Monday, July 20, 2009

Women in the CofC: the missing voices

I want to say thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to my "little blog experiment." I was initially afraid that I'd be throwing a party no one would come to, but as it turns out, a certain number of people really needed a party where they could cry if they needed to--and apparently a lot of us have been needing to, for a long time.

While I'm not surprised that the initial momentum has slowed, I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of "lurkers" out there I'd like to encourage to de-lurk. (And there are a couple readers out there I'm going to start nagging, 'cause I've heard you're working on a post.)

And I'm even more sure that there are large numbers of people who don't waste their time on my little blog, who share the perspectives and pain of these stories express here.

Or not.

Because there is more to say. I've said my piece, told my story, at least as well as I can manage it at the moment. And these stories collected so far on this blog have enriched that narrative, added to it, contrasted and complemented it, and in so doing have added to my understanding of our collective ecclesial reality.

But there is more to say. We need the voices of our grandmothers and moms and aunts and Sunday school teachers and VBS organizers and missionaries, we need the voices of elders' wives and preachers' wives and missionaries' wives. These are the missing voices.

These missing voices may tell us things we are tired of hearing. They may tell us we should get over ourselves, or that we're wasting valuable time with this pity-party. They may quote us scripture and say that's that. They may quote their husbands or their fathers and use the phrase "male spiritual leadership." They may even use the word, submission.

Or not.

We don't know, because these are the missing voices.

I don't know what these MIA women might want to say here. But I want to hear them say it.

I don't want their voices to remain missing.


Quiara said...

I'd like to write something. My ministry doesn't look like some of the others -- I don't preach and I don't often get to/need to mention the Bible. But I'm learning to take my archival-quality, framed-and-embossed theology and wear it out, ragged and threadbare, the way I think maybe it's meant to be.

JTB said...

bring it!

lisa b said...

Would you please post a list that compiles the links to all of the stories?

I think you have the beginnings of a research paper. It would be also interesting to do some digging into the reasons some people do not feel comfortable in sharing their stories.

I'm so glad I've found you.

JTB said...

hi Lisa--there's a drop-down menu on the sidebar that contains every post in this series. it's labeled "women in the Churches of Christ, voices and narrative"--click on it, and scroll down. (let me know if you click a link that doesn't work so I can fix it.)

dallasjoyce said...


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 so much for reading and commenting. may I repost your comment as its own guest post? Your voice is important and I would rather it not be buried in a thread of comments, lest we continue to miss it.

If it's okay, I will use your title and username for attributing authorship.

Thank you.

dallasjoyce said...


I am flattered - please use my post however it would be most useful