Interesting Response to 5 Lies the Church Tells Women

Dave Warnock has an interesting response to 5 Lies the Church Tells Women which he titles 5 Lies the Church Tells Women: does not go far enough. Working with some principles derived from Karl Barth’s writings, he responds point by point, except to a couple of them that he says he can’t take seriously.

I commend his article to those who are trying to think about this in a way that is faithful to the message of scripture, rather than merely to certain words in scripture. It’s thought provoking stuff.

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  1. The problem with his article is that he *doesn’t* respond to all the points — because he doesn’t believe that people say these things. I think the power of the original article is for those women who *have* been told these things by their ministers and male authority figures.

    If you’ve been told your entire life that you’re unworthy to do anything but breed and keep house because “God says so,” even a poorly executed explanation of how the Bible doesn’t say that at all can be a life-changing experience. Dismissing the points because “no one says that who isn’t an idiot” doesn’t help the problem at all.

    5 Lies is addressing one problem — women submitting to abuse because they think that’s God’s will for them. Dave Warnock is addressing a different problem — that the original article isn’t necessarily great scholarship. Comparing the two is somewhat unfair, I’m not sure the original article was *meant* to be great scholarship.

  2. I guess I hoped it would be read as supplemental to, rather than contradictory. I do think it is important to establish the appropriate, Christ-like treatment of women on as solid a basis as possible. I think Dave Warnock has carried us along toward that goal.

  3. Kate, suppose one of the points had been “All Jews should be killed”. Some people actually say that, or at least said it, and tried to put it into practice. Does that mean that someone like Dave should attempt to make a rational response to that point? There are some positions which are so beyond the pale that attempting to reason about them can be seen as compromise with them. Lies #3 and #4 may not be quite that extreme, but I can understand why Dave treats them as if they are.

  4. Kate is absolutely right that a young woman who has been told all her life (presumably not just by some stranger but by those she loves and respects including parents and religious leaders) that she is unworthy of anything except a role as household servant needs to hear the reasons why that is not so.

    The “All Jews should be killed” is not parallel unless we assume a young Jewish person has also been told all his life by parents and religious leaders alike to believe that idea. To the contrary, presumably any young Jew who hears from some outside person that all Jews should be killed has also had a lifetime of support from parents and religious community in knowing that idea is wrong.

    Kate is also quite right, I think, in pointing out that the two articles address different issues, so indeed they can be read as complementary. I don’t think she is saying that they contradict each other. While Warnock provides an interesting look at a particular theological perspective, his dismissal of two of the “lies” as not in need of response isn’t likely to change mind of anyone who makes those claims. Of course, he’s not obligated to make detailed responses, so it’s no criticism of his article to say that he doesn’t.

    I don’t think Kate is saying that the second article contradicts the first, only that the first is more powerful and more likely to be of real help to the women involved themselves.

  5. Julia, I hear you and at the same time I still think Dave is contributing very positively to the topic. I too have encountered real people who believe the things to which he doesn’t respond.

    At the same time, I think more is needed than a small adjustment, or even merely an adjustment in how we understand women in ministry and in the home. We need to adjust our approach to formulating this type of theology.

    I would like to congratulate folks who take one or two steps without stomping on those who are trying to take 10 or 12. I’m apparently not being too successful.

  6. Julia, I hear you and at the same time I still think Dave is contributing very positively to the topic.

    I think so, too. As I said, he’s obviously not obligated to make responses to all five of the issues, so it’s no criticism of him to notice that he didn’t. I just agree with Kate’s comment that the first article’s technique of responding to all the issues may be of more direct help to the women who actually suffer from this sort of environment. Dave is certainly making a contribution to the approach for formulating this type of theology: also very important.

    I’m apparently not being too successful.

    Oh, dear: I’m afraid I have to disagree here too. You’ve certainly got us all thinking not only about the problem but also about the range of effectiveness of various techniques for addressing it.

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