Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Women's Day

In keeping with today, I offer the amazing journey of Seminary Mom, a long list of links from Cheese Wearing Theology, the very popular Rachel Held Evans, a new blog Women in Theology, an old friend Jane Stranz, the well-known make feminist Hugo Schwyzer, and the eclectic Political Jesus.

From Kurk Gayle, "some history out of Toronto, Montreal, and back to Vancouver."

And I have also read about Sisters in Service on Kassian's blog.

The biggest question on my mind in regard to women in the world today, is whether the subordination of women in a particular Christian sub-culture in the west, has a negative spin-off effect for women in other countries. Or is it possible that feminism has an equally negative effect? If declaring that women should have equal participation in decision-making is not a positive thing for women, why is it an integral part of World Vision's policy?

So this is what I am wondering. Does it matter on a global scale whether or not Christians in North America consider women as equal participants in decision-making?


Amanda B. said...

I was recently speaking with a coworker and missionary (I'll call him Robert) who has done a lot of work in some small Pacific island-nations mobilizing and organizing prayer ministries. Robert is an egalitarian, but he has never taught on the subject at all. His ministry team was composed of himself (a man in his 60's), three young men and one young woman.

These small nations are extremely, openly patriarchal. Any time Robert and his team ministered or gave practical aid to the women of the community, they were shocked that someone was actually giving them something (particularly the older women). The woman on Robert's ministry team preached regularly, and she labored long hours in individual prayer over the women of the villages they went to. None of it was accompanied by any egalitarian teaching. It was just done.

At the end of the trip, the people were giving Robert & team a send-off celebration. At the end of the gathering, the elder of the church asked one of his young men to pray--but then suddenly stopped him short. "No," he said, completely unprompted, catching everyone by surprise. "This move of God is for the ladies, too. The ladies will help lead." He then instructed one of the young women to pray for the congregation, and she did--with trembling, but she did. The room exploded into violent weeping as everyone felt the holy impact of what was happening. Robert had the presence of mind to whip out the video camera... and it's truly stunning to watch it unfold. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a video that rocked me to the core like that one did.

When Robert was invited back by local leaders, he was required by them to bring more young ladies who could pray for and train their own women to minister and lead.

So this was not a product of gender-role teaching at all. Robert never made a big deal about anything he did (although he did behave in an egalitarian way). But more than anything, I see the work of the Holy Spirit in what happened. The people were not won over by argument. They were not even won over by a sense of social justice. They just recognized the work of God and decided to go for it.

I guess my point is that I can see North American views on women impacting the globe inasmuch as we are cramming international people into American-ized seminaries and forcing them into our mold. But where the work is happening where the people actually are, and the Holy Spirit is moving in powerful ways, I see formal intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual) arguments becoming much less of an issue.

I hope that ended up making sense. :}

believer333 said...

Awesome story Amanda. Thank you so much for sharing it.

His example is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus did not exclude the women, rather whenever possible Christ included women. That's what needs to be done, especially in third world countries and evangelism.

However, in order for some to do it, they need to know that women ministering in everything is Biblical. When God called me to speak forth His Word, I could not move forward in firm commitment until I was certain that it was God that was speaking to me. It was strange, but I knew it was God, yet I had to know it via the Scriptures as well. So I needed the Lord to guide me in a more accurate understanding of those Scriptures that people used to restrain women, which was a lesson in how not to misuse Scriptures as well.

It's time for more Christians to live like Christ's examples, rather than to teach religious 'speak'.

Anonymous said...

Amanda, What a moving story. And I know others who have witnessed similar things. In fact a missionary contacted me a while back because I had written to some friends about "pastoring" and someone sent it to him. He wrote me to say that he planted a church in the jungle and that some women just naturally took on shepherding functions for newer believers as the church grew. It was the real thing...he had never mentioned gender roles, either. They were more mature in the faith and just stepped up to the plate to shepherd newer believers...some males.

I love hearing these things.

I do have very patriarchal missionary family in certain Muslim countries and I do wonder if they are waking up at all. I dare not breach the subject with them. It is a sore spot.

Theophrastus said...

It's a Christian problem. Just imagine -- the ESV Study Bible had 95 contributors with a cumulative total of 190 testicles and zero ovaries. I just guess there aren't any Reformed women qualified to write about the Bible.

For example, it seems there is no Christian woman in the whole wide world more qualified that Rev. Andrew Stewart. Never heard of him? Well it seems he has an M.A. from Covenant Theological Seminary. Also he is the co-pastor of a congregation in Geelong, Australia with about 100 parishioners. I'm sure we can all agree that he is more qualified than every single woman living on the planet.

No wonder that when Continuum decided to start their excellent Feminist Companion series to the Bible, they chose a Jewish editor for the volumes in the Hebrew Bible (Athalya Brenner) series. But get this -- even when they chose an editor for their New Testament volumes, they had to draw on a Jewish scholar (Amy-Jill Levine).

No wonder that there is no popular Christian women's study Bible that even begins to approach the rigor of the Eskenazi and Weiss volume. (Certainly I am not aware of any Christian women's study Bible that prints the text of the Bible in original languages. Little Jewish girls spend their hours after school from ages 3 to 12 learning Hebrew and preparing for their Bas Mitzvah ceremony. What do little Evangelical girls of those ages learn in Sunday School?)

Anonymous said...

I read AJL's book about Jesus, which was basically a long argument why it was eminently reasonable for a Jew to reject Jesus as savior. So that does not look promising for a commentary on the NT.

Plus she got some Jewish context wrong, which surprised me.

Don Johnson

Theophrastus said...

I'm not talking about her popular book; I'm talking about her edited series (consisting of scholarly essays) published by Continuum. I think I have the 15 volumes published to date. They are quite interesting and go far beyond NT topics -- there are also special volumes on Mariology, NT Apocrpha, Church Fathers, etc.

I do think you've mischaracterized her popular volume though!

Anonymous said...

AJL is not a Christian nor a Messianic last time I looked. I was not impressed by her Jesus book, there are other non-messianic Jews who at least get the scholarly stuff on Jesus much better, IMO.

Don Johnson

Marg Mowczko said...

Just want to let Theophrastus know that I wrote a blog entry based on his observations and comments about the all-male contributors to the ESV Study Bible.

J. K. Gayle said...

Many thanks!

Link please?

Anonymous said...

Sue posted a new blog entry with the link to Marg's blog post.

Don Johnson

EricW said...

@J. K. Gayle:

We're almost neighbors. I didn't realize you lived in Fort Worth.

Your languages knowledge leaves me in the dust. I'm envious. :)

Maybe we can meet for coffee sometime. Feel free to email me via my blog (linked from my name).

J. K. Gayle said...

@Don, Thank you!

@Marg, There's a comment at your blog awaiting moderation. Even though it's got a typo, hope it is relevant to your wonderful post.

@EricW, Coffee's a great idea. Just emailed you to say that and how I've appreciated reading your many comments, on Greek (with your remarkable facility in reading that language), on egalitarianism, and other such important and fun topics of life.