Sunday, January 22, 2006

Oh, the seduction of blogging. Or more accurately, commenting on someone else's blog and getting dragged into the stretched-out, virtual debate that isn't. But it happens. It happens a lot. It happens more and more as deadlines loom closer.

The bad thing, it gets me all twisty inside, and there's very little satisfaction. Even a well-written comment very rarely has any kind of genuine effect on the conversation, and there's never any point at which you get either the illicit satisfaction of watching a zinger hit home, or a thoughtful argument work its rational magic. All the exciting stuff is behind the scenes and there's no satisfaction in it.

But there is, alas, angst. Somehow, while I can work myself up into leaving a comment, it still leaves me with that sick feeling that all personal confrontation does. It's that same old problem, the one I identified when I first started blogging, the one that this blog is supposed to remedy by giving me space to voice some truth a little rudely every so often. I am just too damn Southern, I guess, and maybe it'll take years and possibly professional therapy to get to a place where I can express dissent without harboring feelings of anxiety and guilt on account of it.

Anyway, due to a serious lack of judgment or perhaps even misguided sense of calling (ha, that's for you, Joe) I left an unedited first-draft comment on a blog that is currently rehashing the classic pros and cons of women's silence in the church. In response to some comments that blithely assume that 1) the right conclusion is glaringly obvious, 2) obedience without understanding is par for the course with the Christian God, and 3) people who dissent whould shut up anyway on the basis of the "weaker brother" argument, I left this response:

"Okay, maybe I should wait until I feel less stepped on to write this comment. But I find it sadly, sadly amusing that men find it so easy to accept that proposition that women should be silent, even if it “doesn’t make sense to us,” and even be willing to extend that prohibition further than we normally do in the event that a word study of the Greek “ecclesia” prove it a necessity. In making this point, I don’t want to be heard as saying anything other than, try looking at this issue from the point of view of those whose silence is being debated—while being taken for granted. It’s a lot easier for those who don’t fall under the restriction to accept it. Even if your reading of the Bible and your conscience demand that you accept the proposition that women must be silent, this is something to be accepted with the sort of sorrow that acknowledges that—for whatever unfathomable reason—one group of human beings is not given the privilege and responsibility of speaking the word of God, and another group of human beings has lost the chance to hear that word spoken. No matter how strongly you feel this to be a non-negotiable issue, it is a matter of loss and a cause for sorrow. We all lose when women are silent."

This is my second comment in the discussion, and I'm a little chagrined to report that my first comment disappeared without so much as a ripple in response. Unless the commenters are possessed of unusual nomenclature, I'm the only woman who has even joined the discussion. Not to be touchy, but you'd think that, given the topic, a woman's comments would merit some response.

So, let's face it, I'm just pissed. That's it. It's amazing how much a virtual slight can hurt. It's amazing how damaging it is just to have a stupid comment ignored instead of acknowledged. And that, quite simply, is the problem in a nutshell. Why even debate the hermeneutical rightness or wrongness of the silence of women in Churches of Christ? Y'all don't hear us even when we speak. Silence doesn't get much more total than that. It's not a debate. It's a closed case.


TKP said...

aren't you going to leave a link to this blog so we can leave comments too?

Hey, in case I can't get a hold of you before I leave, I want to know that one of the reasons I chose Kojima over Mito is because the church body there has a much more opportunities for women to participate than the other. Thought I'd let you know.

Anonymous said...

JTB-For what it's worth, I responded to the thread this morning. I'm not sure what else to say really; I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing trying to fight these same battles over and over! In some ways I can't imagine what compels intelligent women to stay, but I'm glad you're still around. Thanks for continuing to be part of the conversation, even when it is more accurately described as a monologue. I hope school is going well. shalom.

JTB said...


Thanks so much for your words here and elsewhere. Probably my sensitivity is misplaced and somewhat hormonal (an excuse I would never stoop to normally) but it is nonetheless real and I really appreciate your response. As I said to Brent, I'm really glad you're getting your MDiv, because you are certainly gifted to minister. Thanks for ministering to me today.