there really is a ‘council on biblical manhood and womanhood’

This morning, I came across something I did not know existed, and I initially thought was a joke. But alas, this incredible discovery is real (although, imho, it is still a joke).

Lo and behold, there exists (and I’m not making this up), a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. They even have a logo.

I kid you not – A Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood!

This is not an Onion article, nor is it satire. It’s a real organization. Their self-description (I kid you not – this is in the very first paragraph on their ‘About Us‘ page) reads:

In 1987, a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches. Because of the widespread compromise of biblical understanding of manhood and womanhood and its tragic effects on the home and the church, these men and women established The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (underlines mine)

Seriously! They formed their organization to “address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches!” And they did so in nineteen eighty-seven! Not nineteen fifty-seven, not eighteen eighty-seven, nineteen eighty-seven!

They go on to say that they stand in “opposition to the growing movement of feminist egalitarianism.” And they make no apologies: they are firmly against the equality of men and women! And it gets better. This group has:

articulated what is now known as the “complementarian position” which affirms that men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function. In the home, men lovingly are to lead their wives and family as women intelligently are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. In the church, while men and women share equally in the blessings of salvation, some governing and teaching roles are restricted to men. (emphasis, bold, red, quotes, and implied outrage all mine)

The group regularly rails against (surprise, surprise) same-sex marriage (in one article, the legalization of same-sex marriage in Iowa is said to be worse than a 500-year flood causing damage to the homes and farms of thousands of people), homosexuality, and feminism.

Here are pictures of those serving in leadership roles on their Board of Directors. (Should I be shocked that everyone but the secretary is a white male?) And here are the council members. (Again, I don’t know whether to be more aghast at the fact that everyone is white, or that the five women serving on the board all have ‘homemaker’ or ‘Pastor’s wife’ listed first as primary occupation, followed only then by ‘author’ or ‘consultant.’ I certainly don’t see the men listing ‘Loving Husband’ or ‘Father’ before their titles of ‘Founder and Chairman,’ ‘President,’ or ‘Executive Director’ in the members’ descriptions. Is it also telling that two of the women don’t even have pictures?)

The group’s latest job, it appears, is to criticize the new revision of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible (the first revision to the NIV in 25 years) because it includes “gender-neutral” language. The CBMW’s review of the NIV is here.

Sigh.

Here’s an observation: if this group had the word “Islamic” in it, and all of the members were citing the Qur’an and the women pictured were in burqas or veils, I’m guessing the members of this same CBMW group would condemn it as Sharia Law fundamentalism suppressing the rights of women. But somehow, because it’s a Christian organization and they’re citing the Bible, this group has no problem suppressing the roles of women, and citing divine authority in doing so.

The use of religion to suppress women is wrong regardless of the religion used to do so. This – THIS! – is precisely why non-Christians hate fundamentalist Christians: because they use scripture to keep women down, when all Jesus ever wanted to do was lift them up.

I shake my head…

question for the ‘yes on prop 8′ supporters: who can caster semenya marry?

South African gold-medallist Caster Semenya

South African gold-medallist Caster Semenya

i have a question for all of the california ‘yes on proposition 8′ supporters and others who support bans on gay marriage:

who can caster semenya marry?

it was revealed that south african olympic runner caster semenya is an intersexual individual (traditionally called hermaphrodites).

South African gold-medallist Semenya, 18, has both male and female organs, it was claimed…Semenya is claimed to have NO womb or ovaries — and has internal testes, the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.

first, i want to say that i can’t possibly comprehend what it must be like growing up as an intersexual individual in a society that sees issues of gender in such a markedly binary manner. gender issues are confusing enough if you are merely male or female, but to grow up in a sex-obsessed world arguing about issues of same-sex marriage as a hermaphrodite? this seems incredibly difficult.

i want to lend my support and sympathy to caster semenya, not for her physical makeup – she should be proud of who she is. but, i want to encourage her to stay strong in her life as an olympian and a woman (the gender she has chosen).

however, i cannot help but ask a few questions to those that oppose same sex marriage and to those that oppose women’s full inclusion, participation, and leadership in the church.

who can caster semenya marry? can she marry a man? would you let her marry a woman?

can she preach in a church? can she lead singing? can she serve as an elder? a pastor?

while these questions are answered quite simply by those of us that support gender equity and same-sex marriage, the answers are a little more difficult for those wishing to impose traditional (and quite physiologically ignorant) opinions on the matter. the bible speaks of male and female, but does not consider asexual, hermaphroditic, or other intersexual individuals. quite frankly, hermaphrodites do not fit the ‘biblical’ paradigm that many wish to enforce.

hermaphrodite_symbolhow can we continue to impose male/female gender regulations from a book that fails to address intersexual individuals upon a modern society. studies show that about 1% of all children born express some degree of sexual ambiguity, and 1 in every 2,000 newborns is born in a pronounced intersexual state. sure, these individuals are in the extreme minority, but if christians truly believe that every individual person is loved – and most say uniquely created (some might say intelligently designed) – by god, how can we impose gender restrictions upon individuals that possess both genders? it is no longer acceptable for fundamentalists simply to argue that the only acceptable christian lifestyle for intersexual individuals is lifelong abstinence. it is no sin, and they (nor their parents) did nothing wrong.

it is time for christians (and jews, and muslims, and peoples of all faiths) to recognize that some social institutions mentioned in the bible are no longer valid in modern society. the bible allows for slavery, but modern society has condemned this practice. the bible not only allows for, but at times commands genocide, but modern society has condemned this practice. likewise, the bible promotes the continued subjugation of women and homosexuals based upon antiquated and scientifically ignorant understandings of what it means to be a human with gender. it is time we once and for all did away with calls by christians to continue to ban same-sex marriage and women’s participation in church worship and leadership. it is time to accept that not all people in christ are ‘male and female’ (gal. 3:28) and realize that like its endorsement of slavery, the subjugation of women, homosexuals, and intersexual individuals is no longer acceptable.

two women

two women.

both knew their place, but not everyone agreed where that place was.

the place for a woman was certainly not at the feet of a rabbi. martha understood this, and confined her service to the traditional and scripturally authorized domestic realm, preparing the house for the arrival of her lord and his men. and martha served her lord well.

but mary, mary did not get the memo. you see, mary knew her place too, but it was not a place people expected, and martha thought mary should have known better. there was a god-ordained order to things, and women were not supposed to step out of their roles as domestic servants. but mary chose to break with tradition, and sit at the feet of her lord… with the men.

and in luke 10, we have one of the earliest debates about the role and place of women. so the question is asked: what does it mean to be a servant? must a servant be a servant in the kitchen only? or can she be a true servant – the kind of servant jesus himself endorsed – one that sits at the foot of the teacher along with the twelve, along with the apostles, the disciples – those who would become church leaders – that is, along with the men?

and mary, who longs only to be a true servant, breaks tradition, and joins the men. and as we shall see, jesus says that mary has chosen what is better: because the true disciple serves at the feet of the lord.

martha, who knew her place, is not mentioned again in luke’s gospel. but her sister, mary, she is mentioned again. in fact, she is mentioned in two places that luke considered moments of utmost significance.

it is no coincidence, that as jesus hanged on the cross, and gasped for his last few breaths of life, that the very student, the very disciple for whom jesus stood up and defended at martha’s home – mary – she was there, again, still, near the feet of jesus when he died.

luke emphasizes this in luke 23:49 when he says, “all those who knew him – including the women who had followed him from galilee – remained at a distance watching these things.” mary – the better disciple – remained at the feet of jesus, even while other disciples had fled in fear.

and perhaps it was this same mary that was among those mentioned by name in luke 24 as being one of the few women that was faithful enough, and devoted enough, and brave enough to visit the tomb on the morning of the resurrection.

and it was these women – these faithful servants – and this faithful student – who relayed the message of the resurrection to the eleven men – who were hiding, and unbelieving, off in the distance.

perhaps it is a literary irony, but it is certainly no coincidence, that the very woman who sat at the feet of jesus while he was teaching, also stood near the foot of the cross when he breathed his last.

because the true student not only hears the teaching, but embodies the lessons taught.

the true student not only does the easy assignments, but completes the difficult assignments as well.

and the true disciple sits at the feet of the teacher, whether the lesson is being taught in a room, or while hanging on a cross.

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