Stacey March on The Effect of Women’s Absence from the Pulpit

“You should tell your story one day, when you’re finished thinking things through,” my husband said one Sunday afternoon. I couldn’t tell if he was truly serious or trying to nicely say, “Put it on paper, woman, and leave me out of it!” His comment came after yet another frustrating church service that sent me racing back to bed, wound tight in the fetal position, grasping and groping for something I couldn’t find and wondering if Jesus was too.

My husband’s suggestion jeered back into memory as I read through a June interview with Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. In the article, Mr. Graham declares that the authority to pastor/teach/preach belongs solely to men. He then blames social media for exaggerating the issue of women in ministry and expresses a desire to get back to the more important matter of fulfilling the Great Commission—as if the two issues were somehow of separate business.

In other words, “Pipe down, ladies of Instagram—the men are trying to get some real work done over here!”

This reminds me of Sunday morning.

These comments also made me think about my childhood, when, as a six-year-old little girl, I would sneak my father’s sports coat and tie from his closet so as to be properly attired for preaching. From the pulpit in my makeshift bedroom church, I prophesied the Gospel aloud while the air shimmered around me, tears flowing and my heart so, so happy. This feeling when I spoke about God would never leave me; in fact, it would drive me.

I wonder what Mr. Graham would say to that little girl, the one who wore suits she was never meant to grow into, just to preach the fire that burned under her skin. Would he think it cute — until she reached a certain age of womanly accountability, when silence would be demanded over oil? Would he identify with that childhood fervor, remembering his own while quietly pitying her unfortunate gender state—hers born with shackles while his was born of wings?

In order for the Gospel to bear weight and witness in this world, it has to be true—all of it, for everyone. And the truth is that women are and have been, since the Church’s inception, a driving force behind the proliferation of Christianity across the globe. This was always the plan. It is impossible to strive for the fulfillment of the Great Commission disassociated from women.

I began to wonder if Mr. Graham had forgotten important names in his denomination’s history? Women such as Dorothy Hazard, Ann Judson, Lottie Moon, Helen Barrett Montgomery, Mary Well, Lulu Fleming, and Marie Mathis (to name just a few). Were they not Baptist heroes who walked as preachers, prophets, teachers, and pastors? These ones who loved entire people groups, built schools, evangelized the lost, and discipled nations? Many of them laid down their lives on the mission field in a much more heroic, sacrificial plight than those who currently stand guard over their pulpits, freshly groomed and pressed, far from the dirt that Jesus stirred to heal a blind man’s eyes and distract a woman’s accusers.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stacey March

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