I’ll ask in advance for forgiveness on the disjointed nature this post will more than likely take…I’ll try to stay on topic but it is interwoven in my mind with so many other things it can be hard to separate.
For those of you who don’t know the term “Religious Community” most commonly is used to describe a monastery or convent.
YES, I think that the Seventh-day Adventist church needs to embrace the idea of Religious Communities and those who are called to that life.
About 6 weeks ago I was in a serious discussion with my parents about the state of the SDA denomination, church politics traditional views and the number of single women within the church. They were dumbstruck when I told them in no uncertain terms that I had no doubts in my mind that if I had been born into most any other denomination but Seventh-day Adventist I would have joined a religious community after my foray at College and become a Nun.
Over the last 18 months I have been doing a lot of soul searching and being brutally honest with myself about the decisions I’ve made in my life and the things that I have allowed to pass me by. Looking back I see that I had a very deep calling to mission work and the life of a Nun(they aren’t just Catholic you know!).
Between the ages of 17 & 21 I tried to focus on missions numerous times only to be rejected by things that I didn’t have control over, and people who I trusted but didn’t truly understand my desires or needs. I allowed myself to be convinced that what I was really called to be was a wife and mother.
Protestant Christianity has glorified the role of wife and mother to the end all and be all of women, especially in the last 40-50 years. I believe it is, in part, a back lash of the feminist movement that started in the 20s but gained full speed ahead status in the late 50s and early 60s.
Single women who devoted their lives to missions were not uncommon in the SDA church in the 20s, 30s & 40s, they built churches, delivered babies, ran schools and hospitals. But those days are gone. Whether you can blame it on a change in Church culture or modern society’s lack of value for women(and their virtue) I can’t claim to know, but long term mission work is almost impossible for a single woman to do within the Church structure.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to lay blame at the feet of the Church for what I consider to be my own personal failings. There are scores of young women who have struck out on their own and done what they felt they needed to do when it comes to a calling in the mission field. I am however faulting them for upholding a stigma against women who do not marry and have a family. But that is probably best left for another post.
Back to Nuns & Religious Communities…The Demographics of the SDA church is wildly off balance. While families made up a large portion of the Church body, single women out number the men 3-1. In the coming decade that number is more than likely to go up to 4-1.
As a Church we MUST see that our future holds a church body of women, rapidly aging, who have no children or husbands to care for, and in turn to take care of them. Families no longer stay concentrated in one geographical location. My own immediate family is a good case study for that. I live in East Texas, 30 miles away from my aging parents. I have a brother who lives in Florida with his young family, and a sister who lives in Alaska with her recently turned teenager. The Church is told by Paul in the Bible that they should take care of the widows and orphans in their midst, that would include women who never married, but have no family to care for them.
As a Church this is something that we MUST start looking at seriously.
To Be Continued…