Reclaiming our equality – Personally

Ask any woman in your church how they feel excluded in church simply because they are women. You’ll probably get blank stares. Most women have not even thought about it. But now that you have put the idea into their heads, one of two things will happen. They will accept what you said, or they will reject it.

Now, don’t get too comfortable with either reaction. Neither position is the final word. We have just begun the process. You have started someone thinking.

Many women will say “women do all the work anyway” and then in the next breath, they will tell you that they don’t want to hear a woman preach. So, while it appeared that at first they agree with you, you can see that they don’t believe that women should be equal in the church or in the home, because they believe that males are superior to females. They have been taught this.

However, if they reject it outright, that is not necessary a cause for concern. That is a gut, knee-jerk instinct, simply parroting what they have heard or learned.

Now you are going to show them that what they have learned about men’s role and women’s roles in church does not work, because it is in the home where these things are played out.

For this week, I want you to engage people in the conversation of Christian women’s equality. Start with the NFL football player Ray Rice because most people have heard of that.

Be prepared by reading the following links, and I encourage you to read the book listed The End of Always by Randi Davenport.

Quote ESPN Hannah Storm: “I spent this week answering seemingly impossible questions about the league’s biggest stars. ‘Mom, why did he do that? Why isn’t he in jail? Why didn’t he get fired?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/14/hannah-storm-nfl_n_5818382.html

Then read what Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention said about spousal abuse: http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/09/09/the-church-and-violence-against-women/

Quote Rev Moore: “We must teach from our pulpits, our Sunday school classes, and our Vacation Bible Schools that women are to be cherished, honored, and protected by men. This means we teach men to reject American playboy consumerism in light of a Judgment Seat at which they will give account for their care for their families. It means we explicitly tell the women in our congregations, “A man who hits you has surrendered his headship, and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this church in enacting church discipline.”

Ask: Why does a man have automatic headship over his wife when he says “I Do?” And if he has automatic headship, then how on earth can he surrender it? He can’t. If male headship is something that God gave him, then he cannot give it up.

There is NO scripture that says that husbands will give account for their care of their families at the judgment seat.

So we see pastors and the SBC making up new laws that are nowhere in the Bible. There is nothing that says a man can surrender his headship if he hits his wife. Nothing.

In fact, a commandment for male headship over a wife is not in the Bible. It is contrary to everything that Jesus said and did, and it even contradicts what the Apostle Paul said.

The End of Always is a true story based on records of an abusive marriage in 1907. Churches have not changed since then as we see from Moore’s statement, where he even talks about church discipline. The church has no discipline for abusive males, except praying for them. There is nothing in church by-laws that gives churches ANY authority over men.

Spend some time reading about wife abuse.

  1. Why I married my abuser (http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-09-09/why-i-married-my-abuser/?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_facebook)
  2. The End of Always  book by Randi Davenport (2014). This is a true story based on records of an abusive marriage in 1907.

Ask the question: “What do we tell our daughters?”

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Reclaiming our equality – Involvement

Equality will not happen by osmosis.

The only way equality for Christian women can happen is through a deliberate, concentrated, dedicated plan. A plan devised by women and men who have a fire in their belly for equality.

Some suggestions:

  1. Bookstores. Contact bookstores such as Cokesbury and request that they have a classification for Gender Equality (or egalitarian) listed in their line-up of books. Currently these bookstores do not have a special listing for books relating to Gender Equality, making it hard to find books on biblical female equality in the church. Contact Amazon and ask that they begin a Religion subcategory for female equality. Think through the companies you shop with and ask for this.

Ask these bookstores to be proactive in gender equality by carrying books, old and new, that are egalitarian in nature. This includes Egalitarian Leadership and Egalitarian Marriage. Currently Christians for Biblical Equality (www.cbeinternational.org) has books dedicated to Christian biblical female equality.

  1. Egalitarian Marriage Seminars. Male Headship teaching seminars are held frequently, but rarely do we find a marriage seminar that is for egalitarian leadership. This is a vacuum that needs to be filled. There are actually few materials available for such a seminar, and this, too, needs to be addressed. Write or contact Abingdon Press and Cokesbury for such material. LifeWay Resources will not carry such material because it is in their statement of faith that women are to submit ‘graciously’ to their husbands.
  2. Targeting Women’s Ministry Groups. Enlist and train women of all ages to present seminars, Bible studies, special events in churches and/or at a neutral location. This could be done with a specific program, or with each woman or man (we have found men are more open to women pastors and preachers oftentimes than women are) using their own materials that teach biblical female equality.
  3. Ask for help from seminaries that are egalitarian. A husband-wife team who were in the first graduating class at Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas, brought this to my attention. They said that pastors who are trained at Truett, when they secure their pastorates, forget about female equality. Their churches do not have women deacons, and they themselves do not make an effort to promote their female classmates who are looking for an opportunity to serve their calling.

In theological seminaries where both men and women are equal, remember that it will not be that way for women once they enter the ministerial field. Contact these pastors and ask them to have at least one sermon a year on biblical equality. Ask the male students before they graduate to commit to encouraging female equality in their church when they begin their pastorate.

Encourage these male students to bring in speakers (such as in #3) to teach their congregations about female equality. In my experience, the church pastor is not necessarily the best person to hold these classes.

Most churches have members who have come from a fundamental religion background and those members are not absolutely sure that it is biblical to have female deacons and elders, and pastors. It is imperative that we teach them why it is biblically correct to have females in leadership. These members have neighbors and family and friends who are being taught that women are to remain submissive to men.

  1. Sunday School Lessons. Enlist those who write Sunday school lessons to have lessons for one quarter each year that highlight the women of the Bible. Having taught Adult Women’s Sunday school classes for years, and attending Sunday school classes all my life, I had never heard of Hulda, and I am sure most women can tell you the same thing.

Make sure our children see those female heroes. That means that Children’s literature should be scrutinized to present female Bible characters.

  1. Youth Programs. Provide and actively encourage churches to teach from literature that promotes female equality. Provide such information to each Youth Pastor, at least in those churches that have a egalitarian teaching graduate as pastor.

Keep an eye on the email solicitations from fundamental churches inviting your youth to participate in their conferences and events. Learn to recognize key words that tell you that your girls are not thought of as being equal. Recognize the names of key leaders who are known for their complementarian stance against women. Avoid these. Be vigilant. Train the church secretary to recognize solicitations through email and telephone calls that are from complementarian leaders.

This is just a start. I am sure that there are more avenues that can be explored. The point is that we must do something.

If we don’t do something, there is a real danger that before too many years, female equality conversations will stop altogether, as we have not won. Those who have won are in danger of losing their equality because they are swimming against the tide, and they have not taught their people the biblical basis for female equality.

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Reclaiming our equality – Speech

“I can’t talk to people about equality in the church,” you say. Many people feel that way, and probably if you asked me to stand up in front of a church and make a speech about women’s equality, I would shake in my shoes, and the words would flee from my mouth.

But speech takes many shapes. It is the spoken word, to be sure, but it does not have to be out loud vocal. It can be in what we write and what we promote with our time and money. Last week I pulled up behind a truck with this bumper sticker “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” (That is a quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in 1976.) I wondered about the woman driving the truck. I was interested to know how that particular quote speaks to her. What you have in your car, or on your car, presumably tells others something about you. These things are talking points, conversation starters, or visuals to get people thinking.

I have a bumper sticker on my car and I have a window decal. I call myself a “street evangelist for women’s equality.”

women equal bumper sticker  decal-1

Not everyone is comfortable with decorating their car with bumper stickers and decals. Certainly not everyone has a book (or two!) to promote. A little over a year ago, I wouldn’t have either. But now I do and that is what I use.

Ways to speak out for women’s equality:

  • Help someone who is speaking out. Speak words of encouragement to that person.
  • Make plans to attend the Christians for Biblical Equality Conference in Los Angeles in July 2015. Gather a group to go, learn all you can about this organization. Become a member. Give a donation. (cbeinternational.org)
  • Help make it possible for someone to attend a conference on equality. (CBE International in Los Angeles in 2015, or a local CBE conference).
  • Support Christians for Biblical Equality through membership and by telling your Bible study group and Sunday school class about this organization and encouraging them to become members. (cbeinternational.org).
  • Make a change in the way you think about women in your Sunday school class. If you are a Sunday school teacher of either adults or children, look behind the scripture to find the women in the stories. There is usually a mother and women in these stories. Read “Every woman & Child: All the Scriptures Pertaining to women & Children in the New Testament” by Adele Hebert.
  • If you are a children’s Sunday school teacher, focus on the women to make sure girls find strong women heroes in their Bible stories. If you write children’s books, ditch the stereotypes and ban the witches and focus on brave women leaders.

Attend a small group Bible study or book discussion group, facebook, or internet group that promotes women’s equality. Make one change in the way you speak about women’s equality among your church small group or Bible study class, or in how you participate in worship services and church activities.

This week, starting today, find one way to speak out for women’s equality either through the spoken or the written word.

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Reclaiming our equality – Awareness

Continuing our series on making a plan to bring about women’s equality, we focus on educating ourselves, which we must do before we can educate others. Awareness of the situation in our churches comes through recognizing the problems and arming ourselves with knowledge of the scriptures through available resources.

This week we will commit to learn more about women’s equality by reading at least one article and one book that promotes gender equality. (Resources are from Christians for Biblical Equality – of which I am a member) www.cbeinternational.org

Many people have never heard the term ‘male headship’ but they can quote scriptures telling women that they are not to have authority over men, and that husbands are head of their wives, or that a wife is to submit to her husband as Christ submits to the Lord. We call this theory complementarian.

Complementarianism denies the truth of the statement below:

Jesus is our standard, and since Jesus did not commit women to husbands, or to males, and because Jesus did not deny women anything based on their being women, then we cannot in good stewardship of the gospel, do so either. (Shirley Taylor)

In other words, we have mistranslated and misused the gospel. We know this because restrictions against women serving fully as they are called, does not match the standard by which we have our being, Jesus Christ.

So what do we do when we hear those scriptures used in church services and by friends and relatives who seem to know what they are talking about? The answer is to be prepared. We prepare ourselves by learning the origin and the result of those scriptures. To apply those scriptures literally the way they are spoken means that Jesus shares his headship over women with a husband! In this way, husbands become little man-gods. Now who believes the revered apostle Paul would ever speak that way?

It is hard to find egalitarian books in Christian bookstores. But it is easy to find well-known Christian book authors that promote female submission to husbands and to male leadership. The majority of Christian bookstores carry their works, but they will not carry Christian books promoting Biblical female equality.  The reason they will not carry these books on Christian women’s equality is because they are owned by denominations that have language that restricts women to certain roles in their Statements of Faith. So we must look outside Christian bookstores such as LifeWay for books on Christian women’s equality.

The best source of Christian egalitarian books are found in the CBE Bookstore (Christians for Biblical Equality) http://www.equalitydepot.com/

The best source for articles to learn more about Christian women’s biblical equality is also from Christians for Biblical Equality (http://www.cbeinternational.org/content/free-articles)

Free Articles from the CBE website are listed below:

Read one article each day this week, and read a book on women’s equality. I recommend my own two books Dethroning Male Headship and Women Equal-No Buts: Powered by the same Source. Both are available in Kindle and online bookstores.

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Reclaiming our equality – Prayer

“Reclaiming our equality” gives you step by step ways that you can speak up for women’s equality and usher in a new day for women in the church and in their homes.

We have been without a plan. We have voices coming from all over, but we have not formulated a plan. Until we begin a systematic effort, it will remain voices calling out in the dark, with no focus and no direction.

We begin with prayer, because all things must begin with prayer.

God, we pray for an awakening!
Wake up your power! Come to save us!
Restore us, God!
Make your face shine so that we can be saved!
Lord God of heavenly forces,
how long will you fume against your people’s prayer?
You’ve fed them bread made of tears;
you’ve given them tears to drink three times over!
You’ve put us at odds with our neighbors;
our enemies make fun of us.
Restore us, God of heavenly forces!
Make your face shine so that we can be saved!
-From Psalm 80 (Common English Bible)

 

Like the Psalmist, I, too, have cried out to God our Creator and asked him why he has withheld his favor from women. Why has he put us at odds with our fellow Christians, and why has he allowed our enemies to make fun of us? Many of you have also pleaded with God and have poured out your hearts to Him.

Monday through Friday we will lift up our voices in unity and pray together. Pray earnestly, but remember that God uses our hands and our feet, our voices and our minds.

Monday. Pray for those who are actively working for equality, that they will not be discouraged in their resolve. Pray that God increases their vision, and that they (we) will speak up at every opportunity that God gives us. Stretch our minds, Lord, that we will see a possibility to speak out in the most ordinary encounters with people sent our way. Open our mouths so that words of equality spring forth. Put in our hands materials that will pave the way to speak out – by giving us knowledge, and by passing on that knowledge to others. Action: Send someone who is working for equality a note of encouragement.

Tuesday. Pray that some of the leaders in the two largest and most influential Christian denominations (Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists) will begin to sense that what they are teaching and preaching against women is not the message of Jesus and love. We know that God could change everybody’s heart in a flash, but God doesn’t work that way. He changes the heart of individuals and then that person begins to speak. So today, pray that God will speak to some pastors, church leaders, and to some priests and bishops and that their eyes will be opened to the injustice against women. We pray for that crack in their armor to grow and to widen. Action: Write a letter to a Baptist leader or Roman Catholic bishop. Or the Pope! Let them know that what they do affects Christian woman and ultimately the kingdom of God.

Wednesday. Pray for those who write church literature, Sunday school lessons, mission magazines, blogs – anything that will be read by church leaders – that they will feel uneasiness in their complementarian teaching, and that they will respond to the urging of the Holy Spirit. Pray that in their research their eyes will be opened to the injustice against God’s female creation. Pray that their eyes will be opened to the part they play in keeping women from achieving what God has for them, and for denying and limiting the gifts of women. Action: Reply by email to one of the writers in a Christian magazine, blog, or Sunday school book, and ask them to focus on women’s gifts in ministry.

Thursday is a day of sadness and we reach deep into ourselves as we recognize the price women pay for male headship. We pray for those hurt by this teaching, recognized in two groups: the rejected and the abused. Pray for those women who feel called to preach, who attend seminary, and who then can find no church that will accept their calling. Pray for those who left their church because the church loved boys more than it loved the girls. Now pray for the abused. Pray for women and girls who have been physically and emotionally hurt by men, and for those who recognize that the church itself perpetuates this abuse. Bow your heads and pray for those who had rather just talk and argue the scriptures than to get up and get out and do something about it. Today is a day of sadness as we ourselves see no immediate solution to abuse of women. Isn’t it also abuse of women when we deny their calling? Action: Write a letter to an unknown, or known, female seminarian and express your sorrow that she can’t fulfill her calling. Write a letter to an unknown, or known, female who has been abused due to male headship. Then send, or tear up the letters, or keep them, but remember the need to reach out to these women.

Friday. Finally, we come to the largest group of all because it takes in all those for whom we prayed Tuesday through Thursday. These are the Indifferent (those who don’t have a clue and are unconcerned); the Believers (those who sit under male headship and have swallowed all of it); the Traditionalists (those who think that because men have always had charge of the church and family that it must be God’s plan); and then Deceivers (those who have read the bible and know that the Word of God does not give women over to the charge of males, but who have a vested interest in keeping it that way). Direct your prayers today to the Indifferent, the Believers, and the Traditionalists. Pray for their eyes and hearts to be opened to the whole message of redemption and love. Action: Take or bake some bread, tear off a piece and drink some juice as a symbolic action that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that one day we will be reunited as equals.

Next week we will discuss other actions. Tell your friends! Involve your Sunday school class, your Bible study group, facebook friends, twitter, and other social media. Start anytime! The important thing is to start.

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Spiritual Leader is home in bed

A Baptist deacon didn’t like what I had said in my letter to the editor so he shot back with his own letter in which he said “The man of the house is the spiritual leader and is responsible of seeing his family loves the Lord and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

My reply was printed in the newspaper:

“I tried to find the scriptures that tell women that their husbands are their spiritual leaders, but there aren’t any. Look around in church on Sunday morning. You’ll see that the “spiritual leaders” are still home in bed, while the wife and the kids got up and went to church. Guess he will tell her about Jesus when she gets home.”

Monday we will begin the series “Reclaiming our equality.” This will give you step by step ways that you can speak up for women’s equality and usher in a new day for women in the church and in their homes.

We have been without a plan. We have voices coming from all over, but we have not formulated a plan. Until we begin a systematic effort, it will remain voices calling out in the dark, with no focus and no direction.

Meet me here Monday and let’s get to work!

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Birthright – gone! Now what?

Genesis 27:38:40

 Esau said to his father, “Do you really have only one blessing, Father? Bless me too, my father!” And Esau wept loudly.

His father Isaac responded and said to him,

“Now, you will make a home
    far away from the olive groves of the earth,
        far away from the showers of the sky above.
 You will live by your sword;
        you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless, 
you will tear away his harness
from your neck.”

The story moves from Esau to Jacob. What happened in Esau’s life? At what point did he “grow restless” and how did he tear away the harness from his neck?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that Esau found his strength and became mature in the twenty years that Jacob was gone. It is that strength and maturity that women have found also. We have begun building up our own herds and gathering our army, not to do harm, but as a witness of whom we have become.

We have grown restless. This is our wealth. These are our gifts.

If you, too, are restless, and are ready to tear away the harness of male headship from your neck, speak up! Now is the time! Next post we will tell you how.

 

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