why you don't know what we really think

hello men (evo men in particular)

think of the ordained women you know who are evangelical. if you're an evangelical ordained man, ask yourself what you think that woman's position is on sexuality.

did you ever ask her? did you assume? either because she's an evangelical, she's conservative, or because she's a woman she's liberal?

one of the things that i overhear in the circles that i move in, when talking about evangelical women, especially those who are either ordained, or in leadership of some description, is that, on sexuality, they are 'probably conservative' or 'i assume she's conservative' (underlying reasoning being that she's never said she's not)

but do you really know? did you ever ask? and if you asked did you ever really get a straight answer?

of course, i'm exaggerating (slightly)

but the next time you're at a clergy or leadership event, mixing with evangelical women, look around and ask yourself if you really know what they think about this particular issue.

now let me tell you why i think you don't.

let's take the venn diagram. one scenario goes like this. A is catholic, B is evo. ordained evangelical women are B, but because they are not quite understood as 'kosher' in their own 'pool' (woman? fine. ordained? find. ordained woman? risky!) they find that most of their friends and their support network are from 'pool A'. and so they find themselves swimming in 'both A and B'. if they are conservative on sexuality, in coming out they risk their support network, the people who make them who they are, they risk part of their very identity. if they are liberal on sexuality, they risk being ousted from their own gene pool, the tradition that made them who they were, they risk part of their very identity.

it may be that you are in quite a different diocese or parish, where the lines are not drawn so fiercely, or that your area is mainly evangelical or catholic. so then the scenario becomes more intense and concentrated. if you are an evangelical woman who is liberal on sexuality and you find yourself in a mainly evo deanery or area of ministry, then you are B, your friends are B and in outing yourself as liberal you potentially lose your tradition and your friends. on the other side if you're an evo woman who is conservative on sexuality and find yourself in a catholic liberal parish, then you're B in an A pool, but you have friends, if you out yourself, you potentially find yourself isolated or backed into a siege mentality that is very attractive in evos, so i hear (that was sarcasm)

long and short of it, we are being taught that the only 'safe' positions for evangelical women is to be B and be conservative. don't give a 'sniff' of a clue to anyone that you are even 'thinking' about 'thinking' about what you might think about sexuality, because it will simply allow people to think 'i told you so, it's the thin end of the wedge, first women, then gays....'. as an ordained evo woman, if you even think of not towing the line on this one, then it's not just you, its ordained women, its women - you've let down the whole gender. you're a role model and you'd better stay clean.

this will be uncomfortable for some to read. and the last thing that i want to do is to pre-empt anyone, especially women, ordained women, having to declare themselves one thing or the other on the issue of sexuality. i'm not attempting to 'expose' people. i'm not saying that women are, or even tend to be, on one side or the other of this debate. but when you look at an evo woman and 'assume she is conservative', then you have constrained the debate to begin with. you've pushed her into a corner where she knows if she is conservative then she is not allowed to change her mind and still remain in the same pool. and if she's liberal or even thinking through the conversation, then the risk is too high to give you a straight answer.

the implications of discussing sexuality are so complex for evo women, especially those that find themselves straddling A and B as identity groups. i guess, on one level, i'm asking you to be kind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So clear, and so light-hearted, yet not without bite. I like it. Thank you.