Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Woman’s Place is in the...

In a recent book on marriage, sex and friendship by a prominent US pastor, the story of Queen Easter is referred to. The biblical character Vashti is criticized for not submitting to her husband by refusing to parade around naked in front of his drunken friends!? Meanwhile Esther is praised for graciously submitting, by illegally requesting an audience with her husband, who she was forced to marry after he slept with hundreds of other concubines to pick his favorite?! Esther is exemplified as she illustrates ‘the repeated command across all Scripture that wives respectfully submit to their husbands and removes any excuse we have for disrespecting our husbands.’ This whole argument fails massively to understand the context of that story and is picked up by Rachel Held Evans in her blog post ‘Esther and Vashti: The Real Story.’

In her post Evans makes the comment that ‘the modern biblical womanhood movement isn’t as concerned with returning to biblical womanhood as it is with returning to 1950s, pre-feminist America.’ This made me laugh and prompted me to post a couple of lines on a woman’s place actually being...

In my experience there seems to be two schools of thought in regards to biblical womanhood. One camp declares woman of God to be warrior princesses who are epitomized by the woman of Proverbs 31. They are called to be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, the lender and not the borrower. They are to preach, teach, pray, role model, sort their home out, be beautiful, lead and basically ‘grab life by the balls.’

There seems to be a large degree of ignorance in regards to Proverbs 31 being a personification of wisdom not of a ‘biblical’ woman. Both women and men should aspire to develop wisdom in their lives and its accompanying characteristics as described in Proverbs 31. Or, in other words, men should aspire to be Proverbs 31 women as well! This camp is obviously egalitarian and sees women and men as being equal in value and dignity, different obviously in genetic makeup etc, but more than capable of functioning in any role within society or church or the family setting.

The other camp wants women to sit in quiet submission to their husbands. Here woman are simply not allowed to preach or teach, though they can teach other woman or children, they just can’t teach men. And they are not allowed to read the bible out loud in church if you want to have a look at a link about this. This camp is obviously complementarian and hold to the view that God has created men and women equal in value and dignity and worth, but different, complementary, in function. Men have been called to exercise headship in the home and in the church while women are called to different and complementary functions. It seems to me that the different and complementary functions can be all and everything, from serving in the armed forces, to a political role such as a Prime Minister or President or Congresswoman, to being a stay home mum. Just not heading a home or a family or teaching or preaching (or reading the bible out loud) in church.

I’m obviously an egalitarian. Surely though the choice is not between Egalitarian Proverbs 31 Super Woman and Complementarian 1950’s House Wife? Not a choice between throwing woman into the lime light or hiding woman in the back ground?

My vote is for an egalitarian culture of support, encouragement, admonishment, love, grace, forgiveness, second chances, empowerment and equipping that allows women (and men) to lean into that which inspires, motivates, grips their heart, enlivens and stirs them. Let’s help both women and men to lean into the gifts, talents, abilities and deep passions that they have and to be the best in the niche that they best fit in. Let’s challenge and encourage those (women and men) that sit back when they should stand up, but not force people to be that which they are not gifted, called, inspired or motivated to be. The ideal ‘ministry couple’ is a myth.

Like for men then, a woman’s place is actually the place they feel God has called, gifted and anointed them to be. And like for men, this place is usually worked out in conversations with others, parents, one’s spouse, and with men and women of maturity. And like for anyone, age, stage, gifts, training, anointing, abilities, character, maturity etc are all factors.

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