Over at the Parchment and Pen blog C. Michael Patton has once again stirred up the pot concerning women in ministry, in the home, and as leaders. In one post he asks egalitarian if they think there is any way to train boys to be men and girls to be women. That question stemmed from his assertion in an earlier post that (I am paraphrasing and summarizing the post and his comments): there is an essential difference between men and women (beyond biology), that this difference should be “nurtured and celebrated”, and that these differences will “predispose” one sex to be more qualified than another for certain jobs. If you would like to check out what he has said for yourself follow the links above but be warned the first post I mentioned had 122 comments last I looked and the last one had over 500 comments. If like me you did not go along with all of Mr. Patton’s assertion you were essentially ignored or accused of neutering society. Thus, I am posting here.
While Mr. Patton seems to only want to interface with those he thinks he can back into a corner and force to admit they are actually complementarian, I would like to know what others (that means YOU) think. You see, if you agree there is a difference between men and women it is logical to Mr. Patton that you would also want these differences to be “celebrated and nurtured” (AKA: emphasized and trained). Mr. Patton also has no trouble suggesting that the differences between male and female result in a predisposition to being more qualified to carry out certain “jobs” (AKA: roles, for example leadership). Personally, I part company with Mr. Patton on both his second and his third points.
While I understand there are differences between the sexes I do not think these are trainable. I do not become more of a woman because I am “trained to be a woman”. If I have no physical defect and I have a xy, as opposed to an xx, chromosome I am female. And, if I live to adulthood I become a woman, as opposed to a girl. Truly nothing I can do in the realm of training will promote the process or stop the process from happening. Now I may fit into my culture better if I am trained in a certain manner but my ability or willingness to be trained does not change the fact of my gender.
As for Mr. Patton’s third assertion, I believe the differences between genders do not automatically mean one gender is better at a given task than the other. They may carry out the same role differently but one method is not necessarily better than the other. In truth, few tasks require only one quality or characteristic. Those who are good at a given job do not all have exactly the same giftings, inclinations, or temperaments. The differences each bring to a given role when blended together will, in my opinion, better serve the roles each fill from senior pastor to janitor, to greeters to worship leaders.
In the home I believe it is even more important that fathers and mothers share their roles and their authority. Both need to be strong leaders and both need to be strong nurturers (the two qualities CMP seemed most often to attribute to the different genders). The goal in child rearing ought not be whether or not we can raise good stereotypes of men and women but rather whether or not we model godly examples of men and women, examples our sons and daughters can be encouraged by both parents to follow.