Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Runaway Women

For thousands of years, the Bible has been misused to keep women in bondage. Many early church leaders who have been revered and quoted in sermons throughout the ages held these repressive views and weren't afraid to proclaim them. Listen to these actual quotes from some people that no doubt, your pastor has probably quoted at some point in his/her messages. (I'm sure they probably did not use these particular quotes - and may even have no idea these people held such views. Many people don't realize what I'm about to tell you. They usually quote these men concerning other issues that have nothing to do with women or equality.)

"Take up a stick and beat her, not in rage, but out of charity and concern for her soul, so that the beating will rebound to your merit and her good."
~ Friar Cherubino
(on what a husband should do if his wife does not respond to verbal correction.)

"Woman must neither begin nor complete anything without man:where he is, there she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to who she shall be subject and obedient." ~ Martin Luther

"Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex, while production of woman comes from defect in the active force."
~ Thomas Acquinas

"God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matters to the woman."
~ Early church father John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407)

"Men should not sit and listen to a woman, even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things. That is of little consequence, since they come from the mouth of a woman."
~ Origen, the early church Father (A.D. 185-254)

and my personal "favorite"...

"Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips and accordingly, they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Woman ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon, keep house and raise children."
~ Martin Luther

As "fathers of the faith" abused and twisted the scripture to suit their own carnal and selfish desires, they suppressed women for thousands of years only to have them finally break free. But to what? Did they really break free? Well, from many unhealthy things, yes. Through the equal rights movement, the right to vote was gained, as well as equal pay for equal work (well, acutally we're still working on that one!), equal opportunities in the workplace, and equal rights with men in general.

Unfortunately with the women's liberation movement very unbiblical things such as man hating and bashing, abortion, and stupidity such as bra burning also came along. That's a shame for without these unbiblical factors, the women's movement would be nothing but positive.

For many years, so called men of God twisted scriptures and held extremist and abusive views. Yet,they continued to be revered by some and even quoted in sermons as "fathers of our faith." Do you know how many sermons I've sat through over the years where Martin Luther has been quoted? If these are the fathers of our faith, it's no wonder so many women have run away from home over the years. What I mean by that is that they have not only gotten the idea that they don't need men and have run away from their natural homes and families but many have also run away from the house of God. What a tragedy.

Not only have many church leaders who are now dead remained on a pedestal after oppressing women, but new leaders who have emerged over the years who are alive today and hold these archaic views are also trumpeted as men of God to be respected. Add to that the myopic systems in place in many churches today that practically shout, "we don't want you here!" to women and it's no wonder why many sisters have run away from the family of God and never returned.

I was visiting a church and at the close of the service, they issued a reminder announcement that at all the men of the church would be meeting in the fellowship hall. I questioned the person who was my host at the service and said, "are they having a men's brunch or a special event?" They said, "no, it's a specially called church business meeting." I was a little shocked and said, "oookkkayyyy...and why are they calling only the men to the fellowship hall?" She said, "they are going to vote and take care of the business of the church." I said, "where are the women going? She said, " well if they are single they will just leave, and if they are married they will wait for their husband in the sanctuary or foyer or they will just go on home to prepare lunch and wait for them." I was shocked. You might think this was 20 or 30 years ago but I'm sad to say it was in just the past few years and the church was a part of a major, well respected denomination.

People today sometimes wonder why so many women have left the family of God. Some churches needn't ask. There's a lot of talk today about relevance and how important it is for the church to be such. There's nothing more relevant biblically or culturally today than the equality of women. Jesus is all about equality but so is any relevant church. Many women know they are not welcome in the body of Christ as equals and they'll be more than happy to take their talents elsewhere and invest their time and resources in a place that fully celebrates them.

I never quote any of the above church "fathers" nor a few others like them when preaching except for an illustration such as I'm giving in this post. I wouldn't put them on a pedestal or quote them any more than I would a guy in a white hooded gown who burned a cross on somebody's front lawn. It's time the church stop tolerating prejudice in any form...otherwise we can expect more runaways. Seriously folks, can you imagine a woman coming to your church who is a VP at Bank of America, going home or waiting in the sanctuary for her husband while he goes off to 'cast his vote and do the business of the church?" No. I can tell you, that's a definite NO. I can tell you definitively because I've been privileged to pastor a woman who was a VP at Bank of America and one of the first things she said upon becoming a member was, "one of the reasons I chose to become a member here of this particular church was because it was evident there is no glass ceiling. Being that the church has a female co-pastor and women on the board, I know this is a church that fully embraces the equality of women and that's very important to me." That woman was not alone. Over the years, we have received that comment from many, many women who are searching for a place to belong. Some ran away from home but are searching for a place once again where they might be welcome to do more than work in the nursery, sing in the choir or run the church bake sale.

Churches can keep the men going to the fellowship hall and the ladies outside waiting...they can keep them out of pastoral leadership, off the board, out of key leadership roles in the church... but eventually all that will be left in those churches as far as women are concerned are those who can their own vegetables and have about 100 denim jumpers in their closet with apples on them.


Deb said...

I am grateful to find your blog/s/ as a woman seminarian and pastor. And I'm following you both on Twitter. :)

Camaraderie and encouragement to pursue my Call via the internet. Who knew?

God, apparently.


Anonymous said...

So much "word" to this blog!!!

The other thing that irks me is being at pastors' meetings where the female pastors are automatically lumped in with the pastors' wives, who are ushered into a room to do a craft or something while the men take care of the business/spiritual aspect of the meeting.

Contrast that with a trade assocation I worked for briefly after college - When planning the annual convention, my boss made a point of planning sessions for the spouses that treated them intelligently (i.e. how to wisely invest their money, planning for retirement, etc) instead of just shuffling them off to the Mall of America.

The logic behind this was that these were intelligent, professional women who had probably taken time off from work to attend this convention with their husband, and while the trade association meetings probably didn't hold any interest for them, it would be an insult to their intelligence to just do an "arts and crafts" session or something.

Of course some of the wives I spoke with DID take a day and go to the Mall of America or the spa, but at least we provided them with a logical choice.

The church could definitely take a cue from the corporate world!!

Deanna Shrodes said...

Deb, welcome, it's so good to have you here! what a blessing.

Leanne, I couldn't agree with you more! Part of my issue is also that I am a pastor's wife, but I did not want to be in the "pw meeting" separated from the pastors. (But no one would have understood that because I am a pastor's wife.) For years the way our sectional meetings would go, the men would be in the main meeting handling "pastoral business and discussion" and the presbyter's wife would take all the women in another room and everyone would go around the room and share what's going on in their life/how they are doing/and then they would pray. While that was nice as a general idea and some would say, 'thank God the presbyter's wife took initiative and did something (and I agree with that) the issue was that female pastors were just thinking the whole time of what they were missing in the other room -- which was what they related to most.

Sad to say but in such cases I usually just end up going to the office and skipping those kind of meetings. Thanks be to God I don't have to worry about that right now - we have a presbyter who I feel very confident will never do that.