While I was growing up, I was taught never to show my anger. My parents didn’t allow children to throw tantrums, so I watched my younger siblings being beaten with a belt over and over until their wills were broken. I believe this happened to me too, because for most of my life, I have been unable to access my anger.
Growing up in an environment where I was told that “good girls don’t get angry” only caused me to absorb all kinds of abuse starting with the physical and emotional abuse doled out by my parents. I have been on a journey of healing. As I write out the stories of my childhood and reframe them, I have finally discovered my anger and my voice.
When I write about my childhood, and most ACoNs* say, “Yeah me too.” All narcissistic families have similar patterns. No matter how much we love some people there is nothing we can do unless they are willing to be honest and treat us with respect. Most ACoNs realize this will never happen because narcissists care more about being right than having a relationship and they don’t change when they get to church. This is why many church leaders wield power over others with an appalling lack of empathy.
I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Last week they held a vote over Women’s ordination to decide if different world divisions could decide for themselves about ordaining women. People from all nations voted, but some nations voted in blocks due to their local politics. The air was charged with politics and hate even to the point of booing a former president. Not only is our current world president firmly against women’s ordination, he used his position to push his own agenda on the rest of the church.
Of course the vote was no. Considering all the nations represented, I see no way it could be yes, because we are talking about nations where female mutilation is practiced and male headship is common. Such cultures ridicule the thought of woman leaders. I just had higher hopes for our American church leaders. Unfortunately, the false doctrine of male headship appears to be swaying a lot of votes despite the fact that our seminary has refuted it. For those of us who believe women are equal to men this has been a travesty.
I personally believe the vote and all the politics around it have misrepresented God’s character to the world. I believe the God who created women, also calls them. We see this in the life of Jesus from allowing to Mary to sit at His feet like a disciple, to His calling of the Samaritan woman at the well who brought her entire town to meet Jesus. When Jesus rose again, He gave the first message about the resurrection–not to John or Peter, but to Mary and ordained her to give to the men who were hiding in an upper room. It’s obvious for those willing to see that God calls women.
Since the vote a week ago, we have been told from the top down to stop talking about women’s ordination. They say the vote is over and now it’s time to get on with our lives, but that leaves a crippled church limping along by respecting only half of the members. I don’t believe it’s over until the church endorses women with equality.
This affects more than women pastors, it affects every woman in the church who has gifts to share but has been accused of usurping a man’s role for sharing Jesus. It trickles down to the little girl who wonders if God loves her as much as her brother. Despite how our leadership acts, it’s important to note God is not a narcissistic Parent–Jesus showed us by kneeling down to wash dirty feet that God cares about every person and if the Father sees a sparrow fall, how much more does He care about how a woman pastor is treated?
This last week, many of us wore black clothes and ampersands to church. The ampersand represents men & women working together–not men over women, nor women over men, but a complete and equal partnership. We wanted to show our mourning and solidarity because through this vote, fringe beliefs have hijacked our church and distorted God’s character to the world. The Seventh day Adventist church has NEVER supported male headship. It came into the church from Bill Gothard and most never dreamed this could happen.
So this week, we are regrouping. We who understand that God created Eve equal to Adam before the fall. We who understand that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and restore us back to equality. We take joy when we read Paul saying there is no male or female in Christ, yet we are now subjected to a splitting and often abusive church family who condemn us for following Jesus and our own conscience.
Several TV preachers are so against women pastors that they have been writing books and posting videos proclaiming women’s ordination is a tool of the devil. One after another of my friends–including myself, have been told we are being deceived just like Eve and under satanic influence merely for serving God with the gifts He has given us.
Jimmy Carter and the Elders who have studied this around the world say that male headship contributes to the abuse of women all over the world. Our own church seminary has refuted the practice of male headship and our historian George Knight has given us a rundown on what exactly ordination means in the video below, but few seem to be listening to his logic.
There are people who would rather see men in power than work beside women and this includes our president. Ted Wilson has gone so far as to avoid being on the platform when a woman pastor was commissioned–something already approved by the church. If he truly wants to represent Christ, then why not pray over a woman who has dedicated her entire life to serving God? Jesus laid His hands on children and blessed them, should we give women less?
Suddenly people who haven’t spoken to us for months feel a need to set us straight on our Facebook statuses. They call accuse us of being selfish or led by the devil. It would be funny if it was not real and many are relatives or old friends who feel they have the right to condemn us for not seeing it like they do. It doesn’t help that our church president is calling for us to stop talking about this and embrace unity, but how can there be unity when any part of the body is hurting? Does it not affect the rest of the body too?
The worst part is we have been told it’s over—to stop focusing on how we treat women because we need to be ready for Jesus to come. Once again, it’s God they use so they can abuse. Most ACoNs see these patterns of power over and control and recognize them for what they are, but this general lack of empathy for women is a shame for a church that says it represents Christ to the world.
In all of these attacks on women’s value, I have not lost my faith, but I have found my anger.
I am angry when Christians raise themselves above others by using the steps of Satan instead of the Steps of Jesus.
I am angry when dishonest people write books that are the 21st century equivalent to a 17th century witch hunt.
I am angry when corrupt politics invades God’s church and people are allowed to manipulate the vote and then leaders call it God’s will.
I am angry when we have a church president who shows little empathy for the pain of women and tells us to have unity while he continues to ignore our pain.
I am angry that family members have been suckered into this male headship deception and feel it is their religious duty to condemn women pastors and all who support them.
I am angry when ignorant people try to stop women from serving Jesus.
I am angry that the most important event in history (the second coming of Jesus) is being used to manipulate hurting women into silence.
And I am most angry because this vote of my church–the Seventh day Adventist church has misrepresented God’s character to the world.
So no, Elder Wilson, we will not be silent. You might have control over your cabinet, but you cannot control our hearts and thoughts. If you wish for unity, you must care about the part of the body that is hurting.
And God, in case you haven’t heard, is exactly like Jesus in character and Jesus loves and calls women.
The surge is only beginning to rise. We are many “Ezer Kenegdos”–designed, empowered and called by God.
Good girls and women get angry when we see that God has called women and our leaders will not do unto others as they would like to be treated. Yes, this misrepresentation makes us angry—the way Jesus got angry when He cleansed the temple. Mark my words. Jesus is coming physically in the future, but He has already come into the hearts of many and He is cleansing temples right now. The question our leaders need to ask themselves, is does God really see me more important than women?
Allow me to repeat this, we will NOT be silent. We are half of the army God has called and enabled to serve and even if the GC president withholds his blessing, God will continue to empower women. I have many friends around the world who are standing with us—some pledging to wear ampersands and black until this is set right. Heaven’s angels gather around us as a great crowd of witnesses.
Sure, we are staring into darkness right now, but we can see a gleam of light on the horizon. Our hearts burn within us and no one–not the president of our church, or fanatical TV preachers or the self-righteous members of our families, can stop what God ordains. You can’t hold back the dawn.
*ACoN Adult Children of Narcissists