“For some religious institutions, the reality of working women’s lives has exposed a discrepancy between their beliefs and day-to-day practices. On the one hand, they maintain a firm belief in the spiritual superiority of the “traditional” family and primacy of women’s domestic role, yet they offer programs to accommodate working mothers and blended families. Child care programs, especially, are growing across faith traditions, so that at least one-quarter of children in child care centers are in programs located in churches, synagogues, and other places of worship.” The Shriver Report
While not all churches still hold the traditional family beliefs mentioned here, many do. It shows up in a number of ways.
- Their staff is dominantly male. Even in faith traditions that have specifically stated that women are equal partners in ministry, their paid staff of professional ministers is by and large male. Women on staff largely have support roles or director positions, rather than pastor titles.
- Volunteer recruiting is often aimed solely at women. In the past, women who were at home found it easy to spend hours of their week volunteering at a local church. As women have moved into the workplace, churches haven’t adapted to their changed schedules.
- Teaching on family has a limited perspective. Teaching from the assumption that every American family is made up of mom, dad, and 2.5 kids ignores the reality that the modern family is complicated. Some churches will just avoid talking about family life in order to prevent being offensive to anyone.
What would it look like for your church to harmonize their beliefs along with their day to day practices?
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