On August 28, 1963 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. There’s still a long, long way to go …
A little tongue-in-cheek humor from the late, great David Scholer. (Inspired by a recent FB repost from Ben C.)
Ten reasons why men should not be ordained:
10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
8. Their physical build indicates that men are most suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.
7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowing achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football games shows this.
5. Some men are handsome; thus they will distract women worshipers.
4. To be ordained as a pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes otherwise than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to the traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.
Rest in peace, David. Thanks for the wisdom and for the laughs.
Reframing GOOD Magazine’s article, “Inequality Makes Me Sick (Literally),” this interview with epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson is particularly interesting. Of particular note is his observation that it’s not those who have the most or the highest incomes who tend to be the happiest and healthiest, but those who have the most equality (or least inequality):
…we looked at life expectancy, mental illness, teen birthrates, violence, the percent of populations in prison, and drug use. They were all not just a little bit worse, but much worse, in more unequal countries. … Epidemiologists and people working in public health have been doing this work for some time, not only controlling for relative poverty, but for all the income levels within, for instance, an American state. So once you know the relationship between income and death rates, for example, you should be able to predict what a state’s death rate will be. Actually, though, that doesn’t produce a good prediction; what matters aren’t the incomes themselves but how unequal they are. If you’re a more unequal state, the same level of income produces a higher death rate.
Now, of course, my title for this blog is a little facetious–I’m not under any illusions that government intervention is the only way to deal with inequality. But the fact remains that it’s not how much we have that determines our health but what we do with what we have–and I would say, how we help and empower others with what we have–that determines our health. And our character.
To commemorate International Women’s Day 2010.
Dorothy L. Sayers:
Perhaps it is no wonder that women were first at the cradle and last at the cross. They had never known a man like this man. There never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made sick jokes about women; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took women’s questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out a certain sphere for women; who never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took women as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its point or pungency from female perversity. Nobody could get from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything funny or inferior about women.
— Are Women Human?
Earlier this week, I went to a local showing of “Half the Sky Live.” I got home with every intention of writing up my experience and my thoughts. But my friend Ken Fong got there ahead of me. Here are his thoughts:
At the urging of one of EBCLA deacons, I began reading NY Times bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide. Co-authored by NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (who are married to each other), it’s an eye-popping revelation of how believing that girls and women are inferior to men is causing them to disappear from the face of the earth.
The ratios of male newborns to female newborns around the world is always pretty darn close to being 50/50. So why is it, when governments and agencies count the number of males and females in the world later, that there are consistently fewer females than males? I mean, we’re talking significantly fewer females than males and yet, according to an old Chinese proverb, women hold up “half the sky.” Girls and women are somehow disappearing off the face of the planet.
In far too many places there are all kinds of customs, religious beliefs, and prejudices that revolve around some form of the belief that women are not as valuable as men. When a poor family in Asia discovers that one of their sons is ill, there’s a great likelihood that the parent will take him to see a doctor. If one of their daughters is ill, the parents are hugely reluctant to spend time and money to take her the doctors. Same goes for food: sons are typically fed better and more food than daughters. Or if the family is destitute, the parents are far more likely to sell their daughter to shady character than one of their sons. Maternal mortality (dying while trying to deliver a baby) is another injustice that claims the lives of one mother every minute. Being trafficked as a prostitute in a neighboring country. Being denied the same education that boys are given. Being kidnapped and then raped so that she is no longer a virgin and ‘unfit’ for any other male in the village. Then the kidnapper/rapist has the gall to approach her father and ask for her hand in marriage! ‘Honor killings’ are committed by the girls’ own brothers in an effort to ‘regain’ the families’ honor if it’s found out that she no longer a virgin. Or, like in some parts of India, if a young woman spurns the advances of a male suitor, oftentimes he will surprise her later and throw acid in her face, horribly disfiguring and often blinding her. In the countries where these ‘honor’ acts of violence and evil towards women occur, the male culprits are rarely if ever arrested and then prosecuted. “She had it coming, you know.” It’s enough to make you blow a gasket, especially if, like me, you are committed to loving and honoring girls and women.
Through the CARE organization, the United Nations, and a growing “Half the Sky” movement around the globe, girls and women are being empowered to speak up and speak out, to insist that they are as valuable as any male. We heard numerous stories of even young girls who, when given access to education and protected from the perils associated with being born female in their societies, learned the laws of their countries, brought charges against the male perpetrators, and even eventually were the catalysts for shifting their culture’s paradigms towards girls and women. It was truly inspirational to ‘meet’ some of these valiant heroes who couldn’t, in many cases, restore their own virginity or dignity, but pursued this as their Heroes’ Journey on behalf of all other girls and women in their countries.
I came home with a disturbing question and a determined conviction.
The Disturbing Question: When some Christian groups interpret the Bible as teaching that God created women to live in a male-ruled hierarchy, that they must obediently submit to male ‘heads’ or risk violating a divine mandate, aren’t they also contributing to the oppression of girls and women? I left the theater no longer satisfied with just saying, ‘different strokes for different folks.’ Even if the point is made that the Bible teaches that women are of equal value before God, if a person’s being a female automatically and always means that they are overtly or subtly denied equal opportunities to learn, to lead, to teach, etc., that is oppressing them in the name of God.
The Determined Conviction: As a male whom the current Christian and societal system favors, I must take even more seriously God’s challenge to steward properly whatever power I’ve been given simply because I am male. Rather than use it to “rule over” those who start with less power, I am more determined than ever to use it to open doors that are now closed, to provide opportunities to grow as leaders and thinkers and preachers. I’ve been doing this for years, but now, more than ever, I will not simply enjoy my male privileges but use them to bless girls and women who today may not have access to those same privileges.
Ken Fong is the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church, Los Angeles, and author of a number of books, including Secure in God’s Embrace: Living as the Father’s Adopted Child and Pursuing the Pearl: A Comprehensive Resource for Multi-Asian Ministry. He is also extremely awesome.