Thursday, November 2, 2006

Leave Your Balls At The Door, Please.

It's feminist's week here at North Park, which means that angry middle-aged women stand up and tout the evils of white middle class men, resorting to name calling before Biblical excellence. They do serve a nice spread though.

The "Women's Luncheon" today was to promote Christian (jhem) Feminism, but as any single male will tell you, it doesn't matter what the occassion is, if there's food, they're there. It started with fruit salad and wraps- a good femeal, complete with the vegetarian selection. There was beef though, which I ate with my bare hands, letting the juices run down my chin, or at least I would have. Ending with cookies big enough to send any diabetic reaching for the needle.

Mainly it was a discuss... no, dialo... no, monologue, there we go, a monologue about what the Covenant (ECC) is doing to combat "sexist bigotry" (as was stated the day before). They have a commission publishing material appealing to the emotions, with poor, which is generous, exegesis. It seems that they are seeking to move this issue, which has typically been held in the proverbial "open hand" of the Covenant to the closed fist. Those that are in charge of interviewing and ordaining for the ECC are making this an essential. We talked about ECC polity a week ago and this can't happen.

I asked-- because I'm really struggling with this, amongst other, issues if I should go into the ECC-- what was the future of complementarian pastors/churches in the Covenant? They will increasingly be marginalized and separated from the rest of the ECC. Is that a denomination that I want to go into? Is it an issue that I'm willing to separate over?

Fortunately, that decision may already be made for me.

11 comments:

hg said...

Hi. I am not at the Seminary but am Covenant and your comments showed up in technocrati since I have it look for bloggers talking about the Covenant. Sounds to me (and I'm just guessing) that you feel judgement coming at you (at men?). And feeling judged makes a person angry or at least judgemental in return. Sorry it's not a dialogue. Hope you find ways of dialogue and seeing both your pain around this issue and their pain as well! Pain = judgement = pain in another = judgement back. But that's all my opinion. So dialogue back! I'll read it.

Mark Grapengater said...

HG-

I'm definately bent out of shape on this issue, not so much that it's being promoted so heavily, but because the sense is there is NO room for conversation on the issue and by being a complementarian, I am a "sexist bigot" (and that's a direct quote from an assistant superintendent).

I disagree fundamentally at a Biblical level. I don't see the interpretation of such passages as Gal. 3:28, their treatment of Eph. 2, etc. as valid. They are extrapolating verses on salvation to apply to gender issues. If we interprete Gal. 3:28 as there being no distiction between the genders, then this allows for homosexuality, because there's no difference then between a man loving a woman and a man loving a man (read "loving" as "engaged in a sexual act"). So at the basic premise of the issue, I take issue.

It's not an issue of worth for me, but a role distiction. How does that work out? Throughout John, Jesus says, I do not do my will but the will of him who sent me. I do not do my own will but the will of the Father. Jesus is not then made inferior to the Father, but he does fall under his authority.

Also, to clarify, I blog with much sarcasm. Whether that's correct or not, I can't say, but it makes for an entertaining read.

Grace and peace to you, HG. Thanks for reading my blog.

Heidi said...

One of my favorite definitions of salvation is in a book called "Leaving Church" by Barbara Brown Taylor. She said salvation is divine spaciousness in tight places. And this for you sounds like a very tight space. Something to grieve or rage about to be sure. In these kinds of dialogues I find polarizing does not make space. I hear your wrestling and how painful it was to be judged. I also hear how you are wrestling with scripture. I imagine there are values we share (like a strong respect for scripture) and I also see some more gray here than you. It is not because I don't respect scripture, but because I also respect the excruciating pain I see in women who feel called. Gay people who have tried for years and years to "get healed" and are still trying and still in pain. It all makes me hope for some dialogical way for you to feel heard AND for women in ministry or those struggling with all manner of issues homosexuality and others to talk without a re-wounding or adding to the pain...Yours or others.

You mentioned how Jesus says, I do not do my will but the will of him who sent me. I do not do my own will but the will of the Father. The first thing this makes me think of is, what does it mean to love God and love people who don't think like us. How many thousands of people have left church and left God because they, just like you, had so little room for conversation. Scripture is so very important AND all points on the mammoth continuum on this topic need room for conversation. Neither their judgment of you or your of their views will change either of your minds. But maybe movement and space happens through both sides not judging people into places of change, but instead asking where is God in the middle of this dissonance in the church.

Matt said...

Mark,
I feel like I should respond since yesterday I leveled an accusation of sexism against those who oppose women in leadership. First off, let me say that as I debate "complimentarians" I would hope to do so in a respecful manner as scripture instructs (1 Peter 3.15), and if you truly felt unfairly treated (as a complimentarian)at yesterday's forum I'd appologize (though being a man myself I have to say I felt no ill-will from women simply because of my Y-chromosome). I'd ask you though to remember that our sisters in ministry have been subject to millenium of oppression, and thus the fervent energy they have for the cause of equality is not without cause.

You mentioned that you see the Covenant's argument for gender equality to be based on a flimsy exegesis of Galatians 3. If that were the only basis for women in leadership, I might be inclined to agree with you. But it is not. I'd invite you to see Klyne's paper on the topic, Jay Phelan's book, or any of the materials at cbeinternational.org for a more comprehensive case for women in ministry.

One of the biggest problems of this debate is the fact that the burden of proof has been placed on egalitarianism. If one wants to put limitations on the ability of 50% of the population, then the stakes of such a claim require that "complimentarians" be able to make a consistent argument that (1) complimentarianism is not fundamentally un-equal and (2) it can be based in the witness of scripture beyond a handful of "proof-texts". Many verses can be utilized to justify the institution of slavery, but Christians have discerned that the principals of equality and liberation found throughout the Bible trump proof-texts. Additionally, the "complimentarian" argument professes eqaulity, but the burden of proof again needs to be on this camp to make the case that placing limitations on women's leadersship potential for no reason but gender is not fundamenally sexist.

With regards, respect, and esteem.

Mark Grapengater said...

Matt,

The problem is that there is sexism out there. There a dudes that are beating their wives, that are telling them they're worth nothing and the only reason they exist is to be a recepticle for them.

THIS IS NOT MY POSITION. But unfortunately I get lumped in with these hosers, because I advocate for men to stand up and be freakin' men. To be strong and to take leadership in the difficult times. It takes a lot of freakin' balls to do that and not just sit there with their hands down their pants.

I do want to stress the often overlooked flipside of the issue. If men are to be men of God, then they need to be it fully. They need to heed such passages as Ephesians 5:25-33. Dudes, love your wives as Christ loved the Church. This means dying for her. Serving her. Caring for her. This is not the misogynistic behavior that I get accused of endorsing.

For the equality, I use the Trinity as the prime example as stated in my response to HG. I mentioned this to one of my female friends here and she said that didn't work for her, but we haven't had a chance to sit down over that one yet.

I have picked up Phelan's book, but so far I've only perused it. I want to know the position as fully as possible. I don't mind being challenged, otherwise I would have left North Park after a semester (I did try by the way, but God has other plans!). I hope that I do engage others gracefully and respectfully in debate/conversation at appropraite times and situations. My blog, however, is not one of those places.

Keep the comments coming. I love it.

I love you, Matt.

Devyn said...

Mark,

Just a couple things. First of all you mention attending the forum in hopes of dialogue but that you did not engage in the dialogue you had hoped for. The forum you attended was a forum sponsored by the Covenant's Commission for Gender Equality, if you were hoping for a discussion on the Covenant's stance on the position of women in ministry then you were at the wrong forum. The discussion on the Covenant's official stance was determined in 1976 and is in no threat of being over turned. Discussion surrounding this issue occurs at the seminary but that was not the purpose of the forum so expecting that to occur there is unfounded. The forum was not there to discuss the validity of Women's Ordination but rather to dialogue about how better to implement the Covenant's official stance.

There are many other theological arguments I could make......

I do agree that people, men included, should take more responsibility and leadership. I will say that some of the strongest and integrous men I know are not threatened by the strength and calling of a woman. Strength of character, or 'balls' as you describe it, does not always mean take charge leadership. A wise person of strong character does not grasp for leadership as their God-given right, but rises to leadership out of humility and sensitivity--and good leadership (regardless of gender)recognizes when it is best to step up and when it is best to step aside.

Also, I am neither angry nor middle aged and neither were the majority of the people there and if the majority of the people were middle aged would that make their concerns any less valid?

Devyn

PS-If you are going to dialogue this issue within the Covenant, I would suggest being familiar with Phelan's book.

Ingrid said...

Mark,

Why does "being a man" involve putting limitations on women? Is your full personhood dependent on denying full personhood to others? Is it possible that sexism could exist in more subtle form than physical beating?

Also, please explain to me how you distinguish worth from role. I have yet to experience a distinction there.

I share Devyn's objection to your ad-hominem slams (read: personal insults) of those speaking. Such statements demonstrate that you are pre-disposed to contempt for anything they would say before you've even heard them speak. This and several other of your statements are in a spirit of anything but respectful dialogue.

If you address issues differently in person than in your blog, where is your integrity? Or your "balls" for that matter - if your position is indeed the truth and your courage superior to that of your male colleagues listining respectfully at the luncheon, you certainly can't be afraid to discuss your beliefs face-to-face with people, male or otherwise. Would you like to get coffee sometime and carry on the conversation?

Your sister in Christ,
Ingrid

Michael said...

Yikes. Good luck with all these irate people!

Ingrid said...

To clarify - in my worth/role question, I am speaking from my perception that women are consigned to roles that are less valued and barred from roles that come with more respect/power/prestige/authority. In a hierarchical society, role and designation of worth are inextricably related.

Jesus is a rare example of someone who did not confuse worth and role. He valued and spent time with people who were beneath the notice of (or even abhorrent to) the religious elites. In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus was eating at the Pharisee Simon's house. He makes a comment (apperently under his breath) challenging Jesus' identity and demeaning the woman. Jesus' response challenges Simon's self-righteous assumptions and elevates the woman as an example of faith. Considering her social context and "role", this may have been the first time in her life that a man had treated her with dignity or spoken about her as a person. Who is the freakin' man in this situation, Simon or Jesus?

And another thing . . . you equate "being a man" with "be[ing] strong and tak[ing] leadership in the difficult times." Does my lack of balls mean that I am incapable of strength and leadership, in difficult times or otherwise? Or is it that by being strong and taking leadership I threaten some men's idea of maleness and the inherent if subconscious sense of superiority that comes with it?

Mark Grapengater said...

Ingrid,

Hopefully, sarcasm does not take away from my integrity or mean I forgot my balls after the luncheon.

I have found the atmosphere at NPTS so sharp on this issue, that I have taken the stance that I'm not here to argue for complementarianism or any other -ism I hold different than NPTS. I'd be arguing a lot then and just be that annoying guy in class objecting to everything out of the professor's mouth. Further in most conversations I have had there has been so little respect given to the hearing of my position, I've resigned to be as respectful, but honest, as I know how. Typically that's carried out with my mouth shut.

Finally, I hold a position of trying to honor women in whatever way I know how. Whether that's holding the door open, giving them the right away or walking on the street side of the sidewalk, I'm not trying to demean the women, I'm trying to act respectfully. Please allow me to do this-- it's a part of who I am.

Grace and Peace,
Mark

kerry said...

Webster's New World Dictionary: Sarcasm: "A taunting, sneering, cutting, or caustic remark; gibe or jeer, generally ironical.....sarcastic implies intent to hurt by taunting with mocking ridicule, veiled sneers, etc."
I don't think people are referring to your comments about your balls when they are offended by your sarcasm.