After our church council made the recent decision not to hold the door open for the women to become elders and deacons (see "Let Men Get the Door" for my first post on this topic), my friend Anne suggested the main reason was because "it is easier to deal with disappointed women than angry men."
While this may seem harsh to say about the decision-making process of godly men, I think she's right (and could be right about most decisions made throughout history!). Because when I've asked about the reasons for the decision, here's a bit of what I've been told: "It's not the right time because too many people would leave" (and we're building a new church), "Where will men serve in the church if they don't have this?" and "We can't follow culture downhill."
Of the 17 out of 30 who voted against allowing women, surely one of them based his decision on Scripture (and feels comfortable defending why some verses are culturally applicable and others irrelevant), but I'll be darned if I've heard it! Instead, in this mix of offensive and ridiculous reasons, I hear echoes of some very angry male congregants who voiced their opposition to women in office during "town hall" meetings. In their rants against women in office and women in general, they made it clear, there would be hell to pay (literally) if the measure passed. (Quick note: I realize many of you reading this agree with the angry men. Great. I respect your opinion. Now, deep breath. In, out. Read on.)
The voices for women in office (and of course I am biased!) were gentler, less threatening, and apparently less impactful. So it turned out to be easier to hurt and disappoint than to stir an angry mob. Simple crowd control, as Anne suggested.
Of course, this is nothing new in the realm of decision-making. Appeasing the loud and angry is how decisions are made from Capitol Hill down to my kitchen. It's how we feign control and power. But while it's an easy method, it's not a good one - and definitely not a godly one.
While my beloved, wonderful church's decision to continue to leave gifted women outside the upper echelons of leadership has left me among the disappointed, wounded, dismayed, and very angry, it's opened my eyes a bit at toward my own decision-making processes.
How often do I still look to what's popular, to what makes the fewest ripples, or to what appeases the loudest, scariest group? How accurately do I measure "easy" against "right"? And how often do I truly allow trusting God to mean more than fearing backlash?
I'd like to say I'd make decisions differently, better, were I on my church's council. But I won't be getting that chance. At least not this year. Perhaps if we come back louder and angrier, we'll reach some hearts and heads, but I'm praying that the Holy Spirit's whispers get there first.