Home Pastors Articles for Pastors I’m Sorry for How the Church Has Sidelined Women

I’m Sorry for How the Church Has Sidelined Women

I imagine if women were equally a part of leadership in the church, there would be a more robust and engaged conversation around issues of women’s health, child flourishing and how to compassionately understand and deal with abortion. It’s self-evidently silly that church policy and doctrine on these matters have been developed without women seated at the table.

I suspect that the church might be more invested in local mission and service rather than the adventure missions so many youth groups embark on. Why? Perhaps I’m wrong, but it just seems so masculine to raise a ton of money then fly a group of teenagers across the world to build a school house out of concrete blocks. The whole process seems to reverberate with colonialism, imperialism and patriarchal thinking.

I imagine that the conversation about the nature of God and our response to God would be broader and richer if women were more welcome in the discussion, invited to bring their expertise and study of scripture to the table.

Perhaps the church, as an organization, would do a better job listening and responding to victims of violence, sexual violence and abuse.

If my suspicions are even correct, even in the smallest measure, it means that the church is missing out on incredible and healing opportunities—and the communities we serve are worse of because of it.

It’s time for a change.

When we see shining mega-churches in successful suburban neighborhoods and celebrity pastors with personal product lines, it’s hard to remember the origins of the Christian church. The early church—what we call the infancy of Christianity in the generations before 300 AD—was almost entirely a community of the underclasses. It was composed of women, slaves and children, nearly all of them poor. These people, who had little voice in their world, saw hope in a Savior who was excluded by the religious institution and lynched by the occupying military authority.

Christians may argue about the role of women in scripture for another hundred years, and yet, here’s the truth. From the first person who saw Jesus’ empty tomb (it was two women), until today, the work of the Christian church has been largely carried on by women.

Today, the majority of long-term volunteers in the church and its community ministries are women. The majority of faithful attendees are women. Perhaps that suggests some spiritual deficiency in men, or more likely, a struggle the church has in reaching men—but that’s a conversation for another day.

I’m a pastor. A male pastor. I have been a part of the problem, sometimes intentionally, more and more, by accident. For that, I am sorry. We deny the truth, and I believe, undercut God’s work among us when we leave women out of the central conversations of leadership and theology.

We hurt them, denying them the ability to bring their full God-given selves to the table. We hurt our children, passing on mental pictures of women limited in their capacity because of their gender. We hurt the communities we serve, as we find ourselves unable to bring whole solutions that reflect the best thinking and spiritual reflection of everyone, not just men. Even worse, we’ve painted a picture for any woman looking in from the outside that God is not interested in who she is, or her full range of experiences and talents.

We have told women they are meant to be in second place. We have told them their voices don’t matter. This may be yet true for some Christian congregations, but it is not true of the God we profess to serve. It is time for us to say something different.

This article originally appeared here.