Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I don't remember how old I was.  It must have been sometime while I was in primary school (because I think I thought I was too grown up to be put to bed way before I reached secondary school, aged 11) and it is likely to have been pretty early on, given the Bible passage in question is in Exodus.  So perhaps we are talking about 8 or 9 years old.

Anyway, my Dad and I used to read a chapter of the Bible every night before I went to sleep (and a chapter of what ever my storybook was at the time, but that's not really on topic).  We started at the beginning and before we gave it up I'm pretty sure we made it to Psalms or Proverbs or something.  At the relevant time we read Exodus, specifically the part with the plagues, in particular chapters 11 and 12 with the plague of death on all the firstborn.

And that's when I realised.  I was the eldest of my parents' 3 children.  Which meant I was their firstborn.  If God had decided to 'go through the land of South-East England' without warning, I would be the one to expire.  I really identified with the victims of this plague, who by virtue of being big brothers and big sisters met their doom.

And that's when I realised or, more likely given my age, was told - I would have been safe.  I wasn't a son, so I didn't count.  I remember feeling a peculiar mixture of relief, survivor's guilt and anger at being discounted by my gender.

I think that has remained with me.  I think that there's still an undercurrent within churches that discounts women purely because of their gender.  So many times I have seen women with incredible gifts and skills being shunted into children's work or other 'soft' ministries, regardless of their suitability for them.  So many times I have heard women report that opportunities to serve and lead only really opened up to them in church once they were married.  So many times I have heard a woman being introduced when preaching (thank God that they were allowed to preach) with a note of whose wife they were.  So many times I have heard casual and unthinking sexism from the front of church.  So many times my concerns about that have been dismissed.

So I'm trying to get past that.  I know that I am a tall, strong, independent woman.  I know God made me that way and I'm trying to believe that his church can figure out what to do with me.  I'm trying not to be defensive, or jump to concluding that everything is a slight.  Perhaps I'll get there.

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