This week I got a chance to hear Rachel Held Evans speak at one of the local universities in our area. I appreciate her writing and was excited to hear her. I was surprised by her gentle nature…she’s a fireball in her writing. She started with a story from her teens years that became a defining moment for her journey.
Here’s the deal, I can tell you have heard the same story from multiple women in their 20′s, 30′s, 40′s and 50′s. The common themes are mind blowing; they had heard the it from someone when they were a teenager, they were praised for their leadership skills followed by a statement that varies but is something like this…”it’s too bad your a girl and can’t be a pastor/preacher.”
Personally, I never heard that statement but I did hear a variation of it. I grew up in a denomination that ordained women. So, I was told what a great SINGLE missionary I would be some day.
All week I have been thinking about these stories.
And here are the problems with the word CAN’T:
1. Many women who I have encountered with this story have struggled with their faith. They doubt who they are and their place in God’s story. Why would He create them a certain way but not allow them to operate in their gifting.
2. Forgive me for sounding blunt…but maybe they can’t in your church or denomination BUT there are churches/denominations where they CAN. This isn’t about one denomination being better than another – it is just the simple truth that there are places in the church where a girl who is an Apostle or Pastor can be an Apostle or Pastor. I don’t know what it would look like for us to affirm a girl and then point her to another church but I have to believe it would be better than her doubting God and herself. (I am not sure that I could ever imagine this really happening but maybe that points to a bigger issue than just one about gender roles.)
3. “Because your a girl” – this statement makes me so sad because it speaks to the way society and unfortunately the church have devalued females. When we start with this statement as a reason not to be a pastor what we don’t understand (possibly because it is not understandable) is the way in which it gives permission for women to be perceived as less than…and I believe with all my heart that is just not biblical.
I am really not trying to be controversial. I am just grow weary of meeting women who wished someone would have said you can instead of you can’t. Women who doubted Jesus and the church because of a one little statement told to them when they were 15.
I pray that the church is becoming a place where we can dialogue openly and with love. I pray that less people, especially women, would be wounded by the words of those in positions of power in the church. Will you join me in this prayer? Will you join me changing the conversation?