Monday, March 02, 2009

Women in authority, and other transgressions

A news item about GOP wingnut Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made me wince, as I realized that a "Bachmann" from Minnesota was likely a Lutheran. "Surely at least she's Missouri Synod and not ELCA," I told myself.

Well, she is actually too nutty to belong to the Missouri Synod, it seems. Nay; she is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, whose differences from the Missouri Synod (LCMS) include this:
Role of women in the church — The LCMS and WELS agree that Scriptures reserve the pastoral office for men. In "This We Believe," published in 1999, WELS states that "women may participate in offices and activities of the public ministry except where that work involves authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11,12). This means that women may not serve as pastors nor participate in assemblies of the church in ways that exercise authority over men (1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:33-35)."[2]. WELS does not allow women suffrage in congregational matters that would exercise authority over men. LCMS teaches that women may take on roles of lay authority in the church, such as voting in church elections and serving in "humanly established offices" such as congregation president, reader, or member of church councils, including elected executive roles in the church.
So she can't even vote in church council meetings where she would be in authority over men. And I thought LCMS was bad.

It's remarkable that Bachmann doesn't seem to feel this impedes her having authority over men at the ballot box, or in Congress. 1 Tim. 2:12 is not terribly vague: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." I suppose the WELS would argue that this applies only to conduct within church, but the context doesn't really support that:
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
That's a pretty all-encompassing argument. I don't read the passage to suggest that women should dress modestly only in church, for instance. (Since this is a classic hatin'-on-Paul passage, remember that there's not much chance Paul actually wrote 1 Timothy.)

(The other citation provided, to 1 Corinthians, is on stronger ground for limiting the restrictions to church only, though its argumentation is even weaker than 1 Timothy's:
women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Disgraceful! Okay, then! Some citation to "the Law" would be nice here, but it's not in my New Oxford Annotated RSV that I keep on hand.)

All that being said, the evidence that Michele Bachmann should keep silent is pretty darn strong:
As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann -- the event's moderator -- told Steele he was "da man."

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.
No report on the immediate response.

I see btw that she's had 5 kids plus 23 foster kids (wow), so she may be "saved" yet.

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