As I have been reading through my Twitter feed and some blogs and an FB timeline or two there were a few posts that disturbed me not because they were horrendous stories of death and destruction but because of what they were saying about women and ministry. For some reason I had thought that even though there was not as much full participation by women in ministry as there should be that here in the 21st century things had gotten a little better for women within the church. Politically I know what is going on and the absolutely evil policies that the Republicans are pushing to rein in women’s rights and keep them “in their places” but surely the church had moved beyond that archaic view of women’s roles in society and the church. Apparently not. The threads that disturbed me in the social media posts had to do with who was in charge of the blogosphere as it relates to women who post on religious topics on their personal or author blog pages. I was taken aback that such a subject even needed to be discussed as I thought to myself that no one is “in charge” of what I write on the web or what I post to a blog page. And in that “I” is the understanding that it applies not only to my writings but everyone’s writings including women. I’m not a woman but found the whole concept to be demeaning to women and a continuation of the oppressive beliefs that women were somehow not as equal in ministry as men are.
We are living in the 21st century and not in some backwards time in our past that allowed women to be treated as second class citizens controlled and ruled over by their husbands or the other men in their lives. I am embarrassed to read on social media that there are discussions of whether these women bloggers should be under some kind of pastoral authority so that their writings don’t stray too far from the party line. This excerpt from a blog called Ain’t I A Woman blog highlights what is being discussed.
“Maybe you didn’t see the article in Christianity Today? The one wondering about the rise of women’s blogging in evangelicalism, and whether that has created a “crisis of authority”? The one suggesting that maybe women bloggers (okay, maybe all bloggers, but this isn’t clear) should have more accountability? The one that called out Jen Hatmaker especially, because she’s recently come out as supportive of LGBT folks, and therefore her theology is somehow suspect and needs to be kept in check?
Perhaps you missed the vivid discussion that broke out on Twitter, with even heavy-hitters like Rachel Held Evans responding, pointing out the deep flaws in the article, especially because the “crisis of authority” has never really been an issue until women also found their voices in cyberspace” http://aintiawomanblog.net/
Jen Hatmaker was the first reference that I ran across in my Twitter feed last week and that led me to read further and as I did I was taken aback by the very concept of “control” that was being discussed in thinly veiled comments where it was referred to as being under the authority of a pastor. Having been on the internet since somewhere back in 1991 the idea that I would answer to someone about what I thought about a spiritual or religious topic and what I posted on the internet would be very offensive to me. If I was an official emissary of some organization posting on their blog and expressing their views I would naturally be under their authority by choice but what I say and write for myself about my beliefs is under no authority but God. I do not reserve that just for myself as a man either. As far as I am concerned women have the same autonomy as I do in the eyes of God and under God’s authority.
Patriarchy may have been acceptable to previous generations but here in the 21st century it has reached the limits of a functional structure within Christianity. Jesus was much more a feminist than most of the men who hold authority over the women who are productive and valuable members of the body of Christ in this day and age in which we live. It is time that the church see the changes that are blowing in the wind before the wind turns into a hurricane and wipes the archaic thinking that comprises the modern church out of existence. Political power won’t stop what is coming and the more the evangelicals and the Republicans try to legislate women into submission the more that they will rise up and become what they were meant to be in God’s kingdom.