“A man’s place is in the army.”
So starts David M. Scholer’s satirical list of 10 reasons why men shouldn’t be pastors. Most of you have probably seen the list before; it’s been around a number of years. We’re sharing it as a reminder that humor can be very helpful when discussing a hot button issue like women in ministry. (And to do our part to keep this great piece in circulation!).
Keep in mind that Scholer’s purpose here is NOT to put men down, but to use satire to show that many of the arguments used to restrict women from pastoral roles are rooted in cultural expectations and gender norms. And so without further ado:
10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.
8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work.
7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.
5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.
4. To be an ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.
When used with discretion, humor can lift an argument that has drifted way down into the weeds of differing interpretations up into the realm of practical theology. It’s a good tool to have in your advocacy toolbox, because people can relate to it no matter their theological background, and it makes people think.
It’s also good for the soul!
Modern debates over the ordination of women often miss the crucial and basic issues of the holistic concept of the ministry of the Church reflected in the New Testament. Of course, no person should be ordained or given any responsibilities of ministry within the Church because of gender or for the sake of a “point.” On the other hand, we have affirmed in the Church that no person, called and gifted by God, should be denied any role of ministry or leadership in the Church because of one’s gender.” [Scholer, Women in Ministry]
The late Dr. David M. Scholer (Professor of New Testament, Fuller Seminary) is best known for his extensive scholarship that presented the biblical basis for the full inclusion of women in the church. He taught a popular course on “Women, the Bible and the Church” at Fuller over 30 times. According to Baptist News he also contributed more than 200 articles and book reviews and a number of edited volumes and publications.
Read “Women in Ministry” – Fuller Seminary’s position statement on women in ministry, authored by Dr. Scholer.
Watch 7 Reasons Men Should Not be Pastors a video adaptation of Scholer’s work by Sojourners.