Monday, April 07, 2008

    Young Women and the Church

    With a few exceptions, the real leadership and passion in most of the youth ministries I have served has been the adolescent females in the group. In fact, If all women left the Church tomorrow, I suspect our work would come almost to a standstill. In light of that, consider the following two videos. The first features a series of disappointing remarks by evangelical mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll insultingly referring to women as "chicks" and to men in the church as having been "chickified." If I didn't know otherwise, I'd think this was meant to be satire. Unfortunately, it is this sort of mindset that helps to perpetuate the sexist, heterocentric, and homophobic attitudes that are still very present throughout Christendom. And it is just theses sorts of attitudes that are convincing many of our youngest women and men to seek their spiritual center outside the church. The second video, a response to Driscoll's comments, offers a thoughtful look at the real history of women in the church. I think I will pass it on to the girls in my youth group and see what they think about this important justice issue that needs attention in the Church. (They might have a few interesting things to say about the Driscoll video, too!)
    [UPDATE: Just to be clear, the first video is a humorous re-edit of Driscoll's comments, though his words still speak clearly for themselves.]


    Brance said...

    I find it interesting that you embedded the Driscoll clip that was remixed by someone else, and not the serious one uploaded by him.

    And the response video takes Scripture out of context in a couple places. Especially the bit about Deborah and Barak from Judges 4.

    Driscoll is not anti-women. He is just for men being men, and women being women. He's decrying the lack of male leadership in the church, which you yourself admit in your post.

    All through the Bible you see a consistent principle of male leadership: Adam, Moses, Aaron, the priests, the prophets (with one exception, and look at the lack of male leadership at that time), the rabbis, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostles, the elders in the early churches, etc.

    Do women play an important role in the life of the covenant community? Absolutely. Are there female heroines in the Bible? For sure. And you won't hear Mark Driscoll saying otherwise. It's just a matter of filling the God given (assigned) roles. There is no less honor in being a wife, mother, women's group teacher, or deaconess (which Mark Driscoll does have in his church btw). In fact, I have very high regard for these positions. They are tough, important roles that God entrusted to women, not men.

    What's wrong with each of us doing the job God assigned us in the Scripture?

    St. Brianstine said...

    Amen Brance. Driscoll isn't anti-woman...

    Barry K said...

    I don't see any ambiguity here -- he clearly refers to the architecture, aesthetic and music of the church as being "feminine" as if feminine were a bad word, or something lesser than masculine. How is that not misogynistic? And why would it matter if my pastor were masculine or feminine (whether male or female) if the are dedicated to their call to communicate the word and effective in reaching a congregation? I think its clear that Driscoll is saying that somehow a feminine sensibility is inferior in this context -- come on.

    Randy said...

    yeah, the embedded re-mix clip is not the "straight" one (if I may so refer to it) from Driscoll. it has been re-mixed to be pretty funny at points with the he-man images and all.

    yet Driscoll clearly lays out some negative implications of femininity, messages of second-hand citizen roles which we have tried to raise our daughter to know are simply false. she is NOT a second-level human being. she is fully a beloved child of God and fully a leader for God.

    besides, sometimes i like those colors and that architecture . . . and sometimes i don't

    alaina said...

    I am not familiar enough with Driscoll to state whether he consistently speaks in this way. However, I am a firm believer in the power of non-verbal insinuation. (Okay, okay, it was remixed with some humorous pictures and those are conducive towards a derogatory mindset, but if you close your eyes and simply listen the insinuation is still there.)
    I am also not a demandingly radical activist for women's rights. My life's circumstances have not required this of me as I have been respected for who I am beyond my gender consistently.
    That said, if my pastor were to speak in this way in a staff meeting I would bawl my eyes out in rage and turn in my resignation.
    If Driscoll is in fact not anti-women as a whole, who is calling him out on these anti-women comments? If I made an extremely racial remark, I would hope my friends would call me out on it so that I would not be perceived as a racist.

    On an side note, I attended a women's leadership conference for my denomination over the weekend and was horrified by the stories of pastor-sanctioned misogyny. We've come a long way in the last century (did you realize that women have only been able to vote for the last 90ish years??), but there is more to do.

    Helping our young men and women navigate gender differences in a godly way is certainly an important task of youth ministry.

    Brian said...

    Thanks for your thoughtful reponse. I know that Driscoll is a controversial figure and the internet is full of both criticism and praise for his theology. Perhaps you would agree that we all see life/the church through different lenses which colors how we "hear" what others are saying.
    The struggle I have with Driscoll is his use of pejorative language. I agree that he's not anti-woman. But when it comes to the church, he clearly uses language that is anti-feminine. To say that we have "chickified" the church or it's people is to suggest there is something wrong with the qualities HE associates with the feminine. I'm wonder that the way I often describe Jesus (caring, listener, compassionate, loving) he would call "Chickifying Jesus."

    Of course, Driscoll lives, as I do, in a culture that praises women for taking on the qualities of men, but degrades men who are seen as taking on the attributes of women. These are the attitudes that build the walls of sexism and in the church.

    But this issue goes far beyond the few quotes in the clip. If you check the link in the post referring to homophobia, you will read more comments by Driscoll in which he claims to have nothing against gay people and yet uses derisive and pejorative language to refer to them and their advocates throughout the essay.
    To me it's a clear example of talking out of both sides of your mouth.

    Brance said...

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for responding. I agree Driscoll is a polarizing figure, and it looks like I'm in the minority here. To be honest I came online looking for other youth pastors, thinking I would find some fellow laborers to compare notes with and increase in the knowledge of God (Col 1.10).

    I think I may have found my way to the wrong corner of the web as it appears most here are not of the reformed persuasion. But that's ok, as long as well all confess Jesus, and him crucified, we're still family. :-)

    To clarify, I'm not going to defend Driscoll, he's a big boy and can do that himself. I have heard him speak with regret regarding his manner of speech at times. But, his over zealous, and at times offensive, speech does not negate his point, which is that God has clearly called men to leadership in His church, and they're not stepping up.

    You said "...we all see life/the church through different lenses..."

    That's true, but it doesn't legitimize the various lenses, it just explains the differences of opinion. I would humbly suggest that Scripture should be the lens through which we all strive to view all of life. We all bring our own preconceptions with us, and laying those at the foot of the cross and taking God at His Word, is one of the hardest tasks in the Christian life.

    I don't know about Driscoll, but if you only described Jesus in terms of "caring, listener, compassionate, loving" then I would say you are not presenting a balanced view of Christ. He is all those things and more. He is also confrontational, at times even harsh, funny, and always truthful, even at the cost of losing followers. And that's just off the top of my head.

    Genesis 1.27 tells us that God created both male and female in His image. This tells me that neither sex is a complete picture of the character and nature of God. The sexes are different, and both have great value as image bearers of God. Both reflect certain qualities and attributes of God. But we have been given different roles to play in life, by our creator who knows best.

    Men, He has appointed and called to headship type leadership roles. This doesn't mean that women can't be leaders, they clearly should, in the proper context (i.e. deaconesses and teachers of other women). This is not to say that men can't learn from women, I learn valuable insights from my wife every day concerning Scripture and Christian living. But, Scripture is clear that women are not to be pastors/elders. If we claim to have moved beyond gender roles, then we are claiming to have moved beyond Scripture, and that's not a place I'm willing to go.

    As to Driscoll's response to McLaren and the question of homosexuality. Driscoll later apologized for his tone and asked public forgiveness for his sins in the post you refer to. If you read all the way to the end you'll find it along with this link to the full apology.

    He doesn't retract his theological position, just seeks forgiveness for his attitude and words. And that, after the counsel of the elders at his church who hold him accountable for such things. So I think that answers alaina's question concerning who was responsible for holding Driscoll accountable for his words.

    And remember what I always tell my youth on the subject of the genders.

    God created all of creation and said it was good. He created man and said it was good. It wasn't until he had created woman that he was able to say with conviction "it was VERY good." Genesis 1.31 (emphasis mine)

    Brian said...

    I think Driscoll needs to step aside and let you do the talking for him. Would that he were so thoughtul or measured in his way of expression. I appreciate your point that it is Christ which should bind us together, despite whatever else we might disagree about in our theology, ecclessiology, christology,et al.

    We're glad you found our corner of the web. Those of us who write this blog would describe ourselves as progressive/liberal but we value being in conversation with our brothers and sisters in Christ wherever they might find themselves on the theological spectrum!

    jeremy zach said...

    Driscoll is anti women in the sense of leading in church.

    Brance what does this even mean?
    He is just for men being men, and women being women.

    What does it mean for men to be men? This seems to me a bit stereotypicalized. Is a man a man when he drinks beers, plays football, and lifts weights?

    Help me out here brother?

    Also Brance your Genesis 1.27 illustration is classic. You should also add that in the Hebrew the word "Helper" (ezra) is literally translated as rescuer not helper.


    Brance said...

    jeremy zach said...

    "Driscoll is anti women in the sense of leading in church."

    If you want to call that "anti women" then go ahead. But if male eldership is God's design, why would it be a bad thing?

    I say male eldership (pastor) purposefully. Driscoll's church has female deacons, which is more leadership than many churches give to women, including my own (which I think is wrong).

    "Brance what does this even mean?
    He is just for men being men, and women being women.

    What does it mean for men to be men? This seems to me a bit stereotypicalized. Is a man a man when he drinks beers, plays football, and lifts weights?"

    First you've asked a complicated, but justified question. The answer would be much to long to put in the comments here, so I'll just refer you to my personal blog where I'll be covering my views on that question in more depth over the coming week.

    Secondly, yes it is "a bit stereotypicalized" but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Stereotypes can be useful for broad, generalized statements. They should not be considered all inclusive though, as there are usually exceptions to every stereotype.

    Third. I hope drinking beer, playing football, and lifting weights are not what makes a man a man! I hate all those things!

    Beer is just nasty. It even smells bad, who would drink the stuff?!

    Football? I've got much better things to do with my time. I've never been a sports fan, much rather read a book.

    Lifting weights? I believe taking care of our body is important, but prefer taking a walk with my wife to lifting weights. I don't care about being "buff" physically, much rather be strong spiritually.

    So if those things define manhood, I'm in trouble! :-)

    jeremy zach said...


    i appreciate your attempt to answer my questions.

    the fact that I made a generalized sweep on what it means to be a man is a very difficult question. Scripture is not clear on what it means to be a man. Although Wild at Heart seems to really understand what men should do!! They should rescue their beauty with their big muscles and flashy rhetoric.

    I have problems with stereotypes because the may only resonate with about 45% of your audience. And when you involved: Thus say the Lord; it becomes very complicated.

    I do not care if Driscoll's church has deacons. So what? Who cares. That is saying the water boy is special. If Driscoll was so incline about having women lead the deacon meeting, why cannot he be inclined to letting them preach ?

    Gail said...

    Brance may be long gone from here, but if not, I was wondering how you handle the "slaves, obey your masters" verse in the Bible. For years that was used to justify slavery. After all, slavery's supported in the Bible. Just wondering, as I believe Scripture points us to God, but is not itself God. I believe Paul was telling people not to waste their time and energy hating their masters...good advice for the times. Ditto the idea of women yielding to the men, who were used to being in charge...then, thousands of years ago. Not today. God doesn't change, but our understanding of God changes, because God is so far beyond our understanding. That's my thinking on it anyway.
    But I do wonder what you think the slavery passage.

    Brance said...

    Gail, I think you've missed the point of Paul's writing. Yes it is a waste of time and energy to hate, and we are to love others, not hate them, even those who do evil to us. But that is not why Paul told slaves to obey.

    Paul gave slaves two reasons for obeying their masters. The first reason is found in Ephesians 6:8.

    "knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free."

    So one reason he gave them was to please God in their service to their earthly masters, so as to obtain the prize, the reward for their labors (for Christ) upon judgement.

    The second reason can be found in 1 Timothy 6:1.

    "Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled." [emphasis mine]

    They are to obey so they can be a good witness to their masters, and to others who see the way they live their lives.

    Obviously this is not an endorsement of slavery. Simply an admonishment to live for Christ's glory in whatever situation you find yourself in, whether slave or free.

    The reason you would want to use Paul's teaching to slaves in relation to wives is that they are given in such close proximity in Ephesians. While actually, the command for children to obey comes between the two. Following your logic, one could argue that since slavery is wrong and Paul was speaking culturally, the same thing could be applied to children and parents. Children no longer need obey their parents, it was just a cultural thing and we should move beyond it. I doubt anyone is suggesting that course of action. Though sometimes I wonder when I see the way children behave toward their parents!

    The reason children are to obey is different than the reason slaves are to obey. Children are to obey "for this right" and "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

    Backing up to the teaching for wives and husbands, a few verses earlier in Ephesians, we see totally different reasons given to the wives for submission. Submission (hupotasso) carries a somewhat different meaning than obey (hupakouo), btw.

    Wives are told to submit in Ephesians 5:22 and the reason is given in verses 23-24.

    "For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands."

    The reason wives are to submit is because God has ordained that the husband should be the head (governor, guide, and guardian), just as Christ himself is the head of the church. Christ is still head of the church isn't He? We haven't moved beyond that have we?

    In his letter to Titus, Paul gives another reason for wives to submit.

    "...and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." ~ Titus 2:5

    This second reason for submission is that people would not see them acting out of accord with Scripture and so despise our faith as un-authinic.

    Peter addresses wives as well and gives another reason for submission to the authority of the husband in 1 Peter 3:1.

    "Likewise, wives, be subject to our own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives"

    This is the same reason given for slaves to obey earlier, to be a good witness. If someone is fighting against your authority and seeking control for themselves, you aren't going to be very apt to listen when they try to tell you they have given their life to Christ.

    This is just a quick answer off the top of my head. On my own blog, I've already published a lengthy post on the subject of biblical manliness. And I intend to write more about biblical womanhood in the next day or two.

    Next week I plan two posts, one each dealing with the specific roles God ordained each gender to play in the family and church.