Sunday, February 12, 2006

Mars Hill and the Elephant in the room....

There is so much weight on my mind, I can feel the tears coming up from places in my heart that I didn't know ached. Saturday night was the begining of addressing a rather large pink elephant in the room at Mars Hill, women in ministry.

Two of my brave and humble brothers presented their idea of a break in tution costs for women in our program. They feel that if we are going to make an impact on this issue it should start with us (ie our school). It was presented with tenderness and passion and lead to, what I hope, is the first of many conversations that will begin to shape the reality of women in the Masters of Divinity program at Mars Hill. My hope is not only for women but for the program as a whole, then our school, churches and beyond. We as women were asked and invited to share our expereince and wounds in a place of safty and tenderness. The men present shared their own sense of loss because of not having womens voices with in the leadership of the church.

As we talked I realized that there are so many aspects to this, so many componants to the whole. Every thing that was said connected to something else and so much of the "whys" are deeply rooted and bound in life as we currently know it. It is almost inconcievible to think about the implications of changing life based on the original question. The weight of that conversation is one of the things that my heart is calling out in prayer over.

As a woman in the program, I cannot be outside of this conversation anymore. Before being at Mars Hill I could champian the need for women in leadership while also attending a church that doesn't allow women to be elders or pastors. This was because I wasn't going to be a pastor so it didn't matter. Now, I still may not be a pastor but I can not be outside the issue either, I cannot sit back and watch my beautiful talented friends be defiled, shamed, and dishonored. They are gifted and called, God has blessed them with great insight and wisdom, why shouldn't they be pastors?

I couldn't go to church this morning. I wanted to be there and yet my heart couldn't in good faith sit in a church that isn't brave enought to tell it's denomination that they are not biblical in the way they approach this issue. My church finds ways around the issue, but yet they never come out and say this is not ok. It is like a person who knows that their family is severly abusive and fucked up and yet still will not come out and call it what it is.

I realize, in a tiny amount of insight, that this is work, big huge work that will take a long time to unravel. It is not a simple task, this dialogue involves the whole scope of gender, roles, equality, sexuality, fear, culture, freedom, and communication just to name a few. Yet it is also part of bringing God's kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. If men and women together are the image of God than heaven must be a place to up hold the equal value and importance of each gender and what they bring to revealing God. This is a justice issue, women have been marginalized, degrated and objectified for centuries and in turn so have men because they have not been able to encounter and honor women. When one gender is desicrated so is the other and God. How has the image of what is male especially in the church been abused because of the lack of women's voices and unique understanding in the church and in society as a whole. We may have had a women's movement fifty years ago but it hasn't helped call out the strength, beauty or voice of women, instead it has created a characture of womanhood that is both hyper-masciline and destructive of beauty and honor. We have become more degridated and yet there is also much more hope for women to arise because of the women's movement.

I pray that is this the begining of a new more whole view of women and men as well as how they together reveal the beauty of God.

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