I am a woman. I have been married, divorced and remarried. I had a mental health breakdown and have survived trauma. Maintaining a state of mental wellbeing can be a delicate balance. I have a child with an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and strongly suspect I am Neurodivergent myself. I work part time around my family’s needs. For all of these reasons I have been on the receiving end of discrimination from within the Church.
I have attended independent non-denominational church plants, Anglican churches, Baptist churches, Evangelical churches, and did part of my training in a Catholic school. In all of those settings, every single one, I encountered discrimination hidden behind a veil of Christianity. In some of them, not so hidden.
‘Part time workers can’t do their jobs properly’.
‘We can’t do anything differently just because someone is different.’
‘Thank you for your offer but someone else is more suitable’ – are they really? (No).
These are all paraphrases of true statements and situations spoken to me by Christians in Church buildings in Christian contexts, and they are all illegal, discriminatory, and ethically wrong. Christ must weep. And I certainly have, many a time and many tears. I’ve grown and learned to lean into the strength God gives me, I’m certainly better at coping than I have been at times – snotty meltdowns in front of your Vicar at a meeting are never good! But I see others.
I see the woman told she can’t get married at the Church she wants to call home because her partner is also a woman.
I see the couple silently left out of ministry because they have decided marriage is not for them at this point in their journey together.
I see the teenager desperate to know there is more liberal theology out there than the one which says she must be submissive to men, to her husband, and to her Church Leaders without engaging her brain.
I see the old couple who can’t come to Church any more because the disability access is poor and they physically can’t get in. They don’t want to trouble anyone, and nobody notices their absence.
I see the child sitting in the corner in a quiet spot because in Church, they have no place safe or relevant enough for them.
Christ must weep.
Then I see Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking out against the The Nashville Statement (reserving any form of sexual fulfilment for the married cishet community) with an incredible statement of her own – The Denver Statement (championing God’s gift of sexual expression for everyone).
I see Vorster describing Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) – as ‘the Magna Charta of Christianity’ (Vorster, 2019) explaining through solid research that the given list is not exhaustive and the meaning is clearly equality for ALL.
I see Rachel Held Evans reclaiming womanhood with a cry of ‘Eshet chayil’ – Woman of Valour (See Evans, 2012) and inspiring thousands of others to do the same despite her untimely death (see #RememberingRHE on Twitter).
Christ must weep tears of joy, as do I.
There are voices out there calling for a redemptive lens through which to view oppressive scriptural translation and traditions. Crying out for a hermeneutic which puts genre and context before literalism. Shouting loud and clear that equality can’t have a glass ceiling and every life matters equally. These voices are vastly trolled, often silenced before they can truly begin, and need more support. This, this is why I bother.
Peace be with you.
Bolz-Weber, N. (2017) The Denver Statement. Available at https://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2017/08/the-denver-statement/ (Accessed 2nd May 2020)
Evans, R.H. (2012) A Year of Biblical Womanhood. USA: Thomas Nelson
Vorster, J.V. (2019) The theological-ethical implications of Galatians 3:28 for a Christian perspective on equality as a foundational value in the human rights discourse. In die Skriflig 53(1), a2494. Accessible at https://doi.org/ 10.4102/ids.v53i1.2494 (Accessed 2nd May 2020)