This week has been unbelievable in the SBC world. Well, let me back up and sadly say-believable. It is kind of surreal that my experience from a few years ago is now giving me the voice I need for such a time as this. And I no longer feel arrogant saying this. My whole life I have been taught not to be noticed, or conceit will inevitably follow. While that can be true, that is only true if we get away from those on the margins who are saying this system isn’t working for me – and they are literally dying and suffering abuse. Also, this message was never given to men. Men were taught to be leaders, and were trained to be one-whether they wanted to be one or not. Women it was a no-go, even if our desire is to lead.
My voice is smaller than most, and for that I don’t mind. There are plenty of women with larger platforms calling out abuse because they actually were abused by the SBC. My abuse came elsewhere, and it is harder to organize, because it isn’t one big organization. It was little pockets of every facet of my life. I am here to say it isn’t just the SBC – it their theology. It infects a lot of churches and flows into public life. I am grateful for my friends on Twitter today who noticed how I was treated by a complementarian pastor. It is not social media causing this abuse. That has been happening my whole life. It is being brought to light.
Before I tell my story, I want to express my grief for all the women and men witnessing the lack of care by SBC leaders regarding abuse. Our experiences are erased because we aren’t at the table. And for some reason “women can’t be pastors” is more important for them to shout vs addressing the abuse that is rampant in their organization. They have this idea women want to take over versus be friends. At least I think that is the reason. There is something sinister happening, and we must loudly denounce it. My experience witnessing the lack of care from my own church regarding abuse prepared me for this moment. When the SBC abuse was revealed – I knew they weren’t going to care. Giving up theology that gives men power is a Hell of a drug.
Here is why theology matters – it plays out in public life. My story.
I was raised in a complementarian church-‘Church of Christ’. We do not have an organization that combines our voices, so calling out their theology is much harder. I actually think organizations are good. They are supposed to combine resources to serve the world, our faith is for the world-not from it, and be friends. I love the connections I am making through CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) and Alliance of Baptists. Plus, all the seminary connections I am going to make. This is setting my soul on fire. Friendship is the name – not a competition. Numbers is not the overall goal (membership, baptisms and budgets). No! While those are good things – that is not our driving force in our faith. Our faith is to live like Jesus. Truth is our driving force. And we will lose those who do not want to go along with the truth-because it can get uncomfortable. Truth will unseat the powerful. Owning a narrative has gotten comfortable for too many. No one owns the narrative. The story is all of us.
From the time I graduated High School and went to college, and I went to a state school (not christian) – Oklahoma State University, misogyny was only growing. Here is a post I wrote about my friend who ran for SGA (Student Government Association) President, and how she was treated by the newspaper the O’Colly, and the fraternity with the man running against her. Anxiety, My Story (It also addresses my anxiety growing up with certainty.) She won, but it was an abusive experience. I could not believe what was happening. I called the former president who was in the same fraternity, and I ripped him. I did not know I had in me to do that. He talked to me for a bit, and told me he was trying to not be involved. I let him know he had no choice- he was involved. I have been fighting my whole life for my place in this world. I end up being appointed the Treasurer. My bestie wanted her fighter by her side. Ha!
Then I graduate and move on to the Oil and Gas Industry. I wrote about this in this blog post Learning about Politics before I was political. This was an eye-opening experience too. Also, we were Venezuelan owned, and had another set of politics going on. I was treated like a peon who had no value, but they wanted me because I work hard and would play by the rules. There was a project they threw at me, and right away I saw what might be the problem. I was told it wasn’t possible, so I wasted a year, long hours, and tears working on it – just to come to the conclusion I saw from the beginning.
The one time I got praise working for this company was when an auditor (from Venezuela – not a normal auditor) told me to stop a process I do every night, and we never went back to make sure it was set up again. I emailed the refinery and my department to apologize that I had dropped the ball. My boss asked me why I did that, because it was the auditor’s fault. But something strange happened, the Refinery Manager emailed everyone back praising me for taking responsibility. He wished more people were like me, because it is easier to identify problems when we can admit mistakes. I still have that email. And I still admit mistakes. 🙂
Then I work in the soccer world – for no pay- because I want to help tell a better story. We had seen what the big club soccer-machine was -and still is- doing to parents and children. Here is the story: Our Mutiny FC Story . I was ignored by the leadership team for the value I added creating teams, and finding space for people to play when weather was bad. I was ok with it, because I was doing this for the kids. Parents loved me, and would reach out to me when they left for various reasons. They knew I cared and wanted to know. This meant so much to me. This is where I feel Beth Moore and I have an intersection happening. She is fine not being valued by SBC leaders, because she is adored by people who grow from her ministry. The abuse heaped on her is seen as her standing up to the oppressor. While that may be true, she is human. Just because she has a high tolerance to take on emotional pain-doesn’t mean she should. I am not here to control her, or condemn she is staying-and wanting to keep the same theology of complementarian (calling her version soft-no such thing). She is taking on something where they don’t value her humanity, and it is crumbling despite her wanting it to be as it was. That was me at Mutiny FC. Our humanity has to be valued. Holy Spirit says so.
When I saw my own church barely react to the most vulgar sex tapes released of our President’s words, and how he admitted he treated women by grabbing them- because he is famous! And the church said -Meh, but the emails. Dear Lord in Heaven. I left. Also, Hillary was blamed for her husband’s actions. I could not believe my ears.
So I will close with my journey to Wilshire, and how egalitarian theology has changed my life. I walk into church every time not believing this is real. I leave wanting to come back immediately. I love them, and they not only love-but like me back. And my pastor says I am called. I was (and still am) so disoriented by this attention, because I am used to being ignored. I was on cloud 9, and then I went through depression from it. I know that is weird but Science Mike addressed this when he finally accepted Hillary McBride, one of his co-hosts on the Liturgists podcast, liked him. We both had to go back and remember our abuse. We have had a young child hidden in us waiting for the bully to come and get us, and everything fall apart again. The Journey to Wilshire