very frustrated by this area of the south!
And this is NOT just about getting women to see their value and capabilities simply for the sake of it. Definitely not! The mission of the church is at stake.
When half the church is de-valued, under-utilized, and too many women are unable to even see their potential for the kingdom of God, the church is not functioning in the fullness God intended for it. God imparted spiritual gifts to be utilized in the church and for His glory, and when women’s gifts are restrained or limited to one narrow corner of ministry – the church is hampered.
Pray for this stronghold to be broken in the evangelical churches!
And in egalitarian churches too! What?!
Yes, sadly there are churches that are egalitarian officially, yet women are still not valued in their churches! Women with potential, perhaps with teaching/preaching gifts, are not encouraged and often overlooked for men.
Perhaps certain books, especially ones by soft/mild complementarian women, could get some of these women to start thinking, wake up…to notice their chains! I’ve not read all these books, but have observed the authors to be a voice and challenge for women in their complementarian spheres.
When Life & Beliefs Collide -or- Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
(James avoids labels like comp or egal but is a strong voice for women in the church.)
Books by Aimee Byrd, such as: No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God
Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book: Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women
Books by Wendy Alsup, such as: Is the Bible Good for Women?
Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society by Rachel Miller
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