Why Not Women? (Or, Why’s It Always Gotta Be White Guys?)

So a new configuration of Calvinist communicators has once again emerged, this one called The Gospel Coalition. As I looked at the sea of the half-dozen or so bigwig figureheads, I couldn’t help but think of all the other high-profile groups out there – Ligonier, Together For the Gospel, New Attitude, Desiring God, 9Marks etc etc etc, and how they’re all male and they’re virtually all white. So, through no fault of GC in particular, I wrote them a Comment today. I guess since I’m re-posting it here, this makes it an ‘open letter’ of sorts. Please know that I don’t think this is a uniquely Reformed malady, and this isn’t a swipe at their overall theology per se. (Though it is a swipe at their gendered practices – when it comes to women having full voice in the church I’m an egalitarian, as is fairly well-known) It’s just a plea for these folks to put more of their leading ladies up-front, in ways that are in accordance with their own theopraxis. I hope this starts some fruitful (and playful-yet-respectful) conversation.

Oh by the way, here’s GC spokes(ahem)man John Piper has to say to women in one of their officially-produced videos. It’s entitled What messsage do you have for women in the church?

Okay, and here’s my ‘open comment’ –

I know I’m picking on you, in particular, when I could be picking on scores of similar ministries – so my apologies in advance. But could you PLEASE have some women as figureheads and teachers on some of these?

I KNOW you all are into CBMW, and don’t think women should teach men. But this is the Internet – and there are lots of women on the Internet. So even within your theology/praxis, you should have some by-women, for-women teaching available, yes? I mean, you say women can teach women, right? So please – prove it!

Of course, I realize you might have some fear that a *man* might watch some of these videos, and inadvertently put themselves under a woman’s authority…but this should be the man’s sin to worry about and not yours or the teachers, right?

I apologize too for some of the snark…I really am being mostly serious here…it’s just hard for me to take much that groups like yours say with the exclusive white-male figurehead thing going on…

Thank you for listening.


Mike Morrell

If they reply, I’ll post that here as well.

Update: Wow – I’ve never received so much feedback so quickly after posting. Keep your reflections coming! Of course, I have the feeling we’ll have someone(s) raining on our egalitarian parade soon; just probabilities. And that’s perfectly fine – let’s just keep it gracious.

And it’s also worth saying that I didn’t start this post to debate egalitarian vs. ‘complimentarian’ per se – though it’s something I feel very strongly about and one of the (very) few issues that make practical fellowship impossible for me – that is, being in a church gathering where women are effectively silenced. (Of course, it’s much easier to detect such a policy in my native habitat of house churches – in most more institutional churches, virtually everyone is silenced, irrespective of gender!) BUT, what I’m asking The Gospel Coalition is not to revisit their theology and men and women’s participation in spirituality/church/life (which they will not do anytime soon), but to consider featuring women in a more prominent role as teachers within their own parameters – that is, teaching fellow women, and (I guess) children – and making these resources as available online as the white menfolk. If you agree with me – be you a white male Reformed complimentarian or a hippie-dippie emergent transgender egalitarian – would you please tell them so too?

29 Responses to “Why Not Women? (Or, Why’s It Always Gotta Be White Guys?)”

  1. 1 elissa August 26, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    You rock, Mike! You tell ’em! I agree wholeheartedly!

  2. 2 ben August 26, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Mike, for the same reason so, so, so many fear truth. We might find out that we have been wrong all this time! prime example–ecclesia; and this is just the tip of the “theological/philosophical iceberg”, sort of speak. Great truth brother! Keep sharing truthforfree( sorry Dave) =)

  3. 3 Dave August 26, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Preach it, Mike. I can’t help but read this in light of tonight’s yet-to-happen Democratic convention in which Hillary Clinton will give her big speech, theoretically to quell the anger of the women in her constituency. I can have a hard time relating–after all, while a woman didn’t get nominated, a black man did. But the spirit of their anger that I, at the very least, read about, seems entirely to tie into your post and how we churchgoers have contributed to something we might not entirely be proud of in the end.

  4. 4 Pastor Ruth Sweet August 27, 2008 at 12:20 am

    God bless you brother. I agree that women should support and encourage, pray for and be submissive. However, I totally believe that this applies to all who are In Christ. We are be submissive to one another, men are to be submissive to Christ, women are to be submissive to Christ, {or are they only to submit to their husbands and let him tell them how to obey God’s call?} and we are to submit to all authorities…until they exult themselves above the knowledge of God. Every man is not the head of his wife. The husband is told to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This is the man who is truly the head of a home. That man, I believe, will have no problem with his wife walking in the call of God on her life. Of course this should be discussed before marriage. I have been a Pastor, church planter, and worked in missions for over 30 years. I praise God, my husband has always stood in agreement with me. We have supportive of one another as we are “joint heirs” together, in Christ.

    Let us all labor together for the Kingdom of God and to see men and women set free. In the days ahead, we will all need to stand together and it will require all to stand in faith. Since I cannot write all the history on which I base my belief that God has always used women in leadership roles,I will simple say…enough said. You are In Christ….you are my brother!

    God bless you as you bless others for His glory.
    Tommie Ruth Sweet

  5. 5 Gary Means August 27, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I could only stand watching part of Piper’s video. Complementarians are so earnest, so sincere, and so sure that their view of scripture is the only possible correct view. Fear cloaked in the guise of godliness is such an ugly, destructive thing.

  6. 7 Diane Cipa August 27, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Saw your post in a Google alert for Ligonier. Love the post title. I don’t normally read the posts for THAT Ligonier – I’m looking for the “real” Ligonier news, BUT I have to say that your observation, at least as far as I can tell re: the “Ligonier” to which you refer seems right on.

  7. 8 Bill August 27, 2008 at 1:10 am

    A Ligonier is totally like my most favoritest animal ever.

    I hope they won’t mind that you only apologized for some of the snark. Bwah-ha-hah.

  8. 9 kathyescobar August 27, 2008 at 2:23 am

    mike, saw your link on facebook & it caught my eye. thanks for pointing this out, watching the video honestly made me cringe because it is so patronizing, so limiting, so sad to me because of the message it sends to all those amazing women in their churches who will always be 2nd class citizens. i couldn’t help but notice the quote that “there are so many women dominated churches that men are driven out..” hmmm, i’d love to see the stat on that in the conservative evangelical world? i am thankful for you & the other men i know who continue to ask the question “where are the women?” and then in the circles that you influence do what you can to give equal voice to those we normally don’t hear from (not just women). i agree with what pastor ruth sweet shared, may we co-labor together, alongside each other, men & women, to proclaim freedom for captives not just in words but by living it out out in really tangible ways. peace, kathy

  9. 10 natrimony August 27, 2008 at 2:29 am

    Can I be the mean, white, misogynistic, Calvinist? Oh please…it’s what I was born to do. Interestingly enough I tend more toward an egalitarian view of the Trinity (this is largely due to some of the terminology which complementarians tend to use to describe the intertrinitarian communion–namely subordinationism). But, I don’t come to that conclusion due to gender roles within the church. I do feel like much of the complementarian vs. egalitarian rhetoric has mostly to do with contemporary ecclessiology as opposed to theology proper. How people think women should be involved in church polity/public worship wrongly influences their view of the Trinity.

    Although I agree with Dr. Piper’s basic viewpoint regarding the role of women in the church I also agree that women have a great deal to contribute to a Reformed online community. Mike has a point, women can (and should) teach women. But, the part about a fear of men somehow inadvertently placing themselves under a woman’s authority is…hmmmm snarkastic?

  10. 11 zoecarnate August 27, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Nat, you can always be the mean white Calvinist… 🙂 Only kidding, you’re not that mean. And yeah, I’m being a bit snarkistic, but it’s based on something I read once – I think about fear that sometimes men might go into Kay Arthur bible studies, or something.

  11. 12 natrimony August 27, 2008 at 2:42 am

    You forgot misogynistic. Especially when it comes to short-haired women–with bangs, in orange pant-suits.

  12. 13 Thom McGuire August 27, 2008 at 4:53 am

    wow ummmm yeah. If I side with the Piper people then my mother, who is an ordained divorced southern baptist minister would kill me. of course I personally do not agree with Piper anyway but the point still stands. I think we have taken a Pauline approach to most of the church as a whole today and maybe just maybe it’s time to get back to a Jesus based approach. Im rambling as it is almost 1am so I will return tomorrow to give a much better thought out response till then

  13. 14 Heather August 27, 2008 at 5:14 am

    One of the most horrifying and somehow amusing sights I’ve ever seen in christendom was at a house church conference when a man stood up to speak positively on behalf of women being allowed to teach, and a woman wearing a covering, from a strict housechurch that didn’t believe in women teaching, publically stood up and yelled at him to shut up and sit down. Like, what was THAT? 🙂

    LOL, anyway, in that spirit, I must say that I’ve always had a hard time with the women teaching men thing. So now I will begin to type some sort of teaching here 🙂 Oy vey…

    But seriously, I think maybe an examination of the idea of “usurping” might be in order. How can women show their brothers the honor that God gives them, while still using the gifts that God has given them? (Interestingly enough, the name “Jacob” means usurper – it seems as though usurping isn’t always a bad thing. But of course, Jacob was a guy 🙂 )

    Anyway, I agree and at the same time cringe at your suggestion, Mike. I agree that it would be so cool if something other than white males was on their website, and yet I cringe at the idea that women should just teach nice little Bible studies on being good little women – I almost am happier to not see any women represented, than to see the model subservient church lady represented.

    But, if the women would get a chance to teach on that site, then maybe a good topic would be “How to prophesy for the edification of the body.” Right? I mean, while women are so often in the NT forbidden to “teach”, they are ALWAYS, consistently, undeniably, granted the role of one who prophesies…. (See 1 Cor 11, for instance.)

    Yeah, let’s tell the Gospel Coalition to put some women prophets on display next to their male teachers. 😉 That’ll work for me!


  14. 15 jazimomo August 27, 2008 at 10:09 am

    I appreciated the original post a lot Mike. I’m surprised I made it through the Piper video without yelling at the screen.

    I’m glad Heather brought up the points that she did, and I’d like to add my two cents. I guess I’m more of an all or nothing sort of person… either someone (like Piper) wholeheartedly feels that women should do nothing but pray and have male children who grow up to be leaders, or go the whole nine yards and include women in all church roles. Natrimony’s point that a person’s view of women influences their understanding of the trinity is certainly a great point to make. William P. Young’s “The Shack” specifically comes to mind.

    I don’t think it is enough to simply work within their current parameters and come to a nice compromise. Allowing women to be featured as only teaching women and children is just going to reinforce their already hierarchical view, and worse than that it will give the illusion (both to the white males and the women they are subordinating) that they are extending grace toward women, which seems, in a word, untruthful.

    Seems like it would be better for them to stay in their well-defined box than to give the impression that they are trying to appease people. I mean, we’re talking about a Christian organization here, not American politics.

  15. 16 Cheryl August 27, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    This was a very good post. We seldom see women’s gifts or women themselves lifted up to a place of prominence in these organizations. It truly is a “men” only stand.

    The other issue is the subordination of the Son in the Trinity which is used to justify the subordination of women.

    Our ministry will be releasing a new DVD in early October on the Trinity that refutes the subordination view that is prevalent amongst the groups who believe in the subordination of women. It is called The Trinity: Eternity Past to Eternity Future ©2008 MM Outreach Inc. The DVD goes through all the passages used to limit Christ’s authority and refutes this limited view.

  16. 17 Todd Littleton August 27, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    An interesting observation – the vast majority of your commenters are women, which I like. But, I am certain you are read more widely. I would have expected some ready to discuss the matter more via objection. I would post something here from the Fitch course we are taking, maybe from Iragaray or Chopp and so Kristeva, but I am still working through the proposals. At any rate, I like this post – snarcastic and all.

  17. 18 Carrie Albright August 27, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    No guy wants to addmit that maybe a women might do something better. Because some other guy might find out and call him a bad word.Come on. Hey can you preach today and then afterword can you make me a pie babe.
    Fear equalls hate.
    Men also get most of the money to back them up. Most organizatiion are not throwing money at women to be the spearhead of something. Spirtual or secular.
    The part about women having chapters in there life is true. I’m a grown women who does not have children. Some women will naturaly not talk to me because I’m not currently lactating. Women who are nursing full time would have a very hard go at finding enough time to lead a study, let alone take a shower.
    Both have something to offer to the body as a whole. The balance is out there but I personly don’t know what that looks like.

  18. 19 Cathryn August 28, 2008 at 6:51 am

    HA! Mike you are having too much fun! – Ummm i could barely get thru that video- esp. with the TV Soaps thing… guess, because is work, i’ve been shielded from that apparent “sin”-

    However even in the emergent world, there seems to be the white male thing going on… and i’m remembering one of Andrew’s posts on that topic… and Becky had post on the 5 P’s – if i recall.. you can do the math on that one…

    I won’t even go there on my thoughts about it… suffice to say it’s such Bollocks –

    blessings dude, keep it up!

  19. 20 Ruth August 29, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Hey Mike,


    Sorry don’t have no big words to add to all this………just this kind of stuff makes me realize I can’t wait around for men to change their minds in this……….I am glad I am just free of all that mess. I can go and do what I want instead of waiting for permission from some White male figure.

    I can’t believe he even said it all with such enthusiasm!


  20. 21 Jennifer September 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    I think you found the heart of this issue in your side note: “in most more institutional churches, virtually everyone is silenced, irrespective of gender!” In a church meeting where believers are able to freely gather under the headship of Christ, a debate about which gender gets to teach what and when and to whom almost seems silly. I think this kind of confusion and doctrinal debate comes out of the man-made institution of religion where there is a man (or organization) deciding who shares what instead of the divine leading of the Lord who declares Himself through His people, regardless of their gender.

  21. 22 Cathryn September 3, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Just for the record… check your Israeli military history… it’s the FEMALES that teach the men…… Tank maneuvers and Sniper training,- according to the IDF they found when the women teach the men… there is less macho competition and more focus… so i kinda think that applies on a lot of levels…
    If i teach and there are men in the audience… i just kinda think it’s norm….
    It was really more of a society thing … way back then. So if a female, has a handle on things, and has the gift to teach- what’s the diff? I really think it comes down to gifts, anointing and ability. If God spoke thru a DONKEY…. he can surely speak thru men………. and women. Funny thing from a medical note, – men have a bigger visual cortex where as women have a bigger corpus callosum (place in the brain where the right connects with the left) so the female ability to multi task and mediating information is greater. (not saying all use it and if i want to give someone directions to a place i put my husband on the phone, because of the visual cortex edge, he can remember things on that level more accurately. Be nice if we went back to the place where in Christ there is neither male or female, greek or jew. It would save a bunch of bollocks!
    blessings all.

  22. 23 thegreycoats September 3, 2008 at 2:25 am

    In this thread it seems that it is open season on one demographic–traditionalists. In regard to women teachers: well intentioned, sincere Christians disagree on this topic. I would submit that in most cases the intention is not to subject women but to be faithful to the biblical testimony. Despite all objections to the established patriarchy of the institutional church, at the very least, I feel that it would be appropriate to notice this.


    The mean, misogynistic, white, traditionalist (of the Calvinistic persuasion)

  23. 24 natrimony September 3, 2008 at 2:30 am


    Somehow the last post popped up under my compadre Jarrod’s avatar. Sort, of kills the pithiness. Oh well, that comment was from me–natrimony.

  24. 25 Heather September 3, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Well said. I agree, most are not out to “stick it to women”, many even wrestle in their souls with some of the women’s roles thing but teach it anyway because they believe God asks it of them.

    On the other hand, some ARE out to stick it to women. I suppose as much as we would not like to think so, oftentimes the way we interpret things is determined by what we want to find the text saying… if we are opposed to women leaders, we are eager to find that in the New Testament, and if we are eager for women leaders, we will find that in the NT as well. One always finds what they are seeking for, isn’t that somehow true? The heart is always revealed in every nuance of our seeking – and finding.

  25. 26 marion September 12, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Heather – your first para in your first post, is so ironic and funny – thanks…
    it’s like the female Christians who tell me on Christian forums that women need to be subordinate and not teach men etc etc and then go on to argue and quote scripture at the Christian men who disagree with them on the same threads lol. [of course it’s not ‘teaching’ if it’s the internet, is it?…I mean…you have to be in the same room for it to be teaching hahaha].

    Thanks again Mike…God is ‘on the move’ – so many brothers speaking up for us sisters in recent years…and not just theoretically, but feeling it deep down too…
    actually I know it’s more than that…it’s to do with really Loving the Truth Incarnate.

  26. 27 Cathryn September 13, 2008 at 3:33 am

    I think that is the nicest you’ve ever been in the gentle nudging way you put that! (cept for your sin-cerely ending!) ok i just had to at least poke ya!

  27. 28 Deb September 15, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Great post. Great encouragement for women who ARE gifted in teaching and preaching.

    It always amazes me that men willingly allow women to teach children basic Biblical concepts in classes until the children are considered “adults” – and then suddenly – only men can teach them. Never made sense to me.

    Ah well.

    One of those mysteries that will be clear when I see Jesus. 🙂


  1. 1 Women, Teaching, and Publishing | :: in.a.mirror.dimly :: Trackback on September 18, 2008 at 1:03 pm

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