Roger E. Olsen published an article on Patheos recently titled A Modest Proposal for Fixing the World: Let Women Run It in which he argued that women are naturally better human beings than men.
He cites numerous studies showing that female leadership styles are useful in solving major conflicts, that women make better doctors, and that relief organizations give life-saving commodities to women because they distribute it more fairly than men do. Through all of this, and more, he builds a relatively convincing case.
Is it true? Do we really believe that women are better human beings than men?
I do not believe that this case can be made from scripture, as both man and woman were created in the image of God and both are equal at the foot of the cross. But when we look at the stats and studies, there seems to be a familiar theme.
- Women in the Senate were able to save the US government when men couldn’t step up
- Studies show that educating a girl means helping an entire community, while educating a boy (generally speaking) means helping one person
- Micro-enterprise experts tell us that giving a loan to a woman in a developing country means a greater ROI than giving the same loan to a man
- According to numerous Pew Research studies, women are seen as more honest, more compassionate, more intelligent, and more socially sensitive leaders than men
Considering this interesting information, let’s take a moment and entertain this idea. What if women actually were better human beings than men- more moral, more spiritual, more peaceful, more humanitarian – how would that change our understanding of their place in the world? How would it change our understanding of their place in the Church?
In the previously mentioned article, Olsen argues that because women are better human beings, the United States, and perhaps the world, should try an experiment: “Put all public leadership in the hands of women for ten years to see what happens.” How would the world be affected by allowing women to make all governmental decisions? Interesting, right?
Here’s a question: What if we did that in the Church?
- What if we removed all the priests in the Catholic Church from their offices and put all the nuns who have been working in slums around the world into them?
- What if we put all the female Christian CEOs, CFOs, and senators into our church leadership structures and let them make decisions?
- What if all the women’s ministry leaders and female Sunday school teachers got promoted and the male deacons, elders, and pastors had to take a seat in the pews?
Would it help the Church?
- Would there be more cooperation between denominations?
- Would there be more financial stability in our churches if women held the purse strings, as there has been in developing countries when women are given business loans?
- Would the Church be less about hierarchy if female leadership was given a chance to thrive?
Just maybe. It would be an interesting experiment for sure.
But I don’t think we can reconcile the idea that women are better human beings with our Christian faith.
As an egalitarian, I do not believe that there are scriptural grounds to legitimately argue that one sex is naturally inclined to be more moral, or more spiritual than another. However, I do believe that Genesis chapter 3 may give us some good insight into this particular question. In verse 16 we read:
“To the woman He said … ‘your desire shall be for your husband and he will rule over you’.”
Here God talks about how women will have a desire for men and men will rule over women, because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. It is not part of God’s original design for humans, as it only occurs as a result of sin’s entrance into the world.
And when we look at history, isn’t that true?
Genesis chapter 3 seems to give us a good starting place for piecing together an answer for why all but one of the mass shooters in the last 3 decades have been male, why the majority of corrupt rulers have been male, and why so many men have abused and used women to assert power. It has nothing to do with how men were created, it seems to have more to do with the sinful inclinations of some men, perpetuated by centuries of learned behavior. Men have held power over women for a long time. Maybe that is a part of this equation.
Our hope, though, is in Christ.
We know that through the power of Christ, we can overcome sin and be restored to right relationship with God and with others. And maybe this experiment would help us get there. Maybe if all the men in the Church had to give up their power and privilege, they would learn to be “better human beings,” by Olsen’s standards, simply by having to go through what women have always gone through.
How might their lives change if they listened to women preach every Sunday, if they learned to receive communion from women, if they were led in worship by women, and if they saw their main role in the Church not as leaders, but as community members?
Seriously, think about it.
- If priests were taken out of office and put in the slums, might that change them?
- If popular evangelical pastors no longer had microphones, and instead served in the nursery, how might they become different?
- If the men on elder boards had to serve through the giving of baked goods on Sunday mornings instead, might that alter their perspective?
Even though it is extreme, it is an intriguing proposal. It calls into question what we believe about the nature of men and women, what it means to be “good,” and what kind of change might benefit the Church and the world as a whole. If women ran the Church for 10 years, maybe, just maybe it would have an impact.