Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The face of gender justice

What's the face of gender justice in the church for you?

Like so many things, this topic is intractable when it is framed as a faceless "issue"--a matter of doctrinal dispute or hermeneutical correctness. Sean Palmer's recent blog post on "speaking the truth in love" as a thinly disguised form of justified meanness gets at this--when we think about things as "issues" we allow ourselves to be indifferent, rude, and mean-spirited. You know, for Jesus.

Time and time again, on the old gal328.org forum where so many different people connected with each other for the first time, the motif emerged: I never thought about this until I became the father/mother of girls; until I saw my daughter called to ministry; until my granddaughters were born.

Suddenly, the issue had a face. A beloved face.

And that changes things.



These are the faces of gender justice for me. Clare tells me she wants to be an astronaut, a scientist who studies dirt ("a dirty-ologist, Mama!"), the first woman President of the United States (personally, I hope we don't wait that long), a priest, a theologian and a mom. I want her to be any and all of these things, or something she hasn't thought of yet, and I want her never to doubt that she will be able to follow the call of God in her life to whatever strange territory it may take her. And I want her sister to watch her with those adoring eyes and see Sissy follow that brave path. Without anyone standing in her way saying "you can't, 'cause girls don't do that."

And there are other faces: faces of people I've thought of as heroes, people who've dared to be the public face of gender justice in the Churches of Christ: Micki Pulleyking and Kathy Pulley, Katie Hays and Lance Pape, Joe and Laura Hays, Stuart and D'Esta Love, Sara Barton.

Sara Barton at Pepperdine Lectureship 2013

What is the face of gender justice in the Churches of Christ, for you? Is it your own, staring back at you daily in the mirror as you wrestle with the impossibility of denying your own giftedness and call? Is it your baby girl's, still unaware of the extra hurdles she'll face in the world, and sadly, in the church, because of her gender? Is it your mother's, a woman who has gotten on with her work and calling and ministry without making waves but inwardly chafing at the restrictions placed on her that limited the effectiveness of her work? Is it your sister, your aunt, your wife? Is it that 6th grade Sunday school teacher you loved, but couldn't learn from anymore after your baptism?

If you can, share a photo of the face of gender justice for you when you talk about this.

And if you can, be the face of gender justice in the church for the people who know you, and love you.

It makes a difference.

4 comments:

Sara Barton said...

Thanks for the shout out Jen. It's D'Esta and Stuart Love who have passed on great hope and strength to me. Sadly, I don't think I have a picture with them, but I'll take care of that during Streaming at Rochester College later this month :)

JTB said...

Sara--I can't believe that in my scatterbrainedness I left out D'Esta! This is what happens when you write in between diapers, dishes, laundry and everything else...so I belatedly edit. (and pray, for my sin of omission, forgive me O Lord.)

I loved the sermon and just wish that I could have been there to hear it, or at least that it had been captured on video.

Sean Palmer said...

Thanks for the mention. And Sara, excellent job at PBL13

Wiley Clarkson said...

I can't seem to post photos in your comments area so I created a simple web page: http://www.clarksons.org/faces.htm
It started with my daughters Shannon, Kristie, and Kathie about 30 years ago. Shannon is now a Children and Family minister. It continues with my granddaughters River (10 yrs old & Shannon's daughter) and Avery (2 yrs old & Kristie's daughter). River has mentioned wanting to become a minister like her mom. I also have a grandson who is 4 (Shannon's) and a grandson who is about to be born (Kristie's). I hope and I pray for the day when Churches of Christ can say they are Galations 3:28 churches and that there are no limitations on anyone in the church because of gender, race, or social status.