The Testosterone Behind Male Leadership

27 Nov

Testosterone - there are differences between male and female leadership

Women today have greater access to the halls of education, sport, power and leadership, however, there are still many barriers to them following their calling, not least of these being a dualistic theology. On the one hand it is maintained that male and female are equal in the eyes of God, but on the other hand this equality, it is asserted, does not extend to ordained ministry. While this distinction is odious, with the CTICR (Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations) some ten years ago, having declared that there were no theological objections to women’s ordination, there is a new emphasis on avoiding a split within the LCA. For this new purpose women’s ordination continues to be blocked. Interestingly, another focus against women’s ordination for some years was the ‘fatherhood’ of God, which amused theologians from the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). The goal is to avoid women’s ordination, it is only the means to the end that changes. Presumably the theory is to postpone women’s ordination for as long as possible in the hope that the issue will go away.

While President Mike Semmler may not be the chief protagonist against women’s ordination in the LCA, he is arguably the most significant in the way he exerts influence and in the manner that he has chaired General Synod. While
1. he asserts that he has not made his opinion on women’s ordination public, and
2. his expressed concern is that of maintaining unity within the Church,
his actions clearly indicate his oppositional attitude to women’s attitude.

It was disappointing how he chaired the 2009 General Synod. When it came to the vote on women’s ordination in the LCA, he vigourously counselled from the Chair that if delegates were at all unsure they must vote against the motion. If delegates were not present, their absence was counted as being against the motion, and informal votes were counted as being against women’s ordination. These are not healthy signs of a well-functioning democracy.

Such a leadership style is not new. Through history men, in the main, have manipulated power and process to achieve their desired ends. It seems that, in general, women and men have a different perspective on many things. Is there a hormone induced difference between male and female? This reading would suggest so:

In addition to brain differences, many essentialist theorists argue that hormones play a large part in explaining the disparities between men and women. Testosterone, the primary male hormone, floods a boy’s body at puberty and induces the growth of body hair, the deepening of the voice, and the development of muscles. Testosterone is also responsible for aggressiveness, sexual desire, and competitiveness. Both men and women produce testosterone, but women produce about 70 percent less than men. Thus, according to journalist Iain Murray, “Testosterone is crucial in making men men—literally.”

Similarly, women produce a large quantity of a hormone called oxytocin, which promotes bonding and affiliation. According to researchers, both men and women produce oxytocin, but women produce it in greater quantities. Moreover, researchers contend that testosterone counteracts the effect of oxytocin, while estrogen, the primary female hormone, enhances it. Oxytocin promotes affection within relationships, but it is most known for enhancing the maternal instinct. Scientists maintain that oxytocin is released during childbirth and breastfeeding and is responsible for creating a strong bond between mother and child. The fact that women are more affected by oxytocin than men, according to experts, helps explains why women are often better nurturers and caretakers than are men. Male/Female Roles | Introduction

We are concerned that our Church leadership had predetermined goals before General Synod commenced. To achieve these goals, when delegates were working from a model of democracy, was always going to take a level of manipulation from the Chair. We assume such an approach was seen by the male leaders to be strong leadership, however, another view on this style of leadership is to label it as more typically male. Gender Differences and Leadership If we consider a more female (oxytocin driven) style of leadership, which includes process, consensus and building relationships we have a stark contrast in styles and a revealing view into what the LCA might look like with female leadership in the form of women clergy.

The consequences of the outcome of leadership style is an increased cynicism within the Church and a decreased faith in due process and lay involvement. We need a genuine pastoral leadership from the Chair of our General Synod. When the Chair becomes partial and enters or manipulates the debate, delegates begin to lose their democratic choice and their spirit. The Chair needs to establish a brutal impartiality and, especially in the church setting, provide strong pastoral support to those from opposing points of view.

It is humbling to view/read Bishop (ELCA) Mark Hanson’s pastoral address to delegates at their Eleventh Churchwide Assembly. This was in regards to the delicate topic of gay and lesbian ordination within the ELCA. The LCA needs such leadership.  Leadership that reflects Christian theology of reconciliation, growing together, process and consenus.


Posted by on November 27, 2010 in politics, sociology


Tags: , , , , ,

10 responses to “The Testosterone Behind Male Leadership

  1. nicolaas voorendt

    November 28, 2010 at 7:45 am

    When a church official counsels its doubtful members to vote ‘status quo’, then that church is not reflecting NT theology, which, in joyful spirit always encourages Christians to join God in doing a new thing. In the spirit of the NT, those in doubt about women’s ordination could vote for giving it a go rather than holding back, and then seeing what happens. If it does not work, go back to status quo. But you’d be surprised. Behold, I’m doing a new thing, is a very fulfilling way to live life. The physical unity of the LCA is nothing compared to living a rich, full and meaningful life which many will experience when we become adventurous enough to approve female ordination

    • Barney & Co

      November 12, 2011 at 4:10 am

      Voting to leave the Status Quo, is demonstrably easier than voting to return to the old status quuo. The doctrine of the Lutheran Church is always Lutheran, if the church changes does NOT mean that the doctrine has changed, it means that the people have changed.

  2. witsend

    December 1, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I’m sure there’s something in the hormonal make up, but, I’m not sure it would be assignificant if there wasn’t so much nurture as well. I remain convinced that a good proportion of these gender differences are coached – whether consciously or sub-consciously.

    • Barney & Co

      November 12, 2011 at 4:18 am

      Interesting thought, I am of the male gender and yet I can cook (bake, braise, bake, stir-fry etc) [although my wife is a better cook], I can also iron my own shirts, sew, knit, and even crochet, but I can also put a couple of planks together, I built a number of boats [one of my daughters can also she is a carpenter], I can also lay bricks. So what would you say I am; a man or a hormonal admixture of genders?


      Ubi Verbum Christi, ibi Veritas

  3. Katie and Martin

    November 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

    A key issue seems to be Barney, that you hold creation has been completed, whereas we hold that God’s revelation and creation live on in this speedily changing world. We have yet much to learn about love and grace.
    Using proof-texts is a shallow manner to discuss theology. They can be convincing for those with little theology but for those who know a little about hermeneutics a broader discussion on Scriptural interpretation is required.
    When the scriptures were being laid down by inspired but sinful humans, the place of women was akin to women today in the Middle East today, and the position of gay and lesbian people was very delicate indeed. There are many lenses through which we might read Scripture, but proof-texts don’t provide the authority that we might be searching for.
    You quote Scripture elsewhere as proof that we are not to eat with homosexual people. We take it that you have no gay nor lesbian members of your family. How would you show Jesus’ love to a grand-daughter who came out to you? We can’t see that you would be insisting that she eats at another table.

    • Barney & Co

      November 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      The sexual immoral are only one in a group that the Bible proscribes for us to have contact with. and yes we have one of a different sexual persuasion in our family, a brother in law is the “lovee” in a two man relationship. He has separated himself from his brothers and sisters. BTW I did not write the Bible, the Word of God was inspired by God to HIS scribes.
      It is a fair question “How would you show Jesus’ love to a granddaughter who came out?” to be honest I do not know because that situation has not arisen. I love all my girls – wife, daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter – no male descendants you see. Should one of the single granddaughters “come out” I would in the first place pray intensely for them, but that is an academic subject.


      Ubi Verbum Christi, ibi Veritas

      • Katie and Martin

        November 15, 2011 at 6:30 am

        Here’s how it would go if your grand-daughter came out to you:
        “Oh! Heck! I’ve tried praying for change in her, but I think I’ll love her anyway, for without her in my life I would be heartbroken.”
        “Yes, I’ll still have her at table, for anything else would be legalistic and less than loving.”
        “Maybe I have to reconsider whether my original response was based in love or law. I think Jesus would understand my problem and counsel me to keep loving her regardless of what happens in her life or mine.”
        “Wow! I’m still learning about love.”

        Barney, this is not academic. These are real lives found in every community, and probably within your own congregation.

        • Christian P.J. Bahnerth

          November 29, 2011 at 4:06 am

          K&M, noneof my grad-daughters (4) has “come out” i.e. publicly stated that she is of an other sexual pesuasion than her maternal family; hence, to us it is a case that caanot be foreseen. We would be deeply hurt and also ashamed, but as far a withholding our love, I do not know.


          • AB

            December 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm

            If you could see that your daughter was happy and in love, why would you feel deeply hurt and Oashamed?

  4. Kristen

    November 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    With regards to not having contact with certain people, the Bible does say that in certain circumstances a group of believers can, as a group, decide not to fellowship with certain persons. I see nothing in the Bible that extends that to family members, or that says family members can or should cast out other family members, regardless of what they’ve done.


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