On Sunday morning, September 13, 1953, my father faced a really tough decision. My mother was in labor at the end of a troubled pregnancy that had included a late-term case of hard measles. She was headed to the hospital. But Dad was a fundamentalist preacher in a small church and had an obligation to lead the service and give the sermon. The problem was that he had no men to call on to give the sermon.
Enter his mother. She was a deep Christian with a thorough knowledge of the Scripture and led a life of service. She was there to help with the pregnancy. After careful, if hurried, prayer, Dad asked my grandmother to take the service. She agreed to do so.
At least two church members walked out when this woman went up to the pulpit. She would not “usurp” a man’s place by standing behind it, so she stood to one side and down a step.
If I could go back in time, I would rather hear that sermon than witness my own birth. As far as I know, it was the only sermon she ever gave. As the years progressed, my father grew a little more tolerant of women, at one time telling me “women are the backbone of the church.” Unfortunately, he never reached a point where he felt they should teach men. Unless, of course, it was his mother and he had somewhere very important to be.
I’m wondering if other people have had experiences with “breaking the rules” that have had an input on their lives perhaps edging them away from complementarianism; examples of the Spirit overriding human error to use His chosen minister to do His will? I’d love to hear about them.