I have been kicking around the idea for some time, this notion of having a set theme that I write about on a regular schedule. I blogged about this and put up a poll, asking readers for input in what topic would be of interest. The results were clear : write about those who are champions of equality for women in the world of church. (you can see the poll HERE)
I’ve written much already on the issue of Chrisitanized discrimination in faith communities. I even wrote a book about it, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church. I’ve definitely struck a chord with many women who leave me their comments about their experiences as well as many emails from those who’ve read Unladylike. It is an unfortunate reality that in the 21st century misogyny is not only alive and well in all kinds of churches, but it is also defended as a biblical value.
It is my commitment to continue speaking up, to tell it true and tell it strong. I will continue to speak out against the injustice of the treatment of women in the institution of church. One way I will do this is by spotlighting the stories of those who are resisting Christian sexism and dismantling the patriarchal stronghold that is deeply entwined in the church’s DNA. Such champions are often deemed as out of the bounds of scripture if they insist on an egalitarian view of women. The label heretic or heresy is inferred when someone challenges a traditional Bible interpretation. I want to use the word heretic by claiming it as a badge of honor, as well as a play on words, Thus, HERetic of the Week has been created and will be posted every Friday.
These are the women and men who could no longer pretend that all is well. Once they began to see the inequity between their brothers and themselves a deep disquiet began to develop. It’s not a discontentment with men or ambitious lust for power and influence. No. It is the heartfelt desire for fairness, for men and women to be in true partnership rather than hierarchical ranking.
I applaud you, my Sisters and Brothers of the faith, who found courage to break off from the church systems that demean your personhood.
I commend you, those women AND MEN who have left your churches with your reputations under fire and your integrity challenged… Simply for asking : Does not scripture support women in all roles in church? Your leadership shunned you and marginalized you when you began questioning the ancient patriarchal structure that churches long ago embraced. But you kept dignity. You remained poised and gracious even as those who once praised you for your diligent service now wondered if you had fallen upon the slippery slope of biblical error. Those who have left out of a matter of conscience—You Inspire Me.
Your willingness to endure having your beliefs analyzed and your character inspected just for standing up for the full equality of women is a gift to the Church. Change comes when those who are willing to buck up against tradition do so. It costs something. I know many of those who left their churches in a spirit of protest had to work out their own doubts and fears. Am I crazy? Am I being too harsh? Is this a big deal, worth leaving my church over? Is equality of women a worthwhile battle to wage?
To those women and men who have wrestled with the injustice that swirled around them in the churches that they loved, I want to thank you for doing the hard thing of leaving.
I do not wish anyone to leave their church. “Pam, I’m sad to see that your book is causing women to leave their churches,” said a friend. “I’m sad about that, too,” I replied, “It makes me sad that the mistreatment of women goes unchecked in many churches and that women are forced to abandon the church systems they once held dear. It does sadden me.” But it would be even more saddening if women continued to make nice with inequality and left that as a legacy to the next generation of daughters coming up behind us
To my church refugee sisters and brothers who are blazing new trails in search of expressions of church where equality is a value and not a debate, I nominate you as HERetics of the Week with tremendous gratitude and admiration.
Your spirit of change is making a difference that will likely not be realized within your lifetime. But know this when you feel discouraged: You Are the Change!
***What about you? Are you a heretic? Male or female, have you left a church due to inequality or some other injustice that you could no longer remain complicit with? What do you think of the term heresy? Does it carry any weight anymore?