I wanted to make sure you all know that my first book, tentatively titled Nice Churchy Patriarchy, is coming out sometime in the next few months. I’ve poured my heart and soul and mind (and seminary training) into it over the last three years, and I’m so excited to finally (almost) be able to share it with you all.
It’s a sort of memoir. And a sort of faith-based feminist manifesto. And a sort of “here’s what I learned in seminary about women and church that made a difference for me, and I want you to know it too.” (But, I hope, in a really accessible way. It isn’t an academic book.)
The first half tells a lot of stories, mostly from my twenties spent in a few different evangelical contexts, about ways patriarchy shows up in church communities, and how I reflect on these stories now. I feel like some of these ways patriarchy manifests can seem kind of subtle, like if you don’t know where to look, you might miss them entirely, or not consider them terribly important. I argue that they are important.
The second half gets more into how faith communities can do better, drawing on the rich resources of the Bible, history, and a diverse array of modern-day thinkers. I share some more stories and suggest some ways to do things like demasculinizing how we read scripture and unerasing women from church history.
The other day, a new friend unintentionally reminded me why I write about these things. He said something like this: “With things like women’s role in church and ministry, we can debate about these things but we’ll never really know one way or the other, this side of heaven.”
With nothing but respect for my new friend, I strongly disagree. Nice Churchy Patriarchy is basically a book about why I disagree, and why I feel so strongly about this.
It isn’t good enough to settle for leaving these questions unsettled. We have to sort these things out.
Our churches and our world are deeply impoverished if Christians’ ambivalence about what kinds of roles women should play keeps even one more woman from moving confidently toward what she was meant to do, from existing fully as who she was meant to be.
It’s fine if we don’t feel one hundred percent sure. It’s good to hold the conclusions we come to openly, knowing that we might be wrong. But, with all the caveats about human fallibility and the uncertainty of everything (after all, it’s good to change our minds), at the same time, we really can’t just sit around saying we’ll never know.
Women deserve better. Women don’t deserve faith communities that aren’t quite sure what to make of them, whether to consider them men’s full equals or not. We don’t deserve to be subjected to endless debates about what we should or shouldn’t be doing.
Women deserve better, and so do whole faith communities. Churches that prohibit women from leadership don’t even know what they’re missing out on.
These are some of the things Nice Churchy Patriarchy gets into. I’ll try to keep you updated on the publication process over the next few months, and I hope you’ll keep it in mind if it sounds like something you or a friend might enjoy!