I feel insignificant when I hear there are things you want men to do but not me.
You don’t want me making any final decisions for my family. You don’t mind me “suggesting,” but you really want my father or my husband to make the final call. If there is a situation where my decision is final, I have been told that in your eyes it is sad that there was no man there willing to step up and decide.
Does the man’s decision to pursue you bring you so much more joy than the woman’s? Why would this arrangement be “disappointing” in your eyes, or “less than ideal”? Why is it so important to you that the man make that decision before or instead of me?
When it comes to discerning how our family should walk, I have been taught that you want his vision to prevail over mine, regardless of how inspired by you my vision may be. I should only implement my way under his approval, or not at all if he rejects it. Why should his vision never be implemented under my approval? Why have you given him the “keys to the kingdom” so to speak, wherein he holds all the power to say yes or no about EVERYTHING, but you have not given me the same freedom?
Is my vision always less reflective of your will than his is?
Is there no possibility that in a given situation I may hear better from you about what you want, and that even if I bring it up to him he may not recognize that? I hear that you will “bless me” for following his way regardless, but wouldn’t you instead rather bless me for following your voice? It seems if I were to go with my husband’s way, that I am actually placing my husband’s voice on a greater level of importance than yours, since that is the voice I act on rather than standing on whatever you’ve told me.
I am also taught that you want him to be the driving force for spiritually teaching the children, and in fact, for spiritually leading the family. Why should either of those jobs not be mine? Why am I in a secondary, “support” position automatically, even though your Word says that you give us all different gifts and callings? What if these areas of “leadership” are not his gifts? And isn’t a leader one who knows more about and/or has more experience with a given topic, one who can guide newer ones through difficulties so they can arrive at the level of knowledge or expertise of the leader?
Is it generally a good leadership strategy to put someone in such a capacity if they don’t have the qualifications, experience, wisdom, or familiarity with the topic?
Now, I’m not talking about the reality here, for we both know that there are many people put into positions in the business world that they should not be in, and there are only too many disgruntled employees working under inadequate bosses. But your word teaches the ideal, so I’m not concerned with what the world does, but with what you say the ideal is.
So, is it really your ideal that across the board, completely irrespective of gifts and abilities, you have demanded that one gender make all the final calls and direct all the “action,” especially the most important type, the “spiritual” action of moving towards you?
I have been taught that, in church, you don’t want me to speak your word in any official way, and if I do, you won’t back me up as much as you would a brother – you will only use me “in spite” of who I am.
I have been told that my speaking your word doesn’t glorify you as much as a man’s doing it. I have been told that in a mixed-gender setting, you would rather hear from a man than from me. How am I not to think that you value me less than a man, because you want all of the important things in Your Kingdom – preaching, teaching, and guiding a family – done by a man?
Lest I be told “supportive roles are just as important”, is Christianity not the religion that preaches not settling for less than what we could do? For getting past the limits we set for ourselves, getting out of the pews, believing you can do even more with us than we ever thought? And yet here you are telling me of my limits.
This isn’t the same as different individuals having different callings. This is you saying, “You will never be called to x, y, or z, because you are female.”
Why did you not tell us before we read the Bible chapters on spiritual gifts, that some of the gifts would not apply to us, or be limited for us? We women are not truly free in our spirits to discern what you are calling us to do, because you have already told us what we can’t do.
Why have you chosen to put no such limits on your sons? What is it about women that has made you decide we need “limits”? Are we inherently more likely to harm society than our brothers? Especially in light of all the hurt that has been wrought in our world at the hands of male leaders – are we really so dangerous that even these are preferable to letting us have a “turn at bat”?
If you really do have plans for all men that you don’t have for me, how can I believe that you see me as equal? If leadership is based on gifts, then I have to believe that you are saying you will never give a woman leadership gifts, and if, as many assert, it is irrespective of gifts, then I would have to believe that you have given many women such gifts for essentially no reason.
Neither conclusion points to a God who is purposeful and intentional with his creation, nor equally loving and fully just, with “no partiality.” Help me to understand this.
I don’t want to continue to feel as if I am your second-rate, second-choice creation.
And yet, dear Jesus, I believe you ARE those things – purposeful, intentional, loving, and just – based on what I’ve seen from you in Scripture and in my life. My musings are a product of nights upon nights of struggling with these doctrines, and the unfairness in your character they seemed to present to me.
Show me a better way. The way of love. The way of freedom. The way of power and strength, tendered with love but uninhibited in ferocity. These things are the very makeup of your character, and I don’t believe you will hesitate to give them also to me just because I am female. Help me to understand.
Erin Ortega lives in Southern California with her husband, Erick. She is passionate about academia, egalitarianism, cross-cultural work, teaching, emotional health and worship ministries. Erin strives to make love the guiding principle of her life. Find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thoughtsonegalitarianism.
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