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    #ThingsWeNeedtoHear

    Twitter hashtag reveals deep cracks in the church when it comes to gender. July 6, 2017 by Lieutenant Kristen Jackson-Dockeray
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Photo: © DNY59/iStock.com

    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.

    Comment

    On Sunday, September 3, 2017, Roy Isherwood said:

    Just to begin, a little about myself. I have been in the Salvation Army all my life(75 years) and a Christian for a large part of that time. I must say that I haven't really encountered a lot of what you're referring to. Yes I've heard some rude comments and jokes but very little. From my experience any women officers I've known have been treated with a great deal of respect.

    So as I read over this article several times I found it to be unusual to say the least. It jumps right into an issue but gives little context. For instance it doesn't say what exactly was in the twitter conversation. However, I looked up the article on twitter to get some background and didn't see any of the tweets quoted in this article by Kristen Jackson-Dockeray. I don't doubt that they exist but I didn't see them.

    One of the strange things in this article is that the author talks about Sarah Bessey getting hundreds of replies and then goes on to quote the first reply as coming from Sarah Bessey herself. Am I missing something here? You write a twitter conversation and then quote a reply from yourself!! The same thing happens later on in this article. Kristen Jackson-Dockeray talks about a new Twitter hashtag and then goes on to quote herself. Is that strange or is it just me?

    There are a couple of issues here that need addressing. First of all, who are these people responding to Sarah Bessey? Iknow that there are names attached to the replies, but who are they really. I'm sure we could send out a Tweet on almost any issue and get hundreds of replies from I suppose around the world. But is this what we are all about. I wish I had half as much time as the people who write these Tweets and those who respond to them. (I'm replying to the article in the Salvationist). As far as Kristen's comment about her first weeks in ministry I can certainly feel for her. But many of us have had similar experiences in different occupations. Sometimes it's just part of "getting your feet wet". When I was in my early twenties starting off in a skilled profession; looking young for my age, I encountered several customers who thought that I was too young to be "whatever". However, I persevered and became successful. I guess what bothers me is again the lack of context in her story. Who was this man, how old was he? Was he just "pulling your leg" so to speak? Did he have a serious man issue and didn't want to speak to a young woman? There could have been lots of reasons why he didn't want to speak to you. Certainly he could have been more tactful. But how long ago did this happen? Maybe 20 years or more? and it's still bothering you. You may be reading a lot more into his request than is reasonable. Did he say anything about you not belonging? Did he mention that your training wasn't adequate? I don't think it's reasonable for men or women to expect to be able to deal with the same issues in ministry just because they have taken the same training.

    One of the beautiful things about God's creation when it comes to men and women is that he has given each of us different gifts to be used as he directs. We can only sit back and look on in wonder as men and women use those gifts for his glory. I'd like to give one example of how women are gifted. Forgive me if it sounds maudlin.

    I watched a documentary on Princess Diana and Prince Charles some time ago when they were visiting a foreign government in the middle east. What caught my attention was a scene where the wife of the foreign leader appeared to be distressed and Princess Diana was holding her hand and offering her some consolation. I was filled with emotion as I thought, this is so beautiful. This is not something a man is likely to do with another man; perhaps the leader of the country. Each of us have special and unique gifts that should be respected and valued and celebrated.

     

    On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Crystal Wilkinson said:

    It breaks my heart that these attitudes still permeate the church body, especially in The Salvation Army. After 13 years of people asking to speak to and/or hear from the Captain, and being told that I'm just the "wife", I can honestly say that I'm tired of the battle. It is hurtful, demeaning, and a continual slap in the face. We have the same education, the same practical training, and very different skill sets and giftings to offer- a well balanced team. However it is extremely difficult to find value in your ministry and your own self worth when you are repeatedly told that someone wants the "real" officer.

     

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