So, I very meanly played to my base yesterday (I love y’all) which necessarily won me a couple of comments from them that are already haters. These can be summed up under ‘Who Are You’ which is almost as good as ‘I Can’t Even.’ I love modern discourse so much. As anyone will tell you, I wander around my house muttering, ‘I can’t even’ just for the way it rolls off the tongue. It’s like the perfect expression.
But, of course, one mean blog post about Jory Micah does not our substantial problems solve.
Thing is, Ms. Micah isn’t feeling anything that isn’t there. When she feels the call to be a pastor and then goes to the church and demands entrance, she’s only doing what she’s been brought up to do. As I’ve said more than once, when you educate all the women, you do have to decide what on earth to do with them. Are there any places that you don’t want them to be? Because you have basically opened all the doors wide, and it feels sort of weird when they don’t walk all the way through. Except that some denominations don’t want them to, and have real theological reasons for preferring they did not.
There are three responses to this problem. The first is to shout rather too loudly that it was a mistake to educate them and that they should turn right round and get back in the kitchen. And, I won’t lie, when I hear the word ‘complementary’ that’s vision that swims before my eyes. I’m going to call this the Duggar Approach to women in the church. The women are educated for the fate that awaits them. You cope with the problem by returning to a bygone era. Problem solved.
The other solution is to decide you just don’t care any more. Let the women in but then passive aggressively blame them when things go wrong. I really think this actually happens in the ‘egalitarian’ world sometimes but really, I’m seeing it everywhere. I read a whole lot of blog posts by Jori Micah yesterday and I found them utterly tragic. I’ve looked in from the outside on marriages like hers. And all the Shouting about it how wonderful it is when the man finally gives up and lets the woman ‘lead’ isn’t loud enough for me to miss the mute, hangdog look of a husband who has to obey his wife, who decides, for whatever reason, that he has no other choice. (Incidentally, she must welcome this examination because she’s blogging about it. Public writing=public response.)Bring that into the church and you find the true men drift quietly away. Essentially, the church gives up being the church.
The third response is where most evangelical women probably find themselves. And that’s that every one agrees that the woman shouldn’t preach the sermon. But then, because OMW this is such a terrifying topic and Someone is definitely going to be triggered either way, we will Never Speak of This For Real. The men nod kindly at the women, but there’s fear at the back of the eyes. This fear occasionally manifests itself in a very subtle, almost imperceptible patronizing friendliness. Are the women going to rise up? I mean, gosh, we educated them. They obviously have gifts. Some of them are even pretty coherent. But, ugh, you know, if you let the coherent one do something, like teach someone something (anyone) she could take it and run and before you know it we have Jory Micah. So, let us all just smile and nod and hope for the best. But also, maybe if we don’t make eye contact with the women nothing bad will happen.
The woman, in this picture, and this is so so so so important to me, doesn’t Ray Romano the man. She doesn’t put him down. She doesn’t think he’s a dummy. She doesn’t belittle him. When he fails, hilarity does not ensue. She treats him like a person. And this is good because he is not then bitter and angry at her, nor patronizing.
What does the Ray Romano marriage look like? You see it everywhere. These women are the saving stay at home wives who just have to put up with it all as best they can because of all the stupid stupid stupid dummy men. This isn’t ‘complementary’ either. The power is centered on the women. When it comes into the church, the man climbs shakily into the pulpit to face down a phalanx of ladies who, if he doesn’t preach what they want him to, will find he probably doesn’t have a job any more. If he is obedient to them, they cover his derrière in all his horrendous stupid mistakes. But this, the Ray Romano Model, is very often called ‘traditional.’ Honestly, I hate it more than the Duggar Model. Mostly because everyone is saying one thing and doing another.
As you can see, it is kind of a mess. In the places where the conversation is being had, many ordinary Christians recoil from the outcome. In the places where the conversation isn’t had, liberalism creeps in. In the places where the conversation is nodded to in a friendly way, but isn’t full throated, women and men who have sorted out their lives at home find themselves disoriented in the pew. They know what they believe, but they are not totally comfortable with life in the church.
This is too long, so tomorrow I’m going to talk about the problem of Showing the Woman Her Place and the even more icky issue of Tone. If you’re mad at me, leave an angry comment. I’m feeling pretty cheerful and I’m putting everything up.