Two Sundays ago marked as the day this year to celebrate moms. The pastor asked all of the mothers in the congregation to stand up and everyone else around them to stand alongside them and pray for them as a congregation. While I spent part of the day reflecting on those of us who may find the day to be a difficult one, I was also prepared to participate in praying with my mom right next to me. However, I wasn’t prepared with what my pastor was going to say before we would pray as a church:
Did you know that God is part female?
Immediately, there was quiet murmuring all throughout the congregation. And then, there was me–cheesin’ harder than the punniest joke I have ever told, enjoying the drama unfold. I knew that what he had to say next was going to be good. I mean, it just had to be. And with eager ears, I continued to pay attention to what he had to say.
He mentioned that in the creation story in Genesis, God did not deem humans to be in His image until both Adam and Eve were created. Both sexes had to manifest themselves in humanity for His image to be reflected in us.
He went on to discuss gender roles and detested the idea that the “woman’s place” is that of subjugation to the man. The man was not created to dominate the woman but coexist alongside her, and the creation of Adam and Eve was supposed to that of a partnership. And this idea of men dominating and taking advantage of the woman is the residue of sin in the world.
We have been indoctrinated with a male-dominated theology. That is not what God intended for us to have.
He spoke on the atrocity of such a theology which left me with a smile on my face. However, it also made me want to discuss the topic further with my pastor, especially when much of the Bible has many examples of men dominating women. I wanted to explore the idea of the inerrancy of scripture along the various ways in which women are told to be “submissive” but men aren’t. I wanted to bring up how I spoke up in the church a few Wednesdays ago and how I was applauded for it by both men and women there, yet the scripture does not seem to support it. I thought of the idea of modesty and other expectations women are to have in the way they dress. I think of the idea of sexual purity and how the onus seems to be on the woman to uphold such ideal. I had more thoughts and it is in the contemplation of these ideas and in the idea of one day talking to my pastor about them that I realize why church is valuable to me.
At the end of the day, I come to church to be ministered to, to be given a opportunity to grow in my faith as a Christian, and to be open and honest when I have questions, doubts, and points that I want to celebrate. If I am honest, sometimes I walk away from a service upset, sometimes down right angry (though that is rarely happens). But I still come back because there is community at the church I attend. I feel free to be honest, to be me. And I find these points of conversation to be moments to create a stronger sense of community here.
I see the development of a strong church community flourish when the lay person and the clergy have hearts of humility and exercise it whenever they speak out. After all, being in a place of authority in the church does not absolve one’s ability from making mistakes neither does it mean that you have arrived and cannot learn from members of the congregation like members of the congregation are expected to learn from the pastor. Either way, I try to have the attitude of expectancy when attending church, to come away from service or a church gathering with something: a lesson, a blessing, more questions, whatever God has for me that day. And it is in those moments I get something out of the sermon that I am reminded of my limitations and the fact that I will never arrive. These are good things.
Weighing the pros and cons of being a part of this church that my chose to attend, I find so much potential in my individual growth and in the church’s growth. I am reminded of the good in our community and global-focus in ministry and providing for those who have little to none. I am also reminded of how I have not arrived, how I also have questions, and how welcomed I am with open arms here. After all, I should be. We are all human, men and women alike. Though we many all be created in the image of God, we are all flawed. None of us are above the other. And this surprising statement made by my pastor that Sunday was just another pleasant and thought-provoking reminder of that truth.