Forgive me (or not) but this is definitely a rant about the Western church at large, about how we are dumb and mean too, which is a rather childish insult, but it is the gentlest complaint I can think of to lob at our heads right now.
Why are we so dang petty and dumb?
Seriously, we’ve been locked down for two years in some kind of weird germ warfare event, our leadership has collapsed, our country is perched on the edge of a cliff, gas prices are through the roof, people are hurting, and drug overdoses are at epidemic levels. So what does a good chunk of the church decide to obsess over? What does our evangelism look like?
I remember a church once where women could speak, but you had to stay down one step off the stage and use the right color microphone. The red ones were off limits. I never spoke in that church, not out of any virtue or moral reasoning, or because I had nothing to say, but simply because I was absolutely fascinated by the weird, and exceedingly dumb, decorum and ritual.
I guess you could say I drew closer to Jesus in that church? I have no idea what was even said during church, but I did spend a lot of time talking to Jesus and asking Him why in the world we were all so dumb. You can laugh if you want, but admitting you are dumb and in desperate need of a Savior is the first step.
Some people in the church at large really need to just take that first step….
The church of the Right Colored Microphone kind of reminded me of those long cigarette holders of old. No tobacco shall ever touch your lips, so we just invented a longer cigarette holder. Poof, problem solved! See, 3 inches from my lips. Looks kind of elegant, too.
It reminds me of children who hear “no eating food on the carpet,” so they put half their body in the living room and one finger on the kitchen floor and call it good. Isn’t legalism just grand?? I find it far more adorable when small children try to apply that kind of perfect logic, rather than grown ups.
Flat out, one reason why the Western church at large no longer has much moral authority, and has totally lost of the culture war, is because we are are often small, mean, dumb, and petty over the most ridiculous things.
It’s not a competition either, we aren’t grading on a curve here! The fact that being small, mean, dumb, and petty are part of the human condition, does not somehow excuse us all. In fact, it raises the bar! We are expected to be less mean, dumb, and petty than average.
Whew, I feel so much better now! Nothing like a good rant to purge the soul. In case anyone had any doubts, I am seldom silent, ever, and will shout from the rooftops or preach off my front porch when needed. I have zero fear of speaking up. In some ways I have no desire to be a pastor because I’ve always had a huge caseload to care for, a big flock to look after. Laughing here, but I want to see a world with a lot less sheep in it, not more!
It’s time for all hands on deck. Everyone has a ministry, everyone is “pastoring,” or at least that’s kind of how it should be out in the world at large, an uncertain world full of chaos and traumatized people.
I also happen to really like what the Bible says about women not speaking in church, because what that really is, is a symptom of conflict avoidance and dysfunction. It’s not that women shouldn’t ever “talk” in church, it’s that by the time you’re shouting at the pastor during the service about the need for new carpet in the foyer, and what a theological idiot he is, you’ve let your resentments simmer for far too long.
True story! I call that one I went to, the Church of The Passive/Aggressive Outbursts During the Sermon….
In all seriousness however, it really makes me sad that we’re often so afraid and insecure about women speaking, preaching, evangelizing, in part because some of us could not stop even if we wanted to. Also, ministry is not a territory, it’s not a job title, it’s not a position, it’s who we are in Christ. When Jesus shows up, He often says, now go and tell the others.
He says that to the women! It would be a bit silly if He had said, go tell it on the mountain and everywhere, but please don’t go tell it in the church because some of the men there might be extra insecure and all worried and about their status and position. Also, don’t ever touch the red microphones!
The Bible says it takes spiritual eyes to see spiritual things, which I believe is really true. If your mind is made up and you are looking for something to complain about, you probably will find it in the Bible! I happen to enjoy those things a great deal, because those are the things I can run and ask the Lord about. I did once ask Him about women speaking in church and shoot if He didn’t promptly send me right to the church of Passive/Aggressive Outbursts and open my eyes to some much deeper truths about human nature and what that really looks like.
“Small, mean, and dumb” does not refer to stature or gender, but rather to the condition of our souls. “Small” means not realizing how hugely powerful we really are, “mean” means being defensive, fearful, and aggressive, and “dumb” means too blind to see our way out of all those insecurity traps.
I try to walk gently and treat people kindly, because I am keenly aware of just how powerful I really am, and how dangerous it can be were I to slip into the “small, mean, and dumb.” That is often true of both men and women. Jordan Peterson has a good quote here that really applies.
I “know” I can be small, mean, and dumb. I “know” how much power I have in the Lord. I am not harmless at all, I am simply someone who has placed my “small, mean, and dumb,” in the Lord’s care. I learned long ago that when I finally just want to punch somebody in the nose or murder their soul, I usually need to repent of having failed to pastor my own.
When I do run into my brother, the Apostle Paul, we’ll compare notes and get to the bottom of his words, but I suspect he was probably observing the same thing, that what makes women destructive and dangerous is not our power and our strength, but rather our weaknesses, fear, and insecurity.