Monday, February 27, 2012

A Less-than Human Silence

To begin with, Silent Mondays weren’t my idea.  But there has been something weighing heavily on my heart in recent semesters, and particularly in the past few weeks: the silencing of women’s voices in the greater body of Christ.  Though, even with the most cursory glance at my life, I readily admit: I don’t have it that bad.  I am pursuing a Masters of Divinity at a seminary that is ‘liberal’ enough to not only allow women to do so, but encourages them in this endeavor.  This education a dream of mine, but also the Officer’s for me; which makes it depreciating to only say that he supports me in it.  My church permits women to teach, has women on the leadership team, and in guiding the church, places as much value on the opinion of women as men.[1]  I can teach my children what and how I like.  I can call up my pastor, or any other pastor for that matter, whenever and about whatever I chose.  I can voice my opinion about practices or scriptural interpretation or spiritual development whenever I please.[2]  So, no; I don’t have it bad at all.

Which may raise the question: what’s the problem?

The problem is that, the closest church to my residence forbids its female congregants to seek pastoral counsel without the express permission of their husbands/fathers.  The problem is that at the 2012 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference hosted by John Piper, he claims that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.  And being God, a God of love, he has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female.”[3]  The problem is that the head pastor of the Mars Hill brand of churches, Marc Driscoll, explains that “[the Apostle] Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men.”[4]  Mr. Driscoll uses the covers of secular magazines in grocery store checkout lines as evidence to his point. One has to wonder if Mr. Driscoll considers Playboy, Maxim, or GQ covers as adequate frames of reference for the qualifications of men in church leadership.  The problem is that even in 2012, women are being told that they have nothing to offer outside of submission to male headship, thus alienating a generation of American and European women.  The problem is that we’ve tacked “submission to males” onto the gospel for women. 

A “Jesus and…” proposition for women.           
Of course, that’s just in the western church.  There’s an entire world of women who are considered less than human by their governments, their religions, their families.  Women who cannot leave the house without a male escort, girls who cannot attend school, brides who are burned, girls sold into prostitution, woman as slaves in the sex trade.  Women as chattle.  Women as property.  Women as less.  The first step in dehumanization is establishing inferiority.  When women and girls become less in any manner to their male counterparts, the way is made clear for subjugation and abuse.  Less intelligent, less abled, less worthy.

My voluntary silence will do nothing for the women trapped in these circumstances.  Subjugation, abuse, dehumanization won’t be stopped with the stilling of my voice.  Not talking will do nothing for the women attending Driscoll's or Piper’s churches.  It will not benefit the women in the pews up the street, nor allow women into leadership in my denominational organization.  My silence will do nothing.
But in the silence, I will pray. And I will listen.  With my muteness, I will teach my children that no voice should be quieted because of gender or ethnicity, that God created every single person as worthy and equal.  I will stand in silent solidarity with daughters of the King of Kings who wonder if they are ever heard; women outside the faith who have never known their worth to the Creator of the Universe.             

I will be quiet, be still, remain mute, in anticipation of the day when the restoration of creation is realized; and every person who has so chosen, may lift his or her voice to worship the Savior of humanity.    

[1] Though, our parent organization does not recognize women’s leadership, nor will it permit them to hold the title “elder.”
[2] Granted, though these are technically “allowed” me, there are scriptural parameters about when/how any believer should speak in services; and one must exhibit the maturity of self-control delineated therein for the benefit of the body and those outside the faith who have come to hear the word of God.  1 Cor 14:26-40
[4] Mark Driscoll, Church Leadership: Explaining the Roles of Jesus, Elders, Deacons, and Members at Mars Hill, Mars Hill Theology Series (Seattle, WA: Mars Hill Church, 2004).   Go here for an extended quote.

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