I am writing this post in support of Jory Micah.
Jory focuses her work on women’s equality in the church, specifically in the evangelical church. If you are not familiar with her work, I would encourage you to visit her site and give it a read.
She’s a women’s equality warrior who has had a rough couple of weeks. Her life’s work has casually been dismissed in blog posts and she was trolled (aka harassed) endlessly for several day by other “Christians”. While these are not unique occurrences, I have been deeply troubled by the tone and delivery of these supposedly Christian responses.
I have read her work for several years and have conversed with her on Facebook. She is able to persevere in the face of people that make me never want to publish on the internet again. She is a regular victim of emotional and verbal abuse from people in the church and she handles it with grace and strength.
For those that don’t know, Jory holds an MA in Theological Studies and wrote her master’s thesis on women in ministry. She is well versed in all things women and church. She is on the front lines of the call for equality in the church every single day.
Her willingness to be out front means that she hears both sides of the issue, almost constantly. And so, I’m putting a call out to support Jory Micah in the hard work that she is doing!
First, I know some of my readers here belong to mainline traditions. You participate in churches where women in ministry seems to be a settled issue. I would like to ask for your support in helping us in the evangelical debate. Specifically, will you come along side Jory and support her work?
We need your solidarity, traditions, and theology. We need you to enter into the conversation and help support the truth that there are many, many traditions that support women in ministry. I know from talking to some mainline friends that they don’t even realize the fight that is happening in this corner of the world. But it is. And it’s very real.
We need your help. Because I know your traditions matter. I know your traditions are empowering women and helping them change the world. The evangelical world, as different as it may be, needs that influence. Please consider joining this fight and supporting your sisters across the aisle.
Second, I am so concerned about the tone of these discussions. They are abusive. Not just mean or sarcastic or snarky, but abusive. Trolling has become the norm for “Christian” criticism online and quite frankly, there’s nothing Christian about it.
We are called to love our neighbor. Even the neighbor we completely disagree with. We do not express Christ’s love when we call people derogatory names, use a hateful tone, or refuse to identify ourselves and own our words.
If we want to critique others, we have to be willing to come to the table and talk to them. We have to be willing to agree to disagree when we can’t find a resolution. But to take the stance that we are going make someone agree with us, at any cost, is abuse. That should never be a Christian option. We gave up that form of religion with the Inquisition.
Christians are called to be an example to world, and right now we’re not doing that. I am blessed to be part of a community of people from all traditions that meet around the table every week and talk about difficult topics. We don’t all agree, but we are all respectful and kind to each other in the face of that disagreement.
So, if we want to disagree that’s fine. But being hateful is not okay. Jory has a Master’s degree. She has been found worthy of an institution saying that she is a theologian in the public sphere. She participates in a long history of the church that has highly educated clergy, who have been tested and found worthy to preach the gospel. And preach she will.
Finally, I think it’s important to point out that the argument surrounding women in ministry can’t be solved by the Bible alone. Scripture doesn’t fundamentally answer every question. There are some arguments where both sides are able to clearly support their position from correct exegesis of the text. A very applicable parallel is slavery.
Slavery is condoned in the Biblical text. It is a huge part of the Jewish narrative and is endorsed in the NT text as well. However, as Christians, we have agreed that slavery is wrong. And so, our tradition and behavior has changed. Christians lead the world in working to end human trafficking and slavery in the postmodern era.
The movement against the oppression of women is similar. As we have progressed as humans, and in the church, there are many, many traditions that accept women fully into leadership at all levels. No one can claim that there is no precedent for women as ministers. This is not a new change, either.
There is strong evidence that women were leaders and ministers early in the life of the church. They were critical to the spread of Christianity, they have served in equality with many of our great leaders, and they continue to lead the church all around the world. There is a breadth and depth of research and practice that makes a strong case that all of God’s people, women and men, should be welcome to lead the church as they answer the call and meet the qualifications of ministry.
The truth is, the Church may never fully agree on this issue. And that’s okay. If we truly believe that God’s being is mixed into the life of the church, then God can figure out the details.
Our job is to spread the word about resurrection, new life, and new creation. And that message is for women and men. It is a message that women and men can share with a post-resurrection world.
It’s a word that Jory shares with the world. She is a powerful and courageous woman who works to make the world a better place. She empowers men and women to help us be better human beings. She calls us to serve Christ with all of our gifts, talents, and abilities.
So please, take a moment to write her a note of encouragement. Take a moment to encourage the women in your world who are doing amazing work for the gospel. Stand up of those who are being attacked. Spend some time reading a new book or blog on this issue.
And most importantly, love your neighbor.
If you want to learn more about this topic and the issues surrounding it, please check out these resources.
You can also read some of these amazing books.
Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James
‘Ezer Cenegdo’ by Joseph E. Coleson
*This is a primer for women’s biblical equality.