This is all a little overwhelming for me, all this discussion. Never in a million years did I expect such traffic through my small corner! I’m glad it has come up (kind of) and I’m glad its given others a chance to ruminate, illuminate and elucidate! Most of all I’m glad that this is bigger than me. Permit me, however, to share where I’m at in it all since it all began…
I think there are two reasons to proceed with caution here…
Firstly, its so helpful to have input from people who have had time to think through this stuff and are further down that road in general. I’m aware that I’m not quite ready to do all the reading myself. Not because I enjoy the torment of not really knowing, but rather that I’m still relatively new to this whole issue, as are – and no doubt will be – a lot of women out there. To have spent my life so far eking out what it really means to be feminine from all the messages bombarding me only to come face to face with people who believe that my worst fears of not being what I should be are confirmed ‘clearly’ by God in the Bible – that is pretty damn difficult.
I’m in mourning. I don’t mean that I spend every waking moment thinking about this stuff, so sorry if that sounds pretentious, but it’s the best way I can describe it – mourning. I could discover a whole list of convincing arguments, but the fact remains that there are people (not just men!) within the church of Christ who exclude and judge not only me but everyone of my gender: they have done so and will continue to do so for years.
It is good to know, though, that I’m not alone on the road much less travelled.
Secondly, the problem with having lots of convincing reasons as to why my instincts are right, is that the temptation to clamber up on a high horse is immense. For whilst clever reasoning shows that Jesus’ ministry displays much counter-cultural grace and acceptance of women, doesn’t it also model the rejection of judgementalism and self-righteousness…?
I wrote about a friend who told me I was thinking too deeply; but in his defence, I hadn’t thought it worth much consideration either. I don’t think I realised that it would ever really affect me until very recently. Naïve, I know – especially for a woman. But if I have been ignorant, then can I really condemn men for not considering the issue at length when they’re even further from the equation?
I nearly walked away from a conversation in church this morning about this ‘kerfuffle’, because my feelings around the debate are still red raw and more often than not, tears spring unbidden (as in, more so than usual!) – not so much because I know what ‘side’ the person in front of me is on, but more because I don’t know how I’ll handle it if they disagree with my gut instincts.
The hijacking of ‘feminism’ which gives the term a very negative, militant connotation is deeply regrettable and is not something I want to be associated with. Especially not in the name of the gospel. I don’t want to react in a way that makes men everywhere to feel guilty over the way this has all panned out. Okay, let’s be honest here – part of me wants them to feel the crapness of it all and to wallow at length in the mire that has been perpetuated ever since the Fall. But is that the gospel? Nope. Not as I understand it.
How then…? What do I do with all this? Where do I go from here? Am I ready to move on?
I’m still not sure.
In the end, I had that conversation over coffee in church. It was good – it was just a young man and a young woman discussing the fact that their thoughts on the matter are inconclusive. And you know what? If a conversation like that helps just one person to open up to thinking about the role of women in church, then I’m going to try not to walk away from that. Even if it means being in a public place, a snivelling wreck covered in snot.