Believing The Right Thing -- By: Kathryn E. Stegall

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 09:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: Believing The Right Thing
Author: Kathryn E. Stegall

Believing The Right Thing

Kathryn E. Stegall

Kathryn Elliott Stegall is a graduate of Geneva College and holds a Missions Certification from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Her work as a Christian educator, writer and missionary has been both in the USA and in Cyprus.

It happened many years ago. I was having a discussion with a male friend. We had taken opposing sides on a theological question, one having nothing whatsoever to do with the role of women in the church. It soon became apparent that the weight and substance of the arguments were mounting up in behalf of my position. Perhaps I was displaying some satisfaction in that, or perhaps it was just becoming obvious to my friend that he didn’t have much of a point. I don’t remember all the details clearly, but I remember the shot. Perhaps it was after I had too confidently made a statement too liberally sprinkled with “I think...” that he drew and fired, “The Bible says women are to be silent.”

After the split second it takes for these things to register I replied (with a sense of complete humiliation), “Yes. It does.” And just as quickly, my friend told me he was only kidding.

But the conversation was over. It had been shot dead. He was right. The Bible does say that women are to be silent (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:12-14). I felt I had been put in my place by God himself. In spite of my friend’s assurances that his comment was just a joke and that we should continue the discussion, I could not. I tried to smile and made a hasty getaway.

Was he joking? Perhaps on the most superficial level he was. Yet, he knew exactly where to go for the big guns when he needed them. Maybe he drew and fired without much thought, but he hit the target just the same.

My humiliation soon gave birth to rage, an anger resulting from my intense commitment to God and his truth, yet which seemed to be against this very same God. This emotional conflict grew out of an even more complex intellectual conflict. I was confronted with the need to exercise my faith to believe that by his rich grace God had made me alive in Christ so that I was no longer a foreigner and alien in the church but never quite a brother or fellow citizen either (Eph. 2:4-6, 19-22, 3:6).

For many years I tried to resolve this conflict by “doing the right thing.” The “right thing” was to confess my anger, accept my lot with humility, and go on doing the permitted, the prescribed, the expected, fulfilling my “female” role. But even though d...

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