Women in Leadership

This is one topic of discussion that is littered with emotion and the potential for argument from all sides. It is also a topic of discussion uppermost in the thoughts of many in the Mennonite church.  How much responsibility should women have in the church? What should they be allowed to teach and should they ever be allowed to preach? Can they be ordained and remain firmly within what the early church taught about women’s roles?  Should they be quiet or loud? Should they sit in the same pew with men? Should they show up at all? I could go on and on and my personal feelings change about every other minute on this one.

I don’t like the words “Women in Leadership” but this is the “buzz phrase” surrounding women’s roles.  Women have always been in leadership in one place or another. I think the thing people really want to call it is “Women as Ordained Preachers Whom Have Authority and Can Tell Men What God Wants Them to Do.”  Blech!  On one had, who cares?  On the other hand, many people do and I suppose it is important.

I am going to begin discussion on this subject on this blog by just throwing out the arguments I have with myself in my head and then as the weeks go on, I’ll break it down a little bit and add some real concrete theory to it.

For a while I came at this from a purely feminist point of view.  Women and men have equal opportunity in all other areas of life (at least we pretend they do).  Why not allow women the right to be ordained if they are led by God into that role? For so long, women were oppressed by the church, held down and confined to hearing from their husbands what God said rather than learning for themselves. I think this is quite true today in some churches, Amish and Mennonite among others. That angered me and I saw the refusal to ordain women in the Mennonite church as one more way men control what we say and do.

But that’s where my feminist attitude basically ended. I believe women should have equal rights in politics, voting and career opportunities. I believe they should be paid what men are for the same jobs performed. I believe women can and should lead companies, organizations and countries.  I also believe many women lead their families more effectively than men. A cultural shift over the past 50 years has, out of necessity, forced women into roles that they may not have considered before. Men have largely given up on heading households. Some are absent in body, some in spirit and some never were present to begin with. Thus the idea that we are created equal to men; we fill the same shoes they do.

But, I don’t think we should whine and moan anymore.  Those women who hold high the feminist flag and declare war on men and their attitudes are simply grasping for something to make them feel more important.  Women whose credo is “I am woman!” also tend to think they don’t need any help with anything from men. It’s them against the world and men be damned. Although that may be the extreme, the undercurrent of woman against the world runs through all women’s thoughts at one time or another. When a woman is told she can’t be in “leadership” it raises her hackles and in her mind she has no rights at all.  All bad feelings towards male authority suddenly lump together in one single moment.  Think about it. It is not a group of female bishops or elders that are saying we can’t be ordained. It’s a bunch of men.

When we’re done whining, I’d like us women to stop and think for a minute about how equally created we really are.

We are not the same in any way, shape or substance.

Our brains work differently. We talk and talk and focus on words. Men are more focused on images and concrete ideas. We bring entirely different approaches to the discussion table.We are the softer sex. Let’s face it. Let’s enjoy that!

Our physical bodies are completely different, yet we try so hard to look as strong and manly as possible. We get the privilege of giving birth and nursing babies. We have boobs and they don’t. Ha ha!!!  Men, on the other hand, are generally stronger. It has actually occurred to me that if Andy died, I’d have to stop buying Smucker’s jelly in jars since I can’t open them myself. That’s okay. We are made physically to meet each other and mold together. Let’s celebrate that!

Should women preach? I’m still thinking about that one. Today, I say “yes” with a few contingencies thrown in. I am, in fact, related to a woman preacher.  I’ll further pull this one apart laer.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Leon
    Nov 07, 2007 @ 00:45:41

    I really am glad you are back and look forward to the verbal jousting your posts are sure to call forth!


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