Yesterday, one of my closest friends asked me quite directly why I continue to care about what very conservative parts of evangelicalism have to say about women and gender roles. My friend wonders why I continue to read certain blogs and leading male evangelical figures who constantly offer a patriarchal understanding of the relationship between men and women within the family unit, the Church, and society at large. I often feel this implicit pressure to simply "give up" on more conservative sects of evangelicalism that are insistent upon proclaiming a complimentarian view of gender. Afterall, I'm a feminist now. Why should I waste my time on preaching to those who refuse to engage with any understanding of the Gospel that is not directly tied to previous commitments of Calvinism (read: limited atonement), complimentarianism, and biblical inerrancy? Don't I know that the fight is useless and I am better to not waste my time on those who think I'm wasting their time with my liberal feminist anti-biblical views?
I want to give up sometimes. I am often so discouraged that I forget why I started on this road from the beginning.
I guess I keep telling myself that if I can encourage one woman inside of evangelicalism to see that they do not have to believe that fidelity to the Gospel must necessarily mean a commitment to certain views of gender, I will feel like all of my education and work has been worthwhile. Said another way, I hope women don't believe that embracing "feminism" (whatever that means) and saying no to complimentarian is not necessarily a denial of the Gospel, a rejection of the biblical witness, and an abandonment of faith. Because let's be honest, most of these complimentarian circles tell men and women that in order to take the Gospel seriously and to understand the Bible as authoritative, we must render a sort of complimentarian account of gender.
My hope is that such fear-tactics can be dismantled and exposed for what they are. My hope is that women within evangelicalism will realize that the Gospel proclaimed in the Scriptures is a liberation from these sorts of identity-markers that seek to define and ultimately divide us. My hope is that more women within evangelicalism will be encouraged to become whatever the Lord might be calling them to be including a preacher of the Word of God and an administer of the sacrament regardless of their biological sex. My hope is that more women who come to disagree and break with conservative evangelical conceptions of gender will not give up on these circles in this respect, but will remain committed to these people in order to encourage more women to see the liberation that is offered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all persons. I have so many hopes for evangelical women. And I refuse to allow the conservative evangelical male leaders who are yelling the loudest to silence me.