I realize it’s been a while since I posted anything here. It’s hard to find the time to blog like I used to. Honestly, since the launch of Beyond Authority and Submission, I’ve found it difficult to write. It’s especially daunting to know that everything I say can and will be used against me. For today, I’d like to share a couple of articles.
First is an article I wrote recently for Modern Reformation, Is There a Place for Priscilla in Our Churches?
Within the conservative, Reformed world, the opinions on whether or not women can teach theology to men cover a wide spectrum. Some believe that women can do anything in the church that a non-ordained man can do. Others believe that women can teach theology to other women and children but not to men in any setting. A few believe that women shouldn’t ever teach theology.
When it comes to writing and speaking about theology outside the church, opinions vary even more. Should a woman speak at a theological conference? Answers include “Yes, but only if the audience is all women,” and “Depends on if she’s teaching theology or speaking from her own experience.” Should a woman write a book or blog or have a podcast? Answers include “Yes, as long as the book/blog/podcast is intended for women, it’s OK if a man comes across it and learns from it,” and “Books provide a separation between author and reader so a man isn’t learning directly from a woman.”
In all these discussions, I wonder what the modern Reformed Christian community would make of Priscilla if she lived today.
You can read the full article here. Predictably there have been some critical reactions to my post. All I’ll say in response is: Women serving like Martha in the church is not the same thing as having room for Priscilla in your church.
Along the same lines, I highly recommend Aimee Byrd’s recent piece, Not a Daughter of Sarah?
Not all teaching is behind a pulpit. And I don’t know what all this “usurping authority” is about. When Scripture calls us to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), or that by this time we ought to be teachers (Heb. 5:12), to use our gifts of teaching or exhortation (Rom. 12:6-8), to pursue love and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1), when Scripture calls brothers and sisters to build one another up with a teaching if they have it (1 Cor. 14:26), are we to pretend that this is all directed only towards the men? Is exercising our gifts as disciples in the general office of layperson usurping authority, or obeying the authority of Scripture?
I am struggling to understand what it is about me that needs putting a stop to. To where there is now an organized effort, with officers in my own denomination—men with spiritual authority—that are organizing offensive and defensive strategies against me. Me? Who the heck am I? I read about my “agenda” and my motivations, and I don’t know this person they are talking about. Talking is a kind word. Plotting, scheming against…slandering. Yes, that is appropriate. Normally, we would just be wise to ignore such people. Unless, they are in positions of spiritual authority. In your own denomination.
Whenever you write or speak publicly, especially on topics like women anad men in the church, there will be critique and constructive debate. That’s to be expected. However, what Aimee and I (and others) have experienced goes way beyond legitimate debate and discussion. What we see are histrionics, personal attacks, name calling, gossip, and slander.
If you’re on social media, you’ve likely witnessed these kinds of behaviors. I haven’t spoken much about these attacks. In general, I would rather not give any attention to these guys. But sometimes it’s necessary to shine the light in dark places and reveal what’s going on. It’s time to stand up to the bullies who are sinning against us.
I encourage you to read the two articles I’ve linked here. I’ll close with a link for a podcast interview I did with Marcos Ortega and Lisa Spencer of Reformed Margins. We talk about what happens when women write and speak about theology. You can listen here.