Friday, July 31, 2009

by Brittyne: Wiki Gets it Right

I will never let any of my students read this post. Their eyes are banned as it is a common frustration among them that I refuse to allow wikipedia as a source for any of their work. Thankfully, I am supported fully by my English department on said issue. However, I recently found that wiki sometimes gets it right. I am wrestling with an issue of faith and went last night to do some research. I googled the “role of women in the church of christ”. The first hit I got made me feel ill. I was linked to a church I won’t name that clearly stated that women were created subservient to men and that in the church they would not be allowed to participate publicly. They concluded their thoughts with this sentence. “Let’s follow what the Bible says. Going to heaven must be our number one priority in life.” Wow! What if I was searching for a church and this is what I came across? I can guarantee that not one woman I know would consider visiting this house of worship, including myself. Sadly, this is the theology of my religious heritage. I grew up in a church where women’s voices were painfully absent. I grew up understanding “my place” in the faith. It hasn’t set well with me for years as I have grown in my understanding of God and his work in our world. For one, scripture doesn’t teach about the second class status of women. Secondly, even those who support a literal interpretation of the scripture don’t actually follow it literally as I haven’t recently sat in church with my head covered. Either you believe in a literal translation or you don’t. You can’t pick and choose. Either you believe women are equal participants in the faith or you don’t.

The second hit I got was for a wiki site on the gender justice movement. I will quote briefly.

“The Great Commission, Mark 16:15, "Preach the Gospel," is to all believers, and to all the church of Jesus Christ. The command to "preach the Gospel" is to both male and female.The prescription that women are to be silent in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not to be taken as a prohibition against women preaching the Gospel: if Paul intended this verse as a general rule to bar all women from speaking in church, then they cannot teach Sunday School, testify, pray, prophesy, sing, or even reach the state of salvation (since the confession of faith of necessity involves speech). This strict interpretation, to which many congregations admittedly do not adhere, is seen by the gender justice congregations to contradict the rest of the Bible (Acts 2:4; Acts 16-18).Further, Gen 1:27 states "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.". It is illogical to postulate that male and female can both be created by God and "in the image of God" yet one is less equal than the other. Since both are created in God's image, this faulty logic would imply that part of God is less equal than another part.”

How does Wiki get it right and the church get it wrong?

The knot in my stomach comes from this dilemma. Do I choose theology or community? I have grown up in the church of Christ. I have dear friends there. Our parents attend and elder there. My girls have friends there. The church of Christ brought me into faith. However, the fundamental teaching here denies equality in the eyes of God. It embodies a skewed interpretation of Scripture and puts a stumbling block in the road of faith for many. I have been most convicted by Romans 1:32 “but they also approve of those who practice them”. Discrimination against human beings who have been created in the image of God and endowed with spiritual gifts is sin. Refusing to allow a segment of a congregation to extend their gifts for the good of the body and for the bringing of the new heavens to earth is a sin. Does my continued participation in this body suggest my approval? I would not associate myself in the secular world with groups that were openly discriminatory so why would I in my religious world?

I think about my girls. I think about the faith I want them to have, to witness and to practice. I realize where this path is leading me and it is scary as change always is but the call for justice is too strong. If the denial of equality permeates our churches, it will continue to be the rule of our societal experience as well. If I can’t find justice here, in my home, in the heritage of my faith, I will have to begin the search for the place that will accept all as created in the image of God. The place that will allow for all voices to be heard and welcomed. The place that will appreciate and expect that all experiences of faith help us to encounter God more authentically.

I am not the only member of the church of Christ issuing this call. It is not grumbling. It is not about women nagging for the right to speak. It is about a fundamental shift in how we view the scripture and its revelation of our Lord. My prayer is that our churches will listen.


jduckbaker said...

Thank you so much for your words, especially that last paragraph of

"It is not grumbling. It is not about women nagging for the right to speak. It is about a fundamental shift in how we view the scripture and its revelation of our Lord. My prayer is that our churches will listen."

It's so hard when we think it is only about a woman's "right" to speak in the service. You statement about it being a shift in how we view scripture and its revelation rings true.

God bless you on your struggle. Thanks for your voice.

kbeck said...

Whether or not you can help bring about change will require discernment on your part through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I finally realized that I had to leave in order to follow God's call to me. It was not an easy decision for me, but the transition was harder on my family.

From my experience, a significant change of this kind is easier for younger children. Believe me it is hard enough negotiating with a spouse on where to worship, when teenagers are involved THEIR opinions only complicate a difficult situation. I wish you only the best as you continue to wrestle with the issues you have described.

AM Kingsfield said...


When I was still on the inside of the CofC box, and I asked to participate, I was told I was seeking vainglory or that I just wanted my name "up in lights."

Now when I ask to participate, my fellow Christians simply say, "Wonderful! Thanks!"