Witnessing male chauvinism in church. What should I do about it?

Men Explain things to me | Rebecca Solnit | Male Chauvinism

Yesterday at a church meeting, the pastor invited two members of the church to the stage to share a lengthy update on progress with a specific project. The whole purpose of the church meeting was to hear about how the project was getting on. Of the two church members who came to the stage, one of them was female, the other was male.

For the entire thirty minutes or so that the two were on stage, the man held the only microphone and spoke continuously or fielded questions. The woman was given no opportunity to speak. Towards the end of their time, the man looked over to her and laughed about having hogged the microphone. She feigned an ‘it’s OK’, the way the women often do to excuse the behavior of men. It was interesting too that all the questions from the audience (about 200 people in total, made up of about equal numbers of men and women) came from men. It was an incredibly disempowering environment for women.

I know this behavior was wrong, but I don’t know what I should do about it? I could contact the pastor and let him know I was saddened and disappointed by the male chauvinism on display, but I know pastors are the brunt of many complaints and have a difficult and lonely job. I don’t know the man or woman on stage and have no means of contacting them. I could make enquiries but what could I say that would be constructive and helpful?

I should also add that I love church, it is Christ’s bride and I hate to criticize it. I know that Jesus was radical in the way he valued women and that there is no need for any church to be chauvinistic. Whether you believe in full equality of men and women in the church, or complementarianism, there is no doubt in my mind that the actions yesterday were rude and wrong. Sadly, the church is playing host to these chauvinistic actions and letting them go unchallenged.

In yesterday’s meeting the pastor spoke of how the future direction of the church will come out of who we, the church, is, rather than what we do and the programmes we put on. He’s right, so does that mean we’ll be a chauvinistic church going forward? For the sake of my daughter, I hope not.

I’ve just finished reading Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Men Explain Things to Me’ (https://amzn.to/2YViatj). She deftly identifies the low-level male chauvinism women experience throughout their lives. In the opening chapter she describes a situation whereby a man explains her own book to her, all the while refusing to believe that she could have written the book. It’s an eye-opening read for men and women and I’d like to give a copy to each of people on stage yesterday.

Maybe the simple answer is that more people need to be made aware that male chauvinism is going unchecked within the church. I’m writing this to spread the word and raise awareness. I welcome your comments, thoughts and advice. What should I do about what I witnessed?

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  1. Seems to me that you need a ‘Nathan and the story of the little lamb’ – if you recall when David slept with Bathsheba and had her husband killed it took the prophet Nathan to tell David a story about a little lamb being taken from its owner to enrage David so he could see his own behavior.

    I would pray for wisdom to find that story so that the male leadership have that ‘aha’ moment and then change their behavior.


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