Something about only having two books with you and basically nothing else to occupy your down time gets books read. I’m very good at starting books…but finishing them generally takes longer than five days…for non-fiction at least.
Yesterday I finished “Half the Church” by Carolyn Curtis James. I pulled some other quotes as I read so I thought I’d share them for lack of something better to post.
In discussing the egalitarian/complimentarian views of relationships between men and women, James talks about how the roles of wife and mother only fit women for a certain number of years of their lives if at all. She points out that the message focused on for women in the church relates primarily to those two function and there needs to be a broader discussion in order to include everyone in the movement for “Biblical” womanhood. She also mentions the importance of paying due attention to the verses of scripture that are abundantly clear instead of focusing the most attention on the verses about head-coverings, braids, and speaking in church, etc. There are certain undeniable truths that apply to both men and women when considering their roles in the body of Christ and in the world.
“But sometimes I wonder if we aren’t investing inordinate resources and energies on contested passages instead of putting full weight down on texts that speak to us with unquestioned clarity.”
She also talked about how some women are holding back, hiding, or not honoring their God-given gifts at times because they are trying to be conform with the picture whatever sect of the church has painted as a biblical women.
For example, I know many women who are stay at home moms and homemakers (I am one as well), but I also know women who have committed themselves to a career while their husbands are at home most days. I am not any more or less godly for my decisions than they are for theirs. We are following God for our lives and that is what matter.
In the book, James pointed out two specific relationships where it was the woman’s responsibility to act and the man’s to support. There was the family relationship between Mordecai and Esther and then the marriage relationship between Mary and Joseph. In both there was an interplay of interaction between the man and the women, but in both the man became the supporter of the woman followed her calling from God.
Women must follow their callings and honor their gifts as they live their just as much as men must. Some are called to supporting roles and some are called to lead. Some are called to the home and some are called to ministry or the workforces. And even the typical marriage relationship benefits from the expression of the clear gifts, callings, and thoughts of both in the partnership. Otherwise one or the other has too much on their plate and the relationship may not flourish as it is meant to.
“When women bring less of themselves to the task at hand men are overburdened and we squander our gifts.”
She also pointed out how the issues that we discuss surrounding women in the first world do not necessarily help the women in the less privileged societies. Some women struggle for basic safety and the mandate to submit might put them in a place of danger. James
“It is one thing to debate these issues within an ideal framework. But the world is not ideal. We have seen the kinds of ongoing suffering women are experiencing and need to ask ourselves what impact this debate might have on them. Is the gospel truly good news for women who live entrenched patriarchal cultures – behind veils and under burkas and Taliban rule? What is good news to those women if the gospel reinforces men as leaders andwomen as followers? How bone- chilling dos this sound in the ears of women who are being oppressed or who have been caught in the clutches of human trafficking?”
“[…]are we interpreting scripture rightly when our conclusions create scenario where abuse can thrive unchecked?”
This book helped me to clarify some of my thoughts and issues with the debate about women’s’ roles. Because, although I am following a more traditional path of womanhood, I do believe that God calls women to many different lives in the world. We also must consider other women in the world as we think and live in our first world lives of privilege.
One point I really subscribed to is that first and foremost we are all created as image bearers of God. We were all created in his likeness and are required to honor the responsibility to reflect His glory however, and wherever, we choose to and are called to live. We are the hands and feet of Christ.
All said and done: I really appreciated this book and would recommend you read it if it sounds interesting or if you just want to explore your thoughts on the topic. Though I wouldn’t say I completely agree with everything presented as is in the book, it is a good jumping off point or a lifeline to grab onto as you search through the literature on both sides of the debate.
(This is a part of 31 days to Focus and Refresh a blog series my mom, sister and I are hosting as we spend 31 minutes a day improving our hearts, homes, and habits in the month of October.We would love your company!)