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Author Topic: Women and GC  (Read 63642 times)
sistanchrist
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« Reply #80 on: March 21, 2007, 09:50:11 pm »

Here is one to toss into the fray on single women with in GC. On my old small group in the college ministry, any woman was expected to submit to any man. This played out in break down groups where the co-leader(who happened to be the wife of the leader) in leading by example would basically role over to the opinion of a guy who was maybe a month old in the Lord and take his interpretation, suggestion, or thing that he asked her to do and fully accept it. That man in the break down group, service team, etc. was also expected to lead what ever he was involved in, including the conversation. If a woman stepped up and lead in any way the disappointment would fly to the extent of rebukes. It sickens me to remember how this mentality was perpetuated by a woman in leadership. She was also a prime example of dumbing down to make the man more and the childish, infantile speech that was mentioned earlier.

While yes, many churches have disagreeable roles for women, I think GC takes it further then most as this kind of submission is just our right wrong. I am so glad I left, this discussion is just reaffirming that descion, as if it needed any more affirmation.

I hope this makes sense as I am on the exhausted side.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #81 on: March 21, 2007, 09:51:03 pm »

Okay, Agatha sent me this link, and Gene and I listened to it tonight (our version of a “date night”). Anyway, it’s from last year’s Faithwalkers (what a gold mine last year was!) called “Godly Women in an Ungodly World.”

http://www.gccweb.org/conferences/faithwalkers/2005audio/03-SeminarA1.mp3

Listen for the following:
1. Women as “pillars of support and influence” for the men who are the doers.
2. Women as temptresses, and men as erections waiting to happen.
3. GC women as pure and the “culture” as slutty (us v them).
4. Women as too talkative and needing to “watch themselves.”
5. Assuming everyone’s getting married and that they’re marrying GC men.
6. Women as servants.

Basically, everything we’ve been talking about and more (even the clothes stuff from other posts about thongs!).

Look forward to your responses!
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Anon4Now
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« Reply #82 on: March 21, 2007, 09:51:37 pm »

TerryD, MamaD -



I have read your blogs and comments here. When I read Tony’s “church gov” comment about you leaving I thought he was “near the mark”. I think I’m just getting all the facts in your situation confused (there is a lot to remember). Maybe that is what happened to Tony? I know you have all said your peace, but I thought I’d offer my two cents.
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TerryD
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« Reply #83 on: March 21, 2007, 09:51:52 pm »

Anon4Now,

While there was a “church governance” component in my problems with GC, and while I do not believe GC will ever significantly change without governance changing significantly, there is quite a lot more to it than that.

There is a whole philosophy of leadership and of what the body of Christ is, and a resultant culture of authoritarianism and condescension permeating everything––including church governance––that has placed GC close to the “fringe” category.

One early GC dissenter surmmarized it this way in 1977:

“…an improper concept of authority and leadership, and an underdeveloped concept of the body of Christ.”

I have seen little evidence that GC as an organization has changed their minds much on the essential issues, and the way groups are governed flows naturally from what I regard as flawed premises.

To reduce the issue to a difference between Presbyterian, Congregational etc. forms is to miss the point. Talk about “elder led” churches and “plurality” is largely a red herring. I’ll repeat more or less (forgive me) a comment offered on another thread in regard to governance:

“The argument could certainly be made that there are several New Testament compatible governance models, but in relation to GC, some observations:

1. Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy (What GC employs) historically has not been one of them, (although GC is certainly not the only group with this style.)
2. Even if GC style polity were an option, it’s not a good idea for GC. With the GC track record and reputation over the years, they of all people desperately need something providing maximum accountability to congregations,
3. Any stated desire for reformation, any progress toward greater humility and spiritual health (a la 1991 Apology Statement) that doesn’t address the need for real structural change seems disingenuous
4. Such change is highly unlikely at this point. The heirs to the movement really believe in the status quo and a lot of positions and career paths are dependent on the philosophy and structure now in place. It’s a “distinctive” deeply entrenched…”
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Dipping my toes in....
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« Reply #84 on: March 21, 2007, 09:52:19 pm »

I haven’t made it the whole way through all of these posts yet, but I wanted to throw in my opinions.

First, though, Tony, it warmed my heart to see your frusteration on behalf of your wife. Not that I was glad to see you frusterated, but that you stepped in to defend her.

Kristen, I’ve really appreciated your participation on this site because you are extremely fair and level. You ask excellent questions and don’t take us personally. You raise valid points in a very gentle manner. I’ve never gotten the feeling from you that you are discounting anything that we’ve said - rather, more like you’re just suspending judgment until you can collect more data. I respect that a lot.

Now, about this topic - I didn’t witness anything like what I’ve read so far here. And I don’t feel like I was treated as second rate cause I was a single woman when I was in GCM. BUT… (of course there’s a but, right?) as I’ve been reading, I remembered that no vibrant, independent, single women EVER stayed around in my church. They either left or were shuttled through endless discipline for just being who they were. And that happened with the more independent and free spirited men, too. So at least in the GCM church I went to, it seems to me that it was more the free and independent spirits that were battered down and broken (or “shown the door”) rather than single women in general. Though a good number of those free spirits were single women.

I’m not asserting that women in other GCM churches, or perhaps even in mine but that I wasn’t aware of, haven’t been treated badly for being a single woman. I just didn’t see anything like that in mine. What I’ve read here makes me sick, though, and I’m sorry for all of you women that have been battered down (but not broken - I’m thankful for that!!!).
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MamaD
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« Reply #85 on: March 21, 2007, 09:52:58 pm »

Anon,

Amen to my brilliant husband, TerryD.

First of all, I’m guessing you might know us, but we don’t know your identity. I would just suggest that if you want to know why we left, don’t just get the story from people at ECC, but feel free to ask us.

I don’t know if you saw the post that Terry wrote (and removed for the time being out of deference to a friend who happened to be a pastor who asked him to remove it), but it might help you to see the opening statement of that post. Obviously, since we had been gone over a year, he had no obligation to remove the blog post.

Here it is:

I’ve obviously been going somewhere with my recent posts. And where I’m headed here is to try to first summarize in my own mind and then explain to my Evergreen friends what lay behind our decision to leave the church last Summer. A handful of odd reactions and questions makes me think I needed to be more clear and forthright at the time. It had nothing to do with megachurchiness, as tired as I am of that trend and as much as I smart off about it. It had nothing to do with governance per se, one precise set of bylaws over another. It had nothing to do with youth ministry changes or building programs. We did not find a new church that we liked better, we weren’t church shopping. We weren’t in conflict with anybody. It has been interesting to notice how many people have assumed that we were “hurt” in some way by the church. It’s as if personal conflict, not substance and content, is the only reason people might come to a parting of the ways. We were not hurt, but the decision was painful. We did not want to part in any way with friends. Moving our younger kids one notch away from their friends and familiar church surroundings was heartbreaking. So why did we do it? It was a sharp disagreement over underlying principles, with what we now see as pretty significant flaws in what Evergreen pastors and GCAC/GCM believe about the nature of the Church and the leadership of it.

The frustrating thing for me is that Terry’s blog summed up so well why we left for anyone who was interested in knowing why.

I think we had a right (and perhaps a duty) to say why we left.

Information control is not a healthy thing for groups to do. In fact, it is something that can get you on a cult watch list.

The Holy Spirit is able to guide people into the truth. Keeping people from hearing all sides of an issue on the basis that one side is “slander” is information control.

Also, it is not gossip or slander to critique teaching. It is our duty to run everything everyone says by the Word of God.

All I can say is I don’t care what kind of government a church has. I do care whether or not a pastor inserts himself between a person and God. I think it is a mistake for a pastor to view himself as anything other than a brother who has been given a specific gift. When a pastor believes he has authority over someone in all matters, a dangerous line has been crossed. And, in that case, people need to be warned.
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A brother
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« Reply #86 on: March 21, 2007, 09:55:16 pm »

I’m curious if we would all agree on a couple of premises …



1. If you are a married woman and have young children, it is better that you stay home and raise your kids than it is to be working.



2. If you are a married couple, the Bible has relevent teachings regarding the relationship between husband and wife, and distinguishes the roles in some way.



3. While God does not show gender favoritism, God does create men and women differently (besides gender).



4. God, for reasons perhaps we don’t fully understand, has reserved some leadership roles in the famil and in the church for men.



5. Because no man and no woman are perfect, the marriage relationship is not perfect. So, while God may define roles of men and women differently, sometimes those roles are not fulfilled exactly as God intended.



6. Because no man and no woman are perfect, the church is not perfect. So, while God may define roles of men and women differently, sometimes those roles are not fulfilled exactly as God intended.



7. Those responsible for teaching the Bible in a local church (i.e. pastors, elders) should teach their personal conviction about the previous six questions, based on how they understand and interpret the Bible. To bind these teachings on any man or woman and equate demonstrated obedience with salvation is flawed (we are saved by grace, not by the law or works). Yet, we would expect teachers to be convinced in their own mind of what is the best application of Biblical principles, and ask others to consider a similar conviction.
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erik
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« Reply #87 on: March 21, 2007, 09:55:28 pm »

i think there is a fairly wide spectrum of agreement that you would get on those 7 points from the posters here. i think at about 4.5 is where the divergence in opinions becomes more pronounced. and i think 7 is a bit of a slippery slope because for a leader with the best of motives that statement is simply pragmatic, whereas for a leader with less then good intentions the force of such a statement can be used as a dismissive excuse for just about anything; and because of that i don’t think it holds water for anyone who has trust issues with the leadership.
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Angie
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« Reply #88 on: March 21, 2007, 09:55:42 pm »

I know I’ve been lurking quite a bit, and have only commented a few times now. I am currently a member of the Ames church… and I have to jump in because when people start talking about this stuff… I get really worked up.



I’m a single woman, in my mid-twenties, and I have been a part of leadership within the Rock for five or six years now. I spent my younger days looking up to Kirsten, and she is one of my best friends.



I know that as a single woman, I have a vital and important role in my church. So much so that it became quite a controversy when I felt God was leading me to be a part of a church-plant scouting program in Chicago this past summer. Never was I asked or told to do anything but what God was leading me personally to do, but it was apparent that the men and women around me would greatly feel my absence.



My gifting falls into the category of teaching, wisdom, leadership, and discipleship. I have seen over the past few years how God has used me in the lives of women AND men through my gifts. I can even specifically remember a pastor challenging me to specifically help a younger male leader to learn to grow up and take some responsibility. Now, what that looked like is another story all of its own, but I know that I had an important part in that man growing to be the confident leader he is becoming.



I know I can’t speak much for the women who came before me, but I can speak for the women who are around me and involved in my life: I see married and single women who are confidently being encouraged to pursue their gifting, to contribute to society, and to have an influence… and that looks about as different as each of those women do.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #89 on: March 21, 2007, 09:55:57 pm »

Brother,
No, I can’t wholeheartedly agree with any of those 7. (I don’t totally disagree with them either, though.) They make me uncomfortable (I know, GC wants to make “the world” uncomfortable.), but really I think they’re too dogmatic and black and white.

It’s not pastors’ responsibilities or role to tell people how to live their lives or to live out the pastor’s “personal convictions” on relationships. These personal choices (working, dating, clothing, marriage, children) do not make a person more or less holy, and they shouldn’t be taught like they will.

Also, sny personal convictions about these relationships / actions taught in GC are certainly not taught as personal convictions, but rather “God wants you to…” That’s my biggest issue with these teachings.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #90 on: March 21, 2007, 09:56:08 pm »

Oh, “sny” should read “any.” :-)
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mamie
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« Reply #91 on: March 21, 2007, 09:56:20 pm »

Brother -

Why?

Why are you curious about the level of agreement? What would you assume about those who said yes? What would you assume about those who said no? Would you expect agreement when there are committed, Jesus-loving, evangelical Biblical scholars who have studied the scriptures dilegently (and are way smarter than you and me) who don’t agree?

From the very beginning of this thread (and in others, though not all), it has not been about the doctrine itself. It’s been about how doctrine - any doctrine - is used to wield power over others in away that is decidedly un-Christlike.

Can you agree with me that when a doctrine is manifest in such a way that it repeatedly hurts members of Christ’s body, then there should at least be a discussion about the interpretation and/or application of that doctrine?

The fact that we have people on this blog who have had very positive experiences in a church that holds those doctrines and people who have been incredibly marginalized and made to feel inferior or invisible in a church with those doctrines tells me that there has been wide variation in the spirit with which they have been applied and lived out.
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mamie
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« Reply #92 on: March 21, 2007, 09:56:33 pm »

Angie - It sounds like you and other women in Ames in the college group are experiencing a group culture that is much healthier than that experienced by many of us. That’s terrific - praise God (and I mean that very sincerely!). Will you believe me when I say it’s not that way everywhere? And not just in the “olden days” (although some of the extremes I think are no longer happening…oh please, dear God), but right this minute in GC churches women are not encouraged to be all that God has made them to be.
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Kirsten
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« Reply #93 on: March 21, 2007, 09:56:54 pm »

Genevieve —

When you said:

   It’s not pastors’ responsibilities or role to tell people how to live their lives or to live out the pastor’s “personal convictions” on relationships. These personal choices (working, dating, clothing, marriage, children) do not make a person more or less holy, and they shouldn’t be taught like they will.

I’m kind of curious to know more what you meant. I think we can both agree that the Bible has verses that talk about some/most of those topics. Obviously we and others may disagree about the meaning or application of those verses. Smiley

Are you saying that pastors shouldn’t teach on those topics (because there is so much disagreement?), or are you saying that pastors just shouldn’t give direct advice/counsel/instruction on those issues? Or something else?

I’m curious because I am certainly glad I have heard some teachings about Christian principles of marriage and child rearing. I didn’t grow up going to church at all, so I find it helpful to hear instruction in those areas — many examples I saw growing up run contrary to Godly ways of doing things with marriage and kids.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #94 on: March 21, 2007, 09:57:06 pm »

Mamie,
Brilliant. Thanks for saying that so eloquently.

On another note, I wonder if one of the reasons sermons so often focus on how “personal convictions” of how these are lived out goes back to (again) lack of seminary training.

Every week pastors have to fill 45 minutes or so with a message. Most don’t have the training to “dig deep” in a more traditionally fundamentalist way into the Scriptures so they focus on what they know very well: lifestyle convictions they’ve heard 100 times.

So even though they may try to think of these sermons as personal convictions, they become the Gospel truth.
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Genevieve
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« Reply #95 on: March 21, 2007, 09:57:16 pm »

Kirsten,
I’ve been out of GC for long enough that I forget what you mean by Christian child-rearing and marriage. Marriages should be happy and healthy. Children should be happy, healthy, and encouraged to love God.

I’m not sure how a pastor could tell someone how to do that from the pulpit (though I think it happened).

I do think that people need to be reminded to love, to forgive, to be kind, to have mercy, to be patient, to hope. So all of those definitely apply to our relationships.

It’s the step-by-step, how-to sermons I have trouble with.
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« Reply #96 on: March 21, 2007, 09:57:56 pm »

I ask because if there is little or no agreement to these rather general principles, there will be little or no agreement about what should be taught about such things. What some people lable as abusive (because they don’t even buy into the general principles) others might lable as sound teaching (because they feel that God has specifically addressed the topic).



I would again reiterate from an earlier post that this is not a GC issue in the sense of teaching and practicing a role for women that is different from roles for men. Many other Christian tribes past and present are in the same boat, including the largest evangelical denomination in the country. For those of you who have beefs with GC, this seems to be the leats among them. So, I will not comment on it again, is it is a fruitless discussion.
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exshep
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« Reply #97 on: March 21, 2007, 09:58:06 pm »

au contraire mon frere. If were not an important issue, there would not be a blog now, would there.
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Had friend in Columbus church 80's and 90s. Member left in 1993  Involved GC in Texas  2005-2007.  Empathy to both  with  positive and negative aspects.
exshep
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« Reply #98 on: March 21, 2007, 09:58:32 pm »

Quote
I know I can’t speak much for the women who came before me, but I can speak for the women who are around me and involved in my life: I see married and single women who are confidently being encouraged to pursue their gifting, to contribute to society, and to have an influence… and that looks about as different as each of those women do.

I would would agree with you. I glance at websites of GC churches around the country, there has been some definite improvement. The problem is the pratfalls, mentioned above, while a regular occurrence in the 1980 GC, is a maddenly sporadic M.O. today as the past blogs indicate. It seems to depend where one attends.
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Had friend in Columbus church 80's and 90s. Member left in 1993  Involved GC in Texas  2005-2007.  Empathy to both  with  positive and negative aspects.
Kirsten
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« Reply #99 on: March 21, 2007, 09:58:56 pm »

   I’ve been out of GC for long enough that I forget what you mean by Christian child-rearing and marriage.

You must not have frequented the “Marriage and Family” section of your local Christian bookstore recently either, since they seem to have dozens of books on this very topic. ;-)

I guess I do like some of the “how to” stuff — even if it is just practical examples of how to apply some of the more “theoretical” verses. Telling men “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church” is pretty heady — It’s nice to hear some thoughts on what this looks like in real life (or other such similar verses). But I guess I can see where you are coming from in NOT wanting to hear that “practical example” type stuff too.

Some of the things I have heard in sermons (or read in books from the above mentioned section of my local bookstore) are probably not so much specifically “Christian” as just “good advice,” the same stuff you might be able to hear from the psychologist-du-jour. But good none the less. Lots of practical stuff on everything from better communication to better sex.

One analogy I have often thought about came from one of the books on marriage I’ve read. They described men as being “light switches” and women as being “crockpots” when it comes to the physical relationship in marriage. :-) It sounds obvious, but that analogy has helped us have a better understanding of how each other works. Little analogies or examples like that are the kind of thing I find especially very helpful in getting a practical handle on how to have that “happy, healthy marriage” we all want.
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