Monday, June 05, 2006

John G Stackhouse

I had put this on the backburner but it is important. On May 10, 2006 I attended a forum at Regent College titled Why Women Don't Lead featuring Maxine Hancock, John Stackhouse and Jeremy Bell among others.

John Stackhouse is the author of Finally Feminist. This book has recently been discussed by Susan Wise Bauer, here on April 8th. She comments that she hopes to review it soon. Her post has created a bit of a ruckus. First, Gender News featured an article of concern about her written by Jeff Robinson. Then Ligon Duncan jumped in on May 26. No doubt others are worried as well.

The event at Regent was pivotal for me. It echoed my reactions the very first day I read a complementarian statement in 1991. This is the statement, written by John Piper in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, his uppercase, not mine!

    AT THE HEART OF MATURE FEMININITY IS A FREEING DISPOSITION TO AFFIRM, RECEIVE AND NURTURE STRENGTH AND LEADERSHIP FROM WORTHY MEN IN WAYS APPROPRIATE TO A WOMAN'S DIFFERING RELATIONSHIPS.
My reactions in 1991 were that of intense disgust at the sexual nature of this statement. I was not exposed to this kind of teaching again for many years after that, but was strongly reminded of it when I first started reading the Biblioblogs last fall. I was shocked, truly shocked and angered, at the language some men are using in talking about women.

So on May 10, I heard John Stackhouse speak. He is a Canadian former Plymouth Brethren, close to my age, who has taught in a secular university and is now at a Regent College. Since coming to Regent and being in contact with the wider North American Christian community he has become increasingly aware of how other Christians are talking about women.

In his talk he said that he was taken aback by the language that he heard being used about women, especially the terms 'receivers and responders'.

    "What is that about?" he said, "using the language of the sex act to talk about women in church. Are nursing mothers receivers anyway? This is ridiculous." [He just wasn't prepared to say any more on that topic, we are Canadian after all.]
Then he added,

    "Men must repent of their sexual reading of women."
And he talked about his sister.

Jeremy Bell, Baptist Union of Western Canada, was even more vociferous on this point. He said that we must absolutely not tolerate the 'immature and socially unacceptable language' that is being used about women today.

    "Women have to try out their voices and be angry and be unhappy, and men have to sit and listen to their pain."
He went on to say that men and women must be brothers and sisters, gendered but not sexualized. He continued to talk about his four sisters, what must they be thinking. God bless him. Woman is sister again.

He turned and asked Maxine what she did with her anger. She replied that she had been angry for a while, but she had passed her anger on. (I feel it is time to lay my anger down. I don't really wish it on anyone else.)

Jeremy then lost it, really, and said that these ideas were,

    "a stinking lesion, the elephant in the room."
He was now in the ballpark of my own reactions.

I had never heard of these men before, but they echoed closely my own thoughts and feelings. I had written an email last fall explaining to someone that I felt sexually harassed by the way some men talked about women in the Christian community, in a way that I had never experienced in secular society. I was glad to hear Stackhouse and Bell confirm my feelings.

Oddly, when I first voiced similar feelings on this blog a few months ago, a women remarked that I was a good example of how emotional women were, and that is why women should not be teachers and elders. Ha! These were men, men from my own cultural community, and they expressed their emotions considerably more publicly than I have.

Anyway, I feel better now. As Susan Bauer said,

    "sometimes discussions about the reliability of the Bible are actually discussions about men’s fears of women"
    Jeff Robinson of Gender News denies this. What can I say? They have some problem. Their problem is not my problem.

    This isn't even about whether women should be ordained. Far from it. This is about getting all that blech language cleaned up.

    Anyway, please note that I write about 'some men'. I am not painting with a wide brush. It is great to see a growing community of egalitarian men who are willing to dialogue about this topic. It is much appreciated.

    Read Susan Bauer's post and Robinson's response for a better idea of what John wrote in Finally Feminist.

    Addenda: Since I never did learn shorthand this is not taken from an exact transcription of the talk. It is close but not exact. The CD can be ordered from Regent College for $5.00.

    The room was well-filled, about one third men and two thirds women. The woman sitting beside me was knitting a pair of red socks.

    7 comments:

    Karen said...

    It is most frustrating to be confronted with the language of men who would subordinate women. I can't change them; only God can change their hearts and paths. But, thank God that He is now showing us that there are many mature men who are standing with us in this battle for the Truth! I hang onto this aspect of that battle...and onto the words of men and women who know that Truth.
    Keep going, Suzanne.....

    Acadia Divinity College said...

    You can purchase the audio cd's or dvd's of Stackhouse's lectures of which Finally Feminist came from from Acadia Divnity College as well. adc.acadiau.ca

    Lolly said...

    Suzanne, could you please provide some examples of the sexual language you are talking about? I guess I'm blessed, because I'm married to an egal. man and attend church in an egal. denomination. I don't have any idea of what you are talking about. I'm not the only one. Somebody linked to your blog in an egal. forum, and other people are saying the same thing.

    And, please don't take this the wrong way, but I don't understand what is so sexual about Piper's statement. Perhaps you could clarify that?

    Suzanne McCarthy said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Sorry Lolly,

    I am actually thinking of taking down this post. Not because I disagree with it but I am not really up to discussing it. Thanks for asking though. My email is in my profile if you like.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    I have discussed this post with John Stackhouse and he encouraged me to leave it posted so it will remain posted.

    This post is a reflection of very deep damage that women can experience when they find themseles talked about as those who 'should affirm, receive and nurture strength from worthy men."

    How should a woman relate to a man who is not her husband? Treat him as a brother only.

    A woman is a leader and actor in her own right, in missions and the workplace. She relates directly to God.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    I have discussed this post with John Stackhouse and he encouraged me to leave it posted so it will remain posted.

    This post is a reflection of very deep damage that women can experience when they find themselves talked about as those who 'should affirm, receive and nurture strength from worthy men."

    How should a woman relate to a man who is not her husband? Treat him as a brother only.

    A woman is a leader and actor in her own right, in missions and the workplace. She relates directly to God.