Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pecking Order

I am fascinated by lists. This is a list of what women can do according to this chapter of a certain book. The book states that women cannot teach, lead or have authority over men. So what can they do? Here is "the list' below. (abridged)

Now, when I examine the list, I feel that I am playing poker. A man trumps a woman, but a woman trumps a blind man. What about a deaf man? Definitely a retarded man - I get that - they are down the list. And women trump alcholics, drug-users, runaways, imprisoned - oops nope, back up, only female prisoners. A male prisoner trumps a woman, any woman.

Writing - a woman can write, right - fiction, non-fiction, editing, journalistic skills (maybe that means shorthand, that is, the woman could take down the interview in shorthand, but not actually conduct the interview) Another question, is theology fiction or non-fiction?


Ministries to the handicapped
Hearing impaired

Ministries to the sick
Hospice care-cancer, AIDS, etc.
Community health

Ministries to the socially estranged
Emotionally impaired
Recovering alcoholics
Recovering drug-users
Escaping prostitutes
Abused children, women
Runaways, problem children

Prison ministries
Women's prisons
Families of prisoners
Rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth
Open houses and recreation
Outings and trips
Academic assistance

Writing ministries

Curriculum development
Institutional communications
Journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries
Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
Grade school
High school


Peter Kirk said...

I don't get it. A woman can minister to prisoners if they are women, but to prisoners' families without gender restriction. She can minister to the lame as well as the blind, as if such physical limitations make people inferior to women. And she can even teach Sunday School to students, and ones who are not included in "children, youth" and so are adults. I don't get it either.

See also my comment on a previous posting concerning a complementarian woman in my church.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Families are just the women and children. The man is the prisoner and the others are the family. Don't you think?

A woman cannot teach Sunday School to adult males.

When I read the part about the lame, deaf and so on, it almost made me cry to think that the author considers that these handicaps impinge on the maleness of the person. This relates to something in the OT ritual, that a man who is not physically complete and without blemish, a limp or anything even minor cannot be a priest.

Peter Kirk said...

Well, one might think that these authors were so much into gender stereotyping that they assumed all prisoners were male, but they have just mentioned women's prisons, so obviously they are not making that assumption. Don't women prisoners ever have husbands? It seems that having a criminal wife must be added to blindness and lameness as a disqualification from being considered above a woman. Mind you, I suppose there is some logic in that, in that a man with a criminal wife is clearly not being a good head to her!

Well, can a college student not be an adult male? After all, those who are not adults or are women are separately included among those who a woman can teach in Sunday School, so the point of including "students" in this list must be that a woman can teach Sunday School to adult males as long as they are students. So I suppose there is an added qualification here that a man must have finished his education before being head over women.

It seems to me that there is an incredible raft of assumptions being made here, some cultural and some perhaps taken from the Old Testament qualifications for priesthood.

Peter Kirk said...

To be fair to John Piper, who wrote this piece, he does end his list with "I realize this list is incomplete and reflects my own culture and limitations." Indeed. And the ministries he lists are indeed "Biblically appropriate and deeply needed." My only quarrel is with the implication that certain other ministries are not biblically appropriate.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

According to this book, a woman can teach in a college, but not in a seminary. Maybe a woman can teach non-Christians but not Christians, or maybe a woman could teach a man how to compose an essay because that would be a journalistic skill, but not teach Greek because that moves into the theological realm. I am pretty sure that these men have made statements on where to draw the lines.

Of course, I work with people who have some disabilites and I love my job. I have taught in many other capacities but I do enjoy my current job.

What makes me the most upset is the thought that being deaf impacts on a man's masculinity. Or many of the other things mentioned.