Monday, July 16, 2012

"Too many women were leaders"... and other such frustration

Recently I read this little book I pulled off someone's shelf called Indonesia Revival: Focus on Timor.

Turns out it was written in the early '70's by a theology professor (George Peters) who was  writing a case study on a reported revival. He chose a revival on the (then) Indonesian island of Timor. I'd never heard of this revival and was intrigued, and it turned out to be a fascinating and analytical research into what we generally see as a sort of hazy emotional phenomenon.
I think he was really fair, and it was very helpful at times to see what could have rooted the "revival" and made it more lasting, what was unhealthy, and what actually was lasting and beautiful. There were great insights into how the institutional church could have helped and supported and thus deepened the movement instead of simply creating a divide by criticising shallowness.

On the other hand, when I got to the very last chapter I almost threw the book across the room when I read the first point in a section called "Weaknesses and Limitations"
1. Too many women were team leaders either officially or in practice. Several women stand out as participants on the teams. They are the heroines of the movement. They are saints of God, deserving much credit. However, from the Biblical point of view, it is difficult for me to accept such a practice. Perhaps we can reconcile it according to certain native religio-cultural practices, as Dr. Middlekoop has done. Yet I have questions, doubts and difficulties about this.

Many other women were at the core of the movement; more than half of the thirty-five group leaders I met with in discussion were women. They did most of the talking. At an evening service I attended, two women gave their testimonies. Of course, when men remain quiet, God uses women. However, it creates a strange and, may I say it lovingly, a wrong impression.
That last sentence makes me want to scream. That in response to women giving testimonies? Heaven help us. They met Jesus. He changed them. They tell their stories. They go out in groups and tell others. Bravo, aren't they simply being obedient, just as Jesus met Mary at the tomb and sent her to tell the others?

I forget that I actually am in a world now that is far from this heavy of patriarcy. For that I am deeply thankful. I know that he was speaking in a way that was very culturally acceptable in his circles at the time, but looking back I find it astounding and very offensive. Praise God that the church in the developing world seems to have turned from the patriarchy of the West.

1 comment:

Jaimie said...

Oh man I still run into offensive stuff all the time. Just start asking people why they're complementarian or what they believe about "male roles" versus "female roles." It has nothing to do with division of labor: my friend actually implied that for a man to join a quilting circle, he would lose his personality.