|Escape by nakedpastor|
This is my third post as part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event, One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality. You can follow this event on Twitter by entering #mutuality2012 to read all entries by participating bloggers.
At the start of Mutuality Week, I was intimidated. I read some of the first posts popping up on twitter from other bloggers, and Rachel Held Evans' amazingly informative posts and felt immediately inadequate. There were posts from a historical, theological and feminist perspective. What original contribution could I possibly make that someone else, who has stood for equality much longer than I, could not do better?
All I had that was original was my own story and struggle through the sometimes murky waters of determining where one stands in a sea of opinions. Many have read a small piece of my experience. Although it was painful, it truly served as a catalyst in my faith and a lot of my beliefs. Today I offer you the next chapter.
As I corresponded with mostly women who had left Mars Hill, a common theme emerged. The emphasis on complementarian relationships was oppressive and often the main thing that sent women packing. The spiritual abuse stories usually began once the questioning began or the decision to leave had already been made.
The question that kept coming up, through conversations and in my own mind, was this: Was the way Mars Hill taught and practiced complementarian roles or the viewpoint itself oppressive to women?
I was very reluctant to reject complementarian teachings without full understanding what it meant to be egalitarian. I had been taught to varying degrees Paul's headship teachings throughout most of my 20 year church experience. Along with that I was taught that due to Eve's sin in the garden, women were somehow to blame and could not be trusted and must continue to "pay" as "daughters of Eve". When pressed I remained neutral. I even "trademarked" a term for my position: egalimentarian.
(Noun) A person who wishes to remain neutral in the debate between egalitarians and complementarians. One who does not advocate either principle but may secretly support one position or the other.
This was my "official" position. Secretly, this question continued to eat away at me. My first introduction to another school of thought was when Kaelee recommended her friend's blog: http://christinemarietta.com/.
The current post was called: A Message to Discontented Christian Women
"So, to women within Mars Hill, or any other community, who struggle with pervasive feelings of guilt and shame, who find themselves confessing and repenting but never feeling any better, who struggle with wanting to submit to their husbands (or who perhaps find a relief in submitting out of a fear of their own competence), I offer this: You can trust yourself. There’s a strong Biblical basis for you trusting yourself. I believe that your discontent is telling you something important. I think your so-called sinful desires that never really go away are not actually sin, but the imprint of God, the voice of the Spirit you received at both birth and baptism, guiding you in that still and silent way towards true life and freedom. Many of your sisters and brothers in Christ have held this theology of self-love, self-trust, and original goodness throughout the centuries. It is as legitimate as the messages you hear from your pulpit, just preached a little more quietly."
(also don't miss this comment!)
WHAT!?!?! This was a new idea for me. I was terrified and intrigued. I was put off when I found that Christine studied Feminist Theology, was a therapist (bad personal experience) AND she referred to God in feminine ways. This went against everything I had been taught. But I began to look forward to her posts. They were my "guilty pleasure". I found myself referring other women to her posts often...specifically:
Normal Theology and the Council of Whitby (or Why You Believe What You Believe)
Coming Out Feminist or Anything
Being Born Again and Dying to Self
She had opened a door in my mind and heart that I could not shut. In this time, I also discovered http://www.stuffchristianculturelikes.com/ and got to know Stephanie Drury. Her ability to humorously identify between Christian culture and the heart of Jesus and still hold on tight empowered me to call BULLS**T when I see it.
I am not sure how I stumbled upon The Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson. All I know is that reading other women's stories, the statistics from The Barna Group, and Jim's demonstration of how Jesus empowered women at every opportunity convinced me that he was right, "women are Jesus' favorite group of outsiders".
It was official. I was no longer on the fence, no longer neutral. I could not, with conviction, continue to believe that it is God's intention that women be treated the way complementarians believe they should.
I just didn't want to to tell anybody.
Tomorrow I will continue my story...Egalimentarian, Part Deuce