by Lisa Huddleston
This is one of those times when I am reminded of what I strongly dislike about social media–and the on-line religious community. I have stumbled upon a Twitter debate that stirs my emotions like a huge, boiling cauldron of angst. My stomach is full of acid even as I write, and I am reminded once again of my need to lead a quiet life or explode.
The debate? That between Rachel Held Evans and various complementarians from various religious backgrounds. Ugh. The first conversation I stepped into was between Evans and Owen Strachan, a professor at Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Strachan had written a very negative review of Evans’ year old book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and he and Evans were having a “discussion” via tweets (which thankfully Evans requested be moved to someplace more appropriate since I couldn’t keep myself from reading it.) I was interested, because I had just read Evans’ book and found it neither mocking nor preachy. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
In my opinion, Strachan was arrogant, condescending, and willfully (or perhaps not) misunderstanding of the premise of Evans’ book. It was difficult for me to stay out of the debate–I wrote and deleted many Tweets as I followed their interchange. Thankfully, Evans did not need my help to defend herself. She wrote an excellent response on her blog, http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/real-complementarian, and asked for real discussion with those who call themselves “complementarians.” (Complementarians generally–and VERY simplistically defined here by me–believe that men and women have different roles determined by their gender alone. These roles are complementary, biblically-based, and therefore, they believe, God-ordained.)
Today I read a heartfelt (although, I believe, misguided) response by a Catholic woman who takes the debate back to the Reformation and rejoices that she is a Catholic who can leave these decisions to the leaders of her church (all men). Although much sweeter and less condescending than the Baptist brother, this interpretation just added further juice to my boiling stomach. And I guess this is my gastric solution–to write it out on my blog (which is read by very few) and then to let the Big Girls and Boys work it out between themselves.
Ok, my two cents for what it’s worth which is probably much less than two cents: I believe in equality between men and women, that mutual submission really means mutual, and that when the Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” that’s just what it means. Now I know that there are many other verses that can be pulled out of context (as I just did above) to support many other opinions, and I am not writing here to debate them. I have read The Baptist Faith and Message, Mary Kassian, and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I tried my best to agree and to fit into the places outlined for me by my church–but I just did not. And I think perhaps that may be why there are so many churches from which to choose. Unless we are very limited in our mobility, we can look for a place in which we can worship without the rolling acid rising in our throats. For that I am very thankful.
And I am not opposed to the discussions I have mentioned above. These are topics that must be openly debated because separate but equal is still unequal, and I believe that human rights matter. But they do not have to be debated by everyone and in a social media forum. I realize my limitations and my inability to handle the anger and conflict. I will do best by focusing on the gospel of Jesus and allowing others to work out some of the more painful details. For me, I am thankful that God has set my feet in a more spacious place, one that does not pinch so hard, and I gladly bow out. Also I genuinely love and respect people in a variety of different camps on this topic–in fact, as they say, “Some of my best friends are complementarians”! I do not have to agree with them on everything nor do they have to agree with me. (Good thing, right?) But we do have to try to be kind to one another–love matters more.
So, nothing new in this post, but at least I’ve relieved some of the building pressure I’ve felt to have my say in print. And don’t worry–since I have no clear “platform” and my blog is small potatoes–very few will be offended by my words. Whew!
Blessings to you, friends. Enjoy this beautiful fall day and be glad in it. I plan to!