There’s no doubting that gender continues to occupy a lot of time, space & energy in the church. It regularly raises the emotions and generates a lot of heat and little light. It can also put Christians into camps where the ‘the other side’ can be seen, talked about & treated as a problem or worse ‘the enemy’. In the church this is nothing short of disastrous.
It’s the peacemakers who are blessed not grumblers and fault finders and I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ sort of bloggers, always picking faults. So, having written enough of my reservations about the arguments of many gender equality activists I thought it would be good if I talked to one. So I’ve invited Hannah Mudge to a blog conversation with me about faith and gender. Hannah is a feminist and a Christian who attends a church in a similar faith tradition to my own: evangelical, non-denominational, charismatic.
The idea was for a conversation not an interview, so Hannah & I have swapped emails back and forth about feminism, faith and the gender debate. Hope you find it interesting.
P: Hi Hannah, thanks for taking part. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Hannah Mudge. I’m 28 years old and live in Peterborough, UK, with my husband and our eight-month-old son. I’m just coming to the end of maternity leave at which point I’ll be returning to my job as Digital Communications Officer at The Leprosy Mission England and Wales. Outside of my day job I’m a blogger, writing about feminism, Christianity, the media, and politics. I write regularly for two other sites – a women’s lifestyle site and Threads, the recently launched blog set up by the EA to provide a forum for 20 and 30-something evangelicals to write.
P: Faith is always a journey, what has yours been like?
I grew up attending a Church of England church with my parents and grandparents. I took in everything we learned at church but never felt a particular connection to any of it. When I was 17 I met my husband – we were friends at school for a while before becoming a couple. He told me about the fact that he went to church and the way he talked about it sounded different to the way I felt about church. I was curious and decided to start checking out other churches in my town to see if they could offer me anything different. Later that year I decided to do the Alpha Course at a Baptist church, which culminated in me making more of a commitment to God. I attended church with my boyfriend, later fiancé, and his family, when I could. Charismatic evangelical churches were completely uncharted territory for me but I enjoyed going.
I went away to university and started attending a local church. I struggled to settle in at university and didn’t find the church hugely helpful. I wanted to get involved but to serve in any way you had to be a member – I’d never heard of church membership before. One incident sticks in my mind regarding this point. One Sunday, we were welcoming new members into the church and a couple of them gave their testimonies. One woman said that as part of her journey to membership, she had had to change her views and understand why women could not lead or preach. This threw me. I’d never heard of it being an issue before. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with her conclusion but knew nothing about the subject to be honest.
P: Was that the beginning of the other side to your journey, that of becoming a feminist?
University and the few years following it brought about my starting to identify as a feminist. In short it started as being deeply uncomfortable about sexism, ‘lad culture’, objectification of women, and the ubiquity of porn use when I was a student. I also started looking more into the issue of gender and the church and came to the conclusions I hold to today. In 2008 my husband and I left the complementarian church we were attending. This was actually mainly because we were the only 20-somethings there and because the church was really stagnating, but also because I felt I could not serve in the church in any way because there was nothing for me to do there. We now attend a church with women leaders and where women can preach on a Sunday.———————————————————————————————————————————————————————
For anyone interested in hearing more about Hannah’s personal journey in faith & feminism, she’s written about that on her blog. You can find the links below: