Friday, January 31, 2014

The Value of Women in the Church

I sit here a bundle of nerves at the task I have given myself for the moment.  I love to write. I love people. I love to encourage people, especially hurting ones.
 Something has been brewing in my soul and I have been formulating for a while how to share.  Why not on a blog where the "whole world" can see it?  BUT...What if it doesn't come out how I meant?  What if I end up hurting someone with the words I feel so compelled to share?  After all I am not an expert.   
I am not a feminist in the typical sense of going out and fighting for equal wages and joining protests stating that women can work just as hard and as well as men.  I am a stay at home mom and I love it.  I don't long for the corporate life or an escape from my children (tho sometimes it is nice to go to the restroom by myself).  There is however a side of me that has been referred to in negative connotations as feminist, that gets all rowled up at the sad injustice happening to women in our so called Christian churches. These are women who are being told their place is not as "valued" as their head of the home husband's.  They are the young women shouldering "the blame" trying to pickup the pieces after the horror of a sexual assault and enduring constant questioning about what she did to bring it on.  Women like me.
Now before I proceed let me say that I believe very strongly in Biblical modesty and in God's design for family authority structure. It's there in black and white in God's word.  What isn't in the Bible is respecter of persons.  God loves us ALL, male and female, and longs for relationship with us, with ME.
Over a decade ago, a nightmarish experience happened to me. Someone I trusted as a Grandfatherly figure, a well known very much married man in my denomination,  showed up at my door in the middle of the day when Lowell was at work and forced his way into my home, my personal private space and attempted to force himself on me. When the overtaking intense fear finally subsided for a brief moment I was able to free myself from his grip and push him out the door. I locked all the doors in my home, pulled the shades and scrubbed myself with bleach trying to wash away the horrid memories he left behind. When I stopped shaking enough to dial the phone I immediately began calling hoping to connect with someone who could comfort me and help me understand the trauma I had just experienced. I wanted to hide. I wanted to rewind and erase the moments that had seemed so endless. In those moments when I desperately needed love, affirmation and care for my wounded soul,  I was met instead with the accusations, "well what did you do to make him do that to you?"  **I need to clarify that this was not the response of everyone I opened up to.
 Over the years things have happened that bring those awful memories back to the surface. Sometimes someone is making off the wall statements like how women can fight off attackers if they really want to. Sometimes I meet HIM at functions. I want to vomit and re-live those moments like they just happened.
When this happens,  I talk about them for awhile again to certain friends and sometimes random acquaintances then I carefully put them back into their neat little box in the deepest corner of my heart until the next time something triggers the memory.
Over Christmas time we sat in a discussion with some friends and ka pow! there it came again.  This time I am wondering if I have properly dealt with it and the horrible guilt and shame that accompanies it.  There are so many questions.  Do I need to confront the offender? Take it to the church? What if he is continuing in his sinful activities and is hurting others? What about his grown children and grandchildren.  Has he violated them?
I happen to be married to a Godly man who shares with me and attempts to help me see how sexual issues really are for men.  Temptation is real and sexual issues are not just a big deal to men. Women are tempted too. All to often tho sexual issues are embarrassing, ugly and no one wants to deal with them because we can all fall. So we do nothing or as little as possible. This is my beef with the church as I see it. It seems there is no balance, either stuff is criminalized or swept beneath the rug.  There needs to be more teaching on right and wrong behavior.  When things happen they need to be dealt with Biblically and the Bible is pretty blunt on this stuff and puts a pretty heavy load on men "For if a man looks at a woman with lust in his eye he has committed adultery in his heart with her already"  Adultery is no small matter! It behooves me to more intense prayer for the men in my life and in my church family. We are all in this together. 
What does this all have to do with value of women in the church you might ask.  I seriously believe there is a direct connection with the lack of growth in today's churches. When women are faced with pain such as I experienced they need to be met with love and care, not disdain.  When inappropriate things come up in church life they must be faced with diligence and be dealt with. Pushing things under the rug, especially things of sexual nature teaches the younger generations in essence that women are of lesser value and that living out the sins we are tempted with is ok especially if no one finds out.  
I know now that the man that violated me had a past history of sinful habits. What if someone had mentored him when he was young and formidable and taught him the truth of God and his ways to finding victory in the area of sexual purity?
As I stated earlier I am not the expert. I don't have some secret agenda.  I don't have all the answers but I happen to know the Creator of the universe who has a direct relationship with me and He does have the answers. I pray you hear my heart.  I am hoping in sharing something this personal that I can perhaps bring healing, validation - VALUE to someone else who may be secretly struggling with deep hurts in their heart.  
"For we are God's Masterpiece.  He created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things HE planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10 NLT "

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