I want to share some things I've seen, sometimes on a weekly basis, in my church history that have made me feel so strongly about the importance of gender justice in the Church. Let me just tell you some things that frustrate me, ranging from ridiculous to tragic.
I've seen churches thrown into a tizzy when a 10 year old boy is baptized, because suddenly the grown woman who has been teaching his Sunday school class must submit to his authority.
I've seen the room checked and double checked before a women gets up to speak at a Ladies' Day event, just to make sure there are no men in the room.
I've seen women flounder at the idea of praying out loud because they've never been given the chance to practice.
I've seen my alma mater implement a thing called "convocation" to follow the last amen of chapel, in order that women may speak, whether on topics spiritual or otherwise.
I've seen an eldership ask the father of my friend to speak on her behalf about her mission experience rather than allowing her to speak for herself.
I've seen a group of my friends and sisters in Christ cry as they honestly described how growing up "submissively" led them to wonder if God loved them as much as men and if they're really as valuable as men in the Kingdom of God. And I've wondered that myself.
There are things people dispute in religion that I honestly don't care much about. Musical instruments, praise teams, kitchen or no, and although I have opinions on those things, I'd never "fight" for them. Gender justice is important to me, because as the last example shows, I think it begins to form how women believe God views them.
One last example.
My church has these classes for kids, maybe in the sixth grade or something. The boys go to Timothy class and the girls go to Lydia class. One Sunday night each year is devoted to letting them demonstrate the things they've learned. For girls, this means they stand up for about 3 minutes while a man (not even their teacher) reads off the list things they've studied, while the rest of the evening is young men delivering mini-sermons, leading singing, reading scripture, or praying. What do you think the girls are taught about their importance in the church through this experience? What do you think a lifetime of experiences like this teaches?