The world places conditions on who may be welcomed, and even citizens of the most “civilized” nations welcome some and struggle to tolerate others. But the church is called to welcome all, not because of any system of classification or merit, but “because God has welcomed them” (Rom. 14:1ff; 15:7).
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.
All of a sudden, it seemed that paper crowns were everywhere in the Christian community, distributed to women with a discussion about how we are all princesses. It was a candy-coated, conviction-free reminder I got every time I walked into a women’s discipleship group, youth ministry, or Christian bookstore—you are a princess because your Father is a king.
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.
There is no love in patriarchy. There is no respect. There is only perpetual immaturity, dependency, and frustration for the man who is subjected to the most sophisticated manipulation as his wife gives over control and authority to him.
As a girl growing up in an evangelical church, I was taught to see Christ’s likeness in male heroes like Moses, David, and Paul. The imagery of redemption was male, too. There were farmers, owners of vineyards, a prodigal son, a Good Samaritan. All of them men.
It was a typical summer weekend service at our local church. I was perusing the bulletin announcements about our son’s upcoming youth group trip that included a water park excursion. Amidst the details for the trip was the following blurb instructing students what to bring: