Sunday, November 5, 2006

Nightcrawlers, EVERYWHERE!

My mom bought me a sweetly designed can-opener when my old crappy one broke. It cuts around the side of the lid, so as to not leave any sharp edges to cut one's self on-- safety first! I hope that's the device used to open this proverbial can of worms and that we leave each other sharper, not cut, from these discussions. I have, however, contracted carpal tunnel trying to keep up with the comments that I've received. Woof. I'll refrain from the sarcasm, as much as possible, on this one, cause I'm not a hurting, judgemental, repressed effeminate male. (Okay, maybe just a little sarcasm-- it's a Biblical literary device, read Jeremiah). I want what I've received: communication. Open dialogue. That means two points of view, two voices, speaking at equal volumes refraining from "ad-hominem."

First, or second, depending on how one reads the above, I would love to sit down with anyone (including you, Ingrid) for coffee. Please. Seriously. No bull. The position is so misunderstood here at North Park and by the egalitarians, that ad hominem-- name calling-- and I would include, labeling, which may be the same, has happened everytime the subject has come up. EVERYTIME. Pop shots are taken at white middle-class males in a variety of arenas, ranging from class to chapel to announcements. If you haven't noticed, start.

Next-- cause I don't know where I'm at-- I'd like to apologize for my own ad hominem, because I certainly didn't intend that to happen. But if my "angry middle-aged women" comment seemed off color, then attendance to Wednesday's section of Leadership and Empowering the Laity for Church Growth would perhaps have cleared that up. For that reason I don't want to mention any names, but those who were there, hopefully, can testify. But for those of you asking, "Where's the Beef?" Grab that big beautiful steak knife, my friends, it's dinner time.

[I'm going to be dealing with these in slices, cause the roast was pretty big when it came out of the oven. Today will be Worth and Wills and the Trinity. I'll be getting to Real Men and Women's Leadership and Strength later in the week.]

Worth. Our worth does not derive from what we do or the roles we play. I find too often that we, as humans, relegate our value to what we do in this life, how much money we make-- or don't-- our family, our bloodlines, our positions at our job, etc. This leads almost immediately to the devaluation of women, poor, and minorities (in America). So women who stay at home to raise their children, instead of working their way up the corporate ladder are no bag of chips. So those girls that dream of being mothers and at the thought of a child or the coo of a newborn are looked at having a less than adequate idea of who they can be. Instead, we are to look at our worth from God's perspective who does "not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature..." (1 Samuel 16:7). We find our worth in Genesis 1:27, "...God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." We humans were made in the image of God. We were made after the "likeness" of our God, who created the universe and everything in it. We are distinct in this nature. Humans are the only created beings that are given this distinction. Humans are higher than dogs and smarter than monkeys. This is why we don't lick our crotch, eat our own feces and hump everything that moves (at least, God told us we're not supposed to). It looks like this in order of worth: 1. God; 2. Humans (that includes men women and children, no one that can sign up for their own blog is left out here); 3. all other created beings--plants, animals, but also not limited to those we see here on earth, but also the angels and the fallen angels (demons). [Theologically, I'm still working that last one over though, cf. the implications of above and Hebrews 1.]

So far I don't think there are any issues. Most complementarians and egalitarians agree at this point. Where we go from here is the rub. So let me answer your question: How can worth be found equal and the men have authority over women through the role distinction? (I hope that's a valid statement of that objection. If not, please let me know-- I do want to be fair to the egalitarian position.)

Wills and the Trinity. My illustation is the Trinity. I'll give it in short, cause I'm running long, and because I want to deal with the further objections to this as the illustration. Both Jesus and the Father are equal in worth, but throughout John's Gospel, Jesus says, "I have come... not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me" (4:34; 5:30; 6:38, 39; to name a few). So while Jesus is not less valuable than his Father, he submits to his will. The argument(s)?

[Note: I'm using feedback that I've received through personal email and this person said it'd be fine if I quoted her. So credit is given where credit is due.]

Kathryn Tanner says this about comparing human relations to the relations of the Trinity: "One should avoid modeling human relations directly on trinitarian ones because trinitarian ones, say, the co-inherence of trinitarian Persons, simply are not appropriate as they stand for human relations." (Jesus, Humanity, & The Trinity 82)

While not all aspects of God and His triune-ness can be brought to human relationships, this illustration is pulled not from thin air, but from Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul writes, "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." The correlation that Paul uses for male/female relationships is the Trinity, "the head of Christ is God." So the relationship that husband and wife have is modeled in the relationship of the Father and the Son.

Still flawed it seems. Christina Tingloff, good friend who has entered into the conversation with me writes this, "You can say that Jesus did the will of the Father, but ultimately it was his own will, because ultimately it was the will of the Triune God. That kind of co-inherence, or interpenetration, that makes the work of one person in the Trinity the work of all the others, is not translatable for humans because our wills will always be different, even if we want to do the same thing. Our wills are still our own."

While I respect the interpenetration of the Trinity, there is still a distinction in the persons of the Trinity. This is evident in Matthew (cf. Luke 22:42). Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray and says, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt. 26:39) And again he prays, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" (26:42). It reads that there are two different wills running their courses here. Jesus is praying, "Isn't there another way? Do I really have to suffer this? Is it necessary? But not my desires, but yours Father." Further that he says it twice emphasizes moreover that it was a submission of Jesus' will to the Father's. But I know as a good Calvinist that "all" doesn't always mean "all," so this could be one of those instances too.

Flag of caution for the domestically strong handed boys reading this: This does not give you license to domestic violence. It should not be read as "obedience even in the face of suffering." And ladies, this obedience is to be done "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:11). That means, if the dude is beating you, or telling you to do something that is unholy like watch porno with him, you don't have to. That ain't "in the Lord."

If you're still with me, I want to emphasize my disgust for the abuse of women by men a few cans short of a six-pack. I had the pleasure of working at a center in Costa Rica for the rehabilitation of teenage girls called Renacer (Rebirth, or to be reborn). They came from homes where they were prostituted out by their parents to selling drugs and living on the street and everything in between. Some of their stories can be read in the archives on this blog. I wish they had never gone to Renacer, but I was glad to be a model of what a godly man looks like in their lives.

Now just sit back on the couch, let the food settle and find someone to rub that belly. To quote The Thomas Crown Affair, "It's Friday... Come Monday there'll be hell to pay."

9 comments:

Michael said...

Nice. Long, but nice.

Can I just ask that you use less large words (for those of us who are not in seminary)?

Thanks for obliging (how's that for a long word? It's the best I've got)

Xtina said...

I have four thousand things to say right now...but we can get to that eventually. =)

I did want to say in this arena that I am a member of the leadership class, and I CANNOT testify to the angry middle aged woman. I can testify to three women speaking truthfully about their lives, callings and experiences, coming in to talk in a positive way about the future and instead being made once again to defend themselves and what they believe God has called them to. During our brief discussion time, there was not the opportunity to ask how to encourage and empower women in our future churches, because we instead had to clarify complementarian viewpoints and explain why these dedicated and articulate women appeared "rough around the edges" to some. To me they appeared passionate about their work and their ministry, as we all who are going into ministry should be. And that's my testimony.

Kyle Mac said...

dude. Its Kyle. I haven't talked to you in a while. I still say you need to talk to Ryan and come.

Ingrid said...

Mark,

Sarcasm is not the problem. I use plenty of it myself, and will confess to sometimes overdoing it. Your previous blog (this one was much better) contained a barrage of unfair generalizations and irrelevant statements disparaging people based on age, anatomy, and dietary choices, none of which have anything to do with their intellectual capacity or validity of experience. I really felt like asking whether one digests red meat with one's testicles or merely thinks with them. But that would be unladylike of me. And probably wouldn't help my cause any. Might've been funny, though.

What I hear around the seminary is a sincere attept to address systemic problems related to white male power prerogative and the millenia of suffering visited upon women and minorities caused by white male presumption of entitlement at the expense of others. These power structures have been maintained through physical and psychological violence. If a man hears such testimonies and discussions as pop shots directed personally at him, perhaps it is because he wishes that those power structures would remain in place so that he can continue to benefit at others' expense, confusing the status quo for the natural order ordained by God? The church has a long and hardly admirable history of proof-texting for the purpose of endorsing self-serving agenda with God's name.

I agree with you that our worth should theoretically from God rather than from our societal role. Unfortunately, this is seldom to never lived out in practice. (And I grieve the disparagement of the motherhood role by some feminists. I just believe that women should be mothers because it's important, not because that's all they're good for.) My theology of the trinity is not concretely developed enough to respond one way or another, so let's assume I agree. What I don't understand is how you make the jump from those positions to the idea of subjugation of women as holiness to be upheld by the church rather than a lamentable part of the fallen human condition that is to be healed and corrected in the the reign of God and new life in Christ. You even admit that God created men AND WOMEN in God's image, not as some sort of unfortunate afterthought responsible for the corruption of the race.

I would say more right now but my breasts are getting in the way as I fumble for words at the keyboard. I probably should just turn in my books and go home to get pregnant so that I can be assured of salvation (1 Tim 2:15), assuming God will forgive my impropriety earlier in this blog. Thank you for helping me realize before it's too late that I was disobeying God by coming to seminary. I understand now that "Wild at Heart" is the ultimate authority on Christian gender identity and that I can only be truly happy and godly if I sit around being helpless and decorative until I'm carried off as an accessory on somebody else's adventure.

That being said, what's your schedule like on Friday? At this point I'm free until early evening for more enlightening dialogue.


Peace,
Ingrid

Devyn said...

Mark,

Much more respectful dialogue--thank you.

Maybe we should take this discussion outside of abstract theory--though I do believe that well developed theological arguments are important.

This is an extremely hot button issue at North Park because almost half of the student body is female and many of them, myself included, feel called by God to pastoral ministry. In other words, me, a woman is called to be a lead or associate pastor. Frankly, this is the last thing on earth I would have chosen to do--if I had my way. I have never had 'feminist' tendencies before and I have never been abused or personally exploited by a man--in fact I have a positive and close relationship with my father. My strive for equality is not a bitter reaction--its a sincere attempt to understand God's calling on my life.

I guess what I am getting at--is that this discussion is not just a theory--its personal. I did not choose to enter a predominantly male profession to make some sort of feminist statement--if I wanted to make a feminist statement with my career I would have picked something with a little more earning potential. I did not choose this calling, God chose me.

All theoretical discussion aside.....are you saying that my call, that I have agonized over, prayed over, and fought (yes fought) God over is not valid?

I know you are probably thinking...."I never said a woman couldn't serve in the church--I just mean that she should have her place and a man should have his" And I would answer--but God has not called me to lead women's groups and teach children (as would be my 'more acceptable' place)--he has called me to preach and lead the church to a better understanding of Him and His word.

I guess I am having a hard time understanding how a classmate, colleague, and brother in Christ could make a determination that my call is invalid because he has physical 'balls' and I don't. And I guess I am glad I don't have 'balls' because it sounds like being a middle class male is hell these days.

Devyn

Mark Grapengater said...

Devyn,

I just want to touch on a couple of things that you wrote.

First, I don't see that just because someone is a man, he is able to lead a church. There are a lot of failing male pastors out there right now that can't tell the difference between their wife and the secretary working for them. This is extrememly unfortuante and precautions should be taken, personally and corporately to ensure this from happening.

Nor am I the one that is going to stand up and say that your call is invalid. One, I'm not you and moreover, don't know you very well. Second, I would lose my sachel if I said something like that here.

Speaking from the experience side of the discussion, I would encourage you to continue to evaluate your call, especially since you say, "I did not choose this calling..." Personally, I chose this calling. I felt it on my life. I've examined my life against what the Bible says and know that there are a few things I'm working on. I don't feel comfortable going to plant a church as a single male. I need that support that a wife offers.

Grace and Peace,
Mark

Devyn said...

Mark,

I appreciate that you are not going to 'stand up' and declare my calling invalid but your position does declare my calling invalid, as well as the callings of many women in the seminary and around the world.

Also I would like to clarify that I continually turn to God for guidance in my call. But don't interpret my statement "I did not choose this call, God chose me" to mean I haven't embraced my calling or that I am not confidant in my calling. I have chosen to accept and embrace my calling because God called me and has changed my heart in the process.

Paul did not choose to follow Christ and proclaim the Gospel, so much as Christ chose him....and turned his life upside down in the process.

The point I am trying to make is that I would not be here if it were up to me--or up to the me I was before God got ahold of me in a powerful way. I am not here to teach oppressive males a lesson--I am here out of obedience to God and have found joy in the process.

Devyn

Ingrid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ingrid said...

In response to Kerry's comment on the "Check your Balls" post -

Thanks for the definition of sarcasm there. Continuing with the precision in language theme, I think that a lot of people (myself included) use the word sarcasm when what we really mean is irony, "the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning; a literary style employing ironic contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect". Irony does not carry the same connotation of hurtfulness, even if some listeners would find it obnoxious. I hope that my use of sarcasm/irony is in the spirit of effective argumentation against ideas or situations rather than sneering ridicule of persons one claims in other posts to respect consistently.