It was the week of my final interview for ordination. I had turned in my paper on pastoral theology, passed one round of interviews at the conference level, and was headed into my interviews on the national level. I was taking a class that same week with fellow ministers, male and female, in various stages of the ordination process. It just so happened that those of us in the final stage in the class were women.
I have always believed in God. But I didn’t always believe that God loved me. Patriarchal theology gave me no reason to think that I mattered like men mattered. For much of my life, I felt like I was standing on the very edge of the body of Christ, just waiting to be pushed out.
“He’s kicking.” Few words can elicit as much excitement from me these days. A few times a day, my sister rests her hand on her stomach and proclaims my new favorite phrase, “He’s kicking.” I try to wait patiently, hoping she’ll grab my hand and place it over the offending limb.
It can be very difficult to know what makes a solid male ally, so I took a stab at answering that question. I’ve created a list of 10 ways men can act on their Christian feminism, with specific emphasis on the church.
I live in an age of fearless women. I live among the fire-starters, earth-shakers, and pot-stirrers. I live among women who cannot be bought, shifted, or erased. They are powerfully present, steady on their feet, and certain of their worth.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were wise, simple, and elegant. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all."
We think that to be strong women, we must pour out endlessly, we must spend of ourselves, sometimes until nothing is left. But many of us continue to do so, long past when our reserves have run dry, because we think we have something to prove. Because we don’t see that our strength is in our skin and not our armor, in our love and not our fear.
In a recent Arisearticle, Amy Buckley recounted an exchange between herself and a group of men who accused Christian feminists of using a hermeneutic of pain to interpret the Bible. It was their way of suggesting that feminists do not understand Scripture because they identify strongly with people who suffer.
I will never forget the first time I voted. I was 18, and nervously walked into that polling booth with my parents. I was in awe that “my vote” might actually make a difference in choosing the leader of our country. It was an honor and privilege I have never taken lightly.
The tragedy in the Christian community is that our pattern of limiting up-front communication to men while women labor in relative silence and subordination behind the scenes has obscured the fact that together women and men are a community of priests.