Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

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  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

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Sexual Assault and Me.

TRIGGER WARNING

Today I saw this awesome PSA that Joe Biden put together for the 1 is 2 Many campaign which was designed to bring awareness to the disturbing problem of sexual assault and violence against women, particularly women on college campuses.

Interestingly enough a few days ago I asked for your input on Facebook:

If you are a woman who doesn’t mind sharing her story, I would love it if you would answer the following question, either as a comment, a message or an email addressed to mkrabill@gmail.com. I promise to keep your identity secret if that is what you want. How and when in your life were you subject to unwanted sexual advances including but not limited to: comments, gestures, groping, forced contact, abuse, rape, etc? It is my guess that it is way more often than most people realize. I want to write a post about this topic in which I will include my own experiences.

Sadly, I did not receive very many responses. [Thank you to those who have responded. I will be sharing your stories in a future post and rest assured I will treat them with the utmost respect, care and confidentiality.] So today I would like to share my own experiences in hopes that more of you will be willing to share yours either in the comments section or anonymously via email. By sharing our stories I hope to bring awareness to the issue and to encourage other women by showing them that they are not alone and that they are not to blame.

To start out I will say that I believe I have lead a fairly normal and safe life as far as these things go. I never witnessed violence, disrespect or inequality in my home. I was never a victim of rape or incest and I have never been beaten by anyone or even been in a fight of any kind. However…

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I had a man expose himself to me at the Ann Arbor public library. I was not alone. I was sitting in a common area with lots of other kids and he was sitting nearby in a chair reading a magazine with his legs apart in his very short late 70’s style running shorts sans underwear.

When I was about 9, I had an adult man I had just met that day try to kiss me in the woods at a family camp I was at with my parents. He wanted me to meet him for another walk the next day but I never went back.

The summer I turned 14, I had a 20 something guy who was working at a teen Christian camp I was at ask me for a birthday kiss and when I gave him a peck said, “No, I want a REAL kiss.” It was VERY awkward, but then he laughed it off since there were people standing nearby.

When we were moving to California we stayed at a couple of Air Force Bases. To pass the time, I would go to this activities center where people could do crafts, frame pictures, do ceramics etc. I liked to hang out in the print shop and the dude who worked there was really cool. And he was flattering; he offered to take my picture. He said I was photogenic. He even told me stories about how other kids had gone to his house and let him take pictures of them there. At the time I thought he was a nice guy. Now? I’m not so sure.

When I was 15 or 16, I was grabbed in the breast while walking alone down the sidewalk in Riverside, California. No comment. No warning. Just grabbed.

A co-worker referred me to by making the gesture of holding his hands in front of his chest to reference my breasts as if that is how I was known to the rest of the all male bartenders.

I have been paid less than a guy who was hired after me who had less experience. My manager said it was because he was a man and needed to provide for his family.

I was fired for “over pouring” shots at a bar where I worked. Fun fact: I didn’t over pour. I did however rebuff the advances of the management and their friends.

I have been grabbed and danced with against my will while cocktail waitressing.

I have been propositioned at my job at JC Penney.

I have had customers say things like, “You sure have a shirt full of those things, don’t you?”

I had a customer who continually asked me out on dates. No matter how many times I said no.

I had a customer who would ask me “hypothetical questions” every time he came into the club which usually involved my husband coming home and catching me and this dude in a compromising position. Disgusting.

Honestly, on most of these occasions I never even considered saying anything because it seemed to me that either nothing could be done or would be done, I was embarrassed and/or I wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened. Worse than that, I knew that often a woman is blamed when she is the victim of these types of behaviors and is thought to have “asked for it” in some way. Want to know what is weird? I learned to try to think of the verbal assaults as compliments. (How sick is that? I mean seriously, how sick is that?) And as for the ones that happened to me when I was a child, I think I mostly just thought I misunderstood what was happening.

This is not an exhaustive list of everything that has been said and/or done, however it does cover all the major events and give you a good idea of what kinds of things are said and done to women daily. I didn’t even mention the times I have been dismissed as “missy” or  “honey” in an effort to shut me down in a conversation or debate. I also didn’t include the times people have thought I was pushy or bossy or bitchy for wanting to be treated with respect. I have been told I have no sense of humor when challenging a sexist joke. I have been told that what I need is to get laid. I have been told to “calm down” or “not get so excited” when I speak about equality. I have even been told I’m cute when I’m angry or I’m sexy when I’m worked up.  Thank God that as of yet I have never received the comments that many female bloggers, gamers and politicians get threatening rape. If you are not aware of how prevalent this problem is for women online you can check out these articles (WARNING: These articles contain quotes of actual graphic threats made to real women)
http://jezebel.com/man-poses-as-woman-on-online-dating-site-barely-lasts-1500707724

http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/janelle-asselin-comic-book-rape-threats

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/women-arent-welcome-internet-72170/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/21/female-journalist-gets-rape-threats-over-comic-book-criticism.html

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/helen-lewis-hasteley/2011/11/rape-threats-abuse-sex-female

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/let-s-be-real-online-harassment-isn-t-virtual-for-women

http://groupthink.jezebel.com/ceo-to-gamer-complaining-about-rape-threats-hes-tire-996706957

As I said before, I consider myself very fortunate to have lived a pretty amazing and safe life. I still have experienced way too much in this regard. It may surprise you to know that I am not even close to alone. Start asking your friends, your sister, your mom or your wife or girlfriend. You might be surprised what you hear. Give them time to really think about it though. I have found that many women automatically respond that they haven’t had it that bad. But if they are anything like me, when I began to write this stuff down, I just kept remembering and remembering.

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault of any kind, please talk to someone you trust and report it to the authorities. Men and boys can also be rape and sexual assault victims. Rape and sexual assault are never the fault of the victim, male or female. Rape and sexual assault are always wrong.

For victims assistance:
RAINN: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
1.800.656.HOPE

http://www.rainn.org/

 

Statistics on Rape and Sexual Assault:
http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php

http://www.sarcbv.org/get-info/stat

http://www.cwfefc.org/svfacts.html

 

My Privilege

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.49.31 PM

You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…

World Vision vs Hobby Lobby

world-vision

 

Today in court Hobby Lobby is asserting that because certain owners of the company are Christians,  the for profit business is also “Christian” and should be allowed to forego supplying coverage that goes against their conscience, i.e. birth control. They feel this way because they believe some types of birth control can be abortifacient. Rather than allowing women and their doctors to discuss all the options available and decide on the best course of action, Hobby Lobby would also like to make sure the insurance they provide does not even cover such discussions if they involve the types of birth control they disapprove of. Nevermind the fact that they sell thousands of products made in China, a country which encourages (and sometimes mandates) abortion if it is necessary to maintain the one child policy. Forget about the fact that employees can use the money they are paid (by Hobby Lobby) to engage in other activities (sins) the owners may feel offend their conscience when they are off the clock (or shall we also allow them to decide how their employees spend that money as well, perhaps the employees should have to provide expense receipts to justify their choices so that Hobby Lobby can avoid inadvertently financing what they consider sinful activities). Perhaps they should just set up an old school company store and employees could live in a company town where only Hobby Lobby approved, sin free products and activities are condoned. Sorry for the snark, but honestly, it is just nuts.

Do they not understand that contributing to the cost of an employee’s government mandated health care plan which may or may not mean they choose a birth control method they disapprove of is NO DIFFERENT than giving them a paycheck that the employee then uses to buy the EXACT SAME type of birth control? It is the same money! It came from the same place! You bear the exact same responsibility for the employee’s choice of birth control and you should have the exact same amount of say in that choice…NONE!

Hobby Lobby’s supporters also say, as do all the defenders of the various “turn away the gay” laws, that they are merely fighting for their constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  In the decision written by Chief Justice Waite, however, the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States ruled that “Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order,” and that allowing people (and in this case Hobby Lobby) to do so “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances.” Personally, this is why I am confident (and will be extremely disappointed if the Court comes back with any other decision) that the Supreme Court will rule for the government in this case.

In other news, yesterday World Vision, a Christian non-profit agency whose mission is providing “emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, work[ing] with communities to develop long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocat[ing] for justice on behalf of the poor, set the evangelical world on fire by stating that:

…since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

Since World Vision’s announcement, the evangelical world has their knickers in a twist.  Benjamin L. Corey sarcastically translated the collective twitter rants on Formerly Fundie:

“I have sponsored this child for many years now and built a relationship with them. Yes, I know that this is a specific child with a real name and real story who will miss my letters. I know that this child may end up dying from lack of access to clean water or medicine without my help. I understand that without the education my donation provides, this child is at high risk of a life of trafficking and exploitation. Yes, I know that my donation makes sure they get three square meals a day and that without it, they’re going to be hungry. But, I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife.”

The best (and by best I mean worst) part of the comments for me are the folks who say it is World Vision’s fault that these kids are going to go without now. They have no choice but to pull their support. WOW. Really? You really only give money to people who agree with you 100% on what is sin and what isn’t or do you only give money to the people who sin like you do? I mean come on, isn’t that what it comes down to? Many of us would prefer that people only committed the “sins” we are comfortable with. But wait, we are talking unrepentant sin here. Really? How about we stop contributing money to organizations who hire people who are gluttons? Maybe we should stop giving money to organizations that hire people who are divorced and remarried? Or having sex before marriage (none of us have done that, right? Oh snap, some of us have.)  So here we sit, World Vision tries to be inclusive of all of the beliefs of the 50 denominations of people they employ and THEY are cutting off the kids? If only Jesus had given us some clear direction in all of this, then we might know what to do. Oh wait, he did.

These arguments would be simpler if only Jesus had said something like “Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me” #WorldVision

— Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray) March 25, 2014

As Kristen Howerton said on her post on Rage Against the Minivan,

Is access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there…I’m also just so, so dismayed that this is yet another instance in which Christians are telling the world that their feelings about gay people are stronger than their compassion. That their anger over gay employees is greater than their anger over starving children.

I cannot for the life of me understand people who would rather see all Hobby Lobby employees lose their jobs (the owners have threatened to close their stores if they lose) to protect the religious sensibilities of the owners (who coincidentally also sin) than see some of their employees be allowed their choice of birth control (some of which Hobby Lobby deem sinful). These are the same people who would rather have the child they sponsor be left wondering why they were dropped than continue allowing World Vision to use their funds to be the hands and feet of Jesus because the dude who is in charge of bringing clean water to villages in developing countries is married to a man named Jim instead of a woman named Jane.  Jesus wept.

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There are tons of ways to help World Vision. You can fund a microloan, sponsor a child, provide disaster relief, buy handmade gifts for friends, or choose any one of several items to give from their catalog including water wells, anti-trafficking aid, farm animals, schooling and many many more. Please go visit WorldVision.org and lend your support today.

Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

purityballMy husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice.

Recently the topic of so called “Purity Balls” (hee hee) has been back in the news. (I think maybe because it is spring? Not really sure. Is that when these things traditionally take place? Or possibly on Father’s Day (um, ewww)? Thank God I don’t know from first hand experience.) The first ball was put on by the Wilson family in Colorado Springs in 1998. Randy Wilson is a field director for the Family Research Council, which was originally part of Focus on the Family until 1992. The recent Nightline feature which ran March 22nd, featured Randy Wilson, Ron Johnson, the Pastor of Living Stones Church in Indiana and their daughters. Johnson, is quoted in the program as saying to the young women (who typically range in age from 9-14),  “You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?

The Balls, according to Wilson’s Generations of Light web page, now take place in 48 states. The ceremonies themselves resemble wedding receptions. The fathers give the daughters a ring (often they wear a ring themselves that they later gift to the future husband at the wedding), there is a father daughter dance, the girls wear white dresses and the father and daughter exchange pledges. The amazing thing to me is that these balls are considered “godly” events by their participants.

On Saturday night I shared this story with my Dad. He was disgusted and appalled and I thank God every day that I was raised by a father (and mother) who respected me as an individual, and never believed it was his job to be my “boyfriend” and who never taught me that I, individually, was to be married to Jesus. Ewwwwwww.

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

Absolute Convergence?

her·e·tic (her-i-tik; adj. her-i-tik, huh-ret-ik) n.
1. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.
2. Roman Catholic Church . a baptized Roman Catholic who willfully and persistently rejects any article of faith.
3. anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

or·tho·dox  (ôrth-dks)adj.

1. Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion.
2. Adhering to the Christian faith as expressed in the early Christian ecumenical creeds.

Continuing my theme of dialogue from yesterday…

I read a blog post this morning from Gladys Ganiel called Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins & the ‘Year of Opposition’ in the Emerging Church which contained a quote from her post the day before, International Museum of the reformation, Geneva: Dinner with John Calvin.

The quote has stuck with me all morning and I just felt like I wanted to share my thoughts with you my lovelies. Here it the quote…

…the room where you can share dinner conversation with Calvin and Co. conveyed a sense of historical and even contemporary disagreement. This reminded me that the Christian story has rarely been one of absolute convergence around all Christian practices and beliefs.

I am often asked when someone disagrees with me how I can so easily question thousands of years of Christian doctrine and practice. My friends it is not that simple. In the history of our Christian faith there have been many disagreements over the finer points of what it means to follow Christ. There are many areas where most Christians agree and there are many, many where they do not. As I said in yesterday’s post,

Do we disagree on this issue? Yes. Does that mean either of us are heretics? I don’t think so. Do I stand in the corner of the rejected and shunned? You better believe it. I am not perfect at it but I would rather answer to God for trying to reconcile my LGBT friends with the God who is the lover of their soul (practicing or not) than to try to explain to Him why I pushed them further away. Once again, could I be wrong? Of course. But you know what we are all going to have things we are surprised by on that day and I would rather err on the side of love.

Consider if you will the following areas where we have and continue to debate and disagree on how best to follow Jesus…

Calvinism/Arminianism
Evolution/Creationism
The heliocentric universe
Women in leadership
Complementarianism/Egalitarianism
Gifts of the Spirit
Drinking
Once saved always saved
Martin Luther and his Theses
Literal Heaven/Hell, when do we go there? Purgatory?
Soul sleep
The priesthood of all believers
Demon possession and what to do about it
Is Christianity masculine? Is God masculine?
The nature of God… Trinitarianism/Dualism/Unitarianism/Deism/Monotheism
At one time even translating the bible into vernacular languages, or helping with the printing of such a bible was considered heresy according to the Roman Church.

For crying out loud we have even fought over whether women were equal to men, whether the races were equal, whether interracial couples should marry, whether slavery should be illegal, and if wives were property or autonomous persons.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list!

Do the answers to these things matter? You better believe it and without the brave men and women who dared to question the status quo and risk being called heretics; Women and slaves would still be property and be denied the right to vote and own property, and millions would not be able to read the Bible in their native language. Can perceived heresies be dangerous? Of course. Is the Holy Spirit able to sort things out and do His work? You know it.

I ran across some other quotes while reading up on this topic. Here are some you may find interesting:

Gerald Brenan: “Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith. Dead religions do not produce them.” (Thoughts in a Dry Season, 1978)

I love this one. “Dead religions do not produce heresies”.  Many (added by me) “heresies are really sudden explosions of faith.” Again, think of Martin Luther or William Tyndale.
The questions and discussion “heretics” raise (proved right or wrong) help to keep faith alive. They are often a catalyst by which the Holy Spirit leads us. The fact that we are still discussing and questioning and trying to discern the best ways to follow Jesus’ commands to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves shows us that the Holy Spirit is still alive and well and working in and through humanity to help us become all that we are meant to be.

Helen Keller: “The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.” (Optimism, 1903)

While this isn’t always true, it is certainly has been true in many cases.

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Whoever has overthrown an existing law of custom has hitherto always first been accounted a bad man: but when, as did happen, the law could not afterwards be reinstated and this fact was accepted, the predicate gradually changed; – history treats almost exclusively of these bad men who subsequently became good men!” (Daybreak, § 20)[23]

One generation’s heretics sometimes become the next generation’s heroes of the faith and culture: Galileo, Martin Luther, Copernicus, William Tyndale, Sir William Wilberforce, Anne Askew, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan of Arc and JESUS – Just to name a few. Did she just say Jesus? Yes I did. Many of the religious leaders of the day accused Jesus of blasphemy, came after him for not keeping parts of the law, and even being possessed by the devil himself.

Heresy is often a word that is hurled at a person in order to end conversation. It is a word we use when we are afraid of what the other person is saying or we are unsure of our ability to defend our position over theirs. I humbly submit that we STOP IT.   More discussion is what is needed, not less. When we brand someone a heretic and end the discussion we silence the Holy Spirit’s ability to use us to help the other or to use the other to change us. It is my experience that one can be called a heretic by some while completely embracing orthodoxy. As I said to my friend Justin, we both agree fully with the Nicene Creed even if I disagree with my him on other points not covered there. We need to STOP branding people with that word errantly and thus blowing up a bridge the Holy Spirit wants to use.

Am I saying there are not dangerous doctrines out there? Of course not. Am I saying we should not fight against them? Of course not. Am I saying we should accept every new thing that comes along? Of course not. The irony is that the people on both sides of the above debates often think the people on the other side are espousing the dangerous doctrine. And lest you think that simply going with the majority is the way to be safe, the majority has often been found to be on the wrong side of history when the Holy Spirit finally gets its way.

In conclusion, I believe we need to read, a lot; not be afraid to be in the minority when we feel like the Holy Spirit is moving; and also, let’s not be so quick to expel a fellow member of Christ’s body, discount their doctrinal differences out of hand and brand them a heretic. Let’s keep the bridges open and allow the Holy Spirit to work.  And mostly, let’s heed the words of the Apostle John, “little children, let us love one another for love comes from God.”

Who knows? We just might learn something.

Grab your Loop and Run like Hell -or- Hang Ten

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Dr. King

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker

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As I reexamined that memory on light of justice I was beginning to realize that I wasn’t being neutral at all. My lack of conviction had been an accomplice to the unequal treatment of women. My diplomacy was misguided. In my quest to maintain peace and unity, I had become a woman with a divided mind and heart.  – Pam Hogeweide, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church.

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over time, we have been sold a bill of goods on what it means to be a christian woman.  we’ve been domesticated, tamed, caged, and limited.  we haven’t been properly valued or empowered or nurtured.

so here i am, in a place i never thought i’d be. an ex good christian woman. wreaking havoc on the norms that women are supposed to have in the church, encouraging women to get their voices, pursue their dreams, quit waiting for their husbands to lead them and live a passionate life for God no matter what other people tell them they can or can’t do. to seek change for their lives, quit doing the same old unhealthy thing in their relationships and learn a new way. to seek God’s love and approval instead of human’s. it’s been hard for me to make the shift. i still feel shame for feeling this way. even as i write this, i am wondering what person is going to say how unbiblical i am, how if i just knew my role and leaned into it i would have God’s perfect peace. you see, good christian women are filled with shame. shame for the things we do do, shame for the things we don’t do. and i was a great christian superwoman. – Kathy Escobar

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Stop waiting for someone to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, that you have a place, that you are called. Stop waiting for someone else to validate the person that you already know you were made to be.  Stop holding your breath, sister, working to earn through your apologetics and memorized arguments, and your quietness, your submission and your “correct” doctrine what God has already freely given to you.

Because, darling, you are valuable. You have worth, not because of your gender or your calling or your marital status or your labels or your underlined books or your accomplishments or your checked-off tick boxes next to the job description of Proverbs 31.

I imagine them around a fabled table, in suits, no doubt, pulling the chairs in tight and tighter, until they are the only ones left there, crowded around a tiny table in an airless room that feels small and smaller. Me? I stand outside, in the wilds, banging my pots and pans, singing loud and strong, into the wind and the cold and the heavens, there is more room! There is more room! There is room for all of us! And then I’ll slide right up next to you, I’ll hook my arm through yours, I’ll lean in, I’ll whisper right into your ear, quiet, loud, it will sound like I’m singing or like I’m preaching, and I’ll say, there is room for you.  – Sarah Bessey

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At first I thought this would be a good letter to the 16 year old me and then I realized that in spite of the struggle and the difficulty and the muting, I am who I am right now for a purpose. Lovelies we were born for such a time as this. Do you get how exciting this is? Do you get how your struggle has brought you to the point where you are standing atop the surf board, salt air in your face, hanging ten as you ride toward the shore with the wave of equality and freedom at your back propelling you into a future where there is ROOM FOR US ALL?

We stand once again at the terminator of history. The terminator or twilight zone or gray line is the moving line that separates the illuminated day side and the dark night side of a planetary body. We are coming out of the darkness and sit expectantly in the gray zone, but instead of merely waiting for the light to arrive I picture us like the people who unfurl those huge flags at the Olympics opening day ceremonies. When the music starts they grab their loop on the flag and they run like hell for the other end of the field until the full beauty of the banner is visible to all.  I picture each of us, Rachel and Sarah and me and you and Pam and every woman God has made, grabbing the loops to our collective banner, yelling into the air, “FREEDOM!!! (like Mel Gibson in Braveheart)” as we run like hell for the goal line. I picture the stands full of people watching and waiting to see what kind of banner it will be. And let me tell you when it is finally displayed for all to see, when the full picture comes into view, WOW, my lovelies is it something to behold! The colors of the lives of the men and women made in Gods image bleeding together and showing a picture, the image (if you will) of God! Holy crap. Can you just picture it?

Now, imagine all of us, men and women, young and old with Jesus in the middle, our hands on the loops of the terminator of history running like hell for the horizon pulling the light of the new dawn across the whole surface of the earth. Do you hear us? Shouting and singing and proclaiming justice for the oppressed and freedom for the captives? C’mon. Grab a loop and run with us. And look! He is making all things new.

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This post is part of the Rachel Held Evans synchroblog event, One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality.  You can follow this event on Twitter by entering #mutuality2012 to read all entries by participating bloggers.