What Can’t our Daughters Do?

I’m re-posting something I wrote a year ago.  It was my most popular article ever written with more than a thousand viewers.  So I thought it was worth posting again.  


Quickly — I want to thank all my visitors from the homepage of wordpress.com. Welcome!  Wow!  A lotta love happens when you get featured on the homepage.  Until yesterday, this was a little ol’ blog visited by some of my friends and a few Facebook contacts. I was essentially writing to myself and my lurkers (I do have quite a few of those.)

It would kill me to have you think I’m some ranting feminist and that’s what this blog is about.  Because that is not true, about the blog, I mean. I am a feminist.  And I can rant (at times.)  Okay quite often.  But I rant — ahem write about many topics.  I post my poetry, and talk about all sorts of things from politics, faith & (dis)belief, family & parenting, depression & mental health.  It’s varied.

I’m a Haus Frau, free-lance photographer and generally vexed person who writes.  If it were not for my faith I’d be mean and ugly things would come out of my mouth.  But if you find anything golden here it is because of grace of God in my life.   Melody

I started writing these thoughts about two months ago.  But Nicholas Kristof’s article in today’s NY Times entitled, Religion and Women, got me thinking, again.   I am a regular reader of his Op-Eds.

Do you believe this little girl does has the right to the same opportunities as these boys?  (Even if she felt called to be a Pastor?)

Kristof mentions Jimmy Carter’s speech to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Australia, which I read when it was first posted online.

(I think I’m “in love” with Jimmy Carter because he lives his life with principles.  And standing up for women is sexy!  But that’s irrelevant here.)  I don’t have complete or even very coherent thoughts on the topic yet, I just want to ask some questions:

  • Is feminism as simple as giving women equality in work, home, church life?
  • Do women deserve access to anything that men have access to?  Why do some men have such a problem with this?
  • Do you believe your daughter has a right to every opportunity that your son has?  Why would a loving God say she doesn’t?  What can’t our daughters do?

Personally, I think oppressing  a woman, from war lords raping women in the Congo, to Afghani men who throw acid on girls faces, to men who psychologically abuse women, or the British woman who was arrested for being raped in Dubai, all of this should make us sick to our stomachs and even more culturally accepted things like putting women down, objectifying women.  And yes even keeping them from leadership opportunities they are obviously qualified, all of these things give men the chance to believe that women are inferior human beings.  And when you do that, bad things happen in our homes, institutions and relationships.

Sexism is any mistreatment of women, ranging from violence against women, to treating women as inferior, to objectifying a women. Any time women are treated in any way other than a respected human being with every opportunity in the world!

“Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” former President Jimmy Carter noted.  “The belief that women are inferior human beings in the eyes of God gives excuses to the brutal husband who beats his wife, the soldier who rapes a woman, the employer who has a lower pay scale for women employees, or parents who decide to abort a female embryo.”

Jimmy Carter sees religion as one of the basic “causes of the violation of women’s rights.”

As a member of The Elders, a small council of retired leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela, he is speaking out.  The Elders are focusing on the role of religion in oppressing women, and they have issued a joint statement calling on religious leaders to “change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.”

Why do I have a problem with women not being elders at my church? Because in its simplest form it is saying:

  • That women are not trusted by God with the complete story, or
  • that women somehow don’t have what it takes to lead the church, or
  • that women don’t have full access to God, or
  • that women  don’t have the wisdom and life experience,
  • We do not have whatever it takes.

Oh, believe you me I know (some) churches will allow you to do anything else! Serve, give, teach, be missionaries.  Just not be the spiritual guide.  It just doesn’t feel right.  In my gut.

Eugene Cho, is a pastor and leader and all around amazing, wise and prophetic person who has written and thought about this subject saying:

“Shouldn’t we work together to build a culture (even amongst our own churches) of respect and dignity? How do we do that beyond the debates of the ordination of women?  How do we do that in our lives, families and churches (or must it be connected to the issue of ordination?)  What’s clear to me is that it’s really difficult to pursue these things when we don’t hear directly from women. Or allow ourselves to listen to women… aka – that we take a posture of humility and submit, believing that God can actually speak through women as well. Why?”

I’ll tell you why.  Because they do not fundamentally believe they should be listening to women.  You can’t convince me otherwise.

Surprisingly, in a progressive place like Madison we settle for less on this subject.  It is rare in Madison that are women subjected to overt forms of sexism.  Most of the men I know are loving and open-hearted.  And so, in the church especially, women let a lot go.  We ignore the whole Elder and women being ordained issue, just glad we’re all getting along.  And in fact my church is ahead of many other Evangelical churches in the area.

What I don’t like is that we aren’t willing to talk about these things.  We need to talk about these things.  The fact that we don’t talk about it is painful to me. I believe if we want grow, to heal, and to have everyone truly empowered and working out of their gifts and abilities, it is crucial that we be willing to talk.

It takes an immense amount of energy to challenge someone on their sexism. It is much easier to sit here and write about it.  Even a situation that is simple and straightforward, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, sent me into a tailspin for about 12 hours.  I knew it was sexist.  I couldn’t believe how bad I felt and wondered how my sister, an ordained minister in her own church felt being spoken to in such a demeaning manner.  I suppose in some ways I forgot, being out of the workplace and not heavily involved at church, that this is still common, and widespread.

It would seem that sexism would be easy to recognize.  As with any type of discrimination, sexism can be both personal and institutional, obvious and much more subtle.  Do you think you could spot sexism when it occurs?  These are all in the category.

  • Definitely commenting on a woman’s looks when you should or could be talking ideas with her can be a form of sexism.
  • The use of pejorative names like ” ‘girls’ at the home office” and other patronizing terms can be a form of sexism.
  • A teacher or pastor or youth worker offering more attention to one gender can be a form of sexism.
  • Only hiring people of a certain gender for a specific type of job can be a form of sexism.  (Every support role in a church or ministry being filled by one gender, female.)
  • Expecting only people of a certain sex/gender to be interested in specific activities can be a form of sexism.
  • Identifying activities, roles and chores as male or female can be a form of sexism.
  • Steering students towards specific subjects based on their gender can be a form of sexism.

Mutual respect, openness and conversation are what we need.

I have rung the bell too many times within my church on the role of women. I try to be respectful and teachable. But I am tired of being told “Talk to so and so, who is a woman who leads…” so that she can tell me why she’s accepted the fact and is okay that she will never be an elder in the church.  Pass.

I’ve decided it’s the denomination that speaks.  Women are not pastors or ordained in our denomination.  I cannot change the Evangelical Free Church of America denomination (Or can I? my son would say.  But I know I cannot.) so I have to decide if I can live with it.

And it comes down to whether I can counteract the message, subtle as it is from the platform, that says to my 12-year-old daughter sitting in the pew — you will never do that job.  You will never be a pastor.  You don’t need to study scripture as seriously as the boys, because you aren’t accepted at their seminary.  Women do not preach.  You will not see women preach in our church.

I just think that’s sad.  It makes me very sad.

44 thoughts on “What Can’t our Daughters Do?

  1. Here we are again, in agreement and in church’s that you do not agree with our position–yet it is hard to find a good church in Madison or the SF Bay area–but does this issue mean we are not in “good churches” to begin with.

    I have two boys. I have a traditional suburban housewife life, for a large part. My husband makes most of the money. I do most of the housework. It didn’t used to be like that, but since I’ve been home with kids, it sort of devolved into Leave it to Beaver and we’re slowly trying to reverse the trend.

    If I had a daughter, would I be angrier.

    Last year we even had a guy lead worship at the WOMEN’S RETREAT when a woman was able and willing to lead (but not “cool” enough–another of my pet peeves of the mega-church).


    I too love Jimmy Carter. And Patrick Stewart and Alan Rickman and many men of a certain age. But, again, that’s beside the point. And probably the subject of my next therapy session. Unless anger is because your post about your angry-yet-affirming father FREAKED ME OUT about my own angry-but-affirming parenting.

    What were we talking about?

    Ah, makes me think of poor Mary with her major theological chops being so marginalized in Australia. Do they not realize what a treasure they have?

    Good news, Roberta Hestenes is coming on as faculty at the very male-dominated seminary our church just spun off. Wish I had time to take her “Christian Spirituality” class this semester, but again, she is teaching about spiritual devlopment “praxis” and not really about Biblical Studies or something “hard core” and “academic” (not that is not valuable, but it is probably undervalued at most seminaries).

    Ah well. I must get back to watching B5 with my boys. Hopefully modeling strong womanhood to them while I try to let up on the anger that will inevitably arise when Ethan is not REALLY ready for school tomorrow as promised.

    Loving you,



  2. If your daughter kicked her teacher in the leg would they still think she’s cute?
    I think it’s horrible that women are so feared–yes, feared–by the church (I’m a lapsed Catholic) that they’ll probably never be ordained as ministers. I also believe that Priests should be married (just make the rectory into a duplex to house a big family.) The best way to change this is to raise better men.
    Peace to all!


  3. WEll I didn’t have time to read the whole article, but you summarized it very well. As far as the first few questions go, I’ll answer them to the best of my 20-year-old single knowledge.

    >>Is feminism as simple as giving women equality in work, home, church life?
    * I don’t know. I think it goes further than that. Everyone has a role. A woman’s primary role is to be a mother and the sole helper to her husband. A guy needs a girl, and the girl needs her man. Instead of being ultra-independent, why not realize that we COMPLETE our other half? If women wanted equality, then why not tell men to have the kids, right? We were born women, and in my opinion, by not wanting to be the women we were created to be, we’re being sexist and NOT feminists… because we’re not wanting TO be feminine! Instead we’re wanting men to be women and women to be men. All this in a world where we’re suppose to be “individual” and “embrace our uniqueness”.

    >>Do women deserve access to anything that men have access to? Why do men have such a problem with this?

    * Who said MEN have the problem? I think WOMEN do? There wasn’t a problem until WOMEN brought it up! Girls are more emotional then men, it’s a given. Why if we’re born different would someone try to make girls and guys more the same? Unfortunately, I don’t think men have any problem with it… I don’t even think guys these days CARE! Hey the verse that says “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths” is coming true! Pretty cool that the Bible comes true, right? Unfortunately. (check it out in Isaiah 3:12)

    >>Do you believe your daughter has a right to every opportunity that your son has?
    * Well, I don’t have daughters, but I AM one! And no are you kidding? Titus 2 says ” Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

    WOW that the WORD OF GOD MAY NOT BE REVILED! Check that out!! That’s pretty strong! If we’re supposed to be submissive to our (future) husband, how can we practice this by expecting a congregation to be submissive to us. Now as far as being a “pastor’s wife”–it would be her job to encourage and strengthen him. NOT to teach the congregation herself! Also, older women are to TRAIN THE YOUNG WOMEN. It doesn’t say “TRAIN EVERYONE”. That’s not our role.

    Just like there’s a manager and a co-worker and a supervisor, a CEO, a CFO, and more in a company–each having their own roles. Can you imagine the chaos if each person tried to do everyone else’s job including their own?

    >>Why would a loving God say she doesn’t?
    * Uh -duh- that’s a no-brainer. Why would he put the girls He loves into a position they aren’t 100% made for? Just like you wouldn’t put your 13-year-old behind the wheel of your brand new Lexus on the biggest highway. Girls are different then guys–physically and emotionally–so their roles are different too. I’m sure as a parent you wouldn’t put your friend or your child into something they’re not created to do. I am an artist. I wouldn’t go to school to be a chemist. It’s not my role.

    >>What can’t our daughters do?

    * Instead I’ll tell you what girls (and women) SHOULD do! We should be holy, pure, loving, gracious, god-fearing, a good role model to other girls, a light in the darkness, compassionate, amazing, able to stand firm in our beliefs, not be afraid to make a difference, not afraid to ask for help, humble, passionate, diligent, encouraging, honorable, upright, patient, and I could most definitely go on, but I’ll just use examples from Proverbs 31:
    *willing worker
    *a provider
    *a teacher to her household

    I think before anyone can even THINK about being a “pastoress” someone needs to try to live up to all those amazing qualities up there, first. Look at all those things that are open to girls? Please, stop wanting to be someone your not, girls! You’re all amazing, and you DON’T need to be men, to be women.


    1. Well, that would take me a while to respond to. And I don’t have time tonight. But I will get back to you pixel8design.


    2. before addressing some points, i want to let you know that i personally DO want children and want to be a stay at home mom, so please keep that in mind.

      “If women wanted equality, then why not tell men to have the kids, right?”

      equality does NOT mean being exactly the same. it means being judged solely on your merits, and not being expected to do a particularly thing simply because of what’s in your pants.

      “A woman’s primary role is to be a mother and the sole helper to her husband. A guy needs a girl, and the girl needs her man.”

      this completely negates the experiences of infertile women, not to mention lesbians, asexual and transsexual women. there is no such thing as a sole purpose. even the bible says that we all have different gifts. that idea is what allows women to be put into boxes as nothing more than incubators and servants. if i want to have a baby, great! if you want to hold a traditional looking role in your household, great! if i don’t, that doesn’t mean i have no role in this world. it means that i chose something different, which is what feminism is all about. providing as many choices as possible to EVERYONE.

      “Girls are more emotional then men, it’s a given.”

      really? do you have studies to back that up? because i’m pretty sure that’s based solely on social constructs that TELL men not to show their emotions, and that tell women we have no power except in manipulating men with our emotions.

      “*a teacher to her household”

      how can she expect to be taken seriously by her children when they’re constantly told by church elders and their father that she’s not good enough to lead in church, simply by virtue of her sexual organs?

      “Please, stop wanting to be someone your not, girls! You’re all amazing, and you DON’T need to be men, to be women.”

      who are you to tell a girl who she is or isn’t? you’ve lived your life and she’s lived hers. being a feminist is NOT about wanting to be a man. it’s about wanting to be recognized for my own accomplishments, not for those i helped a man to achieve. and it’s about wanting to be treated with respect, no matter what i look like, what i wear, how bold i am in meetings, my status or non-status as a virgin, or any of the other ridiculous standards women and girls are held to.

      i’m willing to bet that you won’t concede a single point here, but i’m hoping another reader will see the falsity and misogyny in your ideas and learn from them.


  4. thanks for writing this. more people need to speak out from within churches if things are ever going to change for the better. i too have a love affair with jimmy carter. a man who speaks out for women’s rights is about the sexiest thing on the planet. :)


  5. I sat here for a long time thinking about what you wrote.

    I suppose I should feel lucky because in the ‘denomination’ that I’m in, I don’t really feel like there is a major problem (coming from the top, anyways) concerning women in leadership. In every instance I can think of there is a woman-leader somewhere.

    I absolutely believe that women should have the same rights and expectations as men, but because we live on an earth that is never going to be perfect, we will always be fighting these injustices, the same as we will always be fighting racism, bigotry, and any other type of prejudice.

    I suppose there has to be a balance between understanding that there will always be injustice and fighting against it when we see it happening right in front of us.

    I think it’s important to assume that people are not being sexist first, until we have definitive proof that they are.


    1. Danielle, We must all think. And pray. And hope that our hearts speak clearly. I never assume sexism, and am always shocked to be honest when it occurs.


  6. Hi Melody, I’ve been thinking a bit about this myself, although from a slightly different angle. I have 2 boys and was shocked the other day to hear one of them teasing the other by calling him a girl. Where does this come from? We live in Berkeley, as progressive as it gets, I think. We go to a church with a female head pastor and men and women at all levels of leadership. They have had both men and women as teachers at school and church. I feel like we (my husband and I) are doing our best to raise boys who value and respect women. And yet, it just seeps into them that calling the other a girl is a good insult. I’m not even sure how to address it with them in a way that they understand (they are 5 and 3).
    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. Doing my own ruminating,


    1. Kim, I have two boys as well! That insult is all over! “You do such and such like a girl” meaning weakly, badly, poorly, lamely. When I hear it I just say “there are weak and strong boys and girls, right?” We can only change that type of thing one situation at a time. Glad to hear that you are thinking about these things. It isn’t always clear.


    2. Umm, at 5 and 3 they think girls are unfathomable and icky (as opposed to when they’re adults and they’ll think women are unfathomable and the cat’s meoaw). Is isn’t that girls are “bad;” they are “other” and when you want to belong to be called an “other” is horrifying (my daughter called her brother “orphan” and that was enough to send him over the moon).


  7. And it comes down to whether I can counteract the message, subtle as it is from the platform, that says to my 12-year-old daughter sitting in the pew — you will never do that job. You will never be a pastor. You don’t need to study scripture as seriously as the boys, because you aren’t accepted at their seminary. Women do not preach.

    That’s a big reason why I left the Southern Baptists. So Jimmy Carter became confirmed as a hero of mine when he left them over their sexism.

    Eventually, I became a Pagan/Wiccan/member of the Old Religion.

    And Meg, who is Mary in Australia?


    1. Quercki – Thanks for visiting and commenting. Mary is a mutual friend of ours. The Jesus Christ that I know would welcome you back to himself. Not all denominations or churches push women away. Though my church doesn’t allow women to be ordained, they do affirm women can do almost everything else. And I do appreciate that because not all churches do that. Be well, Melody


  8. What do you do when the Bible is pretty clear about it? Women don’t lead congregations unless the men are absent or too weak. It isn’t because of inequality, it’s because of roles. We are different, men and women. Personally, a female preacher doesn’t bother me at all, but scripture has proven my druthers are often wrong, so I tend to lean on them for guidance. It’s a fair question, though. My son is interested in be a pastor and my daughter a teacher. If she wanted to be a pastor, I’m not sure how I’d feel about that? “Leadership” in a marriage bugs some people, but we’re called to such a structure and the husband is supposed to care for his wife and family as Christ cares for the church. If the wife is the pastor and the husband, say, a construction worker, who leads the family? And if him, how then does she lead a church? (urgg, you’re right, this all SOUNDS so sucky, and that’s probaby why we don’t talk about it much).

    I’ve had female bosses who were outstanding and some I’d like to kick off the planet (that’s a person thing, though, not a gender thing). Scripture says no spiritual leadership. Business or political leadership? No problem. I’m certainly not meaning to be sexist, but I’m sure it can be mistaken that way.

    For example; I had two employees, a man and a woman. He received more raises and so better pay. Both were good workers, but she wasn’t always there. If her kids got sick, she’d be out, if a project required more than 8 hours, she’d finish it the next day and my male employee would get it done. He was reliable, she wasn’t. On the face of it, it’s sexist, but in reality it wasn’t. He was more valuable. Now if I habitually paid a woman less or started them at a lower salary, I’d be a schmuck. *sigh*


    1. how much of that do you think was due to the fact that women are expected to bear the brunt of the household and childcare duties in our society? did the man have kids? if so, did he have a wife to take care of them? the business world in particular is not friendly to women with kids. did you offer her any flexible schedule options, or have daycare available on-site? how many couples do you know where both work full time, but cooking, cleaning, and kids are still considered to be more her job than his? i’m not saying where the man does nothing, but where the majority of the responsibility is still hers? really think about that, and about how the faults of the children are so often blamed on the mother, and then re-think your employee’s situation.


    2. Somebody has to carry the brunt of child rearing and from the perspective of a company, it doesn’t matter. A company hires people to generate value and productivity. Large companies have the means to offer flex hours and daycare if the cost-benefit value supports such a decision, but small companies don’t (mine couldn’t; she was a good worker, though, just undependable). Pressure from outside simply isn’t a consideration when the widgets have to be made, sold, and moved; only performance is.


  9. Hey – interesting post. I don’t want my daughter to be restricted in what she can choose to do. But what you speak of is an insidious menace that requires us to be constantly on guard.
    On the other hand, my son was doing some literary homework about clauses. It included the sentence: “I do my homework while Dad cooks tea.” Which was also what was happening right then.


  10. Have you heard of Christians for Biblical Equality? It is an international non-profit organization that advocates for gender equality for women and men in the church, home and workplace from a Christian worldview. They are based in Minneapolis, but have an active web presence and often hold and speak at conferences around the country and the world. They have multitudes of resources on biblical equality on their website, a blog, articles to download, books to buy, etc. They also publish a weekly e-newsletter (free) and a magazine called Mutuality and a scholarly journal called the Priscilla Papers. Check it out at http://www.cbeinternational.org.


    1. Hi Naomi, I have heard of them and have visited their website a little. But I was unaware of all they are doing. Thanks for posting that information for everyone.


  11. Wow, excellent blog post. I completely agree with your point. I think the sexism behind religion causes some women to feel alienated, which can cause them to turn away from religion. If I ever have a daughter I want her to have every opportunity that a boy would have.

    Congrats on making front page of WordPress.com!


    1. Reading 100 – Yeah, that was a surprise and an interesting day to have it happen. I blog about all sorts of things so funny that it landed on sexism, etc. And thanks for visiting.


  12. I think it depends on if you believe we can define God, or if you believe maybe God is God, He has His ways, and they may not be “politically correct.” Just finished reading Love & Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs, and he paints a great picture of God’s design for marriage …. where roles are equal but unique. Much in the Bible about men leading women is taken out of context. It’s not so much about “rights” but “responsibilities.” A husband should be responsible for caring for his wife, thus putting a huge burden on him to make sure that his wife is treated as an equal and given the freedom to be who God made her to be.


  13. the issue is controversial, women always have to put husbands, kids first, then they are told too old to be successful…

    not always true, women could achieve if they have No other choices.

    smart post,
    rich information here. :)


    1. Yeah you bet. I know LOTS of entrepreneurs that are women, and are VERY successful.


      There husbands are beside them the entire way through… AND they all have children.

      And yes, women should ALWAYS put their husbands and children first!!!

      And husbands should do likewise. No gender differences there, ma’am.


  14. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28. New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition)

    As far as I’m concerned, that verse says it all. To paraphrase a minister I know, when God calls a person to serve, I doubt he cares a great deal about their genitalia.


    1. Read the context. NOT just one verse. That verse is commonly misinterpreted because of that. Here’s Galations 3:20 -28:

      “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

      Paul wouldn’t just randomly say something irrelevant. That verse refers to who can receive the “promise” . . . EVERYONE. Neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek. Everyone can accept Him regardless.

      He didn’t say stop being yourselves. He didn’t say in that ONE verse for women to stop being women, and men to all-of-a-sudden be women because everyone’s the same.

      GOD DOES NOT CHANGE, so why give Paul the authority to change Him?


    2. Oh and we shouldn’t have to be pastors to “serve”. We should all be trying to be a light no matter who and where we are.

      So technically we’ve all been called to “serve”, it’s just a matter of whether or not we want to fulfill that.


  15. I do believe my daughter should have every right, even in church. I believe that God intentionally created men and women to be different but that does not indicate we should have different opportunities. Throughout history humans have been learning the detriment of preventing people of either gender from reaching their full potential, as well as the benefits of allowing these people to fully reach and exceed that potential. My daughter has the right to lead a company, a family, or an army; she should also have the right to lead a church.


    1. So, medical science should be working on enabling men to carry babies? Our opportunities ARE different based on biology and emotion. Still, I agree with everything except leading a church (unless the men are weak or absent). God determines that leadership (and to be fair, not all men have that opportunity either. Individualism trumps the all-encompassing sexism; ability and audience are key factors.)


  16. Hi, Melody. Thank you for writing this post. I followed InfamousQbert over here from Shakesville. I’m the daughter of two pastors who met in seminary. My mother grew up in the Evangelical-Reformed tradition, though most of her extended family was Missouri Synod Lutheran (a denomination that not only does not allow female preachers, it does not offer women to vote on matters of congregational interest). It really wasn’t until my grandmother’s death that extended family had a chance to see my mother at work and begin to understood her gifts and her calling. Mom is just so graceful dealing with grief…

    My parents, until their retirement last month, shared a pastorate at a United Church of Christ: one congregation, one paycheck. My father, who is introverted but very comfortable with public speaking, did most of the preaching. My mother, who gets nervous talking to big groups but is a gifted counselor and able to put people at ease, did most of the rest. She *has* preached, of course, and she was much more frequently requested for funerals and marriages than my dad, who had less one-on-one contact with parishioners. But dividing all the tasks 50-50, which they tried the first few years of employment, didn’t work as well for them as dividing responsibilities according to their spiritual gifts.

    If you would like it, I will pray for you as you try to determine how to be prophetic within your congregation (or whether to seek out a new spiritual home).


    1. RachelB, thanks for sharing your parent’s story. i would covet your prayers for guidance.

      To all: I guess my thoughts weren’t completely clear.

      Simply put, when women are second-class citizens, the important contributions they make are lost. It is not just the discrimination in churches (in the name of religion) that is a tragedy, but that by disempowering women churches, and the broader societies in which they operate, lose their full input.

      The debate over interpretation of scripture will not be won or lost here, that is where I was saying we’ll have to agree to disagree.


    2. There is nothing “second-class” about women. That I can’t play basketball doesn’t make me second class. The “traditional” roles of women are flat out the most important in our society. Mom’s prepare the world’s future. The only position denied women from a Biblical perspective is pastor. Anything else, if you want to make the effort to overcome the difficulties, go for it.


  17. Truly a moving article

    We must educate the mothers
    They will teach the sisters and brothers
    I sing you a song of poverty
    a song for you
    a song for me
    A child cries yet we ignore
    mothers scream and we close our doors
    Let us join together in synergy
    Combining our energy
    To empower women everyday
    Help bring them happiness and no more dismay

    Please visit


  18. Thanks for sharing this with me, melody. I am one of those complicated women who believes God has gifted and called me to teach, but I also feel compelled by the complementarian view of gender roles in the church… But fortunately for me that does not leave me feeling there’s anything I “can’t” do Because there are still plenty of teaching opportunities for me as a woman to women, and I really do love that. “Can’t” would be frustrating if I had a desire to use my gifts and couldn’t, but as it is – a gifting to teach doesn’t necessarily mean I need to be a lead pastor. Isn’t Beth Moore our prime example of a woman like this in our day and age? She doesn’t believe that she should be a pastor over men, but really…. Is there anything that woman can’t do? :-) so grateful for these healthy conversations….


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