Paraphrasing Augustine: The Church Hates Women, And It Is My Mother

After the horror of the Santa Barbara shootings, there’s a plethora of articles now on misogyny, violence, and naming the problem. I can read those. There are also a lot of articles, secular and Christian, on the inevitability of male violence and further female subjugation that comes from patriarchal/masculinist — “complementarian,” in Christian terminology — theology, which I and other Christian feminists contend is an affront to the Gospel.

These, I can’t read. Not today. Not for awhile.

The damage wrought by my Church — by the masculinists within and the people within who don’t give a damn or who are too afraid of “getting it wrong” to speak the truth — is incalculable. It looks nothing like Jesus, makes a mockery of his message, and yet represents him to a watching, waiting world. The Gospel is more important to me than anything in this world. Contending for justice between females and males is at the heart of it; the message and person of Christ overturns all evil, and patriarchy is the worst. I live to speak and defend Christ’s work, and do it with all my strength. I am a radical feminist because I am a radical Christian; to me, the Gospel demands nothing less than an uncompromising hatred of patriarchy. Because it kills women. Because it sucks the spirit, courage, wisdom, and strength out of women. Because it gleefully rejoices in our destruction.

My heart, though, is overburdened — broken, clouded, in need of a Sabbath. The story I share with every single other girl-become-woman in the world, albeit to a lesser degree than others of my sisters, is a lifelong reminder that the rulers of this world wish me harm, feed on my harm. I saw the Church look away when it wasn’t applauding, and I feared and was suspicious of the God it proclaimed, the God I now know is neither male nor female, yet both Mother and Father.

Some other time I’ll write about the details of my conversion in the Spring of 1981; that’s not for now. For now, I trust the God I encountered in the New Testament, my Savior Jesus Christ, and while I fear many of those in his Church and distrust most of the rest, seeing that those who want me to call them “brother” are entirely satisfied with the oppression of their sister, I acknowledge that the Church is, faithful or not, my people.

And today, probably for tomorrow, probably for a long time, the sins of my people toward my sisters are too many, too much, for me to explore again. Maybe it saps my strength for the fight; maybe it’s just horrifyingly repetitive. Or maybe I’m just embarrassed, ashamed — the Body of Christ, actively supporting the oppression of and harm against its own sisters, ignoring or defending the nightmare women and girls everywhere make their way in, as omnipresent as the oxygen we breathe.

Today, I think, I need rest from confirmation that my people care so little. I need to draw, drum, sing, sleep, and pray — because there is much to proclaim.

That “abolish patriarchy” thing? The Christian can, and must, joyfully blame it on Jesus . . .

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