I confess when I read this article, Faith- Based Refusal to Shake Hands with a Woman, and a specific religion came to mind. I won’t share which but it wasn’t mine – after all we American Christians are more “advanced.” We don’t believe shaking a female’s hand pollutes or makes a man unclean.

businessman-and-businesswoman-shake-hands“At a business meeting, a man refused to shake hands with me and all the other women in the room, citing ‘religious restrictions.’ He proceeded to shake hands with the men. He was, I might add, otherwise respectful.”

I’ll be honest, even though I want to respect other faiths’ view of women, more often than not, I find myself breathing a sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve progressed beyond this.”

Or have we?

A woman on staff of a conservative evangelical church sent me an email. She was hurting over the rejection she experienced at the hands of one of her brothers in the church.

urlThe man was offended that Sally (not her real name) held a pastoral position. Even though Sally was appointed by her male elders, this man, Sam (not his real name) didn’t feel it was biblical. Sally heard Sam was frustrated by her presence on staff so she decided to reach out to him and see if they could meet. Sam then emailed another male pastor on staff and informed him that he was offended that a female pastor would email him and that a male staff member should have emailed him.

Not a handshake withheld but still.

I found myself breathing that sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve moved beyond that.”

Or have we?

These kinds of encounters are painful. I wish they weren’t. But they are. It’s painful to realize that your gender is a liability – that being female offends.

When I read the article my mind immediately went to “another religion far away” but it’s not something “they” do – it’s something we do and it’s happening right here in our local churches.