Light, war on women

Well, Well, Well

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I smiled as I read the first half of John 4 yesterday, perhaps you will, too.

Jesus was trying to fly under the radar, so when the Pharisees caught wind of Him, He left the Judean countryside and headed back to Galilee.

He was traveling through Samaria when He sat down at a well around noon to rest.

The well was deserted, all except for the lone woman who came to draw water.  Why was she filling her water jugs in the heat of the day?  Why hadn’t she gone in the cool of the morning?  Why didn’t she wait for the cool of the evening?  Years ago Max Lucado pointed out that she was likely trying to avoid her gossiping, judgmental, shaming neighbors.

I don’t blame her.

But here’s one of the things I love about Jesus in this encounter:

He didn’t shame her.

He just matter-of-factly told her the truth about herself. And He asked her for a drink of water.

He let her be helpful; He let her be needed; He let her matter.

And then He told her a secret: “I am the Messiah.”  Whenever I read the account, I always read His words in verse 26 as a whisper.

He gave her the honor of being the first person He straight up told that He is the Messiah.

Well, well, well, imagine that, a woman!  The disciples couldn’t imagine it.  When they returned from their lunch-buying mission, they were surprised to see Jesus talking with a woman.  They sure wouldn’t.

The “godly” men at my [former] church sure wouldn’t, either.  Heck no!  And risk their “godly” standing?

But it didn’t matter what the disciples thought, it didn’t matter what they would or wouldn’t have done, or what they might have whispered amongst themselves.  The only thing that mattered was what she dropped her water jugs and ran to town to tell:

She had met the Messiah!

She RAN to the very people she had been hoping to avoid.  Because once you’ve had face time with Jesus, the opinions of people pale.  They still hurt, sometimes, but they pale.

Lots of Samaritans believed that day, some because of her testimony and some because they were intrigued enough to go meet Him.

“Women must remain silent in the church,” Paul?   So glad this woman didn’t remain silent in Samaria.

Many a happy jug-filling here at Old Faceful in Onekama, Michigan.

Many a happy jug-filling here at Old Faceful in Onekama, Michigan.

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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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Light, war on women

It’s Simple

I read Mugisha Charles’ post this morning on the history of the Azusa Street Revival, and these few sentences made me smile:

“People of all ages flocked to Los Angeles with both skepticism and a desire to participate. The intermingling of races and the group’s encouragement of women in leadership was remarkable, as 1906 was the height of the “Jim Crow” era of racial segregation, and fourteen years prior to women receiving suffrage in the United States.”

In  the aftermath of Ferguson, Baltimore and now the tragedy in Charleston, there is much talk of healing our racial divide, of coming up with solutions.  I have one, and it is simple:

God.

Laugh, scoff and dismiss, if you must, but it really is that simple.

I’ve been witnessing something very cool in a city near me:  Blacks and whites from both urban and suburban churches are coming together to revitalize the city. Some are volunteering as tutors in the elementary schools, some have started a community center – where, among many other things, students from a nearby Christian college formed a t-ball team this summer, investing in the lives of some of its youngest residents.

The Spirit brings racial unity.

As Zephaniah said, on behalf of God, “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”

It’s going to take God purifying our laughing, scoffing, dismissing, racially inflammatory lips to get us working shoulder to shoulder doing stuff that is productive and good.

We need a revival, a move of the Spirit.

I smiled at revival’s tie to women in leadership.

And I thought of Job.

At the end of all his suffering, after he uttered those famous words, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you,” after he had an up close and personal understanding of the character of God, Scripture records this:

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.”

Did you catch that?  Job granted his daughters an inheritance, too.

Because once you know the character of God; once you not only know about Him, but actually know Him, you finally get that He created us in His image, male and female.  We each represent 50% of His image, and all of His image is necessary to represent Him, all of His image is necessary to lead in His causes.

I have sat in churches where half of His image is excluded from leadership and I have felt a heartbreaking, annoying, at times painful, restlessness in my spirit.  Because the Spirit just doesn’t stick around where half of Him is being dismissed, where the teachings of Paul trump the teachings of Jesus.

Want a revival in your dying church?

You might start by taking another look at the Scriptures; by dethroning Paul and making  Jesus your King.

I shared all that I was thinking this morning with my daughter and she had some really good things to add.

So I asked her to write it all down.

I’ll post her words tomorrow.

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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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church nonsense, Light, war on women

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!

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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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