My first year at my church in Southern Louisiana, I traveled with our youth group, entirely young women as fate would have it, to a large city in Eastern Texas. Our camp was filled with youth groups from around the United States that ranged in denomination, as is always the case. What was different that year, however, was the events of our very first night following worship.
I decided to wear my Hogwarts jersey that my husband had procured for me, which was a deep red (Gryffindor) and had an old nickname of mine emblazoned on the top, “Rev.” Seems appropriate for a church camp, right? Well, apparently not. Within the first few minutes following worship that night it quickly became clear that the male leaders from every other church group, with one exception, would no longer speak to me. (And it had nothing to do with Harry Potter.)
I remember sitting down with the young women in our group that night and our other chaperone as we were having our “Hobbit Supper” (second dinner) and devotional, and talking to them about this experience. I shared with them that this was far from the first time I have had men in church leadership from other denominations look down their noses at me, sneer at me, or even try to argue scripture with me. Women in positions of authority, be it in the church or otherwise, have been facing similar reactions for decades. It is nothing new. Nevertheless, how we respond is important, I told them.
Hate, even disguised as “biblically correct” babble, is still hate.
Be it misogyny. Or racism. Or bigotry. Or any other way we choose to denigrate one another.
Sometimes, we may not be in the correct headspace to respond in a Christ-like manner. Which is fair. When bullies pull up and keep trying to choose how and when we get to be upset – it’s hard.
Other times, though, there are ways to welcome Jesus’s call to peaceful resistance and non-violent protest.
For me, that can look like embracing the terrible things I have been called, like “harlot of satan” (true story), and wearing red, which is also the color of Pentecost, every chance I get.
For others, it may look like staring calmly in the face of the sniveling and indignant opposition when they hurl barb-wired blanks at you, knowing you’ve already won.
For still others, it may look like creating art that blatantly calls out the hatred of the body that has seemingly forever excommunicated you for who you are.
And for my young women that mission trip week, it looked like calling out the hate in our midst by talking about it openly with everyone we could at camp and then wearing Superwomen capes on our final night.
Jesus told us not to be doormats, but also not to give into the cycles of violence and oppression that will forever perpetuate themselves. By refusing to do so and creatively standing in opposition, we will not let hate win. We will stand with the real winning side. Which has always been and will forever be…