In mid-April, Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, started a Twitter conversation that quickly went viral, under the hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. Here are a few of the hundreds of tweets that poured in:
If you preach, I will get up and walk out.—Sarah Bessey
OK, you can teach this, but there has to be a male leader in the room when you do. We’ll send someone.—Sandy
Biblical womanhood can be defined by marriage and motherhood.—Joy Beth Smith
If the pastor fell into sin and raped you, it was you who seduced and tempted him.—Sierra White
Your clothes can cause boys to sin.—Amber Wingfield
These tweets are sexist, abusive, toxic and insulting. But perhaps what is most upsetting is that these experiences weren’t hidden deep at the bottom of church life. They were so close to the surface—all these sharp, thorny words, like a splinter just under the skin. It took only a hashtag to get women’s fingers typing across a blank page.
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear is important. It brings all of these splintered words and wounded lives to the light. It exposes the experience of women in the church and in ministry. It offers solidarity. It says, You’ve been wounded? Me, too.
While it is deeply disheartening to read these tweets, to see these fragmenting words in black and white, knowing they have wounded so many of us, it also brought me a strange kind of healing to know that I am not alone.
The women who wrote these words have been hurt by the bride of Christ. Hurt by the church that I love. We, the church—oh boy, have we made mistakes. We have injured real people with our words and actions, made a negative impact on their lives. This hashtag puts names and faces to these people, and we should have to look them in the eye and understand what we have done.
And before we think we are immune as Salvationists, here is the first tweet of a new Twitter hashtag: #ThingsOnlySalvationArmyWomenHear:
In one of my first weeks in ministry, I went to the door to greet a member of the church. “Is the lieutenant here?” I was asked. “You’re talking to her,” I replied. “Not you, I mean the real lieutenant.” He was referring to my husband.—Kristen Jackson-Dockeray
I laughed it off, but I wish you could have seen the excitement on my face as I went to meet this man. New in ministry. Ready to respond to the call that God had given me. And then, with a few words spoken in the entryway of the church, made to feel as though I did not belong, that I had nothing to offer. That somehow my calling and years of training were not comparable to my husband’s.
Later in April, a new hashtag emerged, sweeping in like a breath of fresh air, bringing hope: #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear. Tears flowed as I read the words, words that I longed to hear—my calling validated, my God-given gifts confirmed.
Here’s the thing—I have heard really awful things said about me and my calling. But, thank God, both men and women in the church have affirmed me; have seen God at work in me. So, Christian women, here is what you should hear:
Lead. Preach. Serve. Be confident in your gifts.—Cody McMurrin
In a time when women were seen as property, Jesus sought them out and treated them as equals.—Sara Hudson
You are never responsible for what a man chooses to do with his eyes/body/self.—Wendi Nunnery
Without you, the church is missing half of its voice, half of its gifting, half of its mission and ministry.—Scott Lencke
In Christ, and because of Christ, both men and women are chosen and invited to participate in the kingdom of God. Nothing more and nothing less.—Kristen Jackson-Dockeray
Lieutenant Kristen Jackson-Dockeray is the divisional youth secretary in the British Columbia Division.
Feature photo: © DNY59/iStock.com