Be prepared for the not-so-nice side of advocating for equality.
I think this particular post may resonate with some more than others, and that all depends on where we each find ourselves in this journey towards equality. Where ever you find yourself, I hope that you find this helpful and eye opening.
I’m here to be honest with you and to let you know that the road to gender equality isn’t always an easy one. From my experience, this has been the rockiest journey that I’ve ever embarked on. Some of you come from traditions where gender equality in the church, home, and society was the norm. You have a difficult time imagining the set-up to be any different, because this has always been your normal. Some of you come from, or are currently in, backgrounds similar to mine. For my entire life, my church membership has been at a Southern Baptist church with a very complementarian leaning. At almost 24 years old, I still have never seen or heard a woman speak or preach from the church pulpit. I have only ever heard women speak and teach the Bible in conference settings or something similar.
Whether you have come out of a complementarian background and embraced gender equality, are still in the complementarian tradition and are here to engage and learn more about egalitarianism and biblical gender equality, or have been in the tradition of equality for quite some time; I hope that you find the following to be beneficial in understanding that this road will almost certainly not be an easy one. It may be easier for some than others, but I want you all to be prepared for the not-so-nice side of advocating for equality.
I came out of the complementarian tradition. The more I studied Scripture and examined the life of Jesus, I was led to embrace the theology of egalitarianism—the belief that men and women are equal in authority and leadership in the church, home, and society. When I became a vocal advocate for gender equality, the backlash began to come in full force.
- I’ve been called a heretic.
- I’ve been called a Jezebel.
- I’ve been called a Satanist and a promoter of Satanism.
- I’ve had strangers tell me that I’m not following the true God, rather, a false god inside of myself.
- I’ve have strangers tell me that I haven’t actually experienced true salvation.
- I’ve had a (now former) church friend tell me that I need to focus more on “finding a real relationship with Jesus” and less on “advocating my own agenda.”
- I’ve been told that my ministry is not God ordained because it is “outright condemned in Scripture.”
- I’ve been told that I need to set aside my “ego” and “humbly re-read the Bible for God’s instruction.”
- I’ve been told that I’m “misguided and need to turn my eyes to the Lord’s Word; because my tradition is blinding me from the Bible, and I am in rebellion to the order God has placed on me. I am directly violating His Word.”
- I’ve been told to “actually read the Bible for myself,” and that my stance is “not to further the Gospel but my own self-interest.”
- I’ve been told that I’m only about promoting “my equality agenda” over promoting the Gospel.
- I have an undergraduate degree in theology and some seminary schooling, yet my education is constantly attacked and degraded.
- I have too much education.
- I don’t have enough education.
- I need to invest in a “real education.”
- “Degrees don’t matter,” and just because I have a degree in the field doesn’t mean I have more knowledge on the subject than those who don’t.
- I was told by a stranger that she would “love to be at my judgment day so that she could watch me argue with God.”
- My home church (complementarian) of 23 years, asked me to leave due to my vocalization of gender equality.
Everything I have just listed was either said to me or written to me in response to my advocating for gender equality. I want you all to see this because, depending on the type of people you encounter who disagree with you, I want you to be prepared to encounter these kinds of situations. This is real.
I spend much of my life thinking about the gender equality issue, and sometimes I wonder if it is all just a waste of time and energy. Maybe it is, but I can’t seem to stop; because there are few things on earth which offend me more than the name of God being used to silence and oppress half of His human creation. I see too many women hurt, insulted, abused, and disrespected by complementarian theology to be able to turn away completely. So, instead, I pray that God will use me to help create change wherever I can. At times it can be frustrating to see how slowly things move forward, but for me, it is comforting and energizing to know there are other people fighting for women and their spiritual freedom.
Advocating isn’t always easy. Some people will try to hurt you and knock you down. Get back up and keep going. That’s what we have to do. If I knew this would be the result of my choice to become an egalitarian and advocate for gender equality, would I still choose to put myself in this battle? Yes. Yes, I would; because justice is not an issue with room for compromise.