“Your father is going to be involved in heresy,” was how my mother sarcastically brought up the topic. I stifled the urge to say that I was glad I wan’t going to be the only one since she doesn’t find my lack of Christian participation to be the least bit amusing.

Seems that in their conservative Christian church there are no women in leadership positions. My father has been put on the nominating commitee for some type of governing board. Some people have been whispering that it may be time to have some women in leadership positions. The pastor even gave a sermon that said it would be ok to have women involved in the church in that way. So, my dad may be the person who nominates an actual real live woman to the church governing board. That would be one woman out of the seven people he is allowed to nominate. For the record, my mother doesn’t find this heretical but the agitators have been politicing and counting votes to see how many people will support this. Apparently some people do see this as heretical. They think the final vote will be very close.

By the end of this conversation I wasn’t sure if I more wanted to scream or cry. My mother didn’t really seem to think it was strange that in 2006 there was need for this discussion or for an actual stealth campaign to let a woman be on some governing board for one church. The Episcopals just elected a women to head the whole U.S. demonination but my parents’ church needs stealth for a woman to be on a committee.

I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It keeps popping up at the strangest times and making me mad all over again. I want to ask her how she can support a church whose members think it ok for women to volunteer for all their programs but that it is not ok for them to participate in making decisions for the church.

Maybe part of the reason it bothers me so much is that when I was a Christian it probably wouldn’t have bothered me. I was raised in the same kind of environment. I knew intellectually that the teaching of the church was not really in line with what seemed to be Jesus’s attitude towards women. The church took the teachings of Paul on women over Jesus’s example. (Paul was one of the main reasons I left the church. In my mind everything started to go downhill as soon as he started writing letters.) But even knowing all that, I was never emotionally bothered by the church’s attitude towards women.

It wasn’t until I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd that my rationalizations started to fall away. I remember thinking as I read about her struggles to find a place for women in Christianity that “I never felt that way” and “I think she’s being a bit overly sensitive.” But it put the thought into my mind. Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m in mourning for the injustice being done in a church I don’t go to and don’t even believe in. Maybe I’m in mourning for all those women who are still able to rationalize their treatment away even though they know better.


  • Lisa

    Wow. I stopped going to church years ago (after getting a degree in religion) and now that kind of thinking just makes me confused. I can’t even imagine justifying it in this day and age. And it’s funny; I totally agree with the Paul thing; it seems the present-day church treats Paul as if he were Jesus, when he always seemed like this weird addict/fanatic personality to me. Like when people “find” religion and then go haywire off the deep end, telling all of their friends they’re living in sin.

    My parents, too, go to a conservative church (in the South, no less) and although my mom is way more liberal than she would ever admit, my dad is always trying to bait me into religious and political arguments; I just figure it’s better to let it be. I’m not going to change their mind and they aren’t going to change mine. I just told my mom to rest assured it isn’t their fault I don’t go to church; it’s church’s fault.

  • Kati

    Isn’t Sue Monk Kidd fabulous?!?!?! Her “Secret Life of Bees” is another book to read, if you haven’t yet. Incredible! I found and read “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” long before I read “Secret life of bees” and wound up passing it on to my mom, who’s passed it onto my middle sister, and I’m hoping they are both reaping as much from SMK’s experiences as I did.

    I always had to chuckle over the irony of allowing (or not) a woman to serve in a “leadership role” in church. The one church I attended as a kid that DID allow women in “leadership roles” actually gave them the title of “deaconess” (or something like that). What were their decisions and leadership skills based on??? Why….. Fellowship time and potluck planning, of course!!!!! My dad’s church is similar, while they don’t ELECT deaconesses, the wives of the elected deacons are considered as such, and leadership skills and decision-making skills are used for…. You guessed it…. Planning the potlucks, the fellowship times, the women’s bunco nights, and the women’s bible studies and Sunday School classes. (At LEAST the women’s Sunday school class is TAUGHT by a woman!) These women are being given an honorary role, being told how important their leadership contributions are to the church, then are being assigned the same tasks women have ALWAYS taken in church: providing food & cleaning for the “important work for men that must take place”. *shaking head* Ahhhh yes…. The irony.

  • Nio

    I want to ask her how she can support a church whose members think it ok for women to volunteer for all their programs but that it is not ok for them to participate in making decisions for the church.

    Ask her. Then just listen to her answer.

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