Friday, July 29, 2011

This guy believes in women preachers

Earlier this week I was chatting with a faculty coworker who had recently been contacted by a church that wanted to know if he believed in women preachers. He wrote them back saying he absolutely does and pointed them to some web-based materials that express his views on women in ministerial leadership.

While telling me the story, he had a carefree attitude that I appreciated. Many people in his position might have tried to avoid rocking the boat by watering down their beliefs about women in ministry. Yet this professor unapologetically shared his views and moved on without fear of backlash and with no concern for his own reputation with that congregation. In his typical laid-back manner, he shrugged and said something along the lines of, "If they send me a nasty email or corner my family member who attends there, that's nothing compared to what some women who want to be preachers deal with."

Things I appreciated about his response to this congregation:

  • He knows what he believes, and he stuck with it. He didn't try to sugarcoat the aspects of his beliefs that might be offensive to the congregation.
  • He championed the inclusion of women in the pulpit.
  • He recognized that what women go through in our struggle with identity in the church and ministry (particularly in traditions that don't make a habit of being gender-inclusive) is significant. And he recognized that that ongoing pain is more significant than the short-lived hurt feelings that may have been caused by backlash from this church (and more significant than the temporary discomfort created for his family member if he/she gets cornered because of what he advocates).
  • He acknowledged his own privileged status--he's a white male with a comfortable income, who is tenured and therefore guaranteed this job until retirement. And rather than focus on protecting his secure privilege, he advocated better treatment of a marginalized demographic. 
  • He placed the interests of others above his own. 

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