A Woman’s Voice: God Given and Equal

by Karen Knudtson, posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Someone recently asked me if it’s difficult for those who are SJ’s in the Myers Briggs personality test to be equalitarian in the church. If you are unfamiliar with this test you can read about it at myersbriggs.org. SJ (Sensing Judging) is the structure part of the test and is described as the following: “In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?” This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).”

 

I admit to being an SJ. SJ’s are the rule keepers, traditionalist, and caregivers in this life. I am an observer by nature and seek to understand the world through observation. I may adhere to a certain set of rules at one time but as I continue to observe and learn about any given subject my views can change.

 

Back to the question at hand. I did not grow up in a home where I was told that men hold the primary power in leadership, authority, social privilege or with the understanding that fathers hold authority over women and their children. My voice was not disrespected or diminished just because I was female. I was the middle child with two brothers and I didn’t feel that their voice was more important than mine. My childhood home was full of fun, laughter, complete acceptance and respect for each person’s voice in our family with no regard to gender!

 

When I came into the Christian faith, patriarchy in the church was an immediate red flag, so I literally prayed to Christ, “I chose you but not that.” Today, I have lived over three decades in the church and I have experienced the struggle to have a female voice that is more than  hospitality, motherhood and children.

 

When I married years ago, I tried to play by the rules because the church communicated that man’s authority was God’s authority but in the end, I failed, and I determined that patriarchy was unjust. Thirty four years later, I am still married to the same man and we blew up patriarchy years ago.

 

Even though I was born in the fifties and grew up surrounded by traditional roles, my family showed me something different. So I understand how it could be difficult for an SJ to embrace an equalitarian viewpoint if they grew up in a patriarchal home, especially a religious patriarchal home. Yet the beauty of growing into adulthood is that you have the task of deciding on your own what values you chose to accept or reject from your family of origin.

 

When I can challenge my traditions through research, thought, and prayer, I have found that I can change my mind. I grew up with a father who would always say, “change is apart of life, so you’d better get use to it.” His words were perfect for this SJ and yes, I like tradition and dislike change but my observations and experiences have taught me to challenge the status quo, as I remind myself that the world is ever changing.

 

I am a questioner by nature and I feel akin to St.Thomas. I do not see him as doubting Thomas but questioning Thomas and this is how I see myself. It is with that questioning spirit that I make sense of this world and can broaden my viewpoints on any given subject. So I ask you, is it tradition that keeps you from believing that women can hold positions of spiritual authority in the church? If so, I challenge you to read, research and open your mind to it. The following organization is a great resource.

 

“CBE International Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) is a nonprofit organization of Christian men and women who believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings of Scriptures such as Galatians 3:28:

 

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NIV 2011).

 

CBE affirms and promotes the biblical truth that all believers—without regard to gender, ethnicity or class—must exercise their God-given gifts with equal authority and equal responsibility in church, home and world.” Their website is cbeinternational.org.

 

In closing, if I thought for any reason thought that God, the Creator of the universe, made me a female, in the image less than a man, I could not believe in Him and I am thankful that I grew up in a family that allowed this SJ to have a voice alongside my brothers and for a father who encouraged me to embrace change.”