Shake it Off

I was involved in an online forum today discussing how women called to ministry feel about Complementarian theology. Surprise!!! They don't feel thrilled about it. Nor do they feel all warm and fuzzy about its proponents.

I responded with a cautionary reflection:

When Jesus first sent out the 12 disciples (Mark 6, Luke 9), he gave them an interesting instruction: shake the dust off your feet when you leave a town that won’t receive you or listen to you.

It’s an odd kind of saying. I like to think of it in these terms… if you’re rejected, don’t let that stick to you. Move on to the place where you WILL be received… with hope and an open heart.

It’s possible to take the views of Complementarians personally…. VERY personally. I think that’s usually unhelpful; I think it’s better to move on to a context where you ARE accepted, than to become angry and miserable over attitudes you’re unlikely to be able to change.

Am I saying not to advocate for equality? Not at all! Attitudes that minimize the contribution and worth of women are linked to a host of global ills; these hinder development in poor communities, fuel traffiking, contribute to domestic violence and the gender pay gap, and impoverish churches when women are left out of decision-making and ministry opportunities. Should we be angry over these things? Sure. Should we take them personally? There’s a subtle difference that has potential to rob our joy in Christ, and to drain our energy.

There will be times where we’ll need to debrief because it really is personal (“You won’t BELIEVE what that elder said to right to my face!”) We will need to have our theological views on women straightened out so we are confident in what we believe and in our call. We will need to find our voice at times… but also guard our hearts. Too much time spent wallowing in the dust is exhausting.

I’ve learned to dust myself off, sooner than later. Energy is a precious resource: I try to save it for the battles I’m called to fight, and excuse myself quickly from the ones I’m not called to fight. (Sometimes I lack the wisdom to know the difference!)

So someone doesn’t accept my ministry? Oh well… dust off, move on, save my strength. Their loss.

Thanks be to God, there are increasing numbers of churches… “towns”, in my “sending of the 12” analogy… where you WILL be accepted. And increasing numbers of supporters.

So, colleagues in ministry… somehow we need to work on the difficult dance of both speaking for justice and for our theological convictions… and on loving our enemies. Indeed, Complementarians aren’t really our enemies… they’re brothers and sisters in Christ who are interpreting scripture according to their conscience. When we’re called to dialogue, let’s do so in grace.

If you think this advice is unhelpful… maybe shake the dust off your feet and move on!


Popular posts from this blog

Study at Manchild!

Rebranding Hierarchy

The World According to Complementarians