I’m still reading Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But not the Church. I know, I know, and I hear you: “Andrew, haven’t you been reading that book for well over a month? Isn’t it an easy read and relatively short? I mean, if it takes you this long to read Kimball, how in the world are you almost finishing a Master’s Degree? And hasn’t Norm finished at least two books of considerable more substance while juggling a ministry job and a wife and child since you began that simple work? Surely your vision is fading or you have developed narcolepsy since beginning it, for how else could I possibly explain your literary sluggishness?”
Look, I’m just a slow reader, so get off my back.
In any case, Kimball is still challenging my thinking on nearly every topic that he writes about. If you’re willing to overlook the sloppy style there is much to be gained, and while still unfinished I give it my hearty recommendation.
One of those aforementioned provocative topics is the church’s view of women as perceived by the outside world (ch. 7). Obviously this is particularly relevant to us complementarians. As one who has been interacting consistently with other Christians almost exclusively (until what will hopefully continue to be my liberation from that subculture), the issue of emerging non-believers’ perception of our treatment of women has never been that practically relevant.
But once again, Kimball has forced me to consider something I otherwise would not have. Indeed, how do emerging (i.e. 18-30 year old) non-Christians perceive the church’s treatment of women? This question becomes especially interesting when we note Kimball’s semi-paradoxical claims that emerging generations tend to gladly see significant differences between male and female as beautiful and God-given, yet see the church as oppressing women. Is this inconsistent thinking by those non-Christians, or is it a case of disjunction between Christian practice and theology (i.e. are we really oppressing women)?
For now I will leave aside the important issue that non-Christians frankly are not supposed to love us. Jesus went to the cross for his claims and said that we servants would not escape the master’s fate. This is one of those issues that some just won’t understand: yes, I do see functional differences between males and females including a God-given hierarchy of authority. Sorry if you don’t like that.
But this truth should never excuse us from thoughtfulness. Kimball offers a challenge that I pass on to you, dear reader: if you are a complementarian, how well can you defend that belief? Why do women not wear head-coverings? Why are they not silent in the churches? If we cannot answer these questions with real thoughtfulness, we should not such strong opinions. The normative relationship between males and females is too provocative of a cultural question (both to Christians and non-Christians) for us to not have thought seriously about. Some might not like your answer no matter how thoughtful about it you are. That much is ok. But we must think about it well.