This post is by guest writer Praise Ching.
I was once told by my teachers and coaches that different is good. We need different because different creates issues, but it allows us to embrace diversity. If anything, this is my basis for why the church must support women; because men and women are different. When we take a quick survey of “main” theological cannons, we find that most people are influenced by St. Augustine, Martin Luther (for us Protestants), C.S. Lewis, and John MacArthur. Now, those men are not bad within themselves, but they represent a specific worldview and experience of God. Universal themes can be extracted from their writings, such as grace and suffering, but their experience of those things widely differ from women's. There is little doubt that having a X chromosome and Y chromosome changes things. What’s important is what it changes.
See, I’m under the impression that God created two genders because there needed to be at least two types of people to understand who God is and what God is commanding us to do. When we add race, socio-economic class, age, and more, we expand the human understanding of who God is. Yes, there are basic theological statements that apply to all, such as Jesus dying and rising, but even that can be seen differently in diverse cultures.
Historically, women have attended church at higher rates than men, and a higher percentage of women claim a religious identity than men. However, recent studies by the Pew Research Center have indicated that women are leaving the church and Christianity at steady rates. Blame has been dispensed everywhere including culture wars, work, and conservative politics. But what everyone is missing is the fact that male leadership dominates most churches in general. How do you think you can care for and understand the woman’s experience when your leadership is all one gender?
I won’t go as far as saying that women and men are mutually exclusive; there are differences that allow each gender to experience life in a certain way. However, to bar women from leadership within the church is harmful and detrimental. If we continue to say women cannot participate fully in the church experience, then women should leave. If women do not start planning church structure, sermons, and programs, then the church will continue to lose its power.
Despite all these things, I firmly believe that the Church, God’s chosen vessel for change in the world, can recognize its brokenness and learn from it. It may be overly optimistic, but the example of Jesus shows us the tension and possibility of following God and God’s design. You may not have the calling to be a pastor, but what you can do is tell the women in your life that may have that calling to explore it. Let’s eliminate the “you can’t” speech and replace it with “Follow God."
Praise is a senior Business Management and Biblical Studies double major at Azusa Pacific University. Her academic interest includes Biblical Business Conduct, Community Development, and Postcolonial Studies. Outside of academia, Praise plays softball and is on the hunt for Dutch Crunch bread in Los Angeles.