This book came into my possession courtesy of our local vicar, who lent it to me after having read my review of “Simply Christian” by Tom Wright.
The work is a discussion between two Christian women regarding female leadership and involvement in the Church.
I can hardly think of a topic more relevant in this day and age where female priests seem to be the only vicars left, in addition to female bishops, even female lesbian bishops!
With the emphasis on LGBTQ and egalitarianism it is certainly surprising to read the actual Holy Bible and see how the texts contrast with our “modern values. ”
In my review of “Simply Christian” I wrote among other things this:
“I’m also questioning the presence of female priests and authority figures within Northern European churches when it is explicitly said in 1 Timothy 2 (12) : “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” I guess it can be counter-argued that women are keeping the faith alive and that it is better with female priests than no priests.”
That is probably a good place to start, because the Holy Bible does certainly not come across as a feminist manifesto, to put it that way, even though Lis Goddard seems to think so.
Her interpretation of The Holy Bible hinges on our Bibles being translated wrong … which means that both my copy of the Bible and Clare Hendry’s copy are faulty.
Lis Goddard zooms in on what could have been the intended or original meaning of certain words in the texts and she also seem to believe that Genesis depicts a gender-neutral Utopia of sorts, before the Fall….
Eve is created from Adam’s rib and God first turns to Adam when Eve has not only been disobedient but has brought her man into disobedience as well. A great deal of people will read this as follows: God created the man first, gave him a companion “of him,” and was upset with Adam when he failed in his leadership, punishing both parties (even the snake).
Lis Goddard and those who agree with her, would claim that there was no such thing as any leadership to begin with. That Adam and Eve were equals, that both were leaders in their own right, but that the Fall distorted this Utopia leading to gender-unbalance, which was finally corrected with the arrival of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom.
My impression after reading “The Gender Agenda” is that joining a Bible reading group might put you into a situation where after staring at certain passages in the Bible for a prolonged period of time, you’ll start seeing all sorts of strange things…Everything that is all of a sudden isn’t and everything that isn’t is.
In other words: if you analyse something long enough you’ll eventually get whatever you desire, seeing your own reflection after turning what you are reading into a mirror.
The same can be observed in a lot of modern journalism.
I’m not saying this to be rude, but the book certainly gives off this vibe and as I result I opened up my Bible again to read Genesis to see what I had missed.
The passage that Goddard and Hendry constantly fall back on doesn’t even occupy a full-page. It is a remarkably short section spanning from Genesis 2 (18) up until the Fall in Genesis 3. After reading this section again, a couple of times, I find it difficult to agree with Goddard’s interpretation.
A good point made by Hendry is that if a woman is supposed to listen to her husband, and he is the head of the household, then how does that work out if a woman is to be the head of a Church? This might be the reason as to why there were supposed to be male monarchs back in the day. Will a female Queen be “King enough”? Or will she be swayed by her husband as “the head,” in effect meaning that the man is ruling the territory rather than the actual Queen?
Yet with all of this said; it is written in the Bible that women should study, prophesy, and pray, not to forget that there are important female characters present in the Biblical texts which is something that anti-Christian critics wouldn’t acknowledge or downplay. Women are to have a role and be active, the question is how.
An interesting point made in “The Gender Agenda” is that Paul was writing to different Churches, helping them with whatever issues that they were facing. It was also mentioned that women and men were probably seated according to their gender, just like in the synagogues, which can explain why Paul says that women need to be quiet in Church. No gossiping and chit-chat in other words. Here is an interesting quote from 1 Corinthians 9 (22):
“To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
That quote might shed some light on Paul’s letters. It is also of interest to note that disagreements was a factor from the very beginning of the establishment of the various Churches:
“I appeal to you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’e’s people that there is quarrelling among you, my brethren.” 1 Corinthians 1 (10)
I would recommend reading Goddard & Hendry’s book as it is extremely relevant in today’s Church environment. If you’ve attended any Church services in Scandinavia or the U.K., then you’ll know what I mean.
Reading the Old & New Testament will instantly put you in a situation where you’ll be worried that you’re supporting heresy, which is probably why young people turn to Islam or Orthodox Christianity.
Pluralism and political correctness is hurting Northern churches, who would probably gain more by proclaiming God as the God and the Holy Bible as the Truth. If you start doubting yourself, then others will do as well and in today’s political and spiritual environment, I don’t know if that’s the best way forward.
To conclude; it is certainly at odds with everything in our modern pop-culture to be a practising Christian, especially if you are a woman, since being: argumentative, loud, not modestly dressed and especially having authority over men are all characteristics that are currently being celebrated, in addition to abortion. Nothing gains wider praise than women involved with the military, ministry or politics. So if you are looking at the Bible and Christianity through a conservative lens you’ll probably think that you’ve woken up in Hell, or at least in a world that is in a state of absolute chaos.