Women in Leadership: avoiding the issue

It crops up every now and then. In fact, it never really goes away, just sometimes the intensity is more than usual. I’m talking about the subject of women in leadership. In some contexts the answer is clear cut, one way or the other, and in others it is all a bit vague, confused, and often hushed up.

Ever since I started blogging I’ve wanted to tackle this subject. From when I kicked off with my thoughts on relationships, to the most recent fandango featuring Mark Driscoll, so many conversations end up at this point.

And I go to a church where this is frequently spoken of in quiet tones, but the conversation trails off. I go to a church where I think I disagree with them on this, but to be honest, my thinking is not finished, and my unspoken criticisms are more often about the practical outworking than the theological reasoning.

That’s one reason why I’ve not brought it up, why so often it’s been the next post I’m going to write. Why I sit in the pub and chat and promise to put my thoughts together at some point soon. But don’t get around to it. But it’s not the main reason.

It is not because I don’t have my own views, and nor really that I am reluctant to air my disagreements – although I do take that seriously.

Godwin’s law is that if any online discussion thread goes on for long enough it will eventually descend into comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis. Here’s my law for discussions of women in leadership, it takes even less time for comparisons to slavery to pop up.

I don’t really fit into either of the two sets of debate that tend to dominate the airwaves about gender roles. One is the academically theological, the other is emotional and relational. I don’t think either is wrong, and nor do I think either side has a monopoly on one or the other. I have heard many emotive arguments for male only leadership and seen scholarly defences from advocates of women in ministry.

The reason I’ve not posted is that I want to avoid criticism. So much of what I write is heavily caveated as personal and based on my own thoughts and feelings. I rarely write about what is right and wrong, because too often I do not know the answer. And because if I do I’ll divide and alienate by picking sides.

So I stay silent, out of the debate. Standing on the sidelines watching everything else kick off. That way I don’t risk offending anyone. I want to make some headway on this subject, so I’m going to write a few posts flirting with the topic, and get a few people to weigh in from different perspectives. I’m going to hold off anything too conclusive for a while, but I’ll get there eventually.

I’m looking for guest posts so if you want to contribute drop an idea in the comments, or give me a tweet

Some introductory reading to get you going:

Krish Kandiah here and here

Andrew Wilson here, here and here

The Sophia Network, in particular this, but also everything else

And Scott McKnight’s ebook

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