When Teaching Your Daughters about Gender Equality is No Longer Enough (Guest Post by Benjamin L. Corey)

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Jory Micah

ben

The meeting wasn’t supposed to involve any controversial moments, or so I thought. I had been waiting outside on the sidewalk for 20 minutes or so while the others in the church discussed my nomination as an elder of the church. My suspicion that something went wrong was confirmed when I got a text from one of my friends in the meeting—he had dismissed himself to the restroom and secretly sent me a message giving me a heads up.

“There’s a problem.” He said. “But when you come back in, try to answer as humbly and calmly as possible and I think everything will be fine.”

I wasn’t sure what could be the issue—it was a small church, and we all considered each other to be friends. Most of us were even all in a small group together, and knew each other quite well.

After they called me…

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The Ocean

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So, here’s what I’ve discovered about the ocean.

I’ve always had a kind of love/hate relationship with it. I always try to relate when people say “Oh, I LOVE the beach!” “The beach is my favorite place to go on vacation!”

I’ve never felt that connection to it. My happy place would be the mountains or the forest because I feel calm there and at ease. But here’s what I discovered on my latest visit to the ocean.

The love/hate relationship is due to my love of nature. Anything nature-related I feel a connection to. It’s where I find peace and where I feel God. Thus, by default I appreciate the beach because it is a vast piece of nature.

The beach is hard though because it doesn’t settle me. It doesn’t relax something in me when I’m there.

Instead, it does the opposite. It stirs things up inside me that I don’t want stirred up.

It makes me contemplate life, and God, and the future, relationships, and deep things that are hard and complex.

The ocean doesn’t settle me. It pulls me in. It draws out the deepest thoughts. The most complex fears. The hardest things I deal with understanding. It teases them out until I am caught in the undertow of one though after another.

It’s good. Yes, good. But hard too.

It connects me to the things settled below the surface of myself, and washes them up onto the shores of my consciousness.

The ocean is fluid, mysterious and deep. It swirls my thoughts every this way and that. It’s complex and beautiful.

In Honor of Women’s Equality Day

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Favorite excerpt from my Feminist Theory text;

Women are told from their infancy, and taught by the example of their mothers, that a little knowledge of human weakness, justly termed cunning, softness of temper, outward obedience, and a scrupulous attention to a puerile kind of propriety, will obtain of them the protection of man; and should they be beautiful, everything else is needless, for, at least, twenty years of their lives.

-Mary Wollstonecraft, From A Vindication of the Rights of Women

I’m a Mess…But It’s OK.

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Also, what’s up with this church/God thing? I’m losing it.

Came back to school. Went to college ministry that I went to for all of last year, and I left frustrated. I left angry. I left feeling like I was being fed BS and everyone else seemed to be OK with it, but I just wasn’t buying it anymore.
I don’t know why it is that the changes in me have led me to look at the service differently. But I can’t sing the songs anymore. The words feel false. I can’t listen uncriticially to the message because I can’t help but wondering Where does he stand on gay marriage, sexual orientation in general, on women as pastors and in leadership, on evangelism, creation, feminism, social justice?

I know this guy is a good man. But in the meeting I attended beforehand about a ministry area there, I just kept hearing over and over “We’re hear to keep you accountable, through worship and by the truth the pastor teaches.” They just kept saying the truth he teaches the truth he shares the truth he receives from God.

We have these small group type things with one leader who’s a bit older than us. They said “The leaders will help keep you accountable. If you miss a couple services, they’ll follow up with you and ask what’s up. If you’re questioning if you’re struggling with your faith, you can be honest about it with them, in fact this IS the place to be honest with them and they will share truth with you. Truth about what God and the Bible says.”

But I just can’t help but wonder how it is that their truth is THE truth? It made it seem like the struggles we present to them are things that they will have the TRUE answer for and will FIX for us. They’ll help us see where we’ve erred in our thinking and tell us what God’s Word REALLY says about that and then we’ll be fixed and be back on track.

What about the TRUTH I believe God is teaching me? How can you so confidently tell me that what the pastor and people 1-2 years older than me, have to say is THE truth. You cannot make those kind of guarantees or blanket statements.

All this to say,

I just can’t do it anymore.

I’m worried about what my friends will think. I don’t know how to explain this.

It’s like something in me has shifted and changed and I cannot keep doing that (going to this service) to my soul. It’s not good for me anymore.

I don’t feel You anymore. I don’t know what to read in the Bible or what to trust. How do I know what I’m even reading is me interpreting it right or wrong?
I’m still so passionate about LGBT rights and transgender acceptance, and women and how feminism and how faith CAN intersect with social justice for those who ID as LGBT. I’m tired of feeling that WHO I AM and WHAT I SUPPORT is not only not accepted by the majority but I WANT THESE THINGS/FEELINGS/BELIEFS/VIEWS TO BE SHARED by others.

I want to be in a community that accepts my beliefs…selfish? Yeah maybe, but I want a place where it is SAFE for me to say “Ok I don’t think the Bible really says this about homosexuality, and I don’t believe in the gender roles the church so avidly prescribes to, I don’t see why we rally and protest so much about being pro-life or pro-choice, why can’t we talk about BOTH sides? Why are we so set in our ways of bashing the liberals and the evil mothers that want to kill their babies as they say?, why can’t I say I want to talk about what and why people are pro-choice and why they aren’t all evil monsters? I want to talk about that fact that we DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT WHITE PRIVILEGE IS and ask WHY AREN’T WE MAD THAT BLACK PEOPLE ARE DYING UNJUSTLY AND WHY WE DON’T CARE WE DON’T CARE WE DON’T CARE. Why don’t we see their rioting and protesting as their way of saying, WHY DON’T YOU SEE US, CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING?????

Why can’t we talk about feminism, how girls are circumcised, how we lift football stars above rape accusations, how I have to fell like I have to buy my sister mace because she’s coming to college, that I now understand why people hate Christans because we essentially preach hate and hypocrisy from the patriarchal pulipts. Where all the world hears is you can’t be gay you can’t be female and preach, you can’t be a wife and have an equal and identical role, you can’t ask questions, you can’t be a sexual being (unless you’re married), you can’t wear tight clothes or short shorts or own your sexuality because God forbid you LOVE your body. God forbid you EMBRACE the power and the beauty that is your body. God forbid you LOVE yourself, every inch. Because God forbid you start to ask WHY you believe what they preach.

SO why do I have trouble going back to this service?

I’ve changed. This ministry isn’t bad. They are good. It’s just that I see things differently now, and however much it would be easier to simply go back to the way it was, I can’t go back. It sounds dramatic. But it’s the truth. I literally cannot change how I see things now for better or for worse. But I’d rather it be this way, than safe and comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with this ministry or what they want to do. I belive they are genuine, I believe they love people. I believe they want good things for people and I KNOW the people there are kind and good and well-intentioned.

It’s me that’s changed and it’s not their fault. I simply must find a place where my doubts and my questions and my thoughts are heard and validated and held. Where these feelings and beliefs I have are not “heretical” or “unbiblical” but understood and accepted. Where I can see women in leadership and pastoring positions, where people of every sexual orientation and identity are not only welcomed and accepted but supported and upheld. Where those who are messy and broken and falling apart are told YES there IS a place for you’re here, with all your sharp edges. Where we are able to examine our doubts, where we are able to admit we don’t understand, don’t agree, don’t feel anything anymore. Where we can die and come back to life.

I just need some place or some people that are in the same place.

The Great Unraveling: Faith, Doubt, And The Thread We All Hang By

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john pavlovitz

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I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.  Mark 9:24  – A father with a dying son, to Jesus of Nazareth

(Man, now that guy I get).

We often live in two very different worlds, almost simultaneously.

There are days when faith comes easy, when the reality of God so fully saturates everything; every corner, every cell, every crevice of life, so much so that not believing is all but impossible.

To choose anything other than belief in those times feels like a reckless act of rebellion; an exercise in colossal stupidity. Our worship in those moments, is an almost involuntary response to the beauty and poetry around us.

There are other days, though, days when rhyme and reason and justice and sense, and love and kindness, and any kind of peace seem completely absent from the world; days when things are random and ugly, and the silence from a Divine voice is a deafening sound to the listening soul.

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“Like A Guy” – Gender Norms in Relationships

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Some thoughts on “gender roles” in relationships. As much as I would like to play the role of the girlfriend wanting/needing her boyfriend to protect her and hold out his hand for her and open doors and stuff for her, like I think it would be fun to play that role for a while, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the ultimate relationship goal for me.

I want to be treated like an equal. Here’s what I’ve realized. I have been socialized to want to be pampered and protected, but I’ve ALSO realized that I can be brave and protect myself “like a guy.” A guy looks out for himself and others, and I’ve realized that I can do that.

As petty as this sounds, I can kill my own bugs and carry my own bags. So while playing the role and having a guy look out for me in those things would be nice for a time, that’s not the kind of relationship I want to be in in the long run.

I want a relationship where a guy treats me like an equal and vice versa. Because here’s what I’ve realized.

I can be more “like a guy” than I thought. I haven’t had a guy around to kill the spiders for me, dispose of dead mice, or walk me home at night. I’ve done those things by myself/on my own. And as weird as this sounds, I think I sometimes actually like doing these things more because I feel empowered. Like “Hey, I can do these things for myself; am capable.”

A guy takes the lead and does the scary stuff because that’s what he’s expected/forced to do (I also acknowledge for some, both men and women, this may come naturally, yet I am pointing out that as a whole this is how males are socialized), and I’ve realized I can this it too; it’s just that I’ve never been expected/forced to do it before so it doesn’t come naturally at first.

I want to be allowed to be my best in a relationship, in life, and in general. Consistently deferring and depending on a man’s strength in a life-long relationship isn’t for me.

Anais Nin couldn’t have said it better:

“I, with a deeper instinct,

choose a man who compels my strength,

who makes enormous demands on me,

who does not doubt my courage or my toughness,

who does not believe me naïve or innocent,

who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

*Please note that I am referencing overarching cultural stereotypes and norms for men and women, but obviously acknowledge that these broad assumptions do not apply to all men and women.

Listening from the Outside

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So, I’m a middle sibling and also the middle sister. I also have lots of girlfriends. I’ve seen lots of relationships come and go in their lives. I’ve seen the super shitty guys, the nice ones, the lame ones, the mediocre ones, and the ones we thought were THE one.

I’m the listener. I take in their stories. I comment and ask and laugh and cry and get mad with them. I keep up with the latest developments, attempt to give wise council, check in post-breakups with texts, and distract with food when needed.

But, I myself have never had a relationship, or even been on a date. So here’s what I experience.

I listen to the first kiss descriptions. The awkward ones, the GOOD ones, the long awaited ones. I smell the cologne still clinging gently to their clothes. I see that soft sort of happy glow that sounds insanely cliché but is actually a very real thing that happens post good kisses or good talks.

I hear about the awkward conversations, the lack of conversation, or the really deep conversations. I watch them text all day. I get the gift of hearing their precious and special moments. I hear the frustrations, the confusions, the past relationships rundowns.

I watch car doors be opened (or not). I hear stories about their families. Look at pictures from the date. I wait to see if/when I will get to meet them.

It’s fun and good. It’s special to have these people trust me with these important and memorable and special moments and stories and experiences.

So, that’s what it’s like to watch and listen. You learn. You laugh. You get angry. You are sad. You celebrate. You listen. You support.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.