Thursday, July 30, 2009

by dallasjoyce: My Voice is Missing


I am a 65 year old woman, and I was “raised in the church.” I graduated from Lipscomb. We took our children to church three times a week. I belong to a conservative congregation of about 1000. When we placed membership there I promised God that I would not leave unless they kicked me out.

I must say that I am disappointed in the way my daughters were taught as they grew up, but anti-feminism was just part of it. When my daughter was struggling with questions involving drugs, alcoholism, sexual identity, and abortion, she was being taught at church that it was immodest for a boy to take off his shirt in public, and that “no instrumental music” was the most important belief in Christianity. It was an almost complete disconnect with the real world.

I don’t think that anti-feminism will keep anybody out of heaven, though. If I leave my congregation, I’m removing the help that I’ve been to them and depriving myself of the help they’ve given me. There is no lack of work for me, and I feel my gifts are adequately recognized. I do constantly harass the “establishment” every time I get a chance. If they’re complaining about not having enough people to serve communion, I remind them that they’ve disqualified half the congregation.

I used to care more about the gender inequalities, but as I’ve gotten older I find that they matter less to me. My congregation has given me encouragement, prayer, casseroles, and honey-baked hams to help me weather personal storms which are still raging. They can help me because they’ve known me for 37 years. I can help them for the same reason. Somebody once told me that a congregation should be like a huge family reunion where everybody knows that Uncle Phil will get drunk, but he’s still got a place at the table. Joe and Ed will bore everyone to death discussing politics, and Bill and Lois haven’t spoken to Marion and Ruth for years, but everybody’s still part of the family, and they all have a place set for them at the table.

I do recognize that the conservative church is driving away many Christians. The Church of Christ is losing women who would otherwise be preachers, counselors, leaders, and workers because they are repulsed by the discrimination. It’s a loss, but not one I feel personally called to correct. I think God will keep His church intact, and His Christians are going to be found in many denominations. Christians only, not the only Christians.

Somebody once said that it is easy to confuse theological insight with spiritual growth. In the past I have delighted in theological insight, but I now find myself forced to deal with spiritual growth. The theology was more fun.


JTB said...

dallasjoyce, thank you for adding your voice here. I don't want it to be missing.

I love your description of the church as the dyfunctional family of God reunion. Can I volunteer to be the drunk Uncle Phil, please.

jduckbaker said...

I'm glad to hear your voice. Thank you for speaking out. The different perspectives are good for us all.

The disconnect between church and the world (described in your daughters struggles and the church's focus) is so very real and makes church feel so very irrelevant to life sometimes.

You give me much to think about.

Unknown said...

I knew my very good friend, dallas joyce, would add insightful comments here. What she didn't add is that she is & has been way ahead of the times by having had a published piece in Missions mag. about 20ish years ago on this very same topic. She was decrying the lack of meaningful involvement for our daughters in our youth program.Sadly, nothing's changed. She has inspired me to get my thoughts together to share with this blog.(Since I was the one who has been constantly urging my coc friends to read this blog, and specifically for joyce to share HER thoughts!!)AM working on it!! dallasellen

JTB said...

Ellen, my thanks!!!

I would love to find the original Missions article you mentioned...I'll see if I can track it down, and if I have trouble, I may appeal for help. ;)