If you’ve read a few of the things I’ve written you’ll know that I proudly consider myself a feminist. If you’ve read a few more you’ll realise that my version of feminism sometimes differs from those who take louder, more central positions in the “battle” for “equality.”
Lately I’ve been watching some of the arguments going on in the Christian Church about women’s roles and women’s places and I’ve been repeatedly struck by the fact that a lot of the energy we should be using to focus outward is getting spent in fighting with each other over who gets to be The Pastor. In some ways it’s like watching little kids fight over who gets to hold the new kittens. In the passion of their argument the kittens get injured by the grabbing and squeezing and dropping and yelling. Or they wander mewling away to be lost in the brush or taken away by a bird. The fight goes on long enough that pretty soon the kittens are no longer the point–the argument is the treasure, the Rightness is the goal.
I was raised in a denomination that did not approve of women in the pulpit. When God called me to ministry I was confused…very. How was I to minister if I wasn’t able to become a minister? That was the question in the mind of an angry sixteen year old. Or maybe I was 17 or 18 or 19. It was a long road. For awhile I just got angrier and angrier. Who was The Church to stand in my way? God called me! God is bigger than The Church, right? Right?
Well, now I’m 42. Somewhere back there I learned to quit paying attention (for the most part) to what other people were doing and to just stick to my own knitting. Keep my eyes on my own paper–that’s the other cliche I rely upon. And it occurs to me that I HAVE been able to have quite a vibrant ministry by showing up where God tells me to show up. I can be where I’m supposed to be. I’m not the star of someone’s pulpit to be sure. I’m not the singing and dancing leader of a Sunday School department or the revered teacher of a Sunday School class. But I’m not here to be a star or a song and dance man or revered person. I’m here to carry the message, to bring the comfort.
I can’t speak to anyone else’s call. I know that for me some of the desire to be a minister was the desire to be The Minister. “Look at all the people looking back at me!” I don’t say that every woman’s call is like that; I don’t know what any other woman’s call experience is. And I certainly don’t think that women are any more or less capable than men. But I do think all of the fighting I’ve seen about the topic in recent weeks has NOT served the purpose of reaching people at all. It’s merely served to “throw stones at the Stained Glass Ceiling” as one blogger pithily put it. As though that were a good thing.
It isn’t. We play too cavalierly with the costly gift of Christ’s blood.