I hope you’ll forgive my long absence. I’ve had a lot of stuff to do, and not much lent itself well to writing of any kind. And sometimes ideas have to roll around in my head for awhile until I fully understand them enough to be comfortable discussing them on an intellectual level. Most of what I read or come across merits an emotional response, but I never want that to be my only response. I don’t believe that is a wise way to approach matters of Biblical truth — unless it is an actual emotional matter, and even then I’d want to analyze it a little first. I’m just not good at quickly turning out an emotional response (or any response, it seems). I want to be able to back up my reasoning, or at least leave the door open to further understanding, and not just leave a flash-bang reaction and have to apologize later for going off unprepared.
That said, there is something I need to clarify once more, especially since social politics have blurred the definitions and boundaries of the subject to the point where there needs to be new distinction made.
I’ve described myself early in the creation of this blog as a “Christian Feminist”. I also sought to define it more specifically in another post. Since then, I’ve learned more about secular feminism (specifically “third-wave feminism”, which seems to have grown more obnoxious in recent years) and how its terms and conditions have pervaded the egalitarian movement and begun to destroy what has been a great thing with distasteful ideals that I, personally, want to distance myself from immediately.
I joined an egalitarian group on Facebook awhile back, mostly out of curiosity, but also out of a desire for blog fodder and like-minded camaraderie. I did find some like-minded individuals with great things to say. I also accrued some blog fodder, but not in the way I was expecting. I realized after a few days that there appeared to be a prevailing attitude among a majority of the posters that smelled very much like the “us vs. them” mentality of secular third-wave feminists. I would find myself reading a post, in full agreement with the pleas to allow women to work alongside men in the churches — until it turned back on itself and began throwing around terms like “patriarchy”, “toxic masculinity”, and “misogyny” — in their colloquial context — and generally tearing down men in order to build women up in their place.
I finally left that group after being accused of being a traitor for saying that we shouldn’t be badmouthing men and having an attitude that is exactly what Paul was warning Timothy about in our Very Favorite Prooftext, 1 Tim 2:12.
A traitor. Okay. But a traitor to whom? Not all my Christian brothers actually seek to “oppress” me; many of them are just steeped in church culture. Many of them, like me, grew up with the beliefs that women and men had different roles in the church, directed by God and never to be questioned or changed. Men do wonderful, powerful things in the church. Imagine what they could do with women helping them carry the burden of leadership and teaching, and not just in a subservient role! I would never want men to take a backseat to let the women drive — especially not the women who unironically fling around terms like “toxic masculinity”, and take “patriarchy” tritely out of its historical context.
I have more to say on this matter, and I’ve been researching the difference between Egalitarianism and Complementarianism (including the beliefs of the Discipleship movement). There are some really deep and frightful differences and non-scriptural traditions and beliefs held by Complementarians that just make my heart ache for those women who are like me (leadership-oriented, self-teaching, and all but outrightly called to dig into scripture with adults), who are trapped in that kind of faith tradition.
However, I’m going to swerve off into a different direction for a moment…
Leaving the traditional Church of Christ has had its ups and downs for me, I’ve discovered. I’m so happy to have the freedoms I do now, to volunteer or be asked to lead the adult worship or teaching time. But my absolute favorite tradition of the Churches of Christ is their a capella* song service. I miss it so very much, I cannot rightly express it in words. And I don’t even miss the version I left a few years ago as much as I miss the skill and spontaneity of the singing in the church I grew up in as a little kid. We brought hymnals to every gathering, and we could sing any song at any time, anywhere — in four-part harmony, with gusto. It was an ultra-conservative, legalistic church — but did they ever know how to sing! Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been revisiting some gorgeous arrangements of favorite a capella hymns, and trying to figure out ways to gather a group together to sing them again. I have a few friends from our previous congregation who I’m sure would be happy to do so, since I don’t think they have regular singing services anymore, either (other than the songs normally incorporated in the regular worship time).
I have mentioned before, I believe (but am not sure), that I find the subject of instruments in worship 100% based on preference and not scripture, so I do not believe our instrumental singing time at the church we belong to now is wrong or sinful. However, I am one who prefers more investment in the worship time by everyone involved, and the louder the instruments, the softer the singing, or the less participation by the congregation at large. Loud instrumentation gives people an excuse not to participate (which, to be honest, is sometimes a good thing for people who do not prefer to sing, but still find listening to the music a transcendent form of worship — that’s just fine if that is actually true for that person). It can make the worship time more complicated if those instruments (or the people who play them the most skillfully) are missing — because no one else learns melody or rhythm that may not always exist without the instruments. I won’t even get started on converting radio songs for the worship service right now, because I am far too emotional about it today, and that subject kind of requires a whole other post on its own.
But before anyone from an a capella tradition looks at that and thinks, “Well maybe that means the a capella way is the best way, and the reason God meant for us to worship in that fashion,” I would suggest taking a good, hard look at the song-leading skills in your own congregations, and what happens when the church does not have a good backup song leader for the one who has the skill, or even maintains a teaching program for future [male] song leaders. I have been to more congregations (even large ones, like the one I left) whose leaders cannot carry a tune or rhythm to save their lives (and the women sitting in the pews, who aren’t allowed to lead, occasionally end up leading the singing from the pews, because they know the songs better than the men and can hit all the notes in their part). At least a guitar or piano in the right hands has the capability of holding a pitch and maintaining a rhythm. Just sayin’ — there are pros and cons to both forms of worship.
Anyway, it’s been ages since I’ve posted, and this draft has been sitting here for waaaaaaayyyy too long. I’m gonna post it now, even though it’s still kinda messy, and try to be more intentional about posting again sooner rather than later.
May your day be filled with blessings and music!
*I feel the need to italicize “a capella“, because it looks wrong without it. It doesn’t look any more right with it, but it looks…less wrong? I don’t know. I’m doing it, and I reserve the right to change my mind later. Shutting up and posting now!