The Christian blog world lit up this past week with posts and comments all centering around a post by Jared Wilson on The Gospel Coalition web site. Long story short, Wilson wrote a statement about male authority which allowed for a reading advocating marital rape. He later posted an apology / clarification that he was advocating the exact opposite of how it could legitimately be read. He still advocates male authority in church and family but does not advocate marital rape. Ok, that can happen when you intend one thing and it is so clear in your own mind that you don’t even notice the other message present.
Beyond the egregiousness of what was originally posted is the stark reminder of how difficult it is within the Chrisitian community to be an advocate of women AND men. It seems easier to pit one sex against the other rather than to celebrate both. It’s the ultimate both/and versus either/or debate.
I’ve had a lot of affirmation over the years. I thought I found my place serving where I was wanted. I gravitated to ministries where being a woman was either celebrated or a non-issue. I have also been in places which gave a lot of lip service to being in favor of women in ministry but in reality liked the progressive exterior and still treated women differently, and by differently I mean poorly. These are some of the same people who speak and write on being pro-women.
Thankfully, I do have many, many experiences where the question of a woman in leadership is not even an issue. I have just finished a beautiful week serving as a co-pastor with my good friend Nick Palermo at a camp for teens with disabilities. We spent the week looking at unlikely people God set in place regardless of the junk the world names as desirable. We intentionally had a male and female speaker, preached from the Old and New Testaments, chose Biblical characters who were male and female. We never said it, but modeled throughout the entire week the worth of both sexes. It was an incredible experience. One where we were not only open to the Holy Spirit, but by design made room for the Spirit’s leading.
I can hardly believe on many days that women in leadership is still a topic of conversation. I am so glad that I have moved to places of service where both men AND women are celebrated! I’m done with those who proclaim equality but merely offer lip service, and with those who highlight their “inclusiveness” by including a token woman within a male dominant community so that they may feel like or demonstrate that they are inclusive.
Really? Are we still having this conversation?
The answer is yes, and we need to keep having it. Some of you, male and female, will be told again that you are wrong to advocate equality. Some of you will go places you think are safe only to find out later that someone feels threatened, or is a hypocrite or doesn’t have the courage to stand up for what he or she believes. Hang in there! You are not crazy! God longs for us to work together in ways where both men and women are celebrated.