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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What equality for Christian women will look like

People have asked me “what does women’s equality look like for you?” Since churches and denominations have their own set of restrictions against women in ministry, each person’s picture would look different. In the next few blogs we will show you what is happening in Christendom right now regarding women’s equality.

This, the beginning of the series, is what I envision women’s equality to look like, so it is actually the end result. Be sure to read the post before this one which began with Jacob and Esau.

Jacob, through deception and opportunity, stole the birthright of his twin brother Esau. Esau was guilty of dismissing the importance of his birthright. This analogy has Jacob representing men who pushed women aside even though men and women were both firstborn in the New Creation, and set to inherit the goods and possessions of the Father. Esau represents women who now realize that they gave up their most valuable inheritance.

Esau who had allowed his birthright to be stolen, met his brother with his own set of gifts and forgiveness. Women, all of whom have had their Newbirth right stolen, can do the same.

Beginning the journey

  1. Gather your gifts
  2. Bring along your army of supporters
  3. Go with forgiveness
  4. Offer reconciliation

Esau gathered his gifts, and his army of 400 men and went to meet his brother.

Genesis 33:8-12 Common English Bible (CEB)

8 Esau said, “What’s the meaning of this entire group of animals that I met?”

Jacob said, “To ask for my master’s kindness.”

Esau said, “I already have plenty, my brother. Keep what’s yours.”

10 Jacob said, “No, please, do me the kindness of accepting my gift. Seeing your face is like seeing God’s face, since you’ve accepted me so warmly. 11 Take this present that I’ve brought because God has been generous to me, and I have everything I need.” So Jacob persuaded him, and he took it.

12 Esau said, “Let’s break camp and set out, and I’ll go with you.”

We have no malice and we are willing to meet our brothers half-way. We, too, have gifts to bring. With your family and my family together again, we will be able to do many things for the Lord. Will you start the journey?

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Reclaiming our squandered birthright

Reclaiming our squandered birthright.

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Reclaiming our squandered birthright

“You blind people! You have eyes, but you do not see!” Our birthright has been stolen. I wanted to shout that to a local pastor. Instead, I wrote this letter to him.

Dear Pastor,

You know me, of course. I am the sister of one of your members, and you used to walk right past my desk when I worked for Baptist General Convention of Texas. You didn’t speak, but that was all right as I knew it was because you had separated your church from the organization I worked for.

It is a little late, but I just read your July 4th newsletter article this morning. I get it regularly because it comes to my post office box, addressed to a former member of your church who previously had my mailbox.

When I got it Friday, I tossed it in the front seat of the car.  This morning I arrived early at my church and picked up your newsletter and read it.

“The history of the human race is largely one of enslavement. Men have enslaved each other…Yet man is enslaved by a worse slavery than the literal kind – by circumstances, by customs, by fear, and by his passion for sin. John 8:32 tells us it is the truth that makes man free. Christ came to make man free, not just from institutional slavery but from every kind of slavery. He frees through Himself, who is the truth incarnate. If a person wants true freedom all he has to do is surrender to Jesus Christ.” (your words)

I like the story of freedom through Christ.  Paul told the people of Galatia “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1).

I put down your newsletter and went into my own church. Today, our praise song was “Open Our Eyes (we want to see Jesus).” The song says ‘we want to reach out and touch you, and say that we love you.’  Surely you hear the wistfulness in women’s voices when they sing this song.

My pastor began to preach. I was glued to his every word. He told the story of Esau and Jacob. You remember the story. Jacob steals Esau’s birthright. The name “Jacob” means “supplanter, deceiver.”  He took what was not his to take. Through opportunity and deception, he received the inheritance of goods and position.

That was the Old Testament. In the New Testament, there is a ‘newbirth’ right. Given by Jesus, where both men and women were set free. A new birth: a new right as sons and daughters of God. That was our birthright. We were free! Christ set us free from ‘institutional slavery and every kind of slavery,’ (your words).

We were all firstborn, and set to inherit the goods and positions. But something happened along the way.

The supplanters and deceivers came and women’s birthright through Jesus Christ was stolen from them.  Churchman made us slaves again. Like Esau, we have been tricked and we have lost the precious birthright that came with Jesus. Yes, like Esau, we have sold our birthright for a bowl of pottage. We have received a bowl of beautiful words of flattery served with ‘equal-but.’

Jacob sought to make amends with his brother. God met Jacob on the way, and Jacob was engaged in a spiritual battle to account for what he had done.  Jacob would not give up the struggle until he knew that he had received a blessing. This changed Jacob forever. He limped, but more than that, he had received forgiveness.

A birthright has been stolen. The birthright was a way of living, a position in society and family, something to be passed on to the next generation.

So it is today. And it has been stolen.

Which belies the last statement in your article on the 4th of July 2014. “If a person wants true freedom all he has to do is surrender to Jesus Christ.” True freedom would mean a full birthright. To preach. To be a deacon. To serve the Lord’s Supper. To take up the offering. To pass out an attendance pad and worship bulletin (Lord, how petty we have made you!)

Esau met his brother with his own set of gifts and forgiveness. We have no malice and we are willing to meet our brothers half-way. We, too, have gifts to bring. With your family and my family together again, we will be able to do many things for the Lord. Will you start the journey?

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