the story room

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

My first taste of discrimination

At the end of my Greek class today, we had a representative from a certain seminary come in to talk to us about considering the school. He sat in on the last 5 or 10 minutes of class, and he saw what kind of student I was (I happened to be participating a lot).

I'm the only female in that class, and this representative kept drawing attention to me because of it. The first thing that really struck me was when he said, "10% of our population is girls." It didn't sit right with me, and it also didn't sit with our prof, who tried to correct him by calling it a "female population." After all, graduate students aren't little girls anymore. This representative also said the female population was as low as it was because of how conservative the school is...he said the more conservative the school, the smaller the female population. It wasn't just unapologetic; it was presented as something virtuous.

After talking a little more about the seminary, he asked our class if they had any questions. When no one responded, he singled me out again and asked me if I had any questions. Since I had already decided not to consider this seminary, I didn't have any questions to ask. However, he felt the need to offer more information, and made it a point to let me know that this school allows women in every program of study except the M. Div. program (which happens to be the degree I want to get). He said, "We don't allow girls to be part of this program because of our stance on women in the church." It was said proudly and forcefully.

Ouch. Even the guys in my class were unsettled by the way this man approached both me and the issue.

I'm not personally hurt, really, because I never planned on attending that seminary, and I know there are other schools (and churches) that would be glad to have me. But there's something deeper that I keep thinking about. This was the first time in my life that I was ever the object of discrimination, but it happens to all sorts of people all the time.

How can a person walk into a room, take one look at someone, and immediately tell them what they're allowed or not allowed to do? How can they shut a door of opportunity in someone's face even when they prove to be intelligent and capable?

And a question that's particularly close to my own heart: How can our world be progressive in so many ways, and yet so many of our churches (which are supposed to be on the forefront of this redemptive liberation) are holding back and repressing potential leaders? And how can Christians allow women to teach theology in their college classes but not in their pulpits?

I was talking about this to my mom tonight and she said, "It makes you feel for people who are looked down upon because of things like their race and their weight, and so many other things, too, huh?" Yes...it really does.

I'm so grateful for my family and mentors...and for places like Trinity, where they really are trying to live out this reconciliation that Jesus brings to his people.

May God make me and you instruments of reconciliation as well.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Paulie said...

Hey Er!! I am sorry that you had to go through that, but I am glad that you took something from it that will help you live life closer to Jesus!!
I use to have the mind set of no women preaching (it also has to do with a couple of bad ones that I have experienced in the past) and was strong in that. Now that I have studied the scriptures more and seen just how God does see His children...especially women...I have long since changed my views.
It sucks to be discrimitated against, and it is even sadder that church do it just as much as the "secular" world. But we are the future Er!! We can change that mindset and thinking. Discrimination will be here til the end of times just like diseases and illness, but we can do something about it to keep it from our pulpits.
Love You Always Er,
Paul

02 March, 2005 18:55  
Anonymous paulie said...

Hey Er!! I am sorry that you had to go through that, but I am glad that you took something from it that will help you live life closer to Jesus!!
I use to have the mind set of no women preaching (it also has to do with a couple of bad ones that I have experienced in the past) and was strong in that. Now that I have studied the scriptures more and seen just how God does see His children...especially women...I have long since changed my views.
It sucks to be discrimitated against, and it is even sadder that church do it just as much as the "secular" world. But we are the future Er!! We can change that mindset and thinking. Discrimination will be here til the end of times just like diseases and illness, but we can do something about it to keep it from our pulpits.
Love You Always Er,
Paul

02 March, 2005 18:56  
Anonymous paulie said...

sorry that the same thing posted twice...I am still new at this posting and commenting stuff ;).

02 March, 2005 18:57  
Blogger 00000 said...

Sadly its a common thing with conservative schools to suffer from such a mindset. If you are looking for a conservative or moderate seminary there are several out there that are wide open for female candidates. Like I attend Asbury Theological Seminary which places a huge emphasis on empowering women to be ministers while claiming to be theologically conservative though truthfully at times it seems moderate. Other schools that offer M.Div. that would encourage you would include Fuller, Trinity, Duke, Regent University, and Gordon-Conwell. Good luck on your search for grad work.

26 March, 2005 15:44  

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