On Monday I posted about evangelical leaders who are changing their minds about women in leadership. John Stackhouse, Jr. posted an essay about his own experience of how he came to reconcile the spiritual and practical equality of men and women.
While admitting how deeply entrenched the “gender scripts” are that men tend to follow, Stackhouse made some observations that I thought were significant, particularly to women serving in the Church.
“Still, feminist psychologist Virginia Vanian urges women not just to wait for a brighter day, but to speak up now, and particularly about the small things that women tend just to swallow and endure. She points out that repeated small slights can constitute large-scale social patterns of repression—that mountains can, in fact, arise out of the accumulation of molehills. So women can and must do something to keep the pattern from being reinforced again and again in the “minor” interactions of each day. Add your anomalies to the paradigm to help collapse it, or it will remain your prison—and, indeed, the prison that disadvantages all of us.”
Women need to speak up – especially in the Church – to draw attention to careless or demeaning comments. It’s not easy, requiring wisdom, appropriate respect, carefully chosen words, and sometimes a sense of humor. But it’s important as co-laborers and joint-heirs in Christ.
The good news is, I see opportunity in the fact that churches are starting to recognize and embrace the value of diversity. We’re more conscious of ethnicity and age on stage and in leadership. We’re more sensitive about how we represent people in our pictures and stories. We would never tell a story or use an illustration in a service that alienated or came at the expense of a Latino or Asian person. It’s a simple association to make – that easy laughs at the expense of women or lack of representation are just as wrong.
We care that newcomers of different ethnicities feel comfortable in our church. Note: half of them are women. Appeal to your church values and speak up.