I told several people close to me that for the first time I really feel like my site reflects who I am. I’m at peace with what I’ve created and where things are going. I’m more than at peace. I’m truly excited. Except there is one thing I have to address to be at complete peace and feel completely free. It has to do with women in the church, why I’m not a Christian feminist, and how I would describe my beliefs.
That’s why I’m writing this post. It’s a topic that people feel very strongly about and I would rather just address it head on. I don’t want someone to read a comment or something written about me somewhere and feel that I haven’t been honest. I wrote about it in Why I Closed My “A Woman’s Freedom in Christ” Website, but haven’t put it all in one post which I am doing now because most newer readers will never see it there. All I ask is that you read the entire post before you respond or click away.
So if you’ve read my site a long time none of this will be news to you. Some of you have walked through a similar journey, emailed with me about it, chatted with me in comments about it, etc. for many years.
If you are newer to my website, you may have zero idea I ever wrote extensively about this topic. I’m writing this post for the newer readers because I am compulsively honest and I want this on public record so there are no surprises or potential disappointment at some point in the future.
I’m going to try to keep this short, but please understand I’m trying to distill almost thirty years into one post.
Early Days of Christian Blogging
Way back in the early days of blogging, a Christian organization/company called Vision Forum drove so much of what happened online in the homeschool circles. I realized that something was seriously off with what they were teaching and spoke out about it on my site.
I promptly lost a lot of readers which was hard. I was basically shunned by many of the “big name” Christian and Christian homeschool bloggers. That was hard, too. A lot of early blogging was about networking, blogrolls, getting links, etc. and I was definitely deemed an unacceptable outsider because I had fallen away from the “true” path.
On the brighter side, time proved me correct when that ministry imploded in horrific fashion. So while I was sad (and angry) for all the horrible things that transpired with that organization, I also felt vindicated.
The Vision Forum thing really pushed me to study the issue of women in the church. It had been on my radar for a number of years (starting with my time on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), but I started writing about it on my site and asking questions out loud as I tried to work it out.
I promptly lost a lot of my primarily conservative Christian readers over that, too.
A Woman’s Freedom in Christ
I eventually moved all of that content to another website called A Woman’s Freedom in Christ. I had that site for a number of years and wrote on it in fits and stops. I deleted it in 2018 and even let the domain lapse so I have no connection with it any longer. That site was where I basically thought out loud about the issues related to women in the church. I may be a multipotentiate in many ways, but this topic is one that I stayed with for literally decades because I could never get a solid answer.
There were a lot of issues that drove this.
- Being on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
- Being single until almost age thirty
- My brother (and only sibling) becoming basically an Anabaptist and requiring his wife and daughters to wear a headcovering and then cutting his family off from me and my parents for years because we did not do the same (to the point they did not acknowledge Caroline’s birth or inform my parents when they had new grandchildren) (Thankfully, even though they still practice these things, they have reconciled with us)
- Being told that my speaking to mixed groups was not empowered by the Holy Spirit, but Satan
- Watching the impact of Vision Forum on the Christian homeschooling world, especially online
- Trying to find a church that was conservative and theologically sound, but not repressive in their treatment of women and how they use their gifts
- Pastors and elders being dismissive of my earnest and legitimate questions
- Watching my alma mater (Michigan State) being excessively targeted and raked over the coals by the #metoo movement for the Nassar situation and caving in ways I thought were wrong and unfair
So this was not some “Oh, she doesn’t want to follow the clear teaching of the Scriptures and so she’s trying to make excuses to believe what she wants” kind of journey. This was every part of my life being seriously impacted by this battle within the conservative church, the homeschooling movement, my work, my ministry, and my family.
I could not escape it.
In the end, I took the site down because I no longer wanted to be associated with anything even tangentially related to Christian feminism (even though I never called myself a Christian feminist). This came down to three big issues.
Three Reasons I’m Not a Christian Feminist
One, it became clear to me that many Christian feminists despise (or even hate) men, especially white men. They really do. I cannot support or be a part of anything that elevates women over men (or men over women) because to do so is blatantly unscriptural. Men and women are both created in God’s image and have equal value and access to Him.
Two, I was very uncomfortable with my blog posts being shared in some Christian feminist and egalitarian Facebook groups and the like. It seemed to me that those groups were increasingly populated by radical “Christian” feminists who tried to place a veneer of Christianity or the Bible on top of unbiblical views to make them acceptable. To be sure, there were some outstanding and thoroughly biblical egalitarians in those groups who I had grown to respect and would often link to in my research. But the solid research and scholarship was becoming increasingly drowned out by the radical feminists who were pushing intersectionality in exponentially rapid fashion. I didn’t want to have my name as a member of such a group and I didn’t want anything I wrote to be shared there. I did not want to spend my time arguing with people about these topics and things were developing so quickly at this point in our culture ( a few years ago) that I couldn’t even keep up with the woke terminology, etc. to respond to what was going on even though it was clear to me that it was wrong.
Three, I could not continue to immerse myself in the angry and sometimes even vile rhetoric that was increasingly taking over these groups. Some of it was due to hurting women lashing out verbally. I understand that some women have been very wronged and hurt by men and the church. I don’t deny that in the least. But as I wrote about in A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and The Life Lessons of Warren Wiersbe, Rachel Held Evans, and Those Falling Away by Deconstructing Their Faith, there is a line women cross and then all bets are off regarding how far astray from the historic Christian faith they will go. For my own mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being I had to walk away from the anger, negativity, and vitriol.
None of the Labels Work for Me
Shortly before I took A Woman’s Freedom in Christ down, I had settled on the term conservative biblical egalitarian to describe myself and to purposefully distance myself from the radical Christian feminists. I didn’t love the label, but gave it to myself because it was the only thing I could come up with that came close to where I was in my struggle. I wanted to label myself before someone else labeled me.
At this point, I don’t call myself a complementarian even though I believe God created men and women and they are designed to complement each other. That term has way too much baggage associated with it now.
I don’t call myself an egalitarian either. Even with the “conservative biblical” in front of it, I still wasn’t comfortable putting the label of “egalitarian” on myself because it, too, has a lot of baggage.
The truth of the matter is I could never find anyone who could answer all my questions sufficiently enough that I could end up in one camp or the other. I agree with the complementarians on some things and I agree with the egalitarians on some things.
I find it distressing when there aren’t women serving as deacons in a church because I am convinced it is biblical, but I honestly don’t believe I would want to be in a church with a woman as the head pastor.
I think we do church all wrong (which is an entire additional subject that ties into all this) and that’s part of why this issue of women using their gifts is more complicated than it has to be.
So that’s where I am on this. I believe in the authority of Scripture. I believe God created men and women to complement each other. Overall, I’m conservative theologically and very much a traditionalist by default.
I believe that some of the leading complementarians have made some really big mistakes and done a lot of damage to Christian churches and families.
I also believe that there are some very strong arguments for a more egalitarian interpretation of the Scriptures where it concerns women using their spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. But they can’t answer all of the questions and provide me with an airtight explanation.
The truth is neither view is completely defensible from the Scriptures and history and that’s why it has been such a struggle for me.
My Thirty Year Journey in One Post
So that’s my story. I feel better sharing it and having it all out in the open. It would be easier in some ways not to bring it up because I’m sure some of you will be disappointed to read this. You might even think it doesn’t fit with so much of what I write about on my site about women in the home, etc.
Welcome to my world. All thirty years of it.
I’m a conservative, thinking, gifted, traditional, home-focused, homeschooling, happily married woman who asks too many questions to “fit in” completely. That’s just who I am. And I honestly like who I am.
On the flip side, I’m guessing maybe a few of you will be encouraged by what you read here. I hope so.
The thing that matters to me is that I am truthful and honest. So I’ve put this out there as a record of who I am and what I believe. That way no one has to wonder or be surprised if something comes up in the future. I don’t plan on writing about this because I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve made peace with the fact that I will never get a satisfactory answer. That’s why I took the site down and let the domain ownership lapse. As far as I’m concerned, that season of my life is over. I’ve moved on and am much more interested in supporting women in their homes, families, marriage, homeschooling, parenting, etc.
(Although I confess I struggle with the idea of writing about marriage due to my inability to fall neatly into one camp or the other. I haven’t figured out how to do that which is why I’ve only written a few posts about marriage and none specifically about my marriage in detail. I have lots to say, but I’m not sure it is worth it when there are so many other topics I can talk about. It seems like no matter what I write about marriage will offend either the complementarians or the egalitarians. LOL!)
In any case, onward we go toward creating our cozy lives of peace, understanding, joy, beauty, and faith!
Thank you for sharing. I can relate to what you are saying.
Your welcome, Kelly. 🙂
Hmmm… thank you for writing this, Sallie. I have some exploring to do. I just clicked over to one of your links to your earlier writing and started on a few posts. It isn’t that similar thoughts and questions haven’t crossed my mind a great deal over the years but I find you have a way of really effectively and succinctly defining things. Thanks for some good food for thought.
I hope the reading is helpful. Synthesizing information is what I do. LOL!
In all seriousness, feel free to leave a comment if you want to discuss anything on one of the posts. Even if I’m not writing about those topics any longer, I can probably point you to some good information if you are doing your own research. It just depends on what you are looking for.
Thanks, Sallie. I love your sane and beautiful world:)
Thank you for your kind words. My world didn’t feel very sane when we were in the midst of some of it. LOL!. Some of it was very difficult and stressful. But I think David and I are both at peace with where we are regarding these questions. Thankfully we were on the journey together and kept each other on the narrow path. That was a big blessing.
I totally understand what you’re saying. Three of our four children are male. Right now, they are 25, 23, and 19. They are in the midst of the storm of vitriol and hatred coming at them from the culture they live in. We pray for them, of course, every day. They have to find a way to navigate it and walk with God, hopefully. I really appreciate the insight you have into the current state of affairs. And your attention to beauty and detail.
I’ve had more than a few marriage or similar types of blogs that I quit reading because the woman writing it started feeling more like she was anti-men, than pro-woman (and pro-woman is not the right phrase, but it’s the closest I can think of). So I totally get and agree with what you’re saying.
Yes, there is a very woke anti-male sentiment running strongly in some parts of even supposedly Christian circles online. The only way someone can make that jump is to factor in the current cultural climate above the Scripture. There is no way to denigrate men in general from a solid theological perspective. None.
My family was very late to the internet world, but growing up we definitely got all the homeschooling catalogs and newsletters in the mailbox! I liked paging through the Vision Forum catalog, but it annoyed me TO NO END that it was so “gendered”! I loved all the girly stuff, but I wanted all the boys stuff, too, and thought it was dumb that they were trying to delineate so sharply. That was my perspective as a little girl.
Now I am shocked that so many of my peers are deeply bitter about the patriarchal bent of the early conservative homeschool renaissance of my childhood. I guess we were in that culture but my parents were never extreme or didactic about it. We probably gleaned from many of the same resources, but with a very different outcome than what some of my generation are angry about.
I guess there are so many factors that go into one’s outlook on issues like this (women, family, roles, etc). It depends on the families you’re doing life alongside of, the churches you’re in, to whom you go for teaching, you own family’s background and culture. Like you, I feel like I often don’t fit into specific “camps” of thought…but I can see where the different sides are coming from because I’ve experienced bits and pieces. I think that’s something about being an INFJ, though, too. Don’t we have a tendency to be diplomatic and empathetic? Non confrontational? If I’m remembering right.
Sometimes it’s wearisome to see the fervor people get into over certain issues. I just want to remind them that in two decades everything will swing a different way (again), and we’ll decry the trendy teachings of today as harmful and misguided (again).
Your comment is so spot on in so many ways. I want to quote pretty much everything you said and say, “YES” and “YES” and “YES” and “YES” to it.
Re: the INFJ factor… INFJs have the ability to clearly see and understand both sides of an argument. It’s a great gift in some ways and really difficult in others. In the case of women in the church, it’s almost been crippling for me and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. We’ve tried being in complementarian churches and it didn’t work. There are no moderately egalitarian churches that would work for us. We’re too conservative in our theology in other ways and we would never fit in or even consider a progressive church.
Thank you so much for your comment. It really shows that a lot of how things played out with Vision Forum and other happenings at that time involved MANY factors.