Jesus, Light, war on women

The Fabled Rib

Whenever I see something that causes my soul to despair the opening line of Paint it Black (Rolling Stones) hums in my head.

This morning, skipping church to look after Dixie, I had a little internet with my coffee and I discovered that the same people who brought us The Mask You Live In (the trailer of which I shared with you yesterday), also did a documentary entitled Miss Representation. Based on its trailer, it’s about the distortions our culture teaches boys and girls about the value of women.

I’m not going to share the trailer, though, because it might be hard on those who are struggling to overcome a pornography addiction.

Sad, sad, sad: A documentary on what we teach boys and girls about the value of women and the images in the first half of the trailer are so pornographic I can’t show it to you.

I see a red door and I want it painted black.

The trailer blames advertising and the media, I blame the church.

More accurately I blame the devil, who declared war on women way back in the beginning. I blame the church for playing into his crafty hands.

I’ve written about this before.  Search “War on Women” at the top of my blog if you’re interested (or click here).

The Fabled Rib

In Purple Reign I explained that, contrary to popular belief, God did not create woman as an afterthought. She was not created merely to meet man’s need for companionship. Man and woman were created together, at the same time, and given a joint purpose.

Now let me explain about the fabled rib.

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  Genesis 2:22

The word translated rib here is the Hebrew word tsela’. It is an architectural term that means “side, beam, plank, leaves of a door” (think 2 sides of a double door). The only place tsela’ is translated as “rib” is here in Genesis 2.

Anytime a word is translated a certain way only once, it raises a red flag. Especially when the 41 other times it is used it is translated as side, plank, beam, etc.

Actual ribs are mentioned only once in the Bible. Daniel 7:5 refers to three ribs of an animal. That portion of Daniel was written in Aramaic so we cannot do a direct word comparison but the Aramaic word translated “rib” in Daniel is ‘ala.

So how and why was tsela’ mistranslated in Genesis 2:22?

The idea that Eve was made out of one of Adam’s ribs has its origin in rabbinical lore. One story says, “Eve was made out of a tail which originally belonged to Adam.”

Rav, the great head of the Babylonian rabbinical school, declared, “Eve was formed out of a second face, which originally belonged to Adam,” and another rabbi declared, “Instead of a rib taken from Adam, a slave was given him to wait upon him.”

(Remember when I told you the Hebrew word translated “suitable” or “help meet” in Genesis 2:20 is neged? And that neged means “in front of, in the sight or presence of, before the eyes of, face to face”?  I’m guessing Rav got his “second face” from a misinterpretation of neged – “face to face.”)

But it’s Rabbi Joshua’s disdainful commentary that has provided the fable which has been most promulgated by Christian Bible commentators.

Rabbi Joshua wrote: “God deliberated from what member He would create woman, and He reasoned with Himself thus:  I must not create her from Adam’s head, for she would be a proud person, and hold her head high. If I create her from the eye, then she will wish to pry into all things; if from the ear, she will wish to bear all things; if from the mouth, she will talk much; if from the heart, she will envy people; if from the hand, she will desire to take all things; if from the feet, she will be a gadabout. Therefore I will create her from the member which is hid, that is the rib, which is not even seen when man is naked.”

This is the inane fable which lies at the basis of the idea that Eve must have been made out of Adam’s rib, a fable still being told in the church today.

(Info on the rib fable taken from Dr. Katharine Bushnell’s, God’s Word to Women, paragraphs 42 and 43.)

A misogynistic Rabbi wrote a fable which was included in the Talmudic teachings (the Talmud was not Scripture, it was more like a collection of rabbinical commentaries), and those teachings have worked their way into the church.

“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees,” Jesus warned His disciples. (Matthew 16:5-12)

But someone, some many were asleep at the switch.

Need proof that the yeast of the Pharisees has permeated our Christian bread?

Open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 14 and read verses 26-35.

Now shift your eyes back up to verse 34, “[Women] are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”

Law? What law?

Notice the lower case l.

The “law” to which the verse is referring was likely the Talmud (remember: not Scripture but a collection of rabbinical teachings.) Here is a sampling of those Talmudic teachings: “Out of respect to the congregation, a woman should not herself read in the law.” “It is a shame for a woman to let her voice be heard among men.” “The voice of a woman is filthy nakedness.”

The upper case “Law” is the Torah. The Torah is Scripture, it’s the first five books of the Bible, aka the Pentateuch.

Search your memory, search your concordance, search God in prayer. Can you come up with one instance when the Law or the Prophets or Jesus said that women are not allowed to speak in church?

Can you come up with a single instance when any of them said a woman must be in submission?

I couldn’t come up with one either, and believe me, I searched and researched.

I did, however, find plenty of instances where women were allowed to speak, and where God elevated their status above the culturally prescribed submission. Here’s my list:

Sarah (Genesis 21); Miriam (Exodus 15); Deborah, a judge and a prophetess through whom God spoke (Judges 4 and 5); the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27); Huldah, another prophetess through whom God spoke (2 Kings 22); Job’s daughters, whom Job elevated once he saw the Lord clearly (Job 42); Anna, another prophetess through whom the Lord spoke (Luke 2); the various women Christ compelled to speak in public (Luke 8:47, Luke 13:13, John 4:1-42, John 20:1-18); the females whom Jesus invited into His church’s very first small group (Acts 1:12-24). There are plenty more but I’ll save them for you to add.

So here we are in 2017 despairing of a dire and dangerous Miss Representation of women and it’s all because of a misrepresentation of Scripture and a failure to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

Failure because some like the yeast.

Failure because some chose a long time ago to side with the devil in his war on women.

I see our misread Bread and I want it painted right…

Sing with me.



church nonsense, life, Light, Revelation

Or Maybe It’s the Church’s Sins

I wasn’t going to write about the unholy trinity this week because I’ve been feeling kinda’ lazy. But then, just before I left for church this morning, I saw another “Why You Should Be in Church” post. This one posited that perhaps the reason “you” aren’t in church has to do with your sins.

Or the church’s sins, was my first thought.

And then, for the whole twenty minute ride, I kept thinking. Out loud. The hub didn’t mind.

So now I’m writing after all, but I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Revelation 13 opens with the defeated dragon standing on the sea shore, contemplating his recent failures. His failure to destroy the woman and his failure to destroy her offspring. He needs a new plan and he needs a couple of recruits.

A beast arises from the sea. A Jesus-wannabe. It has a fake fatal wound on one of its heads and that fake wound is fake healed. Everyone is in awe of it. People start to worship the dragon because of it. The beast imprisons some of God’s people, it kills others.

A second beast – another cheap imitation of Jesus – comes out of the earth looking like a lamb. It acts more like an unholy prophet.

These two beasts gain political power through intimidation and economic sanctions. One requires everyone to get a tattoo on his or her forehead or right hand in order to participate in commerce.  They use spiritual deception.

And here’s the part I was telling the hub: The second beast – the unholy prophet – made the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast – the one who faked a resurrection.

Forced worship. Spiritual intimidation. Guilt trips. That’s the m.o. of the beast.

It’s not God’s m.o.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Perhaps some aren’t going to church because they find no rest there.

To the experts in the law Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

Perhaps some aren’t going to church because church just piles on. Or because it feels smug. Or because the Spirit just isn’t there.

I was not going to a church like that. To a church that was just playing church.

But I’ve found a new church. One where Jesus bids me to come and learn from Him. Gentle, humble-in-heart Him.

church nonsense, Jesus


This came up in my Facebook feed today:


With this caption:

“When I die, my kids will never have to wonder why certain books are in my library.” -Nate Pickowicz

It’s just the sort of thing that makes me reluctant.

Even so, I’ll try to never stamp “Pharisaical garbage” on anyone’s book (or Facebook post) because Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And even Paul said,

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”


church nonsense, faith, Jesus, Michigan

Christianity Run Amok

I read a sour post this morning entitled, “The Selfishness of Skipping Church.” It was written by a pastor, a young buck, and it was harsh.

There is a great line in the movie “Remember the Titans” about attitude reflecting leadership, and it makes me wonder whether the problem with church attendance lies there.

As I read, I thought that perhaps some are skipping his church because they are browbeaten at work Monday through Friday and they don’t want to be browbeaten on Sunday, too.

He said skippers are selfish because they aren’t serving. Sometimes I skip so that I can serve. As a female in a Baptist church, I wasn’t allowed to use my gifts for the benefit of the church.  I was relegated to the pews Sunday after Sunday, giving audience to those who had far less Bible knowledge and far less leadership training but far more testosterone.

So I’d get antsy and skip. I’d find the bright places, where boom bands are playing.


Who wants to be called a selfish sinner in church when they can be out on the streets of Detroit offering a plate of food and a few minutes of conversation and dignity to a homeless man?

My grandma used to say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Yes you do, young buck, yes you do.


Revolutionary “Leadership”

It was with the heart of a child that I went to church that night. We sat in the balcony, because there was no room left below. Before the pastor started the sermon he talked to the congregation about the life of the church community, available Bible studies and upcoming rummage sales. Then he told a joke. It started out with the song bipolar people sing at Christmas (I can’t remember the punch line) and it ended with “Schizophrenics sing, Do you hear what I hear?”  From, Jesus was Nowhere to be Found

The author of A Journey with You went on to say that the pastor was a powerful man in the community.  (Read her post when you’re through here because it is excellent.) And it struck me that there are pastors who are church leaders and there are pastors who are community leaders and then there are pastors who follow Christ.

The ones who follow Christ don’t exalt themselves, they stoop to wash feet.

They don’t worry about salary packages because the One they follow had no place to lay His royal head.

They don’t care who gets the credit because it’s the mission that matters.

And that’s why the volumes and volumes that are written about church leadership kind of annoy me.

Jesus didn’t appoint leaders.

He appointed servants.  He looked at a crowd of hungry people.  His disciples said, “Send them home so they can get something to eat.”  Jesus said, “You feed them.”

Salome caught up with Him as He and His followers were walking down the road, got into the begging position and asked Jesus to seat her sons at his right and left in His kingdom.

Jesus called His disciples together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In Revelation 19, after John heard the great multitude in heaven shouting “Hallelujah” over Babylon’s defeat, he fell at the angel’s feet to worship him.

“But [the angel] said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.’

Apparently there is no hierarchy, no leadership, no one to be worshiped in heaven apart from the Trinity.

Look it up.  Jesus appointed no leaders.

Paul appointed leaders.  But Paul wasn’t God. I’ve been in enough blog discussions to know that some people give Paul the same authority as they do God, but I don’t.  Paul was a mere mortal and he grew up steeped in the ways and structures of the Pharisees.  Old habits die hard.

We start a church and the first thing we do is appoint leaders, make a flow chart, establish a hierarchy.

Jesus started a church and the first thing He did was feed people.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Church = ekklēsia – a compound of ek and kaleo

ek – out of, from, by, away from

kaleo – to call; to call aloud, utter in a loud voice; to invite; to call i.e. to name, by name

Jesus’ s church looked nothing like ours. His was not a hierarchy of priests, pastors, deacons and elder boards. He did not hand out programs outlining strictly scheduled worship.

He just went around and did stuff with a collection of those He had called out of the world and into an exclusive relationship with Him.

The last thing He did was feed people.

His parting words to Peter?  “Feed my sheep.”

Wally over at Truth in Palmyra has been talking for a few days about Jesus’s letter to the church at Laodicea.  A letter to a CHURCH who had apparently shut Him out.

Perhaps the insensitive, non-apologetic, joke-telling pastor in Rebecca’s story was like those Laodiceans.  Perhaps he was a church leader and a community leader but, as Rebecca so eloquently concluded, not a servant of the Revolutionary I follow.

Jesus, Light

It’s All About the Awe

I read some grandiose words while scrolling through WordPress yesterday.  The zealous author was proclaiming how he would always do this and never do that.

I smiled because it reminded me of the time Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” To which Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I smiled because I’ve been there.

And now I’m here, in a hazy spiritual fog.

The fog can roll in on the best of us, and I’ve grown tired of passively waiting for the Son to burn it off. So yesterday I spoke up:

“It feels like my spirit is trapped in a haze, Lord, and I don’t know how to shake it off. How do I get out of this fog and back into close fellowship with You?”

I grabbed The Full Life Study Bible I inherited from my dad and opened it, unintentionally, to the book of Malachi. Actually to the outline just before the book. There it was, midway down the outline, the question that has been on my heart:

“How are we to return?”

How am I to return?

I started to read while the Spirit talked me through Malachi’s entire Q & A. It came down to this:

1. Appreciate the Almightiness of His Love.

There is a distinct place, a distinct love, to which to return:

God: “I have loved you.”

Israel: “How have you loved us?”

God: “I made a distinction between you and your brother. I chose you.

His love is revealed in the choosing. And that choosing ought to mean something.

I don’t know why You revealed yourself so clearly and unmistakably to me, and not to my sisters, but You did. You did and it is huge.

2. Get His Cross Back in Balance.

“Judah broke faith,” whispered the Spirit. “They got into bed with a foreign god. They kept bringing their offerings to Me, though, and then flooded the altar with tears because I was no longer paying attention to them.”

Israel: “Why don’t you care about us anymore?”

God: “I’m sticking up for your wives. You’ve been cruel to them, you’ve been casting them aside and I hate that. I made you one flesh because I wanted godly offspring, not so you could give lip service to me and then run around on your wives and expect a blessing. Not so you could act just like the brother I did not choose. Are you kidding me?”

I get it, Spirit, but I’m not running around on the hub. So what’s the equivalent? Am I running around on You? Am I getting too cozy with the world? Am I acting like those who don’t know You? Have I gotten your holiness and your compassion out of balance? I confess I have not been taking You as seriously as You deserve to be taken.


It’s so easy to do these days with everyone debating how God feels about homosexuality and gay marriage. It’s tempting to want to be liked by everyone, to want to make everyone feel good, be the compassionate one, to ignore His holiness. But to ignore His holiness is to say that we are kinder than He is. And we’re not.

3. Find a Church that Isn’t Playing.

God: “I made a covenant of life and peace with [the priests, pastors, church leaders] and that covenant called for reverence and awe, yet you show contempt for my name. Where is the honor due me?”

Priests: “How have we shown contempt for your name?”

God: “You bring me lame offerings.”

It’s the Cain thing again.

I have grown lazy, I admit it. 

Yes, you have, but this one is on your church. The awe and the reverence due Me are gone. The awe has become all about the polished music, the polished programming, the lights and smoke and staging, the numbers, the awesome things they are doing, “the wow factor” and the desire to be better than anyone else in town.

“Oh that one of you would shut the [church’s] doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!”

I know. You know I know. You know how I have longed to worship in honor and awe, in a place that draws from me Your spiritual best. You know how I long for a church that isn’t playing.

Help me.

life, war on women

So The Man Leads…


The dateable female…is not available at the spur of the moment for a date…  Like a fine restaurant, she requires reservations.
– Hayley Morgan DiMarco, the dateable rules a guide to the sexes.

That rule is more a guideline for my dateable daughter.  So when a young man called her Tuesday morning and asked if he could pick her up and take her to dinner that same night, she said yes.  Partly because he wanted to go to a special food event in a nearby foodie town and it was only happening that night, and partly because he had a plan.  “Wanna’ hang out?” is not a plan.  “Can I pick you up at 5:45 and take you to a restaurant crawl?”  is.

So he picked her up and they went.  They were gone 5 hours.  “Good,” I thought, “they must be hitting it off.”

When she returned home she said the evening was fine and that her date is a really nice guy.

“But,” she said the next morning, “here’s what’s wrong with him”:

He was telling me about all the books on Christian dating and marriage that he’s been reading, and he kept asking me what I think a Christian relationship looks like.  So I took the opportunity to tell him that I think a Christian relationship looks like two people walking side by side, both following Jesus.

And he said, “Oh.  Yeah.”

He seemed to get what I was saying.  But then later he lamented that it is hard for the man to lead, especially when the woman wants things a certain way.  “A woman always tries to lead,” he said, “she needs to submit to her husband.”

I told him that this is why I don’t think anyone is meant to lead in a Christian relationship.  And then I pulled out my phone, cued up Rachel Held Evans’s post “10 Marriage Reality Checks (from 10 Years of Marriage)” and had him read item #6.

And he read it.  And he and said, “Oh. Yeah.”

And then later, when the topic returned to Christian relationships once again, he said, “So the man leads…”

We have our work cut out for us.

church nonsense, faith


A blogging ally commented on my last post with a link.  On the other side of the link was a series of clips from a talk on addiction and shame.  Boy do I wish I had internalized those concepts 25 years ago.  I wish every parent and parent-to-be had them ingrained in their brains and tattooed on their hands.  Even as I write this post, I am pondering how I might incorporate them into the parent workshop I will be giving next month.

The speaker in the clips, John Bradshaw, talked about toxic shame, shamelessness and healthy shame in the context of the family.

But my mind extrapolated it to the church:

“Healthy shame is permission to be human.  It lets you make mistakes.  A [healthy] family [is one] that has a rule that allows people to make mistakes and understands that mistakes are occasions for learning.”

“If you live in a context where you can never make a mistake, what a terrible way to live.  That’s a life without any grace; that’s a life of law; a life of rigidity and legalism.  Grace is riding easy in the harness.  It’s like it’s okay to make mistakes.  We know that humans are going to make mistakes 15% of the time.  And so parents need to know that.  Parents need to quit acting shameless.  When parents acts shameless, they act like they never make a mistake.”

“When parents are shameless, they are also spiritually abusing their children because they are playing God.  One of the healthiest things shame brings you is the realization that you are not God; that you are limited; that you need help.  So healthy shame is an enormously healthy emotion… I think healthy shame is the source of spirituality.  It’s what we used to call humility.  It’s also, interestingly enough for me, a source of creativity and learning.”

John went on to quote something he heard at a conference once:

‘When you think you know you’re right, you’ve killed your creativity.’
“If you think you’re right there will be no new searching for information.  So what healthy shame does is let you know there’s a lot more to learn…”

Ding, ding, ding! That is why I have grown so impatient with dogmatic doctrine.  It is arrogant.  It is shameless.  It believes there is no more to learn.

The evangelical church is all about having a close personal relationship with God, and all the while teaching that God has nothing new to say.  How do you have a vibrant relationship with someone who has nothing new to say?

The church would argue that His complete Word is new to the discoverer, that the canon is closed but the book is open.  They would say that every time we read it we can discover something new.  And that’s great for us, but not so great for God.  If I were God, I’d hate it if my children decided I had no more to say, and therefore stopped listening to me and for me.

The church is not God, the church is limited, the church needs help.

John Bradshaw said children need structure in order to develop a healthy shame.

God, being the perfect parent, gave us structure.  He gave us the Ten Commandments: a short, simple frame work for right behavior and right relationship with Him and with one another.

And then to that open-but-solid structure the Pharisees added the Talmud – which contained so much brick, mortar and plaster that Jesus finally said,

“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”  Luke 11:46

Then He pared it down to this:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Suffocating people with shame-filled legalism kills their creativity and their spirituality; it defiles many a masterpiece. Which is why, I believe, Jesus told His disciples to “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.”

And so now I am just going to say it:  What if the writings of Paul are to the New Testament what the Talmud is to the Old Testament?  After all, Paul was well-schooled in the Talmud, and old habits die hard.  Really, really hard.

And what if the church – who stones, shuns and/or silences anyone who questions their dogmatic doctrine – is a stale, shameless parent?  An unwitting ally of the enemy?

Just wondering.

Seema Krishnakumar, Creative Commons

Seema Krishnakumar, Creative Commons

The greatest poem ever known
Is one all poets have outgrown:
The poetry, innate, untold,
Of being only four years old.

Still young enough to be a part
Of Nature’s great impulsive heart,
Born comrade of bird, beast, and tree
And unselfconscious as the bee-

And yet with lovely reason skilled
Each day new paradise to build;
Elate explorer of each sense,
Without dismay, without pretense!

In your unstained transparent eyes
There is no conscience, no surprise:
Life’s queer conundrums you accept,
Your strange divinity still kept.

Being, that now absorbs you, all
Harmonious, unit, integral,
Will shred into perplexing bits,-
Oh, contradictions of the wits!

And Life, that sets all things in rhyme,
may make you poet, too, in time-
But there were days, O tender elf,
When you were Poetry itself!
– Christopher Morley

But there were days, O tender elf, when you were poetry itself!

And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:3

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014