Karen’s post addresses the de facto gender discrimination that occurs in the church. Let me ask a question about Karen’s underlying assumptions: What is she expecting? Karen provides anecdotal evidence of women’s viewpoints being marginalized in church settings. Many or all of us have seen the same thing happen.
But, the fact is that we live in a society where women’s viewpoints are routinely marginalized. We have had no female presidents of the United States. Female representation in Congress is minimal. Women earn a quarter less than men do for equal work. Women have yet to become equal with men in business, politics, science, literature, and most other areas. And yes, they are typically not on equal footing in religion, either.
My question is whether the church’s subtle discrimination is merely part and parcel of women’s inferior status in society today. Perhaps we can argue that the church should be being progressive, and breaking down barriers. But if it is not being progressive, an important query is whether it is being reactionary, or simply passively reflecting societal discrimination. Based on the evidence Karen has shown, the answer may be that it is simply reflecting societal discrimination. And if that is the case, then perhaps the response should be to try to change society, not to try to change the church. (Do we want a church that tries to be progressive? Or do we want a church that reflects societal attitudes, warts and all?)