Not Just pH balanced

20120611-132027.jpg

My mind keeps wandering back to the conversation, not begun but thoughtfully curated by Rachel Held Evans, on mutuality in the church. I took my daughter to soccer camp yesterday, with her brother and sister in tow. I listened to them as I drove and I thought. I thought about the lessons of mutuality, and how it is not borne of dust and happy glitter wishes.

After a week ruminating on the theme, there remained a sort of nondescript but unpleasant taste in my mouth. I couldn’t quite place it until yesterday. I watched in bemused silence as a bunch of rowdy 12 year olds giggled and jumped around the halls of an enormous college dorm. They had packed their shin guards, mouth guards, balls and water bottles. They had also decorated their doors, brought matching luggage and bedding, carried loads of toiletries and hair accessories into the dorm. There is something contagious about the confidence of young female athletes.

I drove home, my son tucked in the back seat singing his head off about being a jazz lion. I don’t know. The contrast between his sister and him was a study in gender identity, roles and expectations incarnate.

I remembered a sermon from years ago, from a church we no longer attend. The pastor began a sermon about sexuality, or marriage, or maybe it was sexual purity. Something about men and women and sex. I don’t remember, because his point was lost on me as soon as I heard him say this: “Mothers and grandmothers, you need to teach your daughters that…” and I was gone. His voice was drowned out by the cacophonous sound of my hackles being raised. These are some big hackles, yo.

I turned to my husband, who had already slid his eyes toward me, a knowing twinkle sparking there. I take solace: he knows me. He wanted me to wait, to give the pastor time to address the men. We waited together, suspended in gender role hell. We waited. And waited.

And nothing.

In the car on the way home, I railed. But when you are married to someone who knows you, he will not be surprised by these outbursts, and will, most times, agree with you.

So here’s the thing about mutuality: it implies participation, knowledge and purpose by both men and women. Telling a woman—raised by dyed in the womb-wool feminists—to strive for mutuality is, you’ll forgive the cliche, preaching to the choir. To be sure, there are women who don’t care about, are not in the least bit interested in mutual male/female relationships. It has been my distinct experience, though, that women are already on board with this.

Reading the stories from mutuality week, as I read through the Women In Ministry Series, I was comforted by the male voices extolling the rightness of mutuality. I have to wonder if what I’m reading online matches what’s happening in churches.

Whart are we hearing from the pulpit?

If the church is concerned about sexual purity, it would do well to address both girls and boys. If the church is concerned about healthy sexuality, it would do well to access the expertise of both mothers and fathers. If the church is concerned about justice, it would do well to provide a pulpit for the undervoiced. And if the church wants to grow up strong female leaders (a debatable point in some cases) it would do well to educate its men that women are not a threat to their “authority” but an illumination of the creativity of One who is higher than any concept of gender.

We will not attain any semblance of mutuality merely by teaching our daughters to love and value themselves. We must include all of our children, our sons, in the dialogue about the inherent, immoveable value of women as people.

Why I Run: Aodhagan’s Story

Oh, man! W’e’re going international today, baby. My friend Aodghagan wrote this after running a marathon. Thanks to him for being such a good sport about my request for his story. This post cracked me up, especially at the end. Say hi, guys. Why do I  run? I get asked that question a bit these […]

Women Preach and Men do VBS

Celebrating a week of mutuality with Rachel Held Evans. Our sisters through the ages have shown that God’s gifts are unique and not bound by gender. If you are ever looking for a fight, call me up and tell me that women are the fairer sex with weaker minds. Tell me that because we don’t […]

Tiny Fix

It’s always the small things. I tried for a long time to avoid the label “runner,” and all its required nonsense: magazine subscriptions, goofy shorts, goofier gear belts, eating fuel instead of food, drinking fluids instead of water, and using runner’s code in daily conversation. “I’m going down to FF to get some gu. I’ll […]

Becoming Noah

If you’ve read my book, or if you were privy to the beginnings of my rather illustrious running career, you have met The Dog. The Dog was supposed to have been our only pet. As if. The Dog is now competing for space with two other Dogs, one cat, her three babies, and a fish. […]

Why I Run: Harriot and Marc

I haven’t met Harriot and Marc, yet, but I know I will some day. My de facto running coach is the one who roped them graciously into writing their story to share with you. I LOVE this story; it’s the whole package. Romance, drama, change, growth. You’re gonna love it. Say hi to Harriot and […]

If is the Word

She stands on the scale, holding her breath, dressed down to her skin, praying every litany she can recall. She ticks off the calories, the number of stairs she climbed, the dozens of brownies and cakes and pizzas she’s rejected in favor of carrot sticks and another grilled chicken breast. She thinks if she holds […]

Rise Up

I forgot that once homeschooling ended for the summer, there would still be these people in my house, without schoolwork to do. While I sort out what academic horrors I will inflict upon them this summer, I’m puzzled by a persistent, agonizing thought about women: women writers, bloggers, ministers. The more I think about gender […]