In the baptist church I grew up in, there were no women deacons. I remember noticing this and asking about why women weren’t allowed to be deacons, but as a child that question took on another form. I asked women in my life, don’t you want to be a deacon?
And I received a variety of responses:
Who would want to go to all those meetings?
If I want something said or brought up, I can just ask my husband to bring it up in the meeting.
Why do you need to talk? Do you not trust the people you have elected?
And my question turned into shaming.
Why did I want to talk? Was I conceited? Was I self-absorbed? Was I disobedient? Unfaithful?
When someone asks a question about why in a community of faith, the person’s question can be met with a safe environment to explore that question or the person can be shamed into silence. When someone is shamed into silence for asking questions, this is spiritual abuse. The spiritual leaders of a faith community are using biblical interpretation not to teach and grow, but to silence and shame.
This is not of God.
God seeks for God’s people to discover and uncover wholeness and completeness. This process of becoming involves questioning, doubting, and ultimately growing. For all of us encounter brokenness in the world that hurts us and challenges our faith. If we pretend this brokenness doesn’t exist and tow the party line of biblical interpretation that produces robotic answers, then we are missing out on co-creating with Creator God. We are missing the opportunity to be witnesses to God working in miraculous ways to transform the brokenness in the world to hope and healing.
Why do I need to talk?
Because there are so many still in the throes of spiritual abuse who have been silenced and shamed and cannot speak for themselves.