Saturday, April 29, 2006

The contradictions of history

I wouldn't be so worried about one mens only conference, Together for the Gospel, but I received an email from Florida today. It contained this.
    One of our Bible teachers, a girl, was not able to get a job in any other Christian Reform school to teach high school Bible because she's not a man.
Here is a story from 100 years ago.

    Elizabeth Hammond was born into a Plymouth Brethren family in Ottawa in 1873. In 1899, she was the first woman to graduate with an MA in classics from McGill University and later went on to teach classics at McGill. So one of the first women to lecture in Greek in Canada belonged to the Plymouth Brethren.

    In 1905 she married a widowed friend of her fathers, a labouring brother and preacher in the Brethren. He fell into financial difficulties and was excommunicated. She worked to support him until he died. Much later she remarried but never returned to the Brethren. She eventually attended an Anglican church so she could at least 'listen to a man speak who had a modicum of education.'
Well that is what she told me. Today I read that women must not teach any Bible related topic to males in the Christian community, but must remain at home and nurture their children. Elizabeth Hammond, my great-aunt, never had any of her own children, but she did entertain me with her stories those last few years. She also knit an afghan for my bed, embroidered with children dancing in an circle. I have it still.

Such are the contradictions of history.


Michael F. Bird said...

Suzanne, for your info, I have posted my thoughts on the T4G prohibition.

bobbie said...

I am curious that a man who would not allow your aunt to speak or teach in public would allow her to (the HEAD of the household) to assume his duties as provider.

The inconsistencies of the stand complementarians take publically compared to the truth of what is really lived out in their homes is staggering to me. It was one of the biggest stumbling blocks I faces as a young teen. Watching my bright, articulate mother being so limited by the brethren church, while my father who feared leadership, public speaking and had NO public spiritual gifts was shamed, pushed and prodded into his turn at the podium.

Life at home was so inconsistent to the stand they took publically. I resented my mother because she seemed unable to be the 'wilting flower' and loathed my weak father because he wasn't the strong spiritual leader I felt was required by this kind of teaching. It was horribly confusing.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I don't think of it that way at all and I have posted again about Elizabeth Hammond. I always thought that he had married her for her intellect and appreciated it.

Yes, complememntarians are terribly inconsistent and I think that men suffer very much from the stereotyping of the sex roles. How discouraging for everyone involved. Only a few alpha males emerge as leaders and the rest just tag along or suffer exclusion.

It is very confusing but I believe that comeplementarianism, as such, was unknown in the older generations of our family. Rather they were traditional and more pragmatic. I do understand your confusion. Complementarianism really does distort the gender roles.