Monday, August 21, 2006

And This Is News... Why?

Must be a slow news day, what with the manhunt closing down an entire university, JonBenet's killer doing... whatever it is he's doing, Saddam's second trial getting underway, Iran rebuffing the UN with regard to nukes, and other ho-hum, mundane, boring things going on. But for whatever reason, both Fox News AND CNN have found it newsworthy that -- get this -- a church has DARED to prohibit a WOMAN from teaching Sunday school to MEN! (Fox link) (CNN link).

I mean, it's not like it's a Biblical principle or anything. And it's not like Christian churches have a responsibility to teach scripture without adding to or taking away anything from it.

But seriously, though, I'm trying really hard to figure out why this is news. It's a single church in a small town in New York, which just happens to be following the foundational document of its whole and singular purpose as it is written. Many, many, many churches do this already, not the least of which is, oh, the . Some, myself included, would argue that any church which claims to believe in the perfection of scripture must do this. It's not like this is some sort of "new" thing, or noteworthy in any respect.

My only guess is that some AP writer with connections got wind of this (probably from a sympathizer of the poor woman who lost her "job", although I know of no church in existence which actually pays, or even employs in a formal sense, its sunday school teachers), and has an axe to grind with the... ahem... "phallocratic patriarchy" that is the Bible-believing Christian church. (Sorry for that. I was trying to think like an AP writer there for a second).

Sometimes I play coy with my own positions on issues in order to make a point. This time, however, I'll be blunt: It is abundantly clear that a Christian church that claims the Bible as its sole source of theological authority must not allow a woman to take a place of authority over a man within the confines of the church structure. This does not require an elaborate defense to justify: it is God's will as expressed unambiguously in Scripture, and as such, it is not to be questioned (again, with the prerequisite that one believes that Scripture is perfect and authoritative).

Outside the church, all is fair. If a woman can fulfill the role of a job as well as or better than a man, then I'm all for her taking that position, irrespective of her gender. I'd even support women in armed combat if they were required to perform at exactly the same level as men during training and evaluation (and presumaby passed such training and evaluation). Woman President of the United States? Sure, if she's got a proven track record and supports enough of the same positions I do (sorry, Hillary and, sadly, Condi).

Of course, I once had a conversation on this topic which led down a very interesting path: what if there are no men within a church willing or able to lead and/or teach with Godly authority? Should a Godly woman then step up and take command? This leads to a bit of a paradox: while not required to be perfect (Hebrews 5:1-3, for example), church leaders are certainly required to be above reproach, and are definitely held to a higher standard than lay people (1 Timothy 3). Thus, if a woman were to step up to this role, she would be diminishing her character by acting unscripturally, thus reducing her effectiveness in the role. And the Enemy is well known for acting on even a single flaw (in this case, "flexing" Scripture to patch up an emergency) to bring down the Body of Christ.

Not that I believe God, in His infinite wisdom, would never allow such a thing, or even inspire it to happen. After all, it would be a grevious failing of men to allow such a situation to occur in the first place, in which there are no Godly leaders among the men of a church, and in such a situation, perhaps God might require extraordinary measures to rectify the situation. But I leave that in God's hands.

But I will take my point even further. Very popular among Evangelicals right now is an author by the name of Beth Moore. My wife is a big fan. Now, from what my wife tells me, Beth Moore has, from the onset, targeted women in her ministry. I have flipped through one of her books, and it's clearly aimed at women. Let me go out of my way to say that I support that sort of thing wholeheartedly -- in many, many areas, a woman is vastly more qualified to teach and connect with women than any man is or could ever hope to be. Since my wife went through a women's group Bible study written by Beth Moore, she has grown spiritually in amazing ways that have enriched both our lives. So women most assuredly have a Godly place in church ministry.

BUT -- here's where I draw the line -- some men have begun going through her studies as well. This puts the woman certainly in a teaching position above the man, and given the way these sorts of things work, it can also put her in a position of authority over that man as well. To my knowledge, she has never attempted to recruit men into her ministry, and as such, the failing is on the men in this case. But that may also be a failing of our contemporary society, if the teachings of a woman directed at women, regarding women's issues, speaks so strongly to these men. But I won't get into that right now.

Final note: if the woman in the article was teaching sunday school to children who happened to be boys, then I'd probably withdraw my objections altogether. Not that I can verify that this is underscored scripturally, but I hardly think they qualify as "men". Upon my own reading of the Bible as a whole, it seems to me that "children" form a class of people separate from both men and women, and thus, are not covered by the prohibition in 1 Timothy. But I'm willing to be proven wrong on that account.

Update: Apparently all is not as it seems. Forgive the fact that I don't have linkable goodness, but I DID read somewhere last night that the 1 Timothy excuse was merely just that -- a reasonable excuse to terminate the woman's position. Apparently they had other issues with her that were "not fit to discuss in public", and just chose to use that policy as a diplomatic solution to the problem.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Marty said...

I can't prove you wrong, Ben, except that in your final paragraph you speak of 2 Timothy why I think you mean 1 Timothy 2 (verse 12), the leading cite in your post.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Yeah, I made the same typo earlier and had caught it. Thanks for keeping me honest!

12:51 PM  

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