One evening, on a drive back home from prayer meeting at church, my Dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. It was one of those precious moments one-on-one with your Dad which you never forget. And being a Daddy’s girl, it meant so much to me that he even cared to ask!
On a side note, about being a Daddy’s girl…isn’t every little girl a Daddy’s girl? I mean, I can’t imagine an eight year old not caring what her Daddy thinks of her! Or not wanting her father’s kindest affections! What’s messed up is that fewer and fewer little girls have the purity of a father’s love in the stability of a committed family. It’s a mess, really.
And so I told my Dad that I wanted to be a Pastor when I grew up. I loved Jesus so much and I couldn’t imagine anything better than to spend my life working with Him and for Him as a dedicated minister! Actually, I remember that before wanting to be a pastor, I had wanted to be a missionary, but then I learnt in Sabbath School class that missionaries come from America and Europe to Africa and not the other way around…haha.
Whether my Dad told me I’d have to marry a pastor or I surmised that was the only option for a women desiring to be in full-time ministry, I cannot recall, but that was my conclusion from that conversation. It didn’t seem fair to me, though, that women would be precluded from the pastoral ministry, just as they were discriminated against in so many other areas in the society I grew up in. No way God could be unfair like that! Right!
One Sabbath afternoon, the Conference Educational Director gave a seminar at my church. Don’t ask me what the thrust of his presentation was, but I’ll tell you what stood out in my mind: A comment intimating that girls’ performance in school was doomed to decline the further along they got in their education. Being an A student up to that point, his forecast had me incensed! Even if I had to work 10times harder than the boys, I would never let a boy get better grades than me again.
Why would someone think me incapable of something by mere virtue of the fact of my gender? That’s stupid. And I set out to prove it in my life.
Though I have never called myself a feminist, I could see how one might have made that assertion. For me though, it wasn’t about women being better than men, it was just that we’re equally capable within the limitations of our individuality. People don’t assume a man can’t be a scientist just because he is a man. A man can’t be a scientist because he is not inclined to the sciences…he may just be a better poet than a scientist. And so it is with women!
There is a school of feminism which would have women believe themselves to be better than men. In my opinion, that’s just reverse discrimination – they’re taking it too far. One of my genetics professors was of that opinion, actually, and he buttressed his arguments with science. Yes, I said “he” 🙂
This dissatisfaction with the way my world viewed women’s capability colored my reading of the Bible. I loved God and couldn’t imagine that He would buy into such gender discrimination as I saw around me. No way He’d debar women from the highest profession under the sun – that of the Seventh-day Adventist ministry!
By the time I enrolled at Wellesley College, pastoral ministry was no longer my goal. Any hint of intelligence, in my native community, was met with strong compulsion towards the medical profession. And so, I was pre-med. Something else had changed. I was at a women’s college. There were no men to out-perform in my classes. What would drive me?
This blog post is getting pretty lengthy as is, so I won’t delve into my musings on competition and my journey thus far in relating to it. Suffice to say that love is a better and more consistent motivator than anything else out there!
A friend gave me a book to read on the topic of women’s ordination during my first year of college. It was a very upsetting read! One after the other, argument after argument, my belief that women ought to be ordained to pastoral ministry was shattered. One evening, as I read, I recall slamming the book shut out of frustration. Why such a visceral reaction to a book?
In the years that have passed since then, my thoughts have turned from the surface question of women’s ordination to pastoral ministry to the deeper, and weightier matters of gender role distinction and its implications for our Christian experience. My discoveries have been shocking at times – so shocking, in fact, that I’m afraid to admit to them out loud. Yet they are unmistakable.
For one thing, I know now that my social agenda for women’s equality tainted my reading of the Bible. That is a humbling realization and brings me to my heart’s knees anytime I approach spiritual things.
The more shocking of my discoveries I shall have to reserve for future blog posts. But I just had to get these thoughts off my chest in view of all the drama going on in my church right now. <sigh>