Sunday, November 3, 2013

Searching for Great Women and Men in Church History

This is my second part of a post. You can read the first part here.


"I befriended a man once, an old Irish-Catholic chaplain named Paul. One day he said do you know what God’s going to ask you when you get to heaven? God’s going to ask if you found out who you were supposed to be." - John Blase, The Doubt

Turns out that when you search on the internet for “Great Women in Church History,” you find out that women are intimidating and we might take over the world. Therefore, we must be stopped.

You think I’m kidding. Try the title of this famous sermon from John Knox:

First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women

No joke. Monstrous Regiment of Women.

The page I pulled up also included misogynistic quotes from Origen, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.

Oh dear…

So, I’m thinking about what this means for my girls. For the one who declared she will be a “girl pastor” and the older one with leadership leanings.

I know this: I won’t squelch it. I want to find healthy ways of feeding into what God is already doing in their hearts, even if their little heart is only in Kindergarten.

As I think about these things for myself and for my girls, I’m preparing to read a book called Jesus Feminist. I know. The title is…interesting, huh?

I’m very excited about this book. Not because I believe in girl power. Not because I want to adopt this title for myself. In fact, I think we better consider long and hard and pray and converse with trusted people if we are going to adopt a strong title like feminist. I’m excited because the author of this book recently said this about Jesus Feminist:

“…the book is less about Christian feminism and more about the kingdom of God and what it looks like when we are all walking in fullness and freedom together. I see it as this kind of a love letter, maybe a provocative love letter, to the church that I really love to come outside.”

We need some sort of this call to the church. We need better ways of living out what God has called for all of His children, men and women. How can it be the good news otherwise? Would Jesus die for life, full and abundant, to be handed only to a select few, limited by gender, race, or age?

I think not.

As we talk about the ideas of equality and let the conversation of God’s gifting to each of His children open up, I want to be cautious of not sliding into saying this “movement” can only come from women now, given the history of what men have said and done that was oppressive.

While I want my girls to be surrounded by strong women who are confidently living out of who God made them to be, I can say the same about the men. I want the girls in the presence of men who step out in faith and trust Him with His church, all of His church. In fact, I know from my own life that I gained a lot of my own voice from a handful of respected men who saw not my gender but my place in God’s kingdom. They heard me and treated me like a human being, never a second-rate child of God who should know my place and my (man-made) roles. They opened up opportunities for me to use my words and talents among God’s people with no questions asked.

That is what I hope for in the church. That is what I dream of when I think of my son, still in my womb, growing up do too.

We can’t change the past in the church, and I believe there are still female role models in church history to help my girls discover. We have found a few to read about: Deborah (judge and military leader from the Book of Judges), Blandina and Joan of Arc (Christian martyrs and saints), Catherine Booth and Evangeline Booth (founders of the Salvation Army, mother and daughter!).

In addition, I will keep talking with Kyla about leadership and allow Kaelyn to tell me over and over about all she wants to be when she grows up. They should know what it’s like to be able to express themselves with confidence and receive respect.

I will surround them with God’s people who offer space for my little women to do the same.

I will sit them in the front row this week as we watch their daddy take some vows and put on a stole, symbolizing a yoke, around his neck to show his willingness to step into his calling as a priest in God’s church. They know this calling has taken five long years of walking through an ordination process to complete. They have walked it with us.

May we as the people of God never be a monstrous regiment of anything. May we be fully His, fully free, and fully living into who He gifted all of us to be.

What will a young mom find when she searches on the internet for that in a century?

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