When I was fifteen, I had an argument with a cute, fourteen year old girl about how women shouldn't ever be pastors of churches. With clobber-verses in hand, I attempted to club her into God-ordained submission.
But she could wrinkle her nose like Julia Roberts, she was feisty, and she wasn't having it.
I think mostly I was just arguing with her because the night before she'd kissed my older brother instead of me. Her aunt -- whose house we were all visiting -- had caught them at it on the stairs. I think maybe something deep down in my twisted little fifteen year old heart wanted to punish her for being so... inaccessible.
Fast-forward me eighteen years to a guy who now rolls his eyes at that teenage boy and wishes he didn't have to admit he'd ever participated in that sort of nonsense -- the nonsense of little boys who are too insecure to enjoy and appreciate women, just for who they are. The nonsense that sees it as no small thing to write off the leadership-capabilities of half the people on the planet.
Oh, but we're all so grown-up now, aren't we -- letting them run companies and governments and even become the pastors of (some types of) churches? Gone are the days when we loudly quote that Paul-dude's verses about women not teaching men or having authority over them, all while looking the other way as women-schoolteachers, women-missionaries (it's different if their skin isn't white?), and the mothers of teenage boys went about their business.
Sadly, the world is not without its share of old-guard saber-rattlers -- a fact that doesn't depress me anymore, but only because I stay intentionally ignorant of all their stupid power-grubbing. They've still got a lot of power and influence, sure, but not over me. Not any more. And since I'd rather tell a story that exposes their hypocrisy (check out "A Man You Can Count On" in my short story collection) than let myself get embroiled in their games, I choose to find my hope for change in other places.
I find hope, for example, in the blogs of a few strong, smart women teachers who've created on the internet an amplifier for voices too-long silenced by status-quo protectorates... by all the jilted teenaged boys who are pissed off because the girlsies won't give them what they wantsies.
These women -- despite the constant roar of Angry Men and the-women-they've-subdued -- patiently and persistently use their internet-amplified voices to fight back against untruth, believing that their tears and the hate-mail they receive are a price worth paying for the healing and restoration to be found at the other side of the communication-rainbow. These women act in the faith that there are plenty of men and women out there who are not pointlessly angry, but who are ready and willing for the voice of truth to be spoken into their lives.
I have hope for the honor of Christ's name in America because of these women.
I don't know why that eighteen year old argument has stuck with me; but it has, and there have been times when I've wished I could track down the young girl I'd tried to badger with the regurgitated arguments of my forbears and tell her she was right. She was killed in a tragic accident a few years later, though, so this is one regret I will just have to live with.
In her place, I honor the Elizabeth Esthers and the Rachel Held Evanses out there for being a voice for love, grace and peace in a world of clobber-verses and gendered entitlement.
I have hope -- because of the price they pay -- that things will change.
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