Sunday, July 29, 2007

It shouldn't take courage


"Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." T.E. Lawrence



Right now the fellowship that I am a part of (the A/G) is at a crossroads. Many general council positions including the very top one (GS) are up for election and there is a buzz all around about it. I've blogged the past year about completely de-politicizing (is that a word?) myself. And truly, I have. I have been stripped of all desire to be immersed in the political scene, (sectional, district or national) nor do I care what may happen as a result of me expressing my view. (I have nothing to lose. I happen to be credentialed with the A/G, however my church and my writing are the focus of my ministry life, not "the district" or "Springfield.") My life is my family, my church, my friends, and my writing and speaking ministry. If people think I'm forthright, driven, or even a %#@&^ for being a strong leader, so be it! (Yes, I've actually heard male ministers call various women in ministry that curse word, just for being...strong women of God! It's amazing that what men are lauded for (being driven, motivated, strong, forthright, competitive, among other things) - women are often villified for and assumed, "out of their role." Oh what people need to learn as far as a biblical understanding of this. (A good place to start is with the Christians for Biblical Equality website and ministry...they'll break it down for you.)

Depite my being de-politicized, I have been interested in dialogue on the issues at hand, such as the fundamentals of our faith and the core values our fellowship holds and has held from our inception. While constitutions, bylaws, voting or district or general council positions are not a focus of my life, beliefs and values ARE. Please understand, I love our fellowship. I've been a part of it all my life. I'm loyal to it, but don't want to get caught up in the politics of it.

But once again, I just couldn't stay silent. (Thank God I'm married to somebody who understands that!) Right now there's a blog that's pretty popular about the future of the A/G as regards this election. I was content to be a silent lurker and just peek in on what was happening...until they raised the women in ministry issue. When a man who is not unabashedly egalitarian and holds the view that women are not acceptable for leadership positions to the highest levels within the A/G or the church is being seriously considered for our top leadership position- that's when I had to step up to the plate and put in my $.02. I believe every voice makes a difference. I know I speak for a lot of women in ministry and their feelings on this issue -- however, the problem is that many of them won't say it, at least say it and sign their names to it. Because they do feel like they still have something to lose. (Give them 20 years, and like me they might change their minds.) Perhaps they do fear repercussions, and unfortunately they may have even married someone who tries to control them, (at least to an extent), and doesn't give them their blessing of verbalizing strong feelings about one's core values. Thankfully, I'm in the position of not having to worry about any of the three of those things. I am so glad I made a choice to marry someone who realizes although we are one flesh, I still have a brain and heart of my own. There are times that what I am hearing and digesting with my mind and then feeling in my heart is overwhelming. So I opened my big mouth. Not once, not twice, but more than that, in this debate that is ongoing.

And it's amazing. The majority of the people on the blog agree with my sentiments, (male credential holders included) but it's amazing how much feedback I've gotten off of that blog by people who contacted me privately by email and said, "thanks for stepping up and saying that." One person wrote and said, "Thank you so much for your courageous posts...you'll never know how much I appreciate it." I said what they evidently wanted to say, but for some reason didn't feel they could.


Why is this viewed as so courageous? It bothers me quite frankly that so many view a woman speaking her mind as courageous. It shouldn't take "courage" to speak the passion of our hearts, especially on such a biblically based value. But, because half of God's army has been silenced for so long, it is viewed as such. I do not view it as courageous, but simply the right thing to do. Edmund Burke once said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Here's my Deanna paraphrase on this issue: "All that is necessary for gender or racial prejudice to triumph is for good people to do nothing." How can we stay silent?


Many people were backing this man in question, (who hundreds of people have voted for in the unofficial blog straw poll...) stating that his view that he holds would not affect his decisions in leadership should he be voted in. WHAT??!! Impossible. How can such a person uphold, defend, promote and celebrate that which he doesn't believe in within our fellowship? The answer is, he would not. Therefore, electing him would be a huge step back. Because he has built a super mega church some are ready to crown him king of the A/G. I don't care if he has a zillion people in his church, if he's not in keeping with our core value of women being able to ascend to the highest levels of leadership in the church and the fellowship, he's not the best. Talking about "to what depth" a person deals with gender prejudice is like talking about to what degree some dog poop in a pan of brownies would be too much. Any is too much.

"What if he's God's choice?" some say. Well, since I believe God is 100% for gender and racial equality at every level of leadership I do not believe God would choose a person to head an organization, especially one that since it's inception has stood for this core value.

"But he's such a man of prayer..." some say. Well, I'm sure John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll and John Piper are also great men of prayer but we wouldn't be asking any of them to lead the A/G or I certainly hope not. (Egads!)

It shouldn't take courage for women to step up and say how they feel any more than it would take courage for a black or hispanic person to say how they feel. Amazing when you put it in those terms. Seems appalling in today's day and age (and it is!!!) to insinuate that a person of color should not speak about something, yet many believe it is acceptable to believe this about women. And (gasp!) I did not even ask Larry's permission before I stated my feelings. Amazing!

Larry finds it amusing that I do get involved sometimes in dialogue like this with people because he believes it does no good although he doesn't try to hinder me in saying what I feel I must. I'm not only a dreamer that things can be better, but I feel like if I can be any kind of help (even just a small candle brings amazing light to the darkness) in making things better, I should. I know maybe I'm just a peon, but where would America be today if Rosa Parks didn't refuse to go to the back of the bus? Somebody's gotta speak up. (Please don't misunderstand, I'm no Rosa Parks, my point is simply - we all should realize that we never know if we will be the one to make that significant difference, so we need to seize the opportunity.)

Imagine with me a world in which it would never again be perceived as courageous for a woman to speak her mind. Just imagine...


I for one, believe the day will come. But it won't happen by us just staying silent or in the "boxes" (as Pastor Tara puts it) or the roles that people have placed us in. I refuse to get in a box or stay in one. I will continue to imagine. I will continue to speak. I thank God for my "courageous sisters" like Pastor Tara, Pastor Leanne, Pastor Andrea and so many more who will put their reputations on the line to speak up...and have. (Pastor Andrea calls me her 'CBE Friend' - in fact would you believe she gave me a CBE Christmas ornament? Okay, now you KNOW you've gotta feel strongly about something when you are hanging it on your Christmas tree.) LOL!!!

There are people who have been leading women like us in imagining this for a long time. CBE -- Christians for Biblical Equality, is an amazing organization. I encourage you to check out their stuff, especially their free articles!! And also check out the Assemblies of God Women in Ministry and ministry department which is led by some incredibly courageous women.

The really courageous ones aren't people like me who post something on a blog in 2007. Those who are truly courageous are those who paved the way over these many years for us to be doing what we're doing now. They plowed the way and now it's up to my generation to plow the way for the next one.

Martin Luther King said in his famous speech, "I have a dream..." Well so do I. I have a dream that one day our girls will not be expected to play by a different set of rules than men do. Honestly, God's expectation has never been that we play by different rules, but for some reason our culture has made it not only acceptable but passed it off as a Biblical mandate. Because people do not know their bibles well enough they have looked to text books, Christian psychology books, and famous preachers to tell them what they believe about equality rather than look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He's declared His mandate on equality in His rule book. (The Bible)

I have a dream that Galatians 3:28 will be reality in all of our churches and our fellowship. We have to let our girls know, they can never stop dreaming...never stop imagining...

2 comments:

Deborah said...

Sorry I missed your birthday, and my heart is sore for the disappointment that you have had, but hope that you will take time to do your list. I wish I was one of your friends that could chat to you for a hour or take you for breakfast, dolla I know that you are going to have a fabulous giggling pink day soon and that everything you place your hand to do will be anointed and gifted. Woman of valor what a privilege to be able to pray for your conference and hope the in the future I would be able to attend one. Know that your blog blows wind in my sails. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY DOLLA FRIEND.

Tara Sloan said...

Hope your birthday was fabulous! Love the post and kudos on the quote! It's one of my favs!