I wouldn’t consider myself an expert at a great many things in life, like say, fixing a malfunctioning toaster, sewing a family quilt… or say, safely landing an airplane, or examining nanoparticles on a Scanning Electron Microscope. I’ll leave all of these things up to the experts… who knows, maybe I’ll muster up the wherewithal to attempt soon. But today, there is one thing I do consider myself an expert on. Women.
I have a pretty decent resume to support this. For starters, I’ve been one for a number of years. That’s got to count for something. I’ve felt the joys of womanhood. I’ve felt the pressures to emulate the front-page models of Vogue. For years, I sported long, glossy- brown hair that fell to the small of my back. Presently, as of last Thursday, half my head is shaved. I’ve taught women for years. I’ve been taught by women for years. I’ve been told (though I don’t agree) that motherhood is the highest calling of a woman. I’ve mentored and been mentored by women. I’ve felt the fears that women experience. I’ve held women’s hands and cried with them. I’ve stood behind women on their wedding days and held their newly born babies. I’ve fought for women who are sold into forced prostitution and trafficking. I’ve hugged women who have stories of bravery. I’ve been silenced because I am a woman. I’ve been honored because I am a woman. I’ve been taken advantage of because I’m a woman. I’ve been ignored because I am a woman. I’ve been through the good and bad of being a woman. I am a woman.
As I was driving my woman self through a neighboring city yesterday, I passed an electronic sign advertising what I thought to be a women’s self defense class. The sign belonged to a staunchly traditional, evangelical church and read: “Safety for Women: Come Thursday– 8:00pm!” As I read the flashing sign…the irony of it hit me like a truck. This church is not actually a safe place for women. Women can’t speak here. Women can’t lead. Women can’t preach. Women can’t even pray or teach in mixed company. Does that strike a nerve? Does something about it feel wrong in your spirit?
Well, it does in mine too.
Here’s what I know. I am a woman who is created, loved, and empowered by God, just like a man is. I follow the teachings of Christ, just like a man. I pray in Christ’s name, just like a man. I take communion–the body and blood of Christ– just like a man. I love in God’s name, just like a man.
I read about the women of scripture and I know they were not silent. I know when Paul proclaimed that women should be silent, the comment was contextual and not universal. I know that there were powerful women apostles and women prophets and that these women played a significant role in the early church. I know that women have much to offer in the ways of leadership and in the ways of making peace.
How long are we going to silence female bodied individuals? How long are we going to make the church an unsafe place for women to exercise their God-given gifts?
If you find yourself adamantly disagreeing with me, would you consider, just for a second, imagining yourself being ignored or silenced not because of what you had to say, but because of who you were biologically… something you had absolutely no control over. What if we’ve gotten this wrong? What if we’ve silenced generations of women who could have led us to the gospel?
Women, for your sisters and your daughters. Speak. Men, for your sisters and your daughters. Let us.
I’m not entirely sure that another generation will pass, letting this continue to happen. There are too many voices to be heard and no longer any ground to silence them. I know this. Because… I am a woman.
What is your story? You have a voice here on this blog and I would love to hear it.