For My Sisters

For My Sisters

“I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.”
I Timothy 2:12

A couple of months ago my wife, Bri, and I began discussing what we were going to preach for the summer. Sometimes we like to choose a large topic and pick it apart over the course of the summer; other times we stick to the lectionary passages, and in some years we like to choose a particular book of the bible and walk through it.

This year I decided I wanted to spend time working through Paul’s letter to the Romans. It has always been a favorite of mine, but Bri really wasn’t feeling it. To be honest, the Apostle Paul is not her favorite – and you could probably guess that verses like the one above are the reason why.

To be fair, Paul gets a bad rap. In his culture and his time, he was a radical progressive. Those that came after him and studied his writings , however, used passages like this one as a way to subjugate women and make them feel inferior to men (this same type of thing happened with passages relating to slavery as well). In 2018 we would like to think that we have moved beyond this, but alas, we have not.

While the United Methodist Council of Bishops was in session a couple of weeks ago, votes were counted from annual conferences around the world concerning amendments to the United Methodist Church’s constitution. Of the five that were voted on by the annual conferences, three passed and two failed. The two that failed have caused a lot of anger and sorrow.

These two amendments had to do with making the language in the constitution crystal clear that women and men are of equal value in the sight of God, that our divine worth is not determined by our gender, and that God transcends gender. The debates over those statements last year were made me so frustrated, and the news in the last few weeks has broken my heart.. I forget sometimes how far we still have to go. I figure that because I have my own thoughts on the matter squared away, the rest of the world does, too, and that just isn’t the case.

As I was trying to wrap my mind around it all, Bri reminded me just how drastically my own views have changed over the past couple of decades. She reminded me that there are still United Methodist Churches, right here in Michigan, who will not accept a female pastor. That truth, that fact, brings tears to my eyes. Tears for the women who share my calling who are consistently being told they are not good enough because of their gender. And I shed tears for those churches because they are missing out on some amazing people with gifts and graces that could really help them continue to build God’s kingdom.

This week I am asking you for something big. Could you please pray? Pray for our denomination. Pray for all of the wonderful people, called by God to be pastors, who are told (for one reason or another) that they are not good enough. Also, because of a publishing error, at least one of those defeated amendments is going to be voted on again. We have an opportunity to do better. Pray that our denomination will wake up and realize that God doesn’t calculate our worth by our gender.

Standing with my sisters,
Pastor Mike

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