There is Still Time to Be a Defiant Woman

Sarah Schwartz

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It’s that time of year when we count our blessings, and at The Junia Project one thing we are thankful for (in addition to the encouragement and support of our wonderful readers!) is the way God is raising up powerful advocates for women in this generation. One such advocate is Sarah Schwartz, who provided leadership to the recent Gender, Faith, & Culture week at Biola University.  In today’s post she reminds us that this is our time and our task.

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“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Let them call you incorrigible. Let them call you defiant.

Don’t let them talk you out of being angry, of demanding justice, of speaking truth to power.

They will call you angry, as if it were a curse word. As if it proves you can’t be trusted. As if it were some kind of magic that makes what you have to say irrational.

They will call you emotional—as if emotions were not part of a healthy human experience, the opposite of logic, rather than it’s necessary companion. As if you were supposed to accept inequity cold.

They will call you combative, as if you weren’t made for a fight, as if it were wrong to challenge iniquitous structures, as if you were supposed to smile upon receiving crumbs from the table.

They will tell you to calm down and be quiet, as if your silence would not be an act of complicity in your own dehumanization and the dehumanization of countless others.

Please don’t misunderstand—you will need to be kind. You will need to be strategic. You will need to walk and speak with integrity. Don’t go for the cheap shots, tempting though they may be, or use the same tired weapons that have been unfairly wielded against you.

Use your words and actions to point to that better way, the way of inclusion and shalom, of justice and wholeness. You will not bring about a better future by using the same tools that built this prison of who is in and who is out in the first place.

As Herbert McCabe says, your business is to “remember” the future, and to mysteriously to make the future really present.

But don’t for one moment believe that because you’re a woman, you must sacrifice passion or conviction in order to be heard, or that you must be quiet and small and relentlessly pleasant in order to fit someone else’s definition of ladylike.

You get to cause a fuss.

You get to make a scene.

You get to cry and sing and shout until your throat catches fire.

Prophesy the better way, sister, calling dead things to life, and that which is not as though it were.

Cry out in the wilderness. Make noise in the city streets. Go where he tells you to go, and say what he tells you to say. He has touched your mouth, and you are ready to uproot and tear down, and then to build and plant.

They will find a thousand different ways to call you an incorrigible, defiant woman. Were your brothers to do the same things, they would call them revolutionaries.

It does not matter.

This is your time and your task and you could no sooner keep his words shut up in your bones than control the tides.

Do not worry. There is still time.

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Originally published at http://www.sarahchristineschwartz.com/

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16 Comments

  • I love this…especially the revolutionary bit…I have often said that taxation without representation caused a revolution because MEN would not put up with it…yet women give thousands upon thousands of dollars to churches where they have NO representation in the leadership, elders, etc. A quiet revolution is needed in this respect…3 years before I left the fundamentalist church that was treating women as invisible entities, I stopped supporting them financially…stayed on until it was time to go…and left the precise day God finally led me out…free at last. Great blog! Defiant women unite in Christ…after all he said He came “to set at liberty them that are bruised (oh how we were bruised!) …to set the captives free”…Amen!

  • Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this post! It’s come at a time when I really needed it. So encouraging!

  • I love this, Christine. Such passion and determination is infectious and God knows, this infection is awesome. You go, girl. I’m reposting.

  • Thank you, Sarah Christine Schwartz, for your words of courage. I need them.

    I am a 65 year old woman who grew up in the 50’s & 60’s in an abusive patriarchal home which deeply colored my psyche. But I experienced a clear call to ministry while in college. The call was later powerfully confirmed with integrity and grace by my pastor, a godly man rich in integrity, grace, and strong reputation of leadership.

    Through the years I have ministered both in the church and para-church, through evangelism, discipleship, mentoring, leading, coaching, encouraging, interceding, vision-casting, serving, and teaching as opportunities arose. I have been given the title “pastor” because those are the gifts I utilize best.

    But for years, I labored under a negative cloud of condemnation by “successful” pastors and leaders in my own denomination (which from the 1920’s into the 1960’s was a safe place for women in leadership). Your powerful words bring light through those pervasive dark clouds. Thank you!

    I have learned that my anger and combative words cause me only to lose any credibility I may have. You are right to say we need to be kind. I must show the respect I desire to receive, whether I receive it or or not. Sadly, I do not always do that well.

    Thank you for calling us to be strong and not give up. I have found it much easier to hide and focus on being faithful in my small corner. But God continues to give opportunities for more. Your voice and the Junia blog are part of the few I hear acknowledging my call as legitimate. By doing that, you are calling me to a loving boldness, with no shrinking back. Again, thank you!

    I will continue to evangelize, strategize, disciple, mentor, lead, serve, coach, encourage, intercede, caste vision, teach, and pastor as long as I am able. Thank you for boosting me forward in that task.

  • Thank you so much. When you live within a certain milieu you start to sink into it and not speak up, just to get along in daily life. You start to not tell the truth about your experience or your knowledge, but just keep quiet and not rock the boat in your own local church.

    I’m not the type to start a loud revolution (I admire those who do!), but I *can* speak the truth in love. And it has been said that in certain situations, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. Paraphrasing there.

    Thank you for the reminder. It’s a big help.

  • I love this line: They will find a thousand different ways to call you an incorrigible, defiant woman. Were your brothers to do the same things, they would call them revolutionaries.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • I wanted to snip my favorite line, but found I would end up snipping 99% of your post, Sarah. But I can’t resist quoting this bit:

    Don’t for one moment believe that because you’re a woman, you must sacrifice passion or conviction in order to be heard, or that you must be quiet and small and relentlessly pleasant in order to fit someone else’s definition of ladylike.

    Amen, SIster. Preach!

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