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.

#fadetoblack

 

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church nonsense, Light

Horny, Ornery & Honorable

When it comes to how they relate to women, the Bible portrays at least three types of men:  the horny, the ornery and the honorable.

The ornery are know-it-alls who have no use for the wisdom of their wives.  They see them as mere adornments.  Take Xerxes for example. You can read all about him in the book of Esther.  You can also read about him in history books.  He was extremely tall and he came from an extremely brutal lineage.

The book of Esther opens with a pair of massive parties, thrown by the king.  All the men of Xerxes’s kingdom were invited to attend – presumably so he could get them onboard with his plans to invade Greece.

The party dripped with opulence, alcohol and testosterone.

In the middle of one of the feasts, Xerxes had an impulse to show off his amazingly beautiful wife, Vashti.  He called for her to come and parade herself in front of him and all his drunken guests, wearing her crown.  She refused to come because a.) She was busy hosting a party of her own and couldn’t exactly leave her guests, and b.)  It was in poor taste.

Some commentaries say she was to come wearing only her crown, but I don’t think so.  Even fully clothed it would have been improper for her to parade herself in front of the cat calls of a bunch of drunken men.

Scripture doesn’t say in what manner she refused the invitation – perhaps it was tactful, perhaps it was not.  But it does say that Xerxes made an angry, drunken, impulsive decision based on the advice of his seven drunken advisors.   A decision that Scripture hints he may have regretted (Esther 2:1).

Unfortunately, guys like Xerxes don’t admit they made a mistake, and they don’t act against the approval of their buddies.  His buddies wanted him to set an example for all the men of the kingdom by subduing his wife right off the throne.

So he did.

He booted Vashti and replaced her with another beautiful ornament.  His choice of a new queen had brains as well as beauty. If you know the story of Esther, you know that she was really God’s choice and that God chose her for a specific reason.

You also know that Xerxes’, evil advisor, Haman, hated the Jews.  So with his slimy, slithering, forked tongue, he manipulated Xerxes into issuing a decree to destroy them.  The decree was signed and sealed – no taking it back – and the annihilation of the Jews was imminent.

But yay for God!

He used Esther to outsmart Haman, save His people, and keep Xerxes from doing something very regrettable.  She was the kind of divine help Genesis 2 is talking about.

Xerxes was a lame and impulsive know-it-all.  The kind who will take the advice of his buddies without consulting his queen.*

Have you known anyone like that?  I have.

Some churches are full of men like that.

Some churches insist upon men being like that.

Some churches teach that Adam’s sin was in listening to his wife.  And they extrapolate that into teaching that godly men are the head of their homes and they make all the decisions and they don’t listen to their wives. Ever.

But not so fast. In Genesis 21:12 God told Abraham to listen to his wife.

There was nothing wrong with Eve speaking and Adam listening to her.

The problem was that Adam listened to his wife in general, the problem was that he chose to listen to her even though what she said was in direct opposition to what God had specifically told him.

In the NIV, verse 17 reads, “Because you listened to you wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you…” I think God emphasized the “you”.

Remember, Eve did not get the command first hand, Adam did.

It’s time to stop telling men to “man up” when manning up means ignoring the wisdom of their wives. Men feel pressure from their buddies or from their church to get control of their wives when deep down they know they can’t and shouldn’t. But the pressure is there, so they pretend in public and then they sometimes turn to pornography in private.  Phone sex girl is not going to give anyone a hard time – unless some poor soul pays her to do so.  But that’s a post for another day.

– excepted from my Bible study © 2010

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church nonsense, Light, war on women

Unveiling

Alaska

The hub read the first two chapters of Job aloud while I sipped my second cup of coffee.  Then he flipped ahead several pages and read the end of the story.

“Don’t worry,” he said.

I recognized those words as a reference to yesterday’s post which, he said, brought Job to mind.

“I know I’ve said it before,” I remarked, “but I’m always struck by the ending. Before Job’s face to face encounter with God – when his ears had heard of Him, but his eyes had not yet seen Him – back when he spoke of things he did not understand, his daughters were not in the party hosting rotation, they were always mere guests.

But after he saw God and spoke with Him face to face, he saw things more clearly. And suddenly his new daughters were named in Scripture and they were given a portion of his inheritance.”

Because once you really know God, you understand the value of women.

Which is why I am disenthralled with pastors who hold so tightly to the mis-teachings and/or mistranslations of Paul when it comes to the role of women in the church. They have heard of God, but they have not seen Him. Their knowledge of Him is limited by their loyalty to the traditions of men.  Like Job, they are going through the motions. And, like Job, I am sure they are sincere in their reverence for God. They just don’t know what they are talking about. Who they are talking about. And I have a hard time sitting in their audiences.

If those pastors had ever really seen Him, they, like Job, would completely change their minds about God’s daughters and give them an equal share of His inheritance – and an equal opportunity to host His parties.

The hub said, “Amen.”

And then he went fishing.

But before he left I told him I am asking God to unveil Himself in a mighty way in Detroit on July 25.

Being a man of action, the hub immediately made the sound of something exploding. “Maybe the statue will be struck by lighting, or disintegrate before their very eyes.”

I, being a woman of contemplation, added, “or maybe He will do the Damascus Road thing – you know, speak to the leaders of the event and ask them why they are persecuting Him.

Whether it is a spectacular external sign like the one with Elijah on Mt. Carmel, or a subtle internal movement like the one in the heart of the thief on the cross, is up to Him.

Either way, or both ways, it will be powerful.

Copyright 2015, Light & life

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war on women

Jesus, Juxtaposed

The stuff I was thinking yesterday got my daughter thinking, too:

Two weeks ago I was sitting in church watching an annual update video, the kind that lets you know what God has been doing through the community and whom He’s been reaching. I find that one of the beautiful things about a large church (there are plenty of beautiful things about small churches, too) is that so many people are out there serving the kingdom in so many ways that it’s impossible to even be aware of everything that’s going on until one of these videos comes along. I love these videos. This most recent one highlighted a new global partner, a group of people in Nepal who are rescuing girls from sex trafficking, loving them, and empowering them:

“Ramesh and his team rescue girls who have been trafficked into prostitution and slavery and turn them into church planters and community builders.”

I wish I could show you the original video announcing the partnership with Ramesh and his team, the one that’s more of a mini-documentary about what these people are doing over there instead of just a few lines, but my google search came up empty.

I will tell you this, what’s happening in Nepal has Jesus all over it.

When women are valued and allowed to take on positions of leadership to transform their communities and the kingdom, the Holy Spirit is present.

But all of this couldn’t help but make me think about another video, one I viewed years ago that stands in harsh juxtaposition to the one in the annual update. The video is called A Good Soldier, and it features former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll talking about the requirements for a church planter.  For nine minutes, Mark uses the words “man” and “men” over and over and over again, speaking of women only to say that although 60% of Christians are women and that he’s glad that women are loving Jesus, we need men.

Mark doesn’t believe that women are called or qualified to plant churches, and that’s a shame. I watched the video again this morning to refresh my memory, and I honestly wish I hadn’t. It was hard to do so without vomiting. It felt like poison. The synopsis I gave spared you a lot of the macho, misogynistic details, but if you want to view it for yourself you can do so (at your own risk) here: https://youtu.be/JIrIKbCz3n4.

I’ll tell you this, the Jesus I know is nowhere to be found.

It absolutely breaks my heart knowing that many Christians would consider the second video to be more in line with God’s will than the first.

Something needs to change.

Amen, sister.

You can read more from my girl here:  I’ll Return to Biblical Womanhood

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life, war on women

Fifty Shades of Regret

Growing up you probably heard a variation of “That will rot your teeth” as you took a bite of something sweet.  But did anyone ever really explain it to you? Did they instruct you to brush your teeth after every sugary treat, or did they just lay a phrase on you and walk away? As a kid it was just a phrase, a vague guideline. But at fifty, it became harsh reality. It became me sitting in the oral surgeon’s chair, hearing his opening words: “It all started with that first Snickers bar.” Don’t get me wrong, I brushed my teeth every morning after breakfast and every night before bed. Apparently that isn’t enough.

Sometimes we need people to explain things to us a whole lot better than they do. Especially when we are young. Especially when it comes to sex. Which is why I go out and talk to kids. And which is why I am going to talk to you.

I was in Bible study last October celebrating a 90th birthday and watching a Beth Moore video. I received quite the education with my cake when Beth said this:

All sex was meant to be safe sex. All of it was. Not boring. Some of you, “If it’s safe, it’s boring.” You have to live out there in that adrenaline zone where you just barely make it and live most of your life down in a cavernous pit. I have been there, too…

What women are putting their bodies through to keep up with the appetites that are being created by pornography. I’m going to tell you something, if we can make it to 60 and 65 and not be incontinent, it’s going to be a miracle… It was not meant to tear up our bodies… Just because you are in a relationship with him doesn’t mean that everything he wants to do you need to do. You do get to say, “I’m not comfortable with that.” Even to your husband if you know that its going to tear up your body. It’s a dangerous, dangerous day when we’ve got the kind of growing need for more and more and more and more perversity. And our bodies are just getting abused and misused.

Even to your husband.

I have lunch once a year with an old friend. We used to go to the same church. Two years ago she told me her marriage was a wreck and she was contemplating jumping ship. I was very surprised. I had always viewed her and her husband as a strong, happy couple. The things she shared over salads revealed a whole different story. She told me a lot that day but she didn’t tell me everything.

At last year’s lunch she said her life was a bit better. She had decided to stay in the marriage on one condition: Her husband would have to take “no” for an answer. I’m sure my mouth was agape as she told me what he had been doing to her. When she would object he would say that it was her “Christian duty.”  After years of putting up with it, she finally said, “Christian duty or not, you’re not going to do that to me anymore.” She finally had nothing to lose and he finally stopped. I believed her when she said things are better between them, but how much better can they be with a man who would insist on harming his wife for his sexual gratification because the teachings of the church gave him the idea that he can.

This is why I keep hammering away at the church’s erroneous teachings when it comes to women.

I just hope she doesn’t wind up incontinent.

fifty shades of no

I sat in an assembly of tenth graders about ten years ago listening to Dr. John Diggs give a talk on sex. The boys were not shy with their questions. One asked about anal sex. Dr. Diggs explained that the anus is not nearly as elastic as the vagina. It doesn’t need to be: Bowel movements are never as big as babies. And because they are not as elastic, they tear more easily. Which is why AIDS spread so quickly among homosexual men – HIV is spread through blood and small tears in the anus gives the virus all the entrance it needs.

I really didn’t know anything about Fifty Shades of Grey except for a vague knowledge that it had something to do with kinky sex. The other day my daughter told me it is about S & M. She said there are Christians on tumblr who believe S & M is fine between two healthy married adults. Except, as my daughter so astutely pointed out, “there is nothing healthy about two adults who enjoy violent sex.”

Hear, hear sister! I mean daughter.

“And to make matters worse,” she said, “ I heard the guy falls in love with her at the end.”

“Oh great,” I said. “Way to feed that dangerous fantasy.”

When I first started volunteering at a pregnancy help center, I had a client whose boyfriend was pressuring her to have an abortion. After sitting with her and listening to her sob for 20 minutes, I finally said, “Joni, you don’t have to have an abortion.” My statement jolted her from her sobs. “You don’t have to have an abortion.”

Her boyfriend kept telling her that if she didn’t abort he would take the baby from her. “Why would he take it from you if he doesn’t even want it?” I asked. She just looked at me. Sometimes you have to apply a little logic.

She had followed him to our state from Oregon and she didn’t know many people here. She had written the phone numbers of a few of her co-workers – – including one male co-worker – in her phone book hoping to make some friends.  When her boyfriend saw it he pounded her head into the floor.

“Why do you stay with him?”

“Because deep down I know there is goodness in him, I just have to find the key that unlocks it. If I stay with him long enough, try hard enough, show him enough love…”

“No, sweetheart.”

Over the course of several counseling sessions I finally convinced her to reconcile with her family and return home to have the baby. Her boyfriend volunteered to drive her back to Oregon. And on the way there he tried to kill her.

I don’t ordinarily ask you to share my posts, but if you know someone who is at risk, I hope you will share this one. Or at least take the time to really explain that fifty shades of grey is fifty shades of danger, fifty shades of regret and fifty shades of incontinence.

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church nonsense, life, war on women

Going There Again

Just a quick observation, because it’s time:

Have you noticed that whenever a Mark Driscoll wannabe promulgates misogynistic nonsense he quotes only Paul?

And when a (presumably) well-intentioned pastor preaches on the leadership of men, he too exclusively quotes Paul.

Blogging pastors who warn Christian men against marrying 10 types of women also quote Paul.

And none of them quote Jesus.

Because Jesus didn’t say the stuff Paul said.

Some hard core Pharisees will say that Paul saying it is as good as Jesus saying it.  I know because hard core Pharisees have argued that to me.  But as of yet none of them have told me in a clear, non-convoluted way when Jesus gave Paul that kind of infallible authority.  When He put Paul on par with the Holy Spirit, the Counselor whom He sent to guide us into all truth.

I can show them exactly when He warned us to beware the yeast of the Pharisees.

Paul was well-steeped in the teachings of the Pharisees.  Well-steeped stains are tough to remove, in fact they never come entirely clean.  Old habits die hard.  And so it was with Paul.

Alas, some of the teachings of the Talmud – even the Babylonian Talmud – seeped, steeped and brewed into Paul’s teachings to the church.  And the Talmud, as I hope you know, is not Scripture.

Yep, there I went again.

Someone had to say it.

If you’re new to this blog and you want the full gripefest, you can read Picking Your Paul, Chasing Kings, Passionate About Paul?, Winning the War on Women, Trickle Down JesusGo Anne, Uh oh!You Have Got to Be Kidding Me.

Those ought to hold you for awhile…

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

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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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