Testicles Are Not A Testament

Back in the 1990s, when I was a good Baptist girl, I was taught that the man was to be the head of things. That was just the way it was ‘sposed to be according to God Himself. You see, God created Adam first, so that meant Adam was number one! And everything was all nice and dandy in the Garden of Eden-until simple Eve went and listened to that wicked snake. Eve was deceived, but she didn’t stop there. No, bad ole’ Eve gave the fruit to her man and encouraged him to take a bite too! Ever since, sin and death have been with us. Because of Eve’s acts, I as a woman was condemned to my own special brand of suffering. I would bleed and have cramps for decades of my life. I’d go through excruciating pain in childbirth, all because a woman I never knew took a bite. My husband would rule over me. The New Testament expanded upon what I could and could not do as a woman. I wasn’t supposed to preach or have authority over a man in the church-again, all because of Eve.  In the church I grew up in, a woman could only enter the pulpit if she was stocking and cleaning it prior to services. No female-regardless of the title that she held, regardless of whether she was ordained in another denomination or church-could address the congregation from the pulpit. It was for men only, and to question or go against that was to question the word of God itself.   Women were to be meek and quiet, leaving leadership and power to the men of God. Everyone knew that men are uniquely created by ‘God’ to bear the burdens that come with being in charge. Women were just too precious and fragile to handle such a responsibility. As a ‘godly’ woman I was to agree with such teachings and ‘know my place-beneath men.

But you know what amuses me when I look back on all of this? The fact that so many women in Black churches go along with it. For when you look around in the church, in the community and in our families, sistas take care of business! We hold it down on all fronts.  In some churches we comprise the majority of the congregation. We serve on committees, handle administrative needs, coordinate logistics for church events and handle the finances. In our personal lives we often juggle family and career obligations. Every day of our lives we silently prove ourselves strong, capable, efficient and able to lead. Yet we assent to doctrines which state we are not to have such qualities in the house of God. It makes no sense.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

20 thoughts on “Testicles Are Not A Testament

  1. Your problem here, and your example, are not rational.

    Suppose you are an employee at a business, and your given role is the mail room worker. If, one day, you decided to sit down at the desk of one of the accountants and start to balance the books (because you had former training in being an accountant), would the supervisor have a problem with that or not?

    I would bet they would– as it is not your role. Your role was to deliver the mail.

    It’s not that you’re less of a person. It’s not that you are not capable of performing the work. It’s that your boss at the time decided that he wanted Gail in Accounting to balance the books, and you to deliver the mail.

    So, what is the problem with the leader of the Baptists, or whomever, saying that females have certain roles and males have another? Only that you’ve decided that this is somehow unfair. Which is fine and dandy, since you don’t adhere to that standard (or work for that company, in my illustration).

    But stop pretending that it’s somehow wrong– that’s just a moral value judgement upon which you have no basis to make, since there is no moral code because of lack of a being outside of or in charge of the human race.

    1. Hey MTG,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It’s rare that I get a dissenting voice around here, so your post is refreshing in a way. Now onto my reply.

      You wrote: “Suppose you are an employee at a business, and your given role is the mail room worker. If, one day, you decided to sit down at the desk of one of the accountants and start to balance the books (because you had former training in being an accountant), would the supervisor have a problem with that or not?
      I would bet they would– as it is not your role. Your role was to deliver the mail.”

      In your hypothetical situation, I agree with you that my supervisor would have a problem with me, the mailworker, attempting to usurp the role of Gail the accountant. You neglect one point though. Gail was hired TO BEGIN WITH because the manager evaluated her based on her education and experience and used that information to come to the conclusion that she was the best person for the job. The manager would have done the same for the mailworker. Each person in the company has the job because they applied, were interviewed and selected as qualified. The churches I was a part of did NOT do this. Women were disqualified from certain roles-not because of a lack of knowledge, education or experience or training-but for no other reason than the fact they were born female. Men, on the other hand, were given the chance for these roles regardless of whether ot not they had the knowledge, education or experience to do so. If that makes sense to you-cool, that’s your prerogative. It doesn’t to me.

      In closing you wrote: “But stop pretending that it’s somehow wrong– that’s just a moral value judgement upon which you have no basis to make, since there is no moral code because of lack of a being outside of or in charge of the human race.”.

      Could you please elaborate on this point? I think I get what you are implying here, but I don’t like to assume. Can you also tell me when, in your opinion, it is okay to make a moral value judgement? An I also banned from making a moral value judgment on slavery? Murder? War? Genocide? Do tell.

      1. Perhaps the example was to complex as to mask the point– the point was that people have different roles, applied to them by an outside source. In other words, it could be that Gail had qualifications, went through the process and was qualified– or that Gail is the boss’ daughter and he needed her to do something so he could pay her.

        Joining a church body is much the same, you make the choice to join a body that has roles for individuals. I doubt it was a secret that the group you were with followed the Bible, and I bet you had one available to you and it had said verses that talked about the roles it believed God laid out.

        Submission is willfully giving something up to another– in this case, leadership. I find it hard to swallow the idea of a church forcing a woman not to lead when said woman can choose to attend a different body that does not have such rules, or choose not to participate at all– which is what you have done.

        This is related to my other comment, in regards to a victim mentality. You either have the power to choose (whether it’s choosing to submit, choosing to leave, etc), or you have things forced upon you (you have no choice). It can’t be both, and how you choose to view your situation determines a lot about you.

        As far as a moral judgement, my comments are made in a generally Christian moral framework. As an atheist, I’m wondering by what moral framework can you judge right and wrong, and by what authority?

  2. It’s strange how we can look right past the strong person staring back at us in the mirror. Believing in men is just a less overt form of believing in God. The biggest leap is to believe in ourselves. But that’s not easy. We would rather believe in a fantasy that reduces us to nothing, than to just realize we might be as good as it gets.

    1. I think this is the important takeaway here– not so much the whole religion argument– it’s faulty in its logic. The question is, what do you think about yourself. You can choose to think highly of yourself regardless of what role you take or whether you choose to submit to another. You can also choose to think poorly of yourself and do either of these things.

      Those groups of people that break people’s will in order to get them to submit are wrong. Those people that willingly submit to another by their own will, they should not be looked down upon.

      1. “You can choose to think highly of yourself regardless of what role you take or whether you choose to submit to another. You can also choose to think poorly of yourself and do either of these things.”

        Indeed, one can make a choice regarding their sense of self-esteem.

        “Those groups of people that break people’s will in order to get them to submit are wrong. Those people that willingly submit to another by their own will, they should not be looked down upon.”

        Interesting, sounds like you are making a ‘moral value judgment’ of your own here.

      2. “I think you need to figure out which it really is. Were you forced or coerced? These are two very different things– which you seem to understand, because you use “forced” when you want to imply you had no choice, but coherced when you want to claim failure of the opportunity to appropriately educate yourself.
        1)SMH@”when you want to claim failure of the opportunity to appropriately educate yourself”-smug much?Anyways, perhaps ‘coerced’ would be the most appropriate term. But regardless of whether one is coerced or literally forced, both situations show a lack of free wil to make one’s own informed choice. In one of your replies you attempt to shift the blame on me when I was a CHILD, by saying that I knew the rules of this church when I joined and had said information freely available to me.My response was made to inform you that your assumption was WRONG, as I initially did not make the choice to be a Baptist or a Christian of my own volition. But I suppose at ten years old-not even at puberty yet-the burden should have been on me to “take the opportunity to appropriately educate myself”, in spite of the fact that my family and church never afforded such oppprtunity to children and teenagers.

        “Especially because you state that you accepted Jesus Christ, which implies a choice that couldn’t be “forced” upon anyone. Another person can force you to say you believe in Jesus, but can’t actually make the choice for you.”
        2)I use the phrase ‘accepted Jesus Christ’ because that is the way my church and family described it. It should be clear as day to anyone who read my reply to you that I do NOT believe I ever accepted Jesus Christ, because as you state yourself such a choice can not truly be made of out force or coercion.

        “As it stands, you’re argument boils down to “a group of women choose to follow a religion/church that prohibits them from being in leadership positions. Isn’t this terrible?” Right?”

        3)If that is what you took away from my initial blog post, I’m afraid that your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. Number one, there is no argument made anywhere in said post. It is my OBSERVATION made through my personal experiences. Number two, my observation was that it is interesting to me that some in the minority group I belong to-Black/African-American women-see nothing wrong with taking up positions of power, leadership and authority in their families, homes, communities and workplaces-yet accept the idea that they cannot do so in their places of worship due to their obedience to the doctrine of submission as practiced in some denominations. So please cease with your attempts to make it seem like those who adhere to submission are somehow being martyred here. I’m quite articulate and if I wanted to say that ““a group of women choose to follow a religion/church that prohibits them from being in leadership positions. Isn’t this terrible?” Right?”, I would have said just that. I do not need or appreciate your attempts to put words in my mouth.

      3. 1) Parents teach children their value systems. Regardless of what you believe, Hell, Christ, etc. are real to the people you were brought up with, and assuming that they truly believe these things they were doing the best they could to protect and love you. That you now characterize their concern, care and training as “forced” and “coercion” now mislabels their attempts with inflammatory rhetoric.

        Simply put, you don’t agree with what you were taught, and you were able to leave it when you decided.

        2) We’re agreed, and this goes along with what I wrote above. I do not force my kids to believe anything, though they are expected to go to church, and I’m sure that they either are believers or will be, it is a choice that they have to make. Forcing any person to believe or not to believe can sometimes backfire since the human race is prone to rebellion.

        3) a) In your original post, you were railing against the church for having a set of roles for people in the church based on sex. My reply to that was that the women choose (or have chosen) to be in that context.

        Then you stated the following in reply to one of my comments:

        Women were disqualified from certain roles-not because of a lack of knowledge, education or experience or training-but for no other reason than the fact they were born female. Men, on the other hand, were given the chance for these roles regardless of whether ot not they had the knowledge, education or experience to do so. If that makes sense to you-cool, that’s your prerogative. It doesn’t to me.”

        In context, I said that your argument was that it was wrong for women not to be in leadership roles, and I added my flavor to it– the fact that these women choose to be in this situation, or they choose to leave.

        Does that clear up where I came up with my summary of the argument I read out of quotes? Sometimes it’s better for me to try to rephrase something so that I get it right. Here I think I interpolated some of my thoughts and equated them as yours. I’ll try to keep it clearer in the future!

        b) I don’t think you should limit your critique to simply women who happen to have more melanin in their bodies, but I would say that virtually all churches have a higher percentage of women then men. I would also say that the church reaches out to women more than men, and is hypocritical on this issue– claiming to have a Divine mandate for roles and yet seeking to put a woman in as many places as it can.

        I believe that the church knows something about the ability to get women to be of service, and this goes to the heart of the Bible’s teaching.

      4. ” Parents teach children their value systems. Regardless of what you believe, Hell, Christ, etc. are real to the people you were brought up with, and assuming that they truly believe these things they were doing the best they could to protect and love you. That you now characterize their concern, care and training as “forced” and “coercion” now mislabels their attempts with inflammatory rhetoric. ”

        1) I am not mislabeling thier actions at all I am simply stating what happened. If my family had chosen to indoctrinate and coerce me into another set of beliefs-say Marxism or to be a racism-would you still say they were just doing what they thought best for me? I highly doubt it. The only reason that so many people give the type of indoctrination I went through a free pass is 1)it has been the norm for so long and 2)religion is involved.There is no question that my family loves me. My Grandma died in 2004 and I miss her so much I would give anything to see her again. That does not change the fact of what she and the rest of my family did(with the exception of my mother). Furthermore, believing you are doing something good and noble doesn’t mean that you actually are. History is littered with examples of people doing what they believed to be good-many times in the name of god-and it not actually being the case. The young men who carried out the 9/11 attacks truly believed that they were doing something good. The Americans who pushed Manifest Destiny believed they were dping good. The slavemasters who told my ancestors to just submit to life as slaves believed they were doing good in civilizing the heathen Africans. Now am I morally saying my family is on the same plane as such people? Of course not. But let’s not claim that belief gives one justification to do as they please and makes one’s actions the right thing to do.

    2. “Joining a church body is much the same, you make the choice to join a body that has roles for individuals. I doubt it was a secret that the group you were with followed the Bible, and I bet you had one available to you and it had said verses that talked about the roles it believed God laid out.”

      You should browse through some of my other posts. Initially I did NOT make a choice to join the Church, as my Grandma forced me to get baptized when I was ten years old and made church attendance compulsory for as long as I lived under her roof. When I accepted Jesus Christ and got baptized as a child I did NOT know all of the rules of the organization I was coerced into joining and was not given the opprtunity to read the Bible for myself and decide whether or not I wanted to be a part if it. Had I been allowed to learn and read of the Bible and Church history on my own, at an age where I was capable of reasoning, without intense pressure from my family and community and without the fear of hell, I doubt I ever would have chosen Christianity for myself. So this is one bet you would definitely lose.

      1. I think you need to figure out which it really is. Were you forced or coerced? These are two very different things– which you seem to understand, because you use “forced” when you want to imply you had no choice, but coherced when you want to claim failure of the opportunity to appropriately educate yourself. Especially because you state that you accepted Jesus Christ, which implies a choice that couldn’t be “forced” upon anyone. Another person can force you to say you believe in Jesus, but can’t actually make the choice for you.

        The rest of this is irrelevant. You proved that you were able to make a choice to leave, when you were legally able, which was my point. If you were forced to stay in an environment against you will (like it is in some cults) you’d have a better argument.

        As it stands, you’re argument boils down to “a group of women choose to follow a religion/church that prohibits them from being in leadership positions. Isn’t this terrible?” Right?

    3. “Submission is willfully giving something up to another– in this case, leadership. I find it hard to swallow the idea of a church forcing a woman not to lead when said woman can choose to attend a different body that does not have such rules, or choose not to participate at all– which is what you have done.”

      Yes, the women I describe have made the choice to follow the idea of submision and they re free to do so. What I find interesting-as I stated in the blog-is that some of these women do not accept the udea of submission in all other aspects of their lives. They take on roles as leaders and are in positions of authority elsewhere, but in church they change. Do they have the right to do so? Of course. Can a woman who disagrees simply find another church? Sure, I know a woman who did just that and is now an ordained minister at another Baptist church which allows women to preach and lead others. I just personally disagree with the idea of submission, it’s as simple as that.

      1. I have to admit that it’s difficult to reconcile people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann running for VP and Pres (respectively) and also claiming to be submissive. I think it was fair game to ask what would happen (in the case of Bachmann) if her husband told her something while she was President. Not that male Presidents don’t have their wives trying to influence them, and no President has ever been asked what would happen if his wife asked him to bomb Iran because they said that her butt looked big in a dress… you get the idea. 🙂

        Submission is a difficult topic, but I think it depends a lot on how you define it. Submission in the New Testament is part of a relationship where one person submits to the other, who in turn loves self sacrificially. In balance, it’s beautiful. When abused, it can be awful.

  3. I just started a reply to this conversation but it got too long. if you wanna check out my blog I’ll try and post it. This post is about the corrupting aspects of submission.

  4. MLN The Gap,

    “I think you need to figure out which it really is. Were you forced or coerced? These are two very different things–”

    And what is this big difference? I would love to know. Both forms are abusive and involve a lack of choice/consent.

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