I was raised Episcopalian, in a family that has remained fairly devout to this day. My parents still encourage me to attend church even though they know I can no longer in good conscience worship something I don't believe in. Their argument? The social advantages.
My childhood experiences around church and religion focused mainly around social events and assisting/performing in church services. My family seemed to be the first ones there and the last ones to leave in every church occasion. From an early age my parents were part of the adult choir, and I joined the children's choir when I was old enough. Outgrowing the children's choir, I spent my high school years as an acolyte ["altar boy" in Roman Catholic parlance, but obviously not fitting a girl in that role]. I remember the rector having to make the decision whether to allow girls in [because attendance in our church had shrunk and too few boys were available] just before I was old enough for the job and being struck by how unfair that seemed. Why would boys younger than me be suited for a role when I wasn't?
I think this focus on activities as opposed to real doctrine prevented me from recognizing the questions and diffrences I had until I was in my teens. I recall church became more and more difficult for me to attend as I felt increased demands to believe as opposed to washing dishes, singing anthems, or carrying a taper in the procession. I could win any Bible verse contest, but when it came time to start talking about "what God means to me" I blanked out completely.
The questions I had about religion that really caused me to "leave" were not really about gender. The big one - why would a perfect God want us to worship him? - has never been answered by anyone of faith. In my personal relationships, I do not worship those who are superior to me or responsible for my care, though I recognize that gratitude is warranted. If someone superior to me were to demand that I get down on my knees and worship him, I would immediately question that person's sanity.
In the end, I have little problem with Episcopal doctrine as opposed to that of any other Christian sect. Were I to return to church, the Episcopal church would be one of my first choices for many reasons. They have not been one of the worst offenders in terms of gender issues, in my opinion. In the end, they did choose to include girls in the acolyte group and ordain women as priests. They appear to remain open to individual choice in terms of life roles - work, marriage, children.
In the end, what I stand for is individual choice. I was struck by something I read in a commentary about a speech made by someone involved with the Latter Day Saints Relief Society - cookie cutters are for cookies, not for people. As a very intelligent woman with many skills suited to the world outside of childrearing, the idea of a traditional marriage, as a homemaker with hubby "in charge" would be stifling to me.
Don't get me wrong, that isn't an insult to women who choose the homemaker route temporarily or permanently. I defend their choice to the death. I can see all the real reasons for it [as opposed to Biblical], as well, and can see circumstances when I might choose to do it temporarily. It is simply a role that would not meet my needs long term.
My needs, you might ask? What about the needs of the children? My first concern is that if my own needs are not met, I cannot be a good parent. A mother who is starving to death cannot nurse an infant. Nobody would fault me for finding someone to care for my child if I were too ill to do so. Very few folks would fault me for occasional use of a competent babysitter [or enlisting family] to meet one's normal needs to get out and do "adult" things.
I submit that my need for intellectual accomplishment is as great as my need for food or water. I do not believe children are harmed by being cared for by other adults.