Wednesday, September 19, 2007

father, may i? pt 2

so while i was writing yesterday's post on virtuous daughters being something akin to the ideal executive assistant, i kept thinking about various moments in my sunday school training.

what kept flashing through my memory were the stories and precepts about sacrifice for the glory of God: stephen, all the apostles, ruth, abraham, etc.

this is what christian tradition teaches - you give your heart, soul and mind to God. how did that become, for these alarmingly conservative groups, 'abnegate yourself before your Patriarch'? how does devotion to God become 'don't go to college, don't leave home, don't work outside the home and whatever you do, don't think you have dreams and aspirations that go beyond your biology'?

do you get what i'm saying?
while i believe the spiritual precepts in the bible are so, i have a hard time aligning the bible's historical context with these spiritual precepts. it isn't so hard to understand a father being 'in charge' of the women in his family back in the ancient day. women were chattel and functioned in a specific way in an agrarian society - they were how weath was consolidated, how labor forces were created, how tribed moved forward. without the biological function that women served, tribes and families died.

if someone wants to overlay a message from God to women based on the status of women as historical chattel, then that message would be 'women shall be thus forever.' but that's clearly not what the message is. the eternal message is about salvation, not about women's social position, which is something that is mutable and outside of the gospel, i think.

in other words, separate from 'love God yada yada yada,' is the way a virtuous woman was before the dawn of science and literacy, the way a woman is to be forever??

i don't think so.


Molly Malone said...

i've never understood how some Christians make that leap. particularly since my memory of Jesus is that he was more of a friend to women than anyone else. the only way i think these folks reconcile it is to go to the idea of Biblical inerrancy. the BIBLE is unflawed, therefore what was code in the old testament (or what i like from the OT code) must also be perfect. and lookee this, it also happens to support me and my lifestyle. perfect!

i don't get it. i'm just glad my sense of gender equality was instilled in me ... by my minister father. he was and still is definitely more critical of the patriarchy than my Mom.

Jeff said...

God realized he had a very tenuous grip on the Israelites, as should be obvious from the OT. So God made concessions to the Israelites. He allowed divorce with a certificate. He allowed slavery (under some pretty strict rules). He allowed the treatment of women as chattel. Anything else would have been too much for their little brains to handle.

Anonymous said...

Growing up Catholic and then switching to a Protestant church and later, a Quaker college, I always dealt with those forced roles. And I am just not a "submit" kind of woman! My argument always was, "Okay, say I give ya that I am to "submit" to my husband, let's just go there for one second. Why does that also mean I must submit and be lower than ALL men in society? Why does that translate to me being silent in the church, etc?

Pai said...

Spot on. The fact the people can't extricate their 'worldly culture' from the Biblical principles to the point where they mash the two together and interpret one thru the other, is the biggest problem we have today, in my opinion.

jess said...

SO I was reading this blog, and the last, and some things were flashing through my head at 12:08 am that I'd like to present and get some feedback.

As far as being the executive assistant, I wonder if it would make a difference to us if the executive is a woman? Would we somehow convince ourselves that our oppression in that case would be for the future improvement of all women? I guess I'm not so sure...I guess that to me, it seems that we as women are even more likely to rebel to authority when it comes from a male source. I like to think that if we truly believe ourselves to be Christian women, we must focus on the fact that we are to put everyone else above ourselves, not just men and those in power, but the homeless person you see on the corner and the girl that might bring you coffee one day in the case that you are soon to be the new executive in the corner office. I'm not saying it's not a struggle in our lives, but if we are truly putting Biblical principles first, everyone ELSE is number one...and we are last in line.

And this is tough, very tough. How do we decide where we draw the line in between letting people take advantage of us and doing all we can to help others? I'm not really sure I've found the answer to this in my quest, but I think this is the key to authority and submitting to the PROPER type of authority, once we find it. Anyways, whose to say that your executive boss won't see something outstanding within you because of you willingness to serve. What if that in turn could cause them to rethink their own lack of humility?

Don't get me wrong, I am in no way against feminism and women's rights and all that...I very much believe in human rights and equality and all of the above. It's just that perhaps I think ideally, we should ALL knock ourselves down a notch. I mean honestly, if Jesus could was the disciple's gross, cracked, filthy feet, why can't I try to do something for someone else that puts me in a slightly less appealing place. It's not that I'm claiming these are natural responses, but isn't that what living a Christian life is about? Isn't it about denying what's natural and pursuing something much more difficult?

(Oh, I also read the comment about submitting to your husband. I find one very important thing to put into context is the fact that the circumstances call for submission as husbands are called to "love your wives as Christ loved the church adn gave himself for it"... (Eph. 5: 23). I guess I'm just glad it's not calling for submission regardless of circumstance...)

Anonymous said...

We ALL need attitude ajustments. Like Jess said:
"I think ideally, we should ALL knock ourselves down a notch. I mean honestly, if Jesus could was the disciple's gross, cracked, filthy feet, why can't I try to do something for someone else that puts me in a slightly less appealing place. ... but isn't that what living a Christian life is about? Isn't it about denying what's natural and pursuing something much more difficult?"

Yeah Jess, that is what I thought, or what I know to be true. I'm not saying it comes easy, but I do believe that we need to focus our attention on our Savior and how He is able demonstrate through our lives and our willingness to please him, how to be submissive in our attitude. Lord knows I need His help!

I think, with you Ding, maybe you don't like the attitude that some people who are in authority display when being over others. There are those who get what authority and leadership really means because they listen, encourage, give proper criticism of your work or life. Although they are in authority, they are not caught up in the position and the tittle, as much as they are there to help you are me become better at what we do by serving. They are responsible, not blame shifters. If your ever let go from working with them, you will know why, no suprises.
Then there are those who think it means, you bottom, me top! Submit! I'm boss, pastor, husband etc...
I understand your fustration.

Leadership and authority over others is not Lording over, it is a responsiblity to lead as Christ lead. For for those who do not know who that is, it still boils down to responsibility and the attitude in the responsiblity.

ding said...

i'm glad everyone is having a good discussion.
i'm in the middle of unpacking in my new place so i'll be back to share my thoughts as soon as i can!
(our dsl was just up and running today! whoo hoo!)