Will theological men share the microphone with women?

will theological men share the microphone with women cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“tHEology summit” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

There is an online theological conference taking place right now called The Nines. Out of 120 speakers, only 4 are women. That’s about 2%.

Rachel Held Evans had something to say about that in Twitter but was slapped down at the speed of light.

So when a woman protests it’s called a meltdown.

And Stephanie Drury has skills in pointing out the hypocrisy.

Sometimes I wonder if we’ve found reverse.

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  • thejimmyforde

    This is fantastic. Watching that whole discussion, and seeing the smug douchebaggery in response to some genuine questions was nauseating

  • KateHanch

    Hi David!

    Thanks for pointing this out. As a woman in ministry, this is painful and true. I’ve noticed that even egalitarians do this–which is disappointing. I’ve written about tokenism as well, perpetuated by all sides, specifically related to the Mark Driscoll Women pastors scholarship controversy.


  • David, your posts help me keep a pulse on a Christian world I never hear of otherwise. To supplement this, I did some research to better understand this post:

    First, a fun fact: “The Nines” is also, appropriately,a 2007 scifi psychological thriller – 60% on RT.

    Anyway for others like me who didn’t know, the churchy version of “The Nines” gets its name when the”Leadership Network” started an on-line conference in 0/9/99 where 99 speakers were given 9 minutes each to speak. Leadership Network is out of Dallas and is a church-growth think tank — founded in 1984 by Bob Buford, a cable TV entrepreneur.

    Apparently it was formed to counter the Religious Right’s influence in American politics. Is that right, David? It is democratic protestants, I think. It seeks to counter The Christian Coalition of America and The Family Research Council and more? I am sure it has evolved since then, can you catch us up on the politics and theology bias?

    But religion is a man’s game, be ya on the Left or the Right, it seems.

  • that’s as much as i know too sabio

  • thanks for the link kate

  • sad

  • You cut right to the heart of the issue, as usual. I found it interesting that Rhoades’ blog’s most recent post is titled, “How NOT to get too full of yourself as a pastor”, and about a month ago he wrote the post, “Why you need to make room at the top”, in which he reblogged from Larry Osborne.

    Here’s a quote: “The real reason is that leadership is a zero sum game. One person’s emerging influence is always another person’s waning influence. And that makes making room for the young eagles a hard sell, especially to those who already have a place at the table.

    Again, I understand. Like most leaders, I love the idea of servant leadership and putting others first – as long as no one actually cuts in front of me or starts treating me like I’m a servant.

    But it has to be done or we’ll fall victim to the predictable twenty year death cycle when most churches stop growing, evangelizing, and making a mark.”

    …. but I’m assuming this only applies in Rhoades’ mind if said young eagles are male?

  • ya danica i think that’s the assumption. thanks.

  • So with the obvious fact that theological knot-tying is a male monopoly of religious professionals, should women try to break into the game, get on the show, and accept small dealerships. OR. Should women consider giving up the whole theology gimmick?

  • Good question. Save the system or create a new one separate from it?

  • Caryn LeMur

    I don’t know what to say… I found the snippets of conversation (to Rachel) to be beyond reason… yet, if we begin with men being the head of the church institution, then I understand their viewpoint.

    Oh… wait a minute… sigh… I forgot that Christ was the head of the church universal…. but… that is just a minor inconvenience. Shucks… just cross out that word ‘Christ’ and put in that word ‘men’… and, wow! Problem solved. (sigh…)

    Leaving sarcasm aside for the moment, I am happy that men are the heads of churches. In my honest opinion, I look forward to them saying, “Full speed ahead – ram that ice berg again.” The intellectual creedal church institution – what matters most is what you believe, so, let’s discuss our statement of belief; let us debate our theology; let us reject X and only accept Y – is a culture mindset that needs to be discarded… or sunk.

    This mindset has naturally led to Professor to Student mindset (superior speaker to subordinate listeners); and to constraints via committees, elders, boards, or even goals and vision statements.

    They even waste time debating the role of men vs women… how men should head the church… how women should be limited… and whether the sacraments/Eucharist/communion matters this way or that…and then state, ‘if we but set the right and proper steel girders in place, then the community-experience will grow like a skyscraper’…. Instead, the community experience dies.

    What matters most is honesty among equal brothers and sisters – ‘the seed that grew fell into an honest heart’. What is incredibly healing is having someone listen to you without condemnation – ‘let everyone be quick to listen’.
    We need to encourage daring exploration of thought and outreach – ‘everyone that is born again is like the wind that blows wherever it wishes’.

    We need to allow anyone to join our community, to ask questions, to share thoughts with mutual respect – for Christ did not pray for the Father to take us out of this world… but ‘to remain within the world’.

    And over all this living community, we build a membrane of love.

    This is not a skyscraper made with barely bending steel… this is a living body wherein every cell must consider input, accept what is good for its own growth (politely rejecting what does not assist growth), give outputs to help other members of the body, and adjust constantly depending on the environment and even depending on the passages of life.

    Hopefully, the men will abandon ship soon. Hopefully, the women will start their own institutions.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • When folks try to “save” the Christian theology system (or any theology system), history shows us that the system splinters into new theologies, new camps and new allegiances — as is Leadership Network, apparently. But these new groups always drag with them the inherent issues of fabricated, knotted theology in general. Part of that is a God created by men!

    So sure, I am for both methods: change from inside and out. I am glad do both, but I am a bit pessimistic about inside change because of privileged sources.

  • hehe good diagram. i see myself there!

  • Thanx! This post is inspiring me to perhaps touch up my diagram and add the words “and other men” inside that knotted mess.

  • BTW, I just noted that the top of the pic stands out showing “David” clearly. To be clear, that is “King David” — and that ain’t you! 🙂
    That is all about the need to keep Jesus in a Messianic lineage and fitting the Moses myth and much more.
    The “David” in “David Hayward” no longer lives in that sort of knot!! (a compliment)

  • Al Cruise

    “Religion is a man”s game” and even if your not on the right or left.

  • Al Cruise

    Interesting take on things, most of the comments and especially the people who make repeat comments on David’s blog “like myself” are male. What do you think?

  • SG12

    I enjoy your subversive work. . .allows me to think a little differently. I am a woman who desires to be a theologian. Hope the world is ready 🙂

  • yep

  • Let’s see: Blogging habits probably mirror conversations habits.

    Deborah Tannen has studied this (among many others) and in general:

    — Women want intimacy in conversation, to feel connected to others.

    — Men want to give information while remaining independent of the other party.

    See: https://www.achievesolutions.net/achievesolutions/en/Content.do?contentId=10241

    Thus I imagine if blogs were studied (and especially comment threads), the content would reflect some of the above. What think you?

    Should women be ashamed of who they are?

    Should men be ashamed of who they are?

    Should both stop valorizing their pre-programmed temperaments and tendencies? I’d only say yes, to the last question.

  • As usual, David, you make me wish I could draw 🙂

  • Al Cruise

    I agree with ” Men want to give information” and that’s were the problem of valorizing comes in with the need to stand out from others.

  • Sorry, Al, I didn’t follow that.
    Could you share some more information?

  • Yeah, one of my more frustrating days on the internet…but also one of the more hopeful. We’ve been pointing this out about The Nines for 3-4 years now, but this was the first time I felt like we were actually heard….maybe not by Todd, but by others.

    Belittled and patronized by a few? Yep.

    Heard and supported by many? Yep.

    So, it was a good day. 🙂

    (Honestly, what irked me more than anything was how CT covered the whole thing: First with a “call to unity,” then with an interview with Todd and article that left out his most problematic tweets. So frustrating.)

  • I failed to mention the CT article. Thanks Rachel.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    It is so stupefying that, for those in power in regards to theological discourse, the only moment a man cares about a woman’s opinion is if she’s bearing his child.

  • Come on, give us more credit than that.
    We care about what’s for supper too.

  • klhayes

    Yup, a woman’s only value is as wife and mother.

  • I like the picture!

  • Jon Fermin

    that’s a rather narrow-minded generalization no?

  • Cecilia Davidson

    It seems you took a rather narrow reading, as I made mention that those in the more powerful positions are the ones doing that all too often and publicly.

  • Jon Fermin

    be specific. are you of the position that only those who are ordained have any important say in theological discourse? there are plenty of lay theologians who would disagree with that.

  • Jon Fermin

    I can only speak as a Catholic, but generally speaking I care about….
    what Mother Theresa has to say about serving the poor
    what Sr. Lucia of Fatima says about Mary
    what Mary says about Christ
    what Theresa of Avila says about prayer
    what Alice Von Hildebrand says about the philosophy of religion
    what Mother Angelica says about practical spirituality
    what Therese of Lisieaux says about love
    what St. Faustina says about mercy
    what Flannery O’Connor says about grace
    what Hildegard of Bingen says about liturgical music
    what Catherine of Sienna says about union with God
    what Dorothy Day says about social justice
    what Catherine Doherty says about missionary zeal
    what St. Clare says about poverty
    what St. Edith Stein says about the Philosophy of Psychology in religion
    what Elizabeth Scalia says about current issues facing the church
    what Leah Libresco says about Atheist-Christian dialogue
    what G. E. M. Anscombe has to say about moral philosophy
    and what Sr. Wendy Beckett says about the history of art.

    this is just a short list, and of the notable females here, there are a multitude of other subjects they are experts on, that not only myself but the church looks to for tackling a number of important issues.

  • Jon Fermin

    I am not defending the flippancy of Todd Rhoades, he is ridiculous. Notwithstanding, I do have reason to question the premise of diversity for the sake of diversity. That sort of mentality breeds the kind of tokenism which is in itself a source of racism and sexism rather than a solution. A theologian is tested on the soundness of their ideas, not the contents of their pants. it is less important to know if their genders are representative of the church than if their ideas are. Setting up some sort of quota system (which is what I feel perhaps David would prefer) would engender it’s own sort of problems.

  • But just not interested in what any woman would have to say after hearing confession?

  • You have got to be joking here as a Catholic. Catholic priests must pass a “contents of pants” test.

  • Tami Terry Martin

    Should people stop generalizing other people based on their genitalia?

    Personally, I get a little tired of seeing others assume something – wrongly, as it happens – about me because I’m a woman.

  • Terry,
    Do you think Deborah Tannen was wrong to study and try and generalize about conversation styles? Do you think there is any value in understanding tendencies while still acknowledging variance?
    People often assume stuff about me because I am white, male, native English speaker and such — unavoidable. Generalizing is a human skill to allow fast, quick thinking — which, as you point out, is often wrong. But that is why it evolved.

  • Jon Fermin

    I said theologian, not priest. one does not need to be a priest to speak at and be influential in a theological conference. strictly speaking it need not even have a priest present at all.

  • Jon Fermin

    I’ve confided in women my sins, but I was never under the impression that it was a sacramental confession. we are going to differ on sacramental theology, that’s a given. I believe that masculinity and femininity are constituents of our ontological beings as humans and thus are unchangeable, equal in dignity, but complimentary in function, that man and woman are designed for each other. you on the other hand are probably of the view that masculinity and femininity are not constituents but rather are willed in the individual and are changeable and that equality is achieved by ability to fulfill one’s will, thus might makes right. thus rather than being complimentary you perhaps view man and woman as inherently antagonistic or at the very least autonomous to one another. it’s not uncommon among the identity politics crowd to hold such a view, but what does this view say about our ontology or our understanding as being created in the image and likeness of God? If you are willing to look past cheap talking points and beyond the confines of an existentialist worldview you’ll see the church is not hateful in it’s sacramental theology. if you are unwilling to take that first step, then I am wasting my time.

  • My view is that the Catholic church does have a lot of positives but they would have even more positives if they allowed women in the upper hierarchy of the church. In the long run, the Catholic church is only hurting themselves without allowing women to be priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes. I do have lots of friends that are Catholics and they are great people… Granted, most of them are “go to church twice a year” Catholics…. 🙂

  • Jon Fermin

    well then it begs the question: what do you think a priest is?

  • Tami Terry Martin

    Yes. I think she’s wrong. If I get an A in one class and an F in another, my average is a C. But that C doesn’t reflect my performance at all in either class. What value is it? Language that suggests “some men tend to…” or “some women tend to…” might have some value, but you didn’t use that language. You used absolutes. You’re probably going to argue that you meant “tendencies” but that’s the whole point. Someone starts with looking at general tendencies, then people start talking about it and then drop off the idea of tendencies. Before you know it, it’s not descriptive (or an attempt thereto) but prescriptive. And there you have a fine foundation for having a conference in 2013 and having mostly all men and having said men completely troll those others who suggest that they might be in the wrong.

  • Tami, have you ever read Tannen?

  • wanderer

    If you went undercover as a woman for a year I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t hold the same view as you do now.

  • Jon Fermin

    what proof do you have that I haven’t? you assume that all Catholic women qua women think a certain way? How is your idea itself not a preconceived generalization, or dare I say, a stereotype?

    Maybe I’m already going undercover as a man. really other than a name and a picture (which may or may not be true) who’s to say that I am not already a woman?

    I’m probably not, but I could be.

    therefore your assertion is pure speculation, and can be dismissed as such.

  • wanderer

    Wow. On so many levels.

  • Jon Fermin

    experientiallism is a weak argument. If I am not being serious with your suggestion, it’s because I find it to be absurd.

  • Dave Biddle

    Christianity is the individual and corporate voluntary submission of people to Jesus as their Christ and Savior, their Master and Teacher, the Son of God.

    Christians have the Scriptures as the inspired authoritative word of God. It is through this book that we learn the will, personality, likes, dislikes, and ultimate sovereignty of God. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is suitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    We have the model of Jesus Christ who rebuked and taught and reestablished using the Scripture. We have the testimony of Scripture itself. And we have the Spirit in us who regards the model and testimony and has decided that Jesus is actually the Christ, the Son of the Living God by whom there is no other name given among men by which people may be saved.

    The struggle of women to claim a voice in the Christian church is evidence that the house of God has been invaded with the carnality of the world. If you are fighting for a voice in the church, you are seeking yourself, not the things of God. The Scriptures have spoken on the role of women in the church and the relationship of man and women in marriage, married couples in the church, marriage and Christ, men under Christ, women under men under Christ, Greeks/Jews and men/women and barbarian/Scythian, slave/free under Christ. All are one under Christ and yet there is an order and establishment of things in the Church for God is not the author of confusion.

    For who does a man minister? Or a woman minister? Is it for sexual equality? Or to preach salvation through Jesus the Christ the Son of God? There is no person who does not have the authority from Christ Himself to preach the gospel everywhere as much as they want. Therefore, who would prevent another’s ministry as God has so placed it on their heart so long as their gospel is the one given to us by our Lord and defensible by Scripture? So what is the argument? That women are not the face and voice of Christianity in the world stage? Every part of the body is needed. We are each called to serve in the manner in which we were called. You may want to be a foot but are actually a hand. You may want to be a pastor but are actually called to be a doorman. You may want to be the biceps in the arm of the Church or the pectorals of the body of Christ but you are actually called to be a butt cheek (or, Lord have mercy, an even more unspeakable body part). We are given life at a particular time and location and circumstance that we would all search out and reach for God though He is not far from us. In the position that God called you, so remain. More than this is carnality, lust of the flesh, and pride of life.

    If one disagrees with the interpretation or execution of Scripture, Scripture addresses the manner by which this is addressed. The manner by which disagreements within the Church are addressed is also clearly given. The call to HUMILITY of one’s self to value others as better than himself is the final and greatest Christian call. If you disagree on something not pertaining to salvation or essential doctrine and your statement is not accepted, you are called to humble yourself and accept it in order that the body of Christ may remain in love and unity.

    I will not rehash the number of Scriptures and doctrine pertaining to this subject. They are clear. Women who want to be leaders and elders and pastors in the church and to hold authority over men, justify your position by the Scriptures. And if you feel you have given a proper justification and your argument is rejected, humble yourselves in the house of the Lord. This is what we have been instructed to do – that we each may decrease that Christ in us may increase, that we lose our lives for Christ’s sake so that He may receive us into everlasting dwellings, that everything we do is for the glory of the Son of God who loved us, who gave Himself for us, who washed us from our sins in His own blood, who ransomed us from the condemnation of eternal hell with His own flesh which He gave for us on the cross before the entire world. God has made a spectacle of sin and Satan and, in love and humility, has triumphed over the powers and principalities under Satan’s dominion which seek to exalt themselves against the things of God.

    In the name of Jesus the Christ who is and will always be worthy of all praise, honor, and glory, God bless you.