Thursday, June 07, 2012

Speaking Up

I have debated for a long time (read: years) writing a post about why I am an egalitarian (i.e., I believe women and men are equal and should be able to have the same roles in the church and the home) as opposed to a complementarian (i.e., those who believe men and women have separate roles and that women should submit to men's leadership in the church and the home). I have hesitated for many reasons: (1) I am afraid of offending people; (2) I can't adequately put into words all that I think and feel about this topic; and (3) I'm ashamed that this is even still an issue in the church.

But, I can no longer resist writing about this topic. This week, Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite bloggers, is doing a series called "One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality," which aims to make a case for egalitarianism based on Scripture, reason, and tradition. It has been incredible. I highly recommend the whole series, but particularly these posts:

4 Common Misconceptions about Egalitarianism
Dan [Rachel's husband] on Roles, Leadership, and Supporting Your Partner
Who's Who among Biblical Women Leaders
For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak

I realize that I am biased, as I already believed in Rachel's position before reading her posts, but I truly believe she makes a logical, Scripture-based argument for the equality of women and men in the home and church (and other areas of society, although this does not seem to be contested by most evangelicals). I don't think I can add much to the series, as she's said everything I would say (and more), but with much more eloquence. I will make one point, though:

I have often heard the following sentiment expressed by church-goers: We know women should be allowed to have the same roles as men, but we can't change our practices because we don't want to offend our members who believe differently. I believe there is a huge flaw in this line of reasoning. It assumes that there are two options: (1) continue on the current path and some people might be inconvenienced but not hurt or (2) change paths and hurt a lot of people. There is no recognition of the fact that the church's current practices are hurting women now. To let a practice we know is harmful continue just to avoid offending someone is wrong. I have been convicted by this series that I need to renew my efforts to encourage positive change in the church tradition I'm part of. And, I've been reminded that there are many other like-minded Christians out there, which is incredibly encouraging.


Mica said...

Wow! I had NO idea that this was an issue. Well, that it was an issue with a name and two defined sides. I'm sad we don't have knitting club this summer because I'd really like to talk to you about it!

I think you're such an impressive person, Kayla. You express your opinions logically and respectfully, and I can tell that you always put a lot of thought into what you write and say. (Unlike, say, me...)

Kalyn Gensic said...

You already know I agree with all of this, but I wanted to comment anyways. I totally agree. I'll have to say that now that I am expecting a baby girl, I feel more confident than ever about mine and BJ's decision to join a church tradition that has long practiced gender equality. I want people who care about this issue to stay in the Churches of Christ and be change agents because I will always want what is best for the Church of Christ. That being said, I know that as a minister's wife and I mother, I can't fight that battle. To be frank, I fear that my children (especially my daughter) would end up casualties, and I'm not willing to take the chance. They will have enough on their plates just being preacher's kids. But I do have a lot of hope that intelligent, loving people like you and Darby can help make the changes that are so desperately needed.

Jenn said...

Oh Kayla, I couldn't agree with you more. It is so hard to express (eloquently, like you said), how I feel about this as well. Therefore, I too have sat in silence. I do enjoy, appreciate, and respect the fact that my church sees this differently and allows women to be in leadership roles and involved in services. But from the other side, I've heard the statement you quoted that "we do not want to upset" _____ by changing things.

All we can do is pray, encourage, and do our part so that in time, change will happen... all for the better of the church, and for us as Christians.