Dear Christian Man,
Dear Christian Man,
You’ve probably noticed, but as a male in the Christian world, you really do have a place of privilege over your fellow sisters. I write you this open letter so that you might consider how important it is that you use that privilege well.
To those of you who love your sisters (intentionally and practically as opposed to just in theory), see them as equal, gifted and necessary, and treat them as such. Thank you. Thank you for recognising that our input might actually be worth listening to, that my views are not secondary to yours and that we women have too been called to partner with you in the ministry. The great commission. A commission so great that there’s no way it’s going to be fulfilled with only half of the population doing anything about it while the other half stay at home and…knit.
Before you read this as another feminist rant, I’d urge you not to. I’m not a feminist. In fact, I’m anything but, to be honest. I love my husband deeply and long to respect his leadership as head of our household. I understand that men and women are different. Different strengths/weaknesses. Different? Yes. Unequal? No.
Up until a few months ago, I’d have labelled myself a complementarian. I’ve listened to countless talks and read almost as many articles on the ‘women preaching/teaching/leading’ argument. Recently, a well-known complementarian’s podcast shared his view on the fact that he’d put question marks over women operating as police officers. I had to take stock at that point. Think about all of the voices I listen to on this topic and decide whether, actually, because of them, I’d put myself in a box. A box I was longing to climb out of. The other day, I was by myself in my study reading (egalitarian) R.T France’s ‘Women in the Churches Ministry’. It was refreshing to read an academic, juxtaposing point of view to my norm, but I still found myself saying (out loud, to nobody) ‘this is exhausting.’ I could hear the (equally academic) complementarian rebuttals in my head.
I’m exhausted with searching and never finding solidarity in our voices as a body. I think that you men have a big part to play in moving things forward. You might grapple with the ‘can they/can’t they’ debate when it comes to women in speaking/church leadership, but I think (and do correct me if I’m speaking out of turn here) that a lot of you grapple ‘when I’ve got the time’ or ‘when I get round to it.’ Because whether you agree or disagree, it doesn’t stop you in your tracks- no one’s putting question marks over your head as you stand at the pulpit to speak on Sunday.
So, as I continue to prayerfully search for genuine Biblical truth, I have some requests, gentlemen. Sometimes, I lower my voice, lessen my mind and quieten my input for fear of judgemental glances and awkward conversations. If you think that what I have to say is actually valid, then please don’t agree with my silence by silencing yourself and saying nothing to me. Please don’t allow your insecurities to meet my search. Find me with Truth.
At this point, some would say ‘it’s not about what they think, what do you think? What does God say?’ and I’d agree. But as I previously mentioned, there’s thousands of ways in which the Bible has been commented on with regards to these verses and I’m not a woman who’s trying to usurp anyone’s authority. I believe there’s a call on my life and I try to walk in it as best I can by God’s grace. But to me, making a comment like that is akin to someone having a total makeover, which everyone thinks is great and yet no one actually says anything to the transformed. If they are super confident, they’ll probably continue to believe their makeover was a success, even if no one ever says a thing. But what of the not so confident convert who thought they looked great until no one said a word. Maybe they’ll go back to their pre-transformed ways none the wiser about the fact that everyone thought their makeover was a huge improvement. Similarly, imagine someone wearing the most ridiculous outfit possible. No one says anything. They continue to wear it, thinking they look great. All because no one has the heart to say ‘maybe not, dear.’ The conclusion in both instances? Silence is not the answer. We’re human, I’m human. People like to know that others are behind them. It’s not always insecurity. Sometimes it’s a desire for solidarity. It’s like a team of tired footballers’ morale’s being boosted when their fans start cheering for them.
So, brothers, if any of what I’ve said makes sense, please do your sisters a favour and say something. Cheer for us. Sometimes your silence is more powerful than you know.