What She Said, What He Heard: Seeking Clarity from the Hosts of Truth’s Table

16789247_252016845245779_3788875330823913472_nDear sisters in Christ,

Quite a controversy has emerged over the last week or so.  Ever since your podcast “Gender Apartheid” dropped on March 25th the Reformed social media world has been embroiled in discussion and debate about what was said, what was meant, and how we ought to respond to it all.  Considering the fact that this episode has garnered over 8,000 listeners in less than two weeks I’d say you’ve succeeded in beginning a discussion about these issues of race and gender in the church!

It seems to me, however, that before we can move forward in discussion and debate in any profitable way we need to seek clarity on a few points.  The (very public and polarized) responses which emerged in the wake of your podcast demonstrated how different people were able to listen to the same episode and walk away having heard very different things.  We seem to have a classic “What she said/what he heard” situation and clarity is needed if we are to pursue purity and peace.

So this letter is not an attempt to respond to anything you’ve said nor is it an attempt to heresy-hunt.  This letter is simply a brother in Christ seeking to understand the positions and concerns of his sisters in Christ on some important issues.  In that same spirit, would you be able to offer some clarifying comments on the following ten points and questions?

  1. You said that our churches are filled with “toxic masculinity” and “patriarchy”.  Are there some specific features or examples of these things that commonly manifest themselves in our churches?
  2. What are the specific changes you would like to see instituted in our churches to overcome what you call “gender apartheid”?
  3. Could you talk a bit more about which specific roles or tasks that women do not commonly perform in our churches in which you would like to see women serving?
  4. Could you unpack what you mean when you assert that “gender is a social construct”?
  5. Many have been unsure of what was meant by the comment at the end of the podcast about “transgender perspectives”.  Could you unpack what was intended by that comment?
  6. Your comments about “ordainability” have prompted a lot of discussion.  Do you think you struck a healthy tone in the section where you discussed “ordainability” purely in terms of male anatomy?  Do you think you accurately and even-handedly represented the views of your “opponents” on this and other issues?
  7. Do you believe that the men in our churches are commonly restricting women from biblically accessible roles simply because they want “power”, or only see women as “sex objects” or “work-horses” as some have taken your comments on the podcast to suggest?  If so, do you see this as a wide-spread issue?
  8. A lot of the discussions and response which have taken place about the podcast have centered on whether or not y’all were arguing for the ordination of women.  Could you clarify your position on the issue of women’s ordination (whether as Pastors, Elders, or Deacons)?
  9. Many of your critics heard echoes of various streams of thought which have become popular in the liberal academy over the last few decades and are concerned by this potential influence.  Do you think the categories and perspectives of Critical Race Theory, Liberation Theology, or Intersectionality are helpful for Christians discussing issues of race and gender?* To what extent do you see the work of these schools of thought as overlapping with or reinforcing your own work with Truth’s Table?
  10. Now that the podcast has prompted such a wide discussion is there anything you wish you had (or had not) said in the podcast that could offer additional clarity?

I hope these questions open the door for some much needed clarity on these important questions.  It is my prayer that all involved will be able to move forward in faithfulness and unity!

Your brother in Christ,

Ben Franks

*Since I originally published this letter the brothers over at “Pass the Mic” did a podcast which addressed this question in part.  I would still love to hear any additional thoughts that y’all would add to their comments. 

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One response to “What She Said, What He Heard: Seeking Clarity from the Hosts of Truth’s Table

  • BC

    Good questions.

    I’m also curious why they assume ‘white women’ are some how brain washed by being ‘meek’. Maybe it’s their own misconception about white women and white women in the church?

    Maybe my understanding of meekness is different than theirs?

    righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering, long suffering,
    restraining one’s own power, so as to allow room for others–

    Like

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