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What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

I am not a woman. However it does not take much of an imagination to feel what many women must feel when the sensitive issues of male/female roles and responsibilities are brought up by men, particularly men who seem to believe that there is only one legitimate place for women: beneath them. Beneath them spiritually, socially, and physically.

I do not think that many Christlike (and this is an important adjective) men really see themselves or their gender as superior to the opposite sex. Yet, there are many Christian (again notice the adjective) men who believe in equality in theory, but in their superiority in practice. And what one practices is what one really believes. The frustrating thing in these discussions, however, is that some men who could rightly have the adjective “Christlike” connected to their names unnecessarily ruffle feathers by speaking/writing in a tone that downgrades women. This is unfortunate and it does lead me to believe that our women friends are more right than wrong to sense suppression. Those who would dismiss female complaints of male-chauvinism as merely the exaggerated sensitivities of women “who have not learned their place” are not listening and reading objectively. They are listening and reading as men.

I might add parenthetically that this is not an appeal for Carnegie/Maxwell style, nor is it a suggestion that making people mad is bad. I’m all for making people mad when necessary, especially hypocritical preachers and pharisaical fundamentalists. Have done it. Plan on doing it again. (Soon.) But that is for the sake of truth. The truth in this case is that most Christian woman embrace the Word’s commands for wives to be in submission to their husbands and have happily resigned themselves to a non-role in church leadership. I believe that this is the case for most Christian women because of the simple theological fact that they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, not only confirming to them what is true, but helping them to rejoice in it. The rub is not in the truth, men. It’s in the condescending way men say it. This is therefore an appeal to speak openly and frankly about this sensitive subject with candor, not as men or women, but as humans. Redeemed humans.

In my
last entry
a participant in the thread, Mr. Subra (a man), responded to an entry by Joy (a woman) as follows:

The internet has expanded long-range and anonymous ministry possibilities beyond imagination, as well as unheard of potential for some to influence others whom they would have otherwise never had contact. Blogging, newer yet, brings with it new possibilities, and new issues. My thought is this – if you, as a woman, had no means to do this (and I’m discussing, not condemning) in this way, would it be appropriate for you to go around verbally proclaiming your thoughts to all who would listen? Is that God’s plan for you as a woman, and if so, where is that explained?

“As a woman?” Why must you say that? The question is equally valid for men. Pardon me for being hyper-analytical here because the question is actually benign. The benignity enhances my point. Mr. Subra was kind. Joy was not offended by what he said. But it is his sincere and kind disposition and phrasing which make his questioning an excellent illustration for the point I am trying to make. Many women chafe under Subra’s typically male method of discussion. I hope I can explain.

The key word in the entire question quoted above is “woman.” In my mind, this understandably frustrates good, thinking women. In a conversation about women, their influence, and blogging, the writer asked Joy a question that is irrelevant simply because of its relevance to everybody. Really. I would ask anyone, is it “appropriate for you to go around verbally proclaiming your thoughts to all who would listen? Is that God’s plan for you as a person, and if so, where is that explained?”

Mr. Subra, your questions are thoughtful and kind, but allow me — for the sake of illustration — to pose a similar question to you, a man. If you did not have the technology of blogging, would you jump in to a conversation, uninvited, with people you did not know, verbally expressing your thoughts to all who would listen? Of course not. And, or course, in blogging, you are invited to express your thoughts, here not excluded. But does it feel like a little bit of a put down? Let me press on. Is it God’s plan for you as a man to be jumping into discussions like this? Doesn’t the Scripture say that you should be out pursuing a career and providing for your family? What are you doing at the computer anyway?

This kind of biblical application frustrates good women. After listing a number of passages specifically to women (and in most of those cases married women)Subra said, In all of these passages, (and please understand I’m not trying to sell anything or prove anything, I’m just trying to discover and follow the truth, whatever that is), the women are never enjoined to pursue careers, lead Bible studies, etc. Since when do we men only do things that we have been “enjoined” to do? I’ve not been enjoined to blog in the many Scriptures that I know apply to me as a biological male, yet I am doing it with a clear conscience. Scriptures applied this way to women, must be applied to men likewise.

The expression “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” is helpful in discussions like these. A man appears to be chauvinist whether he is or not when he poses questions and arguments that are relevant to sinful humanity (all men included), but are weighted with the word “women” as if women, because they are women, must answer to the questions and challenges that all humanity is accountable for. One final example:

Mr. Subra questioned, Is is possible that women are taking a responsibility [context: blogging] never assigned to them? This question assumes that blogging is an “assigned responsibility,” but here’s my response: Women? Why not all of us? Yes, it’s possible that many women are taking responsibilities never assigned to them just like many men are taking responsibilities never assigned to them. The question is relevant to all humans, but to pose it to a woman because she is a woman is wrong. It perpetuates the frustration many good women have who struggle with unpleasant feelings of being misrepresented as rebellious against the truth of God’s Word for them when, in reality it, it is not the truth that chafes. It’s the way we remind them of it.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

8 Responses

  1. Samuel Colt made all men equal, and so did the blogsphere. But bravery when armed is artificial.
    This platform is invisible, but not inconsequential. We’re talking with real people who fill real roles.
    If we simply interact with all the appropriatness we would during post-service discussion, there’s no need for this discussion. Anything that a woman may discuss with a man in person, she may discuss here.
    Both genders need to remember that when writing to each other, and congregants need to remember that when writing to Elders. That’s a responsibility as much as it’s a liberty. So above all- Christians need to remember that when writing to Christians.

  2. thank you, Pastor.

    I didn’t respond in the previous posting, but I was reading intently. You know that I, like the wonderful women who are my examples in our congregation, rejoice in learning to follow God’s plan for submission to authority. But, as you said, it was the tone, not the truth that frustrated me when I read R.C. Sproul, Jr.’s and other men’s comments on your blog recently. So many times, women are singled out for obedience to commands that are for all Christians to obey. So many men seem to spend an amazing amount of time on discussing a woman’s role and duties when the women are busy just trying fulfill that role and those duties to the glory of God. Thank you also for your letter to us at the Ladies’ Conference. What a blessing that weekend was to our souls! We spoke and learned and fellowshipped about the things of God and His Word, and our hearts were encouraged in obedience and trust. Your letter was a joyful reminder to focus our attention on Christ during our time together.

  3. Mr. Cline, I’m a bit unclear on what you are trying to say in your comment above. What is it, exactly, that we are to remember when writing to each other? I’m not confronting your point, just asking what it is :o) I don’t mean to be confrontational; you might have been referring to another discussion or something I missed above that would provide the missing link and clarify your stance for me. Appreciate the clarification, if you’ve got time for one :o)

  4. Call me Scott, I’m 19 🙂
    The point I’m really making is that it’s easy to forget that the blog, though a different platform, provides a means for discussion that is essentially no different than any other platform.
    Potential application (for sake of example): laymen still need to treat pastors like pastors.
    Intended application (for sake of admonition): if women could discuss something with men after a service, it is just as appropriat online.
    Finally, the “one another” passages apply here too. Hence, Christians need to remember that when writing to Christians (male or female…we are “one new man”, which was pastor Bob’s point)

  5. Okay, Scott, thanks for the clarification :o) I definitely agree that we all need to remember to keep a Christlike spirit in all of our discussions, whether they are on theology or some other topic, and whether we are talking female to female, male to male, or female to male, or vice versa, and whether we are in the blog world or face to face. We could also all of us, especially us younger Christians, be careful to give respect where respect is due, specifically to the older and more experienced and learned among us.

    For further clarification, though, do you think that a woman (or a man, for that matter) who blogs or holds some other form of lay discussion, is either excersizing authority or usurping authority if he or she disagrees with someone else on a theological point and expresses that opinion? I don’t THINK you do, but maybe I’m still a little unclear on the ‘potential application’ portion of your previous comment. I would never advocate that anyone usurp his pastor’s authority within God-given bounds, but does that mean his word is infallible? But even more to the point, in terms of the blogosphere or any discussion amongst a group of Christians in which some may be pastors: are the laypeople in those discussion to see ANY pastor as having authority over them, even if they are not part of his congregation? I don’t think that’s what you necessarily mean to suggest, but I guess I’m still a little unclear on the intended point there.

  6. I’m pretty sure you’ve made accurate assumption’s about me, Jen.
    I do NOT believe that it’s out of line to disagree with your pastor…and IF DONE CORRECTLY, probably not out of line to let him know. I commend the Berean spirit. As a matter of fact, I’m frustrated by those who lack it. Furthermore, IMHO, pastors need to grant more room for what I call “doctrinal legitimacy.” So by saying that congregants need to treat Elders like Elders, I am not saying that they could usurp authority by what they say, but that they may disrespect by how they say it (this is true in any discussion; my pt. is that who you’re addressing will determine what level of respect is due).
    As to your second question, no, I’m not accountable to your pastor and you’re not accountable to mine. Can you imagine the chaos of a Christendom that sought to obey all who claim that role?
    My only purpose in all that was to demonstrate that the blogsphere should be seen on equal footing with the post-service discussion. Sproul Jr. and others need to keep that in mind when determing what is appropriate for anyone (such as a woman) to discuss here.

  7. Thanks, Scott! Good to know my assumptions were right, for a change ;o) Thanks for your forbearance and clarifications.

  8. Pastor Bixby,

    Thank you, again, for this article. As I posted last night on my blog, your words are a balm to the soul for women like myself who are weary of taking a back seat in all areas of church life except the church kitchen.

    May God richly bless you.

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