A soon-to-be dad dreams of a daughter liberated for her soon-to-be world

Source: http://bit.ly/14KWnxm

My daughter grows within my wife’s womb while I dream of the day when she will enter her soon-to-be world. What kind of world and church will she enter?

The church and world habitually silences women. Although the West is becoming (slowly) more egalitarian, the reality is that men dominate in many ways. Several studies, for instance, demonstrate that there are less women in high level jobs and that they often get paid less money than their male counterparts. In the church, most denominations fail to recognize that the Scriptures point toward mutuality in leadership (both in the home and church), not a sort of archaic practical patriarchy.

When it comes to this issue for Christians, we don’t appeal to mere “progress” as though we need to “get with the times” (as N.T. Wright has been quick to point out), but rather, search the Scriptures in their historical, redemptive, and theological context to come to this conclusion. Women and men, although created uniquely, have no distinction when it comes to leadership in the Body of Christ. There is neither male nor female for all are one in Christ (Gal. 3.27-28).

The result of a planet dominated by Men is a world characterized by coercion. Men use their strength coupled with their fallenness to conquer and destroy. Be it evidenced by – the rise and fall of ancient empires, the institution of slavery, the subjugation of women, the genocide of the Native Americans, the various wars of the USA, the continual horror of rape, the social Darwinism of unregulated markets, or the glorification of the warrior – a world dominated by Men leads to various forms of evil. This isn’t to say that we should think of gender as closed categories stereotyped traits, after all these were in some ways created by a male dominated system. But, we ought to recognize the evidence: a world where Men rule is violent.

Unfortunately, various branches of the Church have been complicit in many of the violent acts listed above. The evangelical Right often venerates free markets and militancy and the church prior to the Reformation acted horrifically at times. Our barbaric hands are dirty.

Things are getting better in some situations. Denominations and institutions are moving toward mutuality. Even in the Roman Catholic tradition, we see a group of holy dissenters pushing toward the ordination of women! Slowly and I hope surely, women are being liberated to live into their full potential for the Kingdom of God.

I’m a first time “soon-to-be dad.” My first child is a daughter who we are expecting near the end of April. My dream for her is that she would be liberated as she discovers her life empowered by the Spirit of Christ and would thereby be unleashed upon the world for greatness. So much of the world has yet to be touched by vibrant Christian women who take their innate gifts and develop them without hindrance. By no means do I want to unintentionally set the bar high for her and unconsciously impose my male will on her (when it comes to big picture goals), but rather I desire to be the sort of dad who creates the spaces necessary for her to develop her imagination, to see the world as a place loaded with possibilities!

God is on a mission and my daughter will be invited into divine partnership for the sake of her soon-to-be world. The world needs more liberated daughters who are told from the earliest age that they can literally become whoever they sense God leading them to be. When we fail to cultivate such a consciousness within our daughters (and those within the scope of influence as Christian leaders/pastors) the world suffers for it. So many young girls have been silenced by traditions that constantly tell them “no,” when in fact, in Christ they only should be hearing a resounding “YES!”[1] I pray for the grace to help guide my daughter toward her full liberation in Christ for the sake of God’s mission to the world to bring restoration and healing to all things.


[1] I’m not intending to speak to the issue of discipline in this article. Certainly all children need to hear “no” when they are doing things that harm themselves or others, etc.

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  • Shellie Bowman

    YES!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Love it when you comment @7c9ed050bd167c4f7c75db7b0d5847ac:disqus !

  • http://www.facebook.com/scrossburden Suzanne Cross Burden

    Kurt, I so appreciate your heart in this, brother. Progress is so very slow in coming, but I pray with you that God will release his daughters–including your own daughter–to stand shoulder-by-shoulder with their brothers, advancing His Kingdom by all means possible. I’m coauthoring a book by Beacon Hill Press titled Reclaiming Eve due to release in January 2014. Would you like a pre-release copy?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks Suzanne! Appreciate your voice in the world and your encouragement. When the time gets closer, zip me an email with the details about the book!

      • http://www.facebook.com/scrossburden Suzanne Cross Burden

        Putting you on the list, Kurt. Also, will be starting a blog in a few months on the intersection of beauty and theology. Will promote via facebook page and twitter. May God bless you and keep you today!

  • http://twitter.com/johneayala John Ayala

    Yes! I have a 2 year-old daughter and this is my constant prayer. A few years before my wife became pregnant with our daughter, God had started to open my eyes to how scripture does not see women in church, ministry, home, family, etc as subordinates to men. It seems He was preparing me and to this day God continues to open my eyes to how the church and family needs to be reformed by including women in leadership.
    Great post!

  • John

    I often wonder if Conservative Christianity and Conservative Islam are really cousins of each other in terms of their views on women. The biggest difference is that Islam forces women to cover up in a burka whereas Christianity wants women to be very modest and then there is the status part of it as well.
    Does Conservative Christianity live on an ego trip with men having the authority while not wanting a women to have any authority? I

  • Katrin

    Thanks, Kurt! I wish the same for our 2-year-old Hannah. God bless you as soon-to-be-parents!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryanmatthewcarter Ryan Carter

    Hey Kurt! Good stuff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.gingerich.7 Amy Gingerich

    Fully agree, Kurt. I wish the same for my almost two-year-old daughter, Grace. And as someone who works for an Anabaptist church (publishing) institution, I feel both a personal sense of call while also lamenting the continued limitations within the church. My continued prayer is for healthy and strong daughters to find their voices and for the church to give space and room to those voices.

  • http://jessicakelley.com/ Jessica Kelley

    I’m in my early 30′s and, believe it or not, new to this type of message.
    Rachel Held Evan’s latest book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, was very insightful for me on this. Raised within Conservative Christianity, I somehow gleaned that for me: higher education was encouraged, a career was permissible (but staying-at-home
    was esteemed), and that church leadership was allowable, but only in relation to
    other women and children. I’m only now exploring what gifts I may use in which capacity for building the kingdom. While raising my 2-year-old daughter is of
    paramount focus to my husband and me, I’m excited to model for her the
    freedom for a woman to explore her God-given gifts in ministry. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It’s nice to hear them from a brother in Christ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/seth.piepgrass Seth Piepgrass

    Hey Kurt. Not sure if you remember me from way back DMBC days but picked up your blog here and though I’d throw the perspective of a dad and husband. I have a precocious, bright, and caring little girl who can be whatever she chooses to be. My issue with many progressives is that being a wife and mother is never a high enough call for many, and you are “betraying your sex” if you decide that being a wife and mother is your calling. Women are torn between careers and family in a way men never will be, and instead of embracing the differences in the sexes progressivism pushes towards homogeny between the sexes. The feminist push has had positive aspects but, equality and homogeny are not and should never be mistaken for the same thing. One of the unintended consequences of feminism is our modern cost of living. How many families would experience financial ruin if they could no longer be a two income family and the family budget fell solely on male to provide? If a woman should be able to be whatever she wants to be a housewife should not be excluded from that list. My family is experiencing this right now. I chose to go back to school, but this necessitates my wife working, even though I have a full time job. Once I graduate I will have an income that allows her to work only if she chooses but we will still be quite short of what most people think of as middle class. Another aspect of your article I want to call attention to is the age old assumption that men are violent, oppressive creatures by nature, vicious and fallen to the core and that women by the same virtue would not fall into such abhorrent traits if in power. While I can’t speak to the masses I can speak from experience I work with teens entering foster care, all who have experienced trauma. The girls are more prone to fight, and to be more vicious. Think of the typical male fight. There are unspoken rules, you don’t hit below the belt ect. Not the case in fights between females, disfigurement by scratching and hair puling tends to be the go to. In our facility I instances of female-female violence are much higher than male-male. Again the is mostly observational but my experience tells me that the premise is flawed. Further it seems like you are contrasting yourself. I understand you to be saying in the article “Women should be the same as men in the workplace but are better suited to lead because men are fallen” So are we the same, or were we created differently. There are obvious ways males and females are created differently, but what of the subtleties? At the neural level we are wired differently, we process information, emotion, and even sensation differently based on sex (this is why heart attacks are more deadly for women than men, women are hard wired to dull the perception of internal discomfort and have internal biological mechanisms to deal with physical pain that men don’t have). All of this is to say that God created us different but both are fallen. At the end of the day you can’t say a you want a woman to be liberated and support a society that denies her a domestic life is she so chooses. You can’t support a progressive, homogenous society where both are the same and claim one is the “fairer” sex. If you want your daughter to be a liberated female be sure you aren’t trying to liberate her from the need to “be more” if the domestic life is what she wants. I will support my daughter in whatever she wants to be, but that includes a wife and mother. I will be just as proud of her for putting her gifts to the tasks of home life task as I would if she was a doctor, after all it’s not my place to judge the gifts God gives my child, neither is it societies. As for women in the ministry, I don’t think it is mans decision to determine spiritual gifts. If ministry is a gift given to a woman, who is man to deny God?


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