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Special guest Dr. Michelle Lee-Barnewell, associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, s Mark and Rex to discuss her recent book on the current status of the conversation on women in ministry and marriage. Lee-Barnewell pushes the listener to move beyond old ways of thinking about it to a new Kingdom approach. And Rex today on the show. Michelle Lee Barnewell. And she just did an excellent job at the lecture, right. And we know that you, as a listener are really going to benefit from, from understanding this conversation in this debate in a new way. Thank you for the lecture you gave last night to at our eighth annual Faculty of theology spring lecture.
Thank you so much for inviting me. We got such good response to so well attended, actually. I mean, yeah, I feel proud of the fact it was Yes, it was like, our last one. And they see that. And it has been for, you know, at least, we can at least say the last couple years.
And because people have real questions on Hey, how do we and especially in the 21st century, how do we understand this? Is that you? You do a little bit of like a historical survey of Okay, how did the conversation end up here? But you gave a shout out to the podcast. So yeah, that was. What do you think are some of those kind of major or ificant historical factors that have kind of led to the current evangelical gender debate?
And I started out with the turn of the century, around the late s, early s, and took a look at what was happening there. Then I took a look at the s. And then the s. And there are several things that I found out one was just looking at some of the trajectories that were there, but just also the contours of each period. In fact, not only was there a lot of freedom, there was a they were actually compelled to go out there is actually they were acting out of a sense of duty, and obligation that the whole society was kind of expecting them to do. If you sort of look at two of the most famous preachers in America, you have Harry Emerson fosdick, but you also have aimee semple mcpherson.
And yeah, her role was just sort of accepted as one of the mouthpieces for Christianity,. And one of the things that I found out during that time period is that, well, one of the implications were the impact of Victorian ideology. And the idea is that women were very pure because They were in a sense sort of, there was so much emphasis upon their domestic aspect. But what happened is because they were domestic, they were considered to still be more pure and a sense more spiritually pure in that regard, and the men were the ones who were corrupted, because by the world out there exactly where the men were contaminated.
And so some of these other, you know, tendencies about, Hey, what about, you know, the public and the private that we have, are really big considerations there. And actually, they really need to go out and exert their influence. And what you see during this period, is women taking the lead in a lot of social reform, like the temperance movement.
Exactly, exactly. So you have the golden age of mission, and all that kind of combines. And one of the, there various factors, but one of the factors that, of course, comes later is the world wars, right. And you also, at the same time, have the specter of the Cold War and nuclear war hanging over America. And the ordered home provides a sense of refuge for people. So what happens is, you have this sort of contraction of concerns. And the women are still, in a sense, considered the idea of of domestic and the home as being the center.
And so you have, rather than the sense of being compelled to go on to the world, their ministry focus upon the individual, hopefully. So yeah, other things going on, a lot of things go. Yeah, even when we Yeah. So it kind of postwar and talking to some are the original, like the gentlemen who are here when they were building it, like literally building it with their bare hands. He said after the war, they kind of all came back. And they wanted to focus on like three things, building churches, building schools, and building homes. And and that and so they kind of built those but yeah, then that focus became your house.
And that house I currently live in was right around from the church and it was built and now Same time period as. And it was really just that postwar focus on getting your individual piece of land, getting your family. And then the late 60s happen and just totally explode all of all of American culture. And so yeah, well, how was that? So then that third time period you looked at was the 70s. What are some of the shifts that happened in the 70s, that that also add to this conversation? And so, in this, you know, in the 60s and 70s, the second feminist movement is often seen as being started with the publication of Betty for dance, the feminine mystique.
And what she wrote about in her book was, you know, in the 50s, there was this idea that, you know, women are going to find their fulfillment, by staying at home and focusing upon, you know, raising the kids. And one of the things that she found in her book was that as she interviewed these women, including some of her classmates, is that a lot of them were actually quite unhappy with being at home, and quite unfulfilled. Right, exactly. You know, you know, in that and, and so part of what you do, she calls it the problem that has no name. And what you try to do in this as she kind of considers it in terms of like freeing women from the constraints of the thing, necessarily having to be homebound.
So that kind of sets the stage for a lot of that. There were some arguments early on, that women should have the women should have the right to vote simply by virtue of having the right in that regard. But that argument was actually was not very successful, because in that corporate other centered era, it was seen as being selfish, and to focus on the individual person. But in the s, and 70s, things begin to change, we do have to we do tend to focus a little bit more on individual aspects and rights.
And you have the civil rights movements, which really paved the way for the argument for rights for the second feminist movement. But their motivations, and some of the assumptions behind it are quite different. And one of the things I found so interesting, and that is that, you know, they said, I thought that the director was going to be one of just increasing freedom for woman.
But to me, the most interesting trajectory that I found was an increasing individualistic emphasis from the corporate, you need to go out and impact the world to focus upon the home, you need to take care of your home to now by the time we get to the 60s and 70s, that a lot of it is about the individual shrinks this fear every time.
And that itself I mean, as much as we have the debates like hey, you know, is that complementarian or gala? And, you know, what can women do or and in this, but to me, one of the main concerns is, are we really focusing upon the fact That our concerns are becoming in some maybe intense for both, okay, becoming more focused on the individual, and how is that going to impact us?
And grasping that. And that does seem, for me, kind of all of these kind of historical factors, do kind of lead up to a point in your book, where you kind of stress that, that those factors are also what has gone into shaping the current evangelical kind of gender role debate. And it seems to me a really strong connection, that the current debate is kind of guided by themes of individual rights, authority, power, status, and even equality, as as kind of, you know, a theme from the later transition right later 20th century.
How often do we pray, how many times we read the Bible were supposed to do? Can I, you know, can I see this movie? Can I listen to the song? Should my hair be? And yet, at the same time, when we frame the debate according to authority and equality, it really does lend us questions of what can women do? Can women priests, can women be an elder?
Can women teach men? Things like that? And then, for me, the concerns become, how does that shape the way we look at gender?Married women Jessup
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