God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this


From everyone who has been given much...

Posted by God Loves Women on January 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Over the last couple of days I have followed Sarah Moon’s (@SarahNMoon) tweets with interest.  She spoke out about her feelings regarding the Emerging Church (if you’re not familiar with this term you can find out more across at Wikipedia).  Sarah shared her problems with the fact the movement is heavily male (to clarify, the men in it are not overweight, but rather, there are mostly men leading within it).  She listed the names of some men she felt contributed to this and within moments one of these men (who has a rather large following, both on twitter and off) tweeted her to object to being called sexist, even though Sarah’s original tweets were not addressed to him with an @ thingy (if you’re not a tweeter, this bit will make little sense to you... )


What ensued was Sarah sharing her frustrations with the emerging church man’s refusal to listen to her concerns and the man telling others not to “feed the trolls” and complaining about Sarah’s accusation of sexism.  Then other people began engaging on either side of the situation tweeting their thoughts and feelings.


Anyway, this situation got me thinking about sexism, power, privilege and the different facets of the church.  This man with all his power and followers felt the need to call Sarah out publically for her accusation, without thinking about how this may have intimidated her, and refusing to listen to her concerns or frustrations.


Of course being accused of sexism is hurtful and may even seem like a form of defamation; a strong response may feel the right thing to do.  However, when someone challenges us, should we respond with indignation, or listen to what they have shared, and consider it?


My thinking led me to working through how we respond to criticism.  So often when we are called on our behaviour our immediate response is to assume the person criticising us is wrong, and we feel indignant, “how could they say this about me?  I’m a good person!”


Then on the other side of this, when we attempt to call out others on their behaviour, we feel guilty for inconveniencing them the with truth, and think that perhaps we are really wrong for challenging them, and maybe it’s all just in our head anyway…


What occurred to me was that our individualistic culture, coupled with the warped teaching on grace and forgiveness that so many Christians have heard, we have a situation where it’s almost impossible to call out people and be sure they will hear us.


We’re taught to be gracious and listen and love others as ourselves; to turn the other cheek and be peacemakers.  But the times Jesus called the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” and the way he allowed the rich young ruler to walk away, and the way He called Peter “satan”, are often missed out in our understanding of what being a peacemaker looks like.


For those of us on the receiving end of criticism, we naturally shut down from hearing things which we don’t think we are like, especially it’s about sexism or furtherance of oppression.  We all like to imagine that we’re wonderful people (regardless of all that Christian stuff about us all being sinners, none of us actually wants someone to point out the ways we are sinning... ) 


But this is not the Gospel.  Not for any of us.  Jesus’ teachings were about showing us the state of our hearts.  He was about subverting power structures and showing each of us how to give up our power and be willing to die for Him, so that then we could truly live for Him.


To believe that we are not sexist, or racist or homophobic is to underestimate the very power structures that seek to keep oppression in place.  As a white, able bodied woman, born and living in the UK and married to a white man, denying the privilege and power this gives me would be to walk blindly through life.  Yes, I have also been on the receiving end of inequality and oppression and continue to live within a society which discriminates against women, but that in no way invalidates the privilege and power I hold.

So what next?   Do we just assume every critical thing someone says to us is true?  Do we live in a place of perpetual self hatred?  Clearly not, but we can live out the teachings of Jesus:


Repenting: Looking deep into our heart.  Recognising the amount of power and privilege each of us has.  Living each day, being willing to be broken by the state of the world and our contribution to it.  Not living in a place of guilt, but dying to ourselves daily, and picking up our cross, the cross of privilege and power, owning the ways we have added to oppression and choosing to be followers of the Way.


Discipleship: Not some sort of let’s talk about our feelings blah blah blah…  But a willingness to live in vulnerability to others calling us out.   I’m not talking about accepting abuse or bullying, but if we want to live in a truly anti-oppressive way we must be willing to repent, day by day, and then to listen and acknowledge the potential that someone’s criticisms of us may have validity.  


Fighting the Powers: This is a spiritual battle, and the powers of racism, patriarchy, homophobia, and other evils are very much in the Church; not only are they in the Church, they are upheld, perpetuated and perpetrated by Christians.  The devil is in the Church and we must fight him with all we can.  Not by using arguments of grace to shut people up, but by following Jesus’ model of a love that is strong and true.


And as Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”   Let us never forget that, in any of our interactions, either on, or offline.

Categories: The Church, Education

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