As you're probably aware, I regularly follow Rachel Held Evans' blog. I love reading a different perspective, and even when I disagree with what's being said, her emphasis on reasonable discourse and rational debate is wonderfully refreshing. And sometimes, I think she's right on the money.
Other times, however, I just can't get behind it.
Please consider this my somewhat coherent strain of consciousness regarding womanhood, manhood, and gender roles in society versus the church.
Here is Rachel's post.
She discusses how traditional gender roles, especially in the church, slide into the realm of legalism. She includes quotes from John Piper (whom I'm programmed to appreciate, just because I move in Reformed circles) and Jenny Rae Armstrong, another contemporary blogger.
My first and biggest problem with Rachel's post has to do with her lumping John Piper and Mark Driscoll into the same category. Excuse me, WHAAA?!? John Piper, while conservative, is holds orthodox reformed views, and is generally well thought of in evangelical circles. Of course, Rachel doesn't necessarily fit into (or even want to fit into) mainstream evangelical circles. On the other hand, Mark Driscoll is (excuse the shameless rant) a bigoted, polarizing, pigheaded pain the ass whose only purpose seems to be enough shock value to make himself famous.
Anyway, the bulk of the post dealt with the very real issue of how women are to find a place in the church for their gifts that don't fit into the traditional gender roles. This is something I struggle with, especially since both of my sisters-in-law are single and gifted in wonderful, amazing ways that aren't always accepted in their church.
I'm just not sure. I understand that society is changing, and that we as women need to adjust our lives and expectations accordingly. I'm also grateful to be living in a wave of true feminism where my gifts--which just so happen to be cooking and cleaning and taking care of children--can be just acceptable as a woman who chooses to work out of the home and provide for her family while her husband cares for their home.
I have no problem with these societal changes. In fact, I'm grateful for them.
However, my problem arises when I consider women in the church. I believe that men and women are created to be fundamentally different, and these differences should play into the roles we fill in our lives and our churches. And this is where my opinions dissolve into a wavering...well, lack of opinion.
I believe that men and women are different, and should be different.
I also believe that women should be allowed to pursue a path that utilizes their gifts. They shouldn't be limited by their gender! Women are be strong, capable, ambitious, and talented...nothing should stop them from pursuing their dreams and becoming their best selves. Right?
That being said, how does this play out in a church setting? I believe that women, while not inferior by nature, are created to function in roles of service and support. I believe the Bible is pretty clear that women are not intended to teach men. I do not believe that they are incapable of doing so; simply that it is not what we are designed for.
So what is a woman like my strong, intelligent, independent sister-in-law to do? She is a teacher with an incredible gift. She also has a logical, analytical mind and isn't afraid to voice her opinions. She's a wonderful person. But she doesn't know what to do with her gifts at church. She's single and wants so much to find a husband and be a mother, but her talents put men off. How is that right?
Please keep in mind as well, I think that marriage is a partnership, and our gifts can play out in a very different role in the home. I look at my personal gift...and I fill those roles. Marriage is a partnership, and while submission and humility have their places (for both partners!) I'm not attempting to teach or lead my husband. We travel side by side, and serve each other. And I think this is right.
So what's the right answer?
If you're reading, please weigh in. I really don't know how to conclude. There isn't really an easy answer, but I'm so curious to know what other people think and how they've come to their conclusions.