It seems apropos that, just as soon as I tell the world I’m worn out over talking about women in the church, I would write about . . . women in the church. (I realize that I’m contradicting myself here, but, as Dave Barry says, as is often the case when I contradict myself, I just don’t care.)
When I arrived at the seminary in 2007, women were fairly new to the campus. The deaconess program was only a few years old, and the seminarians were still getting used to having girls around. That meant, you know, having to shower before class. And perhaps not wear sweatpants in public. And maybe comb their hair. So, in some ways, having women around is a very, very good thing.
On the other hand, it’s my belief that women need to be very careful of how much they insert themselves into the lives of those men in the midst of pastoral formation. Speaking as a former MA student and as a woman, I know how easy it is to want to hang out with the guys. After all, they take different classes. They are immersed in the subject matter. They understand theology in a uniquely pastoral way.
And it’s easy to want to be a part of that. It’s easy, at parties, to want to ditch the women in the kitchen talking about which child pooped in the potty and to go outside where the cigar smoking and beer drinking and theology discussing is taking place. It’s easy to want to be where theological ideas fly back and forth so quickly that you can barely keep up. In short, it’s easy to want to be where the theological discourse is vibrant and alive.
But it’s also important to let the men have their space. It doesn’t have to be all the time. It doesn’t mean you can’t participate. It just means women need to let men be men sometimes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a deaconess or a PhD student, if you get better grades in Greek or Gospels 1, if a faculty member likes you better or you write more brilliant papers. You aren’t an M.Div. student, and that’s that.
So, ladies, let the guys have their space sometimes. Let them go out alone for beer and hot wings. Let them duke it out over Schleiermacher and Barth. Let them sit around the fire pit with a Scotch and cigar and banter with their professors.
They are going to be pastors, after all, and we women are not. It doesn’t mean we are less important, or not as intelligent, or complete idiots. It simply means that there are distinct moments in their own seminary education where the men deserve to be, wholly and without reservation, all man.