I would never have seen this if I hadn’t taken the time to listen to my wife, and hear how this story affected her.
To say it’s problematic talking about women having influence in evangelical churches is an understatement. The amount of strongly held and largely opposing viewpoints of those reading this article make finding any common ground on the theology of women in the church nearly impossible. So I’ll just say this: One way or the other, women must have a voice of influence in our churches. As a female friend of mine put it, “Any community without the voice of both genders being heard is a false community—not so much a caring for each other and following principles that enable that care, but a dictating of rules as a means of control to keep things the way one side feels they ‘should’ be.”
Men, the female experience in day-to-day life is fundamentally different than ours. Men largely do not worry about being sexually assaulted while walking down the street. Men usually don’t get catcalled. They aren’t leered at multiple times a day. They aren’t groped frequently. Literally every woman I know has multiple stories about all of those things.
I cannot express strongly enough how, even after being married for several years, I did not get this simple fact: Women experience a completely different, violent, sexualized, invasive, belittling world that I don’t, solely because of my gender. Pastors, if we do not realize that, and learn to listen, we will unknowingly, and with best of intentions, fail to help half our congregation experience the Jesus who went out of his way to elevate the status of women in his culture.
Here is the bottom line I think we should take away from this latest iteration of the #metoo movement: The church has the example of Jesus to follow. Which means we have the solution to the problem! The better we understand Christ and his message, the better we can be men of integrity who choose not to push women past their boundaries and women of integrity who know how to speak up for what is right. Admittedly, we have some work to do. Part of that work includes inviting more women on to planning teams, hiring processes and things like sermon series preparation. Another part of that work involves examining how we treat sexual assault victims. Still another is teaching our men what it means to be…men.
The good news in all this is there’s a wide open opportunity for the church to culturally engage on this topic, both in message and in action—to show the world the true harmony between men and women created by God.