Thursday, June 11, 2009

My position on women's issues

I want to put out there a very simple representation of my views on women's issues.

1) I believe that a patriarchal (male authority) marriage is in the same category as slavery. It should not be allowed and women should not have to use exegesis to prove this anymore than a slave should be required to use exegesis to disprove the justness of slavery. IMO it is morally wrong to use exegesis, moral suasion, doctrinal teaching or any other argument or moral or physical force to subjugate a woman.

2) I believe women should be able to fill all positions in the church, as men are. However, I do not regard it as an injustice when this is absent. I don't really have a strong position on this but I do attend an egalitarian church.

3) I don't think men and women are the same, and I don't think I have met anyone who does think that.


J. L. Watts said...


Please excuse this question if it is 'off the wall' but can you define 'male authority' for me.

I do not believe in the subjugation of women, of that 'wives' are more like property, of the traditional understanding of 'head of the house' - let me state that; yet, in roles given to each I do believe.

I believe that I have the rule over my wife; yet, I also believe that I must submit myself to my wife. If I take the example provided by Paul, according to my youthful tradition, then Christ is Lord and yet does not subjugate the Church, so then must I as the husband must not lord, subjugate, of enslave my wife. This is different than my youth, but I am trying to have a correct understanding of marriage.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Oh well. It sounds like you believe in some kind of mutual submission so that's okay.

I do think that men and women have to live out their lives by different guidelines. But I don't see that this is any reason for the male to rule. Quite the opposite, in fact. If there are matters which belong uniquely women, then it is highly inappropriate for a man to rule in these things.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Oops. I didn't define male authority. I try not to think about it. I mean that I think it is immoral to assign authority to an individual based on gender.

J. L. Watts said...

Suzanne, I think we are somewhat on the same page.

Not to bore you with the details, but I have seen the destruction of the 'submit ye to me' mentality, so I read Scriptures for myself.

We have a balanced marriage, I hope and pray, trying to love as we believe God would have us. Thanks for the continued dialog with this die-hard fundamentalist.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I don't want to make anyone feel defensive about their own life. That was the farthest thing from my mind. I simply do not want women to ever be taught to accept a one-way submission situation. I am against the public teaching of the submission of women. That is what I am talking to.

I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren and my father was a diehard fundamentalist till he died recently. Authority and submission were not factors in my parents happy and longlasting marriage so, oddly I don't necessarily equate the two.

I just wanted to make my position open and post it somewhere so no one would be taken aback when I get vehement about certain things, and not other things.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

What I mean is that I don't necessarily equate the submission of women and die-hard fundamentalism.

J. L. Watts said...

Suzanne, I completely understanding - no offense taken whatsoever.

The problem with the internet, is that my smirk just doesn't come across well - I reckon I should have said, 'die-hard fundamentalist.'

Suzanne McCarthy said...

oops again! That's funny.

Theophrastus said...

(1) The analogy between patriarchy and slavery is poor. Slaves can be bought and sold; one may own multiple slaves; slaves may be held by corporate bodies; slaves require a redemption price to be separated from their arrangement; and, of course, there is a strong Biblical mandate for slavery.

In relationships, different types pairs of people may prefer different roles. One hopes that these would be clear well before entry into a serious relationship; more so a marriage. (Failure to do this will result in a lot of unhappiness.) For example, I cannot possibly be the only man who desires a spouse who will be a sartorial dictator (especially in view of my large collection of gag ties -- please, save me from myself!) However, no such role can be unconditional -- people never can give up their right to have an independent opinion and dignity.

We all know the horrific statistics: 29% of all Canadian women and 22% of all American women are victims of abuse from an intimate partner. I can only imagine that almost all of those perpetrating violence are eager to assuage their guilt by coming up with cockamamie theories that exonerate them from their guilt -- thus the bad exegesis.

(2) I do not agree that in an era with freedom of religious choice there is a reason to impose standards on ritual roles in a church -- any more than outsiders should legislate transubstantiation. However, I do believe that religious information and education should be available to all -- keeping women ignorant of religion or not allowing them to develop a spiritual side is unconscionable. (Note that this is an area where there is evolution of thought -- e.g., the IRS's threat to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Mormon Church for not ordaining blacks led a prompt "divine revelation" that blacks could be priests.)

(3) It is not satisfying to say "men and women are different" because any two groups of people are different (e.g., I could say Canadians and Americans are different). Explaining how men and women are different is the more interesting question (e.g., Candians and Americans are different because Canadians are 32% more abusive of women.)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

people never can give up their right to have an independent opinion and dignity.

That says it all. Thank you.