We were like you once,
Not so very long ago.
We, after all, were the ones who taught you the words of
And how deep and wide is
Our Father’s Love.
You aren’t the first, you know,
to raise the issues
We raised them, too.
We were asking hard questions while
you were learning to go potty in the big chair:
Why are there only white people in this congregation
when the neighborhood is mostly all black?
Why are men the only ones allowed to serve as elders,
deacons, and pastors?
Didn’t Jesus call us all?
What do you mean women have to be submissive?
Doesn’t Scripture call us all to be submissive, one to another?
Nobody, not even you, Millennial, fulfills the intent set forth in
that principle, that Scripture.
Oh, we were like you, not so very long ago
Critical and convinced that we, too, knew better than them.
And so we pushed forward, asking the tough questions,
challenging the status quo.
We were the mothers and fathers who spoke our minds at Bible Studies,
said we didn’t think that was what was meant by that verse.
We believe that marriage is a partnership between wholes,
not halves completing the other.
We were the women who stepped on the hallowed ground
of all-male seminaries and fought for the right to serve,
alongside our brothers.
And some of them fought with us, for our rights,
because they, too, believed that our ability to serve
shouldn’t be determined by whether we pee standing up
or sitting down.
Even as we sat in those Sunday School classes, separated by gender and age and race,
we knew it was wrong.
We knew that you can’t segregate and preach community at the same time.
There’s hypocrisy in that.
Oh, there were tearful moments to be sure. Victories rarely come without them.
As you know, it isn’t easy to stand up to the status quo.
Especially when its authorities are quoting “the inerrant Word of God”
as validation for their misogyny, their racism, their bullying, their holier-than-thou attitudes.
But where we differ, you see, is that we believed in standing firm,
holding the ground, little as it may have seemed at the time,
and pushing through the brokenness.
It never occurred to us to abandon the Church.
Oh, sure, when the Moral Majority came along and started passing out “vote this way” cards,
we ranted and raged, Don’t tell us how to vote.
And we left the churches where the pastors insisted we vote
Conservative, God’s way, they said.
But we didn’t leave the Church.
We only left that church.
We found new communities where we could worship, serve, minister, and be ministered to.
Like you, we cared for the widows and the orphans among us. (Where do you think you first learned compassion?)
We ran prayer meetings on Wednesday nights, Training Union on Sunday evenings.
There were church potlucks and mid-week Bible studies.
And trips to Six Flags, and to Mexico, where we built buildings for the orphanages.
We donated weekly to Lottie Moon, tithed monthly – no less than 10 percent – and sent money to missionaries serving in places whose names we could barely pronounce.
We ran “I Found It” campaigns and passed out Four Spiritual Law booklets. We talked about the Tyranny of the Urgent and what it must have been like for Corrie Ten Boom to lose her sister that way.
We prayed diligently for people to be saved. To know the cleansing power of the Blood. Something we believe in even yet, all these years hence.
We took seriously the directive to go unto the ends of the earth, preaching the good news.
It’s not that we never questioned, never criticized, never doubted, never despaired.
Like you, we did all of that and more.
It’s just that through it all, it never occurred to us to give-up on church.
We always understood that we are the church.
It’s failures are our failures.
It’s successes are our successes.
It’s health is our health.
It’s hope is our hope.
To abandon it would be to give up on one another.
To say to Jesus, there is no power in the blood.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? ’cause I need more room for my plasma TV.