Monday, July 14, 2008

A Response to "The Ministry of Women"

NEW YORK — Non-Orthodox Jewish men are becoming alienated from their faith, a "crisis" that
foreshadows a rise in interfaith marriages and secular generations, according to a new study from Brandeis University

The findings, based on 300 interviews, report the rise of female leadership and participation in Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism has prompted men to opt out of religious activities, in contrast to Orthodox Judaism, which still requires men for traditional worship
and family life.

"The past four decades have contradicted thousands of years where men were the primary (leaders) in terms of religious roles," said Lindsey Fieldman, spokeswoman for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, which released the study this week.

With women currently outnumbering men in weekly non-Orthodox worship services, adult education classes, volunteer leadership positions and cultural events, the study concludes that non-Orthodox groups should create programs aimed specifically at engaging boys. The earlier the better, the study reports, because alienated Jewish men are more likely to marry
non-Jewish women, taking them and their children farther away from the synagogue.

The Reform movement has struggled with its growing gender gap for years, stunned by a two-to-one ratio of women to men entering the rabbinical class in its Hebrew Union College in 2005. Last year, the movement launched a three-year campaign to address the problem, called "Where Have all the Young Men Gone?"

[According to] Jonathan Sarna, American Jewish history professor at Brandeis University, "I don't think we need a fancy Jewish explanation for what's going on. Non-Orthodox Judaism is becoming more like American religion as a whole, which has been largely female."

As a result, Sarna believes, Americans will begin seeing a marked increase in all-male activities sponsored by churches and synagogues, pausing or reversing efforts to raise the status of women in congregations.

Hmmm. . . The Hadassah-Brandeis spokeswoman said, "The past four decades have contradicted thousands of years where men were the primary (leaders) in terms of religious roles."

And some people wonder why we now have a variety of popular books such as:

Why Men Hate Going to Church. The publisher's description says, "Arguing that many churches create a man-hostile environment, Murrow offers detailed explanations of resulting male/female imbalances."

How Women Help Men Find God. The publisher's description says, "Do guys in your life seem allergic to Christianity? Explore the deep spiritual needs of men and why the local church often fails to engage them."

Of course, one question that Eutychus didn't address was "How do we define 'leadership?'" Also, do the Scriptures point toward an "egalitarian" or "complementarian" position? [The complementarian view is summed up as: "men and women are equal in the image of God, but maintain complementary differences in role and function."]

For further food for thought, see

1 comment:

Eutychus said...

Thanks Coffee Snob. I am quite Egalitarian and the following blog does represent most of my view.

Leadership, pastor, elder, deacon and what ever God presents as ministry. In my blog I was making the point for this leadership by referencing the Scriptures and the leadership positions held by women in the NT.
I also believe that men do not just fall back from their responsiblilies because women are in leadership, I view it as a sin action called lazy man and it would be sin for women to neglect their responsibilities. Men use women in ministry as a reference to men leaving the churches, just as some men use "let the women be silent" to subdue. Many churches do not want to deal with the issue of women. I must say that I would fear a discussion in some churches as it would be considered a schism and there might be an invitation to leave.
I believe that eventually there will be change, I hope, by a peaceful and prayerful approach.