Ann Romney, Michelle Obama, and Giving Women a Voice in the Church
Before you throw stones or want to endorse me as a candidate for the next president, just hear me out. And even if some of you strongly disagree or hate me more than you already do, just ponder the thought and question I pose in this article about the importance of having the voices of both women and men in our lives and in the larger Church.
My intent isn’t to hurt or bash the Church, but as someone that loves and serves the Church, I want to see it grow deeper, more just, and more reflective of the Kingdom of God–one that fully embraces the gifts of both women and men.
So let me set the table.
I care about politics not because I obsess over politics. Hardly.
Rather, politics is important to me because it involves policies, and policies ultimately impact people. And the last time I checked, people (a.k.a. human beings created in the Imago Dei) are important. In my opinion, we have no choice as Christians: we must be engaged in our civic responsibilities and affairs. In other words, if our faith in Christ and the work of the Kingdom are important, we ought to be engaged in the issues of our world—locally, nationally, and globally.
At the same time, I am an “independent” when it comes to political parties and urge Christians to not be played, swayed, or seduced by the powers that be. For this reason, I’ve tried to urge others to be cautious of the politicization and manipulation of Jesus, Christians, and religion.
For this and other reasons, I’ve attempted to catch some of the Republican National Convention last week and this week’s Democratic National Convention. Some of it has been educational, other parts were infuriating, others confusing, and still others very inspiring. I am listening and watching, as I want to be more deeply educated and informed so I can steward the privilege of voting with care, prayer, and discernment. But thus far (and I know that the DNC has just gotten underway), one clear observation for me from both the RNC and DNC has been the amazing voices, words, leadership, and speeches from…the women. The three that obviously stood out for me were the speeches delivered by Ann Romney, Condoleezza Rice, and Michelle Obama. Ann’s speech was heartfelt and compelling. Condoleezza’s speech was inspiring and—dare I say it—“presidential.” And wow, Michelle Obama’s speech was simply riveting. I found myself in tears on a couple occasions during the FLOTUS’ speech.
As I soaked in the inspiring speeches from these women, I was mindful of the incredible fact that the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution—allowing women to vote—only took place in 1920. Just 92 years ago! And with that, America became just the 27th country to support “universal suffrage.”
Without any offense intended to others—especially the male speakers—these women’s speeches were the clear highlights. I don’t care what others will do or say during the DNC from here on out; no one is going to top the speech delivered by Michelle Obama. But this isn’t my attempt to say that women are better than men, more articulate than men, more intelligent than men, or any other nonsensical comparisons. Rather, I want to simply communicate how incomplete the conventions would have been without their voices, words, challenges, and exhortations.
Imagine if only men were allowed to speak.
Seriously, imagine that for a second.
Now, I want to connect this to “the Church.” And by using the “Church,” I’m not indicting any and all churches, organizations, and denominations, but simply speaking to the general larger Church.
Now, I get it. It may seem heretical to juxtapose “a political convention” with “the Church,” but hear me out. I know for some of us, it simply comes down to one’s “theological” and “biblical” convictions. I understand that because those are the critical elements that informed and transformed why I support women in all levels of leadership—not because of political correctness, trendiness, or hipsteriness, but rather my own biblical and theological convictions.
Now going back to Ann, Condi, and Michelle…can we all agree how important their voices were in their respective conventions as they addressed American citizens and delegates from all 51 states, all walks of life, and all ages, as they were broadcast to homes and halls throughout the country, and really, the larger world?
And yet in some churches and Christian conventions, associations, conferences, and denominations, women still aren’t allowed to lead or speak, particularly from the “main” platform.
Yes, they can teach children’s ministry, counsel other women, lead the women’s tea party, organize bazaars, or host a bake sale, but when it comes to addressing, teaching, preaching, leading sacraments, challenging, and exhorting the larger church from the pulpit or stage…no can do.
And that is sad. Really sad.
Not having the voices of women in the Church is not just sad for women, but truthfully, it’s sad and a deep loss for the Church. We’re missing the stories, convictions, and challenges from the Ann Romneys, Condi Rices, and Michelle Obamas within our churches. [And for goodness sake, can we please have some Asian representation in these conventions so I can include an Asian woman for my article.]
The amazing speeches of women in the conventions make the silence of women in the Church that much more deafening.
And to be honest, this article isn’t even about advocating for women in all levels of leadership; it’s not even a post about the never-ending debate about egalitarians vs. complementarians. But rather, it’s simply to convey that we really need the voices of women in all our churches. We really do.
If you want to read a couple of other posts I’ve written about this and similar matters, here are some links:
- The Dangers of Being a Woman.
- Thank God I’m a Man and Not a Woman.
- The Treatment of Women Is the Oldest Injustice in Human History.
Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day’s Wages — “a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.