Pastors' wives: honor only to whom honor is due...
A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Timothy 5:9, 10)
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) In her new book, Marriage, Mitres, and Being Myself, First Lady of Canterbury, Mrs. Rowan (Jane) Williams, speaks of the hardships of being married to a bishop. In a news piece announcing the book, the Telegraph quotes Mrs.Williams in ways that remind me a great deal of the wife of the new provost of David's and my alma mater, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary:
(Mrs.) Williams said clergy and their families have to endure "poor boundaries" between their public and private lives, "laughable" job descriptions and "few opportunities to congratulate oneself on a job well done". She claimed the spouses of church leaders are expected to entertain guests as well as raising children and following their own careers, and admitted visitors to Lambeth Palace are sometimes "shocked" at how untidy it is.
Mrs Williams ...is a mother-of-two and theologian as well as the wife of Dr Rowan Williams... "Housework has never been very high on my list of priorities," Mrs Williams writes...
"The Church can be a thankless employer, with poor boundaries between private and public space, vague practices about holidays and days off, laughable job descriptions and few opportunities to congratulate oneself on a job well done and completed."
Mrs Williams, 51, said many bishops' spouses feel "bitter resentment" and "positively weighed" down by the expectations placed on them.
How David and I have been blessed by the wives God gave us! But also, by the wives of our fellow pastors and elders! Thank you Heavenly Father.
When Sydney Anglican, Phil Jensen, and his wife, Helen, were visiting with us some years ago, one of our conversations was about choosing staff members...
Phil and Helen told us part of their interview process was the staff members' wives interviewing the candidate's wife. The man wouldn't be hired unless the wives approved of his wife. They had an effective veto power.
This is likely best done with less than explicit knowledge of what's going on by some of those involved, but it does need to be done. There are few blessings in our church greater than the wives of our elders and pastors, and their ministry among us. Wisdom, counsel to their husbands and other women in the church, raising godly children, and hospitality that simply doesn't end, and is almost always joyful. Certainly more often joyful than their husbands who need the occasional prodding to do it "without complaining."
So, if you have a pastors college or you serve on a search committee, don't proceed with any man without looking carefully at his wife.
You can say a lot of good things about Doug Wilson's helpful writing and preaching, and his great love for Christ and His Church. Yet, the thing few outside of his family and church would know is the character and ministry of Goodwife Nancy. Some might see as patronizing the comment about her matter-of-factly diving into the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink after the luncheon at David's and Cheryl's, yesterday.
Not at all. It's the honest esteem of men for a woman who, like our wives, does not make a practice of whining about laundry and dishes or the hardships and costs of hospitality, but rather takes her greatest joy in washing the feet of the saints. Her husband and children rise up and call her "blessed."
Any one of these wives has a theological acuity, a doctrinal depth that dwarfs what I've seen from Carolyn Custis James--that is, if we are to judge a woman's God-knowledge by her cheerfulness in the work God's Word gives pride of position to when it speaks of woman.
Is it time, yet, to restore the curriculum of Scripture to the curriculum of women in the church?
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5)
Or must we keep on blathering about women theologians, by which we mean women not burdened down by more than two children, and not particularly joyful about cooking and cleaning and changing diapers?
Unless we begin to honor those to whom honor is due, the church will honor those who are not honorable, but nevertheless suffer no doubts that they are worthy of recognition--and relentlessly demand it.
Badwives whose mothers never had to worry about their self-esteem.