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Entries in Women (57)

Tuesday
Apr162019

I am not a Great Dane

There is a man in my neighbourhood who has a beautiful Great Dane. He's almost white, very elegant, and placid. When I have had occasion to meet them while out walking, he stays calm and quiet. My Beagles, being what they are, raise a howl of recognition: "Hey, there's another dog" over there. Can we go over and smell it?" There is no placid walking by my side. It is either draggiing them along or admonishing them to stay back. And there is not a blessed thing I can do about it. After 23 years with Beagles, I know this. They are guided by their noses. If there is the smell of something somewhere in the yard, I will know about it. The neighbours probably hate me; especially when it happens at 5:30 in the morning.

Beagles are bred for doing exactly what my dogs do: smell. If I was someone who felt like hunting wabbits (I'm not), I would have two very adept partners. At present, in our very large, detatched garage, we have a rat, hiding in the rafters, who has been wreaking havoc. The dogs know he is there. All we have to do is say, "Get the rat!" and they will go screaming to the garage door, demanding entrance. They have yet to flush him out, but we're hopeful their constant, annoying presence will make him go away.

I often think about how these dogs cannot be other than what they have been born to be. I think about it in relation to my own set of predispositions and abilities. I was reminscing with my husband recently about how, at one time, along with all the other women in my church, I tried to model myself after one woman in particular. She had placid, obedient children. She was quiet, meek, and kind. She was a wonderful woman. But I was not her, and all my attempts landed in frustration. And in the unfortunate purchase of several cardigans to grace my flowery, printed dresses and denim jumpers.

Here I am in my mid-50's. Finally, after all that struggle and fuss, I realize that I cannot be other than how God designed me. Yes, I must temper my excesses, and yes, I must exercise spiritual fruit. But that does not include acting as if men know everything and I don't know a blessed thing. It does not mean I must funnel our financial resources into a Better Homes and Gardens-worthy showplace. It does not mean that I must hide my own intellectual pursuits. The "perfect" Christian woman is not a re-incarnation of the shrinking violet, Victorian woman type. 

Why does it take us so long to understand this? I don't want my own daughter to think she has to remake herself into the image of someone other than who God created her to be. I hope she learns this lesson sooner rather than later. God created us for worship and fellowship with him. Any kind of personality -- the shy, quiet type or the vocal, restless type -- can worship God. I don't know why women feel so threatened when they see other women who are not like them. I guess some of us just need to learn the hard way.

If i was a dog, I'd be a Beagle. I'm a drama queen, too sensitive, too curious, and easily intimidated. But I'm also persistent, and I can keep my nose to the ground when necessary. The Great Dane is beautiful, but he's just not me.

Thursday
Feb282019

The myth of women learning differently

I read a comment recently about how "sociology bears out" that women learn and share differently from men in a Bible study environment. I asked for clarification, but none came. What is meant by "sociology?" The sharing part, I can see, but the learning part?

There is a lot of pixel and ink spent on promoting the idea of women needing a separate Bible study because they learn differently. I don't know if that is true or not. People learn differently. If someone would like to direct me to sources which show a detailed study of how this is linked to one's femaleness or maleness, I would gladly have a look at it.

No, I think women like to have a separate Bible study for a couple of reasons. First, they are intimidated. In environments where male authority is a huge factor, women are led to believe that men know more than they do. They don't want to share their thoughts in a group where men are because they may look foolish. I have been in that position before. Second, I think women want the freedom to get off topic and talk about how they feel about things. Well, some women, anyway. I am not among them. And I don't think it is true that women alone feel deeply or have emotional reactions to a Bible study.

Two years ago, I was taking Systematic Theology. During the break, a group of men on the other side of the room were talking together. I left the room to stretch my legs, and when I returned, they were deep in prayer. After the prayer was over, I could see that one of them had been crying. I found out later from the gentleman himself that his father was dying. The other men had been talking about it with him, and they were sharing some of the content of the class in relation to this man's experience. Yes, men feel things very deeply.

In my seminary classes, I am fortunate enough to hear different people talk, both men and women. I can tell you with all certainty that men feel their theology very personally. Some of them are very eloquent about it. The difference is that in a seminary class, we are not expected to become emotional over the matters. If having men in the room prevents a woman in my class from crying, I'm all for it. There is a place for that, and it isn't always in a learning environment. I have to wonder if women want an environment without men so that they can be more explicit in their emotional reactions and share more personal details. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I do think that too much emphasis on that leads to a deficit in actual biblical discussion. But that is not indicative that women learn differently, is it?

I think this perceived need for women to have practical, feminine-feeling, emotinal dialogue is why so many books directed toward women appeal to women as if they are having a chat with a girlfriend. I know many women who love those kind of books. I don't. There is nothing wrong with women wanting to sequester themselves off to engage in sharing, praying, and if necessary, crying together. But that is not evidence that women learn differently. No matter what "sociology" tells us.

Monday
Feb112019

I have a theory about women theologians and politics

I'm getting set to work full force on my term paper over the next couple of days (it's due Friday), but I had a thought this morning. I am also getting used to a new pair of bifocals (not my first rodeo, however) and typing has been an issue. There may be a return visit to my eye doctor. Anyway.

Last week, I wondered aloud on Twitter (that bastion of precious information) if there were mature, female theologians I could follow; specifically those who don't talk about American politics. I have tried in the past keeping track of a few, and inevitably, the talk is about US politics.

Now, the fact that they are American is part of the reason why. Understandable. And female theologians alone are hard to come by in Canada. As one of my Twitter friends said: "crickets." No takers.

I think one of the reasons why many female theolgians, whether they are mature, younger, professional, or ordinary theologians, insert politics into their conversations is because people are used to women commenting about politics. There are many female politicians. Here in Canada, I believe there is about 28% ratio of female to male Members of Parliament. Here in Ontario, there's about 30% female MPPs. 

Conservative Christians will not think twice about female physicians, female dentists, female lawyers, financial planners, and maybe even a female police officer. Female theologians? No way. There are many complementarian leaning men out there who may not even want a female doctor or lawyer. I have to smile a little when I recall the fawning and fussing over Sarah Palin a few years ago. We may want women running our country, but not our churches; at least not in conservative circles.

So, what's a female theologian to do if she wants to have a voice? She addresses theology through political themes. 

At least that's my (probably uninformed) opinion. I am a budding theologian. I have no wish to discuss US politics. I know little about it, and I'm not inclined to know more. I know enough about Canadian politics to keep me an informed voter. I just want to know God more.

So, as usual, I resort to buying books. My husband will be so pleased.

Wednesday
Jan232019

Who is teaching biblical truth to our children?

The majority of Sunday school teachers in my church are women. I suspect that we are not unique. After all, women are encouraged to teach women and children. It's one of those areas of service we're directed to. It's right up there with making sandwiches and working in the nursery.

Who is less likely to get theological training outside of the regular Sunday service? Women. I know this because I sit in a room of 35+ students every Tuesday, and there are five women in the class. I've sat in classes where I'm the only woman.

Why do we not encourage more women to get theological training? No, it does not have to be an MDiv, but there are always less involved programs for those who are seeking more knowledge. Perhaps teaching 2 and 3 year olds is nothing more than crowd control, but what about children who are getting into that dialectical stage of learning, around 11 or 12, when they begin asking hard questions? 

Teaching children is difficult. I find it easier to teach adults than younger students. On every occasion I teach in our teen class, I struggle with how not only to get their attention, but how to explain difficult things in a way they will understand. Some of our students zone out during class, and it is clear that they are not interested in spiritual matters. But then we have students who ask questions like "Where did Cain get his wife from?" When my daughter was eight years old, she asked our pastor, "Does God love Satan?" How equipped is the average Sunday school teacher to answer hard questions?

Information about women's ministries abounds, and much of it involves how to get women to connect with one another. I sat on a women's ministry committee which spent more time talking about how to have the food presented than about what kinds of discipleship materials we should use. I got off the committee. While social events and ways to connect are valuable, it seems to me that the greater part of women's ministries is to focus on how to teach and equip women. 

A good women's ministry group could provide training for other women to become better Sunday school teachers for those young minds. There is always a place for fellowship for women who really crave that. But what about the women who crave deeper teaching? Ultimately, they will (like I did) seek knowledge from sources outside women's ministry groups and likely, their local churches. 

There are so many gifted women out there; women who are theologically astute, good exegetes, and sensitive teachers. Surely, part of their task ought to be equipping other women.

Monday
Nov192018

I'm a woman, not a house plant

I read this article today by Randy Alcorn, called "Husbands, We're Called to Help Our Wives Grow in Christ." 

I think this is very true. And women are called to help their husbands grow in Christ. I don't know why he didn't mention that, but anyway.

Here is a little snippet:

So we husbands are to not stand back and wish our wives were more godly. Rather, we are to assume responsibility to step forward and lead our wives by sharing God’s Word with them. (Similarly, we don't bemoan that a houseplant has shriveled leaves and consider it a failure; instead, we regularly water the plant and expose it to the right light to help it thrive.)

I understand that he wants to use a vivid analogy, but I'd rather not be compared to a houseplant. I'm reminding myself that this man's intention is only good. But I have to be honest and say I cringe when I read this.

My husband has rarely, if ever, specifically advised me in how to grow in Christ. While he has often commented on attitudes I have had, I have always taken the initiative myself to pursue what will help me grow in Christ. He has purchased books for me as gifts, knowing that I want them, but he has never gone through my book pile and said, "this is good; that is bad." I am the student. He reads his Bible daily and he has a stronger faith than I do on most days, but he is aware that he does not need to "help" me find Bible study resources. But has helped me in other ways, and it is these ways I think many husbands may forget about:

  • Take care of the kids so she can study. Bathe them and put them to bed so she can have an hour of study time.
  • Take an entire Saturday and take charge of the kids so she can study or go to a conference. 
  • Bring home dinner at the end of the day so she has energy to study once the kids are in bed.
  • Pay someone to clean the house for her (or clean it yourself).
  • Encourage her to go to seminary if she wants to, and if you're financially able. And then help with child care if you can. And if she goes ask her about what she is learning.

That first one is the most important when the kids are young. I can speak from personal experience that it is not easy to find time for Bible study when the kids demand so much of our attention. And I did not work outside the home when the kids were young. I don't know how working moms are supposed to find time. Men cannot complain that their wives are not godly enough and then not make to give her time to make that happen. All the blog, book, and resource recommendations don't mean much without the time to read them.

When I broke my ankle two years ago, my husband made sure I got to every class while I had my cast on. He would drive me to class and ensure one of my sons would drive me home. Sometimes, he would go to a nearby cafe and work while I was in class and pick me up when I was done. When I had an all day class he drove me the hour to get there, drove home and then returned at the end of the day to get me.

Women need discernment when it comes to finding good books and materials to help in spiritual growth. It is not necessarily true that her husband has any better discernment than her own simply because he's her husband.