This past Wednesday’s worship (2/20) featured the preaching of Senior Katie Hartwell. She preached this week in connection with the student advocacy group Women in Ministry’s performance of the Vagina Monologues, held this past Friday night.
Katie preached on a passage in scripture controversial in many traditions: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, “Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”
It might seem an odd choice as it was in connection with an event denouncing violence against women, but Katie wanted to shape a conversation.
“What is important is what we have done with this text, and what we continue to do with it … This text has been used to oppress women, to keep us silent and uneducated. Many women have found their voices in the church, seeking ordination, seeking change, to live out the Scripture that in Christ there is neither male nor female. This battle has not been won … Ordaining women is one way to give women a voice in the church, but it is not enough. The ordination of one woman does not give all women a voice … 1 billion women have experienced violence. 1 billion. That is 1 in 3 women who will be raped or beaten in her lifetime … How many of our deacons, elders and pastors have been raped or beaten? 1/3 of the women in our pews each Sunday are suffering through or have survived violence. And what are we doing about it? As a Church? As a denomination? As individual congregations? What are we doing? Are we promoting their silence? … We wash over the parts of Scripture that we don’t like, the texts that even the best exegesis struggles to make sense of. We pretend they don’t exist … Imagine reading this Scripture, the Word of God, … as a woman who has been abused, is being abused or will be abused. Are we just hoping that our parishioners are not reading the bible on their own?”
Katie’s sermon was a call on all to think about who we silence and who we stick up for, a reminder of the horrible reality that our church has faced and has often ignored.
Who are you allowing to speak?