Women in Ministry Series: In Which We Have a Frank Chat About My Marital Status

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Today’s guest blogger is Amy Young, who writes at The Messy Middle:

“Why are you single?” I don’t know how often married people are asked why they are married, but I have a feeling it is less often than singles are asked the reasons behind their marital status.

It’s often followed up with “Are your standards too high? Have you been hurt? What vibes are you putting out?” Yes, to my face, out loud, these questions come. Sometimes condescendingly, other times in genuine wonder, trying to put together my awesomeness with my singleness.

My answer varies depending on my mood and depth of relationship. But in my rawest, most honest moments I say:

I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.

This is a loaded claim. I get it. And because we are walking into rather polarizing territory it often ends here.

Yes, I am a Christian, a woman, and a leader. But it didn’t happen in that order.

Born a girl, I bear God’s image in my body, my gene set, my very being. I entered the scene a first child, the first grandchild on both sides, and the first niece to my aunt. All children should know such anticipation, joy, and celebration at their mere being. Amy means beloved and I was. And I am.

I did not have words to express it as a child, but I knew I was a leader. There is a snapshot from those early days where I am dressed as Santa (if Santa wore a Gilligan’s Island hat and taped-on paper beard). My sisters are reindeer and kneel by my side, one on the right and the other on my left. We smile at the camera and I have a hand around their necks reaching under each chin, lifting their heads towards our mother. Santa, guiding her reindeer into the perfect pose.

I became a Christian early on, around age six. Even so, I had six years of being a girl and several years of leading in some form by that point.

It wasn’t until college – long after I had been leading in age appropriate ways for an emerging young woman – that I hit the Christian glass ceiling. It stung, surprised, confused, and at times angered me.

Nevertheless, I continued to grow as a female, as a leader, and as a Christian. Part of my journey involved getting an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and moving to China to teach. I was 27, old enough to have a little life experience, but young enough not to be threatening.

At that time, there weren’t many people with MA’s in TESL so after two years I was asked to become the Curriculum Director for our organization. Part of my responsibility was to educate all new personnel on the basics of teaching in China. How to write a lesson plan, put together a semester long syllabus, handle discipline and be salt and light.

Here I will make two more loaded claims:

1. If you marry before 30 your skills seems less threatening to Christian men.

2. There is a difference between having leadership skills and an actual leadership position.

Like many choices life offers, I didn’t fully realize what I was saying yes to when I stepped into public leadership at age 29. I now know that I was most likely trading leadership for partnership and that, though still beloved by many, I became threatening to potential “pursuers” because of the heavy and mixed messages sent about gifting, submission, headship, and gender. As my leadership blossomed into spiritual realms I became even more like kryptonite to some (both men and women): scary and powerful. It’s also confusing because it’s clear I’m good at what I do and people are drawn to me.

So, returning to the question as to why I am single, there is no simple, easy answer; but I do believe that, in part, it is because I am a woman and a leader and didn’t marry before it became apparent that I was not a behind-the-scenes leader but an up-front, out-loud, follow-me one.

I am an aunt to four of the most amazing girls. I have to be careful here because I can turn into a blubbering idiot, I love them that fiercely (and no, it’s not because I’m single and they are “like my children,” they are not my children, they are my nieces. It’s because they are awesome. Period. Full stop.). As I watch them grow I see different aspects of leadership in them and potential paths they may take.

I pray that they will stay on the Christian path and that both men and women will be drawn to their giftings and power. And if they want to marry, at whatever age, they will find a man secure enough in who he is to love and celebrate who they are.

I embrace the reality of limits and understand that we all have limits placed on us (though I still buck at them and wish I could have it all). I am a Christian, I am a woman, I am a leader, I am single and I have such a rich life it’s hard to imagine any other!

About Today’s Blogger

Amy YoungAmy Young  has made her home in China for more than 15 years and has not let the distance impede her passion for the Denver Broncos or the Kansas Jayhawks. She’s a consultant, trainer and writer. She blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj.

 

About the Women in Ministry Series

The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to:

  • Provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry.
  • Encourage women to explore their God-given callings.

Contributions Welcome: Contact Ed to pitch your post idea in 2-4 sentences.

You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list. (You also get a free E-book!)

Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome to leave a comment. However, this series takes for granted that women are called by God into every facet of ministry. This is not the place to debate that point and such comments will be removed.Women have been told “no” in far too many places. This is one place that is committed to saying “yes.” For more about the comment policy or submitting your own story, read here.

Next Week’s Blogger: Renee Ronika Klug

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109 thoughts on “Women in Ministry Series: In Which We Have a Frank Chat About My Marital Status

  1. Pingback: Risky post {at least I feel a bit exposed} « The Messy Middle

  2. Stephanie Spencer

    Love this, Amy! Thank you for your courage to write this post. It is inspiring to see a woman confident in her path, even with the potential downsides that have come with it. I appreciate the way you opened yourself up today.

    (And, in case you are interested, though I am a female leader who married before her 30s, it still brings questions about gifting, headship, & gender. Like the time my husband and I were invited to the “Pastors and their Wives” conference…)

  3. Tracy Steel

    Amy-I am cheering you on! I can relate to your story. I turned 30 and was in a full time paid leadership position at my church, had gone to seminary, and was seriously SINGLE. Some of the women around me were supportive, others were concerned that I was to busy in ministry/to intimidating and that I would miss my husband. Some of the men told me I was to intimidating… God had to nurse my broken heart ALOT, but I knew what He was calling me to do and be. A couple years later, a man (who was not connected with our church) came along and asked me to marry him 4 1/2 months later. I didn’t need to change a thing. I was single until God brought Chad into my life. It is that simple.:)

    So you keep being who God calls you to be. Blessings on your ministry Amy! One more thing, I went to Kansas State, so I am going to pray that God will help you overcome your love for those nasty JayHawks. :)
    Tracy Psalm 73:25-26

  4. Holly

    Amy, this is incredibly bold and beautiful…just like you :) Thank you for sharing from a very vulnerable and real place. What you expressed here gives women hope, courage and peace about being who the Father is calling them to be, regardless of marital status. Keep LEADING courageously, because that’s where you SHINE!!

  5. Andrea

    Thank you, Amy. beautifully and powerfully stated. Loved this phrase about people not being able to put together “my awesomeness and my singleness.” May the Lord continue to bless you in both!

  6. Vicki

    Amy, as a single woman and former single’s director, I used to tell women that maybe they are single because they are making good choices…doing something right…not because there is something wrong with them (as they would sometimes feel.) Your post reminds me of the moment I said it and the freedom they experienced. Thanks for sharing your own story. It screams of reality and of hope.

  7. Jen

    Oh man, I love this series! And it raises my hackles in a big way. I cannot fathom asking a person why she is single, or what vibes she’s putting out. That simply confounds me. It also confounds me, as a married female Christian leader, that there are men in the world unlike my husband who never questioned the way God made me, but embraced all of it. He is also a strong leader, but there has never been any kind of gender nonsense.i want to live in a world where a single woman who kicks butt can do so without have her identity devalued. Without having the way she was created questioned by mere humans Grr. Thanks for sharing Amy, and I am so happy to meet you. And big ups to
    Ed for this series.

    1. ed Post author

      Exactly Jen. This is such an important post. It defies easy answers and black and white analysis. It taps into what remains unsaid but is heavily implied behind many things that are said, done, or left undone. This is real life at its most complicated and wonderful as a daughter of God stands firm in her calling. I’m very grateful for Amy.

  8. Stephanie

    Oh my, oh my!! I’m living in Laos, working with YOUR organization :) I’m so excited to see one of us blogging here–definitely checking out your other stuff. Really appreciate your thoughts here– thinking maybe I should print this out for those questions that are sure to come this summer!

    Blessings!

  9. Judith Hougen

    “I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.” Wow, Amy, that’s very insightful and true, I think. I myself am single, and I’ve taught for nearly 20 years at an Evangelical college. Another female colleague and I compare notes all time about how the majority of the smartest, most interesting, mature, and well adjusted young women in our department–many of whom have leadership skills as well–graduate from our school without being asked out once. That kryptonite thing starts early. The message is that if you’re highly intelligent and seeking to become all you can be, you are less attractive to young Christian men. Fortunately, the majority of these young women immerse themselves in relationships and activities they find satisfying and end up loving their time at college. And these women need role models like you–thanks for speaking about your experience in such an articulate and vulnerable way.

    1. ed Post author

      Thanks for dropping by Judith. Heartbreaking stuff. Women like you and Amy are worthy of so much respect and honor.

      There’s another angle to this that’s worth exploring. I wonder what dowe make of the men who don’t feel like leaders who maybe need a woman who has stronger leadership gifts in general? There are a lot of ways in which I look to my wife for spiritual direction and wisdom. I rarely think of myself as leading anything, and to be honest, I don’t talk about that. Does that make sense? Does inability to lead create a similar struggle for men if they aren’t able to accept it? Just thinking out loud here and probably rambling too much!

      1. Judith Hougen

        Ed, you make a good point! Conservative Christian culture can put a lot of pressure on these young men to step up and always be leaders, even if some of them are not gifted in that way. Some are not approaching the young women I speak of because of their own identity and esteem issues, which are often fueled by the culture. And the message can be not just that you’re failing some cultural expectation but that you’re failing God as well–the stakes are very high! The sad part is that instead of modeling for these young men and women a way of being in Christ together in the world, we hand them roles to fit themselves into. In fact, the whole conversation about gender on our campus–which should be a beautiful and expansive dialogue–has become almost solely about roles, which is very confining and reductionistic. Okay, now I’m rambling!

      2. Jen

        I have witnessed the expectations my girlfriends’ have for their husbands as leaders. When I was first married, I myself struggled with not understanding why my marriage did not fit the traditional mold. I grew up in a conservative home where the husband has the final decision. I spent my college years surrounded by Elizabeth Elliott and “men are the spiritual leaders of the family”. And then I married a man who didn’t believe our genders determined our roles but our strengths and weaknesses did. He did not believe one of us submitted to the other but that we both submitted to Christ. He believed that sometimes he would take the lead and sometimes I would and that most importantly we were partners. It was confusing to me and left me wondering if he was a strong enough Christian man, the male headship idea so ingrained in me. But my husband was the first to encourage me as a leader, listened to my ideas and saw the value in my mind. He stood beside me when I was called out for not submitting to our small group leaders when I questioned what they said in Bible study. He listened to me vent my frustration at sitting through another meeting of the church leadership team, of which I was a member, where my ideas were devalued because one of the pastors did not believe women should be in authority over men. I wonder what would have happened to me if I had married a man who believed differently. I wonder what would have become of me if I hadn’t held those traditional roles so tightly as a young woman.

        1. Ali J Griffiths

          Jen: It takes an immense strength of character to stand against the flow of Christian conservative culture. Sounds as if your man is very much a leader – a pioneer of equality.

        2. Ali J Griffiths

          Bisch – this is a particular interpretation of scripture you are talking about and it is not the issue we are talking about here nor one that many of us would agree with. There are other places online to debate this – that’s not what the purpose of this series is for.

  10. HopefulLeigh

    Oh my gracious, Amy. Those questions! Those [insert expletive of choice] questions. I hate when people ask me why I’m single or offer their prescription for what I’ve done “wrong.” I hate the implication that we’re less than simply because we don’t have a spouse. And I hate that an ability to lead can call so many things into question, when we should really be supporting one another in our gifting and talents regardless of gender or marital status.

    I may not be in a leadership position currently but I so get all of this and I hate that I do. Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. ama mansa

    I love this! i’m 27 will be 28 by december. i’m a christian, i’m a woman, i’m a leader and i’m single and i love this!

  12. LongLostFriend

    Thanks for sharing your views on this.

    It is unclear to me whether you are in the “giftedly celibate” camp or are still hoping for/open to marriage at some point.

    As a Christian man, I would point a couple of things that struck me:

    1. You claim that it is your leadership that makes you kryptonite to Christian men. In my experience, there are a lot of Christian women who are leaders and are married at the same time. The key to success in those marriages, as I have seen them, is that the wife does not see the marriage as another domain in which she is to take on the headship role.

    2. One thing you seem to have left out are the opportunity costs of the choices you have made. Obviously, the number of eligible Christian men declines over time due to the fact that they will marry other women. The question becomes whether you made yourself accessible and available to marriage-minded Christian men. Again, if marriage was never a high priority for you, that is understandable. It is just hard to imagine how a woman who directs her life so completely toward an INDEPENDENT pursuit of her career and her calling can express any level of wonderment at the fact that marriage hasn’t fallen into her lap.

    1. Vicki

      I find your reply interesting. It seemed Amy addressed your first point as she chose not to marry before her leadership became a predominant focus in her career. Both in her life and in my own I would say that definitely seems to make marriage more difficulty.

      In your answer, you assume that she would embrace the same understanding of headship as you do. My sense is that most women leaders would understand headship as a description but not prescription for the marriage relationship. Instead, they would understand marriage as an equal partnership between men and women.

      Lastly, there are costs to following Jesus as a woman leader. What you mention is true. I wish it were different, but the pool of men does become limited as we follow our calling as women and leaders. Interestingly, I wonder if you would give the same critique of men as they chose to similarly follow their careers?

      1. LongLostFriend

        “Interestingly, I wonder if you would give the same critique of men as they chose to similarly follow their careers?”

        Good question, Vicki. I would call men to the same level of self0reflection and introspection that I did above. If the man were celibate and not marriage-minded, then that is one thing. If the manner in which he was pursuing his ministry was not leaving any room to court and marry and be a biblical husband, that would be an entirely different matter.

        I will point out that it is somewhat rare to see single men in leadership roles in Christian ministry, though. Biblical qualifications for elders mention wives, which many see as a requirement (Paul’s own celibacy notwithstanding). In any case, there seems to be a general mistrust of men who do not have wives (and often children) when it comes to placing them in roles of leadership.

        Men, however, do not feel the effects of shrinkage of the candidate pool as quickly as women do. I wonder if a 23- or 24-year-old man would be on Amy’s radar as a potential husband. A man Amy’s age isn’t as likely to reject someone six or seven years younger as a potential wife. Unfair? Maybe, but the reality is that we do not get to choose what “the other half” finds appealing or attractive or comfortable.

        Lastly, lest anyone bring up that no one looks askance at men for being 30-35 and single, I would have to respond that there is no shortage of sermons and Christian leaders (and secular voices as well) shaming men who have chosen not to marry, calling them to “man up and marry her!”

        The bottom line is that Christians seeking to get married have to deal with two realities: the rules that the Bible lays down for Christian marriage, and the society’s customs that will influence the single person (and, just as importantly, his/her potential mates) to greater or lesser degrees. The question is whether or not following our specific ministries calling necessitates removing ourselves from the radar of marriage-minded members of the opposite sex.

        1. Ncumisa

          “… I would have to respond that there is no shortage of sermons and Christian leaders (and secular voices as well) shaming men who have chosen not to marry, calling them to “man up and marry her!” ” – these calls are not directed at all men who have chosen not to marry. They are generally directed at Christian men who will date a woman for years (or several women for years) & never marry her because they are waiting for a better option to come along.

    2. ed Post author

      Just a reminder that this series is not a place to debate headship or leadership roles. The assumption going in is that women and men are fully equal before God in every way. So I’m not going to debate your point. We’re just going to assume that if you were implying that equality in a marriage is a problem, then you’re just wrong. If you want to debate that, you can start your own blog and hammer away at it. I don’t want to sidetrack the other important parts of this conversation. Any comments that try to open the debate about the full equality of women will be deleted. I’m not sure what you intended to say in your comment, but it’s on the line, if not over it.

      1. LongLostFriend

        I just happened across this blog because a single woman I know posted a link to this article on her Facebook page.

        It wasn’t my intention to debate the continuing validity of Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 when it comes to roles within marriage. I assumed (wrongly, perhaps) that we were on the same page here. if that is the case, we can just disagree on that one without you having to censor my points. I am much too busy to start my own blog on the matter and “hammer away at it.” :)

        I will argue, however, that it IS an important part of this conversation, if only because a lot of eligible Christian men who are willing to say “I do” are going to say “I won’t” to a woman who views submission within marriage as a hateful and antiquated notion. Whether you view this as right or wrong, it is a reality that must be considered by Christian women in ministry.

    3. suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

      LLF, there is something off-putting and dismissive about your closing line (and more). your attitudes and assumptions seems to sadly prove her thesis.

      amy, thank you for sharing your story. i’ve seen echoes of this many times myself. mainstream media identifies a “marriage problem” among well-educated women anyway, but you throw christianity’s ambivalence and discomfort with female leadership, and the situation becomes even more disheartening.

      ed, thank you again for giving space to these important conversations.

    4. JeanELane

      Its funny because it sounds like you are assuming that all women want to be married. What if. . . they don’t! It also sounds like you don’t believe that God could put the right man in a woman’s life without her direct, overt involvement. Read what Tracy Steele writes above at June 1 9:19 am.

      I applaud what Amy wrote, and all the responses. It takes courage of a sort to say what you think. And Ed makes a safe place for that. I love this blog!

      1. LongLostFriend

        I didn’t assume that at all. I qualified my statements in the second sentence of my post. Some are celibate by calling or choice. The words that follow do not apply in those cases.

    5. Cynthia

      LLF: One of the points you’re missing is that a man would’ve never written a truthful post where he realized his marital status was impacted by his being 1)a Christian, 2)a man and 3)a leader. Those of us women who went to seminary for more than a M.R.S. degree have largely remained single, even as we have struggled to be faithful to God’s calling in our life in the midst of a very unfaithful church.

      1. LongLostFriend

        Wow, Cynthia. You stating that a MAN would have never written such a thing reveals a pretty big bias there. “Never”? Really?

        But, as I mentioned in my reply (and as Paul Vander Klay mentions below in the experience of his single seminary classmate), a man is more likely to have to write a “truthful post” about how being single provides obstacles to leadership in ministry than a post about how being a leader in ministry is an obstacle to getting married.

      2. Ali J Griffiths

        @Cynthia: I can think of two male friends who could certainly write something similar to what Amy has written. Single men in ministry have (wrongly) many critics as well.

    6. Pam

      LLF, I don’t think you understand how hurtful your second point is and how much it tells us single women that we’re wrong and it’s all our fault. I was involved in the Christian group at my first university – I went to the weekly talks (sometimes twice a week), I was in bible studies, I went to the mid year conferences, I hung out with people from the Christian group when I wasn’t in class. I got on with everyone, everyone was friendly to me. Nobody asked me out. Ever. I didn’t act either standoffish or desperate, so I don’t think there’s anything I specifically did to scare guys away.
      Marriage has never been my top priority, but I would like it. But I haven’t waited around – I’ve lived my life. And if being ‘independent’ (i.e. not sitting waiting for a man to turn up) scares guys away, well I guess those guys just aren’t worth my time.

      1. LongLostFriend

        I wouldn’t say that this situation is “all your fault.” I will be among the first to say that contemporary evangelicalism is very emasculating and makes many guys so afraid of being “not nice” that they won’t even ask women out out of fear of being offensive.

        But the title of this post is “A Frank Chat,” so I think it is worthwhile to encourage reflection instead of only to be a cheerleader. I certainly bear no ill will to you or to Amy, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything you could have done differently.

        Obviously I was not a witness to your university days, so perhaps you could answer couple of questions for me:

        If you are an independent, “leader” type who doesn’t mind bucking tradition, why did that not extend to asking guys out in whom you yourself were interested?

        You were not standoffish or desperate, but how did you indicate interest in men to whom you were attracted? I am not suggesting that you had to make the first move, but how did you let a guy know that you were open to pursuit by him?

        The last sentence is revealing of what I think is at the core of this problem: the explicit or implicit idea that “a man turning up” is a passive thing that God will bring about in his own timing. Of course, God is sovereign over all things, and sometimes he will surprise us in this way, but he generally works through the natural order.

        In other words, you wouldn’t have waited for a college degree to just fall in your lap from heaven. Ministry/leadership usually is something that someone grows into after much time and effort. He/she doesn’t just wake up and find themselves managing a huge enterprise. People who want jobs don’t idly sit on the sidelines and wait for God to bring them one. Why is it, then, in the realm of courtship and marriage, so many Christian women take this mystical view that they must passively wait as they go about their other business, never taking responsibility for taking action toward the goal of marriage if that is indeed what they want?

        Amy blames men for “not being able to handle” her leader-like self. She asserts that as a woman, she bears God’s image in her body (and men don’t?). The whole post is pretty man-shaming, holding us collectively responsible for her marital status.

        I will readily agree that there is more to being a female follower of Christ than being a wife, but the post shows a complete lack of any questioning of how her own actions and attitudes may be self-defeating when it comes to becoming one.

        1. Pam

          LLF,
          I’m a bit of a contradiction, in that I’m fairly stubbornly independent but also an introvert. I guess that is a bit of a cop-out answer as to why I didn’t ask any guys out, but it’s an accurate one. Also, of the handful of guys I was attracted to at different times during uni, some of them were dating other people, so obviously I wouldn’t say anything in that situation.

          On passivity and pursuing relationships, there is still a strong influence of the traditional men must be the ones to approach in Christian circles. I’ve heard Christian guys say they would not like a woman to ask them out. So it all gets a little awkward. Obviously sitting waiting for Prince Charming to knock on my door ain’t gonna work. But will I scare someone away if I ask them out? How do I find the balance between not hiding away waiting for a fantasy and not running after guys screaming ‘why won’t you love me?’. Exaggerating for hyperbole, of course, but finding the right way to approach all this is hard, especially if, like me, you’re not the most gifted at interpersonal relationships.

          1. LongLostFriend

            Pam:

            Both reasons you gave had to do with something about your own personality or the current relationship status of the men you found attractive. I am glad you are honest about that, but I fail to understand why you would fault men for not adjusting to your quirks and asking you out anyway, rather than working on self-improvement in those areas.

            With regard to finding the balance between pursuing the man and completely sitting on the sidelines, that is beyond the scope of a single post here. Suffice it to say that there are ways that women can demonstrate interest without resorting to full-on aggressiveness or even direct pursuit. You may not be gifted at it, but that doesn’t make something impossible; you will just have to work harder at it for a while than a woman to whom it comes naturally. Do a Google search. I found this page in thirty seconds and, as a man, I find this to be good advice:

            http://www.sensationizer.com/2010/01/how-to-show-guy-youre-interested-in-him.html

            The bottom line is this: you cannot change men to make them find attractive what you want them to find attractive, just like I cannot demand that women want me no matter what I am like. Christian men, by and large, do not mind “strong” women, but the concepts “fiercely independent” and “one flesh” are pretty contradictory.

            One needs to be careful in concluding “God just made me that way,” because there are lots of things that are pretty core in each of our personalities that God, in his mercy, works to eliminate in us as we are sanctified.

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  14. Andi

    Thank you, Amy, for your honesty and strength here. I’m with you on so many of these things, and it is so easy for so many people, including ourselves, to think there is something “wrong” with us if we are not married. But as a wise, male, Christian, married friend pointed out to me the other day, Paul puts not being married as the ideal. I’m not sure I love that because I’m not sure I want to be single my whole life, but I do wish we would stop assuming that if we are single we are flawed. Thank you, you lovely woman you.

  15. Peggy

    Well said, sister! The questions were just as painful more than 30 years ago, but there wasn’t this kind of support and encouragement. So grateful for you and your story! I had given over to God my desire for marriage and children at 35 … and found myself married at 36. I also have friends who never did marry — and I am grateful they have been free to accept that gift.

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  18. Lynn

    Thanks for sharing this Amy. I think you are spot on with your assessment. I too am all three. I’m open to marriage, but believe that I have been given certain gifts by the Lord and called to another part of the world to use them. That limits the number of men who might be interested in me in a lot of ways, but it does not limit our God. In some ways, ignoring that call to wait for “Mr. Right” to come along (to my mind) would have been sin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. It needs to be raised more often.

  19. Tanya Marlow

    I loved this post and I love your blog. You write so powerfully and engagingly.

    I have an uncomfortable feeling that you may be right in your assessment. That kind of sucks – and yet I give thanks that you are so gifted and obedient to God’s call. AND awesome, obviously.

    Much love

  20. gloriaslee

    Thanks Amy for this post!!!! one of the best I’ve read on the subject! i’ve been in ministry for almost 20 years, and I almost left ministry 3 times in the past for this reason… I had been told that the parents wouldn’t take me seriously because I was single and didn’t have any children in Children & Family ministry–which was probably the hardest since my whole life had been about educating and supporting parents in raising kids to love God!

    So much what you said totally resonated w/ me… even being a Jayhawks fan… I grew up in Kansas with 4 aunts/uncles that are KU alumns… and was indoctrinated to be a die-hard KU fan too!!!! :) thanks for writing a very honest piece on this! love it!

  21. Charlotte

    Amy, thank you so much for writing this. I’m a Christian woman who has been called pastoral ministry, and the singleness issue is something that rattles around in my head a lot. I’m 26 and single, and as I watch a lot of my friends get married, I get into this bad head space where I’ll start to wonder what’s wrong with me that’s causing me to be single. I’ve never even been asked out on a date. I start to wonder if it’s because I’m too loud, I’m not submissive, too independent. Maybe my calling is keeping me single? I worry that the fact I don’t want to have children will scare a lot of guys away. Thank you for pulling these thoughts out of my head and writing them out.

  22. Amy @ themessymiddle

    It’s now Saturday morning in China and what a wonderful discussion to wake up to! Ed, again, thank you for creating the space that allows for these discussions. When I was considering this post, your clear boundaries on what would and would not be allowed were a comfort.

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  24. Paul Vander Klay

    Fascinating. I was one of three single guys in my seminary class during seminary. I got married mid way through, another after graduation, and the third entered the ministry as a single man. It was interesting watching how singleness as a man impacted his being a senior pastor. A lot of people either wanted to fix him up, or had questions about his orientation. He married after a few years at his first church.

    I can very much believe, however, that leading probably enlarged his “fishing pool” rather than limited it. I can also believe it works the other way with women.

    There is a lot of discussion among African American women that echoes some of this as well. Strong community leaders, sometimes making more money and succeeding in business than the man, and then the complaint about their options.

    Thanks for sharing this. pvk

  25. Ali J Griffiths

    Fantastic testimony Amy and I think you are probably right about scaring men off. It does seem exceptionally difficult to watch your wife take up a leadership position especially when you are used to leading yourself – how many leaders will step aside for anyone let alone their wife? My husband is doing what he is convinced is right for me but it still causes him to grit his teeth when he’s called ‘Mr Ali’ – he continues to work through it this whole area – it’s not easy at times.

    1. Peggy

      Hahaha … took me back to the years I was in pastoral ministry. Of the 10 pastors, three of us were women … and our husband’s had an interesting time with the whole “pastor’s wife” culture. Yeah, can you say awkward?

      All three of us yearned for a “wife” who did for our ministries what our colleague’s wives did for theirs. All our husbands worked full time jobs that pulled the lion’s share of support for our families. It was a tough time for our three sons….

      And, by the way, when I married at 36 … my husband was 27. It is a great thing to have a young dad for our boys — I was 39, 42 and 45 when I birthed them.

      There were times when it would have been much easier to serve without the entanglements and demands of a family … but, then, these three awesome boys would never have been gifted to the world by God…

      Whether married or single, it needs to be received from God as a gift in order to be the powerful witness it is intended.

      Be blessed

      1. Ali J Griffiths

        Thanks Peggy – I also have three children – now ages 14, 12 and 9. My husband is financially supporting us as well.
        There have been so many times I’ve wanted to walk away and it’s my husband who tells me ‘NO! This is what God has called you to do so do it!’ and all the time he has to deal with the reality of being a man in a culture that, frankly, can’t cope with him.
        It’s a journey for him as well – he’s led churches himself so it’s a new experience to be the pastor’s spouse!
        It’s strange though – in the secular world other men say ‘Wow! That’s great’ when he tells them what his wife does and it has led him into some great conversations about faith and in the Christian circles men look horrified and unnerved – he thinks the main problem is that they fear being in his shoes. If God can call him (very much the alpha male type!) to do this then there’s the horrifying possibility God might ask the same of them!!

  26. Bristol @ DiligentLeaves

    Hmm, thanks for your post, Amy! I think it is courageous and valuable. I’m really chewing on your idea that if you were 2/3 of those things, you would be married… I’ll be pondering that one for a while.
    I love that you were willing to share this part of your story here, and I love how deeply it sounds like you’re inhabiting your calling and vocation. Thanks for living with integrity and being the kind of female religious leader we need!

  27. Christina

    Great post and I suspect you are exactly right as to the answer to your question. My situation is slightly different in that I’m a divorced mom but I’ve been on the receiving end of a number of questions similiar to the ones you have gotten. Personally I’m not in a leadership role but I am an educated woman and I like to discuss ideas, politics, etc. I’ve been told by several people things like I’m intimidating, scary, etc. It’s just been generally suggested that I’d be less likely to continue to be single if I was less vocal in my thoughts. To me that’s like telling me I have to be someone else in order to attract a man. I refuse to buy into that. And yes it would be much easier to not be single if we weren’t Christian. That requirement weeds out a lot of the pool of available men…

  28. Connie

    Interesting: by my count, apart from Ed, out of the myriad responses, only 4 are from men praising the post or thanking Amy for writing it, even if also challenging her. That may or may not mean anything; I just couldn’t help but notice it.

    “Why are you single?” happens to be near the top of my least favorite questions list, for reasons that only partially overlap with Amy’s, but especially since a) the first answer is “Well, I’d be married today if my fiance had not died” and b) it triggers so much from the majority-of-my-life spent believing I wasn’t worth anything (inculcated by a “Christian”-but-abusive upbringing) and experiencing relationship failure. And since relationally alone = failure in our culture, it’s like saying, “Why have you failed?”

    1. Amy @ themessymiddle

      Connie, I get what you are saying about messages from our culture. I am on a campaign (albeit, small) to put additional messages out there that say the definition of success is not tied to marriage but to growth and health and deep rich relationships! Your story is a great reminder that there is SO much more going on than we/I stop and remember.

      1. Ali J Griffiths

        I joined you on that campaign a while ago as well Amy. You are also doing a massive service to married women as well by emphasising this as well – marriage in the Christian world can be a suffocating experience where one half (the wife) of the partnership is subsumed into the other half (the husband).
        Our identity is in Christ alone and deep rich relationships are possible outside the bonds of marriage – look at Jesus! Look at Paul!
        I have always found it incomprehensible that the focus in churches is on marriage rather than friendship. Marriages are for our earthly time only – one day they will cease altogether so why the insistence that they are the most crucial part of a church family? Everyone who is married now will be single one day. Churches don’t talk about that.

  29. Nicole

    As an almost-30 year old single Christian woman, this was good to read. I’m starting seminary in the fall and some friends have commented “ooh! Maybe you’ll meet someone there!.” I just kind of smile but know in the back of my mind that such an occurence is not likely.

    I’m ok with (and often absolutely love) my singleness. If it is in God’s plan for me to marry, I trust the man is one who will not be intimidated by my independence and strength. I embrace Godly humility but will not become weak in order to attract a man.

    And, I’m rambling. Thanks for a great post. :)

  30. Amy @ themessymiddle

    Nicole, I have to start with a smile and a knowing head tilt. I couldn’t include everything in my post (well, no duh!), but an additional part of my story is that I was in the States for three years from age 36-39 (a different age bracket than you). I met many wonderful people and have developed some deep, rich relationships from that time — so I don’t want to say that finding a husband ‘might not’ happen, but, as you say, not a given. I loved seminary. Loved, loved, loved it. Enjoy the space and time in your life for this opportunity to study.

  31. ed Post author

    This post has been linked to by a blogger who seeks to malign Amy and to mock the purpose of this series. I have removed the trackback and have already deleted one comment that is clearly a result of his work. I’m sick and tired of Christian men pretending to defend the church from “feminism” or whatever it is they imagine. These men are bullies who are needlessly attacking women. They are not welcome at this site and they will be blacklisted if they persist. If they want to spew negativity and sarcasm, they can pollute their own blogs with it.

    1. Peggy

      Thank you, Ed, for protecting this important conversation. Very interesting the amount of buzz created by Amy’s story, eh?

      You may be tired of saying it, but this is a great thing you are doing….

    2. Vicki

      Ed, your responses and willingness to come alongside and safeguard the vulnerable sharing of us women is like water to a dry land. I am touched by your responses and it has made me realize how little men have done this for me and others. You have no idea how much this means to me and the others who are reading your blog.

  32. Miles O'Neal

    Ma’am, you rock. I never understood questions like, “Why are you [still] single?”
    Nor have I ever understood men who would not marry a powerful woman (outside of that ll too large, sad par of the Church who thinks women mustn’t lead).
    In each congregation of which we’ve been a part, I always considered what most called “the pastor and his wife” to be “our pastors”. I’ve been “corrected” on that. I’ve discovered that “correction” doesn’t always take.
    I’m glad you are willing )hopefully content!) to just be you. That’s who God made you to be, and contrary to popular beliefe *within the Church, though most would deny that*, God does not make mistakes.
    You. Rock.

  33. Jon

    I am a single man in leadership,and am constantly harassed,I mean asked,about why I’m not married. Do they think I cannot serve Jesus as a single man? I don’t get it.
    It seems the challenges of men and women are different in trying to find a quality spouse,but with God’s help it can be done.

    1. Amy @ themessymiddle

      Jon, I too, have often wondered about this. I work mostly with married men and single women — but few single men or married women. I have been known to ask this question probably more than people would like. Thanks for your question!

  34. Rebekah

    Thank you for sharing your post, Amy! I appreciate the gentle (yet bold) way you expressed your thoughts and experiences. It is my hope that as I continue to grow into whatever version of ‘strong, Christian woman’ identity God has for me, that I can find a way to be comfortable in my own skin and set free from some of the stereotypes we receive about how Christian women ‘should’ be and whether or not it is acceptable for them to be leaders. (I have a leadership role at my job…it was clearly a blessing from the Lord, and I love it! Like you said, there is that around 30 tipping point where if you haven’t met someone and then you move into leadership, you face new challenges and perceptions.) Simultaneously, I’d like to maintain respect and genuine fellowship with my friends who have married, had children, and embraced the conservative evangelical majority viewpoint about men and women. The tension is there, though. How to respect them AND stand up for what I’m called to do, which seems to be dramatically different. :)God’s grace and joy to you, Amy!

    1. Amy @ themessymiddle

      Oh Rebekah, you ask some good questions at the end. That’s pretty much the place I’ve been in for most of the time. One role I hadn’t anticipated is that there are three families who have asked me to raise their children if both of the parents die. One family here in China and two in the States. Just yesterday I sat through a music recital for the oldest of the 11 kids I love — she’s a junior and that thought that in a year she goes off to college found me weeping more than her parents :). These kids are growing up with different roles models than I did — they have me. Another role I hadn’t aniticpated was the way that younger single women would see me as a space holder (and definer) — I have created space for them to stretch their wings and fly. Some have married, some have not and that’s OK. I seem to be quite off topic on your comment, it’s been a long day and I’m rambling :)

  35. Allison

    YES, YES, YES!

    I have been told, point-blank by amazing men: “you are too awesome for me”.

    seriously?!?!

    Granted – i don’t want a man with a complex that he is not enough. He is gonna have to be man enough to hang with me and that is not a great start, but come on!!

    I know some incredible, anointed women in leadership that can not catch a break in the dating world – myself included. Men are either shut down, intimidated or just don’t consider themselves “big enough” to cover us.

    I am on a mission to empower men. I am looking to come under, support and grow WITH a man. It would be an honor to have some covering, and a partner in crime.

    Love your thoughts here. Love hearing someone that is not afraid to be the FULL expression of herself – even at the detriment of her dating life :)

  36. Anon

    Part of the problem may be, where she is: China. Mission work can come at a high price. It can make dating and marrying a lot harder.

    At my first church, there was a substantial cohort of people training for overseas missions. One China-bound young man, who had moved from the midwest to California with his new wife to train together for missions, took note of the demographics of their fellow missionaries-to-be, and said, “Where are all the men?” The simple answer: most of the men insisted on marrying first, and only then would they go overseas. And indeed, a number of them did exactly that, eventually. However, most of the women weren’t intimidated by going overseas alone, provided the situation wasn’t too dangerous physically.

    Why the difference? Well… I know that the men clearly understood how much harder it would be to get married, once they were in the field. And, having clearly understood where they fell in the 1st Cor 7 categorization scheme, they were determined NOT to remain single, and especially to not put themselves in a vulnerable mission situation as singles. One (who eventually married and went to China) told me bluntly that he truly feared where his sex drive would lead him if he didn’t have a lawful outlet for it. But the women seemed not to be giving the issue of marriage any real thought, or at least they seldom discussed such matters when I was around.

    Another factor may be height and/or race. These “shouldn’t matter” in Christian mate selection but in practice, they actually DO matter, more often than not. Back in my single days, I once dated someone who had spent several years, in her 20′s, as an English teacher in Japan. She was a faithful member of a Christian congregation over there, and made good social connections, but as a 5’11″ white woman, she got ZERO dates while in Asia. She had to come home to the USA to get married.

    Amy’s basically planted in China at this point, but fortunately we now have internet matchmaking, She should really explore that option, casting a wider net, so to speak. She’s got a heart-melting smile in that pic, that’s a good start.

    As for status and leadership… The idea that men “shy away” from strong, independent female leaders is a myth. In my experience, it’s the other way around: the high status women are often pursued but reject nearly every pursuer. This is due to a female psychological mechanism called “hypergamy” (the desire to marry “up”) — which renders men who are lower status than themselves, essentially invisible romantically. Whether it be a high achieving woman in a secular career, or in Christian ministry leadership, either way, as her own leadership status rises, she often automatically, unconsciously screens out a progressively larger percentage of the male population. An awareness of this dynamic, just might help her refocus on good matches that she’s overlooked, or to whom she said in the past, “Let’s just be friends”.

    Hope this helps.

    1. Ali J Griffiths

      Sorry Anon but the gist of your post seems to be that Amy is doing something wrong because she hasn’t married yet.
      I’m afraid that my experience as a church leader and lawyer is that men tune out of pursuing women of ‘high’ status, particularly in the Christian world.
      It is very rare to find a man who has high enough esteem to not feel threatened by a woman leader in any area but more acceptable in the secular world than the Church. The theological teaching that is our historical legacy, if not our present reality, that men should have authority and women should not, this is an issue that many Christian men cannot handle well. Consequently they look for a woman who will support them and not challenge their perceptions of Christian manliness.
      That is the reality Anon and it is not Amy’s fault – implying she’s doing the wrong thing or has the wrong attitude is simply missing the point completely of her post.

      1. LongLostFriend

        Again, you make the mistake of attributing men “tuning out” of pursuing high status women to a feeling of “intimidation.”

        Sincerely Christian men look for sincerely Christian women who want to live out sincerely Christian marriages according to the sincerely given guidelines in the Scriptures.

        Most men are not scared of you, Ali. They just detect that you are not inclined to be a submissive wife. In fact, it seems that you find the idea repulsive. If a man accepts the clear teaching of Scripture in this area regarding their role as husbands and yours as a wife, why would they romantically pursue someone who boasts about subverting that model?

        1. Vicki

          LLF – I find it interesting that you choose to emphasize the verse that calls for submission of the wife but overlook Ephesians 5:21 which speaks to mutual submission to one another. To choose to live into this verse would require an equal partnership which changes the relationship dynamic. I find it interesting that men who choose to emphasize a wife’s submission tend to bypass Ephesians 5:21.

          I think you are right…those men who are looking for a submissive wife will bypass those who are looking for a mutual relationship/partnership. Thus, we return to the “intimidation” factor which, in turn, may really be the lack of experience and awareness of having a wife that is an equal partner.

          1. LongLostFriend

            I am not overlooking anything. Ephesians 5:21 is not referring husbands and wives submitting to one another within the context of the marriage relationship. It is referring to general, mutual submission to fellow Christians in the Church.

            Paul does not begin to specify marriage until the next verse, and in that passage he is VERY specific, leaving absolutely no wiggle room whatsoever in the understanding of the roles of wives and husbands in the sphere of marriage.

            No reasonable reading of Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 leaves room for any concept of husband submitting to the authority of the wife.

          2. ed Post author

            Once again, we have a clear, clear, CLEAR comment policy that is spelled out for everyone capable of reading that this is not the place to debate the equality of men and women. Once that debate gets opened up, both sides start flinging scripture verses at one another. It seems this comment thread took off before I could get to it, so here’s the deal folks:

            1. If you disagree with anything here, that’s totally fine. We all understand that this is a controversial topic. We just want to have a conversation without getting stuck in the same old debates. Just walk away. I swear the Bible won’t explode, the internet won’t break, and you can still go to church on Sunday where men are in charge and women submit as subordinates to their husbands just as you prefer. We’ll go to our churches, you go to yours. Everything will be just ducky.

            2. If you see a comment engaging in this debate as part of the Women in ministry series, just leave it be and let me handle it.

          3. ed Post author

            IN the future, just let me remove comments that engage in equality debates. I don’t want the posts in this series to be overtaken by endless gender equality debates. Our starting point for this series is the full equality of men and women, period. So any comments that suggest otherwise will just be removed.

        2. Ali J Griffiths

          LOL! Sweetie – I’m way ahead of you here!

          Having a marriage of 21 years and practising submission to my husband for all that time even though he isn’t convinced that submission is the model we should follow. However, as we are all to practice submission to each other it seems to be working out well so far so I think we’ll continue as we started…

          There is nothing at all in what I have written to suggest that I find submission repulsive. Try reading what is written instead of putting your own spin on it.

          I repeat: insecure men find secure women leaders intimidating. Most leaders – men and women – find it hard to stand aside for anyone to lead and Christian men are no exception to that rule. Unfortunately they also have a background of poor teaching on gender issues to contend with as well – a double whammy.

          What I do find interesting LLF is that you make all these silly assumptions and criticise without the balls to put your actual name and photo up on the board – it rather proves my point. Can’t you face the idea of people knowing who you really are?

          ED – feel free to delete if I’m stepping over the line with this but I am rather sick of these daft comments coming from people who haven’t the guts to stand up properly and who hide online.

          1. LongLostFriend

            You wrote:

            “I repeat: insecure men find secure women leaders intimidating.”

            That is just a truism. I will gladly agree that insecure men exist, and that they would find women leaders intimidating.

            The problem comes in concluding that MOST men are that way. And that is the only reasonable assumption to draw from the post and the echoes of approval that many women have shared here. Amy claims that she has been passed over as a potential wife because the “Christian-woman-leader” combo is not something that the vast majority of Christian men can handle. According to her, she didn’t make choices to isolate herself from marriageable men; it is the fact that men (as a category) are intimidated by her. And that is simply nonsense.

            You also wrote:

            “What I do find interesting LLF is that you make all these silly assumptions and criticise without the balls to put your actual name and photo up on the board – it rather proves my point. Can’t you face the idea of people knowing who you really are?”

            It isn’t a question of “having the balls” (I note that you did not criticize women not equipped with those organs who also chose to “hide” in the comments section). I am curious why you want to know my real name and what I look like, though. Would your ability to stalk my personal life change the way you respond to my words?

      2. Anon

        “…the gist of your post seems to be that Amy is doing something wrong because she hasn’t married yet….”

        Not necessarily. Maybe God CALLED her to be where she is, and the fact that she has difficulty finding a husband is part of the sacrifice ordained for her. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody but it does seem to be the case for some people.

        BUT…. she is clearly not happy about her singleness, or she wouldn’t have written that post. So apparently SHE believes that *someone, somewhere* is doing something wrong.

        “…I’m afraid that my experience as a church leader and lawyer is that men tune out of pursuing women of ‘high’ status…”

        Yes, but you don’t seem to understand WHY. It’s not intimidation, and it’s not a lack of attraction.

        Like my Dad, I prefer a strong, smart, tough-minded woman. Indeed, perhaps because Mom was like that, I don’t really know how to relate to girly girls. (Sometimes I overshot… I had my heart broken by lesbians a few times.) So I had no shyness in my single days, about pursuing women who made more money than me, or had high power careers, or had ministry positions (that I considered scripturally permissible for a female), or even women who excelled me athletically (eg, the women’s college track team). But NONE of those women ever wanted me. Like many men before me, I learned by experience, that no matter how attracted I may be to a “higher status” woman, that attraction is NEVER reciprocated. I wasn’t intimidated by them, I just finally figured out that they were unattainable.

        Pursuing women of higher educational achievement than myself wasn’t possible as I have a STEM PhD — there isn’t anything higher. To the extent I developed an aversion to dating my educational equals, it was solely because most of them had opposite family goals. I got an advanced education in order to better finance a stay-at-home wife and mother (a goal I eventually achieved); my female colleagues mostly got advanced educations because they desperately DIDN’T want to be stay at home mothers. Again, I wasn’t intimidated by them, it’s just that our goals didn’t match.

        BTW… there’s nothing intrinsically contradictory, about being a strong, smart, female leader, and yet being able to fully embrace Godly submission to a husband’s authority. My wife embodies leadership qualities to a great degree, and has used them professionally, as a Scout leader, and in church (disclaimer: in positions that even the most conservative would consider Biblically permissible). She says, however, that I was the first guy she ever met, that was strong enough that she could actually make that submission. She is indeed a tough chick. The best kind.

        Long before her, I briefly pursued the leader of the women’s ministry at a former church; however she married a China-bound missionary instead!

        …particularly in the Christian world. It is very rare to find a man who has high enough self esteem to not be threatened by a woman leader

        Yet again: We are not “threatened”. There IS a theological disagreement — which we are not allowed to hash out here — about legitimate vs illegitmate female spiritual leadership roles. Suffice to say, no Christian wants to date someone whose career they regard as an act of sin and rebellion.

        1. ed Post author

          Gosh! Some people really don’t like being told they can’t debate equality here. Way to go right up to the line and poke it.

          Hey Anon, here’s some food for thought…
          You don’t like being told you can’t debate the equality of men and women here. Right? You think you should be free to call a woman in ministry “sinful” and in “rebellion” against God. I mean, you basically did that in a disingenuous way in your comment, trying to dance around my guidelines.

          Anyway…

          You don’t like being restricted in what you can talk about. Guess what? Neither do women!

          Now you know what women feel like when they can’t talk about the calling they sense from God for their lives. There are plenty of churches where women can’t have the conversation we’re hosting here. So now you know what it’s like to feel shut down and unable to speak your mind. This is what women have been dealing with for centuries. You got about 5 minutes of it. You’ll survive.

          And if I opened up the comments to any perspective, there are plenty of bullies and abusive men who will come by to condemn and shout down the women. Others will come and engage in the same endless debates that we have no hope of resolving since even skilled theologians can’t agree on them. I don’t fear this debate. I’m just done with it and ready to have a different discussion. That’s what we’re doing here. That’s why I delete some comments and ban others. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but until people learn how to follow comment guidelines, that’s where we’re at.

          1. Anon

            You think you should be free to call a woman in ministry “sinful” and in “rebellion” against God

            Ahem. That is NOT what I wrote. Here is the offending sentence, with some key words CAPITALIZED for emphasis this time:

            Suffice to say, no Christian wants to date someone whose career THEY REGARD as an act of sin and rebellion

            I chose my words very, very carefully, for the specific purpose of —
            (a) NOT violating your rules by making a case for any position on the issue contrary to yours,
            and yet
            (b) making the useful point, in the context of the discussion, that SOME people DO hold those convictions and therefore might romantically reject a woman on those grounds. (I’m sure you don’t deny the truth of this assertion.) Whether or not I hold those convictions myself, is beside the point in this context.

            FWIW, I was sincerely trying to be helpful, as I feel great compassion for those who, like me, find themselves single much later in life than they’d planned on. Won’t make that mistake again… not here. Clearly you want me gone, so… bye.

        2. Ali J Griffiths

          @LLF – ‘having balls’ is just an expression that would have been directed at anyone coming up with the comments you were making regardless of gender.
          Who you are and your background usually is relevant in discussions such as this. I have been open and transparent about who I am and my marital status etc.
          Compare your attitude to Anon who clearly disagrees with me as well and is also anonymous but at least he’s given some explanation of why he holds the views he does and that is provides a helpful context to his remarks (that I still completely disagree with – sorry Anon!).
          LLF – if you want to be taken seriously then say who you are and what your background is. Otherwise we’ll just have to assume you can’t get a date or hold down a relationship and you are blaming women rather than examining your own inadequacies. Which means I will, very sensibly, take everything you say with a very large pinch of salt – OK?
          @Anon – one point: I don’t think women in church leadership would call their role as a ‘career’ but I agree in essence with your last remark – why would anyone date someone with whom they have such profound theological disagreements? There are plenty of men who do not have a theological problem with women in church leadership though but would prefer it that their wife wasn’t in that role for other reasons. I think there are plenty of women who also choose not to marry ministers/pastors for similar reasons. It’s a demanding role that affects your whole life and being the spouse of such a person is not something you take on lightly.

          1. LongLostFriend

            Ali, I don’t expect to be taken seriously by you, regardless of your background. I have directly disagreed with you and with several others on this page, but I have done so respectfully.

            Your attempts to goad me by using typical feminist shaming language (“have some balls” and “we will assume you can’t get a date or hold down a relationship”) simply are not effective. Statements like this are just as cliché as saying that men are intimidated by strong women. I am sure that you will play the “Why are you so bitter?” card if I keep dialoguing with you, followed by accusations of misogyny and a sentence that begins with the words, “A real man would…” It’s not very original, and smacks of an inability to address the content of my words.

            Your nastiness toward me in response to my posts is unfortunate, but it is 100% predictable.

          2. Ali J Griffiths

            LLF – hmmm – what a shame. I would very much like to take you seriously and have a decent dialogue but you are still not being up front about where you coming from on this are you?
            Nastiness? Crumbs – I thought this was a ‘robust dialogue’.

          3. LongLostFriend

            “My goading and shaming isn’t working! Well, let me just try it again! Still not working? I know. I will repeat myself. Third time’s the charm, right?”

            As politely as I can, I am going to tell you that my life will go on as smoothly as before, all with the knowledge that you are not taking me seriously. So, by all means, have the last word.

    1. Ali J Griffiths

      There are many ways of being frutiful other than popping out infants – if you haven’t worked that one out by now then it’s your loss.

      1. LongLostFriend

        Are you seriously suggesting that God’s command to be fruitful and multiply (given to both men and women, incidentally) is referring to career advancement?

          1. LongLostFriend

            Vicki, in THIS verse, what is God referring to?

            I will give you a hint: he gives the same command to the animals in Genesis 1:22. Is he commanding cows to be socially responsible, productive citizens?

        1. Ali J Griffiths

          Uh? What are you on about? Who said anything about careers? What about people who can’t ‘multiply’ because they are unable to have children? Of course it means more than just having offspring! And who said anything about having careers? The fruit of the Spirit isn’t money or careers or babies – or am I missing something here? Oh God is so much bigger and more creative than we can possibly imagine! We all have a part to play!

  37. Vicki

    LLF – at this point in time it seems that we approach scripture with a different hermeneutic and worldview. We will have to agree to disagree. Blessings to you on your journey of following Jesus…

  38. Purple Tortoise

    I have a friend who is ~40 years old and has been a leader in ministry. She has had the same problem with men who are intimidated by her. But I think that is largely due to the fact that there aren’t too many available single men left at that age. The men who aren’t intimidated by women are for the most part married already. And those who aren’t married will mostly be looking for younger women. Being ~40 years old and wanting a man who is willing to marry an “up-front, out-loud, follow-me leader” means fishing in a tiny, tiny pool. What follows isn’t true for everyone, but my friend let pass by many opportunities to find a good husband when she was younger (though even so, I don’t know if she could have found a man interested in following her).

    1. Ali J Griffiths

      I find the terminology you use here interesting and I think that you have summarised what the perception of many people is – a woman followed a man’s call historically. But it’s not about finding someone who wants to follow you – no one should be marrying someone to follow them – the only person we all should aspire to follow is Jesus! Your spouse should be part of your calling – what is ‘my’ calling becomes ‘our’ calling – ministry becomes something you do together.
      Maybe some of the problem is the way we have put leaders up on a pedestal and forget who it is we are all serving?

  39. Monica

    Amy – I love your blog post. I am the three positions you are. I do happen to be married. My husband has the challenge that Ed mentioned in one of his comments. What about the men who are not “gifted” in leadership? It is a struggle for them in the US church culture too. We both tried to make me fit in some smallish box of what the church would limit me to in marriage until we realized we were crushing my personality. The DISC personality test helped us understand who we both are and from then on we have worked as a team. Consulting together on decisions and making them together. This is something we still discuss and work on though we have been married 20+ years. I don’t think the church in the USA has a general place to encourage and support women leaders, though some, gratefully find a good niche or place. I use my gifts in my business. And having also worked overseas as yourself, I find that is also a good place to use your gifts in a place where they are welcomed and encouraged. Bless you in your journey!

  40. Laura Collura

    I gave my life to serving Jesus 30 years ago. I meant it. If it served God’s purposes for me to be married, I am pretty sure I would be. I don’t think my calling and leadership intimidated the kind of man I would have married anyway. I have multiplied myself many times in many spiritual children many of whom are leaders themselves. I have two gorgeous foster children. I am happier than most people I know. The church I ministered in for 12 years would not ordain me as a single woman, so I work in education and I am very fulfilled. Sometimes I wish I had married, but I would not change a thing. I am 45, single and an awesome leader. Happyness.

  41. the heart baker

    Amy!

    What a legendary post. It struck almost every chord I possess! Thank you. Come to Zimbabwe for a beer :)

  42. ed Post author

    Alright folks, thanks for the discussion here. I’ve had to delete one too many mean and vindictive comments here, so I’m shutting them down. I’m going on a road trip for a few days and I won’t be able to moderate things. I understand that some men think this post shames or attacks men. I personally don’t believe Amy wrote it with that intention, and I wouldn’t have posted it if I’d thought it implied such a sweeping attack on men. We all have our different experiences here. Amy’s just sharing her story here. I believe she’s telling the truth from her perspective and tapping into a delicate but important issue for us to discuss in the future. As for this particular blog post, it’s time for us to move on.
    All the best friends.
    Ed

  43. Pingback: Communion and Ice Cream {at the intersection of holy and ordinary} // The Messy Middle

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