But damn it, I hate these online discussion like pure pizen. They, more than anything else, send me as close to the Pit of Despair as I ever get. I can sit through a service with its all-male revue and not sweat it. I can hear casual benevolent sexism, and sigh and move on. I can hear these stories, note that in the last decade nothing has changed, grumble, and then roll up my sleeves in determination that this must change. But these online things...I should skip them.
It's not even just that they are inevitable stalemates and dead ends, with the same hermeneutical arguments deployed futilely from both sides and (best case) the same polite incomprehension in the end. Or, even, worst case, ending in things like accusing women of "spiritual abortion" because somehow advocating the giftedness of women to do all sorts of things necessarily implies not teaching other women like the Bible says. (??)
The real problem is, the faith I had in the ability of narrative to crack open the possibility of real dialogue, conversations that won't just repeat ad nauseam as they swirl around the drain, is waning. I really thought this was the key, the sort of magic key, that might make our endless discussions productive. I haven't entirely lost this hope, but it's starting to be hard work to keep it afloat. Its initial buoyancy has been shot full of holes.
This is why (excerpted from my downer of a comment on preachermike's post):
the real disconnect is that one side of this discussion perceives the relevance of women’s experiences as part of the dialogue, and one side views all human experience as something basically sinful and untrustworthy, to be submitted to the corrective lens of (received interpretations of) scripture. In short, gals, it doesn’t matter that you experience an internal crisis of life-shattering proportions because you are caught in the middle of hearing God’s call and hearing the church you want to serve deny that this is possible or genuine or righteous. It’s not relevant, because what you need to do is “get your mind right” (in the immortal words of the Captain of Road Prison 36 in Cool Hand Luke). Somehow, it’s become a badge of righteousness to deny one’s own experience, and by extension, the lived experiences of these women.To be "rude" about it, I'm stuck with an image of incredibly sincere, faithful, loving people opening their Bibles, staring fixedly at the text, and sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting "lalalalalalala" to drown out the sound of these women's voices. Because we can't allow ourselves to hear, to understand, to care, to examine what these women are saying. That itself would be to dangerously flirt with unfaithfulness to the Word, a sign that we were wavering in our conviction that the only thing that matters here is our received interpretation of scripture.
The women thing is not about women. It's not. But it should be.