In the same way that slavery was a moral challenge for the 19th c. & totalitarianism was a challenge for the 20th c., the challenge that women & girls face around the world is the moral challenge of our time.

~ Sheryl WuDunn & Nicholas Kristof

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Resounding Gong by Julie Nielsen Lindsey

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
1 Corintians 13:1

"Live Strong." "Pre-K director Opposes Pre-K." This was a recent headline in our paper. " Gentlemen's Clubs. " Words like these contradict the very reality they signify, in ways that are oddly comical yet morally disappointing. There are always gaps between our shared ideas and our reality, however as a Christian it is most distressing to me when I encounter hypocrisy within my own faith community. As Christians, we all believe in the centrality of Love, yet lately, the form of Christianity that gets the most air time is an out of touch version of Christianity that is so lacking in love. Many non-religious people understandably dismiss Christianity as an intolerant, regressive force in society. In many ways, the dominant expression of Christianity in America has become "a resounding gong" that repels people rather than draws people to faith.

As a female who has been raised in an evangelical Christian home, I especially recoil from what I see as a renewed anti-woman agenda advocated by many Christians, often veiled by hip names and logos, casual worship styles and misleading phases like "complementarianism." No it is not a real word, my spell checker says so! This is nothing new. It's religion used to preserve male privilege but repackaged for modern ears. Men and women they say are equal, but have different roles. And conveniently, men are the leaders and women are the followers in all areas of life! I continue to be dismayed but not shocked that these outdated ideas about gender have not yet found their way to the trash heap of history.

A new message that I am actually shocked by of late is the anti-contraception message being advocated in non-Catholic evangelical circles. While these folks claim claim to be the true Christians (as opposed to the false liberals) , what they are advocating is really a return to the 1950s rather than the true teachings of Jesus. I believe that this new more hardened manifestation of evangelical Christianity is attempting to clamp down on the freedoms that women and girls have come to enjoy as Christians in America precisely because we have come so far and because the dominance of men is on the decline. If you are on our blog, perhaps you share our dismay, even some of our holy anger! Rather than feeling unproductively angry, which is no fun and bad for your health, we want to connect with other like minded people and elevate the dialogue about gender equality and faith. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences and be inspired by the progress we are making. We would love to laugh with you about absurdities, for it is so much better to laugh than to cry.

To some, this discussion of gender equality maybe be off putting. To others it might seem a bit so yesterday. My 12 year old daughter's friend saw our blog and posted, "I don't know what the heck you are talking about!" Her response made me realize how uncool it is to talk about gender equality and how forgotten the women's movement has become. However, what a blessing that we have come so far as a society that young girls can take equality for granted! But let's not slumber, for this equality that we enjoy is indeed a fragile. I appreciate my sister's walk down history lane in this blog to remind us of the people like the Grimke sisters who fought for our equality so that we simply be ourselves. Somehow Emily and I relate to these two stodgy looking but cool women, and we long to revive the moral clarity of the suffragists in our faith communities. The Women's Liberty Bell is a beautiful image that reminds us to look back to the ideals of equality in our American Heritage, but also to look forward to achieve greater liberty and equality for all, men and women alike. This is not radical feminism, this is just plain old Christianity and Americana at it's best. As I posted in plain words explaining this blog to my 12 year old friend, if you believe in God and you don't think that girls or women should be pushed around by men in the name of religion, then the Women's Liberty Bell Blog is for you!

Julie Nielsen Lindsey

1 comment:

  1. Preach it Sistah! As I read this, I am so aware of how during any reform movement (whether it be abolitionism, environmentalism, women's equality, human rights, etc) what at one point in time feels "radical" in a few years becomes accepted as a "but of course" mainstream idea. That our daughters don't think twice about their equality & agency as human beings is a sign that change has happened. But it saddens me that girls around the world are still absorbing disempowering messages (particularly in religious contexts) that say they should not be decision-makers, co-leaders in society and in their families. We have our work to do to create a world where girls everywhere can, like our own daughters, take their own liberty & equality totally for granted!