"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


"socially constructed forms of oppression"

In today's Ethics Daily, I read about the SBC's new study that is apparently geared towards putting women in our places. (Let's note that it is not a "Bible study," but rather a "doctrine study." The question of since when Baptists have doctrinal studies is a good one that I'll leave to the Baptist historians.) Written by three men, the study emphasizes pretty much what you'd expect. Anyway, as it would probably cause me to say something not very nice, rather than react to this story directly, I'm just going to rerun this post from earlier this year:

Greatest Fulfillment
Well, thank God that Al Mohler knows what God has called me to do with my life.

Sigh. You know, this has been a really good first week back to school. I'm confident about my dissertation again, and my classes are going well. I left today's lecture feeling that the students understood and are (mostly) engaged with the material. I had a great conversation with a younger colleague who's trying to figure out what direction his work should take. A friend and I caught up over lunch and marvelled at how we finally feel like our work is headed in the right direction. For the first time, I'm hearing the words with which I'll write my dissertation in the same way in which I hear words when I write an essay about poverty or injustice or laughter in the Congo.

I love teaching college students. I am certain that I'm making a difference in the world when I can help a friend think through his calling. I know that I'm a pretty good writer, and that on rare occasions, something inside me strings the words together in such a way that they move people to think, and, hopefully, to act. These are the things that make me feel the most alive, like I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to do.

What I've just described is usually known as "a calling." A calling is that sense that you are supposed to do something. It's the name we put on this idea that our talents, skills, background, and experiences have uniquely equipped us to do a task. Because I am a Christian, I believe that callings come from God. It is, as Frederick Buechner says, the task we are given to do at the place where our own "deep gladness" and "the world's deep need" intersect. For me, the fact that I feel so much joy when I am doing these things, serving others in these ways, is a sign that this is my calling.

Apparently Dr. Mohler believes that I am mistaken:

"Mohler said he believes the Bible is 'absolutely clear … that the first priority--where a woman is likely to find her greatest fulfillment in God's plan--is going to be in the home being a wife and a mom.'" - as quoted by Ethics Daily.

Let me be absolutely clear on this: I believe that being a stay-at-home wife and mother is an honorable calling. I'm not the sort of person who thinks that women who so choose (and who are so lucky as to be able to stay home) are betraying the feminist movement, blah, blah, blah. My sister and I were lucky that our mother was able to stay home with us when we were young, and I have no doubt that the fact that my mother read to me all the time has a lot to do with how I turned out. I hope that my career path will enable me to take time off to be with my children when they are small, and I hope that I'll be able to continue doing that which God has gifted and called me to do. If staying home with her children is what a woman wants to do, what she believes is best for her family, and what she believes God is calling her to do, then that is absolutely what she should do. I'm not against such choices.

What I am against, however, is the arrogance inherent in a stranger's assumption that he knows better than I that which constitutes my gifts, talents, and calling by God. What I am against is the selective reading of the inerrant Word of God that ignores Biblical examples of women who took leadership roles outside of the home in their societies. What I am against is someone who would argue that God has given me gifts that I am apparently not supposed to use, and who would tell me that I should be someone other than who I am created to be. What I am against is the fundamentalist hermeneutic that insists on limiting the power and capacity of Almighty God to do as He chooses.

For we are not just called to do, we are also called to be. To be a people who preach Christ crucified and risen again. To act justly and love mercy and walk in humility with the Lord our God. To be good neighbors to people we find distasteful. To be that which we are called to be.

Thank goodness obedience to God isn't dependent on the opinions of others.


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Friday, December 14, 2007 5:24:00 PM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

TiA, you know that I agree completely. Since my wife is a Baptist minister, I'd pretty much have to, wouldn't I? (BTW, Mohler used to be a feminist when he thought "moderates" were going to win. His wife, Mary, even used to hyphenate her name. Hypocrite.)

But I do have to say that Baptists used to have doctrinal studies, and church history, etc. all the time. We did it in that now-defunct time called "Training Union." Training Union was held before Sunday Evening worship as S.S. (with Bible Study) was held before Sunday morning worship.

Just a historical note.

I affirm your calling.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 7:34:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

See, this is why I shouldn't comment on these matters! :) Believe it or not, I'm a young Baptist who remembers Training Union. I know I went as a small child, but don't remember a thing about what we covered. I have a feeling we're a dying breed.

Thanks for the affirmation! And for the tidbit about Mary Mohler. I'll file that away...

Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:15:00 PM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Nothing I say should ever encourage you to keep from commenting! I love your blog--even when it's about intra-Texas stuff that I don't get. :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007 12:10:00 PM

Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

Remember, you don't know what you're talking about because you're a woman.

Now, if I can get my tongue out of my cheek, I'll go read a good book while I wait for Southern Seminary to be saved by a dental surgeon. (A Mohler needs to be extracted.)

Monday, December 17, 2007 6:40:00 PM


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