I sat in the back row of the church and quietly observed.
The brave woman who had invited me to the event had taught me tremendous truths about biblical sexuality in my postgraduate course and now she was releasing her very own set of booklets for toddlers, teenagers, and parents. She has such a profound call on her life to teach true biblical sexuality to the world, especially to Africa, so I was excited to be among her honored guests. Unbeknownst to me at the offset, the night would take a dramatic turn, much to my horror.
While the brave woman stood sharing her vision, her words were not yet cold when a young man jumped up and grabbed the microphone, he began bombastically telling the audience that he was this woman’s (who was three times his age) spiritual father and that unless he prayed for her that night, she would not be released into her calling and her booklets would be a flop. I looked around for the camera and thought it must be a joke of some kind, but it was no joke because he continued to speak this way for almost half an hour. He then opened the stage and said all the pastors (but only the male pastors, or as he called them, only the “fathers of the house”) must come forward to pray and release this brave woman. I watched as men, old and young, began scrambling over one another to be at the front of the stage, and I watched how they pushed this brave woman down while they prayed. I saw her shrinking beneath their weight, I watched her grow smaller and smaller until I could not recognize her anymore. The rest of the evening went on in much the same way until the conclusion of the night.
Young women were serving tea and ushering people around. These young women were called forward to be thanked, but their invitation to the front went like this: “let the spiritual sons of the house come forward.” Funny enough, all of those who were serving just like Jesus did, were women. Astoundingly, they were addressed as spiritual sons, not daughters. It was as though everyone looked past, over, and under the women who were the real leaders there that night. Their gender was denied and they were forced down. What is more, these women believe that this is how it should be. I saw them address each other in like manner at the end.
I am unable to fully articulate the tragedy of what I saw, but, more importantly, I struggle to understand how many can grasp a theology of gender that disregards the purpose, the call, and the equality of women. God releases us into our callings. God anoints us with oil and calls us beautiful daughters, and God has equipped us to be co-heirs, co rulers, and fierce leaders in his congregation. I can only hope and pray that things are rapidly changing as I believe they are. I am thankful to the men and women around me who are fighting for biblical equality; this brings joy and healing to my soul and the souls of those around me.