I attended a church today, at the Seaside Interfaith Chapel in Seaside, Florida. The building is stunning, as you can see by the photo above. The architecture is simple, and everything is white, which gives it a beach feel, but it also gives it a graceful feel, simple even.
Inside, and the service was packed. I don’t know if it’s usually packed, but Mother’s Day may have been one of the reasons. The interior of the church is as beautiful as the outside.
I sat in the back, like any good Baptist would, right by the door, just in case the pastor said anything that would make me very angry. Of course, I didn’t leave. I even talked with the woman sitting next to me—she told me that she hadn’t been to church in years, and that she was feeling a little empty. Through the sermon, I thought about her.
The music leader opened with his guitar. He strummed gently and sweetly. I was nearly lulled into submission.
And then the preaching began. The pastor asked, “How many of you have mothers?” Then he said, “Fathers, remember that you are the first view your child has of God.” To the mothers, he said, “Mothers, you are the model for relationship that your children will have.”
What? Fathers, you have the image of God? Women, you don’t?
He went on to tell the story of a nagging mother. Then told dads not to be absent. Then talked about God as father. He added that sometimes mothers can show us Jesus’ love.
It was not a bad sermon. There was no discussion of women being subordinate. There was no discussion of men being the head of their household. It was friendly. Grace-filled even. But it seems to me that nice, grace-filled sermons are probably worse than the mean ones. Because, no matter what, the message he said was, “God looks like boys/men. Not like girls/women.” It was a subtle message of not-as-good.