I am a mum of four daughters & Nana to a beautiful granddaughter; as such I am, and have been for many years, passionate for women to find equality in the church. I can remember where I was when women in the Church of England were given the right to be ordained; I cried.
I was in a position of leading a small church plant with my husband Alan and had never had to fight to play my part.
I have a daughter who leads with her husband alongside Alan and myself and another who also flourishes has a leader in church.
I have encountered over the years men of great influence who placed restrictions on women and I found myself in discussion with them. I am pleased that I was instrumental in making them review their position and even had a very influential pastor tell me that our conversation had started him on a path to rethink his position, so much so that he now had a female assistant pastor. He also spoke on this change of heart at a large conference event of a well-known denomination; his teaching was brilliant and made me cheer and cry in equal measure.
High profile churches like Hillsong Australia and the Abundant Life church in the UK have female pastors who travel the world with their ministries. It seemed change had arrived and in this respect I was so very pleased for the next generation of women. Now they could rise and take their place alongside their male counterparts, we had moved on so greatly and I was thrilled.
Then I began to hear about a young upcoming pastor Mark Driscoll, leader of the fast growing Mars Hill church in the USA. His complementarian/patriarchal teaching was more pronounced and even more restrictive to women than I thought I would ever hear again, (here). I read blogs by the wonderful Rachel Held Evans who tried to bring a reasoned biblical response to what he was saying and writing which I have very much appreciated.
I have just written my own response to how I am feeling about this resurgence to be put on my blog later. On late night Twitter checking it revealed a link to a teaching that he is about to undertake, bringing his (supposed) expertise to the book of Esther (here)
Mark clearly feels confident enough to say exactly how he feels about Esther; who he calls this ‘painfully normal’ young woman. Here is a paragraph from his blog.
‘Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God’
So many things to say about this one short paragraph!
How on earth could a young woman taken into a harem to be prepared to lose her virginity be sinful in the way that Mark suggests?
I need to get to the premise of my blog and say this is bad news for our daughters in so many ways. Many will read his words and listen to his podcast; I have already seen several men and women tweet that they are excited to hear his teaching.
Take this teaching a little further into the future, and apply the effects to these daughters (include Pastor Marks offspring). Imagine the men raised in this church and their misguided views magnified by years of this erroneous teaching. Lets then multiply it by the effect upon his wider audience and I fear that the work done by so many women (and men) to bring about real equality will be weakened and damaged.
There is so much more that is wrong with this teaching but I will look at that another time; for now I will say again I am afraid for the next generation of our daughters.
But I for one am not prepared to stay quiet whilst such nonsense is being presented as an acceptable reading and interpretation of this wonderful story.
A Blog by Beverley Molineaux