Many women in today’s Christian culture are experiencing disillusionment and very unique forms of resignation whether internally or externally. I just started reading “The Resignation of Eve” and am already refreshed by its psychological standpoint and perspective since a lot of the books I’ve read lately have been complicated exegesis or intense historical contextual Scripture studies. I get to read the stories of women who have long been undervalued by the church and growing up in the church myself, I can definitely relate.
The author Jim Henderson takes a sociological analysis of the root causes of this resignation of women from the church. It’s hard to understand the reasons why the church has long undervalued the input of women, often ignoring or belittling women who have the courage to actively contribute in all spectrums of the church. Of course you have the obvious, God says so, so we do it, but more conceptually and psychologically why is the church just okay with not questioning this. Jim says,
“Evangelicals are passionate about personal sin- swearing, adultery, gossip, drunkeness, lust, anger, and so on. They have significantly less interest in systemic sin- racism, greed, selfishness, and repression of women. We interpret the powers and principalities in high places that Paul refers to through a mystical rather than a practical lens. We pray against things but fail to protest them. This low view of systemic sin, this privileged paradigm of power, makes it easy for us to ignore the way we treat women in the church.”
I had never really thought about the repression of women in the church framed as a product of a low view of systemic sin. It makes sense though as the people I’ve observed who have been immune to hearing the predicaments of women in the church have also never held a high moral compass regarding greed, racism and selfishness either. Church, growing up, was all about tackling the known behavioral sins, but going beyond that into our moral responsibility to fight racism, greedy politics, narcissistic leaders and the repression of women, were largely and gapingly ignored as if we have no personal responsibility to actively and daily combat theses more deeply ingrained culturally shoved to the side sins.
I’m a little more than halfway through the book so I may do a part two, but so far I’ve loved seeing and relating to all the women’s stories even though they are all considerably different. Some days the waves of resignation and disillusionment I feel are so strong that I have a cold lump in my throat as I swallow back the the conflict and belittling I see affecting women and even young girls. Who from within the church will let women know that their voice and opinion matter and that it is not something to always assign to potluck and childcare. For now, it’s not me as I am on the outside. The powers and infrastructures within the churches around me are so firm that even a concerned effort could not make a dent in the rock solid idea that men have to run and lead the church instead of an equality driven relational church.
Like a lot of women, I do feel I have more of a voice and matter more at work and with friends than at church. How is it that the church is the last place I’d go to feel valued, heard and loved? Something’s wrong with this picture. Some women may be able to feel loved while not being allowed to speak and participate fully, but that will never be me. Jim Henderson describes a woman who has left the church as she explains,
“A big part of my indifference comes from having worked out my relational patterns with narcissistic, self-focused male leaders. I grew up in a milieu in which everyone orbited around a central figure and protected his interests at all costs, even to our own detriment. We all played supporting roles, and our own lives were simply not the point of our existence. Over time I looked at the church the way I look at a narcissistic family.”
I really relate to this quote as I tend to think a lot of my passions for women in the church come from being fed up with male leaders thinking they are so righteous by making everyone subservient to them, how does that work, it makes no sense. In the end, I would describe myself as resigned from the church right now, but never resigned from God. Every day, the church and God are becoming more and more separate and opposite in my head, and it’s a daily battle trying to reconcile how I as a Christian feel such a chasm of reasoning in the church.