Note: I thought I hit publish this morning but apparently not! Anyway, this post was hard for me to write, perhaps because everything is still to raw and right-now so consider this a sort of a rambling-processing post. Take what speaks to you! It is after all, my story and mine alone.
Last Sunday, I attended the opening service of a brand new Anglican church started by a woman who I met years ago (and had kept meaningful contact with through Facebook!) It was quite an experience for me, having grown up in mostly a non-liturgical male-led church. I actually enjoyed the liturgy and most especially when we were asked to kneel for the confession. It took me back to the church I was part of in the last year or so in college where we practiced the liturgy of silence and the Lord’s Prayer (together with a vigorous hand-raising feet-stomping kind of praise and worship) which often guided me into God’s Presence. But today, I’m not writing about liturgy. I’m writing about The Feminine (or the Absence of) in the Christian church.
For most people, the absence is about the lack of female leadership in the church.
I came upon this article last week on The Provoketive written by Melody Hansen. I came across it through Jim Henderson on Facebook, who I’ve engaged in a discussion online a few years ago when I left a rating at ChurchRater for Mars Hill Church. (If you must know, I attended Mars Hill for a year right after my husband and I got married and I loved it. Back then. Oh how things change! We found another church soon after my daughter was born.)
Back to the article. I resonated with much of what she was saying. I’m so glad for women like Melody who speak up, especially about getting weary about speaking up. I loved especially this part:
I believe it harms us to rarely hear the spiritual voices of women and for me personally, it hampers my faith and my journey with Christ. Thank God that we have the example of Jesus who took risks for women, ministered with, received from and listened to women. He was our example of reconciliation and grace in the lives of women. If only the church modeled their behavior toward women after Jesus. Sadly the Church is ignoring the stories of women in the Bible, and of women historically and in the Church worldwide today. Women have been actively participating in the work of the church since its inception. Women are missionaries, teaching in seminaries, running nonprofits and leading in higher education. Women are writing and want to write on more than “soft or women’s issues.” But in the Church women are still finding their voice.
Yes, I love that we can look to Jesus and find an example of how to honor women. But honestly? This approach/pesrpective leaves me wanting. Here was the comment I left on the blog:
Me too. And often I wonder, could it be because our very foundation and practice of our faith removes the Feminine? With the Father God, the Son Jesus and the neutral-gender Holy Spirit woven into the very consciousness of every women who reads and breathes the Scriptures with no other Face and Presence of the Feminine, why are we surprised that women are disconnected from their voice and spiritual identity?
I didn’t receive any response. And I get it. My comment was like a tangent in context of what was written.
But in the bigger picture, is it?
Could it be possible that many women in most Christian churches are disconnected from their voice and true spiritual identity because the Voice of the Feminine is silenced and wounded? Why is God the Father and the Holy Spirit an It and not a She? How does it shape a women to be praying Our Father and never having a consciousness about a Feminine Divine all her life? How does it shape our spirituality to be reading Scriptures written by men and mostly from a men’s perspective? Does it matter?
I’m obviously not an expert in these matters. I’m no theologian. I have only started to read a bit and feel very inadequate to broach the topic.
But what I am is awakened to the absence of the Feminine in our text and in our practice of our faith. Not just the absence of women in the church.
Women are indeed equal but remain peripheral because the Feminine Divine remains so. And I don’t know what to make of Scriptures that leave Her out.
Where do I go from here?
I don’t know. This is probably the reason why I am drawn to explore Christian-Wicca, Christian Mysticism and the Gnostic Gospels. At least I find a trace of Her there.
There is no way I can go back and live with her Absence.
I can only move forward and seek Her Presence.
Thoughts? Do share! And if you know anyone who would appreciate this post, pass it along!