I’m not sure if I ever totally believed that the Bible mandated inequality between the sexes, but that’s just the way it was. I grew up in a church that didn’t necessarily preach such inequalities, but practiced them none the less. By their example I understood that there was a “man’s place” and a “woman’s place.” The men held positions of leadership and the women were in charge of the nursery and potluck dinners.
On Saturday, May 4, prominent Christian feminist and celebrated author Rachel Held Evans (37) died unexpectedly of complications from the flu. Rachel was a courageous voice for those of us who have felt unheard and unseen in the church.
For the last five years, it seems that sex trafficking has become the social justice issue—the cause that everyone can get behind. Diverse groups of people who agree on nothing else are united in their conviction that sexual slavery is evil. Still, many groups diverge over which method best eradicates it.
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."
Why are no women applying? None are eligible. Why? They don’t have sufficient training, and many feel they don’t fit the position description. Why? They’ve been excluded from training programs and the position has been geared toward men. Why? Only men have been permitted to fill these positions and only men have been defining what makes a good leader.
We as a society and a church need to talk about “no.” Because Mollie Tibbetts said “no” and now she’s dead. Because Parisian Marie Laguerre said “no” to a cat-caller and was slapped in the face. Because Ariana Grande sang a beautiful tribute to Aretha Franklin and was groped on live television by a pastor.
As I read the church’s brief report, my anger mounted. We knew that my friend had been abused. But we were now being told by our spiritual leaders, people with no professional training or knowledge on the subject, that she had not been abused.