The Tale of Two Blog Posts
It was a dizzying week for posts about gender and faith.
First, there’s this post, from John Piper’s desiringGod.org. In the post, the author, John Ensor, uses pairs figure skating as a metaphor for the husband/wife relationship. Here’s an excerpt:
“He leads her onto the ice and initiates each part of their routine. She receives that leadership and trusts in his strength. His raw physical strength is more on display than hers; he does all the lifting, twirling and catching. She complements his strength with her own; a more diminutive and more attractive strength of beauty, grace, speed and balance. His focus as the head or leader is to magnifying her skills. Her focus is on following his lead and signaling her readiness to receive his next move. He takes responsibility for the two of them and she trusts his leadership and delights in it.”
If you ask me, that’s a pretty apt description of the prevailing winds of male privilege that remain stubbornly entrenched in the church.
The narrative goes like this: men are stronger, better leaders, both in the home and in the church, while women are supporters and receivers. It’s simple. Live this way and you’ll see “male leadership and female support making one glorious whole.”
Simply put, this brand of theology limits women and pressurizes men. Further, it hampers our mission. And the embedded power differential means that equality is an unattainable reality.
Or is it?
Because this week I noticed this post. Read it and weep. With joy.
Here’s the story. 6,000 person megachurch in Indiana has a long history of male headship. Like the theology above, traditionally all of their lead pastors and preachers have been men.
So what happened? From the article:
“Grace Community Church, an evangelical church of 6,000 worshipers just north of Indianapolis, reversed their position and came out in favor of women’s leadership at all levels this weekend in their public worship services.
This is no liberal accommodationism. This is a conservative church that is focused on the teaching of the Bible. They have a staff of about 50…with men in all their traditional roles (pastors, elders, and adult ministries leaders) and women in all their roles (women’s ministry, children, and secretaries). But with a thorough study of Scripture and full of prayer, these men knew that Scripture demanded that women not be prohibited from leadership at all levels.”
Allow me to recap, for emphasis.
A group of male pastors, leaders of a sizable, conservative midwestern church, sense the Lord challenging their theologies around the role of women in the church. So they go to work. They pray, they read, they study, they talk. And then…
They change their perspective.
In the post, the author calls this a “changing of the evangelical tide.” He notes a 2011 Pew Research poll that says that 75% of evangelical pastors now think that women can and should serve in the pulpit.
I sure hope he’s right.
And if he is, we’ll need to rethink our Olympic metaphor.
Back to figure skating, because perhaps we can redeem John Ensor’s choice of metaphors.
According to this post, the Ensor piece really misrepresents the sport. For instance, according to the author, in pairs figure skating the real leader is first the choreographer and then the music.
In fact, really the couple’s role is to partner together in following the leader.
Come to think of it, sorta sounds like a different brand of theology.
One thankfully being embraced in Indiana.
oooohhhh, this was a good one! I had not heard that about the church. And that figure skating illustration really bugs me.
Rob, this church in Indiana is where Christine Twedt attends and is a member. Cool, huh?
Super cool about the church! I hope it lends bravery to other leaders to really take a look at the issue.