“Mama? Why are they all men?”
My daughter’s innocent question came when the deacons and elders of our church were called to come pray over a beloved leader in our church at the end of the morning service.
Her question was not loaded or argumentative, yet it drew out those things in me. I pushed back the thing in me holding my pride in check when I thought, yeah? Why are they all men? Are the prayers of women any less effective? I marinated in aggravation for a few moments.
If I’m honest, I let myself marinate for the whole day. Later that afternoon a very good friend was ordained in the same sanctuary, and the whole scenario played out all over again. Men in authority praying over him at the front.
By the end of the day, I was put off by what I allowed myself to perceive as sexism.
I find while I struggle less during this phase of life with who God is, it hasn’t stopped me from struggling with what the rules of “the faith” are and who exactly put those rules into place. Every few years a new question arises in my life taking me to the wrestling mat with my Father.
The latest questions relate deeply to a strong feminist streak inside me. More specifically, I’ve questioned what I have been told all of my life about the role of women in the church, workplace and home.
Before my daughter even asked the question, my heart had been questioning.
What is the role of women in the church?
Should gender matter in the church?
From the time I was 13, my mom raised me alone. As a kid, I didn’t buy into what I was taught about gender roles. They didn’t apply at our house. I saw my mom in all of the roles a father was “supposed” to fill from day to day, in addition, to her womanly roles. She filled both because it was necessary, not out of rebellion.
This is where that feminist streak had its conception. Believing the lines of gender roles are so clear cut is hard for me, because I saw my mom taking care of business, at a time I was becoming a woman myself. She wasn’t challenging authority, she was getting what needed to be done, done.
Here is where the enemy got me.
I have absolutely been under the sexist, oppressive authority of a man more than once in my life. Oppression is not what was happening this particular Sunday, but I began to entertain the idea that it was happening. I was very wrong. That is my confession to you and God.
What actually happened on this particular Sunday was a thing of beauty and grace. In both scenarios that Sunday, both men and women all across the sanctuary were lifting up these two men who had loved and cared for them as if they were family. They were unified as a body of believers in bringing their hopes, desires, fears and praises before a God they all believed was merciful and loving.
It didn’t matter where the women were. I have faith their prayers were equally effective.
Yes, my church follows historically traditional gender roles within its governing body. Is that ever going to change? I don’t know if it matters right now. I have time to wrestle with God a little more on this, because in the end, I know it’s His grace on my life that ultimately matters more.
When we let our pride hackle up over any issue, it’s time to sit back and examine exactly why. There are times when we see true oppression happening, and in those moments, we may be called to take a stand against it.
I’m still studying and praying and wrestling with God over my beliefs when it comes to women in authority in the church. I am finding He’s teaching me humility, which is as important as the truth I’m searching for. Without it, I will likely do more damage than good.
When I revisit this conversation with my daughter, I want her to understand this. I want her to pray in the confidence of her Father and not in the confidence of her sex.
What are the issues you wrestle with God over? Take a moment today and do a pride check. You may be on a path to truth, but is that path being obscured by pride or hidden anger from your past?Wherever you land on the role of women in the church, know that they are equal.Click To Tweet
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