The Word Before the Word: Beginning a Dialogue on Women, the Church and Gender-Prejudice
I’ve recently received requests to address several issues regarding women in the church – which is super, SUPER exciting!
(I’m still open to more suggestions/questions, by the way, so if you have something you’d like to read about please let me know!)
But before we dive into the tumultuous waters of male headship and women as pastors, I want us to be clear on one thing:
When we talk about women’s rights, we are not just talking about women’s rights.
We aren’t even necessarily talking mainly about women’s rights.
When we talk about women, their rights, their abilities and callings
When we talk about gender prejudice, abuse and gender based violence
We are not just talking about women.
We are talking about how we – as human beings- fundamentally view God and our fellow brothers and sisters on this spinning globe. Because, you see, how we view God shapes our reality. How we view God determines how we treat others.
I believe that the gender-based disparities we are witnessing in the church today stem primarily from a re-creation of God in our own image.
Growing up, the god I heard about was white, upper-middle class, American and very stereotypical male. He had flowing blonde hair, a spotless white robe and he encouraged people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
Never mind that Jesus – God made flesh – was from the Middle East, most likely poor (or, if he had any wealth, he gave it up upon the beginning of His public ministry at the age of 30), Jewish and a man who undermined nearly every male stereotype of His day.
Let’s be clear here:
When we talk about women, we are not just talking about women.
When we talk about who get’s to lead households or churches, we’re talking about control.
When we talk about women, we are talking about who do we believe holds the power in this world.
Is power, authority and control in the hands of Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer God or in systems, structures and social orders?
When we base our ideas on what the standards for leadership are not on a Middle Eastern Jew who gave up all His possessions to heal the sick, love the outcasts, sit down and eat with prostitutes, and weep over cities but instead on the American dream circa 1950 we are committing idolatry.
We have formed God in our own image, and in turn we have used our lesser god to define the image which we bear.
We have belittled God and as a result belittled ourselves as well.
So in the coming weeks as we move forward
This is not just about women.
This is not even primarily about women.
It’s about how we see God.
Do we see God as God is, or as we would like for God to be?
(if you can answer that without wrestling, then you probably aren’t really answering at all)
Let our hearts be soft,
Our souls malleable,
And may we tune in to the thick presence of Holy Spirit all around and in and through us.