Keeping my eyes open to glimpses of God

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No Women Allowed

I want my friend's daughter to live in a world that
encourages her to obey God in whatever way she's called.
Tears welled in my eyes as I read the recent Her.meneutics post "Hey John Piper, Is My Femininity Showing?"

It seems God has had a lot to tell me about women in leadership recently, and I've been soaking it up. But all that soaking has left my heart full of anguish. As I consider the future of the Church, the future of our world, I can't believe how much we're missing--simply because women aren't allowed.

I've recently been keenly aware of how women are often mistreated in the workplace, especially in Christian workplaces. From being inflexible in the schedule for a new mother to a double standard for women when they are assertive, determined, and goal-oriented (qualities that are, by the way, actually desired in men). From not promoting women because superiors want to keep them in their "rightful place" to coworkers looking down on women for working and being a mother.

And the sad part is that we have grown up with these mixed messages. "Go after a career," "be independent," "grow intellectually," and "find your calling," are mixed with "your husband's job is more important than yours," "good mothers never leave their child's side," "likeable girls aren't too smart," and "you're calling can't be anything in leadership--especially not in the church." We internalize these wishy-washy messages, and we begin censoring ourselves--even from elementary school. We play dumb so that we're liked. We look for career paths that suit us while holding out for a man whose calling we can support instead. We uphold women's right to work, but we feel guilt about leaving our own children. And this is just a small taste of how these cultural messages negatively affect women.

I've had the honor of learning from women who transcend this conflict, women who are firm in their calling and are devoted to God, first and foremost. Women who actually empower others to do the same. Their stories inspire me and encourage me on the most difficult days. Days like yesterday when I read John Piper's words referred to in that Her.meneutics post.

Don't get me wrong, I already knew that Piper is complementarian and I'm egalitarian, so our views are different--and that's okay. But the difference in those views is over whether God gives teaching authority to only men or both genders. The view represented on his podcast ignores this view and takes an entirely different, unbiblical one--regardless of whether you're complementarian or egalitarian.

Instead of seeing women as fellow image bearers, Piper reduces us to bodies--bodies that tempt our Christian brothers. And evil bodies like that should never be able to teach men in person. This kind of thinking turns my stomach. Women have enough discrimination--conscious and unconscious--to deal with, let alone a prominent Bible teacher naming women as nothing more than sexual, tempting bodies.

Two weeks ago, our church's weekend service focused on the story of Priscilla. She not only held a church in her home, but she was actually recognized by Paul for her faith--especially in her role in teaching Apollos (a man, by the way). Jesus turned cultural norms on their head, including the status quo for women of the day. Paul continued to teach the message and makes it especially clear in Galatians 3:28: "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus."

In Christ, we are all one. We are all God's children. We are all heirs. Priscilla knew that she was called, and she lived out that calling, sharing her faith and the love of God with those around her. We must do the same. As Christian women, we need to seek out our calling from God and live it out with everything we have. God calls us to obey, and that's all we need to know.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who hold us back, and there will always be people who cause us to question God's call on our lives. But don't let them pull you down. Rely on God, seek out a loving community, and remain humble in all you do. Seek out healthy, co-laboring relationships with people of the opposite sex. Learn from both men and women, and encourage others to do the same.

Without allowing more women to live out their callings in the Church, in the workplace, and in the community, we're all missing out. We have to do better.

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