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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

No Day Without Women

Last week's observance of International Women's Day coincided with an demonstration organized by the founders of January's Women's March called A Day Without Women. Some women stayed home from work, others wore red to signify their activism, and many shared tributes to women's contributions.
I was actually pleased to see such a robust discussion of women across spheres, from home to work to church. As an editor at CT Women, I think through issues involving female identity and roles a lot, as many women do naturally. It was refreshing to see many of those ongoing issues and interests brought to the surface.
We shared some Bible-centered resources for young girls that get us excited about the future of the faith. We championed some of the most influential women in the history of the church, ministers and missionaries and teachers. I amen-ed right along with Diana Butler Bass, who said, "I hope we will get beyond the idea of 'Christian women leaders' being a special subset of Christian community. Women are the majority of Christians around the world—we are the heartbeat of living faith."
And I was able to interview Jen Wilkin, an author and Bible teacher, about the dynamics between men and women in the church for CT's podcast, The Calling. We talked about so many topics including church life, Bible study, and women's ministry. I especially loved her call for pastors to remember the "essential and indispensible" contributions women make to the body of Christ—ones that are necessarily to the healthy flourishing of the church, and not just nice additions.
Even as people shared stories around International Women's Day, plenty debated the concept and strategy around the Day Without Women approach. Since our gender can never disappear—we cannot totally shirk their duties as mothers, workers, writers, sisters, leaders, and friends, even for a day—it can seem silly to pretend. Or to act like one day of being a woman would be any more special than the rest.
Of all the commentary and tributes I read around the women-focused celebrations, the one that stuck with me the most was a Facebook reflection from a friend of a friend. He wrote, "I have an issue with the underlying silent premise in many pro-woman declarations. Women should not have to be powerful, exceptional, magical or useful to be valued, especially not to be as valued as men. Women should be valued because they are women, you know, humans."
"I will not relent in my praise and acknowledgment of women because it is crucial in a sexist paradigm. I will however make sure to remind myself that even the 'weakest' of women is intrinsically as valuable as the 'strongest' man or woman. I feel like sometimes that is lost in the conversation."
I thought about his sentiment in light of how God sees all of us, male and female. We are not valuable in his eyes for what we can do for his Kingdom, although its clear we've been given callings and gifts to do a lot. Instead, we are loved and cherished because of our very nature as his creation and bearers of his image.
Thanks for reading!
Kate Shellnutt
Kate Shellnutt
Editor, CT Women

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