I wish though I could go back to that young girl, sitting in that big arena with all its grandeur. I wish I could invite her to a quiet, less intense space, and tell her she may leave the church, but it will never mean she left the faith.
Christian patriarchy does not remain confined within the walls of our homes. It does not stay behind our pulpits. It cannot be peeled off suit coats like a name tag as evangelical men move from denying women’s leadership at church to accepting the authority of women at work or women in the classroom.
Throughout history, women overwhelmingly have been silenced when they’ve had a truth to tell, so much so that it felt detrimental to speak up. A waste of words. Yet Jesus, who came to make all things right, who came to overthrow power structures that demean and oppress, gave women a voice when others didn’t.
The epidemic of clergy misconduct is not only the abuse itself, but the Silence that enables the abuse to continue to exponentially harm people. While perpetrators will always exist, the damage they do can be diminished and halted with a way to break through the Silence that protects power.
“First and Only” is a leadership resource for Black women who have found themselves in the position of being the first or the only. Unlike most leadership books, my work speaks to the unique challenges that Black women face and posits that a spiritual practice is a key to liberation and sustainability.
Genesis 1:27 is significant for those of us who once were blissfully unaware of the depths of abuse in our churches, for it secures our understanding of who and what people are. Despite any theology or ideology or actions to the contrary, people are people. They are not objects.