Yes, my dear friend, whatever frustrates you the most, you were probably born to change.
Carlos A. Rodriguez
Beth Moore wrote a blog post revealing her experience as a female leader in the conservative evangelical world https://blog.lproof.org/2018/05/a-letter-to-my-brothers.html This was a bold move, and one we have needed as we are seeing atrocities occurring in the name of the “gospel” to women. See this article: https://www.baptiststandard.com/opinion/voices/paige-patterson-abuse-comments-dangerous/#.WupYESh5zfc.facebook
I want to also address LBGT. They are being abused in churches as well. If you don’t believe me, check out their homeless and suicide rate. I shared an apology by Thabiti Anyabwile, who works for The Gospel Coalition, shortly after sharing Beth’s letter. The apology was beautiful and well stated. It reveals how systems guide our thinking without us being aware we are complicit in abuse. But was the apology too soon? We need more time to linger on Beth’s letter and reflect on the systems many of us participate in that create hierarchies. We bury our head in the sand and are not aware the Spirit has moved on. I also later found out Thabiti Anyabwile has made the comment same sex couples should make Christians gag.
Learning he said that devastated me last night. He needs to apologize for that comment too. Affirming or not affirming, a christian should not speak like that of fellow humans created in the image of God. News Flash: All of us are created in the image of God. I thought about deleting that post on my FaceBook page, and I will if any of my LGBT friends want me to after reading why I have not at this point. The main reason is because that apology addressed our ignorance to systems (power and principality) that guide us versus the Spirit. He may be embarrassed he said it. I hope so. But reality is many of us have said things in our past we would not say today. Asking for forgiveness allows us to celebrate our growth as humans.
I love writing. I also love looking back at my posts on “On This Day” on FaceBook. There is a lot that I am like – “Wow! I would not say that now.” “Or wasn’t I cute”. I have found writing to be so important for my growth. I have noticed each year my Martin Luther King posts get a little more serious. Last year it sent me to an actual King Sit In. That is a post that is coming up too.
Now I want to address my own experience in the conservative religious world. The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) TGC (The Gospel Coalition) and other conservative Religious Organizations are facing fire for blatant racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc. I did not grow up evangelical, but I did grow up conservative. My first encounter with how the church treats women was when I went on a mission trip with the youth group. I was on fire after that trip. I was so excited we were going to get to talk to the church about our experience. I went forward with the group ready to speak, but they only allowed the boys to speak. I felt so powerless and worthless at that moment. Why did only the boys experience matter? I was so angry. I went home and told my parents I will never be Church of Christ when I leave home. That did not hold true, but I did find ones that let us speak. Seriously – what we settle for! I even heard the other Church of Christ in town, who had the OU Women’s basketball coach as part of their church, would say service is over just so she could stand up and speak. Ludicrous!
I could never imagine ministry. I am glad Beth addressed that in her post because it is so true. I could have gone to seminary, but for what?! What would I do with it? No one would hire a woman unless it was working with children. That is an honorable job and I love the women who work with children, and I love the male we had a couple of years ago in our previous church who worked with children. I just don’t feel called to work with children as a profession. And wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually choose our path? I find it interesting working with children is imagined as feminine – look at our elementary schools, it is almost all women. Blake wonders where are the men. I wish it was a mix. What we are doing in our churches plays out in life. I also had a friend who recently was passed over for a minister position in the church because she was female. They didn’t want her working that closely with a male pastor. This is the damage from the “Billy Graham, Mike Pence” rule. Nothing God ordained about that decision.
What has frustrated me through all of this is our lack of connecting the dots. Gender inequality, Racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc, we are not connecting our lack of addressing these serious issues as hurting the witness of the church. We also are not connecting these issues are arising because they are embedded in the system. The Spirit is not having it anymore. The Table is open to all who hunger and thirst. Now that I go to a church that is “open to all and closed to none” I am experiencing a whole new story. This is a story I can tell. Women are free to be whatever they want to be. LBGT is welcome and can serve in any capacity. And the fruit of all of this has been good. The Spirit is in this movement.
Perfect love casts out fear. 1 John 4:18 I am hearing of churches that are still using fear as a tactic. Conferences telling people families are dying, fertilities rates are down. When I was in college, I went to a Christian church that put on a video to have us listen to a baby’s heartbeat. Here is the thing, I am prolife, but that was straight up propaganda. I agree we need to address abortion, and we do so with comprehensive sex education including access to contraceptions, good healthcare for women, livable wages, policy that supports women’s rights, equality of education for all regardless of neighborhood, etc. But those who are solely concerned about abortion don’t seem to want any of these things. That is interesting. So abortion and LBGT being the 2 major focuses of the religious right tells me they are saying women and LGBT are the problem, men have nothing to work on. Jerry Falwell Sr. said 9/11 happened because of abortions. How insane do you have to be to get to that conclusion? You have to be tied up in power to do that–that is how. Our white evangelical church is tied up in political power and it is abusing people. The Kingdom of God is not going to be brought in through our government. But we speak prophetic truth to power! If your church is advocating fear and inequality of christians #emptythepews. (Also if guns and our flag seem more important than human lives- NRA convention in Dallas today). The Spirit isn’t there.
I am no longer going to be silent. People can try to bury their head in the sand, but we are organizing. Reverend Barber discovered help isn’t going to come from Christians alone. Many of them have politicians to thank for their new parking lot. Meeting people of other faiths, other sexualities, etc has been the greatest gift 2017 and 2108 has given me. I love how the Spirit is moving to inclusion for all. The Kingdom of God is diverse. We can spread our arms out wide and love like we have never loved before. Loving everyone has made my life the most amazing life I have ever lived. I am going to end with some Nichole Nordemon lyrics from “No Longer” on her album Every Mile Mattered
I want to my feel my heart on fire now
And let the safety net burn down
Throw my arms out wide
Let your love collide in me
I want to run with my heart on my shirt
Straight into the wind, maybe get hurt
I thought living safe meant living stronger