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A leads to B ?

“Let a woman into the pulpit and the next thing you’ll have a homosexual – as surely as A leads to B”

When this was said to me some years ago I replied that I failed to see the connection between the two situations and to this day I am amazed that women and homosexuals are compared and put in the same category.

Without entering into the debate regarding homosexuals and homosexual practice, surely there is a vast difference between a person’s gender and a person’s sexual preference. The reasons given for not allowing practising homosexuals to be in positions of influence within the church are to do with their sexual habits, whereas the reasons for not allowing women to participate in all aspects of church life and worship are purely because they are female and not because they are deemed to be doing something ‘sinful’.

One of the frequently used reasons for maintaining rigid roles in the church and home is that without that distinction, children will not be able to distinguish male and female and will be more likely to drift into a homosexual lifestyle. There is no solid evidence that this is correct and in fact, the reverse is more likely, that if young people do not fit into the expected societal models for males and females, then they more easily mix with people of their own gender where they feel more accepted and yes….even loved for who they are.

In both these situations, the ‘fear’ of the increase in homosexual behaviour has driven people to translate certain bible passages in such a way as to restrict women from being all God has made them to be. Surely we should be trusting God to separate the two issues and give us a balanced perspective on gender and sexual practice.

Would be interested in others’ thoughts and experiences in this area of discrimination against women.

61 Comments

  1. Comment #90094 posted October 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    We were just having this conversation over at equality central. Think of Lot and the men (both young and old!) surrounding his home demanding he send out the visiting “men” to have sex with them. In that Patriarchal culture! How can that be?

    Lot offers his virgin daughters up but they wanted the men. There was certainly no problem with women teaching men in that culture!

    We see homosexuality as a big part of patriarchal cultures throughout history and it was found to be rampant even in Afghanistan under the Taliban!

  2. Yvette Sonnet
    Comment #90096 posted October 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve heard that A leads to D.
    D-ivisiveness.

    This pastor felt pressure from both sides. “Hard” complementarians who were pushing for even greater restrictions on women within the church and what he considered to be the other extreme(!) of egalitarians pushing for gender equality. In his estimation, the middle ground between these two was the most balanced and least divisive position. I don’t understand how equality can be seen as the other extreme. If women took over control and restricted men in the church and home, then THAT would be the opposite extreme. However, I don’t know of any egalitarians who are seeking for domination by women.

    I’ve read that before slavery was abolished, abolitionists were considered divisive, too!

  3. Amanda
    Comment #90101 posted October 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I don’t have much more to add than yes, this slippery slope argument (a logical fallacy!) is all too common in evangelical circles. I put it in the same category as things like affixing “biblical” to “manhood/womanhood.” As evangelicals who have a high view of Scripture, this, whether deliberate or not, has the result of positioning complementarianism / patriarchy as the “correct,” biblical position (after all, we want to be biblical – a good thing!) and positioning egalitarianism as unbiblical.

    I am someone who, even as a little girl growing up in a very conservative, hard complementarian/patriarchal home and churches, NEVER fit into the stereotypical mold of what “a woman should be.” I have NEVER liked makeup, shopping, wearing skirts (I was never allowed to wear pants until I was about 9 or 10, decades after it had become accepted for women to wear pants in public), flowers, romance novels, etc., and have always preferred playing sports, reading adventure and deep theological books, watching action and war films, etc. It was never out of a desire to be rebellious; it simply is the way God made me, and that is not a bad thing. I remember as a little kid hearing sermon after sermon about women submitting (nothing about men) and thinking that if that was what marriage was, then I never wanted a part of it. It was extremely frustrating for me growing up in that kind of environment and never fitting in. All that to say that yes, putting a strong emphasis on conforming to strict gender roles has the very opposite effect on those of us who, because of our God-given gifts and personalities, do not fit into those stereotypes. While I, by the grace of God, have never struggled with homosexual feelings, I can very easily see how someone who naturally does not fit the socially preferred gender stereotypes would be inclined that way.

  4. Amanda B
    Comment #90107 posted October 27, 2009 at 12:42 am

    As an egalitarian myself, I recently began to understand where the complementarians were coming from on this. I stumbled across a secular feminist website, and did a little research on “feminism 101″. Personally, I have yet to find a secular feminist who has not been very adamantly for the LGBT agenda. For them, homosexuality, along with abortion, is a very logical extension of complete freedom (including sexual freedom) offered to women in a supposedly just society.

    On the surface, feminism has some arguments that sound similar to Christian egalitarianism. However, it’s missing the very important anchor of the Word of God to keep it within the bounds of godliness and morality. Secular feminism is based in arguments about what is “fair” or “unfair”, rather than “what does the Bible actually say?” and “what does the Bible not actually say?”

    That said, while I can see where the concern comes from, I still agree wholeheartedly that it is misguided to place women in the pulpit on the same level as homosexuals in the pulpit. No matter what your opinion on whether or not women should be there, it is absolutely a different magnitude of issue. And as a woman, it’s painful to hear that my belief in preaching to a mixed audience is on par with someone blatantly embracing sexual sin. Homosexuality is never cast in a positive light in the Bible, and is even called an outright abomination. Women ministering to mixed groups is never condemned as sin, and we even see instances of it happening (i.e. Priscilla). It is not at all the same issue biblically, and it is not scripturally painted as A leads to B.

    I also agree with Amanda (comment 90101) that it’s disheartening to hear the debate framed in, “If you disagree with complementarianism, you disagree with the Bible”. When that card is pulled, real discussion becomes impossible, because the interpretation is being held up to have the same authority as the Word itself. Thus, although women in ministry is never called a sin in the Bible, it is treated as one by its opponents, and the people who hold to egalitarianism are by extension viewed as willing sinners themselves.

    I have thought for a long time that the OVER-distinction of gender roles leads more people to homosexuality than the UNDER-distinction of them. I was so glad to see that mentioned in this article.

  5. Comment #90120 posted October 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Even allowing for the (fallacious) argument that one could use the same interpretive rubric that allows for women ministers to allow for homosexual activity, the sheer number of congregations that approve of women as ministers but NOT homosexual activity would seem to be a pretty strong argument against this “next thing you know” reasoning.

  6. Comment #90123 posted October 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Even though I believe that the Bible is the Word of God, I don’t believe that interpretation is “inspired.” (Though there certainly could be instances of reading the bible that are inspiring, leading to new insights.) Through the ages, there have been sincere believers who come to new interpretations when reading the Bible, which sometimes even lead to new doctrines that are contrary to other Christian doctrines formulated by other sincere believers.

    We can see why certain Biblical scholars, usually male, usually with male teachers in their background, would key in on the male leaders in the Bible and key in on the admonitions regarding women, while ignoring the other verses about Biblical women of faith who were missionaries and preachers and teachers. Somehow we humans tend to key in on what we want to. There are also, obviously, males scoundrels in the Bible.

    Jesus seems to have given respect to those members of society ignored or considered “lower” by society, including women. He doesn’t seem to have commented on homosexuality. But he certainly showed full respect for the women he encountered, so if we follow Him, that also should be our goal. Full respect would not include telling someone that they automatically can’t do something.

    The homosexual references, direct and indirect, seem to be about forced sexuality, the “using” of other humans. We don’t know more than that, but the arguments about allowing homosexual pastors seems to be about a different kind of homosexual inclination and behavior. We would not want heterosexual pastors who demand and force sex on other people.

  7. Wesley
    Comment #90126 posted October 27, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    1 Timothy 2:12-14
    12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
    13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
    14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

    22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
    23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
    24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in

    So how do you argue with the previous bible verses? I go to a church that has female pastors but I do wrestle with these verses.

    On homosexuality…… The bible is the word of God and it is very clear that homosexuality is a sin and if we can’t see that then we can question basically everything in the bible; the atonement and the exclusivity of the gospel. Homosexuality is obviously a sin not only in the bible but also how God created us.

  8. Comment #90127 posted October 27, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Here is where I am not so sure I agree that women and homosexuals are different….

    A person doesn’t choose to be a woman. You are born that way.

    Likewise, most homosexuals and lesbians are quite clear that they didn’t “choose” same-sex attraction, but it hit when puberty hit…and they hated it, and felt like they were all messed up and didn’t want it, and yet…there it was. Not a choice. A way they were wired, for lack of a better term.

    Because of this, I think we need to do a better job of distinguishing homosexual orientation and homosexual sex. A person doesn’t choose to be oriented towards same-sex attraction. There is no sin in being oriented towards same-sex attraction. No one can help such a thing. For whatever reason, it happens. Whereas a person *does* choose to engage in sexual activity, godly or ungodly. That is where the sin is—when we engage in activities that are not appropriate for followers of Christ.

    In this way, the bias against woman and the bias against homosexuals *is* similar: you are ‘lesser-than’s’ because of what you are.

    The bias is not at all similar when approval of women is compared to approval of sexual *sin.*

  9. Comment #90132 posted October 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    The verses used in 1 Tim. 2 and Ephe. 5 are most often taken out of context by the hierarchical thinking person. It’s easy to take a sentence here, a couple sentences there, thinking they show the whole thought and paste them together into a brand new thought. Scripture is not meant to be read the way so many do today.

    The context of Ephesians 5 actually starts at least in verse one, using vs. 1&2 with 21 to form a sandwich of attitudes. Then verse 21 is a bridge carrying that sandwich over into interpersonal relationships starting with marriage. In the marriage relationship one must put together the wife viewing her husband (not the husband viewing himself) as her head and the husband viewing his wife as his body (and life) in order to get the picture Paul is painting. Yes, Paul very cleverly uses the local Roman household codes formulae as the shape in which he puts this effectively changing them into something else.

    The submission all are to give one another in the body of Christ is one of arranging oneself under in order to honor, respect, and benefit the other. It is not one of responding to other’s authority as we so often view it today. Once you get that you can see the beauty of two becoming as one, not one losing their selves and wills in another’s self and will.

    The context of 1 Tim. 2 is found in chapter one where there are men and women arguing and trying to be teachers of the law of which they do not themselves know. Some of the men are thrown over to Satan, the rest of the men are told to fold their hands in prayer (alluding to tightening one’s fist in anger). The women in general are told to do likewise and dress modestly. Some women or a woman is told to LEARN in the manner of a student, quietly with all submission, and not to try to teach or usurp authority from “a man” (perhaps a teacher???).

    ” On homosexuality…… The bible is the word of God and it is very clear that homosexuality is a sin”

    I think that is what everyone has been saying. Homosexuality is obviously a sin. Being a woman is not. Being a woman teaching Scripture is not. Being a woman teacher, instructing men in the Scriptures is not a sin. There is no comparison between homosexuality and women teaching Scripture.

  10. Naomi
    Comment #90152 posted October 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

    In response to comment 90126:

    I would suggest looking at CBE’s free articles pages, particularly the section on “Short Answers to Challenging Texts”: http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/short-answers-challenging-texts

    There is an article about the 1 Timothy passage you have questions about.

  11. Comment #90154 posted October 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Did Wesley mean to suggest, in 90126, that God created Homosexuals, thereby creating sin or a sin? Or that God sinned when he created homosexuals? I doubt that is what he meant, but the language suggests these interpretations. I guess this is the same dilemma we face when reading the Bible, especially the Bible in translation, and even more so when out of context: We don’t always understand the full meaning and intent of the writer.

  12. Comment #90155 posted October 28, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Re: 90132.

    I don’t know if you read the post immediately preceding yours, but the point of that post (and with which I agree) is that we should probably do a better job of separating inclination from behavior. When I read your words “Homosexuality is obviously a sin. Being a woman is not,” I perceive a failure to separate this out. Homosexual behavior is what you’re trying to say is sinful, but homosexual orientation is something else.

    Am I being fair to you?

  13. Comment #90163 posted October 28, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Mark, I do agree that we should do a better job with inclination and behavior. However, at the same time I am not sold with the idea that people are born wired that way. Not absolutely sure how to approach it. But I do think there is an element of spiritual temptation.

    This may not be the place for a discussion on it though.

  14. Comment #90168 posted October 29, 2009 at 1:56 am

    You are right TL this is not the place for where the discussion seems to be heading with the direction of the last few comments. The aim is not discussing how, or why a person gets to be a homosexual but why it is that those who oppose women in ministry oppose it on the basis that if we allow a woman into the pulpit the next thing we will be doing is allowing homosexuals in also.

    We are trying to tease out that surely there should not be a logical connection and that the argument is both fallacious and inflammatory.

    Mimi Hadad, the President of CBE, has suggested that the following link may be helpful in this discussion(click on the word link)

  15. Comment #90186 posted October 29, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Some people suggest that endorsing a woman preaching or leading is comparable with endorsing a person who engages in homosexual practice. To compare these two situations, one would have to have a fixed idea of what ‘feminine practice’ would look like and of course, there is no such thing.

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