church nonsense, war on women

Woe to You, Sir!

Ted McGrath, Creative Commons

Ted McGrath, Creative Commons

I was going to write a parody on a ridiculous post:  10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry.  But as I read through some of the many comments it garnered, I decided to go a different route.

Most of the comments zeroed in on #2 – the divorcee.  I have something to say about that, too.  And since comments are closed on the post, I’ll weigh in here:

My first husband divorced me after six years of marriage.  We had a two year old.  His reason for leaving us?  He didn’t want to be married anymore and God wanted him to be happy.   “No,” I said, “God wants you to be a man of integrity, a promise-keeper.”  But with no-fault I had no say.

I lamented that my life was irreparably ruined.  Sin was foisted upon me and there was nothing I could do about it.  And then my friend, to whom I was lamenting, simply said, “God can forgive sin.”  Whoa!  What?  My life isn’t over?  It still felt over.

For years I did not date because I was not sure Scripture allowed me to remarry, so what was the point?  But God showed me through Scripture that He held my ex-husband accountable, not me.  He also showed me that He likes marriage, it was His idea and He would prefer that I rear my daughter in the context of one.  How will she know what a good marriage looks like if I don’t model one?

So I began to open up to the idea.

About that time a male friend mentioned that he would never marry a divorced woman.  Damaged goods and all.  I told him he might miss out on someone really great.  Someone like me.

When I married my first husband, I did not believe in divorce.  My parents were divorced and I knew the pain it causes.  Life with him was not easy but I was committed to sticking it out.  My commitment to the long haul was tested and true.

My first husband, who grew up in a Christian home with parents whose marriage lasted until death did they part, also had his commitment tested.  His commitment failed.

On paper he looked like a solid investment – reared in a Christian home, parents still married.

On paper I looked like a risky investment – reared in a non-Christian home, parents divorced.

And yet his commitment failed and mine did not.

You never know for sure what will come out of a person until marriage squeezes them.  My friend who would never marry a divorced woman is still single these many years later.  If he does find someone to marry, someone who looks good on paper, it is still a gamble.  I think he will have a greater guarantee of success if he marries someone whose commitment to marriage has been tested and proved solid.

The pastor who wrote the post, the one I yesterday called vile, evil or sorely misguided, once again played fast and loose with the Scriptures.  The examples are many.   I pulled this one from the comment section:

Andy, I live in New York State where gay marriage is legal. What happens if you get saved after a gay marriage? Well, you must immediately leave the gay marriage and cease from the sin of homosexuality.

Same thing here. What happens if you get saved after a 2nd marriage? Well, now that you know it’s adultery, you immediately forsake the 2nd “marriage” and cease from the sin of adultery.

John 8:11:
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

What?  Two wrongs make a right?  Repent from the sin of divorce by committing the sin of divorce?

And don’t go misinterpreting Jesus’s words.  The woman was not married to the man with whom she was committing adultery.

If I could, I would ask that pastor what he would do with David.  David clearly committed adultery with Bathsheba, then married her.  When Nathan finally confronted him, marrying Bathsheba was not on God’s list of grievances:

Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 2 Samuel 12:9

Yes, God hates divorce.  Not for the sake of hating it but because it hurts people.  He also hates judgment and gossip and slander and lies and haughty eyes because those things hurt people, too.  They hurt the people He loves.  Of course He does.

I’ll give Jesus the final word:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”  both from Matthew 23
© The Reluctant Baptist, 2015
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life, war on women

Trickle Down Jesus

Road Fun, Creative Commons

Road Fun, Creative Commons

If I could give just one gift to one person – money no object, but anonymously – to whom would I give it?  Well, daily prompt, let’s see…

No one is a better gift-giver than God, so I’d start there.  He gave One Gift to all of us and to each individual one of us.  Not really anonymously – His gift-giving was heralded by angels – but sort of anonymously in that some have been given the gift and don’t know it yet.

So on this eve of Christmas Eve, I would give the One Gift, too.  I would give Jesus to the head pastor of my church-with-many-campuses, in hopes that He would trickle down.  Here’s what I mean:

Sunday the hub, my daughter and I went to the urban campus for worship.  The woman leading the opening number was rocking it.  I mean ROCKING it!  It was everything you would expect from rousing African-American worship and it was a sight and sound to behold.

Then the pastor spoke of his vision for our church/community center.  He spoke of the woman caught in the act of adultery and how Jesus, kneeling in the sand, forgave her, told her to go and sin no more.  He said he wants us to be a church that kneels in the sand and shows compassion.  He wants us to be a place where the addict puts down his needle, puts down her phone….  He wants us to be a place where the gang banger can come in and say, “No one told me to pull my pants up.  But I kind of feel like I should pull my pants up…”

Now ordinarily that kind of talk would have had my heart shouting, “YeeHaw!” and my skin all goose-bumpy.  It would make me want me to stand up and cheer.  But, alas, there was none of that.  There was only the sound of a gong resounding in my ears.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

I have no doubt that the good pastor wants to be that kind of church, that he wants the Spirit to move in that city and redeem the broken.  Which is why I would give Him a trickle down of Jesus.

Yes and amen, Jesus loved and forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery.  He displayed all kinds of love to women, bestowed upon them all kinds of dignity.  I was so happy to hear His name mentioned, frankly, because it is a bit rare in our church.   And that is the problem.  The power that the pastor wants to unleash on that city comes in the name of Jesus, yet the church operates in the name of Paul.

Yes, we can be a church that kneels in the sand and forgives, but as long as we put that forgiven woman under the stranglehold of holy misogyny, we will lack any real power to make a difference.

Jesus loved women.  He created them to reveal 50% of His image and to co-labor with the other 50% of His image.  Restricting women – making them subservient to men (in a thinly veiled and “doctrinally correct” way) – just plays into the hands of the one who is trying to divide and conquer.  Or at least divide and render weak.

I know I’ve said this before – many times – but it is a drum worth beating.  Because until my pastor(s) put aside the traditions of men and embrace the whole story, we will continue to be nothing more than clanging symbols – making noise, garnering attention, and fading away…..

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me

And now for the conclusion of Anne on women in ministry:

And from that day to this I have been very confident of my call.  And I’ve seen that He has made me like a strong pillar on that platform.  Because I know that He’s called me, in humility, to share His word.

You know I met a pastor one time who had a problem with the fact that I was speaking at his convention but he was brave enough to come sit on the back row and he came up to me afterward and he said, “Anne, I didn’t think you should be here today but you know what?  He said, “I was sitting back there listening to you and you know what you’ve done?  You’re just like a waitress and you’ve gone into the kitchen and you’ve prepared the food and you’ve served it to us and I want to thank you for not messing it up.”

All I can say is, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Anne recounted this with a smile and a laugh and her audience laughed, too.  But I wonder how many hearts sank.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had to sit and listen to a man “mess it up”.  This whole misogynistic bent on the Scriptures is a massive mess up.

And I thought, “You know what, when we go out to a restaurant we don’t have a problem that we’re served by a female waitress.  And so when I give out God’s word, I want to give it out faithful to the text.  I want to prepare it so that it is tasty and attractive and meaningful and relevant and then I want to serve it – to whoever God puts at my table – without messing it up.

My daughter and I interpreted the pastor’s comment differently.  I took his comment as him trying to frame her speaking in a way that was doctrinally acceptable.  As long as he could see her as a waitress serving the men a plateful of words, he was okay with it.

My daughter took it as him saying, “You, a mere waitress, went into the kitchen – where only (male) chefs belong – and prepared the meal.  I’m just glad you didn’t mess it up.

Either way the guy’s a jerk.

So, beware, if I had listened to the body language of those dear men – who I know meant well – and actually, I thank God for them because it drove me to my knees so I could settle that issue – but if I had listened to them, for over twenty years I would be stripped of probably 75% of the ministry God has given me.  And I can’t tell you the changed lives and the fruit….fade out.

Dear men who meant well?  That’s generous.  And enabling.  The men might be dear to someone, sometimes.  And they might have been sincere in their objection.  But rude behavior is rude behavior.  And there is nothing well-meaning in knocking someone down as they step up to the podium.  I wonder if they would dare behave so badly if a man with whom they disagreed was stepping up to the podium.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.  Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”  Acts 3:19-21 NIV

God is going to restore everything back to the way He intended it to be.  Restoration is hard on the thing being restored.  For a piece of furniture to be restored, it must first be stripped down.  For a relationship to be restored, it too must be stripped down.  Restoration is also hard on the restorer.  For us to be restored, Jesus had to be stripped down and nailed to a cross.  I believe God is beginning to strip down and restore some of the erroneous teachings of the church with regard to women.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”  1 Peter 4:17

Restoration will be hard on the church, but we have to get it right before there is any hope for anyone else.  Let’s be part of the solution dear reader.

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Uh oh

Yesterday’s post ended with Anne saying:

So I said, “Father, I hear you, I know what you are saying, but I have to ask you one more question and then we’ll just put this issue to bed, but what did Paul mean when he told Timothy, ‘I permit not a woman to teach or have authority over men’?”

And this is what God brought to my mind alright, and there is disagreement on this and I just agree to disagree.

Hold up a minute.  God is capable of making Himself perfectly clear.  Agreeing to disagree might be an indication that neither party has the whole story.  When things don’t add up, there is more to the equation.

But I checked it out with scholars after that, people who know Greek – which I don’t – and they said that my emphasis was correct.  [That the emphasis is on authority.]

This is where we often go wrong.  A “scholar” gives us a scholarly explanation and we say, “Oh, okay” and continue on our way.  But I can’t be satisfied with a scholarly pat on the head if I am going to get to the bottom of anything.  So I took a look at the passage for myself.  1 Timothy 2:12-15:

“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet”. v. 12

I looked up all the Greek words.  I found no emphasis on the authority part.  What I did find was a more literal translation:

But a woman is not allowed to teach nor (first occurrence: take her own life or the life of another) act under her own authority, hence she does not meddle in the affairs of others.

There is no “I”.  Was it added to give the words the weight of Paul’s authority?  Perhaps Paul was just stating the current state of affairs under Jewish law, rather than instructing the church on how things should be.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. v. 13

Sorry, but Paul is incorrect.  It’s a common misconception, but man was not created first. God created men and women at the same time.  On the sixth day.  Surely he read Genesis.  God created man and woman in His image, at the same time and with the same purpose, then He formed man and then He fashioned woman.

It’s like this: I just hosted Thanksgiving dinner.  I spent many happy hours poring over recipes in order to create the perfect menu.  The menu was created weeks before the meal was actually prepared.  Long before the first potato was mashed and the first rolls were baked, I knew exactly what would be on that table.  The point is, God created everything in those 6 days but some of what He created didn’t appear until later.  As soon as He speaks something into existence, it exists, even if it cannot yet be seen.

All of mankind – male and female – was spoken into existence at the same time.  Woman wasn’t created as an afterthought for lonely man, man and woman were created together for God.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. v. 14

As I explained in Winning the War on Women, Eve was deceived and she sinned.  She admitted it.  Adam was there and he ate, too.  Therefore, if Adam was not deceived, then that means he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.  That is rebellion, which carries a more severe consequence.  (Luke 12:48)  Hmmm, did Paul miss that?

But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. v.15

Okay wait.  Paul told the Ephesians that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by works so that no one can boast.  Remember?  So which is it?  Saved by grace, not by works or saved by childbearing?

Let’s recap this passage as translated:  Women cannot teach or have authority over men, and must keep quiet, because Adam was created first (wrong), because Eve was deceived (and Adam flat out rebelled) and because a woman’s only hope of salvation is to bear children.

None of that squares with Paul’s actions (he co-labored for the gospel with women) and it doesn’t square with things he wrote elsewhere.

So was Paul mistaken, misquoted or mistranslated?  Was he trying to be please/appease everyone?  Was he merely reporting on the way things were, rather than teaching how they ought to be?  I have theories.

But for now let’s get back to Anne:

But this is what God seemed to say to me:   That the emphasis is on the authority.  And that He did not want me to teach or have authority over men – to teach from a position of authority over man.

Two things:

Seemed to say?  If it wasn’t crystal clear then it might not have been God speaking.  Because God knows how to make Himself clear.  Dig deeper, Anne.

Furthermore, we were created in His image, male and female.  Why would God put a portion of His image in authority over another portion of His image?  There is no hierarchy to the trinity – not in heaven anyway.  So why would He instill a hierarchy in us?

But that I was not only free, I was commissioned and commanded to go into all of the world to share my personal testimony of who Jesus is in my life and to give out His word.  And that he would determine the audience.  But that I was to be faithful to the message He put on my heart.

We are free.  But we will never be as free as God created us to be as long as we listen to God through the filter of Paul.

What if the church regrouped and put Paul into proper perspective?  What if we entertained the notion that he is not infallible, that his words do not carry the same weight as the teachings of Jesus?  We twist and convolute our understanding of Scripture to satisfy our insistence that Paul’s words are “God-breathed”, but what if they aren’t?  Jesus never said they were.  Paul didn’t even say they were.  Paul was referring to the Law and the Prophets when he said all Scripture is God-breathed, not to his own writings.  What if we turn things around and force Paul’s writings to conform to Jesus?  Or would that wreck everything?

My daughter saw this statement on a forum of pastors discussing how they handle the issue of women in leadership:  “I allow women to lead worship, as long as there is a man on stage with her.”  In case she does what?  Mis-sing a song?  Assert authority over the men singing the songs?

When we use Paul’s miswhatever writings as a church manual, things can get pretty ridiculous.

Which brings me to tomorrow’s (much shorter) post, the “You’ve got to be kidding me” conclusion.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Feel free to chime in.  Respectfully.

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

Go Anne!

4602805654_7cdf999e2d_o

Chris Devers, Creative Commons

I just watched a video clip of Anne Graham Lotz speaking on “women in ministry.” I don’t have permission to show you the clip, so I’ll transcribe bits of it for you.  As I watched my thoughts went from “Go Anne!” to “Uh oh” to “You have got to be kidding me.”  The clip is rather long so I will break it into two – maybe three – parts.  Today I’ll share the first part,  “Go Anne!”

Here’s Anne [anything in the block quote that is in brackets is my commentary]:

I was invited by a group of men to come and address a pastors’ convention.  And these men were wonderful.  They had sensed something of God’s gift in me and they felt like I had a message to give and so when I prayed about it I felt like God put a message on my heart.  I remember it was from Jeremiah and so I went to the convention and went to give the message and when I got up on the platform there were about 800 guys there and they were seated around round tables and it was a convention setting so it looked like there were thousands of people and it went out to infinity and I was scared to death.  Very few times had I spoken to a group like that outside of my Bible study.  So I stood up at the lectern and I went to give the message and maybe it was just one or two – it looked like everybody – of these men picked up their chairs and turned them around and put their backs to me.  They were saying through their body language, “Anne, God has told me to tell you you don’t belong on the platform when there are men in the audience.”  So I finished the message but I want to tell you I crawled home in my Spirit.  And this is how naive I was at that point, I didn’t know that was an issue.  I had never bumped into that before.  [She must not be Baptist.]  So I got down on my knees – that’s the only thing I knew to do – because I wanted to know if that was my Shepherd’s voice.  Were they speaking into my life with an authentic voice?

I love Anne, and I am not criticizing her in any way, but she did not have to get on her knees for this one.  Was that her Shepherd’s voice?  No, it was not.  Because her Shepherd is not rude.  If those men were speaking with an authentic voice, they would have done so with kindness and respect.  Their rudeness indicates that they were speaking for the un-Shepherd.  For the anti-Shepherd.

So I asked God please to speak to me and I had been in Jeremiah.  And He spoke to me from Jeremiah chapter 1.  God told Jeremiah – when He called him to be a prophet – to give out His word and Jeremiah said, “I can’t do that, I’m just a child”.  And God said, “Jeremiah, don’t be afraid of their faces.”  That verse just leaped up off the page and I felt like God said, “Anne, don’t be afraid of their backs.  I’m going to put my words in your mouth.”  And then at the end of that chapter He said, “I want you to speak to whoever I put in front of you.”  He said, “You give out the words that I give you to say or I’m going to terrify you in front of them.”  And I felt like He was saying, “Anne, your responsibility is not to determine who sits in your audience, that’s my responsibility.  Your responsibility is to be faithful to the message I put on your heart.  You give it out to the best of your ability and I’ll determine who is in the audience.”  And then in that same verse He said, “I’m going to fortify you, make you like a bronze wall, a strong pillar” and I felt like He was going to make me strong on the platform.  And that I would be accountable to Him and not to my audience.

Go Anne!  This January I am going to be faithful to the message God put on my heart and it is going to turn all this “man up”-ing upside down.

And then He brought to my mind – I stayed on my knees – and then He brought to my mind the encounters He had after the resurrection and in particular John chapter 20 when he encountered Mary Magdalene, do you remember?…..  “Mary, I want you to tell eleven men…” She was the first [post-resurrection] evangelist.

And I said, “Father, I hear you.  I know what you are saying but I just have to ask you one more question and then we’ll just lay this issue to bed.  But, what did Paul mean when he told Timothy, ‘I permit not a woman to teach or have authority over men’?”

Uh oh.

We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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war on women

Women, Voices and a Bit of Bible

Creative Commons  Duncan Hull

Creative Commons Duncan Hull

“The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:” Psalm 68:11

I read yesterday’s post to my daughter.  All I wanted to know was a) Is it too long? and b) Is it boring?

I did not like the grin on her face when I looked up from reading.

“What?  Too long and too boring?”

“No.”

“Then why the grin?”

“I don’t know, I guess I always chuckle when I hear ‘blogger voice'”.

“Blogger voice?  I don’t have blogger voice!  Are you saying my writing is prosaic?”

“You used too many adverbs.  My Hemingway app always tells me to remove the adverbs.”

“Your Hemingway app is for college papers, I was telling a story.   Without adverbs a story is just a laundry list of facts.”

Stinking kid.  Now I’m all self-conscious about sounding bloggery.

So today I’m just going to post an excerpt from the Bible study I wrote; try to get my voice back and hope you learn something:

You have probably heard that a woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.  That claim became widely quoted after it was mentioned in a 2006 book entitled The Female Brain. The following year, a group of University of Arizona researchers published the results of their study of 396 college students.  They found that women spoke 16,215 words per day, while men spoke 15,669 – a  difference which is not statistically significant.

The quote has stuck, even though it has since been removed from the book, because it seems to ring true.  Perhaps it rings true because we instinctively know that there are differences in the way men and women communicate.  Matthias R. Mehl, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona and the study’s lead author, found that the difference is not in the quantity of words, it’s in the type of words. Women use more pronouns, men use more numbers.  Women tend to talk about relationships; men talk about sports, technology and gadgets.

A perfect example played out at a small group meeting I attended one night.  One of the men shared that his tenant seems depressed lately.  During a recent visit to the property his tenant lamented that life really had him down and then he relayed the details of his shipwrecked health, finances and relationships.  The group member paused and said, “He doesn’t talk anymore.  He used to talk all the time.  I’d come in and he’d say, ‘How about those Tigers?’ or we’d talk about the Giants.”   I wonder whether I am the only woman in the group who chuckled inwardly.

I ran that last paragraph by my husband and asked whether it made sense.

He said it did.  Then I asked, “Do you know why I chuckled?”  “Nope.”  Later I ran it past my daughter.  It took her a second and then she grinned as she caught the irony.

I think I’ll do my own mini research here.  Do you know why I chuckled?

Now for a little bit of Bible:

The Hebrew word for Eve is Chavvah (pronounced khav-vaw’).  It is a proper name which has been defined as “life” or “living”.  The Septuagint translates it into Greek as “Zoe”.  Chavvah is derived from the Hebrew root word chavah (pronounced khaw-vah’), which means “to tell, declare, show, make known” and from the Aramaic root word chava’ (pronounced khav-aw’), which means “to show, interpret, explain, inform, tell, declare”.

If the 20,000/7,000 statistic had proved to be true, I would say Eve’s name indicates that woman is the verbal side of God.  But since men and women are equally verbal, we can glean from the root of her name that hers is a wise and life-giving opinion.

So speak up in church, woman, show, explain, declare, make stuff known with whatever voice you have because your voice contains the wisdom of  God.

 

 

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

 

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faith, Light, war on women

Help Meet

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I had the word “helpmate” thrown at me the other day by a woman who was schooling me in my “biblical” role as a woman.  I did not bother to debate her, however, since I had already laid out my viewpoint and she was deaf to it.  Any further pearls tossed her way would likely be trampled.

But, since the word “helpmate” is still being used, erroneously, let’s deconstruct:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”   Genesis 2:18

The word for helper here is the Hebrew word ‘ezer.  It is the same word translated as help in the following Psalms:

Psalm 33:20:  We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 70:5  But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Lord, do not delay.

Psalm 121:1-2  I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:8  Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Did you catch that the word implies divine help?

God is our helper, and He is certainly not our servant.  So when did we twist divine help into subservient help?

Some translations call woman a “suitable” helper; King James calls her a “help meet”.

The Hebrew word translated “suitable” or “help meet” is neged.  The definition:  “in front of, in the sight or presence of, before the eyes of, face to face”.

In other words, woman is divine help that man can see.  She is face-to-face help he can look in the eye; divine help that is standing right in front of him.  Scripture has more to say about that, but I’ll save it for another post.

In the meantime, I like Rachel Held Evans’ description of the kind of help she is to her husband because it describes my hubby and me:

The teaching that men are to be the “spiritual leaders” of their homes is found nowhere in Scripture, and yet I—along with far too many young evangelical women—spent hours upon hours fretting over this in college, worrying I’d never find a guy who was more knowledgeable about the Bible than I, who was always more emotionally connected to God than I,  who was better at leading in the church than I, and who consistently exhibited more faithfulness and wisdom than I. (In fact, under this paradigm, I came to see many of my gifts as liabilities, impediments to settling down with a good “spiritual leader”!)

Well guess what. I never found such a person. I never found a spiritual “leader.” Instead, I found a spiritual companion to travel with me on the journey of faith, for better or worse, in good times and bad, in times of spiritual wealth and in times of spiritual poverty.  Dan isn’t expected to always be the strong one while I am always the weak one. Instead, we cheer each other on, help each other up, and challenge each other to do better. Sometimes we walk side by side, moving along at a quick pace. Sometimes we help each other over boulders and fallen trees. Sometimes I’m leading the way; sometimes Dan is. Sometimes I carry him and sometimes he carries me. The journey of faith is far too treacherous and exciting and beautiful to spend it looking at the back of another person’s head. Jesus leads us down the path, and we tackle it together, one step at a time.   (You can read the rest of her post here.)

The church has been promulgating an erroneous understanding of the role of women for far too long, but thank God He is calling many of us to take a fresh look at the Scriptures.  So look, and before you utter the phrase “help mate” or “help meet”, understand that it means divine, face to face help.  Otherwise, a whole lot of men, marriages and churches will continue to miss out on the divine wisdom God has given them.  And that would be a pity.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

 

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Winning the War on Women

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise

“The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise” c 1791 by American Benjamin West.  From the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

I recently read an article that tackled five modesty myths.  Myth #4 blamed lust on Eve.  This was the section heading:

Manipulating a man’s attention for the purpose of affirmation is how women are tempted to lust. Case in point: Eve.”

I am so, so tired of Christian women blaming Eve for everything.  And since the adage is true that if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem, it is way past time I set the record straight.  I will no longer allow my silence to perpetuate the lie.

How It All Went Down.

To be fair to myself, I haven’t been completely silent.  I wrote a Bible study a few years ago laying out the whole Garden fiasco. As I studied, I discovered that what the church teaches is not exactly how it all went down. Even the title of Benjamin West’s painting does not have it quite right.  For the last four years I have been sharing what I discovered with local audiences. Now it is time to share it with you in hopes of putting some very old and pervasive mis-teachings to rest.

The Problem Isn’t Exactly Paul.

Paul’s letters fuel the mis-teachings. In 1 Timothy 2 he wrote:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

Paul was correct when he wrote that Eve is the one who was deceived, but consider this: When the LORD tucked Moses securely into the cleft of a rock and passed before him, He proclaimed this,

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Of all the things God could have said about Himself, He said that.  Why do I bring it up?  Because I was taught that sin is sin; that murder is no different from lying, etc.  But right here, God made a distinction.  Wickedness, rebellion and sin are not the all the same.  They all separate us from God, but they do not all have the same consequences.  (See Luke 12:47-48 if you don’t believe me.)  Sin is anything that falls short of God’s standards.  We can sin and not even know it. Rebellion is knowing something is a sin and doing it anyway.  Wickedness is knowingly causing someone else to sin. Eve was deceived and she sinned.  She admitted it.  If Adam was not deceived, then that means he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.  That is rebellion, which carries a more severe consequence.  (Luke 12:48)  Yet Paul did not mention that.  I have a theory as to why, but it will have to wait. Eve sinned, Adam rebelled, and yet Eve gets the blame.  Oh how I wish I had the time and you had the attention span for me to tell it all to you now.

The Problem Is The Devil.

If you are familiar with Genesis 3, then you know that Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed God.  And because Eve called out the devil, and Adam protected him, there is – to this day – enmity between the devil and the woman.  The Septuagint uses “hatred” rather than “enmity”.  And given the current sex slave industry and the long history of abuses, I’d say that hatred is accurate.  The enemy hates women. He is holding an insidiously long and bitter grudge against us. And because Eve confessed her sin and Adam did not, God did something that often gets overlooked:  He booted Adam from the garden, but He did not boot Eve.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man [singular] has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He [singular] must not be allowed to reach out his [singular] hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him [singular] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man [singular] out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Did you hear me?  Adam was booted, Eve was not. So let’s recap:  Eve confessed, Adam did not.  Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed God.  Adam was booted, Eve left voluntarily. Did you know all that?  If not, then take a fresh look at the Scriptures and do some fact checking.  Pastors, Sunday school teachers, church leaders, older-women-teaching-younger-women it is time to stop parroting the same old misinformation.  It is time to stop blaming Eve.  We have a responsibility to be accurate; to set our minds to real understanding. Now go, take a good look at the Good Book and let me know what you find.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

Picking Your Paul

photoWe were both sipping mochas in a trendy downtown cafe.  Mine was warm and creamy, hers was iced.

Daughter:  It’s amazing how your pastor can preach a beautiful message about Martha and Mary and point out Jesus’ invitation to women to sit at His feet as disciples, yet your church expects women to merely fill seats and give money without any real participation.

Me:   That’s because Paul trumps Jesus.

Or, as Fake Mark Driscoll (@NotDriscoll) tweeted, “I’m tired of people saying Jesus gave women a voice.  If I’m not mistaken, about 30 years later Paul suggested they zip it.”

It doesn’t matter that the first person to whom Jesus whispered His Messianic identity was a woman.  And that many of the Samaritans from her town believed in Him because of her testimony.

It doesn’t matter that there are Old Testament precedents for women in leadership.  Deborah, after all, ruled over men as both a prophet and a judge.

It doesn’t even matter that Paul considered Priscilla his co-worker in Christ.

Paul wrote that women should remain silent in the church and by golly we are sticking to it.  Here’s what he said, “Women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”  (1 Corinthians 14:34 NIV).  And what law would that be?  There is nothing in the capital l Law of the Old Testament that says women must remain silent.  And since he used the lower case l for law, I’m guessing he was referring to the Talmud, which is merely a collection of rabbinical teachings.

In 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul wrote, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”  I being the operative word.   Therefore, Fake Mark Driscoll, it does not matter that Paul suggested that women zip it, because we are Jesus’s church, not Paul’s.

And let me just point out that Paul also wrote:  “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith… There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26, 28 NIV)

A friend posted this on Facebook: “The Bible is not trail mix, you cannot pick out what you like and leave the rest.”  For what unholy reasons does my church hold the teachings of the Talmud and Paul’s personal preference with an iron grip, while ignoring his co-ministry with Lydia and Priscilla?  Why do they ignore the Old Testament and the dignity and voice Jesus gave to women?

Satan’s strategy is to divide and conquer, and some of us are playing right into his crafty old hands.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

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