As a culture, we tell women they are only valuable if they are young or thin or beautiful. Silver-haired actress Tyne Daly once said, “You know, my hair is very upsetting to people, but it’s upsetting on purpose. It is important to look old so that the young will not be afraid of dying. People don’t like old women. We don’t honor age in our society, and we certainly don’t honor it in Hollywood.”
Sadly, perhaps we need to admit that we don’t honor age in our churches either, particularly for women. Once a woman reaches a certain age or if a woman is not considered beautiful or outgoing or charming, she often disappears in the eyes of her community.
This came to the forefront a few weeks ago with the announcement for a new conference for women called IF: Gathering. The initial announcement targeted the conference to young women in their 20s and 30s. After receiving pushback about the age target, Jennie Allen, the conference founder, removed it altogether. With humility, she wrote to the generation above us and repented for the initial oversight:
Today we took down the defining age range on the IF website because we are sharing the planet together. That makes us ONE generation and you better believe we need your age! … Whatever your age, whatever your place—let’s do this arm and arm while we all live here for just a little while.
Friendship and community crosses generational lines. I can’t imagine my life without the women who not only mentor me but also befriend me, as a fellow journeyer, despite the fact that we come from different generations. Men and women of all ages have much to learn from the passion and laughter, anger and goodness, stories and sermons, resources and energy, of the people outside of our own narrow age ranges as often laid out in our church programs.
Read the rest of this post at Her.meneutics, Christianity Today’s Blog for Women.