"I have to be honest. In that room full of men, when you asked if someone would like to pray, I automatically thought you couldn't be asking me as well."
She tells me this off-handedly, when we have been talking about an article that went around the Internet some weeks back, a thing about women staying home and how when they are in the workplace men feel alienated and weak. We've been laughing about it, laughing away the dark, but then the conversation turns to where the briar patches of polite sexism still tangle untamed in the fields of the Church, turns from the Church in abstract to Church in our living room, turns to the other night when she was the only woman in a room full of men, when we all spoke of God over coffee cups.
"And I know," she goes on, "That not one of them in that room would have had a problem with a woman praying. I know you all well enough to know better than that. But it's still resident within me, from the culture I've been in, that when there's a man in a room and someone is asked to pray, it's always his right and his role."
It stunned me to silence, the simple fact of the matter, the state of the question.
I forget that we still need feminism. Once I had understood it, I expected everyone to.
Not because I think myself particularly enlightened, mind you, but because it seems so obvious to me, now, that I think surely everyone else has already come to this conclusion well before I have.
I forget, because now some of these things seem too obvious to question.
A woman can pray as much as any man---permission to pray being one of the most absurd exercises of right and privilege to ever be conceived.
Shall we say to this one, keep silent and to this one, speech, when it is God who opens mouths and God who stirs hearts and God who gives winged words to those things we know not even to pray?
I forget that it still seems strange for some to say aloud that women are not responsible for the lust of men.
I forget that it still seems strange for some to say aloud that women are just as able to prophesy, to instruct, to counsel fellow believers as much as any man.
I forget that it still seems strange for some to say that what should be at issue is calling not gender and that the Holy Ghost is awfully fond of surprising us and overturning our paradigms.
I forget, because I wasn't given the whole picture.
And it's time we start giving the whole picture.
It's time we stop debating this like it's debatable.
Listen up, Church: put a woman behind the pulpit, so I can see the whole picture.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear the words of God in a new voice.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear what it's like for Mama Mary to watch her Son bleed.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can hear He is risen! in the tone it was first shouted.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that the kingdom of God is bigger than my expectations.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that the Church is opposed to the systemic sexism of Satan's world.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can see that breasts and long legs and high heels do not scare God.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that through Christ He has done, is doing, and will do something new.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that this long line of Faith handed-down came from Mothers and Fathers.
Put a woman behind the pulpit so I can know that Aslan is on the move and He's setting captives free and He's singing with a roar.
Because I have a feeling, Church---Church I love, Church I love so much these feet hurt from the miles I've walked within you---that should I ever call a thing I say prophetic, it is this:
Put a woman behind the pulpit, or else they shall walk right out of your doors and across the street, shall stand on the corners and prophesy to the dry bones, and you'll find us walking out to meet them.
You'll find us taking you right along.
My post has not, in many ways, addressed the Scriptural basis for women in church leadership. I'll point you here for that extended discussion.