Good Christian Wives…..Keep Their Mouths Shut

Or so it would appear from this video.

Thanks (yet again) to Matthew Paul Turner for sharing this video at his site.  It certainly is a vivid example of the disturbing capacity that the church has to make half of the human race disappear, or at least go mute.  I know from some recent conversations that there are people who will think it’s unkind and unchristian of me to criticize First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for the message that is sent in this promotional video.  I disagree, obviously.  Not all churches are the same, for which I heartily give thanks.  My local church is blessed with many strong, gifted, faithful women and they are not squashed by patriarchal theology.  Nor are they isolated into women’s ministries, women’s Bible studies, women’s fellowships.  There is value in all of those things, but I love the richness of men and women sharing ideas, questions, laughter, prayers – in short, life – together.  And I find that in my church.  But the church as a whole still has a lot of work to do.  In some churches women are silenced (as in this video).  In others they are infantilized (much Christian “curriculum” designed for women is very, very silly) or blamed for the dearth of men in the pews (think not?  look here or here or especially here).  Where we are not living up to our potential as the people of God, I think we need to challenge each other, and I want to continue to challenge the church in America to consider your sisters.  Consider the strengths they can bring to the Body.  Consider the little girls running around your children’s department now, who might be church leaders twenty years from now.  Teach them, alongside your sons, to exercise all of the gifts God has given them.  Please do not limit them to an image of “beautiful womanhood” that is less Kingdom of God than it is romantic fiction.

I don’t think there is one model for Christian womanhood, or manhood.  And I’m past thinking that all Christian marriages have to look alike in order to function well.  But can we at least agree that there is something troubling about a promo video for a marriage conference in which wives have no voice?

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About Sharon Autenrieth

Wife, mom to 5, homeschooler, Christian Education Director, idealist, malcontent, follower of Jesus.
This entry was posted in gender, spirituality, The Bad & the Ugly, videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Good Christian Wives…..Keep Their Mouths Shut

  1. Lennie says:

    Since I am/was apart of the Baptist church I do know that when they run these types of videos most of the time it is at a men’s bible study at the church. They show the men that the retreat isn’t just for women it is for the men as well by showing strong head of the household Christian men. I am sure that if you went to the women’s bible study they would show one made for just the women of the church. Honestly in my opinion you are reaching for something here that isn’t there…… Unless you actually went to the church and saw that they were using it in a 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 kind of way it is hard to judge the actions of the church. I sure hope someone doesn’t get a video of our churches classes or church service and write a very judgmental blog about it just because they didn’t actually see the situation in a whole.

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    • Lennie,
      Firstly, thank you for commenting. I love comments & appreciate it when people take the time to write them.
      This video is featured on the church’s home page, so it’s clearly not intended for men only. And this church is not just Baptist, but Independent, Fundamentalist Baptist. That’s not an insult, I think it’s a fair description of where they are on the family tree. I’ve spent some time watching their pastor’s clips on YouTube and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he believes about the role of women in the home and church. They’re not ashamed of what they believe, so why should I be unable to react to what they believe?

      In fact, I guess that’s my response to the hypothetical you pose in the last sentence. If we as a church put together a video highlighting a ministry, class, worship service, whatever – we should be ready and willing to own up to it in front of the world. In the case of FBC Hammond, I don’t think this is a misunderstanding, but a fundamental difference in how we view the place of women in the Kingdom of God – and I’m confident Jack Schaap would agree with me. If you’re interested, here are a couple places where the issue of “silencing” women is addressed very directly by Rev. Schaap.

      Lennie, you’re my friend and you know I love you. I don’t have any problem with you disagreeing with me on this subject. We’ve disagreed before. 🙂 But this view of women (the extreme that is taught at FBC Hammond and on display in the original video) – I think it’s poisonous. I can’t back off from saying that, because I believe with my whole heart that it’s destructive to the Church, and destructive to women who spend their lives under this teaching.

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  2. Andrea YOUNG says:

    Sharon, thanks for the other videos. I agree that those, mostly the last one, is WAY out of line. In my opinion the promo video was not offensive, these other two were. I think we have to be careful not to get all worked up and read into things all the time. When we are focused on seeing the negative or offensive in things all the time we take our attention off of what should be on our minds…regardless of sex, personally spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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    • I agree with you about what our goal should be. And the gospel will be spread more effectively when we’re not limiting the roles that our sons AND daughters can play.
      I know we’ll probably never agree (and I suspect our interpretations of scripture are at the root of that), but I still find the original video troubling.

      I hope you know that what I said to Lennie is true of you, as well. You’re my friend and I appreciate you commenting!

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      • Andrea Young says:

        I suspect we aren’t THAT far apart in views on this subject…just vastly different ways of looking at the big picture. Well it’s a good thing you like me commenting because I TOO have some strong opinions:) Oh, and I’ll probably always share them too…unless you are a man and don’t want me to talk! HAHA That was a joke, calm down:) Have a good day Sharon. Hope your back feels better.

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      • That joke was beneath you, Andrea. 😉

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  3. Lennie says:

    I guess I just feel like to each there own. I don’t feel like he is pushing this on me and honestly it doesn’t look like he is a pastor of a small church so others must agree with him. And that is where the freedom of religion comes into play. I must admit and proudly say I read faithfully “beautifully women” I was taught this way growing up as a child and I have to say this belief has given me a strong marriage with my husband. I may not be as strict as the fundamentalist Baptist as shown on these videos but I do agree with some of it. I can say personally we would never attend a church that had a pastor that was a female. But that is our beliefs and as I said before to each there own.

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    • You and I have had that “to each his own” conversation before. I agree with it, but as you once pointed out to me, it’s easy for the more “liberal” party in any disagreement to say “to each his own”. It’s the more conservative side that will typically say there’s room for my view, but not for yours. I’ve never sensed that you were condemning the women around you for being different than you – and I don’t condemn the “beautiful womanhood” way of living. I just don’t think (I know, I’m repeating myself now) that there is one mold into which women have to fit. Or men. There is SO much liberty offered to us in Christ, so much space to be ourselves, unique, and yet still reflecting His image.

      And I’m sure you’re not the only person in our church who feels as you do about women pastors. There’s a gap between our policy and the reality, at least these days. Fortunately for me (I guess), I don’t feel a call to preach. That saves me a considerable amount of heartache.

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  4. Elsie Gordon says:

    Hi Sharon! Yes, there are, indeed, churches where women are not used to their fullest capacity, but I’m glad I am not attending one of them. My mother was an ordained minister in the FM church in the Philippines and my husband now serves a congregation (PC USA) where the other associate pastor is a woman. We also have female friends who have served/are serving as senior pastors in their congregations, as elders in their churches, taught Sunday School classes, ran congregational care events, as well as taught children’s classes. I’m fortunate to have seen women being used in various capacities in the building of God’s kingdom here on earth.

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  5. Brent P-H says:

    One of the stronger arguments I’ve come up with for women in ministry is how much missionary work is held back by only allowing 50% of Christians to participate. The SBC is one such organization that will not send women overseas where they would be in a position to teach men. I believe that’s a more recent policy decision. While I applaud them for applying their rules consistently and not treat men of developing countries as lesser than human, it still limits people’s gifts and the effectiveness of growing the Kingdom when there are fewers workers.
    Then there’s the Catholic church that could probably get out of both a priest shortage as well as fewer pedophile issues with female priests.
    Glad to hear that you have taken on this cause. Hopefully those women who are feeling suppressed can find faith communities that will honor their gifts.

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    • Yes, I’ve always been confused by the inconsistency of letting women do as missionaries what they couldn’t do at home. It’s an interesting thought experiment to wonder where Baptist missions would be if not for people like Lottie Moon, though.
      One of the difficulties with this subject is that you just can’t proof-text it and be done with it. We choose different control texts depending on our perspectives, but to really do justice to the issue requires a lot of patient work with contextualization, as well as considering tradition, reason, experience….but since the outcome affects half the church, I think it’s worth the effort.

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  6. HP says:

    Ok. I think you need a little perspective from a Non Christian. I watched the first video yesterday and I wasn’t a bit surprised. For anyone that thinks that there is nothing wrong with the first video or even tried to defend it….watch it again. Notice the body language and forced expressions of the wives. They are each standing there, quietly, being the good little Stepford wife on their husband’s arm.

    Today, I watched the second video. I had to force myself to keep watching. I can’t watch the last one. This asshat (Yes, Sharon, this would be a good place for that word) has no business preaching, teaching or advising anyone. ALL women should take their children and leave this church and if their husbands do not follow right behind, they should leave them too. I know that might sound extreme, but I strongly believe that any man that does not support his wife and treat her as his EQUAL in all areas of life, is NOT a real man at all.

    This guy has basically just stated that while it’s fine for women to teach other women and children….they have no real place and (be realistic) no power in the church. If the woman has no power in the church, she has no power in her home. This is cult type mentality. Keep the women in their place. Let them be pretty and let them teach Sunday school kids so they feel they have a place in the church. Just don’t let them have a voice or an opinion. Just don’t let them be heard. After all, we are all just accessories in public and servants to our husbands at home. No, thank you.

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    • Wow, Holly, I didn’t expect this reaction from you! 😉

      My reaction to the way the ladies look in the video is very, very close to yours. It’s really interesting to me how differently people view it, though.

      Couple things your comment makes me want to add….Lennie commented on the size of the church. She’s right – it’s a whopper. A couple of sites I checked said that it’s the largest church in Indiana. The stats for 2008 had it running over 12,000 average. But that makes me more likely to want to write about this, not less, because that means it’s a church of influence. And I think it’s influence is being used in many ways to pervert the gospel (not just on the “women’s issue”, either). I’m not suggesting we limit freedom of religion, by the way. I support WBC’s right to be crazy/evil, so I certainly support the freedom that FBC Hammond uses to keep the ladies in line.

      Your reaction as a Non Christian is valuable so that Christians can hear how appalling this stuff appears to the “the world”. I have a theory – well, it’s not mine, but it’s the one I hold – that part of the reason Paul place the limitations he did on women (and mind you, he was always going around making exceptions) is that women’s roles were so severely limited in the culture of 1st c. Judaism and the Roman Empire. Even the amount of freedom women did have in the church was considered scandalous. Paul was always more concerned with spreading the gospel than anyone’s particular rights – a position that a lot of people would object to, I realize. But I think Paul’s priority was that the focus remain on Christ and not the incredible licentiousness of the early church – as compared to culture around it. Now, of course, the situation is reversed. The scandal to the world is that Christians defend inequality in the church. Why in the world would a woman want to listen to what anyone has to say about Jesus when there’s this huge elephant in the room – if you join this community, you will join as a subordinate and you’ll stay in that position for the rest of your life. In other words, IF Paul was limiting women for the sake of the gospel, I can see him now, in our setting, saying, “For God’s sake, for the sake of the gospel, stop limiting women!”

      I have to credit John Stackhouse for helping me think that way.

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      • HP says:

        I am very familiar with these passages in the bible. I remember talking about what Paul said in bible study. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that it is possible that Paul, like many men past and present, had another motive. It is possible that Paul also wanted to preserve the male position of authority, no? I get that he was all good and people don’t wanna be hatin’ (LOL) on Paul….but he was a man, a human man.

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      • I wouldn’t deny Paul his humanity – for instance, I do think he believed the world would end very soon & operated out of that framework , but I think it’s more complicated than that. It’s also more complicated than the “kingdom priority” motive I talked about in the previous comment. The two easy paths are 1) accept everything Paul said at face value & try to follow it, and 2) dismiss everything Paul said on the grounds that he was a sexist, or simply a product of his environment I think they both fall prey to a wooden literalism which I don’t think does justice to the dynamism of the scriptures. They also don’t acknowledge where women were at historically, whether – in that context – Christianity was seen as widening or narrowing the path for women. There are some interesting parallels with slavery, actually.

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  7. Lennie says:

    Just some info from a personal friend who houses missionaries from the Southern Baptist Church…. 54% of them are female (counting wives as missionaries). However, of the single ones, 86% are female. I am not sure about the preaching to men thing…. That was never a brought up while I was attending Missions Weekend do to the fact we were looking at these women who got in front of the “whole” church and spoke of all the wonderful things they were doing for people around the world. Never did I once think while listening to a 24 year old single women going to the middle east I wonder if she is going to preach to MEN. I just knew my SBC church was giving her the money to go and spread love and the bible to many……

    As for the comment “ALL women should take their children and leave this church and if their husbands do not follow right behind, they should leave them too. I know that might sound extreme, but I strongly believe that any man that does not support his wife and treat her as his EQUAL in all areas of life, is NOT a real man at all. ” I totally disagree!! I know that not ALL marriages are the same (THANK GOD) and not all people believe in your views. As for our home I know and LOVE that my husband is the Head of our home and I am the body. Together we make the perfect match. I would never take our children and myself away from my husband just because we went to a church and I didn’t agree with the teaching. I don’t need a dog to follow behind me but a man to stand and lead us. Thank God I have a husband who treats me as a queen because I treat him like a king.

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    • HP says:

      My point was…and remains…I would not and do not believe that any one should..be married to someone that belongs to this man’s church. Period. I would not be with a man that shared this preacher’s feelings toward women. No one is saying that any husband should be “a dog to follow behind me.” I am very happy to have a husband that walks beside me as my equal. I also don’t want or need a husband to lead us. Our family of five is led by myself and my husband. We are equal partners in this life and no one is the head or the body. We are a team.

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      • Lennie says:

        I respect that! But isn’t it great that what works for your family doesn’t work for mine and so on. But we are both happy in love women. That is the beauty of life! I actually enjoy my beliefs and you enjoy yours so I feel lets try not to change or condemn each other and remember that not everyone has the same beliefs and some actually enjoy this type of life.

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  8. Pingback: Thank God for catholic parents! | Strange Figures

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