Friday, November 10, 2006

Speaking about the Speaker

Nancy Pelosi is set to lead men come January.

I wonder if the congress has noticed that she wears skirts. That means that she is about to exercise authority over men. Or at least, she's going to use her feminine wiles to woo them to her ways of thinking, right? She will be Bush's achilles heel in stilettos. And that's just plain dangerous, isn't it?

See, the thing of it is, I've heard that women aren't supposed to lead men. There's this whole line of thinking that goes something like this. Women aren't supposed to lead men. Oh sure they're equal, and they are valued as equals. They can vote and think and write blogs, they can drive cars and run corporations and raise upwards to five children (high five Nancy!). Women can star in music videos and start clothing lines, they can fly into space, teach in universities, be ambassadors to other countries, and go to jail for crimes.

But for gawd-sake, they must not lead men! That would be a violation of all things holy.

There's a great set of reasons for why women can't lead men that I will itemize below so that you will understand why this is a serious issue that we all must take seriously, if we want to be taken seriously when we discuss the seriousness of this issue.

1. Women aren't supposed to lead men.

2. Therefore women shouldn't lead men.

3. And because women aren't supposed to and shouldn't, they had better not lead men.

If you want to probe this line of thinking, it is rooted in a historically grounded argument from Scripture and the identity of Jesus Christ and goes something like this:

1. Paul said so. If you ask why he said so...

2. The Bible says so and if Paul said it in the Bible, then that's just how it is. As Dobson said on one radio show: "If you don't like it, take it up with God. This was not my idea."

3. If you ask why God says so, it's because Jesus is a guy, a dude, a male, a testosterone filled human with lowercase apparatus. He's our model of leadership, ergo, males are our model of leadership.

So let's review: the male should lead the female because the female should never lead the male, and that's because centuries of teaching about what the Bible says by males says that women cannot lead men, especially since they are not males like Jesus is, and that's what God has said on the matter.

Which brings me back to Nancy Pelosi, the future Mme Speaker. Are you about to tell me that congress is not a church? That God only meant that women can't lead men if the sign in the front of the building says something like "First Old Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ"? (We have one of these up the street.)

I'm so relieved. Nancy will not be violating the clear cut rules for women leading men after all.


Chuck said...

Dobson's "Take it up with God..." delusion is one of the key things that irks me the most about evangelical Christianity. You have well pointed out the breakdown of the circular reasoning required to hold such a view.

Wonder what the position of the "First Old Irregular Baptist Church" would be?

Cheryl said...

Ha! You can tell a good writer when you can actually FEEL the sarcasm oozing from the screen.

Women leading men... women preaching the gospel... don't get me started!!

I know you're talking about Nancy Pelosi, but the whole issue of women leading me was brought home to me with the Ted Haggard issue. Here's something I wrote on my site about it:
I keep wondering what the response of evangelicals will be to this question…. If all this about Haggard was going on AS he preached the gospel, then was his message valid? Does the condition of the messenger negate/affect the message?

If they say the state of the messenger DOES affect the message, then that pretty much wipes out anyone being able to preach…assuming that all sin is sin (which will expose another hypocrisy, since they clearly don’t believe that!).

If they say that the messenger DOES NOT affect the message, then are they telling me that it is okay for a lying, adulterous, drug-buying pastor is more worthy to preach the gospel than a spiritually upright WOMAN is? Does the penis contain a power that we don’t know about? Does it elevate a man so much higher that, even in his blatant sin, he is more worthy to carry God’s word than a woman??!!

Ridiculous, that in 2006, we're still dealing with these kinds of issues.

Love your writing. Keep up the good work!

Dave said...

I personally am looking forward to seeing what Speaker Pelosi is able to accomplish in this new role. The idea that she is third in line from the presidency is actually quite thrilling to me... to think that this is the situation in the United States, after the dismal pall that we've had to live through politically over the past six years.

My favorite politician in all of America happens to be Barbara Boxer, who was my congressional representative years ago when I lived in her district in Marin County, CA, just north of Pelosi's district. I appreciate the warmth of her tone in her speaking and her emails, which I actually take the time to read. She is poised to chair the Senate Environmental Subcommittee in 2007 and I am so pleased to contemplate that someone like her is going to have significant clout in addressing issues like global warming, toxic waste, pollution and other critical quality-of-life issues that affect future generations as well as us today.

I know your focus is on women in leadership here, and I did enjoy your humor, let me say that... but I am also excited to see that people of color, like Charles Rangel and John Conyers, are also going to assume greater prominence in managing our nation's affairs. I know that each of the people I've named in this comment have been pilloried by some pundits and commentators, but the fact is, our government is about to go through a process of being much more diverse and truly representative of the nation as a whole than it's been since 2000. Conservatives, whites and evangelical Christians will continue to have a lot of influence, of course, but the conversation will have to include and take seriously the views and priorities of a much broader spectrum of the populace in the months ahead. The potential is here for a very interesting and possibly transformative chapter in American politics to unfold before us.

So are you still thinking that a Condi vs. Hillary contest for the presidency in 2008 would be a cool thing?

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Although I am from California, I confess I know nothing about the "real" Nancy Pelosi, but I do know she is "hated" by the conservatives in my neck of the woods. In fact, right now she is running neck and neck with Hillary for the most hated politician in this country...which...makes me wonder how much of the hatred has to do with the fact that she is a woman who is now going to be leading men. None of my conservative contacts would ever concede this point but I have been befuddled for years why so many of them hate Hillary Clinton and the likes of Nancy Pelosi. I understand their disdain for their political views but there seems to be some deeper issues going on to fuel their hatred....Personally, I am looking forward to her leadership in the weeks and months to come and wish her well for everyone's sake and have no problem with women leading men. I have had some very postive experiences with women pastors, therapists, and principals, so I am confident her gender has nothing to do with her potential to lead. I just hope the men she will be leading and the doubters and haters come around some day....

Pastor Skip said...

I have been teaching a series on marriage this fall. An interesting bit from Genesis is applicable here though it’s not something you’ll hear from a lot of pulpits.

In Genesis 1:28 God blesses the man and the woman and gives them both authority over all created things. They take up a shared authority for the world and it’s care. This is bourn out in Genesis 2, though most of our English translations don’t suggest it. Virtually all modern English translations of Genesis 2:18 have God saying, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

In English helper implies second rate status: Someone to assist the skilled labor, an apprentice, a plumber’s helper, hamburger helper, Mommy’s little helper. Helper in english carries a sense of subordination. The helper is less than the one she is helping.

But the Hebrew of Genesis 2:18 does not imply this. The Hebrew word translated “help” is “ezer” It’s used seventeen times in reference to God (as in Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and shield) and three in reference to military aid, or an ally.

Within the world of the OT the one who helps is not the subordinate. “Help” comes from one who is strong enough to give it to the one in need of it. In fact some Rabbi’s contend that the Hebrew for strength (oz) is the root for this word ezer. The help is described as k’negdo which is the quality of “corresponding to” – no inferiority implied. So God determines to make for Adam a power or strength that corresponds to him. Not Adam’s little helper.

The Woman then, is not the Man’s little helper. She is the strength from God that corresponds to his need (that is his weakness). The Woman has what the Man does not possess.

As to Paul, considering that of the 40 people Paul’s commends by name in his letters 16 of them are women and most of these are arguably leaders in their congregations including one referred to as an apostle (Junia Rom 1). And his Galatians comment that in Christ there is neither male nor female- all are one, I am inclined (and I think reasonably so) to take his harsher comments in Timothy and Corinthians as specific responses to situations for which we lack sufficient information.

So for this Baptist: Long Live Nancy Pelosi!!
May she be the strength from God that corresponds to our weakness.



preacherruss said...

Skip, you would make Lawson Stone proud...he was my OT prof at Asbury and he gave us a huge lecture on day on "ezer k'negdo" was brilliant.

Kansas Bob said...

Many Fundamentalists and the entire Catholic Hierarchy are in agreement on this one. Some Evangelical denominations like the Assemblies of God support women in ministry. My church has women elders and supports women in ministry and leadership.

On a personal note, in corporate America I have always found women managers to be better leaders than male ones. They are better mentors/coaches and mostly lead with a lot of heart. One of the sad things I have observed is how many have become more masculine in their leadership style just so they could fit in.

Concerning Nancy and the new Democratic regime ... I pray for them ... that they will be able to bring consensus and compromise to our government ... and that they will find a way to bring the troops home quickly ... my son is leaving for his second tour in Iraq in January.

my15minutes said...

What bilbo said. I haven't even turned on the news since the elections, but based on the past... there's so much opposition to pelosi (and h.clinton) that you just have to wonder, "What are they so afraid of?" I was working today with someone today who was spewing the remorse of the defeated regarding pelosi, and I (a Republican) was ready to scream. I'm glad a woman is in that position and though I might not share her position on the issues, at least I doubt she'll pull a Mark Foley on us....

Dave said...

This morning's Maureen Dowd column on Pelosi and the re-feminization of government is pretty funny, and freely accessible to the public this week since the NY Times is promoting "Times Select" through Sunday.

julieunplugged said...

Skip, loved your theological treatment of the topic. Thanks for bringing education to my little blog. :)

Dave, that article is a hoot! Talk about great writing. Thank you.


carrie said...

Sacrasm has never been my favorite form of communication. It's what turned me off ot Doug Wilson and Co. even when I agreed with the theology.

Why should I be happy simply because someone with female genitalia is Speaker of the House? Why use this time to skewer people who lost the election, and suddenly make it about gender instead of issues?

Sorry. The position on issues matter more. She's one of the most liberal members of Congress from the most liberal district in CA. She is a member of the Progressive Democratic Causus which, until relatively recently was part of the Democratic Socialist Party. She may be a nice person, a dedicated public servant, a loving spouse and a good parent, but she has, imo, radical politcal views almost directly opposite mine.

I still marvel that people would rather put any women in a position of power rather than want the best person for the job. If that *is* the same person...great. For many people Pelosi fits the bill. But not for me. And the fact that she wears a skirt doesn't make it any easier to swallow.


julieunplugged said...

Carrie, I get it. I agree that the stand on the issues matters.

I think one of the issues that the gender represents IS that gender should not matter in positions of power and one way to see that happen is to see both genders in positions of power. That may be why some people would overlook other issues in order to see a woman in a typically male office - since that is the issue that the person represents.

Jury is out on Pelosi for me. I've not been a fan. I don't know what I think of her today and am trying to stay open to her, not to prejudge her based on my soundbite experiences of her to date.

I used Nancy as a foil to get at my other irritation: why women can lead in the public square but not in a church. Sarcasm can surely be annoying, but occasionally it helps to highlight the issues.

Always like your feedback.


carrie said...

Gracious as always, Julie!


Kansas Bob said...

About: "why women can lead in the public square but not in a church"

They can and they do - if one can get outside of their fundamentalist predisposition when they select a church to attend ... much easier said than done ... but is a matter of intention and priority ... unless you are Roman Catholic of course :)

julieunplugged said...

Bob, I really appreciate you pointing out that there are churches who do appoint women to lead men. Yes! I'm encouraged by their example fo shizzle. :)