We’ll close this week with three publications I want to tell you about. This is what people are reading and what forms their opinions.
The first is a condensed story under the section Good Reads in the October 2012 Good Housekeeping Magazine, which has a circulation of 24 million readers. The story is titled Does this church make me look fat?
“The issue of women in church leadership had long been a tender spot for me. It was one of the issues that had propelled me away from my church of origin 30 years earlier. In the early 1980s, the American Mennonites were engaging the issue, but their pace was much too slow for me,” so says Rhoda Janzen. Then Rhoda met a Christian man who she is going to marry. He gave her a GiftQuest questionnaire to determine her spiritual gifts. In it she had a “near-total absence of the gift of Prophecy, or Perception.” She had expected at least a 91% inclination for her profession of choice. She goes on to ask “Did God want me to use my gifts in the church body? If so, I was pretty sure the Pentecostals wouldn’t want to learn what I had to teach.” (I have no idea what she is talking about as the story does not indicate). Then her fiancé asked her a question that changed everything: “Honey, what if God ain’t callin’ you to teach in the church? What if He’s calling you to learn?” “I had been so focused on thinking of what gift I could give the people of my church that I had lost sight of the gift God was giving me….God was giving me a chance to shut up and learn.”
A chance to shut up and learn? What kind of a chance is that? Women have always had that.
The pastor of BBC (Big Baptist Church) pulled out an old joke he had previously put in the local newspaper and recycled it. Men vs Women he called it. “..men who kiss their wives goodbye in the morning earn higher salaries than men who don’t. One economist concluded ‘Women would be better off staying at home and kissing their husbands goodbye.’ Life isn’t always fair, but at least Maytag and Dyson (vacuum cleaner maker) have made it easier.”
In The Favored Daughter, (One woman’s fight to lead Afghanistan into the future) “When I arrived, the community leaders I was working with barely spoke to me. These were conservative men who had been Taliban supporters. In a few short months they’d gone from Taliban rule to the indignity of a woman turning up and telling them what to do. Gradually I won them over and after a few days we were all cooperating as if we’d always worked together. ..I truly believe that people change their opinions only from first-hand experience. And opinions on gender can and do change, even among the most conservative men.”
We’re still waiting! We are still waiting for our most conservative men to change their opinions. As the pastor of the joke article Men vs Women said, “We don’t keep our women silent. We allow women to teach Sunday school classes.”
Will you help them change their minds and allow women the chance to teach inside the sanctuary, instead of being holed up in a Sunday school classroom, or shutting up altogether in order to learn?