I am a part of a Christian tradition that has ordained women as elders since its inception during the American Holiness movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The first church in which I ever served as a pastor was founded by a female circuit rider who planted churches across west Texas and southeastern […]
Can men be pastors? Can Christian men be teachers, preachers, elders, seminary professors, Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, small group leaders, police officers, elected officials, church treasurers, and so on and so forth? How does that line of questioning make you feel? Why does it sound so off, even offensive?
No matter your church context – whether your church ordains women as ministers of the gospel, whether they involve women as preachers or only in potlucks, whether they draw the line at eldership, or grant full equality in role and function – there are steps men can take to help women feel valued, welcomed, and included. Here are some ways you can “open doors” for women in ministry.
Learning to be an advocate for women is difficult when you have to unlearn years of a complementarian mentality, male privilege and the effect of centuries of patriarchy.
But I believe this is what we are called to pursue.
This has been my journey. Sometimes I think it has been difficult, but what is more difficult is seeing how women are being oppressed. Every man needs to face the messiness of what it means to be egalitarian, regardless of how uncomfortable or challenging it may be.
While at times I identify myself as egalitarian, sometimes it is more useful to say I’m a recovering sexist/complementarian/patriarchist. This reminds me I’m always on a journey in pursuing equality – not only because it means liberation for women from oppressive structures, but also because it means liberation for me.
So here I share a few things I have learned in my journey about being an advocate for women.
Like most kids, our children love their candy. A relatively rare treat in our house, every piece of candy is something to be cherished, savored, and, above all else, hidden from your siblings. I mean, God forbid your older brother finds your hidden stash of Jolly Ranchers!
I think a lot of us view power in a similar way. I’m talking about social power, like who has authority, who exercises leadership and who commands attention in a given situation. As with my kids and their candy, in our guts, we see power as something to be guarded and kept safe, under lock and key. Over the last several years I’ve been wrestling with what to do with the social power that culture gives me as a man, and my conclusion is this:
Out of reverence for Jesus, I am to release my socially-granted power so that others, particularly women, may thrive.
Part of a conversation overheard at Starbucks: “You’re a white American male with a college degree. The world is your oyster – don’t ever forget that!”
I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege lately.
Well, not just lately. I overheard that conversation at a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. more than a year ago, and it still haunts me. The Oxford Dictionary defines privilege as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group”. Simply put, privilege has to do with how groups in society accommodate and cater to you.
I think most people are well aware of racial and class privilege, but I don’t see the same level of awareness of male privilege, at least not in Christian circles.
Over the past few months I’ve had several conversations with male friends who disagree that they are “over-privileged” in their communities of faith, even though they may agree that women have often been at a disadvantage. I had been praying and mulling over how to break through this impasse when I came across an anonymous post, “A Definitive Guide to White Privilege”. There are a lot of these posts floating around, but this one had a lot of examples that I think are also true of male privilege. I took the liberty of rewriting the list from my vantage point as a woman in the church.