Can you be a Christian and…
This seems to be a dominant conversation in my world. Almost every twenty or thirty-something I know is asking this.
I had a a young woman meet with me last week. Her biggest concern…can she be a feminist and a Christian? As we talked it was more can I be a feminist and part of a church? part of a Christian community? Everything she was reading in the Bible was setting her free. Everything she learned about Jesus brought life to her. She also has a group of friends who equated Christianity with Jesus and they let her know in no uncertain terms that Christianity was just a ruse for male domination. For men being in charge and stating why women were inferior. She didn’t see that in scripture. She doesn’t see that yet she was afraid to ask anyone in church. AFRAID! She was afraid this beautiful, loving, guiding, convicting, embracing voice of Jesus would be taken from her if she dared to ask questions. She both desperately wants to belong, to be in conversations, to grow in faith and is scared to death of finding out that what her feminist non-Christian friends have said might be true. We talked for a long time. We talked of the amazing creativity and openness of Jesus. We then talked of the struggle to be a Christian and…
Not in ministry (and don’t want to be)
In the military
A stay at home parent
A mom who doesn’t stay at home
Everything I listed above is from a similar conversation I have had in the last twelve months with someone about being a Christian and…
Seems for many people there is always someone telling them who is in and who is out. For most of the people with whom I talk, they’d like to be in. In fact they are reading the Bible, seeking Jesus, praying…and then they tell me why they have been excluded. It’s really confusing. They are facing toward Jesus, walking ever closer and yet are told why there is some barrier that they can never overcome unless they become other than what they are. Paul Hiebert famously wrote of this years ago in a conversation on bounded sets and centered sets. In short, one why of deciding who is in is by a strict boundary, the other way is by who is seeking Christ.
The passage that is most often quoted when we talk about this inability to be Christian and is Galatians 3:28. Pete Rollins says Galatians 3:28 “is not an expression of both/and in which we retain our identity when located in a new community of believers, but rather a neither/nor where we put aside those identities…Some worry that such an idea does violence to our particularity. But far from trying to pull back from the violence of this verse, perhaps we need to affirm it all the more strongly…” (Church in the Present Tense, p. 23, 25) In all fairness, I think Rollins was actually trying to widen the realm of possibilities for people to become “other” as transformation in Christ is experienced. His fatal flaw on this one point for me was in essentially pathologizing particularities. Just naming that he knows that is a criticism does not make it any less a valid critique.
So back to the young woman with whom I was meeting. Can she be a feminist and a Christian? I say yes. Just as I said yes to every other person with whom I have had this similar conversation. God never intended that we all be clones, looking, sounding and existing in one narrow model of what constitutes a Christian. Rollins names it, it is violence but not a violence to which we are to succumb. It is a violence from which we have been set free.
P.S. I did point her toward Sarah Bessey. What a fun conversation to let her know she is not alone on this journey!