Called, ordained, and too busy to argue

November 10th, 2015

There comes a time when having the same argument over and over again is fruitless. No one’s minds or hearts are changed. Each side becomes further entrenched in their opinions. Energy that could be going towards something meaningful and helpful is wasted. Defending a position or a belief becomes a distraction from doing the actual work we’re called to do. So from now on, I am finished discussing women’s ordination.

Something shifted a few weeks ago when I received a backchannel social media message from a young man asking what it felt like for me to be a woman priest. In the moment, I decided I couldn’t answer in a helpful way and that it wasn’t a discussion that I wanted to have with someone I didn’t know and with whom I couldn’t sit down face-to-face. Besides, I found the question ridiculous though also well-meaning and genuinely curious. I don’t know what it’s like to be a male priest, so how could I compare it with being a priest who also happens to be a woman?

I am finished having arguments about what Paul or someone writing in Paul’s name had to say about the role of women and whether they should or should not teach men or cover their heads or refrain from wearing flashy jewelry. I am finished appealing to the myriad places in the Bible where women lead and preach the gospel. I am finished insisting that Deborah, the Samaritan woman at the well, the women who first witnessed the empty tomb, and the women co-workers with the apostles, Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, are my predecessors, along with all of the women whose names and roles have been erased from Scripture and tradition

My denomination has been ordaining women for over forty years. Some denominations have been ordaining women for longer than that. So why do we keep getting dragged back in to arguments, distracted from the actual work that we are called by God to do: to preach the Gospel and to love and serve the people among whom we work?

I am done being a woman priest, a female priest, or a priestess. My calling as a pastor, priest, and teacher is not qualified or modified by my gender. When I’m at the altar or baptizing a child or at the bedside of the dying, I am not performing my gender as much as my vocation, a vocation that happens to come in the body of a woman. I cannot separate out being woman from being priest and pastor. I cannot separate out being white or straight or a daughter or sister or wife.

There are people out there, good Christian people who are trying to follow Christ as best they can, who think that I am a heretic, that I am going against God’s will for my life and for the church. I’m not going to change their minds with argument or proof-texting Scripture. Right now, I’m leaving that up to God. Besides, I’ve got work to do.

comments powered by Disqus