Saturday, July 28, 2018


My second home from infancy
One of the first places my parents took me shortly after my birth was to church.  I have an old black and white picture of my infant dedication, which included the "laying on of hands" in fervent prayer for me.  Both of my grandmothers were in attendance and their faith is part of my spiritual heritage.  As the daughter of a pastor, church was my second home and we were there three times a week and every night during revival or camp meeting.

I grew up in a church where women were empowered to serve in
My grandmothers, mother and me
any capacity within the congregation, including as an ordained elder or pastor.  My exposure to churches that restricted the role of women did not begin until my adult years.  Even so, within the home, women were expected to follow the lead of their husbands and to submit to his authority.  This created quite the dilemma for a woman called to be a pastor--she could lead the congregation, which included her husband but was required to submit to him at home.  Kind of a dual role with many conflicts of interests that probably led to actual conflicts, I'm suspecting.

At two outside my father's first church
In my 30's and 40's I was part of a denomination that sent women as missionaries to engage fully in ministry but did not allow them the same freedom in the U. S.  I never understood the logic of that policy!  I became a leader in a local congregation and was actually appointed to serve on the Governing Board--I was the token female on a male-dominated and resentful Board.  When I could no longer stomach the controversy over my leadership, I resigned and spent many Sunday mornings curled up on the floor of my closet in some of the deepest grief I had experienced at that point in my life.

I have been a member of or regular attender at ten different mainline evangelical denominations as well as several independent and Charismatic churches; fifty percent of them restricted the roles of women, the rest did not.  I have been exposed to many different streams of theological thought and have taken graduate courses in theology as part of an advanced degree program.  I haven't seen or experienced it all within organized religion, but have come pretty close.

Serving as a missionary
Recently, I have found it increasingly difficult to attend a church service.  I find it nearly impossible to sit under the ministry or in a group who seek to marginalize at least 50% of the congregation. While the individual pastors or church members may disagree with the official position of their denomination or may have a more "moderate" view, it just doesn't sit well with me.  So, I have put myself in timeout.

I do not know how long this timeout will last.  I suspected it was coming but I have no clue when it will end.  I just know that the views espoused in groups willing to use the bible to justify the oppression or marginalization of any group of people no longer reflects who or what I believe God to be.  I cannot participate any longer.

I have not lost my faith, I have found it again.  I have not rejected the Bible but rather am learning to approach it with an open heart and mind--not one closed to all but one possible interpretation.  I have not walked away from God but rather am running headlong into His all-encompassing love and compassion for all of humanity, including me, a mere woman.

"Enough," my word for 2018 perfectly describes my feelings during this timeout.  Enough of tolerating marginalization and second-class status all in the name of religion.  Enough compromising and swallowing my pain and disgust; enough of my support through membership or attendance of any group that devalues women.  Enough.  I've had enough.