In the last few days a curious video popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook titled '7 Reasons Men Should Not Be Pastors'. You can check it out here.
This video is based off an article with the same angle that was published by the same online magazine in 2012.
The basic idea is to ironically give reasons which are regularly given for why women shouldn't be pastors, as reasons why men shouldn't be pastors.
And it definitely fulfills it's purpose. All of the statements sounds ridiculous and condescending especially to a 21st century woman's ears. My favourite one is;
"They're too emotional to be priests or pastors. Go to a March Madness game and tell me I'm wrong."
It clearly shows how ridiculous these things are when they are said to women, right?
I think for the most part it does, and I understand the reason you might make a video like this. But I think this video misses the mark in several ways.
1. Presuming an egalitarian approach is the only way to support women in the church
The whole video seems to be saying that the reasons women are told they can't be pastors are wrong. But there is no mention of any other ways which women can be ministers of the gospel that sound worth pursuing, apart from children's ministry which I'll get to in a moment.
In addition, the video ends with;
"But it's 2016. So don't be that guy. Support Women in the church."
Which appears to communicate that anything else is antiquated and backward. It is 2016 after all.
I am not saying that an egalitarian position on women in ministry isn't valid, although I hold to a complementarian view myself so I do disagree that way of understanding the way the Bible talks about gender roles. But it comes across to me that they are saying that unless women get to lead a congregation and preach they aren't supported in ministry. And that's simply not true.
As a woman working in ministry, who doesn't preach in mixed congregations, there are many areas I serve and teach and preach in. And what's more, I am blessed to have many supports in the ministry networks around me to do that. And I don't feel that my ministry is less than that of the men I work with.
I know that this isn't the experience of many women in ministry, but I want to say that it is possible to support women in ministry without taking an egalitarian approach.
For more on this topic you can read this post on the fabulous Practical Theology for Women blog.
2. Subtly devaluing volunteer ministry
The last one liner before the video begins to come to a close is;
"Men are still vitally important to the life of the church. I mean, they could sweep sidewalks, or repair the church roof. They could even worship lead on Father's Day."
I know that it's pointing out how women are often just asked to contribute with making food, or sewing the nativity costumes etc. And that's a good thing to critique. Women need to be encouraged to serve in other ways too, instead of being limited to serving only in this way.
But those practical ways of serving the church are still really important ways to serve the local church. Serving in a working bee, or bringing food for after the service on a Sunday, or serving on the music team are all ways which members of the local church can use their God-given gifts in the life of the church.
Volunteer ministry work is vital to the functioning of the church, and it shouldn't be dismissed as less than paid ministry work.
3. Subtly devaluing children's ministry
The first line is more about women's ordination, but I still felt the sting of the comparison of ordination and children's ministry, especially from the tone it was said in.
Men can still be involved in the church. They just don't need to be ordained. The children's ministry is always in need of male leadership.
This line showed a subtle devaluing of children's ministry by making it sound like being involved in children's ministry is second best compared to being an ordained pastor of a congregation. This is a common attitude towards children's ministry that I have seen expressed both explicitly and implicitly around the place, but it's not a good one.
I could write a whole other post on this, (perhaps I will!) but I am very thankful to have a good example of valuing children's ministry from the pastor of my church. He is always impressing on those who are involved in leading and helping to run the kids ministry that we are teaching God's word to the next generation of the church and church leaders, and that it is not a waste of time. And I think there needs to be more of this attitude, and less of the attitude which treats it as the 'leftover' ministry to lead.
4. It's pretty harsh
Now I know that's the point. They are using irony to make a point. But is sarcasm and irony the best way to seek correction for the way women are included/excluded in being supported in ministry?
It feels to me as though this video is more about campaigning to change the way women are seen in the church, and while I do want to see women encouraged and trained in leadership in the church, it seems to me that this is very much not the way we are taught to handle rebuke and conflict in the body of believers.
'Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.' - 1 Timothy 5:1-2
'As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.' - Ephesians 4:1-3
These passages instruct and encourage gentleness and respect when dealing with brothers and sisters in the church, rather than harshness and sarcasm. Even if it's clever and insightful. In making 'every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace', we need to sacrifice cleverness and wittiness for the sake of our brothers and sisters. Especially when dealing with difficult issues.
I think I'll leave it there for the moment. It's a really important topic which I will probably post more on in the future, so stay tuned!