Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adventures from the Porch

            There are roughly three thousand more exciting ways to spend your summer than how I’ve spent mine. Horseback riding on the Mongolian plains. Hiking in the Tibetan mountains. Backpacking through Europe. Road-tripping from state park to state park. Vampire slaying in Romania! Dragon riding in Peru!
            Actually, since I spent my summer with a nose in book after book, chewing on a pen as I took notes, some might believe that every other way to spend my summer would have been more exciting. The adventurer in me is disappointed that I didn’t at least take the car up to the U.P. and look around. She’s mortified that leaving the house even once a day, while easily accomplished, actually took conscious effort.
            But there will be adventures.
            There is a season . . .
            This season was a time for reading like I’ve never read before—not even in college (I dearly hope my professors don’t read this one). In college I read a lot, but there was soccer practice and deadlines and, like most students these days, I am accomplished at completing the assignment without fully delving into the subject. There simply wasn’t time.
            The subject for this summer was gender roles in the church. After more than a few disappointing conversations and sermons this past year, I decided I wanted to understand the subject. When a pastor says, “We believe in a traditional interpretation of women’s roles in the church” I want to be able to say more than, “But this is the twenty-first century!” I want to point to each of the difficult passages, to know which ones are troublesome and which are traditionally poorly translated. To know what other pastors and authors and scholars have been saying on those passages.
            I suspect that for the first time ever, I sincerely wanted to study the Bible.
Having given my life to Christ, trusting in His provision as the Word, I want questions answered.
What did you mean by creating man first? Why were women second and what is a “suitable helper?” How can I and my sisters consider ourselves equal to our brothers in your kingdom if we are, by nature of our sex of all things, considered ineligible to positions of authority and leadership? Why should men not submit to women when the Bible clearly says, “Submit to one another” without making a gender distinction? Why are godly men ignoring godly women and why are godly women content with gossiping about problems when they have the skills to solve them?
The list goes on and on. The frustrations piled up during the past six months as I watched women in our church sidelined, their problems marginalized as “women’s problems” rather than “people problems.” They clogged my throat, my eyes, my brain when I tried to answer the complementarians’ question, “Why does having a different role make you feel inferior?” leaving me only with the ironic protest muddying in my skull: “separate but equal.”
Somehow every conversation I was having ended up on the subject of women in the church. Eyes glazed over. I received raised eyebrows and supporting nods, but noncommittal answers and apathetic shrugs. I learned early on that not everyone is set on fire at the same time about the same topics. But when you are set on fire—as I undeniably was and am—you don’t let the embers fester, sustained by frustrations but weakened by waffling.
I suppose I could have let it die, but I am what my mom describes tenderly as “tenacious” whether I want to be or not. Sometimes I think fire itself is my fuel. At times it fuels me to travel to Thailand and at times it asks for substance. Last winter I went to Thailand, so this summer I sat on my porch with the bees and my beagle and a stack of books.
And I want to share what I’ve found, whether you’re set on fire or not. I’ve read some good books and great books, some excellent articles and quite a few essays by some of the finest minds modern Christendom has to offer. I’ve read enough that I absolutely must start writing about it, but there’s still so much to read and to study. At this point my NT Greek is 90% nouns and I’ve yet to finish struggling through Piper and Grudem’s iconic Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I look forward to a great many more months, books, and any links, rabbit trails, or musings you all have on the subject.

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