Just An Observation

Today has been COLD! Texans don’t normally do well in extremes of cold like people who live further to the north of Texas where the cold is far more common. Today started with a temperature of 18 degrees and a wind chill of 12 degrees. That may be a warm day up north during the winter but for those of us who were raised in the Texas heat, it is just pure misery to go out in the cold!  I’m just starting to warm up at 100 degrees F.  I guess the only good things I can say about the type of cold we have had this year is that it will help control some of the bugs that we have to live with when it is hot and it gives us a good excuse to not leave the warmth of our homes or offices. We can get caught up on desk work that we have put aside when we could be outside instead of  locked indoors. So today was a day to do some minor updates to my Directory of Gender Inclusive and Egalitarian Churches of Christ that I have been putting off for several months.  While I was doing those updates, I was looking at the states and the numbers of congregations in each state who  rejected traditional gender restrictions and have become gender inclusive or egalitarian churches of Christ. I noticed an interesting fact showing up while thinking back on our history over the last 20 years of so while making updates.

Texas has always been a very traditional Church of Christ state. We do not change quickly or easily.  Our preacher training schools and Christian universities have always been quite unchanging when it comes to teaching about gender roles in our congregations.  They taught men could do anything and women, well, they could teach children who have not yet been baptized and do behind the scenes work, such as cleaning, preparing the Communion trays, etc.    Women’s voices were never heard except to sing with the congregation or to teach unbaptized children in their Bible classes.  Not a pretty picture.  Not something that I think we should be proud of, as many seem to be.  However, when the restrictions are the greatest we find the most fertile ground for change and breaking with tradition.  Looking back on our church history of the last three  decades, we can trace the gender equality movement basically to two congregations:  one on the East Coast which is no longer active,and one in Houston, which is doing well.  There may be one or two more of the same time frame that I am not aware of.  Looking at the number of churches in the United States that have removed most, if not all, restrictions on women and moved to the more Scripturally sound practice of using Christians as they are gifted by God rather than their gender, race, or social status, Texas stands out, about like Big Tex at the Fair in Dallas every Fall.  California is next, followed by Michigan.  Conservative, traditional, restrictive Texas leads the nation in the number of churches of Christ who have pushed through the walls of the box that limits Christian service by gender and begun utilizing their members as they are gifted by God.

I’m a born and raised Texan who has lived 65 years in Texas and who will die and be buried in Texas.  I’m proud of my heritage and my state.  I’m Texas conservative and Texas traditional in almost every way imaginable.  My family moved to Texas within months of state hood in 1848 and built their house on land they would eventually give to Navarro County for a county court house in what became Corsicana.  My wife’s family arrived around 1830.  They fought for Texas’ independence at San Jacinto and took part in the actual capture of Santa Anna.  Most Texans are accused of being just a bit too proud of their state, but we just can’t help that.  Guilty as charged!  It’s a genetic trait of Texans and when someone moves to Texas, most catch a bad case of the same thing.  We believe we are the backbone of the nation.  However, where my pride is at its peak is for our Texas churches of Christ who have dared to re-study the traditional interpretations and restrictions that our women have lived under for  way too long and have set aside those restrictions to become churches where gender, race, and social position are not limiting factors to service in God’s Kingdom.