I Choose to Stay

A recent post by Tony Jones on Theoblogy called for a schism over the question of women’s ordination.** This has kicked off some response.

I, as a woman ordained in a liberal branch of Christ’s Church, don’t agree.
You might think that I’d appreciate the solidarity for women’s ordination. After all I get quizzical looks and questions about being a nun when I’m in my collar.

I love my Church. I delight in my priesthood.
And I too choose to stay.

I stay after my weight, my marital status, my age, my health are all topics I’ve been asked about in job interviews,* and by mentors. I stay after hearing the leader of my parish label my desire to be acknowledged as a member of the parish as an inappropriate need to feel important. I stay after mentors, cornerstones of the Church made inappropriate jokes about my apparel. I stay after conversation after conversation where I have to repeat that “I’m the priest.” I stay after numerous people assume that my honesty, lauded as vulnerability in older men, is weakness. I stay after my questions are dismissed because they relate to women, pregnancy, and work. I stay after conversations where largely male colleagues left me to make the point that sexism and inequality still exist. I stay knowing I have colleagues who believe my person, my theology, and my resulting actions are an affront to the Gospel we both believe in. I stay even though my therapists ask me why I stay.
I choose to stay.

Not because I believe that unity should be stronger than our differences. Not because I know that every group of people will not perfectly agree on any issue. Not because Church isn’t suppose to be easy. Not because they let me. Not because they ordained me. Not because I fear leaving.

I’ve thought about leaving.
I have sat in the pews of Churches that make different, arguably less horrible, mistakes than mine. I learned that those Churches were not my Church.
So I stay in this Church I love, this Church which isn’t always sure it wants me, this Church which has hurt me so deeply, this Church which is frequently unsure what to do with me, this Church which still gets so much wrong.
I choose to stay.

Church should be about where people encounter Jesus.
This is where I best see Jesus.
I choose to stay.

*Questions on these subjects are illegal.

**Mr Jones has elaborated on what he was saying.  It is worth reading.  I am not trying to argue or dispute either of his posts.  I believe that some honesty about the imperfect nature of the Church and the ongoing decision we all make, in some way, to stay is worth holding up alongside reasons people leave.

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An Anglican/Episcopal priest, bibliophile, dog owner, and Montanan

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