I sat on a bar and preached the Scriptures. It’s all-good – things in Austin are supposed to be weird.
But not this weird –
Two men showed up.
They walked past the wine bar, took note of the sign on the door “Private party for two hours” then walked on – a few minutes later they circled back. Rene, one of the women at the study, said, “Come on in – it’s a women’s bible study but you can come in and pull up to the bar.”
They did. And they stayed.
After teaching I spoke with one of the guys. Turned out the two men were childhood friends. They had attended Catholic school together. He shared how they are both divorced and were just talking about their faith and felt they should circle back.
We closed out the bar tab at 10:00 PM. While signing the bill my son Hunter and I started chatting with the middle-aged couple sitting there. Turned out they were from Canada. The guy works in Austin; she commutes to see him (from Canada). She asked if they could attend our study when she was in town. We said yes.
Next morning I met with a woman who attends the study. Turns out she and her boyfriend are doing our study guide lessons together. She asked, “Can he come to the study?”
I said yes.
As the Greyhound pulled away from the Austin station towards Dallas I wondered, “What does all this mean? Am I supposed to open the studies to men?”
I’m waiting for the answer.
The following week, while teaching on people pleasing in Dallas, I noticed a man leaning against the wall just outside the door. I’m speaking to the women and at the same time trying to figure out “Do I invite him in?”
LISTEN TO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!
When I finished teaching a woman got up and bolted over to RJ. Turned out her daughter and RJ had been friends way back when. I introduced myself to RJ. We talked about some interesting things then he asked, “Why there were no men in the room?”
There was that question again.
Through out my years of teaching I’ve been asked this question. And my standard answer has always been – women defer to men when men are in the room. Meaning, conservative evangelical women are taught that men are more “capable of handing the Scriptures” than women. Therefore, when men show up women shut up. I want to ennoble women by helping them find their voice – particularly their theological voice and how it meshes with their everyday life. There’s empowerment in that.
But – and here’s my angst – if we are ever going to improve the view of women through Scripture – men must be a part of the dialogue. Scot McKnight acknowledges this truth in his book The Blue Parakeet. In his book he shared his remorse for not joining the conversation (ennobling women) sooner.”I know and believe that I (and my colleagues) failed our female students at TEDS, that we should have engaged this debate “tooth and claw,” and that had we done so the Evangelical Free Church as well as the seminary may have been a much more liberating institution than it is today.” Moving men and women towards what Carolyn Custis James calls the Blessed Alliance requires both men and women at the table. Both rethinking the Scriptures and how they have been interpreted to restrict both men and women in fully engaging kingdom work together.
So here’s my question – and I really want your input – should we open our teaching, training and dialogue about improving the view of women – to men?