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« A link to a link about women and men in the church! | Main | International Day for the elimination of violence against women - today! »

November 21, 2011


Jo Royal

I very much enjoyed Krish's post, and have already commented there. The idea of a 'middle-ground' though has continued to bounce around in my thoughts since reading it. I think your post here pretty much sums up my thoughts. I just cannot see what the middle-ground would look like, and suspect that for most women the middle-ground would require them to lay down their giftings for the sake of unity.

I am also concerned that in reaching a middle-ground between complementarian and egalitarian practice, the modelling of women in ministry (which is already very low) will be reduced even further and therefore encourage complementarian growth in the future. If it is not modeled, attitudes wont change - and neither will future practice.

Thank you for continuing the conversation ... :)

Jenny Baker

Thanks Jo. Was great to meet you at Youthwork the Conference although sorry that we didn't have a chance to chat properly. The plan to get people moving between courses didn't happen!

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

i work at a christian camp, and several in leadership, including the executive director, are from complementarian denominations. one thing i have greatly appreciated is his/their desire to welcome women to the table. i'm not a fan of public speaking, but when given the chance to lead a staff seminar or preach/teach at sunday worship, i jump at the chance and am so grateful it is offered.

i think there is more freedom sometimes in parachurch ministries. when i was a youth pastor, at networking meetings i was usually the only woman who was not there as a volunteer/spouse. within the church, it is extremely hard to find common ground across this divide when women's gifts are not affirmed.

Thea C

I would also question the assumption that this 'issue' is splitting the church down the middle.... It may be splitting certain evangelical circles, but for many of the rest of us it's either a non issue or is confined to a vocal minority. I'm getting to the point of withdrawing from all these kinds of online debates because I get so fed up with the implicit assumption that the evangelical church is all there is (or all there should be.)

General overflow

A really interesting discussion and debate, made more so by being had in a 'women-only' space. I was pushed here by @vickybeeching's tweet, for reference.

As a man, can I ask whether the unacceptance issue mentioned above is primarily peddled by men in churches, or by women also?

I was brought up in one of the free church streams that allowed women to exercise their giftings, but was very much feeling its way through the issue (as a child I remember women's berets, but by my teens they'd gone). But I remember clearly one church within the stream had a women leader as the head, and seemed to have arrived to the point that it was clear she was the best person for the job. Everyone just got on with it without really dealing with it (is that an example of the reciprocal arrangement you'd like to see, as you say above?).

But post-uni I moved to a CofE church in London where women were given clear equal footing, and biblical teaching was there to back up why. In fact, my best mate first told me try the church because, "he'd seen the couple in charge speaking at soul survivor and it had been their partnership that persuaded him women should lead too." From a baptists son, that's a big statement.

I was thinking about cheekily copying the blog to my site (generaloverflow.com) that gives a secular space for exactly these sorts of unfinished thoughts. But I decided against it as I imagine most of the visitors would not even understand the discussion- society seems to have moved on so much that this sort of debate seems antiquated. In fact, it's now illegal...

Although i very much appreciate that this issue will be very painful for those enduring it directly, I'm inclined to agree with the common (wo)man. I am reminded of the simile, "Christians arguing is like two mice arguing over who is going to eat the elephant." there's so much to be getting on with, hasn't this sort of debate been one of the ones killing the English Church, when there's a harvest ready? It might be a generational thing, but imagine the rest of the world doesn't really care, and in the meantime they are clearly missing out on the better message...

radical disciple

amen, jen

as i said on krish's blog - it may be that egalitarian men (i agree about the labels, but let's use them for now...) can flourish in the middle ground, but women will not - it will simply not be possible. and at this point will those men who talk the talk for us, hang us out to dry?

thanks for taking up the converation, jody

God Loves Women

Thanks so much for your post! I don't know whether there is a middle ground, surely it is an either or thing. What does it say to the women in the complimentarian church if the church says to a visting egalitarian woman, "you can preach" but none of "our" women can.

My experience of those within the complimentarian view, both men and women, is that there is a sliding scale, in which women are "allowed" to teach children, lead in secular situations, but not lead men in the Church. For me this must be challenged, it cannot be accepted or enabled, because then we begin to collude with the patriarchal system which informs the complimetarian view.

I believe this is too important and too many women (and men) have been damaged and broken by complimentarianism for us to suggest there can be a middle ground. I can't think of any places where Jesus compromised and found a middle ground, even though it would have probably been much more comfortable if He had been more friendly to the Pharisees and it would have been much "nicer" all round!


Agree entirely with General Overflow. This debate is in fact antiquated - any non-Christian in the Western world (and indeed many Christians) would balk at this kind of talk.

I realise churches, like all organisations, have issues they must address. But focusing on this - perpetuating the conversation with blogs and tweets that show intelligent Christians divided - makes us all a laughing stock.

I think we all need to reassess the point; Jesus came and died to save us. He told us to tell people. That's it, in a nutshell. You don't need a doctorate to understand it or live by it. And if you are unfortunate enough to be a woman (or a man) who is surrounded by people who can't understand that very basic truth, then shake the dust off of your feet and carry on til you find somewhere that you're appreciated. It's useless (and harmful) for Christians to split hairs over irrelevant issues; there's a heap of work we ought to be doing in the soul-saving department.

James Prescott

I know this sounds simple, but Jesus said: Love one another, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. He forgave those who killed Him. Bottom line, we are free to agree or disagree - but what we must always do no matter what is love one another, treat each other with respect and dignity. Jesus said we would be known by the love we show one another - and this type of debate is a very public example of that. We must not let our egos or need to be right get in the way of Jesus overarching command to love one another. It does sound very simplistic, but the (narrow) path through this will only be found with love, grace, respect and humility, agreeing to disagree with respect.

Jenny Baker

Thanks for all your comments.

General Overflow, it's women as well as men. There are women who believe that men should take the lead in all areas of life and are very happy to live like that.

Alex, I'd argue that this issue is extremely relevant to 'soul-saving'. Why would women outside the church who are leading businesses, sharing parenting, being innovative want to follow Jesus if they're told that he says they shouldn't be doing those things?

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