I am a Christian. To me, there is no purpose without the Lord and based on my experiences, I’ve seen and felt the presence of God in my heart. There’s no changing my mind on that.
I am a Christian… woman.
Now, that? That’s harder. It’s hard to be surrounded by male leadership in the church. It’s hard to be in a ministry where only men hold the highest staff position in the area. It’s hard to be around other women who don’t consider themselves feminists because of their belief in God.
Based on my experience in the church today here’s what I’ve seen. Disclaimer, I know that my experience is narrow, and does not represent every church or the experiences of others. But I also don’t think it’s very unusual either. And until it changes everywhere, wrongdoing must be called out. So I am:
The role of women in the church is not to lead. We are the nursery workers, the small group coordinators, the ones in the kitchen preparing the food for the lunch after the service. We can be in the choir or play the piano and sit in the aisles and look pretty. Maybe we’ll get the chance to make an announcement about an event we are doing in the community. But that’s it. And don’t push it.
I am a part of a Christian ministry on campus. In this ministry, women make up about 2/3 of the volunteers. But men are the one’s constantly being put on pedestals, being asked to perform skits for the rest of us. And of the staff members in the area? Men hold the highest position, and make more money. They do not represent the majority women who volunteer as a part of the organization.
I think the Church is starting to move in the right direction. The small, conservative church I was raised in recently hired an interim pastor who was a woman. This should seem normal, and I’d argue that it of course should be. But it was a very big deal, simply because it’s the first time a woman has ever been a pastor in that church in the over 200 years of its existence.
Beth Moore, a prominent Christian author wrote an open letter to men in the church calling them higher in their ministry. She kindly called out the injustices she’s seen in her church and the things that she wants to change. Her words are far more graceful than they could have been for the things she’s experienced. It paints an honest picture of the experience of many women in the church.
The sexism against women in the church is often “rooted” in scripture. It’s a cheap excuse to justify misogyny. Women and men worship the same God. We are not different in that and our gender does not change our God. And if the Lord has given me the gift of teaching and speaking then why, simply because I am a woman, should I not use it?
Women are not weak or simple minded or only good at background tasks. I’ve seen the spirit of the Lord in so many of my girlfriends. It is a powerful, roaring force that should be taken seriously.
Misogyny will not shake my faith. But it hurts. The church needs to be representative of all peoples, women and men, black and white, gay or straight. The purpose of the church is to be a place of refuge and welcoming. And I pray it starts to look more like this soon.