You know that time when you watch a television show and it shakes you up a bit? Sometimes works of fiction do that to me (A Brave New World rocked my world). Sometimes it’s reading history. Other times it is talking with a new friend. In this particular moment, it was a television show.
We were watching Madam Secretary and one of the plot lines revolved around the middle daughter, Ali, and the youngest child, Jason, going to a school dance. Ali was wearing a slightly provocative dress and attended with a senator’s son. Jason overheard her date in the bathroom talking about how he was going to “get some.” Jason didn’t do anything.
That evening Jason and Ali were talking and Jason learned that Ali had to fight her date off so she didn’t get raped. She challenged her brother for not doing something or saying something when he heard the boys talking. Ali said something like, “There will always be boys like that until boys like you stand up to them and stop them.”
It got me thinking about all the women in my life. I had strong independent grandmothers. My Mom raised three boys on her own. My wife is amazing beyond my ability to describe. My daughter is a force in this world. Beyond them, there are so many others too.
Recently, I read through the Twitter #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and my heart broke. Then I got angry. Then I realized how I’m complicit to everything that those women hear. I am complicit because I haven’t spoken up. It’s similar to how I am complicit in racism when I don’t speak up for my black friends.
A few weeks ago at Doubt on Tap I was gut punched because one of our attendees held a mirror to my face. In the moment, I ignored it and simply argued it away in my own head. Someone had made a crack about hurting a woman to “keep her in line.” The room groaned disapprovingly but nobody said anything. The attendee called us on it. She was right. In that moment every man in that room became complicit in violence against women.
Originally, this post was going to be much more theological. It was going to be about where I’m at theologically on the issue of women in church leadership. I think that will need to come at some point. However, in light of some of the recent things happening within the Christian sub-culture and our broader culture, I realized that the first thing that needed to be said is this: I will stand with you. I will speak up. I will not let side comments just slide by.
Men, we have, by and large, created a culture of putting women in a second class. It has been intentional. As a friend of mine has said about other issues, “It is the determined default.” We like power. Our societal and cultural systems were put in place by white, male, landowners. It is what it is. The question now becomes, what will we do about it? What will we teach our sons? What will we teach our daughters? What will we model for our sons and daughters?
As a pastor, one who has some sort of public authority, I am coming to an understanding that one of my most important roles is that of one who will stand in the gap. We are told that pastors are “under-shepherds” and that we are to feed the flock. Shepherds do more than that. They protect the flock from the predators too. A shepherd must be willing to protect the flock or they are not much of a shepherd. Women, for far too long in the Western church, have been marginalized, ignored, or fed to the wolves.
Not on my watch. I stand with you.