Women in Church and the Power Paradigm

Women in Church and the Power Paradigm May 27, 2006
In quite possibly his best post ever entitled, Women in Church and the Power Paradigm, David Wayne contends that Christianity does have a kind of hierarchical view of the role relationships between men and women in the church/home, but that this view does not imply that women are oppressed in Christianity.

I just had to share some quotes with you:

So, for Keller, this means we need to spell it all out into three ways of living – the irreligious way, the religious way, and the Gospel way. The Bible presents the Gospel as the antidote to irreligion and religion.

I think this paradigm can help us in understanding the issue of the relationship between men and women.

The irreligious view on Christianity’s oppression of women would be that it does indeed oppress women and women need to be liberated so that they can at least share power in the church with men.

A religionist view would be that the Bible spells out a hierarchy of male and female, that God has ordained men to be leaders in the church, and that those who disagree simply need to submit to the Word of God and deal with it . . .

In saying that there is a third way, a Gospel way, I don’t want to suggest that there is some kind of Hegelian synthesis to be had. But I do think the Gospel can speak to people on both sides of the divide.

First of all, the Gospel challenges the power paradigm which may underlie the whole thing. In many ways, the dispute here is over the distribution of power, with one side demanding equal distribution of power and one side demanding a hierarchical view of power.

Yet, the Gospel challenges the notion that God moves through the exercise of (human) power. God’s greatest move, in securing our redemption, involved an emptying of power, a humiliation, an act of obedience, a submssion to oppression – see Philippians 2. The cross displayed God’s glory through Jesus’ sacrifice . . .

It is true that leadership implies calling the shots, but I bring all of this up to point out that leaders are only worthy to “call the shots” if they understand their position is one of service and sacrifice. Indeed, this is what Philippians 2 is all about as it shows us Jesus as model. We lead like Christ led when we see others as better than ourselves and consider their needs to be more important than our own.

So, a Gospel orientation would lead us to see the Church as a place where women are called to submit to male leaders who are called to be their servants (as well as everyone else’s servants).

This won’t answer all the objections of the irreligious, but it could at least help bust up their cultural ideas of leadership as power leading to oppression mindset.

Similarly, the Gospel orientation would speak to religious folks who have an authority fixation and who don’t understand the sacrificial character of leadership.

Scotty Smith says that pastors are to be the leaders in weakness, humility and repentance. All male leaders could then examine their own hearts and repent where they have been motivated more by a desire to give direction than to render service.

(tags: complementarianism feminism jollyblogger)

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