comments made on gender roles

I made these comments on Jono's site
hmmm. I sort of agree. however, I want to say that the way that I heard that term "spiritual head" or 'spiritual leader' bandied about Trinity made me think it was so much bullshit.
I think that we have roles as males and females, and that they differ. Men, by virtue of our gender, get to be fathers. women, also, get to be mothers. what is the role of a father in society, in the family? represent the family to the rest of society, defend it from society, provide (though women can and if they are so led, should work, so long as kids are not neglected by either parent as a result of work, on anyone's part)
what does a father do. I think spiritual leadership is not leading bible studies, and praying at dinner, though maybe that is part of it. I think it has to do with being willing to be vulnerable, willing to show what it means to be a human who wants to be like God. show your wife, show your children that being vulnerable takes strength and guts, and faith that no matter what happens, God is able to handle it all. if we are meant to lead as men, I think it is not silly pragmatic things, but really being the first one to admit we were wrong, the first to say we are sorry. the first to go to a pastor or friend for advice. the first to confess sin. be the example, not the pressure applier.

we don't take responsibility for the spiritual growth or development of a woman of any kind, they are humans and as such are capable of thought and observation. I think the key is what they might observe. If we are lazy, and the woman has to take charge, which she may, the kids will see that. If we work hard at life, at love, they will see that too. and, if we take risks for the women in our life, they will appreciate it, knowing that it is not a desire to control or coerce, but a desire to see them experience the love of God.They will experience freedom in christ through the love of their men.
I learned about this freedom that was so Godly and beautiful and overwhelming this summer from Jessica.


Simply Victoria said...

have you read frederika m-g's book on gender? it's quite a good read. very insightful, I thought.
unfortunately, I can't find it right now. kurt probably 'donated' (MY book!!) to the church library. along with so many others from our small, but excellent orthodox book library. so I totally take back my suggestion about donating yours. I have no charity in my heart when it comes to my books! (grrrrr... get your OWN books!!)
is that wrong? :)
anyway, it's a huuuge topic. and one that will never be satisfactorily resolved on this fallen planet, I am certain.
It's hard being a woman, harder than it has been in previous days, in some ways. we have so many more choices, and so many more moral conflicts to go along with them. I could go on an on. but I'll spare you. I have no answers.
just constant questions.

Stacy said...

Simpy Victoria...

We must share a brain.

I love that book!

I feel the same way about "my" books (they become like private journals with all my notes, thoughts, disgruntalments, and "a-ha's" in the margins).

I ditto the thoughts on modern life as a female (after working with all males at a VA-hospital PTSD clinic I think it's true for men, too....life is just hard, I suppose ) and I definately ditto the statements, "I have no answers. just constant questions."

pasivirta said...

well. I like the comments from both of you folks, but,seeing as you are women, maybe I need to know if I am ANYWHERE near the mark? maybe what you are saying is that to make a statement with any length shorter than a book is to do injustice to the topic?
I am sure that is the case. this was merely a response to someone asking a question on their blog. but any slightly-less-than-book length ideas can by all means be shared...

Anonymous said...

Dave, I read your blog with interest. Yes I too have heard all the rhetoric of what a women should be and bla bla bla.

Gender roles have changed over the years and will continue to change. The church needs to recognise that and deal with it accordingly.

Accordingly doesn't mean take the Bible out and use the verses that depict men as supreme rulers of the home, government, and all that shit.

Accordingly means seeing Scripture for what it is and has to offer. Paul for example recognised female leadership in the early church, something that many churches don't like to read or hear.

The Book of Judges mentions females in roles of leadership, as well as other passages in the Old Testament. The Queen of Sheba ruled Ethiopia by herself for example.

The role of the male figure in the home is what you have suggested in your posting. Yes if he is there, the male is to protect the home from invaders such as society, etc.

Paul's instructions for the married calls for a unity and a working together as partners and equals. Nowhere have I ever found a hard and fast, written in stone rule in Scripture that women are property and men are the slave masters of all.

Yes we read many things in Scripture that deal with the societies of the periods written in, but we don't read rules set down by God as to dominant roles.

Specific verses that are used, often omit the whole passages and chapter that bring a totally different meaning and understanding to what is being said and written.

By the way, what's your thesis on?

Anonymous said...

hey ed, good to hear from you. I appreciate all your comments. I will try and email you a copy of my thesis proposal, though I am reworking it right now.



Stacy said...

David, I love this part:

"I think it has to do with being willing to be vulnerable, willing to show what it means to be a human who wants to be like God....that being vulnerable takes strength and guts, and faith that no matter what happens."

I am a big believer that there are two types of vulnerability. That which comes from weakness and that which comes from strength. (How's that for a tautology of what you just said?!?!) Anyway, I find that people are so afraid of vulnerability because of their own weaknesses that they'll often compensate for another's vulnerabilities which have been revealed by strength. But when we're strong enought to allow vulnerability from strength to be revealed...there's nothing more profound, loving, or beautiful. There's nothing more real. It requires strength of both persons. It brings out that which is strongest; best in them both.

Inherently, I think, too, that women are "responders." Ancient society, writing and specifically the Song of Solomon reveal this to us in a very subtle way. One that protects--even by nature of its apophatic revelation.

I was speaking with my friend Victor about 6 months ago and we were playing this silly question-card game (we were on a road trip). Victor is from Syria and has had a rather interesting time adjusting to American woman. As we were chatting one of the cards led me to ask him, "Victor, how do you think men should treat women?" I expected him to say all sorts of things like equally, respectfully, lovingly, etc. I wasn't expecting the answer I received. He looked at me with a slightly quizzical look, as if to say, "Why should you have to ask such a question--as though you don't know?" And then he replied with only one word..."Gently." I was completely floored! The light tone of the conversation fled immediately. I had to look out the window to hide my tears. Still today, when I share that story with any girlfriends, they almost all have a similar reaction to mine...speechlessness.

Obviously, I'm not advocating for the old adage of "pregnant and barefoot." But I think there's reality to gender difference. Oddly enough, I spoke with Mother Gabriella about this just last month. (Mother Gabriella is the Abbess of The Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Michigan. Father Roman, considered by many to be a Holy Man, is the Spiritual Father of the Monastery. He's an amazing man if you ever get a chance to meet him. He was in solitary confinement for 4 years for being a priest in communist Romania.) She said this: The Church needs women. But we are called to a different role. Our role is one of silence. While the men are called to speak, preach, and serve ours is a call to silence. The men have their role in the Church....but there is no Church without us. We give the Church structure." She went on to speak of the Theotokos and her life. I was really moved by the call to silence. If you ever meet Mother Gabriella it's easy to see the strength of her silence. She's a very capable woman who runs the entire monastery. She speaks at women's retreats and writes in a published monastic journal so you know that she isn't just speaking of a physical silence. And yet, she is. Mother Gabriella expresses more in her silence than I could express in a million words. She's strong and beautiful...a "real" woman.

The thing is this. In our society we try to study each gender apart from or in opposition to the other. But I firmly believe that they are only understood in concert. They "hang and fall together" so to speak. I think that we only see them rightly when we see them together. For a long time I wanted to be the Proverbs 31 woman so I studied other women and books and books on how to be a Godly woman. I did nothing but become more and more angry. I became a femi-nazi in Christian clothes. Then, I went to work with all males a the VA (as I mentioned in my earlier comment). Boy, did I have it wrong. As I sought to understand men I felt a softening within my own heart. I healed and became more of a Proverbs 31 woman than I had ever been before (which was still pitifully short of Godly, but you get my point). (Tangent: I tried to tell those men that they gave me more than I ever gave to them as their therapist. I'm not sure they believed me but it's so very, very true).

Anyway, the REALLY LONG answer is, "Yes, David, I think you're 'somewhere near the mark.'" But then again, what do I know? The reason I keep asking the Mother Gabriella's of the world is because I feel clueless, too.

pasivirta said...

what is a VA clinic or hospital. and, thanks for saying so, but I guess (and you did) what I meant was I was interested in hearing the opinions, though I know they are not fully formed etc.
hmmmm. I am so glad to know monastics. I think I heard about mother Gabriella somewhere before. she sounds (ha) wonderful.

Stacy said...

VA hospital/clinic=Veteran's Administration....

It's where soldiers go for medical/dental/emotional help (one of our priests is an MD for the VA here in Memphis). I mostly worked with soldiers from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I only worked with 1 or 2 from the first Gulf War or those that are in active duty. I heard stories that should never be repeated...and the thing is this: for me they were only stories, but for them they were life. I used to cry myself to sleep some nights. It changed my faith.

biss said...

Oh so many thoughts.
First, I like Stacy. I think she is brilliant.

Second, I plan to do some thinking tomorrow, so I will get back to you both then.

Third,Ed--while gender roles may change over the years, gender does not. The church needs to recognize this fact, and celebrate essential (NOT existential or sociological) differences. There are some aspects of male-ness and some aspects of female-ness that just are, and are from the beginning. These are differences between the essences of males and females that are not contingent upon upbringing, nurture, culture, era, etc. This is not a terribly popular view these days, perhaps mostly because somehow people seem to incorrectly equate "different" with "power struggle," "inequality," or "unequal worth." But it doesn't have to be that way. As Stacy said, we --men AND women-- must work together in concert. I learn more about being a woman by watching men (particularly my husband) than I have from all the feminist literature out there (and I have read a lot and even tried desperately to emulate it. I gave up in desperation). I've also learned a lot about being a woman by watching other women, particularly happily married women who have worked together in concert with their husbands to establish their identity together. Huh. Perhaps that has something to do with "headship"?!?

So much for waiting until tomorrow to think.

[My husband has given me permission to post this.]

biss said...

[My husband knows I do not need his permission to post. Don't worry. He was just joking. He is very very good to me and likes my brain.]

[Even and especially when it makes fun of him.]