Dammit Eve!

It was a Sunday evening prayer meeting.  I had not been attending this particular church for very long and was not completely familiar with the way things worked.  One of the elders was up front explaining how the evening would go.  “Feel free to read scripture if you feel led or simply pray what ever is on your heart.”  That sounded simple enough and then…”Even the women should feel free to jump in.”  “Even the women,” he said– even the women!?”  I was stunned.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week.  I wondered what he meant by that?  I wondered what role women played at this church.  It concerned me.  I couldn’t let it go.

Coincidentally, that very same elder called my home later that week to inquire about how we liked the church and if we were planning continuing there, etc.  I did love the preaching and I so wanted to be a part of that church.  They seemed to be so “biblically sound” (shudder).  When he asked me if I had any questions, I thought hard about whether to ask about what was on my mind, but being who I am I couldn’t hold back.  I told him that I noticed that there weren’t really any women involved in the worship services, aside from singing.  I asked him if that was purposeful or was it that there just weren’t women willing to step up.  He said that the male dominated leadership on Sunday morning was by design and he gave me all the typical scriptures to back up “the leadership’s” philosophy.  He informed me that that is the way it is and will be and if I had a problem with that I might want to choose another place of worship.

I was a little taken aback by his words; it did seem a bit defensive, but I immediately let him know that I was willing to accept their decision about that. (Kook-aid anyone?) Undaunted, I asked him about the prayer meetings on Sunday nights and if women are typically “allowed” to pray then, He said that they were, but for some reason didn’t very often (go figure).  Then I did a baaaaad thing.  I made the silly mistake of thinking we were peers having an intelligent conversation and said, “I think it might be because the women are intimidated.  When you say things like, “even the women can pray.” It sounds condescending.”

He responded politely and calmly, “You know what this is, Barbara, don’t you?”

“No, I asked, what?”

He told me it was my sin rearing its ugly head.  He informed me that my attitude toward male leadership is a result of the fall.  He explained how God told Eve she would desire to rule over her man, but he would rule over her.  He chuckled softly and said,  “You just might need to pray about that.”

I immediately felt horrible, like a Jezebel or something.   He had pushed a button in me.  He had hit upon one of my biggest struggles and heartaches in my Christian walk.  I was always feeling like I was falling short as a Christian woman because I couldn’t shake the idea that we should be treated equally.  Why I didn’t run like the Devil (excuse the pun) away from that place?  I think it was because I truly believed the lie that women are to submit and there were things we were not allowed to do, due to our mother Eve.  The struggle between Christian doctrine, and what I knew to be true, were in conflict and the desire to be a “good Christian,” would always win out and to my detriment, I might add.

As fate would have it, what that Elder said would come back and haunt me eight years later when I would hear a similar comment made about a very dear friend and talented woman at our church, when I asked our pastor about her whereabouts and what had taken place.  It went something like this, “Well, she has always had a problem with the male leadership having authority over her here.”  It was at that moment, I believe that my blinders starting coming off.  I was done keeping quiet and making nice; it was the beginning of the end for that church and the beginning of a new and freethinking life for me.

Sometimes it’s really hard to look back and see what a mind-numbed robot I was, but I’m learning that regrets are counter productive and I am really thankful that I no longer feel duty-bound to fit into the “ good Christian woman” mold.

Free at last, free at last, thank goodness for my brain, I’m free at last!

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 08:30:35

    What infuriates me most about that pastor’s attitude is that he didn’t address any of your concerns, but basically made the whole thing “your fault.” It completely absolved him of any responsibility.

    Plus, given the way sin seems to work, pointing it out tends to just make people more stubborn. How often does someone go, “By golly, you’re right! I *am* horribly sinning against God. Horribly! Like — hellfire horribly! Gee whiz, I better shape up!”

    Reply

  2. notabarbie
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 19:25:17

    I know. It is pretty infuriating and I’ve found it to be pretty typical for that kind of church. Now that I’ve gotten that particular situation out of my head and on to paper, I feel much better. But, as with many of the incidents that took place within my old Christian community; when I see them in black and white I think holy crap, what was wrong with me?!

    Reply

  3. rebecca shannon
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 19:36:53

    Notabarbie…too weird. I think we are twins or something. 😉

    I wrote a comment to you on my blog before I came here and read your recent blog entry. I see the word “robot” in your post. I just used that term as well. 🙂

    Reply

  4. notabarbie
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 20:52:39

    I think we have been living parallel lives 🙂

    Reply

  5. Heather
    Jun 26, 2007 @ 23:25:35

    I’ve been thinking on this more, and realize that another reason why it infuriates me is that he was telling you how to feel. You were sharing a valid reaction and concern with him, about how a particular behavior made you feel. No one has the right to do that.

    Reply

  6. notabarbie
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 21:13:57

    Heather, you are right about that, but that’s what fundamentalist christianity is all about–telling you “how to feel.” Isn’t it?
    Thanks for your comments.

    Reply

  7. Radec
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 01:38:34

    I appreciate the post.
    I came from a similar church background. From a man’s perspective (and this may sound a bit chauvinistic), but to be honest this was a pretty easy law to take being that I was on the winning gender’s side. I was always told that it wasn’t my place to question the areas that we have been asked to serve, so since it didn’t really affect me, it was OK by me!
    Then…I became a father to an outgoing, fun, energetic little girl. Her “gift” is truly people. She has a heart of gold and you can’t help but to like her. A little over a year ago I remember thinking how am I supposed to tell her that this gift of hers has some serious limits in which she can serve? That it didn’t matter what she wanted to do, or what she was good at, but there are certain things that that you can and can’t do. Isn’t that actually hurting the church, let alone her self-esteem???? Isn’t it my job as a father to support her in whatever she does, and even encourage those traits that she excels at? Why limit her ability? I am truly glad my mind isn’t bound by that way thinking anymore.

    Reply

  8. Slapdash
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 10:27:32

    notabarbie, hope it’s okay that I’ve added you to my blogroll. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog – I relate very much to what you’re going through!

    cheers,
    slapdash

    Reply

  9. notabarbie
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 11:09:09

    Thanks Slapdash, that’s totally fine. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the blog–it’s really nice to know I’m not alone.

    Reply

  10. roopster
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 14:37:38

    Disclaimer: This is not a comment for this thread but for your latest post w/cartoon.

    I’m seeing double and can’t make comments on it. Could be me though 🙂

    Reply

  11. notabarbie
    Jul 02, 2007 @ 18:02:38

    Roopster, I think I fixed it now. Sorry about that.

    Reply

  12. cragar
    Jul 12, 2007 @ 06:54:51

    Found you from slapdash. Very good blog. From my reading about fundamentalism it seems it has some of the same characteristics that JW’s have about women. Not as extreme as your experience, but all of the speakers, elders, etc. are all men and the way it appears to me the women are expected to stay in the background.

    What amazes me is that even with this treatment statistically more women are theists, and the ones that are theists seem to take it more seriously.

    Reply

  13. samanthamj
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 06:00:02

    Wow – it never ceases to amaze me lately when I find others who can relate to my church experiences. This was right out of a page of my life… and my mothers. Unbelievable how many women are brainwashed into thinking this type of thing is not only okay, but God’s will. UGH Keep blogging!

    Reply

  14. notabarbie
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 06:28:03

    Thanks samanthamj! Your encouragement means a lot. I started blogging to sort things out in my head and discovered a whole world of people who have experienced what I have and are breaking free of it. I checked out your poems…very thought provoking and very good. Keep it up. I’ve been on a two week trip, but plan on blogging some soon.

    Thanks for your comments,
    B

    Reply

  15. samanthamj
    Aug 01, 2007 @ 08:32:42

    Thanks B –
    i hope your having a nice break. I’ll be popping back here. You might relate more to my other blog – “Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist” at http://www.savemenot.wordpress.com too.
    Take care.
    smj

    Reply

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