The Church of Christ Turned Me Into a Feminist

I've been looking through old posts, and I don't think I've told this story before, at least not the whole story. So here goes.

Most COC congregations have gospel meetings (i.e., revivals, but they don't use that term because the Baptists do) once or twice a year, when they invite a guest preacher to come in and preach every night for a week. When I was 6 or 7, the church invited this old Southern preacher to hold a gospel meeting.

One night during a sermon, he started yelling from the pulpit and pounding on it. He was so worked up that I actually looked up and listened to what he was saying. Mind you, up to this point in my life, I hadn't paid a bit of attention to a church sermon because they were unremittingly boring. Instead, I sat there playing with my little dolls or coloring in my Jesus or Noah's ark coloring books.

This guy had the thickest accent, so I had trouble understanding him, but I finally realized what he was saying: he denounced the women's liberation movement as being anti-Christian because women are incapable of leadership, and that's why God put men in charge. Women are required to get married, obey their husbands, and stay at home. Women who don't do this are in rebellion against God and are in danger of hell fire.

I was completely outraged. All these years later, I remember exactly what I thought: "You mean I have to marry one of these stupid boys and let him boss me around? But I'm smarter than all of them. That's not fair!" I knew in my bones that he was wrong. During my childhood in the church, I believed plenty of crazy things because I had no other frame of reference, but I never once, not for a millisecond, accepted that I was inferior in any way to a boy or man.

It would be two more decades before I would start calling myself a feminist, but the seeds were sown that night by that old unreconstructed preacher. If he knew what he had unwittingly done, I'm sure he'd be spinning in his grave right now. In some ways, I'm grateful to him. It's better that they put their ugly misogyny front and center, instead of couching it in the language of benign paternalism as many COC preachers do, so you know exactly what you're dealing with.


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