Some people out there say that Christianity is for men, because our God came to earth as a man. He was brutally executed on a cross and there was blood and guts and other bad-ass manly things. Some people think that, if the church gets too “feminized,” we might replace Jesus with a Disney princess and the cross with a field of dandelions and the broken body and blood of Christ with chocolate milk and cupcakes.
Yeah, some people think that way.
I don’t think those people know a lot about women.
A few weeks ago, I put out a call for all women to challenge the mainstream definition of a “feminized” church. To share our stories and show our intelligence and our strength and our importance in the body of Christ.
I did that because I know a lot about women.
I know we are strong.
And those who don’t believe that? Well, they need to look around…
How about the women who have birthed children–who sacrificed their bodies and shed their blood so that another human being might live? These women went through excruciating pain. Some of them (especially those who lived before the age of modern medicine or who live in developing countries) died.
Tell these women they aren’t strong.
Tell these women that you, in your manliness know more about the suffering of the crucified Christ than they do.
Or how about we travel back in time. How about we visit the black slave women who were, according to Angela Davis, “required by the masters’ demands to be as ‘masculine’ in the performance of their work as men.” Who performed the same back-breaking work alongside male slaves, often while several months pregnant, or carrying infants. Or even the white women of the working-class in England around the same time who, also according to Davis, were used in place of horses or mules to haul canal boats.Tell these women that did the work of horses, that to be “effeminate” means to be weak.
Tell them that they are the weaker vessel.
Tell them that you in your manliness are more suited to do the work of the church than they.
What of the women of the suffrage movement who organized together, facing backlash and imprisonment, and gained the right to vote at a time when women were not even considered to be adult human beings?
Tell them they don’t have leadership skills.
Tell them that they are too emotional and “wishy-washy” to get anything done.
Tell them that you in your manliness would have done better.
Yes, tell us women, who have overcome slavery and oppression and objectification that we are not strong. Tell us who have been raped and beaten and silenced, yet survive to stand and speak, that we will break under the pressures of fighting injustice. Tell us women who continue to make progress and continue to use our talents to improve this world, despite ongoing oppression that has been around for centuries that the church would be better off masculine.
Go ahead and tell us.
But we won’t stop proving you wrong.