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I am a woman. I am angry. I am sad. I am hurting. I am despondent.

The recent sexual and spiritual abuse scandals that have rocked the church have shaken me to the core. Bill Hybels, Carl Lentz, Ravi Zacharias, to name a few, these stories have affected me way more deeply than I thought they should have. After all, this type of abuse is nothing new, it is centuries old, both inside and outside the church. But I have found an anger rising up inside of me, may I suggest it is a righteous anger, a righteous anger that wants to scream “enough is enough –where does this end!”

And the questions I ask myself, as a woman, are: “How can an entity that is supposed to be a safe space for the needy and the oppressed, the disadvantaged and the dispossessed; an entity where pure, godly love is supposed to be the order of the day; an entity that is supposed to be held to a higher account, whose leadership is supposed to be held to a higher account, than the world; how does this entity fail us all so miserably?”

And God, in His infinite wisdom, love and patience, provided me with an answer. He tasked me to create a daily devotional series based on each and every woman of the Bible (both named and nameless) starting from the very beginning, with Eve. His instructions were simple: “start with Eve, visit every single woman in the Bible (named and nameless), find the missing pieces of women’s identity.” I have covered an inordinate number of women and I am only in Exodus. And what I have discovered in a book that many feminists regard as the bastion of patriarchy is a God who is NOT patriarchal. Day after day, episode after episode, story after story God’s voice whispers to my injured female heart: “I AM NOT PATRIARCHAL!”

I received a word a few years ago that I would be active in the LGBTQ community and I questioned the veracity of that word. Now I listen to stories of women who have turned to women because men have proven to not be the protected, safe space they are supposed to be. And I realise a voice is needed within this space. I have listened to story after story of sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, molestation, victim shaming. Stories that have triggered memories of my own experiences, my own abuse, memories that I thought I had long buried and suppressed. I would be hard put to name a single friend who has not suffered some of the above mentioned abuse at the hands of a man she trusted, and many of them within the church system. And I realise a voice is needed within this space.

I have wept and I am still weeping over all of this whilst feeling as though God is performing open heart surgery on my own heart, ripping things out and rearranging and restoring things – causing me to confront my trauma, my anger, my unforgiveness.

I would go so far as to say that, if you can read the Bible and not be shocked and horrified by the actions of some of its leading characters then patriarchy is systemic to your worldview. If you can read the Bible and not see how God used, valued and adored women then misogyny is systemic to your worldview. If you can read about or listen to the atrocities perpetrated by revered and respected men of faith and not see that there is a deeper issue then we need to have a conversation.

This is not about women rising up and emasculating or oppressing men. This is about male and female, together, in balance and perfect harmony, in the image and likeness of our Creator, standing together and saying “enough is enough, this cannot be allowed to continue”. The main hero of the Bible is Jesus. From the very first word to the very last word it is all about Jesus. And he sought out, loved and valued women consistently and continuously. Why then do we continue to value our interpretation of Paul’s words over the actions of Jesus?

I am a woman. I am angry. I am sad. I am hurting. I am despondent. But I will no longer be silent.