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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Want a Mighty Marriage or a Strong Marriage

A local newspaper touts a marriage ministry that is inviting pastors to their open house. Lots of marriages are in trouble and often we look to the church for the fix. Pastors are busy and they have heard the same story over and over and they, too, are looking for a quick fix and will send couples to this so-called marriage ministry.

The promoter of this ministry is male headship. We know this by the words he chooses to use. Whenever you see such words as ‘Mighty Marriage,’ you know this is giving the marriage to the husband. This panders to men. Most women do not want a mighty marriage. This man was quoted as saying “We are called to take a stand against the forces in our culture that seek to destroy biblical marriages and families.”

Whenever anyone uses these words, they are using code words to say that men are to rule the house and family, and that husbands are to rule over their wives. The wives become the oldest female children in the family with bedroom responsibilities.

These seminars are harmful to families and to the culture. Spend some time looking at movies made in the 1940s. Notice how many times men slap women and talk about spanking them. Notice how grown women are controlled by their fathers in matters of marriage and career. This is where they want us to go, and they claim the Bible tells us so.

My friend’s second marriage was to a man who was immersed in a male headship church (a large Baptist church). At first I heard words of how wonderful this man was, how precious he treated her. Then the story began to change. He started telling her that they would not have problems if she would follow his leadership and he began quoting male headship teaching to her. This marriage ended in divorce.

Strong marriages are not made by weakening women. Strong marriages are not made by men ruling over their families. One does not need to be made weak for the other to be strong, but in male headship families, women are made submissive and weak. A family needs a strong mother and a strong father to raise their children, and to take care of each other in their old age.

What a sad state we are in when pastors and preachers promote female subjugation.

Why do women put up with it?

I want you to read “The Pearl That Broke Its Shell” by Nadia Hashimi (William Morrow, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers 2014).It is a story by an Afghanistanian women and is about marriage. Hashimi ends the story with these words, “To the daughters of Afghanistan, may the sun warm your faces as you forge your paths.”

Those are also my words to my Christian sisters. “May the Son warm your faces as you break through your shell.”

It is up to you. What will you do?

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Pastors, tear down this wall!

Nothing has changed this morning. Women are still being abused in church by members and pastors who cling to First Century rules for women.

The wall is still there.

There is nobody to call out “Pastors, tear down this wall!”

The wall is still there.

There is no line standing outside their door holding placards “Freedom for Christian Women.”

The wall is still there.

There is nobody listening to us.

The wall is still there.

In 1990, I stood at the Brandenburg Gate and bought a piece of the Berlin Wall. It looked like a garage sale. Tables holding East Berlin uniforms, caps, money, pieces of the Wall, and people lined up to see what once held back a generation of people behind that enclosure.

Some were afraid. Some were content. Some made their living enforcing the Wall.

But the Wall came down because there enough people who wanted it to come down.

There is a wall holding women back. It is man-made. This wall is not Biblical.

“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.” Galatians 5:1.

Will you stand with me and shout out “Pastors, tear down this wall!”

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This woman is a preacher

Mariam Ibraheem Ishag was finally freed from Sudan. She left with her two babies and husband and will soon be in the United States. We rejoice with her and for her and for her family. She stood up for her Christian faith.

It is not easy to find someone with that kind of faith, and we are all made better for it. Pope Francis met her and blessed her. It should have been the other way around. This woman of great courage should have been blessing him because it is doubtful that we will find a greater faith anywhere among us.

After a little time she will fade in the background, she will lose her voice, and be relegated to the backwaters of Christianity.

Her mouth that proclaimed Christ will be shut. It will be shut in the United States. All because she is a woman.

How many Baptist churches would ask her to come to their church and stand behind their pulpits and speak to the church?  Some would, but they would diminish her message. This is how they would do it. They would ask her to speak and then after she spoke, the preacher would preach. That is how they always get around having a woman stand behind the pulpit. Her words cannot stand alone, they have to be reinforced by a male preacher after she sits down.

The Samaritan woman at the well stood up and preached. To be exact, she didn’t just stand up. This woman ran! She ran down the streets and collared all the men she biblically knew, and those she didn’t, and told them about Jesus. She brought them to Jesus.

A woman can’t bring a man to Jesus today in most churches. She can tell her little boys about Jesus and she can tell your little boys about Jesus. But she can’t stand up in a pulpit and tell your husband about Jesus. Oooooh Noooo! A woman is not qualified to do that, you know.

Mariam Ibraheem Ishag stood up to the world and told them about Jesus. Through her mouth and through her actions. “Throw me in prison. Hang me. Take me away from my family. I will not deny Christ and my Christian faith.”

I can’t imagine a more powerful message in any of our churches, come Sunday morning.

There are those who breathe or shout insults to women, telling us we are weak, and therefore God would not call such a weak human being as a preacher. Will you stand up, like Mariam did, and tell the world that we are not weak? That the gospel that comes from our mouths is the gospel of Christ, and to call us weak, is to call Christ weak?

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Attacking the messenger

A christian threw slop on me today. He didn’t like what I had to say in my most popular blogpost “Why doesn’t God want women to preach?” so he threw slop on me.

This seems extremely vague and horribly referenced. I have read multiple websites concerning this very issue and this is the only one where I read and feel judgment from the writer and spite. When I read this I read a one sided report based off of flimsy evidence. As I stated earlier I have visited a number of sites and this is by far the least informative. When looking for an answer to this question take in account the translations for the original words were not written in English. Much like these fellow sites provide. Information like those below is what creates a compelling argument as on this site it seems as if it is a one sided conversation with a cheap conclusion.

So he covered me in slop because I was saying something he did not want to hear. He thought that if he diminished me, the message would be diminished because it was coming out of a slop-covered mouth.

Matthew 23 is the harshest chapter and the strongest words that Jesus had to say. He called religious leaders vipers. He called them vipers because they killed by trying to impose their interpretation of the law upon others. They were killing converts. They were laying hard burdens on the shoulders of everybody, because they said so, but they themselves had devised ways to get around those laws.

I was curious about this man’s choice of the word spite and looked it up. This is what it means – malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice.

Yes, my writing is judgment against those who kill a woman’s right to answer her calling to preach or pastor a church. There is judgment against those who spitefully write posts and preach sermons against women. But spite? I don’t desire to harm or hurt anybody. How can allowing a woman to preach hurt anybody? If she is speaking the gospel, the words are just as true out of her mouth as it is out of a man’s mouth.

This man chose to attack the messenger who brought the news. You can look at his links and see all the same old stuff against women. Frankly, I am tired of it. I am standing up against this women haters.

Will you join me in speaking up in practical terms how women are affected by these christians who seek to demean all women? Will you stand up and tell them where it hurts and why it hurts? Will you tell them that Jesus called the religious people vipers because their words were deadly against the people?

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Glorify and deny

“Islam reveres women as wives and mothers – living cradles of the faith. But in mosques throughout the nation, a new documentary asserts, Muslim women in the United States are treated as second-class citizens, relegated to separate and unequal worship spaces and turned away from leadership roles.” (Houston Chronicle “Film calls on Muslims in US to reach out to women, converts, July 12, 2014.)

Let’s play a little game here. The same game that is played in churches all over the nation on Sunday morning. In the statement above, insert the name of your church or denomination. It would look like this:

“Baptists revere women as wives and mothers – living cradles of the faith. But in churches throughout the nation, Christian women in the United States are treated as second-class citizens, relegated to separate and unequal worship spaces and turned away from leadership roles.”

As far as I know, Christian women can worship side by side with men and boys. But women cannot teach men in many Sunday school classes across America, so that relegates her to a different and unequal worship space.

Baptist preachers glorify and deny women, all in the same breath. The pastor of BBC (Big Baptist Church) equated women with the Holy Spirit as a helper, which demeaned both the Holy Spirit, and women, because nobody is equal to the Holy Spirit, and to say so is lying. When pastors say women are equal-but have different functions they both glorify and deny women.

Mormons do the same thing. We read about Kate Kelly who had her baptism taken away from her in June because she promotes women pastors. The Mormon church glorifies and denies women in this way:

“At age twelve, boys become members of the Aaronic, or lesser priesthood, and at nineteen become eligible for the Melchezedek, or higher priesthood. Members of either priesthood are higher authorities on everything than are non-members. Women are, of course, excluded from the priesthood. This practice in effect says that a woman’s prepubescent son is more qualified to advise her than she is to advise him. The official explanation is that women are kept from having the priesthood because women are more spiritual than men, therefore, men need to have the priesthood to teach them how to be better people (Johnson 86). Women are also told that, because they have the all- important ability to bear children, men need the power of the priesthood merely to remain equal with them.

Roman Catholics glorify and deny:

Where there is an absolute difference in the roles the two sexes can play is in the giving of life. By natural law, only women can give physical life by serving as mothers. By supernatural law, only men can give spiritual life to the faithful by serving as priests. Women have the privilege of being intimately associated in the giving of life through birth, and men have the privilege of being intimately associated in the giving of life through the priesthood.

Glorify and then deny. How long are we Christian women going to put up with it? You can argue Scripture all day long, and never climb out of that rut. Or you can see how this is practiced in your church, and you can make the decision that it is not Christ-like, it does it honor Christ, and it does nothing to help those who need Christ.

It is time to get off your equal-but and do something! Will you join me in speaking up for women?

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The Civil Rights Act affected more women than blacks

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 affected more women than it affected blacks. Blacks made up about 10% of the population in 1964, and women made up over 50% of the population.

 “The prohibition against discrimination based on sex was added to Title VII (Civil Rights Act of 1964) at the last minute on the floor of the House of Representatives… the bill quickly passed as amended, and we are left with little legislative history to guide us in interpreting the Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on ‘sex.’

CivilRightsAct1964-HouseRollCall-Sex-Amendment  (fourth line from top right last word)

Yet, we think it is all about equality for black men and women. As the law was originally written, black women would have had more rights than white women, because black women were included in the ‘race’ word.

Celebrate Wednesday! Celebrate your freedom!

Wait, not so fast. Women have only civil freedoms, not religious freedom.

Because, you see, after the Civil Rights Act, women began getting into ‘men’s jobs.’ And Religion couldn’t have that. No Sireeee! Clamp down! Clamp down fast! Before you know it, women will want to be preachers! Clamp down!

So they did.

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act gave all women, both black and white, many of the same rights that men already had. The church should have been the first! But they did not stand up for full equality for women in the secular world then, and most will not stand up for women in the church now.

The natural progression, as we moved forward in the 20th century, would have been for churches to accept women in church leadership just as women were being accepted to colleges and places of business. I repeat, the church should have been the first to raise women up in status. But they did not do that. Instead, churches reacted with vehemence against women. They wanted to hold on to the male feel of Christianity, and they did.

Churches have continually denied capable spiritual women equality before God within their congregations. Women are denied equality by an inaccurate interpretation of the Scriptures, by the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, and by The Danvers Statement. Women are denied equality by seminaries that teach male headship. Women are denied ministry equality by many denominations that teach only males can be the pastors, preachers, or priests. And, most shameful of all, women are denied by other women in their congregations who prevent them from pastoring churches and from becoming deacons. (from my book Dethroning Male Headship).

It is closed. It is over. Women will not ever have freedom in churches to be pastors, deacons, elders. Women will remain in subjection to their husbands. It is over.

There is a small breath blowing. It can be seen on some websites. This breath can be heard through Christians for Biblical Equality. This small breath blowing needs fuel. It needs money to continue. It needs more participants. It needs you.

Will you breathe on this small resistance group that is working for women’s equality?

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