As I went to my Southern Baptist church this morning, I remembered that it was Baptist Men’s Day - an annually designated Sunday where we have an all male choir and sometimes hear testimonies from men or a sermon geared toward encouraging and strengthening men. I made a lighthearted joke on the way in to the service that this was an interesting weekend to have Baptist Men’s Day and that I hoped none of the women protesting yesterday decided to visit our church today because all the male emphasis might be a little angering.
Now, I won’t pretend to speak for all the women who were marching and protesting yesterday. I know many joined for a variety of reasons, and just because someone marched doesn’t mean she hates men or every type of male authority. I saw signs that were a little vulgar and gross and anti-male, but I also saw signs that were thought-provoking and tasteful and simply pro-female. I was not a part of the protests yesterday, but I know many women (and a few men) who were - some of them for reasons I understand and some I don’t (which is fine). I think if you marched and it brought you a sense of accomplishment and unity with other humans and motivated you to be more civically or politically involved, that is wonderful. Those things shouldn’t be disparaged or belittled.
But the truth is, there are those who probably would have been angered at the sight of a choir filled only with men (and boys) had they walked into my church building this morning. There are female students in our college and youth group who have asked the question in years past, “Why do we do this? Why is there a Baptist Men’s Day?” I will even admit that each year when this day rolls around, part of me hopes that we won’t have any guests or unbelievers visiting because I don’t want them to be offended or think our church is some antiquated, patriarchal, woman-suppressing type of church (which it is not).
So I walked into the sanctuary this morning making jokes and being a little sarcastic (it’s my spiritual gift) and thinking this could be an awkward Sunday morning for some people. But what happened in my mind and heart took me a little by surprise.
It started when I heard my brother-in-law ask his ten-year-old son and his son’s friend if they wanted to join him up in the choir, and I saw them enthusiastically bounce up the stairs to go sing. Then I noticed a set of young sixth grade boys standing near their dads up there - serious-faced, handsomely dressed, little men. We all sang some songs of worship together and my sweet niece interpretively danced around next to me expressing her little heart for Jesus, and my sarcastic, critical heart was completely softened with laughter and enjoyment. Then it was time for the choir to do its special music.
I saw so many things watching those men sing to God and lead us in worship. And it occurred to me as I was listening and watching and praising Jesus that my femininity is not threatened or undermined by the success of these men. My femininity is actually enhanced and encouraged when these men lead well. I don’t know if society affords all the women the same rights and treatment that all the men receive, but I do know that our God gave us all an equality of personhood. And though our roles may not always be equal, I think as I sat there praying for those men in front of me and the men in the congregation and all the little men they are responsible for and the man (my husband) taking care of our sick son this morning so I could go to church, it occurred to me that when our differing male and female roles cooperate, there is such a spirit of unity and goodness and celebration. And I think it was intentionally designed that way.
I’m not sure why I wanted to write all this today, and I kept going back and forth on whether I would. But I think my intention with sharing this is simply to say that after witnessing a lot of divisiveness over the weekend and a lot of discouragement and fighting, it occurred to me through my experiences this morning (and listening to my pastor’s words) that we are all here for a purpose; we are all a piece of the puzzle, and we are never going to put that puzzle together if we refuse to work together. And as a follower of Christ, I would go one step further and say that only in Him will we find that the pieces fit correctly and result in the right picture being represented.
It was encouraging to celebrate my femininity through the celebration, and not the denigration, of biblical masculinity this weekend. To see, in a small way, what God intends for his people.
“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”