Feminism February: Open Letters

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to my favorite Feminist February post yet!

I really love letters of all kinds. But especially hearing the thoughts of cool people.

I really love letters of all kinds. But especially hearing the thoughts of cool people.

Here’s the question: Write an open letter (fine, with the word count, an open postcard) to either men in the church on something you wish they realized/put into practice or women in the church addressing an issue you want them to be aware of regarding their gender and their faith. 

KaceyDear Christian women,

I hate to write a letter to you as if I thought there was something wrong with us all that needs fixing. Still, I do think there’s a trap that’s easy to fall into when you live in Christian community, surrounded by people you admire: envy and emulation.

Someone may have their life Pinterest-perfectly together and be a fantastic pillar of strength in your church, but your job isn’t to be like her. You may know someone whose wisdom and philanthropy you admire, but your job isn’t to be like him.

Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, oh man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

The only person we should strive to be like is Jesus. You, like me, may have trouble living that out, but as you’re working on it, don’t worry about what you should be doing based on what others are doing. They have their histories and circumstances and are walking their paths; don’t use theirs as a map for yours. You won’t get where God wants you to be.

Much love,

Kacey

For more from Kacey, visit her blog, Inklings.

RachelDear Christian girls,

We are the teenage females in the church. We are at the point in life when we are trying to find our place in the world and our church, whether that place is in the children’s wing, the sound booth, up at the podium, or in the back row. We are also at the point when we start to wonder what we really believe. Am I a Christian, and what does Christian even mean?

When you hear someone refer to someone else as a “Christian girl,” what comes to your mind? Is this girl pretty, silent unless spoken to, involved in the church, good with children…? The list can go on and on for a long time.

That isn’t what a Christian girl has to be. I consider myself a Christian girl, but I am not pretty. I am not quiet. In fact, I talk a lot. I work in the children’s wing at my church, but I have friends who don’t and they are still Christian girls. You don’t have to fit the stereotype of a Christian girl in order to be a Christian. You just have to follow God.

God doesn’t only let pretty and silent babysitters into His kingdom. He also admits the acne-scarred, talkative girl who sits in the back row of the sanctuary because her mother doesn’t have the strength to walk to the front row. He admits the girl who only wears black and doesn’t even come into the sanctuary in fear of being judged. God doesn’t only allow the stereotypical girls to be His children. He allows all who follow Him.

– Rachel K.

LizDear Christian woman,

You know that woman who never forgets her potluck casserole, who’s married with 2.5 obedient children, volunteers for every event, speaks wise words in gentle tones, and always looks perfect in modest clothes and no makeup?

No? Neither do I. She doesn’t exist.

You are enough.

The mornings everything goes wrong and you forget your Bible and you snap at the usher and you can’t force out the words of another worship song—those mornings are beautiful, because they are real. When you can’t force out one more cheerful, “Praise God!” and you think you’re a mistake—that’s also real.

God never created a perfect Christian woman. He created unique, diverse, three-dimensional women with strengths and weaknesses, flaws and fears, scars and secrets. He created you, as you are.

You are enough.

You don’t have to be better, more organised, more holy. In the cultural push for strong women, it’s okay to have weakness. Everyone does. Doubt, confusion, meltdowns—you are not less of a Christian and you are not less of a woman in those moments when you lose control. You are a completely, beautifully flawed human.

We all are.

Yours,

Elizabeth

For more from Elizabeth, visit her blog, Everyday Terrors.

RuthieDear Christian Men,

There has been a lot of talk in the church in recent years about women’s roles in the church and whether marriage should involve a complementarian or egalitarian relationship. In society as a whole, the feminist movement has promoted the ability of women to do anything they want to do…to the point that men who attempt to be chivalrous have an unfortunately high chance of being called sexist.

Here’s the thing, though. This doesn’t mean that women in the church want you to stop being leaders.

In fact, most of the women I have known would love to see Christian men step up and take those leadership roles on a far more regular basis. Yes, women appreciate having their own abilities noticed and allowed, but they generally find male leadership a pretty attractive quality too.

So lead those small groups, share your testimonies, and go on those mission trips. And then encourage your female counterparts who take on those same roles. Don’t worry so much about stepping on her toes…build her up, and I’m pretty sure she’ll appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Ruthie

For more from Ruthie, visit her blog, Stories that Bind.

StephanieDear Christian Men,

I know many of you have come to your views on male leadership in the church out of a respect for God’s word and sound hermeneutics. You say teaching and preaching are just two of many spiritual gifts, and women can exercise those in ways besides getting up to preach on a Sunday. You say we’re equally important, but have different roles. But how are you practically emphasizing and honoring other gifts as a church if 80% of the corporate worship time is listening to a preacher? Are your structures honoring people with different gifts?

Here are a few ideas to start with:

– Publically include women wherever possible. If you don’t think women should preach, have them do the Bible reading, or the announcements, or lead the worship. Make women visible in your churches.

– Create a space to hear from women, and include their input. If you can’t have women elders, have an advisory committee made up of women (including singles!) who can share their input on church decisions.

– Don’t make gender stereotyped jokes/illustrations from the pulpit.

– Encourage men to serve in the nursery, too.

– Make events mom-friendly by having childcare, so women can contribute & learn.

Yours,

Stephanie

Stephanie also wrote a longer blog post on this topic, away from my confining word restrictions. You should check it out.

AmyGreen2Dear Christian Men,

There are very few things I’m more grateful for than the times when you show me that you are not afraid of me.

When you ask my opinion. When you answer theological questions I pose without being defensive or condescending. When you show me respect in your words and actions, even though I am young and impulsive and emotional and a bunch of other things that could lead you to dismiss what I have to say.

It’s easy for me (and other women) to live in fear—to worry that I’m too smart, to hesitate to speak up, to wonder if anyone is taking me seriously because I just compared a love of theology to collecting shoes.

There have been so many of you who have given me courage by recognizing me as an equal. Even in tiny little things—those are what make me feel safe and brave and loved. I appreciate you.

Yours,

Amy

For more from Amy, visit her blog…this one.

DianaDear Christians,

Why does it have to be to women or men? Is the message really that different? Don’t we all drink from the same cup, receive grace from the same Lord?

Jesus was about people, all people: women paid the bills, fishermen performed healings, and tax collectors threw dinner parties. Jesus hung out with everybody—the poor and the rich, the oppressed and the oppressor, Jews and Romans, women and men, children and adults.

Jesus doesn’t seem to care about all we allow to divide us, all the social positioning that feels so important, whether it’s gender, class, race, status, geography, nationality … the list goes on. He cares about the orientation of our hearts, invites us to follow him.

I can’t help but notice that Jesus saved his strongest criticism for those who thought they had it all together. And as much as I want to wag my finger at those know-it-alls, Lent reminds me that I’m the Pharisee, the one in desperate need of forgiveness and grace.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when my rector spoke on this controversial food passage and said the most profound thing I’ve ever heard about it: “It’s not about being right.” I’m not even close to understanding that kind of humility, but I want to move towards it.

And for that, I need Jesus—and I need you.

Diana

For more from Diana, follow her on Twitter (@dianameakem), or visit her blog, Wordflow.

Postcard

Feel free to join in with an open letter/postcard of your own in the comments if you like!

3 comments

  1. Dear Christian Men,

    Learn the Word. Find a good teacher and study it until you realize that knowing and living the Word is the best thing you can possibly do with your time and energy. Stop chasing the World. I know it’s only a one letter difference, but that extra L will consume you and spit out the bones. The World ends, the Word is forever.

    Dear Christian Women,

    See above. Also please keep encouraging us on the other side of the gender line. We need your help, a lot more than most of us usually say. And thanks for all you do, very often you are the sole reason apart from God that we stick around this dusty, spirit-crushing planet and take on one more day.

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