The hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear has been trending on Twitter after being coined by female pastor and author of Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey. Sarah tweeted, "'ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear' gave women who are routinely silenced, dismissed, oppressed, minimized, etc., a place to voice that experience."
Women from all over the world have responded to Bessey's hashtag with their own stories of alleged mistreatment from the Church. This is no doubt a ripple effect of the Women's March on Washington earlier this year, resulting in a Christian version of the women's movement.
Honestly, I get it. I understand the conflict of being an evangelical Christian woman watching other women march, other women stating their cases before audiences and influencing women of all ages, other women becoming CEOs, and other women breaking the glass ceiling in their professions. I want to speak up for girls and women who are oppressed, mistreated, and abused; and often through my speaking and counseling I am able to truly help women who struggle with these difficulties.
But as Christian women, we must ask ourselves, "Are we truly those women who are being oppressed, mistreated, and abused; and is that truly being done by the Church?"
I am not invalidating actual reports of abuse and mistreatment. Those incidences are horrible and do not have any place in the Church of Jesus Christ. What was alarming as I read those tweets on the subject of women and the Church is that the majority of slights women were upset about were actually Biblical principles found in specific Bible verses.
To be told the truth of the Bible is not oppressive; it is freeing. So, for clarification, here are Biblical foundations about the sayings women claimed the Church used to offend and to oppress them:
Women Are Not Preachers.
Titus 3:2 "Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness ... He must manage his family well."
These are the Biblical requirements for an overseer or what is now called "pastor." He is a man first of all. Does this mean women can't teach? Of course not. Does this mean women cannot speak in church? No, it doesn't. As a Christian female speaker, this biblical truth can be hard for me to accept. However, just because this biblical truth is hard to accept does not mean I get to decide it doesn't apply. The Bible clearly states that the role of pastor is for a man.
Women Should be Modest.
1 Timothy 2:9 "Likewise also women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control."
As Christian women, we are responsible for how we dress. Just like anything else, this is a direct reflection upon our relationship with the Lord. This is a calling, a charge, a protection, and a command from our Creator. God loves women and wants to protect us.
Women Are Responsible for Causing Men to Stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:9 "But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
The Bible does not exclusively call out women for causing men to stumble. The Bible calls out any of us who do things that may cause others to stumble in their faith. We do have a responsibility to one another.
Women Are Restricted In Their Church Roles.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first; then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became the transgressor."
Are we women in the Christian church experiencing any oppression and abuse compared to Islamic women? Are any Christian women being threatened to be hanged by their long hair in Hell if their head covering is not wrapped appropriately? Or are we upset because our pride is hurt and we don't want to submit to what God has said about our roles?
Stop calling Jesus' Church oppressive for teaching His commands, while also claiming Jesus is great and worthy of worship. That is a direct contradiction.
If you want an example of #TOCWH, I have one for you. I was called to ministry at the age of eleven. I told my dad, a megachurch pastor, that I wanted to be a missionary.
He said, "Are you sure you want to be a missionary?"
My eleven- year-old reply was, "Well I really want to be a pastor, but I know that's not allowed."
My dad answered, "Julia, you can't be a pastor for the same reason I can't have babies. That is not what you are made to do. But God will use you in many ways in His Church, and I affirm your call to ministry."
My dad's telling me I wouldn't be a pastor did not scar me for life. He wasn't explaining his own opinion. He was explaining the Bible. I did have a hard time with hearing the truth of women's roles in the Church. However, just because I had a hard time accepting this Biblical truth did not mean I got to decide it didn't apply.
Years later, a woman hurt by her hometown church asked me if I could apologize to her on behalf of the entire evangelical church so she could heal. Of course, my answer was "No." I will not apologize for God's Word. Focusing on the one role in the Church that is reserved for men is strikingly similar to Adam and Eve's focusing on the one tree in the Garden of Eden they were told to avoid. Let us stop focusing on the only role the Bible says is exclusively for men. God has charged Christian women with the greatest calling on a life; to tell the world about salvation found through Jesus Christ.