watch your back, I'm nobody's girlfriend

Earlier today I jokingly referred to this week as “gender week” in a text to my lovely roommate. I made this joke because in our online class this week we are discussing the roles of women in the church and in relationships and in one of her other classes they were discussing gender. In yet another class this week I got into a mild debate over gender inclusivity and why I am not the cheerleader for gender inclusive translations. (for the record, I am a cheerleader for overall inclusiveness, just not when you get away from the Greek…)
But I digress.
In an online forum for our online class this week we were asked the question of what our thoughts were on the message of the NT writings on gender roles. One of my colleagues made a post that basically gave the excuse that as a woman pursuing ministry, that was her stance in the debate. She didn’t feel the need to get involved when the debate gets started, she would just keep her mouth shut and listen rather than be a part of the discussion.
Now, to her benefit, this debate gets shoved in our faces a lot here. Being a part of a gender inclusive denomination is great, I am all for it. But the debate is constantly at the forefront of our classes, our teacher’s lectures and our forums and clubs. We can recite to you why women should be in ministry as well as quote scripture defense and tell you what scholars have debunked the verses that tell us to be silent. We are well versed in this debate, or so we think.
The thing is, that someday we are going to be in ministry outside of this little Covenant bubble. We are going to be out in the real world and faced with a lot of people who do not think we should be in ministry. And not necessarily because we aren’t called or gifted but more so because how could we be called and gifted? That’s not how God works. That’s unbiblical. And these people that think these things, they aren’t bad people, they don’t hate women. They love women, but they’ve been raised in a system that believes these things. They have never questioned it, they have never been asked to question it. It’s almost never personal…and yet that’s how it feels when we hear it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I’d make a great pastor’s wife. Or how I’ll do great children’s ministry some day, since the minds of children are the only ones I can mold. I’ve been asked why I’m in seminary if women can’t be pastors. I’ve been asked if women are allowed to be pastors. I’ve been told that with ambition like mine, I’ll never get married. I’ve been asked if I’m only pursuing ministry because I’m not married. I’ve been asked where a man fits into my “life plan”. I’ve gotten it all. And the worst is when it comes from those closest to me. People who know how independent I am. People who know my passions and gifts.
And I have to tell myself over and over, it’s not personal. It’s not me they are questioning, it’s the system they have grown up in.
But this is why we, as women, cannot just sit there and look pretty. My choice of vocation is not enough to educate people. I have to know the debate, I have to know what to say when those questions come up. Even if it means that people will think worse of me, even if I get called a feminist. Even if I become “intimidating” and shunned for it.
(PS…today’s title comes from a recently loved Matt Nathanson song called “Modern Love,” it’s my jam. I just like the sassiness of the girl he describes and the fact that she is unapologetic about it and that THAT’S why he is intrigued by her. It makes me happy, although I realize that out of context that’s a weird sentence.)

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