Awhile back I had a post entitled “Why do female preachers suck?” – a title which I stole from another blogger. [Check out the post if you want, as the title could give you the wrong idea.] I made several points in that post. One of them, which I hope my verbosity did not obscure, was that women in the church are often held to an unfair standard and not encouraged in the same way as men. Women can face a “prove yourself” climate, rather than a supportive one.
The reason I return to this issue is that Rachel Held Evans recently had an article over on Patheos sharing some similar thoughts: A Woman’s Voice. While Rachel’s voice as a female is sought out, the pressure can be great. While she admits that some of this pressure may be of her own doing, the fact remains that in some churches the bias is very real. We don’t hear “Why do male preachers suck?” when we encounter poor preaching or teaching from a male, but a woman seems to bear the weight of representing her entire sex!
With that, here are some excerpts from her article:
Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’
…if a woman falters or struggles at her work, please don’t universalize it by declaring that all women suck at math, or all women are disinterested in theology, or all women struggle with public speaking, or all women are bad teachers. Some of us are just having off days…you know, like humans do.
Women, speak with the unique voices God gave you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too masculine, or too feminine, or too feminist or not feminist enough. Tell your story, and tell it with the accent, tenor, and tone that story gave you. Tell it in your own voice.
Oh, and while you’re at it, go ahead and fail. Our gender will survive it. I know because I totally bombed the first-service sermon at Mars Hill in Grand Rapids last year in front of, like, 2,000 people who were used to hearing from Rob Bell…. It’s not my job to succeed every time for every woman. If someone concludes from one bad sermon that women suck at preaching, well then that person hasn’t heard enough preachers, and that’s his problem, not mine.
Thanks for so honestly and openly sharing Rachel. And I hope you’ll read her article in its entirety over at Patheos.