Thursday, September 14, 2006

Women in Men's Roles (and vice versa)

A reader of this blog asked me a couple days ago if I was saying in an earlier post that I didn't think that women should be in the position of the US Secretary of State. He referenced Condoleezza Rice and Margaret Thatcher. This is a fair and good question. I would like to respond to it now.

On this matter, I take the same position that John Piper, the Minneapolis pastor, takes. In several works, including, I believe, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Piper argues that there are certain jobs that it is more appropriate for a man to have and less appropriate for a woman to have. I agree entirely. I say this prepared for a hailstorm of criticism, and some which may come from Christians. That's okay. I think that the culture and its egalitarian doctrines have so infected the church that we have unknowingly imbibed harmful teaching.

I think that certain work is suited to men, though I do not argue this from explicitly scriptural grounds and I would not argue it with the same force that I would on something clearly taught in Scripture. I argue this based on a smattering of biblical texts and principles, including the original pattern for the home found in Genesis 2 and 3, the work of the Proverbs 31 woman, and the qualifications for elders and deacons. In all of these texts and many more, men are portrayed as being the chief breadwinner in the home. Men occupy leadership roles in the home, the church, and the society. I believe we were made to do just this. We were made to be strong, and so we are best suited for military service and law enforcement work. We were made to lead our fellow citizens, equipped as we are with qualities that befit the ardors of public leadership--toughness, a more analytical nature, a less emotional nature. We were made to till the ground and seed the earth and fish the seas. We were made for danger and hardship, and we were made to protect our families as best we can from these things. We, not women, are supposed to be in the line of fire, the hot seat, and the city gates. When we fail to occupy these places, we fail our women, and we fail our world.

Does this mean that I believe in a highly structured code with all kinds of restrictions? No. I don't. There are numerous situations in which a woman may take on a man's role for a time. I think of struggling seminarians whose wives put them through school by working. This is not a good long term plan, but it is a helpful short term solution. When possible, though, I think it best to have Dad in the workforce and Mom at home. There is something right about this. There is something right about men being President and Secretary of State. Though women have sometimes performed well in such capacities, I do not believe that such work is best suited to them. Were I a foreign dictator, I would think that a society with women in power must be a society with weak men indeed. On a personal note, I've noted my own innate reaction to female cops. I will be decidedly un-PC here: it's just not the same to have a crisis and have a female cop show up to help a bunch of men, which happened recently at my church. Moments like that lucidly show, I believe, that there is some work that is gender-specific. That, I think, is the scriptural pattern, and that, I think, best meets the needs of our families, our churches, and our society.


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7:04 PM  
Blogger Jed said...

A rather selective bit of scripture, don't you think? What about Deborah whom God appointed to be judge over Israel (Judges 4)? This is at least the equivalent of a Secretary of State. Hence I am troubled by the statement: "There is something right about men being President and Secretary of State."

5:19 AM  
Blogger Aedonis said...

God has used a donkey in the past to lead His people. From that I would say it is not so important WHO He chooses to use as it is THAT He chooses to use.

That being said, two things:

We are told to respect and obey our governments as they have been put in place by the Lord. (Rom. 13:1)This includes female political leaders.

However, can we infer anything from the fact that the majority of world leaders throughout history have been and are male? Circumstantial evidence, perhaps, but it does lend itself to the theory that God generally intends for men to have leadership positions within both the home (which I would argue is undeniable given Paul's letters) and within governement (which I would agree with Owen is stated at least by implication in the larger portion of Scripture.)

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that neither commentor that was in favor of women in the S of S role replied to Owens last statement that one would not feel safe with a female cop responding to your desperate 911 call that was between multiple males. Personally, if I was in this situation I would think that my call was in vain for what is she going to do besides legally use a weapon that I won’t do? I already called for back up hence my call to 911 so what more is she going to do that I wouldn’t have already done, the honest answer is absolutely nothing.

I thought about the topic of Condy as S of S while I was in the shower this morning. I’ve been told that Condy is a good lady, a genius so they say, anti-abortion, was in the running for NFL Commissioner, and most importantly to me she’s black! If she wasn’t black than I wouldn’t have given this issue a second thought so right off the bat I’m admitting my prejudices. My position on women in leadership is similar to Owens and Piper and other great men of the faith. The only semi-sound argument that I could conjure up so that Condy is in her proper role as a female is that she is merely the messenger of the President. When she talks with other countries she is merely saying what she would perceive that GWB would say and her words mean something only because of they are backed up by the full weight and power of the President of this country. Condy herself is not supposed to strike fear into other leaders for she is a very frail women but it is the US Military and the US economy that gives her superior power and makes others leaders listen. This is the only valid argument that I could conjure up in defense for Condy and her role as S of S. I do find multiple holes in this argument. Thus I still am of the same position that I started with, that position being, we need strong male leadership to rise up and be masculine. Thanks Owen for sparking thought for us once again.
P.S. sorry about the anonymous, I’m not an avid blogger, just a blog reader.
-Brian B.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Colin said...

What's Condi supposed to, growl at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Dealing with nut jobs like him require balls of steel, and I'm pretty confiden Condi's got them, irrespective of not having fleshly ones. I figure her education and intellect are fairly strong, too (what, having been a dean at Stanford).

So, practically speaking, she sounds like a winner. Of course, we could be wrong. Does scripture order us to do otherwise? I fail to see how it does.

My wife's working if she wants to. But then, I sprinkle babies.

[As for being a cop, I fail to see how this is an appropriate question. We are speaking of physical characteristics. Physical strength has not been integral to leadership roles since, well, William Wallace, I suppose.]

8:29 AM  
Blogger Jed said...

Neither commentator in favor of women as Secretary of State mentioned Owen's example of the female cop because it is what the Krukker (and Aristotle) used to call ignoratio elenchi, evidence irrelevant to the proposition to be proved. Good call Colin. It also baffles me that so many seem to think that the fact that the vast majority of leaders throughout history have been men somehow means that it is God's will for men to rule. Most peoples in human history have practiced some form of bond servitude (and there exists no explicit condemnation of this in scripture) but yet most Christians today believe that slavery is wrong. Yet many good Christians have argued, just like Owen, that because slavery is so widespread it must consequently be God's will. We must be careful in deriving what "ought to be" from what "is". We must interpret nature in light of Scripture, not vice-versa. As for Scripture, the example of Deborah shows that a woman in leadership is in no way wrong. The requirements for male clergy in scripture trouble me not. It does not surprise me for God to have different standards for those who serve him in ecclesia and those who serve him in saecula. After all, the rules for the Levites were different than for the rest of his people and the other requirements for clergy in the NT are narrower--not wider--than the specifications for other vocations.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jed, thanks for your thoughts but when you use words that ordinary people don't understand it seems as though you attempt to speak over their heads. People shouldn't have to use a dictionary to decipher what you are attempting to say. We aren't all genuis'! So if it would please you, could you dumb-it-down for us common folk.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I confess "ignoratio elenchi" is terminology from technical philosophy and I am a philosophy student. However I defined the word immediately. I put it in the mouth of Krukker=John Kruk (google him) as a joke that apparently was missed. In saecula and in ecclesia are latin terms but I took it that the meaning was clear: we all use the words ecclesiastical and secular every day, no? Everything else should be clear. And just for the record, I often have to resort to the dictionary when reading other people's writing. I think it's good. As Spurgeon once said in a sermon, there's nothing wrong with having to work a little bit to understand what someone is saying. My pastor follows that rule of thumb often. Maybe I've been hanging around Scottish Presbyterians too much. I'm looking forward to more good debate.
Cheers, Jed

12:31 PM  
Blogger Vanessa Brooks said...

Interesting thoughts and I agree, although difficult to defend on the basis of scripture. It is rather, as you admitted, a decision of common sense relating to the fundamental uniqueness and differences of men and women.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Aedonis said...

Jed, thanks for pointing out the logical falicy in my last paragraph. That was a cup of cold water to the face, one which was apparently much needed.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

Owen, Was shocked to see 10 comments, thinking you had a huge readership, but now that I read the comments I am comforted to see that there are some repeat names.

The example of Deborah is of interest. First, she lived in very unstable, -everyong-doing-what-was-right-in their own eyes type of culture, hum, like today?

This exchange is of some interest: Judges 4:8 8 Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go."

And there might be other factors that could be discussed as well.

My point, I would hesitate to make her anything other than an exception to the rule. A study of the her culture and the role of its men might be of more value for this present dicussion.

The comments have been interesting as well.


4:18 AM  
Anonymous Jed said...

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (thankfully) does NOT endorse this position that political leaders should not (as a rule) be women.
cheers, Jed

2:21 PM  

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