We Are we back to page one? Do we need to gather some recommendations to prove our validity to you? Or do we need to take your letter of commendation to others to gain credibility? –2 Corinthians 3:1 (The Voice)
My parents instilled a great gift in me. The gift of equality. My dad, in particular, treated men and women as equal. No small fete since he was a professor and department chair of Industrial Engineering. From the early 1960s-the late 1990s. Not exactly a woman-friendly era or subject. But he judged people based on their competency and integrity. So when the first woman came to the department in the early 1970s, my dad was one of the few that showed her tremendous respect.
Because of that upbringing, it’s always confused me how many churches will let women do all the ‘dirty’ work, but not have any real power or ‘permission’ to preach from the pulpit or anywhere that men are present. I’ve had all the scriptures tossed up at me whenever discussions get to the point where my perspective is ‘winning.’
In the game of church, there are two decks. One for men, one for women. The decks are mostly the same with the exception of one card. The men have it in their deck, and it can be played at any time and as often as needed. It never runs out.
Usually, the card is thrown in a declaration, “Oh, yeah, well the Bible says that ‘women are to keep silent in church.'” Or, “Oh, yeah, well Paul said ‘I don’t permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,’ so you need to back down.” And most recently, “You may have a point, but can you submit to my authority.”
There’s really no answer to it. It’s designed to put a woman in her place and secure the established order. All under the guise that it’s what God has declared, so we can’t question it.
The trump card has been played. And women have lost the game.
Frankly, I’ve wondered why women get married, if all we have to look forward to is a life of submission to our husbands and our pastors. Why would a woman want to follow Jesus, if that’s the message?
Okay, so this post could go to an ugly place of soapboxes and ‘My sisters in Christ ARISE.’ But what good comes of that type of ranting? Instead, let’s look at solutions.
- We need to stop accepting this treatment. Seriously, if we stop volunteering or going to church, eventually the establishment has to listen to us. We comprise more than 50% of church attenders. We comprise 75% or more of the volunteer force. We can throw our own trump card which carries greater weight than the ‘submission/authority’ trump card. And we can in good conscience play our non-compliance card. Shadrach, Meshach and Adbednego were in full submission to the king when they refused to bow down to the idol. We have bowed down to the male-dominance idol long enough.
- We have to value ourselves, our voice, and think about the future generations of women us who deserve the treatment that Jesus gave women.
What we give or don’t give (financial and time) can make a church flourish or fail. Am I suggesting blackmail? Maybe? But haven’t we been held hostage long enough. I am suggesting how to pay-off the ransom and negotiate freedom.
- We need you and your support! It starts with how you treat the women in your life. And how you value what we offer. Do you believe that women are equal (not the same) to men? Do you believe that God speaks to women at the same level and with the same authority that God speaks to men? Do you believe that God is only masculine? Because I can give you a plethora of scriptures to refute that thinking. We have to see ourselves as ‘one’ and not as opposing sides.
- If you are a man in leadership:
- Look for opportunities to encourage women to use their giftings.
- Hire an equal number of women to men–and have at least one woman in a senior-level leadership position (pastor, co-pastor, assistant/associate pastor, etc.).
- Listen to their ideas, thoughts, interpretations … and act on some of them.
- Back them with resources and your mentorship to give them a shot at succeeding. This way may require you to sacrifice a little of your time spent on other church matters, but the rewards will be great.
- If there is opposition to women having more power in the church, stand with us and be willing to fight for us! Do your research in the Bible and use your sermons to validate women in the Gospel story.
- If you are not in leadership:
- Use your credible voice with the leaders. Male leaders will listen to another man, because you have greater access to relationship with them.
- Have coffee with them and talk about how to make room for more women to teach, preach, lead.
- Share how women have shaped your life and that without women’s instruction, presence, leadership, perspective you would not be whole.
- Explain that the Body of Christ needs us all.
- Offer to look at Bible passages and various interpretations with them.
- You also can withhold money and volunteer time. Again, without those resources, churches will have to change their policies to conform more to the teachings of Jesus and the biblical attitude of God toward women.
It will take time–more than one coffee meeting. And it will be hard. But worth it when you think of how your mother, sister, aunt, daughter, granddaughter, female friends have been or will be treated in the name of Christ.
We have been led to believe that we don’t have much power. We have compromised our own value and bought into the lie that ‘God doesn’t allow women to lead if men are involved.’ Both men and women have suffered from this lie. Isn’t it time we ‘trump’ the trump card?
I welcome comments! Please keep them respectful and constructive.