NASHVILLE, Tennessee. – How could David Lipscomb react to the announcement that a woman was appointed president of the institution, Lipscomb University, which he and James A. Harding co-founded?
The lip comb, a influential leader in the Churches of Christ From the Civil War to World War I, partnered with Harding to found the Nashville Bible School in 1891. The university has its roots in this school.
Lipscomb was adamant that women should not “take an active part in the conduct of public service” or in the “public worship” of the assembled body of Christ (1 Corinthians, Commentary by Gospel Advocate, p. 216).
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Lipscomb also made it clear that women should, where they have the ability and knowledge, take every opportunity to teach in a “calm, modest and feminine” manner, including teaching “old or young, male or female. , at the meeting place, at home. , at a neighbor’s, on Sunday or Monday or any other day of the week ”(Questions answered, 736; cf. also Defender of the Gospel [August 25, 1910] 968-9).
Lipscomb… distinguished between public leadership and private discretion, between public authority and private modesty, between public and private.
Lipscomb, like many before him, distinguished between public leadership and private discretion, between public authority and private modesty, between public and private executives.
While Lipscomb applied this to the life of the congregation (banning public education but encouraging private education), he also applied it to the place of women in society as a whole. The basic premise, for Lipscomb, was that a woman’s job is modest, submissive work, suitable for her for domesticity rather than public leadership.
“For women to enter the work of public speaking or leadership in world affairs,” according to Lipscomb, “is to cut them off from procreation” (Defender of the Gospel [July 3, 1913] 635). Anything that distracts from “her main job in life” is “incompatible” with her “feminine” vocation. “Public speaking in all the calls of life which demand constant strain on the mind, constant anxiety and care in reference to the public affairs of the church or state, an excitement of the ambitions of place and of power, not only destroy its taste because and cause it to neglect the duties of the home and the family, the duties of wife and mother, but such a strain on the mind destroys the capacity to procreate ”(Questions answered, p. 739).
Lipscomb has strongly opposed the growing participation of women in any public sphere, whether in an activist movement like the Temperance Movement or in any public institution, whether in church or society. . “Women,” thought Lipscomb, “should not be encouraged to make public speeches on any subject” (Defender of the Gospel [February 13, 1913] 155-6).
The root of this opposition is God’s intention in creation: men are designed for public leadership and responsibility, but women are designed for domestic education and family care. Adam was created first, as Lipscomb reminds us, and this applies not only to town hall meetings in church but also to society.
Of course, the Bible student, including Lipscomb, acknowledges that Deborah was sort of a political leader in Israel’s history. God, according to Lipscomb, “was inspired as leaders and teachers of the people” when “men were unworthy and unfaithful”. Women “have the right to teach or lead only when men refuse to do the job” and their leadership “should be seen as a rebuke and rebuke from men for their disability” (Gospel Advocate [July 13, 1913] 634-5).
Since there were other qualified and worthy candidates for the post, including men, it appears Lipscomb would not be happy with the appointment of a woman as president of the university that bears his name. Then again, Lipscomb would not be satisfied with women who have served in public leadership in an institution, whether religious or otherwise.
JOHN MARK HICKS is professor of theology at the Hazelip School of Theology To Lipscomb University in Nashville. He taught in higher education among the Churches of Christ for almost 40 years. Contact him at [email protected].
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