The only thing I don’t like about this blog is its unpronounceable name. It addresses what has to be one of the great issues of our day: the respective roles of men and women in the church, in the home, in the raising of children, and beyond.
The first time I took a look at it, I didn’t see much blogging on the Bible. I probably landed on the site on the wrong day. In fact, biblical content is the hallmark of blogging on the site. Recent posts engage scripture in multiple ways.
This blog belongs on my roll and in the list of sites inhabited by Bible bloggers.
Suzanne knows how to strike a nerve, and harvests 300 comments to a single post. Molley, Paula, and Letitia are raising important issues. Wayne covers a number of things with forethought and care.
What is the blog missing? Suzanne, Molley, Paula, and Letitia discuss womanhood from a woman’s point of view. They interact with biblical teaching every step of the way. Their discussion needs to be complemented by a discussion of manhood from a man’s point of view. Finally, it might be helpful for women of the blog to discuss manhood from a woman’s point of view. I for one would that find that interesting.
Here are some questions for the denizens of the blog with the blankety-blank name.
A first question: what places of authority fall within the purview of the discussion? A possible answer:
(1) The government of the res pubblica
(2) The government of the faith community
(3) The government and management of business and non-profits
(4) The government of the domestic hearth
(5) The governance of children
(6) The governance of husband by wife, and wife by husband
(7) The question of power in conjugal relations (sex)
A couple of remarks on (6) and (7). I tune out after a bit if the abuse of women by men is the exclusive topic of conversation. What about the abuse of men by women? There are examples of both in the Bible. There are also examples, as the song says, of men wanting to be abused by women, and of women wanting to be abused by men. If I left it at that, however, I would be missing the half of it. Men abuse men all the time. Women abuse women (in the life of churches I have served, women-on-women abuse has been and continues to be the most frequent and devastating of all). This is not, in the first place, about gender at all. Until the commonalities that unite abuse across genders and within genders are clarified, I doubt we will make progress on the subject.
As for (7), sex, of course, is not easy to talk about. But the rabbis dealt with it, so did Jesus, and so did Paul. It needs to be discussed just as much as the other areas. Sexual wisdom is as rare today as it has ever been. Much of what passes for liberation in the sexual realm today would have been considered bondage in another age. Maybe it still is. Sooner or later, someone needs to notice the elephant in the room.
Please don’t read too much into what I just said. The blog is quite interesting, but more limited in scope than might be wished. I expect that will change. As it does, the blog will attract even more readers than it already has.
A second question: in what sense has the current cultural trend toward the empowerment of women been positive, and in what sense negative, and for whom?
Across the board, though at different speeds, doors continue to open which allow women a greater role in governance in the political realm, the faith community, and the management of businesses and non-profits. On the other hand, the burn-out rate of women who take on responsibility in these areas is very high. I’m most aware of the situation among my colleagues in the ministry. It is, I think, part of a larger phenomenon.
To the extent that is the case, I used to think, it’s the fault of institutions, of patriarchy, bad karma, what have you, but has nothing to do with the way many, or some women, tackle the exercise of power. Now I’m not so sure. Too often the exercise of power by women follows the mold of what women have traditionally done in the domestic setting: extremely hands-on exercise of power, bending over backwards for everybody all the time. That, of course, is a recipe for burnout.
As for the exercise of power “down” the ladder, in the home, between husband and wife, between parents and children, let’s not even go there, as they say. It’s one big honking mess. Please do not misunderstand me. I have no nostalgia for the past. But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with the present.
Did I mention that men just as much as women exercise power in dysfunctional ways? I wonder if a malady common to both genders might be identified. Maybe more than one malady. Maybe the maladies are already identified in Scripture and tradition. What a hoot that would be. Is it forbidden to talk about these things in polite society?
My last question: if we are not happy with the way things were, and still are, in terms of gender roles, are we happy instead with the way things are becoming, and have already become, insofar as egalitarianism, falsely or truly so-called, has taken deeper and deeper root?
I might as well provide an answer to the last question. Egalitarianism continues to be an immensely positive trend, except for women, except for men, and except for children, but in different ways.
Lest that statement be misunderstood - it will anyway, I know it, even though it is not much more than a reflection of the suffering I see around me and in my own life on a daily basis - I will add the following. Those who advocate a return to more traditional schemes of division of labor and division of authority are wasting their time. They are like mice running across the back and towards the tail of an elephant that is lunging forward, an elephant that is unaware of the proud mice who think they are moving in the opposite direction.
If there is not some sort of third way in all this, there is no way at all.