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Published Date: March 27, 2009

Published Date: March 27, 2009

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Personal Story

When I think about my journey as a Christian I cannot separate it from my views on equality. As I have read personal stories of some on the CBE website I have noticed that most are about how those individuals came from a patriarchal viewpoint to an egalitarian one. My story is a bit different. You see I have always been an egalitarian. I am now 20 years old and can make that statement with certainty. As I grow older and I reflect on my past I can always come to the same conclusion: prejudices and stereotypes have to be taught—they are not inherent. Such was the case with me.

 I became a Christian when I was four years old. My great-grandmother took me to church and taught me about God and Jesus’ love for me. She was also a good example of a woman in leadership within the church. She was the clerk of the church for 33 years. Also there were women Sunday school teachers who taught both men and women. There were also female evangelists; my cousin was one such great preacher.

 I’m a Pentecostal Christian. I attend the same church that I was dedicated in when I was a year old, the Old Fort Church of God. My denomination which is headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, has from its inception allowed women in ministry. The Church of God now ordains women as pastors and hopefully soon will ordain them as overseers (bishops). So you can see from my childhood that egalitarian principles have long been instilled. These principles were instilled by example and not by instruction; that is to say ”women in ministry” was never a topic of sermons or Sunday school lessons. If someone had come to me as a child and said that women shouldn’t teach or preach, it would have been a concept totally foreign to me. So it’s very apparent to me that patriarchy is not the default view that people come to when they first begin to study the Bible.

         Women have always been positive role models in my life. My mother is strong, assertive, and a born leader. She also has a disposition that I find humorous, but to those who cross her, let’s just say they live to regret it. My mother is a woman who knows what she wants and is definitely not a push over (she’d be the one pushing over). My aunt is a woman of grace and poise and knows how to get the job done. My grandmother is a woman who is also assertive and has no trouble speaking her mind. No one inside or outside of the family would dare try to change her. The men in my family are extremely laid back and prefer to simply go with the flow. They do not try to rule their wives, but instead both sides complement one another and work together.   

         My views started to have words put to them when I was in my freshman year of high school. It wasn’t long until I realized that everyone in general didn’t exactly hold my views on God and life. When you go to public high school, as I’m sure most everyone could well imagine, you get viewpoints from absolutely every perspective. Yet living in the Deep South and in an area largely dominated by various forms of Baptist churches (namely free will, independent, fundamental, and a few southern Baptists) I found that my views on equality were not very well accepted. Students who did not even profess to be Christians would want to argue that a woman had no place in the pulpit. Yet my views remain strong and unwavering.

         I would have to say that this issue of gender equality in the church is one of my major “soapboxes.” For some reason the Lord has put a passion within me to see women have full rights restored to them within the church. I often have asked myself: could this passion really be from God? But then I think to myself: what have I got to lose? I’m a man; all venues of ministry are open to me. Yet it burns within me like a fire shut up deep down in my bones. It breaks my heart when I think of women and girls who may have a calling to impact the kingdom and are told by churches that the Bible says that they can’t preach, lead or do anything of substance when men are involved.

         I hope in my lifetime that we will see the patriarchal viewpoint die and that biblical equality will one day prevail. In the meantime I will continue to share my views and to use the platforms God gives me and fight for this cause; a cause to rally all troops in God’s army—men and women side by side together. Deborah’s arise, Esther’s arise, Huldah’s arise, Phoebe’s arise. Women and men arise into your callings—go forth and conquer together. Yes, I am truly blessed to know biblical equality and I’m truly blessed to see that my generation is moving away from patriarchal heresy and into true biblical relationships and ways of life in both the church and elsewhere. This is my story and I’m sticking to it………Donald