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When church hurts

12.15. 2017 Written By: Audrey Metz

Audrey Metz is from Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Recently, a taunting remark was made to me by a male as he sidled up to where I was waiting to be seated in church.  His remark-his attitude of power over me-resulted in a decision that my husband and I had not planned to make, ever again: This coming Sunday, we will be leaving the church we have both attended and loved for a lot of years and will meet for worship at a different church. Although we are sad about leaving, we know the church we have chosen to attend is a good choice. Yes, we know, the people we will be joining are not perfect either; but we feel it’s a necessary choice at this time. Our ministers, though sad about the situation, are supportive of our decision.

We leave wondering how such a situation can still exist in the Mennonite church-how can there still be men who feel they have a right to belittle and taunt women, make inappropriate remarks, question women’s roles? How are there men who still feel women should depend on them for self-worth, while at the same time professing to be followers of Christ, who was a respecter and champion of women?

And, we wonder, what is our responsibility in confronting such a “brother” in the church?  Is it ours to address publicly?  Are we “running away” from the situation and simply making it easier for this person to continue his judgement and very secret harassment of women? We come to the question that has been asked, over and over, in the Mennonite church:  If we are believers in the “brotherhood” of believers, what do we do about men in the church who can’t get comfortable with the concept that we are all equal?  What do we do with a person who sidles up to someone of the opposite sex and taunts them and sneers at them, simply because he can?  And how is it that he can, in this period of the church’s life,  without, at least, being taken to task for his attitude?

We may not  be making the same decision as others might in the same situation; however, we have made it carefully and are grateful to have the support of our friends and pastors. We choose to leave with expectations of learning and experiencing new ways of being church.  We choose to look forward, not backward, refusing to be stuck in attitudes of, “Oh, it’s just the way he is”or “Just be patient, it takes time!” Above all else, we are  refusing to believe or accept any demeaning remarks made against us and others.

We look, eagerly, for the day when there will be true respect in our churches between men and women, based on our regard for others and our knowledge of Christ’s treatment of others as equals, with all men and women recognizing that nobody can be “less than” in the eyes of another.

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