Friday, March 28, 2008

Christian Parents Need to be Christian Parents!

The sexualization of children is becoming an increasing problem.

Being both a pastor and a junior high teacher, I see what a terrible effect this cultural shift is having on both boys and girls - but especially the girls. My school began last year to ask the parents to restrict the TV and media input of their children. We have seen unseemly things being brought into our school, ranging from MP3s with raunchy lyrics, to rude language and gestures, to trashy novels, to discussions about the latest R-rated movies. We found this to be not only distracting educationally, but at odds with the Christian environment we foster at our school. Over all, the parents have worked with us, and are thankful for the restrictions we place on what their children may bring to school.

Obviously, this problem is widespread and cultural. The Age of Innocence seems to be falling every year, as children (especially girls) are being encouraged to "tramp up" at younger ages. What used to be seen on college campuses has moved to high schools, and from there to middle schools, and even to grade schools. In some cases, parents seem at best oblivious, and sometimes even encourage their daughters to look and act like pint-sized streetwalkers and their sons to imitate the misogyny they see in movies and hear in music.

A few examples of how bad things are getting...

A vending machine at Toys R Us is selling fake "lower back tattoos" (aka "tramp stamps") to grade school girls. Here's the article.

Not only are ten-year old girls being targeted as consumers for scandalously skimpy bikinis, now a British toy company is selling the same demographic a "stripper pole kit" with the selling point:

"Unleash the sex kitten inside...simply extend the Peekaboo pole inside the tube, slip on the sexy tunes and away you go! Soon you'll be flaunting it to the world and earning a fortune in Peekaboo Dance Dollars."

According to a review: "The kit, which costs about 50 British pounds, includes an extendable [sic] stripper pole, a "sexy dance garter," and a DVD that teaches the viewer how to remove their knickers. Sexily."

Indeed, that's just the kind of skills our ten year old girls need to have.

Well, perhaps parents could write it off on taxes as vocational training, at least in Texas, where a strip club had a 12-year old girl employed as a nude dancer - and the powers that be are powerless to close down the club!

Of course, these are pre-teens. The high school kids get more advanced training - at least in England. A field trip to the Netherlands for teens as a "fact finding mission" to do research on sex and drugs includes visits to the Red Light District in Amsterdam, where drugs are legal and where prostitutes "advertise" in the windows.

So, how is the Christian Church responding to this bombardment of young people with sexuality?

Well, there is a school of thought that teaches that traditional Christianity has become "irrelevant" and doesn't "speak to" the postmodern "emerging generation" and so the Church must adapt to the youth culture - which is exactly the philosophy of the Ablaze!(tm) program in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Perhaps one way to be relevant might be to incorporate Scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 13, into a "tramp stamp" tattoo (note: this is a cropped version to save some degree of modesty). Nothing dispels the curse of being old fashioned and "irrelevant" faster than having Scripture tattooed on your buttocks and then exposing them on the Internet. There is great irony here, as St. Paul repeatedly exhorts the Corinthian women to modesty, to the point of telling them they sin when they come to church with even heads uncovered by a veil just two chapters before the chapter tattooed on the woman's backside.

Here are some other examples from around the world of how the Church is dealing with this cultural shift: sex sermons, explicit billboards, "Pete the Porno Puppet," "Wally the Wiener," contemporary "Christian" music featuring girls dressed in lingerie, Roman Catholic Masses with dancing girls wearing skirts with slits cut so high you can see their panties, Christian "sex toys," and even a special erotic service celebrated at a 600 year old church in which the preacher says (according to the article) that "eroticism and lust are not taboo areas pushed aside by God," but rather (a direct quote from the preacher), "lust has to be lived out."

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of Lutheran response to this disturbing attack on the innocence of our young girls (and boys). It all seems to be something we don't talk about, or worse yet, label it a "matter of Christian freedom" and look the other way.

There is a Reformed Church ministry called Vision Forum that is dealing with this problem, and helping Christian parents help their children navigate these shark-infested waters.

Mrs. Hollywood is reading a book published by Vision Forum entitled Raising Maidens of Virtue (by Stacy McDonald).

A couple quotes:

"Unmarried young women are often referred to by young men as chicks, babes, or even hotties! Why aren't we shocked - and why aren't young ladies insulted? Why aren't fathers and brothers grabbing their shotguns?" (page 35)

"Unfortunately, many times we cannot see much difference between the daughters of the world and the daughters of the Living God. Scripture teaches us that as Believers, we are the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:31-32). Can you imagine the Lord Jesus Christ returning to a Bride who has purposely adorned herself in ripped, form-fitting jeans or short skirts; navel rings; immodest, sloppy tops; and heavy makeup?" (page 36)

"How can we show the world a pure and spotless Bride if the Bride looks, talks, and swaggers like a strumpet? We are to be set apart. (Matt 5:13)." (page 37)

There is a lot of wisdom here.

20 comments:

Jeff said...

"...contemporary "Christian" music featuring girls dressed in lingerie, Roman Catholic Masses with dancing girls wearing skirts with slits cut so high you can see their panties,"

::blinks::

You gotta admit... that'll get people into church...

Of course, so will replacing the Communion rail with an open bar... Perhaps some ranch flavored wafers...

Dang, if I wasn't bound to the Word of God- I could make one heck of a fun (and growing!) church...

Irreverence aside- Eugh...

Steven said...

There seems to be quite a lot of controversy surrounding Doug Phillips and others in the so called Patriarchy movement. This controversy comes from people involved with this movement for the same reasons that seem to have attracted to the Vision Forum. I know that Eric at his blog has posted several times on the Vision Forum specifically. Here is Eric's blog's url:
http://ematthaei.blogspot.com/

Father Hollywood said...

Steven:

I don't know much about Doug Phillips personally (or even politically), but from the links you supplied, it looks like the main objections are: 1) Political criticism, 2) Alleged racism.

The first point is kind of amusing, since a lot of Republicans really get hot and bothered when another party comes along claiming the conservative mantle. The GOP can get downright Hillary with anyone outside the mainstream of the country club. Let's face it, the Grand Old Goose just ain't what she used to be, such as in the days of AuH2O.

(BTW, I never vote for a "lesser evil" as a matter of policy. It is better not to vote at all than to vote for evil, just because candidate A is less evil than candidate B. The "lesser of two evils gambit" is also known as the Hegelian dialectic, and has successfully been used by the Left to push Marxism - even in the inner sanctum of the GOP. If I got a ballot pitting Castro against Stalin, I think I'd write in "Jefferson Davis" or just stay home.)

The second point is laughable. Vision Forum has praised the historical works of certain 18th and 19th century clergymen. One criticism involves VF's unexpurgated publication of a 40-volume corpus of a theologian who died in 1902 - one page of this massive corpus speaks about blacks as being childlike. Of course, Thomas Jefferson said the exact same thing, (and let's not even go where "St." Lincoln went on the question of race!) and you can actually find works of Jefferson on the shelves of GOP Congressmen. Shocking!

Furthermore, CPH has published a 55-volume corpus of a certain 16th century German theologian that includes an unexpurgated racist screed against the Jews. CPH has also published theological works by a 19th century apologist for slavery whose initials are CFWW. Shocking? And if you have a Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), keep in mind Kittel's open Nazism. Should we have a book-burnin'? Should we picket CBD for selling racist books?

Furthermore, some of the attacks against Phillips come from the so-called Southern Poverty Law Center, a shyster organization that thinks anyone who waves a Confederate flag is a closet Nazi. That is an evil organization - openly left-wing, anti-life, hostile to traditional Christianity, and pushing the gay agenda. What do you think they would think about Vision Forum? Should Christians be giving them any credence? I have very close friends that have been slandered (along with their wives and children) by this opportunistic and vile organization for some 15 years.

I'm just not buying it.

Until I see some real "controversy" about this man, I will not give any credence to attacks on his character. I'm impressed with what VF publishes, and am not moved by these tangential jibes.

No doubt I have theological and political differences with this man, but just who is really going to get bent out of shape by an appeal to revitalize Christian manhood and patriarchy? Could it be...? ;-)

Surely the mainline Republican Party - which allows "pro-choice" politicians and women holding any and all political and military offices - isn't going to beat the drum for actually upholding a biblical standard of family life. They are threatened by such things. That's why they need plagiaristic lackeys to wine and dine the "religious right" to keep them in line.

In the Vision Forum books my wife has read and shared with me, I have yet to find even one objectionable, racist, or heretical idea. It would be nice if Lutherans didn't avoid the topic. It would be nice not to have to read such theology from a Reformed perspective. But aside from a renewed Lutheran interest in taking another look at contraception, American Lutheranism has swallowed feminism - only exercising the gag reflex when it comes to female ordination.

Finally, politically, there really must be room in conservative circles for something other than the Republican Party and its feminist-approved approaches to family life.

Steven said...

Would you tell anyone in your congregation that it is a sin to vote for someone that you did not agree with policies?

As far as the allegations of racism are concerned, I am not going there. I thought there was some more stuff on Eric's blog about the Vision Forum regarding their theology. Well, here is a blog from a prior church member.

http://jensgems.wordpress.com/category/jens-story-01/

That is the beginning post for her story.

Father Hollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Father Hollywood said...

Steven:

No, I would never tell anyone in my parish how to vote. But I have had Lutheran pastors tell me that it is a sin not to vote Republican. I have read other Lutheran pastors claim it to be a sin not to vote.

Like I said, I'm quite sure I have political and theological differences with people at VF - but nevertheless, is there anything objectionable in the book I mentioned called "Raising Maidens of Virtue"?

You can always find a disgruntled former church member who will complain. There is a very famous preacher, for example, who bashes the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Her name is Joyce Meyer.

Once again, while Lutheran authors are busy using Lutheran jargon and buzzwords (while their daughters wear shorts with writing on the butt), the traditionalist Reformed and RC authors are actually engaging (opposing) the disturbing cultural trends.

Why isn't this ever a topic on our blogs? Look at this thread. Instead of discussing a pole dancing kit for ten year olds, it has been directed to a discussion about political parties and disgruntled ex members of a specific church.

Father Hollywood said...

Steven:

I took a quick glance at the blog you sent me.

Yes, this Jen lady who was a disgruntled member of Phillips's church (from which she was apparently excommunicated) has a rousing defense of women's ordination: Women In Ministry « Jen’s Gems

That's quite a "gem," isn't it?

Well, I can see why someone like this would be unhappy in the church of a pastor who holds biblical and traditional sex roles. Now, why do you think I should be reading this lady's blog again?

Steven said...

Well since my intention was alert you of the controversy surrounding him and others of his ilk and you seem to not care, I am pretty much done with that.

On the book, what do you think of it recommending that women not go to college?

Father Hollywood said...

Stephen:

I didn't realize he was part of an "ilk." Is that the latest slur against conservatism and traditionalism? I was just getting used to "Neanderthal-American." ;-)

But as far as women and college goes, I think we would have a lot more Christian families if more women felt comfortable choosing to stay home and be wives and mothers (as Scripture exhorts them to do) and not feel pressure from feminists to "go to college" and follow the pattern set by the world.

I'm reminded of my traditionalist Catholic friends whose home-schooled daughter was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to raise horses and have babies. The horrified questioner said: "Don't you want to be a doctor or lawyer?" The brilliant little girl quipped: "No, that's what YOU want me to be."

This universal push for women to go to college has had some unintended consequences: women marry much later, have higher-risk pregnancies, and drive wages down by creating a larger labor pool. And then there is the proliferation of "day care centers" - which are basically designer orphanages for women who feel being mothers is too demeaning. Children are virtually institutionalized these days while Mommy is working on that next promotion. How's that working out?

Of course, I'm not a woman, and so my opinion about whether they should be going to college may be kind of tainted. However, my wife, a Bryn Mawr graduate, an early woman MCSE, a woman who is more intelligent, theologically and otherwise than 90% of pastors and seminarians I have ever met (who now stays at home to be a housewife and mother) has some strong opinions on the topic. She thinks college is mostly a crock. She has become far more educated staying home reading than sitting in an academic classroom. In our home library, you can read great literature, theology, history, and science. You don't have to "deconstruct the patriarchy" or write blank verse about the "evil white male hegemony." A lot of Christian young people are exposed to utter crap in college - including the Concordias. Sorry, but it's true. Nobody seems to want to talk about it.

Overall, college is over-rated - for men and women alike. The standards have slipped, there is grade inflation, and the curricula include a lot of fluff - to the expense of real rigorous education.

Furthermore, we treat young people who don't want to go to college as pariahs, as somehow embarrassments to the family. As if someone needs a bachelor's degree to be an excellent carpenter, plumber, artist or other person who does real honorable work that our money-and-image obsessed culture frowns upon. Of course, the most frowned upon vocation is that of wife, followed closely by motherhood. A mother is expected to "get back to work" ASAP after the baby is born, to the point where scheduled c-sections and bottle feedings have replaced vaginal birth and natural nursing for millions of "liberated" women. Now there is anti-incarnational theology for you!

For all our pious talk of vocation, we really do look down on people whose vocations don't call for university education - whether men who work with their hands, or the women's hands that rock the cradle. This is shameful. Be honest, would you rather say: "My daughter is a stay at home mother" or "My daughter is getting a law degree from Harvard"? But which vocation is truly more honorable and biblical for women?

I believe people should be free to seek any education they want - and really, they are. Women do not lack opportunity for college. In fact, the academy is starting to bewail the dearth of male students. One example: in (Lutheran) Sweden, male seminarians have become almost an oddity.

But family life was sure different before the "cultural revolution." My grandmothers and my mother did not go to college. They were honorable women who raised families. They baked bread, made our homes places of love, read their children and grandchildren the Bible, and taught us how to be men and women. I never saw the inside of a day care center. My mom actually cooked our meals, and we ate at the table (which is an ancient device of furniture where, in days gone by, families gathered for communal meals instead of individual feed bags of microwaved Hot Pockets and fructose-laden chemical drinks).

Is there something wrong with that?

Why the assumption that college is better for women than traditional marriage? I think mothers being home with their children is by far more important than a sheepskin. And far too often, the degree becomes justification to shirk the vocation of wife and mother.

Thank God the Blessed Virgin Mary wasn't pushed into the all-important matter of "going to college!"

Steven said...

Why did you jump to the conclusion that I thought it was evil for women to be stay at mothers or that plumbers, carpernters, stay at home mothers are not honorable. IS the strawman dead?

What I din't understand is the assertion that for women to go to college is somehow a violation of what the Bible teaches, which is what Phillips says.

I think lawyers and stay at mothers are both honorable careers. I would be proud if my daughter were either.

Considering how crappy college is, you must be a huge fan of the deacon program or SMPP.

Is your wife somehow less of a stay at home mom because she has a college degree?

Why does it have to be a zero sum game?

Father Hollywood said...

Steven:

There was a radical revolution in the 1960s that was not motivated by Scripture. Sadly, Christians are on board with the new paradigm.

We recently had a recruiter from the seminary at our school talking to junior high kids about vocation. He asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Not one girl wanted to be a mom. Not a one. They all want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, etc.

Honestly, would it be a "zero sum game" if our Lord were cut out of his mother's uterus so she could get back to her job as a lawyer, while our Lord were fed chemicals out of a bottle by employees of a day-care? I honestly believe the Virgin Mary did the right thing in not having a career. I don't believe in the postmodern choice that "all choices are equal" and that career and motherhood are simply six of one and half dozen of the other.

You are the one that brought up college. I'm explaining why I think it's important to most people, why this is your very first objection. Women attending college must be a big deal to you. Like I said, so far you have precious little to say about pole dance kits for ten year olds and (which I didn't mention, but is also recent news) that some 25% of teen girls have VD. What is important to you is that the publisher (not the author) is "controversial" and the author advocates a traditional family instead of the "new and improved" post-sixties feminist ideal.

My opinion is this: the culture of "education" and pushing people into college is not helping. That's my opinion as a pastor and teacher. I see a lot of dysfunctional families while mom is driving a BMV.

On the whole, I'd rather see a lot more girls staying home, learning how to be wives and mothers than getting MBAs. I think our churches, families, and country would benefit. Besides, it would sure be a lot more in accordance with the order of creation, Proverbs 31, and the pre-1960s worldview.

I don't know why you think I'm a fan of the Instant Pastor program. Women aren't eligible for that in the LCMS (yet) - although we do encourage young women to perform acts of mercy for pay (even if they need to put their own kids in day-care while they "do ministry" as a career).

My wife is a brilliant person *in spite of* her degree, not because of it. But what's more important than the sheepskin is that she is a stay at home mother. She is a full time wife. And let me tell you how wonderful it is to live in such a home! What a godly blessing to me and my son! So, we have one car and live in a 900 square foot house, but I wouldn't trade that for a stable of Mercedes and a mansion. I feel bad for guys whose wives don't stay home. How sad.

And what is most sad is I had no idea how great it would be until my wife left the work force. It re-ordered our priorities in a more godly way. It made our home and family life utterly glorious.

And I realize this is my opinion, but then again, this is my blog. :-) Your free to pursue a more "modern" lifestyle and teach your children to do the same if you like. But I feel sorry for you if you do.

Steven said...

You have misunderstood my objection. My objection is to the absolute requirement that for a woman to be a good wife and mother, she can't go to college. Anyway, I guess I am a modernist even as my wife is an excellent wife and mother (Well, she works, too just not to exculsion of being a mother. Her job is pretty flexible.) She also breast feeds. None of our four boys have gone to daycare. He don't homeschool, yet. Thanks for the pity.

Father Hollywood said...

No-one said "absolute" and no-one said "can't." People are free to do what they want. I believe that there is an order of creation, and our lives, even in this sinful world, are ordered better when we live in accordance with it.

What a blessing that your wife nurses and can spend lots of time at home.

In this day and age, the temptation for many is: 1) The child turns about three, 2) Parents are tempted to warehouse the child in a "toddler academy" or "head start program" or whatever the euphemism du jour is, 3) Mother is tempted with having a career, 4) Dad is tempted to fall into materialism, since he can have toys thans to the second income 5) Parents run themselves into debt, 6) Parents become dependent on Mom working to "maintain their lifestyle, 7) Family becomes individualistic, church becomes a lower priority than the jobs, 8) Parents become defensive that Mom "has to work" in order to "make ends meet".

I'm not saying this is your fate, but it is a common way things unravel in the lives of young people, because to many, being a housewife isn't even on the radar screen of young girls. They are pushed into college and careers.

The results have been far from "liberating" for women and far from beneficial to family life.

Do you think the order of creation and the biblical mandate of a male-headed household (patriarchy) is better served in the pre-1960s paradigm, or now? It is no accident that Roe v. Wade followed the 1960s denigration of the biblical family order.

Father Hollywood said...

One thing's for sure, selling pole dancing kit and fake skank tattoos didn't fly before my grandmothers were "liberated" and my mother's generation left the home to go to work.

I believe what we're seeing now is related.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say you will find fewer stay-at-home moms and housewives buying their daughters the pole dance kit than among homes where mom is climbing the ladder of success while Britney wears a house-key on a chain around her neck.

Father Hollywood said...

Another point that comes to mind (especially with the use of the economics term "zero sum game"):

It's true that there are shades of gray. But it is equally true that there is a thing called "opportunity cost." If you have a dollar in your pocket, you can't buy both a Snickers and a Milky Way. If you buy the Snickers, the "opportunity cost" of the Milky Way is a Snickers. You give up your ability to have a Milky Way when you choose a Snickers.

When resources are finite, every choice costs an "opportunity."

When people learn that my wife stays home, they commend her on her "sacrifice." What they are referring to is the opportunity cost of staying home, keeping house, and being a stay-at-home mom. It costs us a car, a larger house, fancy vacations, and some trinkets. But what we get at that "cost" is infinitely better. It really isn't a "sacrifice" at all.

What would be a "sacrifice" is if my wife were to go to work. The opportunity cost would be home cooked food, 24/7 access to my son, a home that has constant attention, and a wife that manages all the family finances and resources. If she were to go to work, even for a few hours, something would have to be "sacrificed" - and it most likely would be things that are good for my son.

Because my wife doesn't work outside the home, we can get by on one car, we consume less, it is easier to be good stewards, we have more time at home (reading, praying, teaching) and less time in traffic or having to "unwind" at home. Leo has only once in his life been to a "sitter" - for a couple hours while Grace had a surgical procedure done.

I can't imagine how our situation would be improved for our family if Grace were to jump back on the career ladder. And for what? Greed? Self-esteem? To please others?

Unless we were in financial dire straits, why would I sacrifice my son's wellbeing? For a bigger house? Another car? Trinkets?

To our family, the opportunity cost is too great. The followers of Molech sacrificed their children as an opportunity cost for false religion. Today, parents sacrifice their children (born and unborn) out of greed.

We're bearing the opportunity cost (as a society, as a culture) of the vast majority of women working outside the home. It's very seductive, and before you realize what is happening, you can get sucked into the culture of materialism and relegating home and family life to a lesser status than one's career.

We know this from experience. We have lived both ways, and in our experience, having Grace stay home has been a boon beyond measure.

Others are free to disagree, of course, but very few Christians are even talking about such things. And when they do, they are accused of everything from racism to sexism to false doctrine.

Lauren said...

While you've yet to find anything objectionable or heretical in the books you've read thus far from Vision Forum, steer clear of "So Much More." Written by the granddaughters of dear family friends, this book attempts to show the benefits of family life with a strong Christian father who sets the course for his family, but instead it is chock full of legalistic nonsense intertwined with heretical statements. It's garbage! Don't waste your money or your brain energy on reading it.
Lauren

Father Hollywood said...

Hi Lauren:

My wife has read "So Much More," and recommends it. I will certainly read it with a critical eye. However, I have to admit, in my scanning of it, I can't find examples of heresy and legalism.

I did see the video by the Botkin sisters, and found it very well done, and compelling. It's hard to argue against them, though the Old Adam always wants to play the Christian freedom card over and against the "slave of Christ" card that Paul often uses.

Calling the book "garbage" is perfectly acceptable, as one man's trash is another man's treasure. That's entirely subjective. But I would be very careful about using the words "heresy" and "legalism." These words are very specific, and I have to admit, I'm skeptical that these are in there.

"Heresy" is false doctrine that separates peopel from the Church. Obviously, as a Lutheran, I would doctrinally disagree with Reformed Christians on, say, the sacraments (the Lord's Supper was the one impediment to Luther considering himself in fellowship with Zwingli). These are real differences, and serious differences. No devout Presbyterian would ever commune at my altar, nor would I at theirs (such as my dear Presbyterian friends who visited today from out of state and toured my church).

However, these books don't deal with sacraments (as far as I can tell) - and even then, I would not consider Reformed Christians to be "heretical." They certainly confess the Nicene Creed. Though some Lutherans earnestly believe the Church Catholic only includes Lutherans, I'm not one of them.

Secondly, "legalism" doesn't mean "lots of law." For even Walther says that an unrepentant sinner should not receive even "one drop" of Gospel. Certainly, our increasingly pagan culture, hostile to the Church, is not entitled to Gospel, but only Law. "Legalism" or "Works righteousness" rather is about salvation. I would be surprised to find anyone at Vision Forum arguing that young men and women can earn salvation by dressing modestly, respecting parental authority, or honoring the order of creation. As far as I can tell, "So Much More" is not about justification, but rather sanctification.

But as I said, I haven't read the book, so I will be careful as I read it on your advice. It would help, however, if you could cite certain concerns you have specifically. I realize your comment is very general (and that is the nature of blogs), but it is still a pretty broad brush to paint with.

In all the criticisms I have read about Vision Forum, I have yet to find one that is legitimate. I would certainly appreciate a Lutheran perspective on the cultural malaise, but there's just not a lot out there.

I commend our Reformed brothers and sisters for digging in their heels for the sake of the Church and their children. I think Lutheran kids could use a deeper sense of sanctification and modesty - and I don't think we need to become Pietists to express this kind of piety.

Thanks for writing, and please feel free to cite some examples that I can underline in the book!

Adriane said...

Pastor, I have to disagree with your lovely wife. I've read the book, and I wouldn't recommend it.

Example: The Botkins say that an unmarried woman not living under her father's roof is undermining his authority.

So, here's my story: the year after I graduated college, I lived at home in my father's care. I worked for a Lutheran publishing house, a Lutheran magazine for youth, a Lutheran publication for grown women, etc. According to the Botkins, that year I was serving the Lord.

But the next year I apparently fell from grace. That was the year that I moved out to go to seminary to study to be a deaconess (even though I still worked for all those same organizations and even though I'm now studying to do CHURCH work), and that was the year my lifestyle became nothing but sinful. That was the year I started snubbing my father, denying myself familial connections, and subverting God's intended plan that women remain at home until married (although I guess missed that somewhere in Scripture).

The point is that these girls claim to have "exegetically" described biblical womanhood (which one of them knows Greek again?), and they have not. Being a woman is not about taking off your father's shoes every night (their example) or not breaking any dishes during a stay at a friends house (their example) or not going to college (their example) or never having a male supervisor/boss (their example) or not listening to certain radio stations (their example).

Instead, it is about using women using their uniquely feminine gifts to serve their Lord and neighbor. Women show that distinction through confident service, not desiring to take the man's role as leader for their own but not shying away from having intelligent opinions either. And that idea-that our Lord has created women to serve and care in ways that men do not--is something quite different than what the Botkins promote.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Adriane:

Your criticism would be easier to discuss if you were to cite a page number and quote something you think is wrong instead of citing your own biography. It sounds almost as if you're more angry that the authors would not approve of your lifestyle than you are convinced that there are errors in the book.

As far as Greek goes, if I had to bet, the Botkin sisters probably know Greek - and probably Latin too. They have probably studied it for many years (which would be, unfortunately, a lot more than most of our pastors, myself included). Classical education (especially in a home-school environment) tends to include classical languages, and agree or disagree with them, it is obvious that these young women are intelligent and educated. Why would you assume they can't read Greek? I think the safer assumption is the opposite.

Would it change your conclusion if they know Greek?

As far as church work for women (including the deaconess program) go, we have made radical changes from the days of "our grandfather's church." For example, until pretty recently in our synod's history, women were not permitted to be voters, elders, lay ministers, commissioned ministers, congregational presidents, acolytes, lay readers, eucharistic ministers, chaplains, or seminary professors. This has all changed. In the days when women were not permitted these roles in the LCMS, the ones who read the Scriptures and came to those exegetical conclusions certainly knew Greek - probably better than we do today. Why did we change?

In Walther's day, married women were not permitted to even be school teachers. In Loehe's reincarnation of the deaconess program, married women were not permitted to be deaconesses. Deaconesses were more like nuns, leading a celibate life, submitting to a mother superior, living in a mother house, and relinquishing this role when they married (the assumption being that they should serve their husbands and families rather than have a church career). Why did we change?

In "our grandfather's church," women were not permitted to speak, exercise authority, and they even veiled their heads. Why did we change? Did we see something in the Greek text that our grandfather's church missed?

It seems to me like the Botkin sisters are defending a traditional view of the family shaped by Scripture, one that the Church has had and practiced for 2,000 years - including the LCMS, that is until the "sexual revolution". We are the ones who changed. It seems to me that the Botkins aren't giving the church anything new, but simply reiterating what centuries of exegetes and churchmen have said centuries before. Was "our grandfather's church" wrong? If not, why did we change?

I wish more women would use their "uniquely feminine gifts" to be helpmeets to their husbands and as mothers to their children instead of having careers outside the home. Married life (and family life as a whole) has suffered greatly since the sexual revolution. What used to be done out of love and compassion has now been institutionalized into careers (childcare, looking after the elderly, showing compassion for people in the congregation, etc.) We now look to paid career women to perform these functions - both outside and inside the church.

In my congregation, we have a goodly number of women who serve their neighbors with acts of mercy, but aren't paid for it. They didn't have to get a Masters Degree in Theology (and reduce financial aid available to M.Div. students) in the process. They are "deaconesses" in a very real sense, though they lack a uniform and a title.

I have often asked (and have yet to get an answer) the question: When a deaconess gets a divine call to another ministry, does her husband have a veto over that call? Or is he expected to quit his job and follow his wife's church career? Similarly, when a deaconess gets a phone call in the middle of the night to minister to someone, is she obligated to leave her husband's bed and go help the other person?

You don't have to be able to read Greek to understand that, according to Scripture, being a Christian wife means to submit to her husband. In our modern world, we give women other men to submit to: their bosses. You can't serve two masters. In the traditional family, unmarried women submit to their fathers until they get married. This was the norm in the church for time immemorial. It's only shocking to us because we've gotten used to the new paradigm the world has given us. It is unthinkable that young, intelligent women pass up college to live under their father's roof until they marry, and then submit to their husband's authority and keep house. Some would even equate such a "grandfather's church" idea to the Taliban.

For the Botkin sisters' book to get so much vitriol, it must be quite a rousing read! Now I'm really looking forward to taking it for a spin.

Adriane said...

Pastor,

Please understand that my family and the Botkins are good friends. Our families have been in touch for over fifty years. They are considerate, intelligent, Christian people.

However, your attacks on the deaconess program, unwarranted as they are, would do well to be debated in a post all of their own. My own point remains this: the Botkins' basic premise (i.e. IF you follow our list of rules on how to be subservient, THEN you are a good Christian woman) is dangerous and false.