Friday, 6 March 2009

Are women more gullible?

I had a feeling of deja vu yesterday.

I was giving a lecture at St John's College Nottingham yesterday, on women in leadership, and meeting the women ordinands. A great day, and getting together as a group of women felt really important - lots of important issues raised.

I had some free time in the afternoon, so took a stroll through the grounds. Wandering through the car park, a car sticker caught my eye. It had a fish on it, and yes, the name was that of a small car firm which used to service my car, many years ago. The owner was a Christian, but when I told him I was going to be ordained, he challenged me. 'My church doesn't believe women should be leaders,' he told me. 'Women are too gullible - think about Eve!'

Yesterday, I was wondering if he still holds those views. And what church life is like for women in that church if they have no women role models as leaders.

Today I was reading my CBE email, on that very subject! So here's an excerpt from Mimi Haddad's message of the week.

'How many times have we heard that women are more easily deceived than men? In overt and also subtle ways, some Christians seem to believe that women are more gullible, more easily deceived, less rational, and more emotional than men (and have been since creation). Much of the prejudice against women comes from a poor reading of Genesis, and of Paul’s reference to Eve in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and 2 Corinthians 11:3...

In 1 Tim. 2:11-14, Paul writes:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 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.
Some people today believe that women are more susceptible to deception than men, and for this reason they should be excluded from holding positions of authority over men in all circumstances. However, limiting the authority of all women is not a valid conclusion unless Eve is used consistently by Paul to refer specifically to women’s deception, rather than deception in general.

While Eve’s deception may be used to expose the deception of women in the church at Ephesus (1 Tim. 2:11-14), the deception of the entire church at Corinth is also likened to Eve in that they too had been deceived by the cunning of the serpent and were led “astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Clearly Paul’s use of Eve as a representative of deception is not limited to women, but applies to both men and women. Deception is just as dangerous for men as it is for women. And both men and women are vulnerable to cunning deceivers.
Dr. John J. Davis, professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, will explore this topic more extensively in a forth coming issue of Priscilla Papers—CBE’s award-winning, academic journal.

To assert that women are more emotional, more gullible, and less rational is a destructive teaching based on a misunderstanding of the biblical texts. Let’s stop eroding the self-esteem of godly women, who are called by God to serve, teach, or hold positions of leadership and authority. Such women are not deceived, and their call should be tested and confirmed by the church rather than dismissed out of hand because of their gender. The church should be grateful that women come ready to serve. Let us not turn away the precious gifts God is giving us in women’s service, whatever it may be. '

Great stuff!


tom said...

This is a funny belief, with no basis in experience - life experience suggests to me that women have at least as good if not better instincts, insights, sensitivities and discernment than men!
Eve was deceived by Satan, but Adam was deceived by a woman. So Adam showed he was more gullible than Eve – he was deceived by someone less cunning than the most powerful angel in the universe. and this "gullible" women was capabile enough to deceive Adam!.
if the serpent story teaches anything in this regard, it teaches that Adam was the more gullible.
Perhaps that is why the serpent chose Eve becasue if he chose Adam he would have never been able to deceive Eve!
Experience and scripture suggests it is men who are the more gullible and easily influenced.

Rachel said...

Thanks for coming to the college Rosie. I enjoyed your visit. It was very interesting and eye-opening to learn of the experiences of the female ordinands who are seeking curacies, in the seminar after your talk.

I have been recommending your book over at my site and I know that Amazon have just delivered a copy as far away as Alaska, to Molly Aley, whose blog Adventures in Mercy, whilst she wrote it, was committed to exploring biblical patriarchy.

With only 8% of stipendiary, senior posts being held by women, it really is time we crashed through that glass ceiling, gracefully, of course. ;)

jody said...

ooh no rachel, not gracefully ;-)

Carl said...

Tom, that is a complete falsehood. Adam was not the deceived, it was Eve, then she fell into transgression. I suppose not all men are strong hence why you are conceding with such an asinine notion. I would also disagree women having as good or better instincts, insights, and discernment in comparison to men. Sensitivity perhaps. Though there is no room for sensitivity in leadership roles. The point of a leader is to give authoritative decisions based on the best interests of the company, or a country. I think you and Rachel have a skewed perception on leadership since you portray women as some sort of representative catering to the whims of the people. That's not leadership. In my experience, and pardon if I come across as somewhat vulgar I've successfully duped many women into sexual favors when they assume they're getting something back in return (like commitment). Never worked that way though.

Ronny said...

Not to be a sexist or anything, even though the following statement is clearly sexist, it is also fact.

Alternative medicine.. Mostly charlatans, mostly women clients. I get that people are'nt okay with what the pharma companies often do, but being scammed out of money by cynical con artists is, in my opinion, way worse, cause it's face to face.

That being said, I don't think gullibility is necessarily a bad thing. I often miss my youthful naivety.

Anonymous said...

In my experience females tend to only care about charisma. If someone sounds as if they are sure, the female takes it as fact. On a simalar note they present their "facts" in the same manner by just being overly confident even if they are unsure of the answer.

In my experience a man is much more likely to be cynical and call bullshit untill the facts are exsposed. Then once the facts are out in the open they will change their mind or admit to their mistake.

Anonymous said...

Being gulliable comes from lack of confidence.Anyone male or female who are not confident will be easily lead aatray.Many females aren't taught self confidence in one's self but to trust other's authority over them.This being a mistake of the family needs correction.There is nothing innately gulliable but women have been encouraged to be agreeable.It's more like Christians are gulliable to believe such nonsense which is sexist.It fits their agenda to keep women in a submissive role to men.