Often in brain-dead moments I will scan my Facebook or Twitter news feed. This morning I came across a post from Michael Frost which linked to the twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear, and intrigued, I clicked on the tag.
If you are not on social media you can look at this blog by Rachel Elizabeth Asproth where 55 of the top tweets are collated. It is an interesting list, mostly of direct quotes that women report being said to them in the context of church.
Apart from the odd one (and some were very odd), the overall sentiments could be summarized as:
- Women shouldn’t teach men (either because the Bible says so or because they are too emotional).
- Women shouldn’t be in leadership
- Women are responsible for the sexual behaviour of men
- A Women’s identity should be defined by marriage and children
There is something confronting about hearing these messages put into verbatim quotes by real people. While I understand the theological position that some of these views come from, as I hear the actual words I can only imagine how painful they would be to hear.
I work on a pastoral team with some remarkable women. One person in particular has been a mentor for me and has been a pioneer in the denomination I have been working with.
Wendy felt God calling her to pastoral ministry long before women could be pastors in my denomination, in fact its only been in the last decade where she has finally been recognized as a Pastor, and only a couple of years ago that she was officially ordained. Despite this Wendy has faithfully served the function of pastor both in local churches and also at the denominational bible school.
Wendy turns 60 this weekend and is getting ready to retire. She has spent her whole life in a system that didn’t have a way to officially recognise the obvious call of God on her life until her last few years of ministry. She doesn’t make a big deal about it, but it is obvious that it has not been a simple journey. In a culture where women were meant to be married with children, Wendy was single and exercising leadership in churches that didn’t know how to recognise what she was doing.
Wendy will tell you about the men along the way that encouraged her and made space for her, but she will also (if you ask enough of the right kinds of questions), give a little glimpse into the pain of trying to follow God’s call on her life in a world that didn’t really understand or appreciate what it meant for her. …