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The Problematic Lesbian.

I’ve been struggling to write this.

Struggling for a lot of different reasons.

The thing is, you guys… the best of it all is in my hands. I’m completely and entirely and irrevocably in love. As Song of Solomon says “I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

It’s great, right? So why in the hell would I be struggling with it, you might be asking?

Well. The person I am overwhelmingly in love with is a dude. As you may recall, this is entirely antithetical to the lesbian identity I’ve claimed for four years now.

To many progressive people, it may seem like no big deal. Love is love, right? That’s the entire mantra my community builds itself upon. And yet, within the lesbian community, there are many nuances. There is a knowledge that patriarchy works against lesbian women because they exist in many parts of their lives free from the influence of any cisgender, heterosexual men in power.

And the man I am in love with IS a cisgender, heterosexual man. I know, I know. Weep with me. (He’s fully aware I’m writing this, by the way. Lest you think I’m using him for hits.)

He and I have circled each other’s metaphorical drains for seven years now, since we first met and briefly dated in 2011. We have several things that tie us together, but most of it is intangible and unexplainable.

We have come back to each other time after time (insert gratuitous Cyndi Lauper singing here). Each of us has had several successful, happy relationships that didn’t pan out in the end, each of us has been there when that happened for the other. We’ve given each other advice, laughed with each other, and watched each other grow for the better part of a decade.

For so long, we acted like total idiots. When one of us would lean in, the other would lean out. When one would want to move forward, the other would go running. We have mucked it up enough times and returned to one another to know that either this was going to end with both of us banning each other from our lives for good, or spending our lives together for good.

“Experts” would, I’m sure, say that our relationship cycle is one that’s unhealthy, but it’s happened the way that it has for a reason. When we first met, I was twenty-two and he was twenty-one. He was my first boyfriend, and we were just a couple of kids trying to make sense of things, each with passionate tempers and brooding temperaments.

Now, we are both passionate people who have matured and grown enough to know how to communicate with one another, how to fight and how to resolve our disputes with communication and respectful language. We care for each other in big and small ways, and we’ve been tested by the fires of time.

But there are other reasons this hasn’t been easy for me.

As previously mentioned, the lesbian community truly does exist on the cornerstone of a world with limited heterosexual male presence. It was something I reveled in after I first came out.

I love my community. I love the flag I still wrap around my shoulders, the stripes I am still proud to bear written across my heart. I may no longer have a label, but I know my place is under that rainbow.

God and I have wrestled with this, gone back and forth. I have asked him why the last four years since I came out have been necessary if I was simply going to intertwine my life with a man’s life, be “traditional” in a sense.

Because the truth is, there’s something broken in the modern church. I’ve discussed this ad nauseam, but the way this affects someone struggling with their sexuality is potent. There is a fear that dating -and probably marrying- a heterosexual man will not only cause many to believe that I’m straight, which I’m not, but also that I have been “rescued” from some sort of “sin”, that God has planted a man in my life to save me.

Patriarchy is an ugly thing, y’all. And it goes hand in hand with the reason why it is so crucial for the church to come to universal affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community. We could debate the doctrines and the interpretations and the beliefs all day long, and trust me, I have. At the end of the day, the church and its actions aren’t representative of a God who sees our struggle and loves us through it. The church should never be the cause of anyone’s struggle, they should be the solution.

The church needs to stop perpetuating the belief that men save women, especially queer women, from themselves. They need to seek to be the solution to a hurting population of people who have been traumatized at their own hands, and they need to take responsibility for the actions that brought them here.

The answer I got, by the way, is this: I haven’t “lost” who I am, I have found exactly who I am. I am someone who stands for love and justice. I fight for anyone’s right to love exactly who they love, no questions asked. I am a part of a community that makes space for all to sit at their table, and I am proud of that, more than I can say. Far from the last four years being pointless, they have taught me how to embrace love and not to waste it, to savor it where ever it is found.

Four years ago, I came out as gay. And I still am, no matter what people want to believe from external presences. But more than that, I am in love and I am loved in return. It is a breathtaking vision of Christ’s providence and his grace, the love that falls on each of us and sparks even in the furthest reaches of the world.

It’s this kind of love that will restore Christ’s church.

love is love

 

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The Freedom of Being Finished.

BeFunky-photo

Hello, dear family. Another day, another lesson. We discover, we connect, we move forward.

 

So I’m not a huge fan of devotionals. (*Gasp in Christian*) When I was a kid, my mother and a bunch of other women from the churches I grew up in would gather in all of their puffy-haired, Charlie perfume wearing glory with covered Bibles in tow and discuss it. My mother and father both collectively had countless books of “devotionals” written by numerous authors on our bookshelves. I never saw my parents as consistent in their practice of them, though, and I was no different as I got older. I find it incredibly difficult to connect with what someone else is saying about the scripture, especially in such brevity.

 

When I began attending an Episcopal church and fell in love with liturgy, I couldn’t get enough of it. The beauty of it all was that it was scripture presented to the people. The homily of course (what non-denom evangelicals call the “sermon” or “message”) is a matter of a person’s interpretation, but the rest of the Eucharist Rite is hymn and scripture, prayer and response. In its simplicity, I found restoration, and I was hooked.

 

In a discussion with the Rector (read: “senior pastor” in evangelical-ese), I was told of an app for my iPhone that are called Offices, these are provided daily and taken from the Book of Common Prayer. I was elated, here was all that I loved about attending church in a format I could access every morning and every evening.

 

Full disclosure: There is nothing brief about these Offices, especially not in comparison with typical evangelical devotions, most of which can be completed in less than ten minutes. I’m a slow reader, but with hymns these usually take me about twenty minutes, sometimes more if I take my time. Also, if you’re interested you can find the ones I use by going to your App Store and searching “Mission St. Clare”.

 

All of this is merely the pretext for what I want to discuss today, because as I was going through this morning’s Daily Office, I was reading a portion of Galatians 2 that I know well enough, and always makes me laugh a little on the inside. This is the passage beginning at verse 11 in which Paul opposes Cephas (Peter) and essentially calls him a hypocrite. My brain puts it like this:

 

Uh, hey man. Like, you ate with these people the other day. Why not now?

Oh yeah, bruh. I mean, I just sorta need to–

Save face? Dude, you’re such a hypocrite.

What did you say?

You’re trying to keep some law that isn’t even relevant anymore. What are you, a Pharisee?

*gasp* How dare you?!

 

Look, my brain is its own special place, okay? I almost always reword passages of scripture in a way that makes me laugh, because trust me there’s plenty to laugh about as you make your way through the Bible. (People who can’t laugh at the Bible annoy me something fierce.)

 

In Galatians 2:21, Paul hits us with this gem: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Er, that’s NIV translation by the way, which isn’t my favorite but it’s what I had nearby.)

 

Oh, Paul. You have to love him. (Me in my head: Do I, though?! DO I?!) The mental gymnastics he puts us through while reading his work is unbelievable. My poor ADHD-addled brain usually has to read what he says at least four times before it starts to come into focus. So many people quote the passage just before this verse: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” This verse is important, too, but in my view it absolutely MUST be put in tandem with verse 21 that follows it and in the context of this passage as a whole.

 

(CONTEXT IS SO IMPORTANT WHEN YOU READ THE BIBLE, OKAY?! OKAY.)

 

The death of Jesus is arguably the most pivotal moment of human existence. I believe in the Big Bang (*gasp*), I believe in evolution (*clutches pearls, sweats*), and I believe in the expansion of the universe (*faints*), all of these are critical moments in science and the history of mankind. All of these events are contingent upon one another for us to inhabit the natural world in which we live. But the SOUL of a man, the intangible stuff of his being, it all hinges on this moment.

 

Jesus walks the earth, he is condemned, he is hung on a cross as a criminal, and he dies. Before he dies, he utters some pretty freaking important words:

 

IT IS FINISHED.

 

Let’s stop. Take stock. What is exactly finished here? For so long, I think the shallow interpretation of this passage that I was left to by neglectful spiritual leaders was the interpretation that Jesus was speaking of the tribulations of the final days of his life– the anxieties, the cruelties, the pain, and the suffering. This would make sense, right? Only Jesus never really considers himself in terms of his own pain and suffering. We see human emotion from him quite frequently– compassion, temptation, even anger. Rarely though, does he seem concerned with his own welfare, merely with his message. (Jesus: A Two on the Enneagram?? Discuss!)

 

Why then, would it logically follow that Jesus was uttering a phrase of thankfulness for his death and the ending of his suffering upon his last breath? Answer: It doesn’t!

 

The Greek word used in the Gospel of John to describe Jesus’ last words is “tetelestai”, a form of the Greek verb “teleo” which means “to bring to an end or complete”. Again, I think it’s patently false to infer that what Jesus is bringing to an end or completing here is his own life. No, in his own words while he was still alive, Jesus speaks of a “ransom” (Greek word “lutron” which is translated as “to loose”, found in Matthew and Mark).

 

What Jesus is accomplishing here is the abolition of sin. The complete and total erasure of it, from every human who has ever lived or will ever live. In the moment of his death, we are taught that Jesus becomes sin itself, so much so that even God cannot look at him. Upon his death, sin is finished. It has been conquered, once and for all.

 

THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS WE TALK ABOUT.

 

Why then, do so many congregations today continue to teach that a humans inherent nature is “sinful”? How do we define sin? Through the law? Through OUR law? Through a socially defined moral law? What is the law in a post-crucifixion world? Is it what government determines it to be? What happens when governments change or shift? If we are unbound from Old Testament law exquisitely and painstakingly detailed throughout the Old Testament, why are moral parameters constructed by biblical authors like Paul and not put forth by God himself?

 

Therefore if we cannot define sin as a breach of the law because law is man made and therefore subjective and in flux, and if sin was abolished upon Christ’s death and a breach of human law or social morality does not constitute sin, then what is sin and where does it exist, how is it defined?

 

Reader, it is now that I would like to posit that “sin” is a condition of the mind and not of the heart or the spirit. Jesus, in his life’s work, repeatedly says phrases such as “you deceive yourself/yourselves” and “do not be deceived”. What is the great deceit here?

 

The great deceit is the belief that sin is a present and active condition rather than a dead and absolved one.

 

We continue to believe we are sinners, even after Christ uttered his final words, and so we spend a life struggling for purity and absolution when it has already been provided.

 

It has already been done.

 

But we keep striving, trying to do something that’s already been done.

 

It’s like trying to knead bread dough after it’s already been baked.

 

My loves, my beautiful friends, sin does not mar you, and there is no law against which you struggle, no action that can separate you from the love of God. Rather than torturing yourself into compliance, believe in the depths of you that your redemption does not want for any stringent obedience. It exists, no matter what.

 

Your sin is loosed. You are free.

 

That is the gospel truth. And it’s worth dying for.

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History Has Its Eyes On You.

Fam, today I have so much to say that I’ve been staring at a blank screen for nearly an hour now, not knowing where to begin. My heart is heavy as I sit here, I spent most of the day yesterday crying and raging at the heavens as images poured in of inconsolable mothers, children, and families being separated and isolated. I will admit, my first instinct always with images like these that feel unbearable is to look away, to tell myself I can’t bear it.

But reader, it is vital that you look. Let it sink in. Let it bring tears. Let it stir up within you righteous anger. If it does not stir these emotions within you, I would urge you to ask yourself “Why?” At the end of the day, this has become a political discussion when it is anything but. It is a discussion of morality, of ethics, and of what we are willing to tolerate in this country.

I have often heard from people that church is a place that “uplifts” them or “encourages” them, a safe place, a place to feel happy, a place to be in community. It is now that I will encourage you that if this has not been discussed in your church, if your faith leaders are not openly and vocally disturbed and heartsick over this matter, please find yourself a new church.

In a coming post, I discuss the law and those who, in Jesus’ time, lived their lives according to the law. Jesus often condemned these people, he called them “hypocrites” and “vipers”. He said on more than one occasion that these leaders looked for their salvation within the law and that they would not find it there– for this, he was put to death. My loves, this is not a new story. Ascription to the law and the seeking of salvation within the law is a tale as old as time. As human beings, we often delight in the law.

Laws have order.

Laws make sense.

Laws give us a sense of right and wrong.

Humanity is messy.

Humanity is corrupt. (So we’re told.)

Humanity needs a standard.

I don’t like throwing around talking points– we’ve all seen the discussion and the debates on social media, I’ve engaged in several myself. I am baffled by the total lack of compassion and common sense that I am seeing before my own eyes; bigotry and racism justified under laws that are distorted and twisted, believed by individuals with very little context or understanding.

There is, however, one suggestion that I would like to make.

The law is fallible. It is flawed. It is vulnerable to the usurpation of its righteousness by evil men who have traded their compassion for power, men who have systematically torn down their empathy and their humanity to construct greed in its place. As I’m sure many of you have seen, the atrocious acts committed by Adolf Hitler in Germany during the second world war were upheld by German law, perfectly legal. Now, nearly eight decades after the fact, history abhors Nazi Germany. It is a subject that makes people uncomfortable and rouses that righteous anger within us.

Germany did not become Nazi Germany overnight. A long stream of sociopolitical events preceded what it ultimately became. It started with a country with a collapsed economy, poverty and hunger running rampant everywhere and no ability for people to provide for their families. (Sound familiar?) It continued with charismatic and boisterous politicians who told the common people that their livelihoods had been stolen from them, and that their country was destined for greatness, ordained by God to be the greatest nation on earth. (Still sound familiar?)

As many survivors of the Nazi regime have attested, the horrors of mass graves, concentration camps, the euthanization of whole families, and the ruthlessness known by history did not appear instantaneously. It came about gradually and then all at once. It was allowed when feelings of disenfranchisement created by social privilege allowed those in power to demonize, dehumanize, and ultimately torture and murder millions of innocent lives.

After the 2016 election, I was told countless times to “just give him a chance”, “we don’t know that it will all be bad”. Things began to increase slowly, but I saw signs to hope– marches and demonstrations that drew thousand (even millions) of protesters, petitions and town hall meetings that were overwhelmed by people demanding justice, action, and accountability from their lawmakers. In my own part of the state I live a Congressional Representative refused to hold a town hall on healthcare and the Affordable Care Act because he knew he’d be overrun by righteously angry citizens with questions.

In 1999, after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Al Gore gave a speech in which he said: “The young killers at Columbine High School do not stand for the spirit that is America”. Well reader, I’d like to take my inspiration from Mr. Gore and say to you that this administration and its participants in Congress do not represent the spirit that is America. I have been disheartened by the massive support thrown behind outrageous policy and enforcement at the hands of this administration, and most of this justification and normalization taking place within the evangelical church.

I could go talking point by talking point and deconstruct it, correct it, point out its flaws and errors. I could talk about logical fallacies (and boy, are there a lot of them), I could talk about immigration law that is being massively manipulated and misunderstood for the benefit of those in power, I could talk about all of that.

Rather simply, though, I will say that this is not an issue of law or politics. To make it so is a deflection that removes an individual from the responsibility that humans have to each other to provide care for one another with empathy and granting of dignity and basic humanity. We cannot teach this morality– what we can do is demonstrate it. I find it nearly impossible at times to have sensitivity or consideration for those who are trading their human soul to the talking heads at Fox News, ruthless individuals who thrive on incendiary claims and the money it makes them. I wring my hands at the disappearance of critical thinking and analysis and the deconstruction surrounding intelligent media within itself. Many times, I simply want to scream that I cannot understand how anyone can look at the images I’m seeing and read the accounts I’m reading and propagate it with any single justification.

Reader, it is indefensible to separate a mother from her child. It is appalling to place families and humans in the conditions we have been placing them. It is antichrist to see a family with children fleeing from persecution, political turmoil, rape, and imminent threat of murder, and to tear their children away from them, detain them, and send them back to their war torn countries without their children in their arms. From the countless Biblical passages in both the old and new testament that speak to the treatment of immigrants and refugees, I remember a time when Hebrews 13:1-2 came into sharp focus for me.

At the time, I was living with my grandmother and she told a story of a woman who came to stay with them for several evenings. They knew only this woman’s first name and none of her story or where she came from. My grandmother said she had an accent, but she couldn’t quite place it as this woman told colorful and vibrant tales of her journeys and her struggles. During this time, my grandparents were struggling heavily. It was during the financial collapse of 2008 and my grandmother had lost her job and foreclosure on their dream home was imminent.

During her brief stay in my grandparents house, this woman told them countless times that everything would work out, that struggle was needed to rise higher, that they would yet see the fruits of their labor. My grandparents did lose the home they had worked to build. They saw hard and dark times. They toiled. They took care of my grandfather’s ailing mother. When she died, she left them an inheritance. They have a home again, they are retired, they live happily and comfortably. My grandmother wholeheartedly believes this woman was sent from God.

As she told me this story, she quoted Hebrews: “Let thy brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hospitality is not baking someone a cake when they’re sad. It is not a fellowship brunch for the Womens Auxiliary on Sunday evening.

Hospitality is much more gritty. It is opening your home when you feel you have nothing to give, when you are in scarcity or want. It is bringing in those who have been cast out by the social caste that tells them they are unfit to exist in their clean and morally superior society. It is risking name, reputation, livelihood, and life in pursuit of putting on the skin of Jesus Christ and opening your arms and your hearts to all who have been deemed the least of them by an abhorrent, law-obsessed culture.

Hospitality is the heavy stuff of love. We cannot do it alone. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes even more to raise the oppressed out of their oppression. Sure as I sit here typing, I know it will ask everything and more of me, and I know that it is worth my everything and more that I have to give. Because when we entertain the broken, the immigrant, the refugee, the homeless, the outcast, the demonized, we entertain angels.

I hope with a hope beyond what I can comprehend that I am not alone in this fight. We are tired, we are browbeaten, we are discouraged, but my dear, beautiful family:

We are not defeated.

We will win.

History has its eyes on us. And love wins. Every single time.

 immigrants
*Image courtesy The Washington Post
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What Do We Mean When We Say “Pride”?

FBD54A23-B02E-4557-928E-3714EDB49AA9Well hellooooo, Fem Fam! Salutations from your new favorite Christian lesbian feminist. (Not always in that order. Just keepin’ it a hundred.)

Don’t worry, I don’t bite. Without consent anyway, because consent is critical, kids.

TODAY is one of the most glorious days of the year for me, the first day of PRIDE MONTH. If you’re unfamiliar, Pride Month is the time of year when Madonna comes out of her hole and if she sees her shadow, Mike Pence gets another piece of legislation passed.

I’m kidding. Sort of. Anyway!

Pride Month is historically set in June because June is a very gay month. You can trace the roots of Pride back to June 28, 1969. In those days, the countercultural revolution was in full swing, but the LGBTQ+ community was still largely kept out of it. (Some day, Fem Fam, we will have a talk about MLK’s right hand man, Bayard Rustin. Some day.)

There is this bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village called The Stonewall Inn. Traditionally, it was where gay men and women as well as our trans peers and also our drag queens came to socialize and be themselves in a world where it was incredibly dangerous (and illegal) to do so. The police would routinely raid Stonewall and arrest people, but on this night, the people fought back.

The police tried to arrest Stormé Delarverie several times and lead her out of the bar and into a waiting wagon as she broke free and asked the patrons what they were going to do about it. This combined with the burgeoning crowd outside sparked a riot that soon grew violent. Stormé was a butch lesbian and Drag King and she’s a name that’s largely been lost to the echoes of history. I am incredibly honored to count her among my own.

Let’s unpack this, guys. Stonewall marks a watershed moment in my community’s history because for the first time in modern history, my community had had enough of being brutalized, hunted, and tortured. Traditionally, we were thought of as a community that was too timid or fragile to fight back. So when we did, the world stood up and took notice. 

Pride takes its origins from Stonewall, it is first and foremost a commemoration event to mark the anniversary of the day when a restless and beleaguered people finally used their voices in tandem to say “fight back”. The anthem became “Stonewall means fight back”. 

This is the blood that runs in my veins, you guys. This is the stuff I am made of, the legacy I come from. A marginalized group who has been excluded from human and civil rights movements, removed violently from their homes and churches, beaten and homeless and murdered, encouraged to take their own lives in massive numbers.

And yet.

And yet.

We are a strong people. We are a diverse people. We are a progressive people. We have been at the forefront of every justice wave this country has known, taking names for ballots and organizing details for marches and demonstrations. We are the rebel yell that refuses to be suppressed no matter how hard they try to silence us.

And at the same time, we are soft and gentle creatures of an Almighty God. We have learned through our history and our experiences that love always wins. It is the mighty wind that sweeps through and stirs up the dust of compassion, evil cannot stand against it as it works it’s way through the streets. Love continues to be our message as it always has been, and we fight for our right to love every day we leave our homes and our closets and declare: We are here. We are valid.

I wish I had the time to explain to you the harm the church has done to their LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, family, friends, and loved ones. I wish I had hours or days with comfortable couches and warm candle flickers and something hot to drink to tell you all of our stories so you could see the pain and the hurt mix with the tenderness and fondness like different colors of acrylic paints in my eyes. 

Dear ones, I beseech you: Move closer to the heart of Christ. Know that his heart is unadulterated and unfettered love, that He made me in his image just the way he made you. I have been made new and clean before my God because Christ took my sin upon his shoulders on that cross and declared that it was finished. 

Finished.

I take pride in who I am just as my Jesus does, I revel in my indomitable spirit and the unquenchable flame of hope I have to see a fully affirming church before the end of my life. Don’t think it’s possible? 

Three years ago, I sat at my desk. I was so frazzled from insomnia and job stress, I had totally forgotten what this day was. My phone buzzed just before I clocked in with a text from my sister:

You ready for today?

And that’s when it dawned on me: Today was SCOTUS’ decision on marriage. Obergefell v. Hodges had finally made the federal government get involved after a tedious state by state battle. Generations of my community had fought, bled, and died for a day such as this, and I waited in nervous anticipation along with crowds outside of the Supreme Court and people watching all over the world. 

As I was speaking to a customer (working in a call center sucks, y’all), my phone began to buzz itself off of my desk, calls and texts pouring in too fast for the poor little machine to keep up with them. My heart jumped in my throat.

This was it.

My community, two decades before, had still been picking up the tattered pieces of ourselves after AIDS ravaged us. With little to no help or assistance from a government that had turned a blind eye, we were too busy keeping our men and trans folk alive to give attention to equality under the law. But finally, finally. The day had come.

With a deep knowledge of it in my bones, I ended my phone call, asked for a quick break, got up and walked to a secluded area, took a deep breath, and turned my phone on.

Rainbows everywhere. People celebrating. Partners crying in each other’s arms. Texts from all of my friends and my sister and my girlfriend at the time.

We did it. We won. The world turned upside down. 

And listen, if you’ve never read Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion resultant from Obergefell, please do yourself the favor and Google it. It is strikingly poignant and beautiful, and it eloquently summarizes the endeavors of the petitioners in the case as well as the LGBTQ+ community around the world. 

Coming out continues to be one of the scariest things I have to repeatedly do in my life, but that day made it entirely worth it. Every time a friend or someone close had closed the door on me, told me I was bound for hell, it all felt justified in that moment. Love had won, it had conquered all of it, and I was alive to see it.

So my dear Fem Fam, remember this: You will be alive to see great change in this world. And what’s more, you will be the cause of great change in this world. All I ever dared to do was speak my truth to the power that told me I was wrong. The world changes when people claim their truth, when they know deep in the stuff of their spirit that their truth is affirmed by Most High God, they become unstoppable.

They become world changers.

They find Pride. 

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Male Clergy Don’t Need to be Speaking about #MeToo.

Hello, Fem Fam! Today, I want to talk about a topic that is not a “fun” topic. It’s not light hearted (though if you’re like me, you use humor to diffuse tension). This is not me saying: “Let’s have coffee and chat, girlfriend!” Nope.

Today, I want to talk about the #MeToo Movement. Specifically, why I don’t think it is appropriate for a man to speak on it.

So at the heart of active feminism is the idea of patriarchy, right? The very construct that places men in positions of social privilege over women. Feminism is not about equality. Oh what, you thought it was? Oops. I hate to be the bearer of bad news.

Okay, okay. Technically the dictionary definition of “feminism” is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes”. So you’ve got me there. But the working definition of feminism, the actual boots-on-the-ground idea of feminism that is ever changing and growing and alive, is not at all about equality.

For equality, we often look to softer ideologies that converge with feminism, such as egalitarianism. I could spend weeks -genuinely, weeks- on my issues with egalitarianism in a post-modern society. You have places to be though, so suffice it to say that egalitarianism is the work of the privileged.

Don’t believe me? Think of this: Many churches who seek to be “progressive” or at least evoke an illusion of progress, happily espouse egalitarian ideology. Look at most of the people in those churches and you will see myriad privileges— predominantly white, relatively financially secure with few exceptions, largely led by male pastors or clergy. All of these give themselves easily to a personal belief in egalitarianism because it doesn’t challenge anything. You can spout the ideas of equality for your entire life and never really do anything about it. Egalitarianism lets people stay comfortable in their privilege

#MeToo is a movement founded by a black woman, Tarana Burke. It is a movement that seeks to speak truth to despicable abuses of power by men in our society, men who have been privileged to receive very little consequence -if any at all- for their criminal behavior. And you can find this in abundance no further than the pews of a church house.

In the wake of the revelations about Harvey Weinstein, the Larry Nassar trials, and dozens of powerful men in Hollywood, Washington, and beyond being revealed for their abuse, many faith organizations and churches felt compelled to speak on the movement and contribute their thoughts to the national conversation.

Let me be clear here: I have no issue with faith groups and churches speaking on this movement. In fact, doing so is an important key to opening the door and shining light on the abuse that is perpetuated through established patriarchal power within the church. It is this privileged power that has allowed countless men in positions of trust and authority to wield that as a weapon to prey on innocence. It is time the church speaks not only to issues “out there” but to their own roots of systemic and propagated physical, spiritual, emotional, and sexual abuse and the coercion that comes with it.

Ninety percent of the abuse I have suffered in my life has been at the hands of religious authority throughout my childhood and adolescence. Most of it was coercive or suggestive in nature, that lovely gray area that had me spurning after the accusations against Aziz Ansari came to light and America learned just how poor their definition of “consent” was.

I don’t owe anyone that story (and by the way, if you are a survivor you don’t owe anyone your story either), but what I do know is that when I see male preachers, pastors, and other clergy speaking authoritatively on MeToo, it makes me see some red at my visions edges. For centuries, since before our modern society was even a twinkle in the eye of settlers, men have had the dominant voices in this world. They speak with authority on pretty much any subject you can find. Because of the nature of patriarchy, they are more easily trusted and believed in everything from credentials and experience to knowledge and intuition. They speak even when it is not their place to speak.

MeToo is not a man’s time to speak. Indeed, it is antithetical to the movement itself. Hearing men -and organizations led by men- speak on this time in history is strikingly poignant because it is representative of exactly what the problem is— men have usurped women’s voices thereby silencing them, and when they are asked to step aside and let us speak to our own experiences, they grow uncomfortable. Therein lies the perpetuation of egalitarianism and trusting men to speak powerfully to experiences they have not lived and cannot know: the root of it, always, is patriarchal privilege. The church MUST confront this power structure and endeavor to dismantle it from the top down.

To do that, they must stop being afraid of women. They must be willing to believe women. They must be willing to stop talking and start listening to women when they tell the stories of their experiences. They must cease allowing male authority to go unchecked and unaudited; they must stop silencing women who dare to come forward and speak truth to power.

Furthermore, they absolutely must begin responding to accusations of criminal sexual misconduct for exactly what they are: criminal. No more “grace counseling”. No more “rehabilitation”. No more “but I know him, and I know he wouldn’t do this”. Thousands of addicts who would benefit from rehabilitation suffer and die in our jails and prisons every year while men (and yes, including men in the church) are “rehabilitated” with the only end result being that they are free to commit their crimes again.

I don’t want to hear men in power speak to an intrinsically female founded and lead movement. I want to see real, practical change and a steadfast, unwavering commitment to the protection of women, a devotion to their safety and flourishing in faith based environments, and a cry for justice when ever and where ever they are abused. Most importantly, I want to see women speaking truth. I want to see and hear women leading the battle cry that brings irreversible change to the Bride of Christ.

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*Photo courtesy of clydefitchreport.com retrieved from Google Images.