Scorn for Women in Leadership – Is it the Church’s Fault?

Earlier in the week, I came across an article that examines the attitudes toward women who choose to run as candidates in Presidential campaigns. I found the issues uncomfortably similar to the patriarchal and misinterpreted attitudes that many in the church deem “Biblical.”

The CNN piece takes a look across political lines at how prominent women are treated by the mainstream media. This professor succinctly articulates the issue:

The system that’s the problem here, the system that’s the barrier is, broadly, patriarchy,” said Caroline Heldman, an associate professor at Occidental College. “But, more specifically, when women run for public office, the press is more likely to talk about their dress and appearance, more likely to challenge their competency, more likely to talk about them in kind of ‘first woman’ terms or like they’re oddities or benchwarmers instead of actual candidates.

Read more of the CNN article here:

I wish were more disturbed by media and pop-culture’s treatment of women who are driven toward roles of leadership, but more often than not, the Church is simply a big part of the problem.

I have written about this before and have posted a piece by pastor and author Greg Boyd about the misconceptions about women in the Biblical narrative (You can check out Greg’s writing here — scroll down to his point “Jesus’ Counter-Cultural Affirmation of Women in Ministry”) If you have read The Mockingbird Parables you know my feelings on the topic. Here are several of the highlights:

At the most important moment in human history, Jesus chose to reveal Himself to women first… a strange choice in a religious culture that treated women like second-class citizens.

Scripture is wrought with a clear message of Jesus’ utter disregard for appearance and social rank. In Judean society, it was a major taboo for a man to even speak to a woman who was not his own wife or daughter. Yet, Jesus interacted regularly with foreign women, He taught women, He ignored ritual impurity laws, and readily accepted women into His inner circle of followers.

Given these truths, why still do so many denominations place limits on the roles of women inside the walls of their church? Why do many in the Christiantradition misuse the Scriptures to assert male dominance over their sisters in faith?

In order to use the Bible to suppress women, one must altogether ignore the fact that Jesus’ ministry was supported by women. Although He had twelve male followers, Luke strongly suggests that just as many women traveled with Him and “were helping to support them [Jesus and the disciples] out of their own means” (Luke 8:3 NIV).

There are two themes to the Biblical narrative that govern our faith: we are forgiven and we are free. I wonder how effective we can be at communicating the liberation of the Gospel if we are not on the front offighting for equality and the oppurtunity for leadership across gender lines…?

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