Sarah Bessey and Relevant Magazine recently teamed up on Twitter for a social/spiritual experiment: to find out how prejudiced the church is regarding women in leadership. Sarah’s Twitter feed blew up, as you might imagine.
Yes, there were some people who slung some hateful rants against men and hateful rants against women’s rights. We knew that was going to happen. What surprised me was the large number of comments in the middle. The real comments, hurtful comments that keep women from exerting influence and venturing into destiny. Women shared an endless list of foolish and/or bigoted statements from their own experiences–revealing statements about what other people think a woman’s place in the church should be.
Many of Sarah’s tweets came from her book Jesus Feminist, which I read and loved. Sarah shares a list of ill-timed, uninformed, and downright chauvinistic statements that she has received over the years as a woman who could preach and lead in the church. I’ve heard some of the same ones myself. (Yes, even little ol’ me. I imagine it’s a thousand times worse for a minority woman!)
Yet I have often excused people’s heartless comments as merely old-fashioned. Occasionally offensive. Yet they rippled through my psych and whispered lies that perhaps I shouldn’t be so ambitious. Perhaps I wasn’t called to do this thing. Perhaps I should work harder at being quiet and demure. Doesn’t a real servant serve in the background? Doesn’t she do all those tasks no one wants to do? A good Christian girl lets other people stumble through speaking and writing and vision-casting while I just try learning to keep silent.
Apparently, I am not the only one. This problem is wide-spread and so widely-felt, so I don’t have to feel put-down anymore. The problem is not me. I’m not usurping anyone. The problem is prejudice–arrogance, really. And insecurity. (Pride takes so many forms.)