Something happened this week that caused me to stop and reflect a little. I have gotten somewhat immune to the reactions I get as a female preacher. I have been argued with, informed that hell was my future (as well as all my congregants), I have been banned from places, barred from associations, and even physically attacked all beause I have dared to trod where apparently only men are allowed (in some opinions). I have stepped aside on three occassions for weddings/funerals because someone in the family did not approve of my gender. There are some who do not think that a wedding is legitimate if a woman performs it. What if a female judge performed the wedding? Marriages are civil unions and the minister/judge/whomever… is licensed by the state so it is legit. The hang up seems to be whether or not it is legit in the eyes of God.
For the first time, a bride told her family that she was having me officiate and that was that. Her sacrifice is that there won’t be certain family members in the wedding and maybe not even attending the wedding. What really got me though was the wording the family used when speaking with the bride. You see they told her that they were trying to raise their children right and that they didn’t want them to see a woman pastor because it wasn’t right. My first reaction was amazament and my first thought was, “Well! It’s not like I will be doing a pole dance!” I guess I need to zip my robe all the way up so there is no cleavage showing in the LAYERS of clothing that UMC clergy have on anyway.
The bride’s refusal to give in to the family made me stop. First, I was humbled and awed because Ihave gotten used to just stepping aside. It is the pastoral thing to do in order to try to help a family keep peace and have a truly blessed wedding day. It does grate on the nerves, I will admit. What I am supposed to do – have gender reassignment surgery? Then I am in trouble for that as well.
Second, I have to look at what Christ did. He never addresses the issue. What he did do was actually speak to women as though they were human and not sofas. He raised them up, let them be effective, healed them, and in general was a decent guy. He wasn’t threatened and didn’t feel the need to exert any kind of power or authority. He went even further and he touched lepers, ate with tax collectors, and went into all the wrong parts of town.
What does it mean in today’s world to be under Christ’s archy? For one thing, I believe we need to quit having turf wars. A woman was the very first to proclaim the gospel and the men didn’t believe her even then! Next, we need to be greatful for any who feel they are called and step up and out to try to show the love and grace of God to others. This world is bruised and battered. It is time for us to focus on that part not on who gets to do the nursing. There was a time when women weren’t allowed to do that either……
There is a complete lack of bias and judgement in the way in which Christ ministered, healed, and taught. The only folks that he called out and was forceful with were the pious, judgemental, religious folk of the day who were more about being right and important than they were about being Godly.
I was raised that women were to know their place and not be in ministry. I have changed and so has my father. I have true compassion for folks who believe that. I had to come a long way to be who I am. There is more than enough work to do for everyone. It is all right that I go off to Africa by myself to be a missionary and preach the gospel and minister to folks. It is not all right that I preach the gospel and minister to folks in the pulpits of America. Double standard much? Seriously, it is time for the debate to end. I am tired. I do not do what I do to be a bra burning rebellious woman who needs to dominate men. I don’t tell them they are going to hell because they are daring to put words in God’s mouth and daring to put stumbling blocks in the way of those who are called. I do what I do because God has called me. Since God does the calling, I am coming to understand that I do not need to justify my actions to humanity. God trumps. Thank God!
Being under Christ’s archy means letting go of certain ideas. Jesus did all the wrong things in order to do all the right things. What right things will you do?