It must be 20 years since I first realized that about half the preachers I was hearing at weddings and funerals were female.
And fair enough. Half the people getting married and dying are female.
I was not offended the first time a preacher walked out and she was a woman. She seemed competent enough. If my aunt or sister or daughter heard the call and became a minister, I wouldn’t want some silly old men in the congregation to say nay.
My mother’s brother was a Nazarene preacher. My cousin Doris was his daughter and a preacher’s wife. Even though Doris was “only” an untitled woman, she could still rouse a congregation with her great gift of gab, a strong singing voice and the heart of a determined do-gooder.
In my exceedingly biased opinion, she had a greater grasp of preacher skills than her husband and could have given her father a run for the money.
Before women moved up the religious leadership ladder, the most obvious women in religion were Roman Catholic nuns. They were gifted and demanding teachers, though I am told by Catholic friends that the sisters were sometimes a little quick with the application of a yardstick to a young rascal’s bottom.
The elevation of women to the ministry coincided with massive changes of that sort in most professions. When I was young, there were virtually no female doctors or lawyers. Today, women are a majority in many medical and law schools.
When I was young, state legislatures and Congress had no more than a handful of women members. Today, they are numerous in such bodies. They have become governors, serious presidential candidates, Supreme Court justices and even a speaker of the U.S. House
Of all those changes, I was least surprised by women turning up as full-fledged preachers. You can’t generalize wildly about men or women. Both sexes have weak and strong members. But even churches that still won’t let a woman near the controls would probably agree that, on the whole, women are more religious than men. And on the whole, women are more nurturing.
Surely those are prime qualities for religious leaders. And I dare you old men leading antiquated churches to suggest that women aren’t smart enough to do what you do.
That’s why it seems so strange that substantial Christian congregations (just like many Muslims) keep women in secondary roles.
The Mormons, for instance. Women in that church are ruled by men.
Most bizarre of all perhaps is the Roman Catholic Church that it is so short of priests that it is consolidating its churches in my city among many others. And yet it ignores fixing that problem by using the intellectual and religious depth of the nuns.
Worst of all, those intellectually tuckered old men who run that church are so deep in denial that Rome now openly hammers America’s nuns, calling them on the crimson carpet, telling them to shut up and listen to their betters.
Nuns aren’t just denied an obvious way to enlarge the number of clergy in that church. These bright women are talked down to by a male hierarchy transparently pulling gender rank on women because they are female. It is being female alone that disqualifies them.
Not only that, but somebody up there isn’t sharp enough to know what the brave and sassy nuns know:
The American people, Catholic or otherwise, are overwhelmingly on the side of the nuns.
The church’s leaders have bitten off more than they can chew. And if they aren’t careful, those former Catholic students are going to feel the sting once more of a yard stick across their conceited bottoms.Bill Hall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501