Women in Christian Academia

This is an old news story that has just recently came up again. I thought I had posted about it the first time around, but apparently not.
The original news story goes something like this: Sheri Klouda was a tenure-track professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2002. When the time came up, she was denied tenure (essentially fired). Was she failing to perform her duties as a professor? Did she show herself as unqualified? No, neither of those reasons are why she was denied tenure. "While Klouda was initially allowed to teach men, [Seminary president Paige] Patterson and Southwestern now interpret the Timothy passage to mean that only men can instruct future pastors, according to a seminary official." (MSNBC also has good coverage of this) Another article points out that there still is a woman teaching in the school of theology- Patterson's wife, Dorothy. Of course, that's acceptable because she teaches women's studies classes attended only by women.

Bloggers have weighed in on the issue. Blogger Wade Burleson broke the story on his blog and complained to a newspaper:
"Sheri Klouda is not a pastor, she has not been ordained or licensed, she does not perform ministerial duties,... The same institution that conferred her degree and hired her has now removed her for gender. To me, that is a very serious, ethical, moral breach." Burleson is pastor of Emmanual Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., and a trustee of the International Mission Board.
One of Klouda's classmates when they were in school wrote:
Her husband has chronic illnesses that require her to generate income for the family, so she "pulled and scraped and fought to get her education so that she could provide for her family," wrote [Ben] Cole, pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.
"I suppose she could have tried to get a job as a secretary or a librarian, but this woman has gifts of intellect and scholarship that God intends her to use to their fullest potential," Cole wrote. "So she got two degrees from Criswell, both with honors. She received top honors at Southwestern Seminary, and she was able to buy a home and teach her students to love the biblical languages she spent years studying. But Paige Patterson thinks it’s Sheri Klouda’s job to be a homemaker…."

We've had the conversation between friends before on whether women should work on stay home, and this is an interesting case study. Should these beautiful gifts and intelligences given to serve God be ignored because 'women should not work outside the home'?

The new news is that she is suing the seminary & school president for gender discrimination.

And, do you recognize that doorway, that office number she's leaning up against? If you guessed Reade, you're right! After being dismissed, she's now teaching Old Testament at Taylor University! Hooray for Taylor!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

I remember reading that story when it came out a while ago. I feel like the issue though is not whether women should be at home versus working, but rather should a woman "be over" men. (If that makes sense.) I do think the Bible cautions against women acting as pastors of churches, so the gray area comes in, does that apply in an academic setting as well? I personally don't think so, and I do think it's rather unfair for a university to let a preexisting faculty member go due to that (although I would understand a university not hiring women if they held to that belief). Although it's a bitter situation, I'm not sure getting the law involved in an area of Christian ethics is the wisest choice. But I don't know the whole situation, so I'll stay out of that. :-)

Should women be able to use their God-given talents outside the home? By all means! I think God has given us certain talents and opportunities for a reason. I do believe one's home life is the most important, but I also think that women can have successful careers and still be God-honoring - especially if she doesn't have children or they are already grown. Being a professor is a great way to continue to minister to future generations! The danger comes when your career causes you to neglect your own children and family. This goes for both fathers and mothers - just because he's not the primary caregiver of his children doesn't mean a father is allowed to become a workaholic and ignore his family.

I am glad that God gave me the opportunities to glorify Him through art & design. :-)


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