“Do you want a divorce?” My husband was momentarily speechless. From the earliest days of our marriage, we struggled with sex. By the time I asked the question that so shocked my husband, it was apparent that we couldn’t resolve the issue by talking to each other or to our friends or by reading books.
I know that lack of sex and consent education harmed my husband’s and my sex life in the early years of our marriage. But as I look back, I realize that’s only one side of the coin. The other was biblical illiteracy.
Growing up in the church, “I didn’t sense that women were oppressed,” author and seminary professor Cleophus J. LaRue admitted. The Baptist church he attended was made up of 75% women, and they served in many leadership positions.
I wondered if something was wrong with me, a woman, or with my female body. Did I dress too provocatively? I began to hide behind loose clothes and old thrift finds. I diminished myself, listening to the messages of shame and fear. Bowing to the voice that whispered that I was dust—unclean.
This story, from the point of view of a young girl, is about the collective responsibility of the church—male and female alike—to examine the type of environment we create not only through our theological stances, but also through our daily actions and interactions, so that we may make the church a safe and healthy place for girls and women.
What good, I feared, would it do my daughter to know that she was equal, but only in theory? How could she envision herself preaching if there were no women to spark her imagination? How could she be what she could not see?