Here's a piece I wrote for her.meneutics: The Gender Conversation We Aren't Having
I've been kicking around the ideas in this piece for a while, dissatisfied by a lot of the conversation I find about gender in evangelicalism.
I felt like any talk about women devolved immediately into arguments about Greek verbs--everyone smugly secure in their own theological position. Meanwhile, no one was talking about sexism as a reality, as a sin. In fact, arguing theology could actually be a way to avoid the messier, truer, more vulnerable conversations about privilege, shame, bias, and gender that we need to be having.
I also felt like sometimes these egalitarian-complementarian arguments could make us stay in our silos and not deal with realities that the church can (and must) lead in--like seeking healthy marriages and legal protections for women.
I shared drafts of this piece with more people than I normally do and got feedback from those on both "sides"-- a process that helped me think this through and challenged me. As I heard from others, I became more and more convinced that this is a conversation the church needs to have.
One friend told me that members of her church find these labels completely out-of-touch, almost a relic, useless to help them live faithfully as followers of Jesus. And, last week, at a conference with clergy and the thinkers from all over the country, we sat in a circle and talked about these issues (and this piece)-- some of the clergy were from denominations that oppose the ordination of women (with vehemence); others were for the ordination of women. But as we talked about our marriages, ministry, sexism, and flourishing of women, we couldn't even come up with a definition for these words. I'd describe my marriage and a purportedly complementarian pastor would say, "I actually completely agree with your points there and would say the same thing about my marriage." Or a complementarian would talk about the importance of gender differences and a female head pastor would say, "I totally agree with what you are saying." And these were smart, theologically robust leaders. Who sat around and mostly agreed with each other and really liked each other. It made me wonder how much good would come from leaders and church members having these kinds of nuanced conversations, seeking together the flourishing of women wherever we are....so I hope for more.
The flourishing of women has always been a tell-tale sign of the gospel coming to a community--may it be true of the church today!