Of summer jobs and ontological submission

If you ask my fifteen-year-old daughter about her career goals, she’ll instantly tell you they involve “being invisible.” This isn’t just because she’s an introvert. It’s because she has a passion for technical theater and stage managing, which is, as simply as I can describe it, the art and science of doing the parts of theater that orchestrate what happens on stage, without requiring you to ever be on it. It involves a lot of pushing buttons, and plugging and unplugging cables, and wearing black from head to toe. But the biggest part of the job involves her broadcasting a constant, quiet stream of instructions to a team of light, sound and stage technicians via a headset. And so now I have a problem with her summer job.

Traditional complementarian teaching would consider my daughter’s aspirations to a vocation that involves being a quiet helper of others as commendable, even womanly. What could be more feminine than not wanting to be up front and center, but preferring to work quietly in the background, literally shining the lights on other people on stage? But the complementarianism attached to the latest iteration of the Trinity debate, while affirming my daughter’s natural reserve, would take issue with the requirement that she be giving orders to big burly stagehands about when they should be raising and lowering backdrops. Unless the burly stagehands are women. (But then, they’d take issue with the burly women stagehands.)

This is why challenging distorted theology about the Trinity and its attachment to gender definitions matters.

This is where it matters

Right here, today, as my eldest daughter is getting ready to start her first paid summer job as a stage manager for a local children’s’ theater.

According to the arguments for the stream of complementarianism outlined by the authors of “The Grand Design” (and the increasingly vocal leaders of an aspirationally and aggressively influential organization dedicated to it),

my daughter’s exercise of her emerging abilities to flawlessly orchestrate the actions of a team of men (and women) to bring Frozen to life on a community theater stage, will distort her femininity, the masculinity of every man she instructs, and the gospel.

According to CBMW, my fifteen-year-old girl needs to get a different summer job.

I’ll gladly take suggestions in the comments. But remember that lifeguarding is out, too. (Too much potential for more distortion of her womanhood because of all that yelling at men to get out of the water if she spots a shark).

5 thoughts on “Of summer jobs and ontological submission

  1. In the ancient world, free men and women owned male and female slaves. It was never considered a diminishment of the free woman’s femininity or the enslaved man’s masculinity to be ordered and directed and interact in that capacity. After all, the problem wasn’t that Joseph was being told to do things by Potiphar’s nameless (unimportant?) wife. Take Abigail, do you think that she personally prepared hundreds of loafs of bread or did she call upon her servants (male and female) to help prepare food for a small army, load the animals, and lead them to David?
    Put it another way, Complementarianism speaks to the woman’s differing roles in the church and in the family usually in the capacity as a mother and wife; it says nothing to single men and women on the job – so since she’s excluded from complementarianism, it doesn’t apply to her. Just let her enjoy her job and be happy that she has one.


  2. I read somewhere that egals are accused (unfairly IMO) of wanting to eliminate differences between genders, but some comps want to eliminate any difference within the genders. I think the latter is a fair assessment given the cookie cutter approach to men and women.

    Hope your daughter’s summer job goes well. Sounds like a great opportunity.


  3. Thanks! I’m try not to be overly sentimental or gushy about my kids’ awesomeness, but I think it’s precisely because my daughter is such a natural introvert that when I watch her quietly direct a horde of drama queen jr high girls and their parents so well that my heart hurts a bit with how much I love her.


  4. This is a powerful illustration of how lofty theology really matters at a practical level. Thanks for your compelling argument-without-arguing 🙂


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