There are experiences that I have as a woman in ministry that my male colleagues don’t. Some are obvious, others are subtle. I was recently at a worship service that involved a number of local clergy. All involved in the service were men. I was probably the only female clergy present. I glanced through the bulletin before the service started – only men would be preaching, praying, or reading Scripture. I was probably the only person in the room who noticed. Some of the pastors, being complementarians, would find this entirely appropriate. Others, even though they may be egalitarian, likely didn’t consider this, or didn’t see it as problematic. I imagined that people would notice if only women were preaching, praying, and reading Scripture. I felt uncomfortable. And then I wondered why.
Should it matter? We’re all gathered together to worship God. Get over it. Unity in Christ. Stop making such a big deal of these things.
But in the back of my head I kept thinking about the complementarian pastors in the room, and their strong conviction that I shouldn’t be doing the very things that God has called me to do.
But who cares what they think? Let it go. Unity in Christ.
I stuffed those thoughts down in my soul.
Don’t let them distract you.
The first pastor preached. It was good – we stand in God’s presence and serve out of that experience.
Yes. I serve because God has called me into his presence. I serve because of what Christ has done for me. I’m letting it go. I answer to God only.
The next pastor shares some thoughts. His thoughts ramble. They are mildly sexist. He praises the beauty of a fellow pastor’s wife and that man’s good choice in marrying her. I’m uncomfortable again. I wonder, what if she wasn’t beautiful? Would it then have been a bad choice? He mentions a Christian leader who is well known for his stance against the equality of women in the church and home. I’m starting to feel angry. By the time he is finished, my soul feels like screaming, but it shrinks inside of me.
Maybe I shouldn’t be here. Maybe this isn’t a supportive place for me. Maybe it’s not safe here. Everyone else seems to be enjoying this pastor’s words. Why can’t I ignore them? Will I ever find a place to serve? Why did God call me here?
It starts to feel oppressive.
Stop focusing on it.
I can feel the presence of complementarianism in the room. I begin to think about the destructive nature of the lie. It is a lie. It’s evil. It’s from Satan. It’s sin. I get angrier. One of Satan’s greatest deceptions has been the lie that women aren’t equal and aren’t called. Look at the damage that lie has done! Look at the evil perpetrated by man in search of power! The hands and feet of half the church have been in chains for centuries, and Satan has laughed at the silencing of women whom God has called to cry out the name of Jesus! Satan has laughed as the women who are called to preach the word of God sit silent in submission. Satan takes joy in the twisting of God’s word to the benefit of evil. It is what he has done since the beginning of time. It is his most ancient trick. And he laughs, because it works. But women are resilient. They find ways to preach and share God’s word. They enter the mission field. They write books. They teach in places where men in power have deemed it appropriate for them to teach. But still Satan finds ways. He belittles them. They experience abuse. He reminds us all that women are nothing more than accessories. Pick a pretty one, and you will have made a good choice.
I’m angry at Satan. I’m angry at evil. And I’m angry at the men who perpetuate this lie from the pit of hell in their desire to remain in control. The lure of control is powerful. Satan knows this.
I’m just angry.
I can’t focus any longer.
I am failing at Unity. I’m not good at being a Christian. Where is my grace? Where is my willingness to join together even in our differences? But how can I join together if I’m not invited?
Forget it. Unity. Humble yourself.
I’m still angry, but I push it down.
It’s time to sing.
Music is playing.
Focus. You’re here to worship.
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Christ was scorned…
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
Christ is victorious. The lies of Satan have no grip on you.
NO POWER OF HELL, NO SCHEME OF MAN
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
I’m overwhelmed. God’s presence bowls me over. I’m filled with his presence. Satan’s power fails. Man’s power fails.
NO POWER OF HELL, NO SCHEME OF MAN
The words ring in my ears.
My anger melts away like hot wax dripping down a candle. It runs off my soul.
Not only can Satan and man with their schemes not take me away from the hand of God, but it is in the POWER of Christ that I stand.
I stand in the power of Christ.
His power in me is greater than any power in the world.
I hear God calling again.
I have called you. You are mine.
No power of Hell, no scheme of man.
No scheme of man.
I stand and I pastor in the power of Christ.
The same power that overcomes death and sin.
The same power that spoke the world into being.
The same power that will defeat sin and thwart the plans of evil.
Praise be to God.
Here in the power of Christ I stand.