I was absolutely livid. As I sat on the couch and squeezed my fiance's hand so tight it turned colors, my mind was furiously racing.
How can they just sit here and not say anything? Why are the loudest supporters of women's spiritual second-class status female? Did I spend the past seven years preparing for and practicing church leadership just so I could come home to this?
I had so many questions and comments that I wanted to contribute to the discussion of F. LaGard Smith's Male Spiritual Leadership, but I kept them to myself. After all, I was a woman in a church of Christ. It didn't matter that this was the intimate house church that lovingly raised me with my parents since I was an infant. It didn't matter that I was baptized in a literally ice covered river in March when I was 13 and then surrounded by these people with towels and blankets to keep me warm. I didn't feel warm anymore. I was heartbroken, frustrated and angry.
As my fiance and I drove back to my parents' house that Sunday evening we couldn't stop talking about what had happened. John, my fiance, pointed out that the man leading the discussion had problems pronouncing the relatively easy words in the book, while his wife (who had just taken off her head scarf since the 'official service' was over) had to frequently correct his pronunciation. We also discussed the fact that another woman often corrected her husband's off key lead singing, but only after he had started the song off himself.
We talked about my experiences growing up in a loosely defined house church of Christ in rural Iowa. My ties to the mainstream church of Christ came through reading The Christian Chronicle, going to Bible Camp, youth rallies, The Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop, and being recruited by York College on numerous occasions. I loved my church growing up; my mother was frequently my Sunday School teacher and she was a nurturing and creative hands-on teacher. Even though we had to rotate homes every Sunday (some weeks traveling as far as 70 miles) it was always worth it, because we'd enjoy a meal together afterwards. This was my second family.
I began noticing gender issues after I became a teenager. One day in Junior High, after listening to a riveting Voice of the Martyrs radio program about current church persecution (which I knew nothing about), I became convicted of the human rights atrocities happening every day. I tape recorded the next radio program and asked my father if I could play it for our church, as it was being held at our house and it was his turn to lead a lesson. He agreed and we all listened to it that Sunday. After we prayed about it together, our church decided to contribute money to sending Bibles to Christian persecuted areas. That day I became an advocate. The ministry bug had bitten me.