Saturday, August 30, 2008

On Being a Woman in Certain Circles

How fun is this?

The Republican pick for VP is a woman!

Now, let's see what all the arguments will be against her. The glass ceiling is being challenged, with 18 million cracks no less.

The debate within religious circles about women leading is an interesting one. I'm a woman. I'm in the minority as far as this debate is concerned.

Speaking of minorities: We have traveled some outside the United States. Several years ago we went to Brazil on a mission trip, and we went by ourselves without a guide. We found ourselves several times in difficult situations because we did not speak Portugese. Our contact at the airport didn't make it, and we had to get to another airport without the benefit of knowing how or where and we couldn't speak the language. We made it, but I gained a new appreciation of what it means to be laughed at, to have the feeling of not belonging, and to be a minority. Not a good feeling or situation.

And being a woman in church, I've also experienced very much the same thing although under the guise of being Biblical and doing what God wants. Hmmmm.

But in the corporate world, it's very different. I'm an executive, I'm respected, I'm listened to, I'm asked for my opinion, I'm asked to lead teams and projects, and I find myself enjoying being a capable leader.

Then I go to church.

If a woman speaks up in the traditional Sunday School couples class, she's often only acknowledged and appeased, but not necessarily listened to or respected as being anyone with an opinion worth listening to. (Just my opinion.) The situation is quite different when a man might volunteer his opinion. All seem to listen with rapt attention. Hmmmmm.

Women are asked to cook and bring food. Women are asked to accompany their husbands. Women are pitied if they're left as widows.

Needless to say, it's an interesting contrast to be respected and listened to five days a week, and then go to a place where we're to relate in the deepest sense and minister and be ministered to, but to be treated like a minority person without the credentials necessary to be "someone" in this environment. And, we're supposed to invite others, our women friends, to come to this life-giving, life-changing, wonderful place? This causes me pause.

My thoughts on a woman being a leader in different settings.

A fun postscript: I have my "handsome feller" read my posts before I post them as fresh eyes to catch any mistakes and to see how the "spirit" of the writing comes across. He read this one and commented, "I hope they know you are respected and listened to at home." I can honestly and firmly say that is very true. I am respected as an equal and am a co-leader in our relationship. It's a change from how we started, and it's a place we've grown to. It's a good place!


Cathy H said...

I think the role of women in the church is very cultural:

- in Charismatic churches women "co-pastor with their husbands"

- in African-American churches pastor's wives hold a very revered place of "First Lady"

- in UMC churches women hold high positions....even pastorates

- in my little EPC church we have a female elder

Pete Brisco (son of Stuart Brisco and pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship) tells the story of his mom, Jill, addressing a conference of pastors and all of them standing and turning their back to her because they would not be addressed by a woman.

His father walked out onstage, put his arm around her and stood beside her, saying, "Honey...why don't you go ahead and speak."

She did.

That story tipifies legalism and not love. (I can't see Christ ever taking that action.)

Go Miriam. Go Tamar. Go Rahab. They lived much more dynamic lives than some denominations would ever allow them to live today.

Mary Burleson said...

Cathy, Good information. Guess you can tell what kind of church I belong to.

We know the Briscoes. We had Stuart in our church years ago and we've followed them and their ministry.

That's an interesting story you related about Jill speaking. How rude is that? Good for them how they handled it. They always seemed way ahead of the norm, cutting edge types. We really admire them.

Legalism vs. grace. More and more that seems to identify some major issues.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post Mary. And true, so true. Thanks for saying what many women have been thinking.

Here I Dwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Here I Dwell said...

Catching up on your blog, it has been a while since I have had a chance. Always enjoy it.

You may have heard screams of pain and anguish from the southside of town a couple of weeks ago. I showed Andrea the latest issue of SWBTS Alumi Magazine. In this issue they had an emphasis on their new masters program for women. It includes teaching how to host parties, cook meals, set the table, etc. It didn't go over very well in the Anthony househod.

It did give us an opportunity to explain to the kids the bias that exists in the world.


Mary Burleson said...

I've started going back to my old posts and reading comments. I haven't been doing that and I've missed a few. I just had to comment to your comment. I did hear the screams. : )
I read that whole publication all the way through and called Wade and made sure he had it. Unbelievable! But, it does show me how far I've come. I think I would have agreed with those articles several years ago, but as I look back, I realize I was always somewhat uncomfortable with that philosophy but didn't know why. Freedom and grace are to be cherished and relished. Hindsight is a good reminder.
Thanks for commenting.