It’ll be a challenge to hit “publish” with this one. It seems a wee bit too sensitive. But really, I just don’t feel I can call myself something like a Jesus feminist and leave it totally ambiguous…ya know?? ;) And this is about much more than me and my story.
This is about honoring the the hearts of all men and all women. About the innate, God-infused value and worth of humanity. This is about breaking shame-induced silence. Voices being heard. This is about freedom. Not just for women, but freedom for all. And this here, today, is about freedom from the bondage of systems and agendas and the misuse of leadership and of power. Freedom from pain and shame and then the unleashing of repressed dreams and stifled gifts. This is about the freedom for each beautifully crafted, intricately designed, man and woman to live wholly and confidently into the unique version of themselves they’re meant to be. YES.
It wasn’t until these past two years (I’m 26) that I began to really wonder. I’d finally found enough space to truly doubt. Truly question. And for this to be okay. To begin to probe and poke at the holes in my system of beliefs. Before that, questions felt sort of naughty and wrong. No one ever said so, but there was this underlying feeling that my questioning, my pushing back, my wondering, was a symptom of my immaturity, angst, and disrespect of authority. And at that point in my life, I was waaay too afraid to be seen in this light. Afraid of being a disappointment. Afraid of losing approval. So I had very few places which felt safe or that seemed to have time for my questions, confusion, and frustration. So I sort of stuffed them. Everyone else seemed to be quite confident in their “biblical interpretations.”
But these sorts of things don’t just leave. And eventually my environment changed as I entered a next and new season of life. And a brief conversation was had, which I will never forget. It went something like this:
Me: ”I’m feeling really excited about an open youth director position I found at a church. It seems like what was once my dream job. I’m not sure if it still is, but I applied just to see!”
in my head–>[“why is she not smiling at all…what’s going ooonnn…?”]
P: ”Hmm…do you feel like a female is really meant to have that kind of position?”
Me: (totally shocked, feeling dejected, but seeking approval) ”I guess I haven’t really thought about it at all…do you think that?”
P: ”Well, I mean, it is okay for a woman to help lead other young women… But I do not think it’s appropriate or biblical for a woman to be leading [young] men.”
I wonder what my face looked like. I’m not sure if I wanted to burst into tears or screams. Probably both, but I kept silent…
[my mind trying to comprehend)—> “So men can lead men and women. But women can only lead women.”
“But why is this, again?? I mean, in our college ministry, women are teaching and leading both men and women all the time. But yet only men should teach in church… how are the two different??”
“Because one is a ministry organization and the other is church…”
“So women can teach up front to hundreds…thousands..of men and women as part of a college ministry? Just not in church?”
“Right. In order to stay biblical.”
“So just take the pulpit away…give a woman a choir stand, and God approves?.. And then what is the church, anyway? Ooooh… the church is the people of God?? sooo…”
(is the confusion at least understandable, even if you disagree?)
So I left feeling a little hurt and a lot confused. Something in this wasn’t right..I was sure. But I didn’t have the verses and the rhetoric to explain why. My gut knew, but I still had so. many. questions.
I’m not going to get into all of the reasons why and how I have come to believe women, alongside men, can be and are called and gifted in any and every way. It’s been, and still is, quite the trip. Many people have been a part of my story. I think of a dear guy friend from college, encouraging me to read about *why women in ministry* (thankful for his grace and patience with me), new friends I’m making at seminary now, where women are following their call into pastoral ministry (YES), and even my friends who totally disagree, challenging me to continue to seek and probe and search for what’s true.
I think what will always be most striking to me is Jesus. How he lived his life. Jesus’ life…it was provocative, really. How he honored and treated women with the utmost dignity and equality. How he respected and elevated them in a culture in which women were seen as inferior in. every. way. Yes, Jesus’ way, breaking the cultural and societal norms, rules and regulations, but not just to break them. But because he knew the real and true way. The way of life and of love. He was and is the way. Jesus.
But I’m still learning. Perhaps that’s why this is difficult to share. And perhaps because I know I couldn’t win a scriptural argument over this. But this is not about that. I want none of that. I will respect those who disagree, and commend them for living by their conviction.
This post is my effort to share why I posted the picture [you see] on my facebook some time ago. Being a feminist isn’t really about being a feminist for me. Rather, it’s about striving to live rightly. To live truthfully. And for me, this means following and seeking to model after the life of Jesus. Because I really do believe he got it all right. It’s also about being a voice for the women who have been silenced or who have silenced themselves. It’s about speaking words of life and love. It’s about finding my voice. Katy’s voice. It’s about learning to use my voice. To live into my identity and my giftings. And in doing so, I hope that perhaps others may find the space and the courage to do the same.
Sarah Bessey in her book, Jesus Feminist, speaks to this beautifully. And she does so with the utmost grace, honoring and encouraging both men and women. Her poetic, story-telling style is my favorite and if you’re sincerely interested in this topic/issue, her book does it justice, scripturally and beyond. She’s able to encourage all people, regardless of age, race, religion. She has inspired me to find my own unique way and niche in following Christ. I think that is what he wants. Have you allowed yourself to find yours and own it, whatever it may be? Because the world needs you.