Last night, Wednesday, October 28, I stayed home from church because my son was sick. At 7:39 PM I received a very angry text from my wife, informing me that the speaker had just made a particularly derogatory joke about women. When she got home, we talked about it. We FUMED about it. This morning Sarah decided to reflect on how it feels to be a woman in such a service. I’ll let her tell you the rest in her own words.
It’s 4:30AM and I am completely exhausted from an already long week. I took my 7 year-old daughter to church last night for a special service. She wanted to meet a missionary just as she has at previous years at this event. I would not be surprised if she becomes a missionary; she independently prays for missionaries she makes connections with. It is powerful to hear her talk about a special connection she has with these individuals… she’s only 7!
Last night I sat in the service while she met a missionary with other kids. During the service, the guest speaker made an awful joke: “Some Pentecostals don’t believe women should wear makeup. I believe some women need makeup.” And everyone laughed. He continued, “Did I really just say that?” And everyone laughed again.
Except me! I was so furious I had a texting conversation with my husband and could not maintain a level of normal concentration for the rest of the service.
I completely understand that I am incredibly sensitive to this topic and it is possible I am overreacting due to my personal experience. I do not enjoy sharing my personal experience, but I think it’s relevant so here it goes. I had horrible acne that peaked before high school. I could not go one week (that’s being generous) for about 3-4 years without someone commenting on my face. I would hear, “What happened to your face?” from peers, teachers, parents of other kids, random people in grocery stores and shopping malls, my dentist, and various family members. It was absolute hell! There were days I didn’t want to go out in public because I did not want one more comment.
“What happened to your face,” was a mild comment. I had a teacher in third grade tell me I could not come to school because I had chickenpox. My mom attempted to explain several times it was not chickenpox but acne, and she still persisted to make comments because I was “too young for acne.” I had a teacher run into me and say bluntly, “What’s wrong with your face?” When we made caricatures of each other in fifth grade and were supposed to pick out one flaw to highlight, guess who turned into “pizza face.”
I could not be comfortable in my own home. My brothers’ friends would come over to play, and instead of playing would find it hilarious to comment on my pimples. I was constantly forced to eat only healthy food and avoid chocolate, potato chips, and junk food of any kind because it might be contributing to the acne. Food was hidden from me starting about a week before my dermatology appointments so that I would not flair up and be put on more medications. At one point I counted how many medications I tried between oral and topical prescriptions, and it was around 20 for a period of three years. Nothing worked. I had a lonely childhood and really never experienced life as most people do because of this.
It didn’t wreck me, but I spent a lot of time alone, crying.
Back to church. This guest speaker has been at our church before and my husband and I almost walked out due to some inappropriate jokes and comments that objectified women. After that service, the night before we were leaving for vacation, I sent an email to several pastors asking them not to invite the guest back for Sunday morning and outlined several reasons. That bought me a meeting with a pastor. I thought the meeting was productive, but obviously didn’t hold any weight as they invited him back.
Some of his unfiltered jokes include:
“People are so confused about sexuality these days. I like to call it trysexualality because people are willing to try anything.”
“All people can dance. Men can dance. Men, imagine you have 8 kids and do not want any more. Your wife comes back from the doctor and says she is not pregnant. You will be dancing then!”
He also compared women to incubators.
I feel like everyone is drinking the Kool-aid. I constantly ask myself if I am overreacting and being too sensitive, but I do not think I am. I would like to send an email to all church pastors asking, “So next year can we invite a women to speak and call ‘some men’ fat and ugly and tell them they NEED to work out?” It wouldn’t work, but I do not think it is a far stretch from the makeup comment.
What comes next?
My husband and I have played nice up until this point. It goes without saying we’ve been praying about this. We’ve respectfully engaged with pastors and met with them individually. I feel because this church is very large and successful, all the pastors have become blind to a certain degree. They focus on all their past accomplishments instead of seeing what’s wrong with how things are going right now. I feel they protect themselves with politically correct, automatic, memorized responses to issues such as same-sex marriage and gender roles in the church.
I want to scream
News flash! The Gospel does not need your protection!! Take the blinders off and dare to see reality!
I will be praying hard because Nate and I have had enough, and clearly this situation is not going to change through human logic and polite meetings. God is going to have to stir hearts of a large group of complacent pastors and elders (most of them male) if anything is going to change. We may end up leaving the church – we have talked about this for the last several months – but we are not going away without fighting this culture first.
**Cover photo from http://www.desktophdphotos.com/woman-crying-photos.html**