Posted by: sarahkennedy33 | November 1, 2006

The Church is Like a Car

So I’m taking this class on Women and the Church, which is amazing, as you can probably tell from my previous posts. For our next paper Dr. Scholer wants us to read two different books, one by Linda Belleville, an evangelical feminist and another by Dan Doriani, a male traditionalist. I appreciate this assignment, if we’re going to spend ten weeks studying this issue, we should be reading things from “both sides.” However much I might appreciate some of Doriani’s points, he has already completely lost his credibility in my eyes, and I’m only in chapter one. This isn’t because I blatantly disagree with a lot of what he says (although I do) but rather because he has come up with what is, in my opinion, one of the worst metaphors I have ever read about women in the church (or the church in general). I read the page and then stopped, and literally asked out loud “did I just read what I think I read?!” So I re-read the paragraph and started laughing out loud because yes, I did just read what I had thought! It was so amusing to me that I felt I had to share it with my faithful readers….

This is taken from his introduction, where he is setting out reasons why he wrote this book. My commentary is in paraenthases….maybe my comments take away from the essence of his message, but hey, it’s my blog, I can comment sarcastically if I want to! He writes:

God loves women enough to send his Son to live and die and live again for them (oh good, at least he grants us that much!), but what does that mean for the ministries of women? I believe God ordained men to preach, to teach doctrine with authority, and to oversee the church (excellent, but what about those women whom God has specifically gifted to preach? Do they just not get to use their God-given gifts?). I also believe the Spirit has gifted women for ministry and wants women to serve in many spheres (just not anything that has the word “authority” connected with it right?). (ok this next part is my favorite…) Some people say this puts women in a box, but let me modify the metaphor and say it puts them in a car. Cars are like boxes in some ways. (I think his analogy is getting a little weak here…) While driving, we must remain within the confinement of their doors. But cars can be roomy and comfortable, with gadgets and hidden compartments to explore. (yeah, I want to know what kind of car he is specifically refering to–if it’s a corvette, I’m not sure I buy the “roomy” piece, but if he’s talking about an SUV, well then maybe we have a conversation starter….) More important, is that cars have wheels and take people places. The church is a roomy vehicle, filled with a family on a journey. (Oh give me a break….) The doors and speed limits set boundaries, but the family accepts these restrictions because these make the trip possible and safe. On the journey, father may do most of the driving, but mother drives too (oh good, she can drive a little too….that’s so nice of the father!) and both parents navigate, tell stories, and help the children have a good time.

The church is like a car. Safe travel occurs within the parameters set by our nature and God’s word. We are going somewhere (well, some churches are…) and the relationships built during travel can be as sweet as the destination. Pastors must steer a large car and keep an oft-contentious family unified as they travel (no they don’t! If it’s a car, just draw a line down the middle of the backseat!) I hope to help pastors with this book by helping women enter into the ministries God appoints, and I propose various ministries for women, (let me take a wild guess, they all involve making coffee right?) while affirming that God calls men to preach and oversee the church.”
Taken from “Women and Ministry” by Dan Doriani pages 14-15 in case you all want to run right out and buy this fabulous example of metaphorical writing….

I have no idea what the rest of his book is going to say (well actually I can imagine…) but I’m only on page 15 and I’m already so annoyed (although a bit entertained) by his horrific writing and use of metaphors that I almost can’t bear to keep reading…but alas, I’m continuing in my trek through these pages…if only in search of a metaphor even worse….(I’ll let you know if I find one!)

I think that if anyone out there is having conflict in their next congregational meeting you should just stand up and say “look people, the church is like a car…so as the “parent” of this car, I am going to draw a line down the middle of the backseat and if you don’t like what the other person is saying on the other side of the line…well….plug your ears and stick out your tongue at them but no poking them across that line….” Let me know how that goes.

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