Misogyny in the Church and Beyond

Last week, well-known preacher and author Beth Moore wrote a stinging blog about misogyny in the church. Moore comes from a Southern Baptist background so it’s not surprising that her experience has been less than supportive given that denomination’s stand on women in authority. However, her words were powerful and struck me at a deeper level than the church.

From a Christian perspective, I see God using women as prophetesses in both the Old and New Testament – prophetesses were women who spoke for God (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:24; 2 Chronicles 34:22; Isaiah 8:1-4; Luke 2:36-38; Acts 21:9). If you’re speaking for God, you pretty much have authority over both men and women because you’ve been chosen by God Himself to speak, don’t you think?

The sticking point is Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:12 in which the apostle says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” The question is this: Did Paul mean this admonition as a blanket statement or was it based on the cultural condition of the time to be applied during that time?

People have argued this point for centuries! Commentators have made good arguments on both sides. For me, I look at it this way: God made men and women differently yet equally and complimentary. Certainly, the man is the head of the woman as per scripture. Remember, Eve was only deceived in the Garden while Adam sinned because Adam was responsible for Eve and did not intervene to keep Eve from eating the forbidden fruit! However, that being said, scripture is full of stories of women who God chose to teach His word, including Aquila’s wife, Priscilla, who taught the young preacher Apollo. If God can choose women to be prophetesses and teachers, certainly He can put them in positions of authority to handle the Word.

Does this give them authority over men? Yes and no. As a spiritual leader teaching the truth, certainly they have the authority to teach, reproof, correct and train in all righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Do women have authority over men in their homes and families? No. That is clear in scripture.

I know not everyone agrees and believes Paul really meant women should be “quiet and submissive” in church and not have any role in spiritual leadership and authority over men in the church. And that is where Moore is drawing a line, because this thinking has regulated women to a second-class status in the church.

But Moore’s comments only scratch the surface of a bigger societal issue – misogyny in America’s culture.

I’m a pretty conservative guy and I really don’t buy into all the feminist non-sense they put out. For example, you may be upset with me but I don’t buy into the so-called “Rape Culture” argument. Men don’t think rape is okay nor is every man a potential rapist. It is not part of our culture as men to rape. Here are the statistics: According to a group called RAINN (www.rainn.org), there are on average 321,500 sexual assaults and rapes in America per year. Take that number and divide by the total number of men in America (roughly 162 million) and you get .002 percent. In other words, if every assault and attack were committed by an individual male, only .002 percent of men are violent predators. Let’s say that the number of assaults is five times that number because of non-reporting. Then the percentage of men committing violent sexual assaults are .01 percent (if I did the math correctly – I’m a liberal arts major!). My point is not that this isn’t horrible – it is horrific! My point is that .002 or even .01 percent of men committing violent sexual crimes is not a culture; it is an aberration of deviant men committing crimes with nearly every single American man abhorring sexual assault and rape as much as women. This is why I reject the rape culture argument.

What I FULLY agree with, however, is a culture of misogyny among men.

There term misogyny can be defined as “a dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” My experience is misogyny exists in every corner of our culture from the locker room to the board room, especially as an ingrained prejudice against women. Aggressive women are seen as the B word while aggressive men are admired. Smart women are seen as uppity while smart men are seen as role models. Men expect women to play a certain role in society and when they don’t those women are bullied, marginalized and ostracized. There is, indeed, a glass ceiling in business and while we’ve come a long way, we’re still arguing that a woman should be paid the same as a man for doing the same work!

I really don’t like the term “micro-aggressions” because anything can fit under that tent whether it’s truly an aggression or not, but when it comes to men and women, I would have to agree that men constantly use micro-aggressions against women.

And the truth be known, I’m one of them!

I was raised by people from the World War II generation where men and women had very distinct roles and it’s difficult for me to adjust given the behavioral conditioning I had about these roles. It is something I am working hard to change in the back-end of my life.

So, what does this mean for the church and what Moore wrote in her blog? I believe the church should be the most egalitarian place in society. Certainly, God made us man and woman so we are meant to be different, have different roles, rely on different strengths, and have different gifts. But, Paul teaches us that “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That is how we are to treat each other.

Unfortunately, the church has a LONG history of male dominance which is difficult to overcome. I think a lot of that male dominance is simply historical; men dominated culture for centuries and it still is evident in our institutions. But some of it is an intentional shunning of women, treating them as lesser than their brothers in Christ, which clearly is not what scripture intended. I say this while thinking about the women in the Bible – Debra who led the Israelite army in Judges; the women who support Jesus’ ministry financially; the women who were first to discover the empty tomb; Priscilla who taught young pastors their trade; Phoebe at the church in Cenchrea who is considered a deaconess; Lois and Eunice who taught Timothy the scriptures from a young age; and many others who are prominent in scripture.

I applaud Beth Moore for taking such a bold stand in her blog. Unfortunately, she gets absolutely pillared by some on the Christian hard right for her positions. However, she is correct; there is misogyny in the church that we men bring into the church from our culture of misogyny outside the church. Her call for Christian men to admit this and change their thinking and behavior should be a wake-up call for all of us to treat one another as Christ treats us. 

Here is the link to Beth Moore’s blog if you are interested: https://blog.lproof.org/2018/05/a-letter-to-my-brothers.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=focusonthefamily

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