I grew up in conservative circles. From kindergarten through 12th grade I was inundated — both at church and Christian school–with highly patriarchal and sometimes cultish (Bill Gothard) teachings. From a very young age, I found it extraordinarily painful.
Being taught complementarian Christian theology was like being served pie with glass shards mixed into the filling. I grew up loving Bible stories, and believing Jesus loved me, but I was also regularly reminded, subtly, and not so subtly, of my inferior status as a female.
I would voice my complaints: “Um, this pie is delicious, but it has glass in it!”
The response, “Oh, yeah. That’s God’s special ingredient for girls and women. You don’t like it? We didn’t write the recipe, we just followed God’s directions. You sound pretty ungrateful; you get to eat amazing pie! If you have complaints, take them up with God. He wrote the recipe.”
Me: “Does your pie have glass in it?”
“No, silly! Males and females are different! There is a different recipe for boys and men. Neither pie is better or worse. Just different.”
Me: “But the glass in my pie is cutting up my mouth and my esophagus. I love everything else about this pie, but I have to constantly spit out tiny pieces of glass! My lips, throat, and tongue are bleeding. I think there must be a mistake. Maybe someone read the recipe wrong? God couldn’t possibly want me to eat this. This cannot be from God.”
“Don’t get so emotional; there is no mistake. Sheesh. Sometimes we have to endure hard things for God’s will to be done. We cannot change God’s recipe just because you don’t like it or it hurts you. We do not have the authority to change God’s recipe just because you complain. Can’t you see how narcissistic that is? Maybe there is something wrong with your throat? Or maybe you just have other issues and you are blaming the pie. Other women are eating it and they aren’t complaining!
Bottom line: We made this pie exactly to God’s directions. It’s God’s pie!! How dare you question it. If you don’t like it, you should pray about it, and reflect about what might be standing in your way of enjoying this pie. Read the recipe for yourself! It’s right here in black and white! And then? Eat the pie. Stop whining.”
I continued to eat the pie, spitting out the glass shards and trying to enjoy the rest. But over time, the glass made its way into my body and soul. It has caused deep scars, ulcers, and internal bleeding.
I wish I could say this was a thing of the past, but it’s not.
The city in which I live is saturated with complementarian churches. It is extraordinarily rare to find a church with female elders and/or female pastors.
Glass-filled pie theology is still being served up to women all over the world; causing pain, scarring hearts, and silencing voices. In the name of Jesus.
[This article was first published on Julie’s website.]