Defining equality

Somebody by the name of Peter C made this comment on Krishk.  “Egalitarians take a modern political ideal – that of equality – and choose to worship it. Consequently they inevitably distort it and ironically end up abandoning it and, if applied within the church, God Himself.”

The title of the post was “Tim Keller women and ignoring your own rules.” After his comment, the post was closed to comments. But something has to be said in response to the ignorance Peter C expressed.

My response is very simple: Egalitarians do not claim or desire that women are better than men. Complementarians both claim and desire that men are superior to women. Which attitude is more like Jesus?

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.

When “equal” is qualified in any way, women become unequal in whatever way a religion decides to define it.

Are you ready for equality? If not, why not?

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Tilling the soil

Of course I have heard the story about the good soil many times, but never saw the deeper meaning until Sunday.

“Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

Those raised on a farm as I was, know that the ground cannot be planted until a plow goes through it. A plow is not gentle. It cuts through the soil, turns it upside down and inside out, exposing the dirt. Worms crawl through it and are eaten by birds.

Those of us working for women’s equality are often told that we must be peaceful in what we say and do. But peace will not come until the plow has plowed its way through the soil, exposing what lies beneath it to the air.

Of course Jesus was probably talking about Himself. He certainly ran the plow through the field, turning everything upside down, exposing the soil to the air so it could begin to accept the seed to grow and flourish.

Will you run the plow through this dirt of male headship? Will you expose it to the air, letting the sunshine make it ready for the good seed to grow

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More on Moore

Every time I think about what Russell Moore said, I find more and moore holes in it.

To recap: Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and he wrote an article titled “The Church and Violence Against Women.” Below is one paragraph from his article. Numbering within the paragraph is mine.

We must teach from our pulpits, our Sunday school classes, and our Vacation Bible Schools that women are to be cherished, honored, and (1) protected by men. This means we teach men to reject American playboy consumerism in light of a Judgment Seat at which they will (2) give account for their care for their families. It means we explicitly tell the women in our congregations, “A man who hits you has (3) surrendered his headship, and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this church in enacting (4) church discipline.”

The arrogance and misuse of the scriptures by Moore is beyond belief, yet nobody is calling him on it. They can’t. It is right there in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. It is just more of what is taught and preached and blogged about.

Let’s shine the light through those holes.

  1. Protected by men. Frankly, I can’t say enough about this theological theory that is just plain outrageous.

An emergency room nurse told me that when men come in to the emergency room, it is because their wives made them go get checked out.  Now, who is protecting who? Did mama do it because papa can’t die because if he did, she can’t live alone and needs to be protected? Or did Mama do it because papa was so full of his immortality that he just couldn’t see that something that needed medical attention was wrong with him?

When papa leaves for work every day, mama (is supposed to be) home with the kids. Now, who is watching the kids and protecting the family? Who is watching Mama? If she can take care of children who really need help, why can’t she take care of herself?

Women are made fun of because we say we don’t need men to open doors for us. We don’t. I will open the door for men. Why does this emasculate a man to have the door opened for him? Frankly, the idea that women need a door opened for them massages his male headship idea of himself. I had rather open my own door than give up my personhood.

Mark Driscoll – we all know how low he has fallen – believes that a husband can actually protect a woman by keeping Satan at bay through marriage. So is Moore subscribing to that idiocy? Adam did a poor job of it and there is no reason to think that men have been imbued with this ability since then.

Moore says being ‘protected by men’ means that they teach men to reject the American playboy consumerism because men are going to have to stand up and explain how they protected their families at the Judgment Seat. I can’t explain this one. If you can, then let me know what on earth he is talking about.

There is no preacher standing up to protect women from this garbage. They stand in their pulpits on Sunday morning and look out at the men bullies out there who don’t want their headship threatened by preachers. So they don’t dare preach against this headship theology. Never mind that it was the pastor who started this mess to begin with. But now that the men in the congregation know about it, they want to keep it.

Their religion is very important to them. It is up there with Jesus dying on the cross. It is their theology that they are in charge of their families. The savior, so to speak.

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. 

If you are ready to ‘protect women’ from this heresy, speak up! Stand up

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Time we act like Christians

Male headship is a flawed theology that perpetuates violence against women

Seeking to speak out against violence toward women, Russell Moore has succeeded only in reaffirming the Southern Baptist Convention’s denigration of women. Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and he wrote an article titled “The Church and Violence Against Women.” Below is one paragraph from his article. Numbering within the paragraph is mine.

We must teach from our pulpits, our Sunday school classes, and our Vacation Bible Schools that women are to be cherished, honored, and (1) protected by men. This means we teach men to reject American playboy consumerism in light of a Judgment Seat at which they will (2) give account for their care for their families. It means we explicitly tell the women in our congregations, “A man who hits you has (3) surrendered his headship, and that is the business both of the civil state in enacting public justice and of this church in enacting (4) church discipline.”

There are four major theological points in this one paragraph that elevates men and diminishes women. Moore wants it taught in pulpits, Sunday school classes and in Vacation Bible Schools. Be warned. This is a dangerous theology and has no place in any pulpit or church.

Number 1: Protected by men. Women are not children who need constant protection. In fact, mothers protect their little boys and girls, and later in life, wives protect their husbands. So first off, we see that Moore diminishes women’s contribution to the safety and welfare of their homes and families.

Instead of being protected by men, women may need protection from male family members, and other males. In the home it is often the husband, or the father, who abuses the mother and girls. The so-called protector becomes the abuser. As Moore knows, you can cherish a woman and also beat the hell out of her.

Male religious leaders make laws against women, and women need protection from them. Most men and religious leaders will not stand up for women. Pointedly, Moore did not stand up for women in this article. Instead, he quoted male headship theology which perpetuates abuse and misuse of women.

Number 2. Give account for their care for their families. There is NO scripture that says that husbands will give account for their care for their families at the judgment seat.

Moore phrases this in such a way to indicate that husbands are responsible for their families. Moore believes this because the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 says it is so. “He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family.”  

To justify the statement that Russell Moore made, you must believe that men are responsible for women and children, a condition that takes away individual personhood. In addition to taking away a woman’s personhood, it elevates man to a savior-type.

Jesus is our standard, and since Jesus did not commit women’s care to husbands, or to males, and because Jesus did not give males authority over women, then we cannot in good stewardship of the gospel, do so either.

Number 3. Surrendered his headship. 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? The answer is that he cannot. If male headship is something that God gives all men during the marriage ceremony, then they cannot give it up. There is nothing in the Bible that says a man surrenders his headship if he hits his wife. Nothing. Male headship gives autocratic rule to husbands, and if he wants to hit his wife, then he does it.

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. Paul told the Corinthians that Christ is the head of every man, and that man was head of woman, which actually removes Christ from being the head of women; but then he told the Ephesians that Christ was head of the church, which is comprised of both men and women. As written, it takes a divine God and an earthly god (husband) to be the head of one woman! Surely, we have misunderstood these writings of Paul, because the words of Jesus do not give credence to this male headship teaching, and we cannot call ourselves Christians and ignore the words and actions of Christ.

Number 4. Church discipline. This really opens a can of worms. The church has no discipline for abusive males. There is nothing in church by-laws that gives churches ANY authority over men or women who are not on church staff.

However, if churches begin making such rules that apply to Christians inside and outside the church, then women will be the ones who will suffer. Jesus showed us how men react to rules and laws: remember the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned by a group of self-righteous men. We also see that with other religions. There will not be any church rules or regulations enforced against men. It won’t happen. You can count on it.

So what should the church say about violence against women? The church should do as Jesus did and elevate women. The church must speak up for the equality of women in the church and home. Moore’s article reinforces male headship which is destructive to women and children. What is taught in churches, bleeds out into society, and men who do not even go to church, will use this excuse to beat their wives. In spite of Moore’s statements, the church is responsible for continued violence against women. The only way the church can make it unacceptable to beat, kill, or maim women and children, is to stop teaching the flawed theology of male headship.

We are the New Creation. We are Christians. It is time we act like it.

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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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