Since I am a Baptist woman with the abbreviation “Rev.” in front of my name, most people assume that I am an impassioned activist for women in ministry. They figure I have a big, mangy dog in the fight for equal pulpit rights. Actually though, I don’t.
Please understand: I view my call to ministry as God-breathed and sacred. I don’t like it one bit when people attempt to defile that call. And yeah, they most certainly do.
I’ve had churches tell me that they would not consider my application for employment because I am female. I’ve had godly people ask me how I could go against God’s word. Well-meaning folks have said things to me like, “You really think it is okay to place yourself in authority over men?”
And recently I was talking with a homeless guy. He asked what I did and I told him I was a minister. This sparked a vehement monologue about the sin of women taking on men’s roles in the church. According to him, I was living a life of defiant disobedience, clearly refusing to submit to my husband’s higher authority. (His insight was impressive considering we’d only known each other for a few minutes when he made this assessment.) I refrained from opening up a can of divinity school on him.
With that fellow as with others, I suppress the urge to take out my Greek New Testament and explain the nuances of Koine Greek verbiage. I do not tell them that my disobedience was fighting God’s call for 20 years before finally submitting to divine authority. Neither do I remind them of the roles of Miriam, Deborah, Esther, Lydia, or Martha. In fact, rarely do I respond to gender-related comments or questions because I’ve never found such confrontations all that effective.
In February, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship churches celebrate the Martha Stearns Marshall month of preaching. Started in 2007 by Baptist Women in Ministry, this month-long focus is a way to build awareness, to create opportunities, and to ease anxiety regarding women in the pulpit. During this time, affiliated churches are encouraged to invite women to preach in their churches. I’ll be preaching at my church, First Baptist Church of Weaverville, North Carolina on February 9th.
If you can, join us. But don’t come expecting a dogfight; I leave my beagle at home on Sunday mornings.