Methodists turning complementarian?

Following is a post I wrote on June 7, 2014, and now it is happening. The split has started and 117 churches in Florida left United Methodist Church and became their own new Global Methodist Church which is far more conservative.

June 7, 2014. Who would have thought it? Of course the seeds are there just waiting to germinate. And germinate they will.

According to the Houston Chronicle (June 1, 2014, Methodist churches face split over gay issues), they are about to split in two.

Whenever conservative Christians – Methodists or any other denomination – get together, women suffer.

Christian conservatism is a three-legged stool 1) gays; 2) women; 3) Bible inerrancy. These fundamentalists do not stand on two legs.

This split is about Bible inerrancy, ordaining gay clergy, and performing same-sex marriages. Gays will neither benefit nor suffer from this division into two Methodists groups, because they already can get married in many states whether the church allows it or not. It will be women who suffer, by a loss of churches willing to accept a woman pastor and by marriage seminars teaching male headship. This conservative (fundamentalist) group will begin with denouncing gays and same-sex marriages, and then you wil find they are rejecting women pastors.

Methodists have within their membership those who believe in male headship and this group will identify with those other denominations that teach against homosexuality and who also deny women equality to preach or pastor.

And then Methodists will be complementarian in their teaching and beliefs. And that is what this group wants. Read what one of their members, Therrell, said:

“Our churches long for the day of being able to unite with like-minded Christians who focus on sharing the Good News of Jesus and help people to be transformed by His salvation,” Therrell said in the WCA-Florida statement on Facebook.

Openly gay pastors are a rarity, even among those who accept gay pastors. However, there are many gay pastors among evangelical fundamental Christians and Catholics. None of these denominations affirm gay pastors, but they are there. Conservative churches know they have gay pastors within their churches, but do not make an issue of it until something happens. Thus, there will continue to be male gay pastors in the split-off Methodist churches. But you can count on it, these split-off churches will not continue to accept female pastors.

I urge all Methodists to take action. Now is not the time to sit and wait.

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Stepping into the Christian Era

He is Risen and now what? Let’s not be too hasty lest we pack Jesus away with the plastic Easter eggs. In the last post, Part 5. Destination, the Garden, we saw how Jesus went out of his way to tell women that he was the Messiah. As we will see, there was a reason for this.

Jesus has been called “the new Adam.” That first Adam has been the bane of all mankind and so has Eve. But the Resurrection changed everything. Here was the new Adam – a spirit that gives life.

“So it is also written, The first human, Adam, became a living person, and the last Adam became a spirit that gives life.” (1 Cor. 15:45 CEB). In Bible language, this is what is known as typology. It is a doctrine of theological types; especially one holding that things in Christian belief are prefigured or symbolized by things in the Old Testament.

Let’s look again at that garden.  There is Jesus and there is Mary Magdalene. Since Jesus is the new “Adam,” Mary is the new “Eve.” She is the first to witness this new Adam. He called her by her name, thus naming her. She is a freed woman, no longer to be cursed by manmade rules and restrictions. She is freed of the stigma placed upon her by mankind. But it won’t last. Because whenever humans can place a stigma, they will, and they did.

Just as it was not a coincidence that Jesus told the Jewish Mary of Bethany that she was welcomed into the presence of the Master’s teaching; Jesus told the gentile woman that he had also come to be Messiah of the gentiles which included her; Jesus told the woman at the well that he was the Messiah whom the Samaritans had been expecting (believing that they were the true faith); it was not a coincidence that Mary Magdalene was in the garden to see the Resurrected Christ – the new Adam. Everything was leading up to this.

Genesis begins in a garden. And here we are again, in a garden where the Apostle Paul says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The new Adam and the new Eve. And just like the original Eve, this woman Mary Magdalene who was cleansed of all her sins, remained under the curse of man. Not God, but man. So do all of us women who have come after her.

There are no more gardens. We have stepped into the Christian era.

From my book Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

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Part 5. Destination, the Garden

Chaos. Everybody was running here and there. It is no wonder the stories got mixed up. Some thought they saw Peter and John go into the tomb, some thought they had not arrived yet. Some saw angels, or something that looked like angels. Some saw the guards lying facedown and scrambling up with worried looks and making hasty decisions of what to tell the authorities.

“Where is he?” You can hear the determination in her voice as Mary Magdalene confronts someone she thinks is the gardener. “Just tell me where he is and I WILL GO GET HIM!” This is not some weak woman speaking. She has come to the tomb prepared to roll away a heavy stone, but now all she sees is a gaping hole and the body of Jesus is gone. She is crying, yes, but these are tears of frustration and determination. She was going to make this right. Weak people say “help me” while strong people say “I will do it.”

“Tell me where he is! I will go get him!”

Chaos. So many different accounts of this one event. But there was one thing they all were clear on. It was a woman who Jesus first revealed himself to.

There were men around – the guards who were scared half to death – and possibly Peter and John. But they didn’t get the news. It was a woman. Like all of Jesus’ proclamations, male headship played no part in this resurrection story.

So we have finally arrived in the garden and the world has been turned upside down. Where do we go from here? Do we leave Mary and the other women beside an empty grave? Yes, we do. Not as Jesus did, but as pastors and preachers and other women have determined we should do. Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in relation to Jesus’ death and resurrection. After that she is no longer mentioned. Why not? This woman to whom Jesus made a personal appearance – bypassing all the others around the tomb – is left there.

I was sitting in a doctor’s office while both men and women sat around me, using their iPhones or devices. Tears came into my eyes and I wanted to shout to all there “This is the 21st century for both men and women! Why does the church work so hard to keep women in the 1st Century?” Because the Bible says so? Where?

Where does Jesus say that women must submit to their husbands? Where does Jesus say that women cannot be in authority over a man? It is not there, my friends. We are called Christians because we follow Christ and not some 1st century societal customs that empowered men over women.

We have come to the garden by way of Mary of Bethany who was a Jewish woman welcomed to sit and learn from the Master himself. We have come to the garden by way of the Gentile woman who learned that Jesus was the Messiah for gentiles which included her. We have come to the garden by way of the Samaritan woman who believed that hers was the true religion, and here was the Messiah just as they expected. We have come to the garden by way of Mary Magdalene who declared she would go herself and find Jesus until he said her name and she knew he was the resurrected Christ.

We are at the garden. Who is going to stop you from going and telling?

From my book Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

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Part 4. Destination, the Garden

If the first thing you think of when you remember the woman at the well is “the man you are living with now is not your husband,” then you have missed the whole point of Jesus’ visit to this Samaritan woman.

The Danvers Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Affirmation #9 says: “With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world.”

No matter what shape the world is in, the writers of The Danvers Statement would never have chosen the woman at the well to be the instrument God used to win lost people to Christ.

But Jesus did.

Everyone knows her story. In fact, hers is one of the longest detailed stories of an event in the New Testament. It was her story. She told it to everyone who would listen. This man she had just met at the well knew that she had had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband.

Jesus was not judging her for that. He was offering her something that no man could offer a woman. He was offering her living water—from a well that would never run dry. And he told her that he was the source of this living water.

This was a woman experienced in the ways of men, and she knew this conversation was different from any she had ever had. She was certainly not the one who would be expected to announce the news that prophecy had been fulfilled and that the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. No one would even listen to a woman proclaiming this momentous event, would they? But for some reason, Jesus chose her to reveal his true identity.

She took that message and ran with it.

It was Jesus who brought up the subject of living water. He told her that if she drank from the water he gave, she would never be thirsty again.

She wanted that. She said she did not want to keep coming to the well to draw water. She was probably teasing him at that point as she had no idea what he was talking about. Then Jesus did something surprising. He told her to go call her husband, and then to come back.

Aha! Finally Jesus brings male headship into the conversation! “Go, call your husband and come back,” Jesus said.

The woman answered, “I have no husband.”

Was Jesus was surprised at this? Did he ask her to go call her husband just to embarrass her? No, its significance is greater than her confession that she was not married to the man with whom she was living. She was worthy in her own right, as a woman, to be told directly by him that he was the Messiah. They engaged in a theological discussion. This woman was not learning in silence. And Jesus did not rebuke her for it. She talked back and told him that she could see that he was a prophet. She declared “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

And he did explain—right then and there—to the woman at the well, a woman who did not have a husband to tell her if what she was hearing was right or wrong. She heard, she accepted, she told.

This story of the woman at the well is found in John 4:4-42 and begins by saying, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” It is best translated that “he purposed in his mind” to go through Samaria, because the Jews had found a way, even though it was inconvenient, to avoid Samaria. They thought they were better than these poor cousins, the Samaritans, and for a Jew to deliberately go through Samaria was unusual.

There was something in Samaria that Jesus needed to do in order to complete his earthly work.

With this story of the Woman at the Well, we see how the picture of Jesus is coming together.

The Jewish woman, Mary of Bethany, who Jesus permitted to sit at his feet right beside the men, and learn at a time when learning scripture was forbidden to women

The Gentile woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was not sent only to Israel, but to all people, which included her.

The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah, who the Samaritans were also expecting, since they claimed theirs was the true religion of the ancient Israelites.

These are pivotal stories because they show that Jesus gives the voice of the gospel to women just as he gives the voice of the gospel to men. These stories also set the stage for the empty tomb where it was women who first encountered the resurrected Jesus and where the full gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus would unfold. So, yes, Jesus purposed in his mind to go through Samaria, because he had something to complete in Samaria.

The completion of this mission was so satisfying to him that he told his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The conversation he had with this woman had an effect on Jesus that was profoundly different from his other encounters with men or women. This is the only scripture passage in the Bible where Jesus said that what had just happened was so meaningful to him that he felt that he had been fed. In other words, mission accomplished.

Verse 42 says “…we no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” These men first heard the words of Jesus from a woman, and then they heard the same message from Jesus himself.

Jesus is headed to the garden tomb and the final meeting with a woman who steps into the Christian era with the news “He is risen!”

From my book Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

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Part 3. Destination, the Garden

Part 3. Destination, the garden

There are four women to whom Jesus tells that he is the Messiah, the Canaanite woman being one of them. Most often we hear of her great faith, but when we concentrate on the faith of this woman, we diminish the message Jesus gave her. She was given the news from Jesus himself that he not only came for the Jews, but for the Gentiles also – and that meant her. Her story is found in both Matthew and Mark.

She asked Jesus to heal her daughter, but for some reason, he was not going to do it. Jesus told her “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” She was a Gentile, and Jesus was telling her that he was sent to save the Jews only. But if that was the case, I would not be here writing this and you would not be reading it. So we see that while Jesus said that, it did not tell the whole story. And then by healing her daughter, he is showing her that he is also the Messiah of the Gentiles. That is Big News! We must never forget that this extraordinary news was told to a woman who had no husband nearby, or possibly not at all.

But right now, this woman did not need some idealistic prophecy of what was to happen in the future. Her daughter lay in bed very ill and she needed help now. So she argued with this man Jesus in whom she had placed her hope. ‘Help my daughter! Surely you have enough power within you to give a small portion to us Gentiles.’

She knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed. (Common English Bible)

This story is very similar to the story of the first miracle when Jesus turned the water into wine. His mother (remember she had first argued with the angel Gabriel when told she was going to have a baby who would be the Messiah?) In the Wedding story Jesus says almost the same thing to his mother as he says to the Canaanite woman.

When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They don’t have any wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, what does that have to do with me? My time hasn’t come yet.” His mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars used for the Jewish cleansing ritual, each able to hold about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water,” and they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some from them and take it to the headwaiter,” and they did. The headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine. He didn’t know where it came from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. (Common English Bible)

Just as his mother had asked for a special favor “even though the time was not right,” Jesus did as she asked. He does the same with this Gentile woman, showing that his right time had no beginning or ending.

Jesus told women his Good News, and he did not tell any one of those women to go home and ask her husband, brother, or father what he meant. He did not tell any one of these women not to tell the Good News of the Messiah. If he had, we would have never heard these stories. The Gentile woman went home and found her daughter healed. The disciples didn’t see that ending. She told it to whoever would listen. She had just heard the Messiah was coming to save the Gentiles also, how could she not tell it?

From my book: Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

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Part 2. Destination, the Garden

Jesus is headed to the garden, this time to the garden tomb of Lazarus, where something very important is about to happen. There is to be a resurrection, a small demonstration of what is to come.

It is a familiar story. You know it well. You know Lazarus died, Jesus wept, Lazarus came forth from the tomb. And you know that Martha and Mary had at one time been at odds with each other because Martha needed help in the kitchen and Mary was sitting down and not helping.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” But every story has a back story and that story is most often ignored because the significance does not fit with today’s male headship teaching.

Mary and Martha are the sisters of Lazarus. Apparently they live together. But it is not Lazarus who appears to be the head of the household, it is Martha. The stories in the Gospels do not attribute one word spoken by Lazarus, either before his death or afterwards. He does nothing to indicate he is the “head” of this family. Jesus speaks and interacts with Mary and Martha, and even this resurrection of Lazarus is overshadowed by Jesus’ talking with Martha, and his special notice of Mary.

Most of the people Jesus comes into contact with have only one story recorded in the Gospels. But Mary and Martha have at least four stories about their encounter with Jesus. When we first find Mary and Martha, Mary is at the feet of Jesus and Martha is fussing in the kitchen.

Mary was learning from the Teacher himself which was an enormously big deal in that time. It was said that for women to be taught the scriptures from men was similar to teaching them about sex – it just was not done. But here Mary is sitting at the Master’s feet alongside the men.

She is also the same Mary who, six days after the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, pours expensive alabaster oil on Jesus’ feet and dries his feet with her hair. Jesus rebukes those who seek to stop her by saying she is wasting the oil that could be sold to help feed the poor. He tells them “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”(Matthew 26:11-13).

Mary and Martha send for Jesus, but he waits until Lazarus is completely dead (it was believed by some Jews that the spirit hung around for three to seven days after death). It is Martha who runs to Jesus when he arrives after Lazarus’ death. If he had only gotten there earlier, Lazarus would have been healed but here he was dead and in the tomb and stinking for four days.

The Bible makes the point that “when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house.” Mary remained at the house with the neighbors who came to comfort her. We know that Lazarus’ death and resurrection is one illustration Jesus wants to make, and we are going to see that there is one more connection to be made.

Here it is:

“After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” Jesus was headed to the tomb where Lazarus lay but it was important that Mary, who had a hungering for the Scriptures and the things to come, be there when he brought Lazarus forth from the tomb. Thus, he said six days later, “she has prepared me for my burial.”

Just the facts, ma’am. Women had gone every step of the way with Jesus. They did not abandon him at the time of his trial; they did not deny him. Jesus is headed toward the tomb where several Marys will be the first to see him after his resurrection.

From my book: Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Availabe on Amazon in print and Kindle.

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Part 1. Destination – the Garden

You see, it began with the Garden of Eden and it culminated in the Garden of the Tomb and with the resurrection. That is no coincidence. And it is no coincidence that a woman was the one who was there when the Lord was revealed.

It was all leading up to that, of course, but they didn’t see it and I can bet your pastor does not see it either. The scriptures pointing the way have been used for other illustrations if they are mentioned at all. Rarely will you hear a sermon on the four women Jesus chose to lead the way. Remember these four women as we tell the story which you have already heard so many times in this book. This is important. Look at it. Jesus cannot get to the Garden Tomb until he has told these four women that he is the Messiah. On the following pages as you read again their stories, see how it all leads to the final story of Jesus and Mary at the resurrection.

But first, we must go back to that first Garden. This is a story the Jewish leaders and every household knew very well, just as we Christians know it and teach our children.

Man and woman were banned from the Garden. The man was to till the soil and the woman was to give life. Her name was now Eve which means “life” or “life-giving, or “mother of all who have life.”

Tears come into my eyes for all the Eves of the world. Eve wanted knowledge. She would be the one giving birth to future generations, but those same sons and daughters would curse her. God did not curse her. He cursed the snake and the ground that would be tilled, but he did not curse the man or the woman.

In “Destination, the Garden” we will see how Jesus, the “second Adam” demonstrates redemption to the woman. And we will learn that yet, again, those sons and daughters still curse the woman who gave them life. Are you still cursing the woman who gave you life?

From my book Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood. Available in print and Kindle on Amazon.

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The Powerful Message of 1 Peter 3:1-6

Male headship is dethroned when Peter told Christian women that they will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers. The beautiful promise of this passage is not that women would be Sarah’s children if they are submissive, but that they would become mothers like Sarah because they themselves would be founding a new nation of believers, not by giving birth in the physical sense, but by spreading the gospel message so people can be born again by the spirit.

To emphasize, Peter does NOT tell wives they are Sarah’s daughters if they submit to their husbands like Sarah did. What he DOES say was startling, and raised the hairs on their heads by its audacity. 

Peter tells these women that “like mother, like daughter” and just as their mother Sarah birthed a new nation, they, too, are birthing a new nation of believers.

We can interpret Peter’s words something like this, “That was the way it was done back in Sarah’s day, but things have changed. We are now under grace by faith, not under the law. You have done what is right in becoming Christ-followers, and are Sarah’s daughters—children of the freed woman—if you do not fear as you keep following Christ, and, like Sarah, you will birth this new nation of God’s people.” 

Again, Paul says the same thing: “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

“These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Sarah)….Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman,” Galatians 4:21-26, 31.

1 Peter 3 contains a powerful promise of building a nation of believers that is for all time.

Twenty-first century Christian women are also children of the free woman, but some still choose to cling to Hagar by holding to a master/slave relationship with their husbands, and pastors still enforce this type of submission, even when they know it is wrong.

Sarah is mentioned four times in the New Testament, three of which are specifically about her becoming the mother of a nation. 1 Peter 3:6 is too, but the greater truth of it has been neglected.

By passionately claiming the first part of the scripture that says wives must submit to their husbands, the promise it held for New Testament wives has been ignored.

This particular reference to Sarah in 1 Peter 3:6 emphasizes the new covenant and has those new Christian women actively participating in the ministry of the gospel by birthing a nation of believers (1 Peter 3:6; Hebrews 11:11; Romans 4:19; Galatians 4:2-26, 31).

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When “I” does not mean God

1 Timothy 2:12 is most likely misinterpreted to mean what we want it to say. The Apostle Paul said “I do not permit.”  He didn’t say that God said it and he didn’t claim to be speaking for God when he said “I.” 

But we are like the Pharisees who Jesus condemns in Matthew 23.  We have chosen what part of “authority” we will not allow.  Some SBC churches will not allow women to teach men in Sunday school, while others do.  Some do not allow women to teach the youth because a boy might be a “man” but other churches do.  I have been on a Pastor search committee, building committees and finance committees.  Those are deciding committees in a church, and women were allowed to make those decisions.  I have attended a Baptist church for 60 years and I do not see anything that men pastors do that a woman could not do in regards to pastoring the flock.

Try enforcing a woman to be silent in a Baptist church today and you may as well close the doors.

In Paul’s day a woman was not permitted to speak in the synagogue at all.  In fact, she could not even be in sight of the men.  This is because a woman’s voice is “enticing” and the men cannot control themselves enough to be close to a woman. When they said silent, they didn’t mean fudging like SBC Christians do.  They meant no singing, no announcements, no wedding vows, no professions of faith.  If we are going to be silent like Paul said, then we must obey the whole meaning.  

When I was in Jerusalem at the Wailing Wall, women had a separate entrance because the men would be distracted to hear a woman praying.  Is this what you want for Christian women?  Didn’t Jesus come to free both men and women from the letter of the law? Go back and read Matthew 23.  See how Jesus became angry because they put their strict interpretation of the law before people.  And see also how they managed to get around their own strict interpretation of those laws.  That is hypocritical and Jesus called them on it.

Complementarians and male headship churches are trying to fit a first century woman into this 21st century.  It won’t work.  We educate our women today.  Women are not pregnant most of their adult life, with 8 kids lined up on a row.

Jesus tried to show us the worth of a woman.  He commissioned the first evangelist (the woman at the well). He allowed Mary to learn at his feet and praised her for it (Luke 10:42) at a time when women were to be seen and not heard and certainly not in among the men learning from the master. He gave the gospel to a woman when he arose from the grave by telling her to go and tell the men where they could find him.

Whatever Paul meant, we do not know.  What we do know is that men have used this scripture to keep women from being deacons and pastors when all the other words of Paul and his actions speak to the fact that he knew the woman apostle Junia and other women deacons.

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Playing Twister with the Scripture

I love to answer email questions from pastors. More than likely they tell me things they would not admit to their church members. Most use anonymity and hide behind that cover. This Pastor, like other pastors, seeks to set me straight on 1Timothy 2:15. This Pastor quotes well-known John MacArthur, mega-church pastor of Grace Community Church in California, when he says:

Paul teaches here that although a woman precipitated the Fall and women bear that responsibility, yet they may be preserved from that stigma through childbearing. The rescue, the delivery, the freeing of women from that stigma of having led the race into sin happens when they bring up righteous children. Women are far from being second class citizens because they have the primary responsibility for rearing godly children.

Huh? To those who wonder what this pastor just said, let me explain. He said that women caused the Fall and women will always be responsible for it, but God prepared a way out of that sin for women by allowing them to give birth to the next generation and by raising godly children.

He continues:

Paul teaches here that although a woman precipitated the Fall and women bear that responsibility, yet they may be preserved from that stigma through childbearing. The rescue, the delivery, the freeing of women from that stigma of having led the race into sin happens when they bring up righteous children. Women are far from being second class citizens because they have the primary responsibility for rearing godly children.

Mothers spend far more time with their children than do their fathers, and thus have the greater influence. Paul’s point here is that while a woman may have led the race into sin, women have the privilege of leading that race out of sin into godliness.

That does not mean God wants all women to bear children; some He doesn’t even want married (1st Cor. 7:25-40). Paul speaks in general terms. The pain associated with childbirth was the punishment for the woman’s sin, but the joy and privilege of child rearing delivers women from the stigma of that sin.

In this passage we can see how God has perfectly balanced the roles of the sexes. Men are to be the leaders in the church and the family. Women are kept from any accusation of inferiority through the godly influence they have in the lives of their children. For the church to depart from this divine order is to perpetuate the disaster of the Fall.

This pastor’s response was to quote John MacArthur. Parts of what he said comes straight from John MacArthur in a sermon in 1989. MacArthur says“They (women) are delivered from being thought of as permanently weak and deceivable and insubordinate.” I would like to ask MacArthur that if women have been delivered of this sin, then why is he and this Pastor still talking about it? And why am I writing a book to counter this unholy teaching? I personally would love to be delivered from their interpretations of women’s roles.

Now, back to the Pastor and his response. I wish I knew which Bible this pastor is reading because I do not think he is reading the one I have. 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 is referencing Jesus’ imminent return, with Paul telling men and women not to marry at all unless they cannot help themselves and not have sex. In fact, 1 Corinthians 7:29 advises men that if they have a wife, they should live as if they have none (celibate). Now, pastor, what kind of leadership is that? You see from this example that you must check out every scripture that anyone gives you to convince you of male headship because, in truth, there are none.

My response: Ah, Pastor, untwist yourself. You have played Twister with those Scriptures. What about the blood of Jesus delivering us from all sin, even the stigma of the Fall? You are telling me that Jesus does not have the power of Himself to free me, a woman, from that? How on earth could giving birth to a baby free a woman?

Pastor, your explanation does not make one bit of sense. It gives men far more power than God or Paul ever intended. Because you see, that makes our whole salvation dependent upon an earthly male to make us whole. And it also depends upon our ability to raise righteous children. My salvation cannot be based upon whether or not my children are Christians, just as their salvation is not based upon whether or not this poor mother was a Christian.

Do you know how you sound with that “joy and privilege of childrearing delivers women from the stigma of that sin?” Those who teach that women are inferior have not erased that stigma from me, and I have given birth to two sons. Once I have a child, then, from your reasoning, I should be free of the stigma. Does the fact that I had pain killers during childbirth change that? Do I get a certificate saying that I am now “preserved” from that stigma?

Pastor, one day you will realize just how ridiculous your explanation is, or, which is more likely, others will wake up and realize how ridiculous your explanation is.

Repost from July 2010

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We know our places

Before 1960, Southern whites and blacks knew their places. Stepping into a bus and choosing a seat depended upon what color your skin was. Bus drivers were known to stop and tell blacks to go further back into the bus.

Black women could take white children to their breasts, but could not sleep under the same roof as white people. Blacks could work as maids and change bed linens, but could not sleep in the beds they made up. They could work as bellhops, and they could cook in hotel kitchens, but they could not eat in the dining rooms. Black people boarding passenger trains in Illinois could sit anywhere on the train, but before they got to Mississippi, all the blacks had to get up, gather their families and their belongings, and go to a separate train car, leaving only whites in their section of the train.

These laws were made by white Southerners in the Bible Belt. Many of those politicians went to church on Sunday and found justification for their discrimination from the pulpit and in the Bible.

The Southern Baptist Convention was born because Baptist Southerners wanted to keep their slaves, and they used the Scriptures to justify slavery. After the war, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other fundamentalist Christian groups, had to admit they were wrong about slavery, but they did not submit graciously. In fact, after the Civil War—which the South lost—these men were determined to enforce black and white segregation and enacted the segregation (Jim Crow) laws that lasted until the 1960s.

“We now look back on it as a form of social insanity, but it felt normal at the time. It felt normal to whites and to most blacks. The African Americans who fought to overthrow this were a tiny minority and really revolutionary and didn’t get the support of the general black public until it was pretty clear they were going to win.” (Diane McWorther “Carry Me Home”).

This was the South, baby! We all knew our places then, just as women know their places today.

We are told women can do some things in church. For instance, in some churches women can stand behind the pulpit while singing in the choir, but in other churches they cannot. A choir director told me that she could direct the choir as long as her back was to the pulpit, but that she could not turn around facing the pulpit and the congregation. Now, where is that in the Bible?

Women can walk to the pulpit to make an announcement, but must surrender the pulpit to a man when it comes time to preach the gospel. Women are told they can accept communion only from a male deacon. Well, to be exact, they do let women pass the bread and juice to the next person sitting in their row, but they cannot pass the plate of bread and juice to people behind them.

We know our places. But some of us are tired of those places. Some of us are telling our leaders that they are wrong. Some of us are holding them accountable for their segregationist attitude.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 which gave black men and women equal rights under the law also is the Act that gave all women equal rights under the law. It came about because blacks were demanding their rights under the law. Women were the beneficiaries. Blacks made up around 14 percent of the population in 1964 (included are black women). This Civil Rights Act originally was intended for blacks only but would have given black women more rights than white women. Apparently someone realized that and included “sex” meaning gender in the Civil Rights Act, today giving 50.8 percent of the population the same rights men already had.

Will you join us? Will you tell your pastor that men and women are created equal and that you will tolerate no other teaching in the church you attend?

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Letter to Denny Burk

In August 2016 I wrote a letter to the new president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Rev. Denny Burk. The letter is relevant today, just as it was five years ago. The CBMW is still fiercely protecting their male headship. Maybe they need to put on the Armor of God, and their delicate male headship would be safe!

Oh, well. Here is the letter I wrote to Denny Burk.

Dear Denny,

I have just read “My vision for the future of the CBMW.” Your dedication and desire are so aptly described. I see a burning flame in your vision and I know you will do everything in your power to bring this to pass.

Denny, may I call you Saul? You remind me so much of the biblical Saul before the Damascus Road.

“But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”…

Saul produced resources, conferences, etc. in order to equip religious leaders and organizations to put a stop to these Jesus followers. Rabbis were told to focus on getting rid of these people.

But a new day had arrived.  Pleasing God had gone in a new direction.  Jesus told them to love those who persecuted them and to love each other. And none of Jesus’ 46 parables were about women submitting to their husbands and the dire consequences if they did not.

These followers of The Way were not trying to hurt anybody, but Saul was going for destruction.

Denny, after reading your vision for the future of the CBMW, I think you are still guarding the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen. It is not too late to stop this persecution of women.

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CBMW v Beth Allison Barr

Denny Burk, president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and his minions have virtually and literally burned Beth Allison Barr at the stake.

Beth Allison Barr wrote a book. The hottest book in Christian literature right now. It is The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth.

Beth is a Professor at Baylor University. According to their website:

Professor Beth Barrfocuses on women and gender identity in medieval and early modern English sermons, drawing evidence especially from comparative analyses of biblical women, narrative women, gendered language, and the gendered nature of biblical text included within sermons. She is interested in how the advent of Protestantism affected women in Christianity as well as how and why medieval attitudes towards women in sermons both changed and stayed the same across the Reformation era.”

Denny Burk, et al, took exception to an illustration in her book.

 In her book, Beth gave the story of a medieval woman who loved God so much that she abandoned her children to go serve God. From this, Denny Burk, et al, decried Beth as a woman who advocates that women abandon their children.

Let’s look at the CBMW website, and you will see that they are really very much interested in medieval history – particularly in witches.

You are not going to believe this until you see it in writing. It is on their website CBMW.org. I will be blunt. The Danvers Statement birthed by the CBMW, and the BF&M 2000 are modern day tools equivalent to those used by the religious men during the Inquisition in which women were accused of being witches, heretics, and were burned at the stake.

Women consorting with the devil was a strong belief in the Middle Ages, and is still a factor according to some pastors, and the statement by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. If a woman becomes too strong, usurping the authority of the husband, she is guilty of inviting the devil into the home. Baptists and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that when wives submit themselves to their husbands, this enables families to withstand the devil’s temptations and the onslaughts of the world.

Heavily influenced by, and comprised of Southern Baptist leaders, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood equates women to witches (listens to the devil) on their website (Missions and Vision #2).

“If families do not structure their homes properly, in disobedience to the teachings of Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and Colossians 3, (submissive wives) then they will not have the proper foundation from which to withstand the temptations of the devil and the various onslaughts of the world. This hinders the sanctification of married couples and also introduces confusion about basic parenting issues such as raising masculine sons and feminine daughters.” (CBMW.org)

Shockingly, this is the same language found in the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hunter’s Bible). Wikipedia quotes Michael Bailey (Battling Demons, 2003, University Press):

“The text argues that women are more susceptible to demonic temptations through the manifold weaknesses of their gender. It was believed that they were weaker in faith and more carnal than men. Michael Bailey claims that most of the women accused as witches had strong personalities and were known to defy convention by overstepping the lines of proper female decorum.” (Such as ‘feminine daughters’ from CBMW referenced above.)

Wayne Grudem said this regarding women’s submissive role: “I still believe it will happen. Jesus Christ is building and purifying his church that he might present it to himself without spot or wrinkle. But on this issue Christ’s purification process is taking much longer than I expected.” Grudem is specifically calling for the purification of the church by eliminating women leaders. Burning at the stake is illegal, but destroying women is still the goal, just as it was during the Inquisition. Claiming that it is Jesus’ desire. I wondered how those priests who burned women could sleep at night. I wonder how we can sleep at night with the same desire.

Some thought they were right, some knew they were wrong, but all thought it was for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.

Baptists teach that women are consorting with the devil when they do not submit to their husbands. For over 300 years, thousands of women died when they were accused of being witches (consorting with the devil), and today, thousands of women suffer by that same accusation by Christian leaders, under the guise of complementarianism.

Denny Burk, et al, at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that women are to be submissive to males, to their husbands of course, but also to all men in leadership. That is the foundational belief of the CBMW. Denny Burk could never have obtained the position he has if he did not believe and promote male headship.

However, it will take women such as Beth Allison Bar to open the hearts of those who cling to the tenets of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Somehow they need to hear that their cherished beliefs may not honor Christ. The fact they call women witches is one reason to reexamine those beliefs.

Christianity should be viewed in light of God’s word and in light of how both men and woman can be a Great Commission people. Demeaning and attacking Beth Allison Barr is not beneficial to Christianity nor to the Gospel of Christ.

Denny Burk has a responsibility. He knows that. His heart knows that, but his actions and his heart are defined by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (www.cbmw.org). And that organization is in the sole business of demeaning God’s creation – women – and elevating males over every woman on earth. And burning at the stake? – yes, virtually and literally.

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One Wife for Seven Brothers

A story with seven brothers dying after marrying the same woman has to have some answer, so we will attempt to resurrect a situation to accommodate the Sadducees question: “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers…. At the resurrection whose wife will she be (Mark 12:19-23 NIV).”

Which husband is going to stand up and be accountable for her? Good question. Let’s ask those who think husbands are going to stand up and account for their wives.

To understand this story we must have seven husbands dying, with the widow being married off to her brothers-in-law after each death, according to the Levirate Law so she could give her dead husband heirs. It is unlikely that the remaining six brothers were unmarried, so now we have the widow marrying several men who were already married and had a passel of kids.

This is how an improbable illustration goes, with each husband accounting for his wife for the short time she was his wife. For the story’s sake, the husbands make their accounting as soon as they arrive in Heaven.

The first husband stands before God to account for his widow: “She was so pretty, a little flighty, not given to good sense. In fact it was she who made me fall into the water. You see, I told her I could step out of the boat and walk on water, and, being a woman, she told me that I couldn’t. I stepped out just to show her that I could. She made me do it. I would not have done such a thing if she hadn’t told me I couldn’t.”

The second brother husband: “Well, you know I had to marry her because my fool brother went and got himself drowned because of her. She didn’t have any kids yet, and she wanted a boy to carry on my brother’s name. She got real sassy and burned the biscuits, and I had to teach her a lesson or two. Things were going along pretty good until I stepped out in front of that donkey I bought her to help her do her chores.”

The third brother husband: “I knew it wasn’t going to work almost as soon as I married her. She and Josephine and Zaphora didn’t get along. She never tried to fit in. She was always causing some kind of ruckus in the household. One day I came in and Josephine and Zaphora were chasing her out of the kitchen with a knife. I came between them and the knife hit me instead of her. Just one wrong move, and I got here first.”

The fourth brother husband: “The law said I had to do it, so I took her and Josephine in since neither of them had children. Zaphora ran off with the butcher, so I didn’t have her to worry about. But this wife! She made me pick up my own clothes, which is women’s work. But I tried to pacify her. I gave her a little spending money, not as much as I gave Josephine, because I had a fondness for Josephine, and she was special to me. Mr. Nice Guy, that’s me. In fact, I was being nice to her that day when she was walking because Josephine was pregnant and needed to ride. I was trying to help her after she accidentally slipped and fell into the ditch and grabbed onto me, but she pulled me down with her, and I hit my head on that rock and woke up here.”

The fifth one: “The little witch! Now they expected me to marry her. Oh, she was still pretty. But she had a mind of her own. Wouldn’t do a thing I told her to do. I already had seven children, and I thought my wife could use a little help around the house, so, like the law said, I married her and took her in. I couldn’t help it if the wife and kids did not like her. She was in the shed for only a few days. I was trying to teach her a lesson, but she was stubborn, just about tore the dang shed down, and when I ran inside to get her, the roof fell in on my head.”

Number six: “Look, it came down to this. I married her. She would not do anything right. She even wanted me to do all the work. Told me that I had to stay home at least two nights a week or she would never get with child. I couldn’t give up my friends. But, boy that woman sure could cook. Started making the best pies and fried eggs you ever ate. I had to set her straight every now and then, but making up was pure joy. Date cakes and puddings and eggs like they were going out of style. Guess I overdid it a little on the sweets, and here I am.”

The seventh, and last, brother stands before God to account for his wife: “I can’t really tell you much about her. We married one day, and I left for Egypt the next. You know, what with the other brothers and their untimely deaths and all. Last I heard she had taken up with some group that was following an itinerant preacher who was filling her head with some nonsense about her being equal.”

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Denigrating Jesus

The denigration of Jesus is subtle. Those who do it are seemingly unaware that they are belittling Christ himself, when what they really seek to accomplish is the denigration of women.

“Rabbi, we have brought food. Eat something.”

“I am not hungry.”

It had been a long day of walking and now they were in Samaria, near Jacob’s Well. The disciples were hungry and had left Jesus by the well while they went into the shops to purchase food. But now he would not eat. They had hurried back with a bag of food so they could feed their teacher. They were surprised to find him still at the well talking to a Samaritan woman, but they knew enough by now not to comment on it. He had often engaged in conversation with women. By this time they were used to it, and even a Samaritan woman did not cause them consternation. What they did comment about was that Jesus was not hungry. (John 4:1-26)

“I’m not hungry.”

“Did someone bring you food? We were starving and you must be, too.”

“I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

The conversation Jesus had with this woman at the well had an effect on Jesus that all the preaching the disciples had done failed to accomplish.

Jesus had given the word to a woman and now look at her. There she goes! She is telling all, just as he had commissioned the male disciples to do. Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” This woman was harvesting!

A man wrote me and said that the Samaritan woman’s preaching was not effective, and to prove it, he quoted Acts 8:1-6: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them and the people with one accord gave heed unto the things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” That man then asked me: Does this not indicate that the “ministry” of the ‘Woman at the Well’ was not effective? It also indicates that it was a male, an appointed Deacon, who preached to the Samarians and baptized many.”

His comments denigrate Jesus even though his intent was to denigrate the woman at the well by belittling the effectiveness of her preaching.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” A woman was sent out, and a woman harvested, and now men seek to take that away from her, and by taking it away from her, they seek to deny all women the right to harvest.

I wish I could say, “God forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But I do not believe that. They do know what they are doing. They claim to be Bible scholars, and to have the Word of Truth. Yet they deny the Person who is the Word of Truth because it doesn’t fit into their way of thinking. They are unwilling to let Jesus himself speak to them.

Will you call out the men who are false teachers, and men who seek to denigrate women, and who use any means to do so?

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Male headship theology

It is important to understand this theology. It is pervasive. While Baptists do not directly say that young women should remain at home under the rule of their fathers, they promote the belief that mothers and children are to be ruled by the husband.

Russell Moore, when he was president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said egalitarian couples “preach a false gospel” by viewing men and women as equal partners in marriage. Moore said, “And sometimes you have people who are preaching a false gospel to themselves in their homes by men who aren’t loving their wives as themselves and wives who aren’t submitting to their husbands…That then plays itself out in other ways later on in that person’s walk with Christ.” The original link is no longer active, but take my word for it or google and you can find it posted on other websites.

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a recognized spokesman for all things Southern Baptist, wrote an article called “Women and Children First” which tells women that they are the losers when they seek equality. He tells women that they should go back to the time when men would give their lives for their wives, such as when the Titanic sank. Sounds good, but it will not float. It is patriarchy at its worst, and I repeat, this teaching is not found in the Bible. (Women and Children First? A Tale of Two Ships. March 8, 2010)

The Bible gives no examples of men giving up their lives for their wives or families. This is not to say they would not or did not, but there is no example in the Bible of men doing it. The patriarch Abraham gave up his wife to the Pharaoh’s bed to save his own skin. Esther, a woman, came close to giving up her life to save men’s lives when she defied another Pharaoh. Moses’ life was saved by three women: his mother, his sister, and Pharaoh’s daughter.

What Mohler doesn’t understand is that women have always been willing to give their own lives to birth children in order to have children or so that their husbands have an heir in societies where that is their main purpose. Men have never been put to that test, and to suggest that men are more noble than women is foolish.

How are you going to convince men to give up their lives for their wives? Why should they? Jesus gave his life for us, and that is sufficient sacrifice for women.

Reposted from 2013.

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Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr

I am working this holiday, but my heart celebrates with those who honor Martin Luther King today.

In 1961, I went to work for the Houston Lighting & Power Company. It was my first job, and immediately I encountered female discrimination. It surprised me because I had never even thought that the restrictions placed on women were discriminatory. They were, but I did not know it, similar to the way I was not fully aware of how blacks were discriminated against. To me, it was normal; it was just the way it was.

Of course I had heard of the marches and civil unrest that was taking place in the South, but it did not affect me. I remember the first time I saw a black person eating at a large department store food counter in downtown Houston. I also remember riding a Greyhound bus as a kid, and the blacks had to sit in the back. I remember “coloreds” water fountains. I remember picking cotton and the blacks picked in one field, while we whites picked in the other.

It was in the 1970s that I learned that women, white or black, could not get credit in their names. I still use the credit card that I was able to get in my own name, instead of my husband’s name. Women had a hard time getting jobs in the professional fields. For blacks and for women, it did not miraculously change overnight. It still is a hard fought battle.

So I honor Martin Luther King this day. He had a great effect on my life as a white female. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave blacks, and white women, the same rights that white men already had.

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10 questions Christians should answer

  1. Why are Christians afraid of equality between men and women?
  2. What damage is it doing to young girls and women in the church today who feel the calling of God on their lives?
  3. What will it do to young men if they believe they will have authority over women when they grow up?
  4. Where did the evil phrase feminization of the church come from that causes unjustified fear that men will quit going to church if women become pastors?
  5. How do Christians justify allowing women to have authority over children and youth, who are more susceptible to false teaching, when women cannot have authority over men who are supposedly wiser and less likely to be wrongly influenced?
  6. Are Christians afraid of losing particular denominational beliefs—what will it do to denominational identities if churches do change, and does it matter in the long run?
  7. How are those Christian churches viewed that have taken the step of having women as pastors?
  8. How does it make women feel when they are told from the pulpit that they are to submit to their husbands in all things? How does it make men feel?
  9. What will be accomplished by continuing this rejection of women as pastors and deacons?
  10. How will Christians answer God when He asks the church why they did not use the people He called?

What are you afraid of?

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Missing: the spiritual leader

A Baptist deacon wrote “The man of the house is the spiritual leader and is responsible for seeing his family loves the Lord and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

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.

Making the husband a spiritual leader responsible for his wife’s and family’s salvation denigrates the gospel – the good news of Christ. Jesus did not say that men were heads of their wives, and he did not indicate that men would be elevated to headship after his resurrection.

Jesus did not bind women before his resurrection to their husbands, and there is no reason to believe that Jesus would bind women to their husbands after his resurrection. Jesus said an Advocate would come and we know that Advocate to be the Holy Spirit, not Husband.

In fact, male headship is contrary to everything Jesus said. The apostle Paul recognized this in his letter to the Galatians (3:26-28) where he wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.”

Therefore, we are presented with three scriptural challenges to the doctrine of men being the heads of women:

1) It is contrary to Jesus’ teaching and actions;

2) it makes men the vicars of Christ on earth if men are the head of women (the Advocate);

3) it removes Christ from headship over women; otherwise you have to believe that it takes two—one divine God and one earthly god—to be the head of one woman.

Oh, don’t forget, for him to be the spiritual leader, we have to get him up out of bed.

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Qualifications of a deacon

You will find that I speak more often about Baptist churches because it is what I know. My background is 53 years of active service as an adult in my Baptist churches. In the little Baptist church where I grew up, my father was the pianist, and a deacon, and a licensed Baptist minister. I worked for Baptist General Convention of Texas for almost 15 years and my blogs, Twitter and website reflect my Baptist background. My blog and my books are written because of this Baptist heritage. So it is with both confidence and anguish that I write.

Each denomination determines what its pastoral and lay leaders are called, whether they are called pastors, teaching ministers, or elders and deacons.

Almost all Baptists structure their churches with the Pastor being the head of the church (even though they might choose different words to frame it), with deacons being the governing/ministry body of the church. Some few have elders. Deacons are almost always men, because 1 Timothy 3:12 says they must be the husband of one wife, and everybody knows that wives cannot be husbands. This is the same qualification used for choosing a pastor. The big difference is that a pastor is paid and actually determines the direction of the church; while deacons are unpaid volunteers and generally follow the pastor’s lead (if they like him).

Deacons are men who are chosen by the church body, and are ordained into the ministry of deacon for life. The Bible does not say that deacons have to be ordained. Women are denied ordination to any service in a Baptist church, including that of being a deacon. Ordination is how the church has chosen to set aside the office of deacon. If the deacon leaves the church that ordained him, he qualifies to be a deacon in his new church. He may or may not choose to do so, however, and it is not guaranteed that the new church will have a place for him.

Deacons were instituted in the Early Church so they could serve those who were in need, as we read in Acts 5:2, “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’”

So, in Baptist churches, deacons serve the Lord’s Supper, even though that is not the table that was being referred to in Acts 5:2.  The table in Acts 5:2 means distributing food to the widows.

The strange thing about the qualifications for a deacon as given in 1 Timothy 3, is that nothing is said about a deacon’s duties to the church or its members. However, the word deacon means servant, so they are to serve. That is noble, honorable, and spiritual. It is also something that women can do.

Deacons do not preach, they often do not teach a Sunday school class, and mainly they attend meetings. They are often charged with the financial side of ministry (building programs, maintenance, etc.). Deacons do not administer the Food Pantry in churches, and helping the hungry is seldom their responsibility.

In my 53 years of being a Baptist, I have never had a deacon call me or express any interest in my family’s well-being, perhaps because I was in church every Sunday. At a church my husband and I attended for 12 years, a deacon was assigned to each church member. One year they began promoting a deacon/flock dinner and the deacons were to send invitations to their flock, inviting them to the dinner. Don and I were not invited. This was before my church had any inkling that I was about to become radical and promote women’s equality. Finally, the day before the dinner, I called to find out who our deacon was and invited myself and Don to the dinner.

The reason the above information is important to know is that this church, like most Baptist churches, adheres strictly to the men-only qualification for deacons. It does not seem to matter what a deacon does, as long as he is male. A deacon can be as good or as indifferent as he chooses to be. Being a deacon is a position of servanthood that women are denied, simply because they are not men. It gives the church a false sense of following the Bible’s teaching.

Being a deacon is a ministry of service. It was instituted in the Early Church as a way of helping people. Why are women making such a big deal about not being allowed to serve as a deacon? Let me turn that question around and ask this of you. Why is the church making such a big deal of being a deacon that women are denied this opportunity of service?

Give that some thought.

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They didn’t need another law on marriage

Did Paul teach on marriage? I was reading a paper about Paul written by a pastor, and I could see that the author was putting his own thoughts into his discussion about Paul. I guess we all do that. In fact, I suspect that we have put many words into Paul’s mouth that he did not mean. For instance, the pastor explains Paul’s teaching on marriage. He uses Romans 7:1-3 as an example and says this teaches that marriage is a commitment for life.

“Do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.”

Sounds like Paul is teaching on marriage, doesn’t it? But he is not, and to use it that way is a distortion of what Paul means. He is telling them they can find a new law in Jesus Christ, and so he uses the illustration of a marriage to make it clear.

These were people who knew the law, as Paul tells us in his opening words. They also knew about marriage. Paul is simply using the marriage laws that they all understood, to explain how they can find a new love (Christ, their Savior).

Paul is trying to help people understand that they can accept Jesus, who Paul tells them has come to replace the law, which Paul says is now dead. This was hard for them. He made the case, using their marriage laws, to show how they could live with the law, until that law is dead, and then you can choose another law, which Paul says is Jesus Christ.

Paul says this:

• in marriage a woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive

• if the husband dies she is no longer bound to him

• if she chooses a new husband before the old husband dies, she is in sin

• if she chooses a new husband after the old husband dies, she is not sinning

To mean this:

•you obeyed the old law until it died (was completed) with the coming of Jesus Christ

• if you had found a new law that replaced the old law, before Christ, you would be in sin

• since the old law is now dead, you can find (marry) a new law which is Christ (verse 4).

In Romans, Paul clarifies how they can serve Christ, and it is not about marriages at all.

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A New Year, an Old Problem

“Wives, you must submit to your husbands.”

I wonder if Susie (name changed) heard those words as she sat in her Baptist church. By his own admission, her husband had slapped her a few times, no more than four or five. At least that is how many times he admitted to in the deposition just before his trial. “I love my wife,” he said, and “slapped her only seldom” during their 15 year marriage.

He even went to church with her on occasion. Before he killed her, that is. Even before their house burned down, giving him a big insurance payment with which he bought a tractor and some land with a pond.

It took six years before justice finally came for Susie. For years her death was classified as undetermined.

It was a Saturday and Susie had been washing windows on her day off. In the afternoon, her mother called her and they went shopping together. She got home about 6:30 p.m. Susie’s husband arrived shortly afterwards and he ordered pizza delivered. Suddenly he told her he had to leave to check on something. According to him, when he returned he found Susie floating in a pond in their pasture. “Startled by a snake and fell in, choking on the pizza” was his explanation. Problem is, bodies do not float to the surface in 30 minutes. He would have had to search the bottom of the pond to find her, and would not have found her floating on the surface in that short time. He is now in prison.

“Husbands, you must allow your wife to submit to you, because by doing so, she is submitting to Christ.” I actually heard a Baptist pastor say that in his sermon.

A woman with a job like Susie’s leaves quite a sum of insurance upon her death. Her husband tried to claim the insurance, but the family knew someone who worked for a lawyer, and they brought in a patent attorney. Great story how a young patent attorney won the civil suit. Afterwards, there was a reclassification, and it was decided that Susie was murdered, and her husband was the prime suspect.

On their website, her church provides a link to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which reads: “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

What if there is no servant leadership of her husband? What if he is planning to kill her and hopes to receive a big payout in insurance money? How do you know when the God-given responsibility to respect the husband is null and void? Just before you are murdered?

Her church named their food pantry after Susie. That made her parents happy. Her father was a deacon in a nearby Baptist church. I went to school with her mother who was my best friend.

A greater tribute to Susie would have been to amend the BF&M 2000 to say: “Husbands and wives have a God-given responsibility to respect, nurture, and care for each other.”

“You wouldn’t give yourself a black eye, so don’t give her one,” (Ephesians 5:28a Shirley’s translation).

Pastors, there is a consequence to what you are teaching from the pulpit. Your wives must submit attitude that is taught in churches, affects every woman, even if the man they must submit to never attends church.

Pastors, you are teaching that every woman has to graciously submit to her husband. Who determines if the husband is providing servant leadership? Who came up with the sentence “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband?” Don’t you know that excludes a whole bunch of husbands? Don’t you know that those words are not in the Bible?

Join us to help more Susies before they lose their lives to husbands they are told to be submissive to.

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The Christmas Gift

Thirty years is a long time to wait to see what your Christmas Gift will actually do.  It came with no instructions but with lots of promise.  Kings journeyed far in order to see for themselves this Gift, and to bring gifts of their own in honor of this birth.

The people wanted a mortal savior, but their hero arrived as a baby and in danger of his own life. What could he do to help them against their enemy?  They expected their savior to be a man among men and they would rally behind him. They wanted another David with a bag of stones.

Jesus did not have a bag of stones.

Suppose one of you has a friend who comes at night when the house has been closed and the doors have been locked, and everybody is sound asleep.  He knocks on the door.  He tells you that someone has just arrived at his house from a long journey and he needs some bread to feed them. Will you tell him that it is late at night and that the kids are in bed sound asleep, and to quit knocking at your door because he will wake up the whole household?

No, he gets up to stop the racket of the knocking, not because it is his friend at the door, but because he wants the knocking to stop.

The Christmas Gift says “I am not that way. Just ask and it will be given, seek, and you will find it, knock and it will be opened. What man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?”

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (paraphrased Luke 11:5-10 & Matt 7:5-12)

Father, we women and others who are oppressed, have travelled far and we are knocking at your door. We have been at the church house, but the doors are closed, and the people are inside sound asleep. We are your children and we are asking for a loaf.  We have had the stones. We’ve been turned away by men for centuries, and now we are standing at Your door. Hungry for the bread and for a place at Your table.

Hear our knock, our Father.

Will you join in prayer to the Christmas Gift for the whole loaf?

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 4

Years ago I was watching television and wrapping Christmas gifts. There was a television show about the ‘true meaning of Christmas.’ I knew they were wrong, but truthfully, I did not know the true meaning of Christmas.

I learned what the true meaning of Christmas was a few years ago on a bus.  The Missions Division that I worked for while with the Baptist General Convention of Texas took us on a trip to a mosque in Richardson, Texas, near Dallas.  The imam met us. He showed us where to put our shoes, and showed us the wash room where Muslim men washed their hands, elbows, feet, face and nostrils before going into the main worship room.

We women had the option of wearing a headscarf and I did like the rest. We sat on the floor while the imam told us about their worship.  He pointed to the upper room where he said the women ‘chose’ to worship.  He said they could worship with the men, but they chose to climb the stairs and privately worship there.

The room we were in was a long rectangular room and the imam pointed out to us that it was long so that more men could be on the front row. He said they all wanted to be on the front row, and he showed us how they would nudge the other men out of the way with their elbow, and make their way to the front.

On the wall was the 99 attributes of God. My supervisor, who was a Christian Arab, said that none of the attributes said that God is love.

After it was over, we thanked the imam and put our shoes back on and took off our scarves, and climbed on the bus to go back to our offices. One supervisor who was also a preacher (as they all were) threw his hand up high and said:

“Thank God for Jesus!”

That is when I learned the true meaning of Christmas.

The Jewish people looked for a Messiah like King David.  A powerful leader who would take down their enemies, make Jerusalem Jewish again, and who would die a mortal death, as all humans do.  The scriptures promised them a savior and they anticipated his arrival.

What they got was not what they expected.  Instead of a physical warrior who would defeat the Romans, they got a spiritual warrior who, instead of turning his eyes upon their enemies, turned his eyes upon their relationship to God.  Particularly the laws they had expanded to make life miserable, and then the artful and deceitful ways they had of getting around those laws. Read Matthew 23 to see what Jesus had to say about their spiritual condition.

Jesus came to free us from the rigmarole that man had bound God with. All those laws didn’t mean anything (Matthew 24, Amos 5:21-24) because men had found ways to get around them. Jesus told them to love God with all their heart, and to love their fellow man. When love is the motivator, our worship of God, and helping our fellowman, will take on a different meaning. We will feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, treat others as we want to be treated, and give the Good News to everyone. 

Instead of being like Jesus, we still desire to make laws for Christians, especially laws about what women can and cannot do, and I wonder if Jesus would have turned his eyes upon us.

The true meaning of Christmas is the freedom that Jesus gave us.  No more rigamarole such as the way to wash your hands before eating, and not working on the Sabbath – things that had absolutely no spiritual significance to them.  In doing away with these things, Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my load is light.” Matthew 11:30.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Thank God for Jesus!

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 3

What cherished religious beliefs will fall out of your pocket? We have read the words of the Magnificat but we have missed the meaning.

The third week of Advent is Joy. In churches that follow the liturgical calendar, a pink candle is lit for preparation of the birth of the little boy who would become the Christ. It is fitting that we read the Magnificat at this time. Elizabeth had just told Mary that the baby she carried in her own womb leaped for joy when Mary came into her home, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)

The Jews yearned for a Savior, and I imagine each had his or her own expectations of what that Savior would look like. I have heard that at each wedding, they expressed wishes that the new couple would bring forth that baby boy. We should not be surprised then, when we learn that a couple who had not yet consummated their marriage would be the bearer of that baby.

But let’s go back to Mary’s words. “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Before Jesus is even showing in the womb, Mary told us what he would do.

This is not about money at all. It is about their spiritual condition. Exactly what did Mary say?

She said that those who hunger for God will be filled, but those who think they are already rich in the knowledge of God will be turned upside down and the money they hold in their pockets (what they think they know about God) will fall out on the floor.

Or, as Jesus said in Matthew 23: 23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

God, I pray that those who are filled with their own sense of righteous riches and who claim to know that you favor males for your kingdom work, will have their eyes opened to Justice, mercy, and faithfulness to you.

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 2

At this time of year, we think of babies, particularly the baby Jesus. My sons were born in the 60s which was during a time of great civil unrest because of racial discrimination. I remember clearly the news stories each night of Americans fighting in the streets. As a young mother, I feared for my babies and wondered what kind of world I was bringing them into. I looked for hope for my children.

We remember Mary, the young woman about to give birth. In a short time she would give birth and then she and Joseph would be forced to flee into Egypt for safety from an evil ruler who sought to kill the baby. This young mother hoped her son could be spared to fulfill the promise made to her by the angel Gabriel.

Babies have always been born into a world with its human evils, with discriminations, and with rejections.

Christmas Hope

It will always be so. But it is up to each of us to live in hope, to give hope to others, and to be blessed by the birth of the baby who we celebrate this Advent season, the Hope of Christ.

Will you do your part? There are some things we cannot change, and we are not responsible for. But there are things we can do and things we can change. We can change how Christians deny women full equality. We can do that. We can make it a better world for girls, mothers and daughters.

With Christianity on the decline, and false teachings flourishing, we must return to the cradle and look again into the face of the newborn babe.

Sometimes you just have to start all over. We see that in the birth of Jesus. A new start. God was still there, He still loved His people, but they had taken a path that was far from the core message. Read Matthew 23 and see the condemnation Jesus gave the religious leaders.

What would Jesus say to us today? We have messed up his message! We have taken the love that God has for all his people and have distorted that love into a message of rules and laws – just as they had. We have forgotten the greatest commandments.

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 22:37-39)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now, I want you to imagine this. A black Christian family moves next door to you and you invite them to church. They arrive after you get there. You greet them and tell them how glad you are to see them, take their money in the offering plate, and introduce them around. Then you hand them a list of restrictions and things they cannot volunteer for because certain volunteer jobs are held for White and Asian and Hispanic people only – everybody but blacks.

How do you think the black family feels? We all know that is wrong. Christians used to do that in churches (actually they would not even let the black family inside the door). But we cannot do that anymore. We have changed in our thinking and our understanding of human rights.

So, while we cannot do that – and it was government laws that required the change, not Christians – we can still bar women from doing any volunteer or professional job in the church. Just because we want to – claiming a biblical reason for doing so. Just as we used a biblical reason for barring blacks.

The cradle is empty – time to unswaddle the babe

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” (Luke 2:10-11)

It is time that we remember that the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” This baby was going to upset everything and turn the world upside down. And he did. But we continually swaddle the babe because we have ignored his greatest commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Will you give hope to women who daily face the discrimination that is birthed in churches, denying them full honor and responsibility of serving Christ as pastors and deacons, and from full equality in their own homes?

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 1

Love is plastered all over many church’s websites. But for most, it is like looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus came into the world that was having a problem with love, and we still have not fully understood what love means.

In particular, Christian women are still held to a rigid law of submission to all males. December 6, 2015, a Southern Baptist pastor preached a particularly offensive sermon in which he blamed all of society’s ills on women whose only desire is to live out the equality we were given by God our Creator. He called it ‘feminist rebellion.’ In this sermon he quoted the party line, the same old diatribe that women are far too familiar with. This same kind of sermon is heard every Sunday in many Baptist churches, and also on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Where was love in this belittling and hateful sermon? This pastor did not quote Jesus because Jesus did not speak of – nor did Jesus indicate – male supremacy such as this pastor preached. There was no love in this sermon. He has closed his mind to the pro-feminist actions of Christ. Feminists do not want to harm or deny men any position, but male headship leaders choose to hammer women.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 has led many pastors astray with this theology of male headship, and in doing so, they have forgotten the Jesus who was born into a world of rules and laws. They have forgotten that Jesus came to call humans to a better way of life – to love God and to love others. Not only in word, but in how we treat each other.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-34)

Bob Edwards, author of Let My People Go, reminds us that Jesus is concerned with human rights, which includes the human rights of women, and we must be, too.

“I don’t discuss prejudice against women in the church as “one of those theological issues we just have to agree to disagree on.” I would not have “agreed to disagree on slavery.” I do not agree to disagree on racism. I will not politely agree to disagree on the devaluation and subjugation of all women by men in the name of God. It’s an injustice that grieves the Holy Spirit and must be addressed as such. The Bible is full of excellent examples of men and women who love people AND tell them to repent of unjust practices. Jesus, for example, confronted the religious leaders of his day for confusing the will of God with the traditions of men. I think we should do likewise.” – Bob Edwards

Jesus came to free us from the rigmarole that man had bound God with. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, and to love our fellow-man. When love is the motivator, our worship of God, and helping our fellow-man, will take on a different meaning. We will feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, treat others as we want to be treated, and give the Good News to everyone.

However, instead of being like Jesus, we still desire to enforce laws for Christians, especially laws about what women can and cannot do, and I wonder if Jesus would have turned his eyes upon us.

The true meaning of Christmas is the freedom that Jesus gave us. Yet Christian leaders today want to withhold that freedom for women. They have forgotten that Christianity is about human rights. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”(John 15:12)

This Christmas, will you remember the birth of the greatest human rights activist? Will you open your heart to loving women as equals, and not as someone who was created to submit to all males?

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To Show Love – A Message to GC2

My copy of Texas Baptists Life landed in my mailbox today. It stirred and saddened my soul.

On pages 16 and 17 there is a big spread about something called GC2 – a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love. Underline those words “To show love.”

The Message from the BGCT Associate Executive Director, Dr Craig Christina, shares his thoughts.

“… it is not a new denomination. We’re not competing with the Southern Baptist Convention or any other national or state convention of churches. …Instead we feel compelled to follow the Lord’s leading and unit God’s people to build relationships with like-minded Christians as we explore and expand mission opportunities.”

And there you have it. The same-old, same-old. The DNA does not change.

It is a NEW DNA that you must be working from. That is what Jesus came to do. He came to change the Jewish leaders’ hearts and what they were teaching. They were wrong then, and we are wrong now.

Where is the love you tout? Look at your Statement of Faith of the GC2. It is not about love. It is laws and legalistic jargon just like those Jesus reprimanded the Jewish leaders about in Matthew 23.  Jesus called them snakes and vipers because they were deadly and killed the souls of those they were supposed to be ministering to.

You are doing the same thing. You are hammering on abortion, homosexuality, and gender reassignment. This is no new work. This is the same thing that has gotten Christianity in the place we are in today. Where little love is shown.

People are leaving the church by droves. They are not seeing the love. Why did you think Jesus came to earth? Well, let me tell you. It wasn’t to keep up their old laws. It was to bring a new law. A law of love God and love your fellow man – in action and deed – not in honeyed words.

Jesus turned his eyes upon them.

What will Jesus see when he turns his eyes upon this Statement of Faith by the GC2? Where will he see “the love that you are to give?”  He knows His own love, but it hard to find your love in this statement.

Your Statement of Faith has little to do with Faith. It is mean-spirited and un-Christlike. Look at #8, #9, #10. Then see why I suggest you delete those and add a new #10 to show your love.

STATEMENT OF FAITH

THE GC2 MOVEMENT AFFIRMS

  1. There is one God who is revealed in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit;
  2. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church;
  3. The virgin birth of Christ, the eternal Son of God, who died for our sins, was resurrected on the third day, and is coming back;
  4. The Bible is God’s Word and truth without mixture of error;
  5. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone;
  6. The priesthood of every believer and of all believers;
  7. The urgent need to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus;
  8. The sanctity of human life from conception to natural death;  You are going to have a little bit of trouble with this one. The new Texas Abortion Law says that women cannot abort a baby 6 weeks from conception. If she is caught or turned in she can be brought to justice for taking a human life. Look what was agreed upon at the SBC 2000 Convention “Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 13﷓14, 2000, support the fair and equitable use of capital punishment by civil magistrates as a legitimate form of punishment for those guilty of murder or treasonous acts that result in death;” You must ask yourself: “Do you condone killing her if she has an abortion?” Of course you do. Says so right there. Also read How Southern Baptists became Pro-Life.
  9. Gender is a gift from God who creates humankind male and female in the Divine image and likeness (Gen. 1:27); Gender is not as straight forward as you want everyone to believe. We know babies are born with indeterminate gender. I learned that when I was seven years old and it was whispered that a relative had given birth to a son and “there was something wrong with the genitals of the boy.”
  10. Biblical marriage as one man and one woman in a covenant relationship with the Lord and with one another; There is a little problem there, too. Oh sure, I know you are talking about same-sex marriages, but you are the one comparing them and making them fit your standard with heterosexual marriage standards. Look at what the bible lists as biblical marriages – multiple wives, husbands with concubines, adultery with your slave. You might need to eliminate the word biblical. This, too, does not show love. It shows blatant disregard for humans’ sexuality. Not everyone was fortunate enough to be born heterosexual. You have made them outcasts. Where is the love you proclaim on your flashy website?
  11. The ordinances of the church are the Lord’s Supper and believer’s baptism;
  12. The autonomy of the local church in governance and ordination.

#8, #9, #10 should be completely deleted as written.

Number 10 should have a new paragraph reflecting your intention “To show love.”

#10.       We will show our love to our neighbor as Jesus taught, placing no restrictions on that love because Jesus did not place any restrictions, and we will strive to follow the example of Jesus.

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40, NIV

Jesus gave us a new playbook that we call The New Testament. As Christians, we have misused it and abused it.

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It was time to get out of Afghanistan

It was time to get out of Afghanistan. They are a country ruled by religion. You cannot change their religion which is male dominated and female subjugated. I know you can’t change it. We can’t even change it in the United States. Baptist churches this Sunday morning will tell men they are in charge of their families and women are to submit graciously.

The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches and Catholic churches and non-denominational churches, and other denominational churches teach the same thing. A few have changed their minds, but the majority has not. Religion rules in Afghanistan. Thank God religion does not rule in the United States. At least, not yet. But if Christians have their way, it will. And it will be the women who suffer.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind…..A free church (has) the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.” (Baptist Faith and Message 2000. XV11 Religious Liberty).

Baptists, and perhaps most Christians, do not want the state to interfere with religious values. But they do not appear to have any problem with religious values interfering with civil values.

For instance,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for blacks,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for women,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for homosexuals,

and,

it is religious values that demand that women be submissive to all males – husbands, leaders, and so on, under the guise of ‘the Bible says so.’ Or the Quran or other religious teachings says so.

It is always women who must wear the standard of their religion. Whether it is clothing such as scarves and hijabs, or severe clothing styles for Amish, Pentecostal, etc., it is women who look strange and out of date in our Western culture.

It is women who are denied leadership positions in their church and even in the community. Women are denied leadership in their own homes and before their children. Women cannot preach or teach men, while Christian men are denied nothing due to their gender.

Religious liberty is no liberty when it comes to women. Give me civil liberty any day.

What are you doing for true Religious Liberty for women?

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Standing by even when you know it is wrong

A tweeter and a SBC Executive Officer chided me this week about my ministry as a Street Evangelist for women’s equality.

“If a church chooses to believe in complementarianism, that is their belief. Respect their beliefs and move on. There are churches who believe differently, go there. . It is not up to us to change the Church.” (the tweet).

“Thank you for your letter. Please know that we continue to stand by The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 relating to the office of the pastor and what we believe Scripture teaches about that.” (the SBC Executive Officer)

If only it were that simple! Just move on. Go somewhere else. I did, but the problem is still there and the calling is still here.

Complementarianism is the view of the BF&M 2000. It is manifested in denying women their calling to be pastors and to be equals to their husbands in their own home.

These teachings have consequences that affect all women. It is as pervasive as the air we breathe.

This is a teaching that directly impacts homes, subjecting whole families to whatever kinds of leadership husbands decide they are divinely entitled to. The BF&M 2000 Section on the Family says “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”

When men are taught they have authority over women, this complementarian teaching that was born in churches and nurtured in Christian families, bleeds out into society. Both men and women who never go to church are influenced by it. Often it results in abuse of wives and girlfriends in both church and society.

Wives lose their status in marriage and come under the domination of the husband to whatever degree of submission he decides he wants. Girls are raped, sex trafficked, beaten, and murdered because females have been devalued. This devaluation produces long-term detrimental effects, and women and families suffer because of it.

Because complementarians push second-class citizenship for women in churches, when they advocate for abused women in shelters they come across as hypocrites. Church ministries spend time and money bandaging the wounds of those afflicted by male dominance, but they will not address the teaching that causes it. As Jesus said, “they will not lift a finger” to change it. In fact, they continue to perpetuate it.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (forerunner of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000) claims that they do not advocate abuse against wives, but when it does happen, they say that the church is better able to handle such domestic abuse than the secular world.

The fact is that the church has no such ability to handle abuse, and since the majority of pastors teach male headship, many will take the husband’s side. They have no binding or legal authority over any member of the church and abusers cannot be held accountable in a church setting.

The only action a church can take is to tell the abuser he cannot come back to church. They cannot make him attend any program for counseling, nor can they provide legal counsel to the wife. The result is that the abuser goes free and the woman is still at the mercy of her attacker.

If the Christian church did have authority over wife abusers and family matters, this would be akin to Sharia Law, which is the legal framework of public and private life that is regulated for those living in a legal system based on Islam.

 Significantly, the church also has no authority over a child abuser. The church is unable to dictate terms of compliance with the law or counseling. They have no legal authority other than to provide an “eyes on” when a predator becomes a member of their church. A family member who is being abused by another family member also cannot be protected by the church. These are cases for civil authorities and the church must not interfere with their process in handling abuse by or against church members.

It is likely that your pastor has his degree from a Southern Baptist Convention seminary. Or perhaps the degree was from a seminary with teachers who studied at an SBC seminary. It is also likely that your youth minister has his or her degree from one of these seminaries that ardently teach male headship. They will teach this to the youth groups in churches they serve. This teaching will affect attitudes and beliefs of the young men your daughters will marry.

Young girls and women will be told they are mistaken if they think God is calling them into ministry. Teenage girls will learn that their membership in churches – the body of Christ – comes with restrictions.

However, the implications of complementarianism are far greater than what goes on in churches and on the mission field. Churches are made up of people and those church members who firmly believe in adherence to those doctrines carry that belief of male headship into the workplace, and out into society. They fail to promote women to higher paid positions because they believe women should be at home, or, particularly in private and smaller businesses, they are likely to harass and abuse women in the workplace.

Civilizations change and move forward. For well over two thousand years Christ was lost among civilizations, including our own, that sought to enslave others because some believed that they were born to a higher status. The end to slavery did not come about easily because many people used the scriptures to justify owning other human beings.

The concept of male divinity is not new. Greek mythology often has superior males called gods who come to earth and mates with earthly females. Similarly, for centuries it was believed that emperors were divine. That is what is happening today with male headship, but to a greater degree than ever before. Complementarians have decided that it is not just some men who are born to rule over women, but that all men are born to rule over all women.

Some people are willing to put forth anything outrageous about women because there is a deep-seated feeling that because of Eve, women are inherently capable of all kinds of evil things: Witchcraft, seduction, emasculating men, and even feminizing the church.

This attitude is learned in church and bleeds out into society, and thus we have some separate kind of alien being called “woman.”

Can they all be wrong? The answer is YES. When one group presents a rotten apple as being desirable, and others bite into it and call it sweet, does that make the rotten apple sweet?

I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to point out that the complementarian view of men and women is in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ. There are many voices crying out in protest that scriptures have been misused and mistranslated in favor of man’s superiority over woman.

This “headship” teaching causes suffering, because there is no way men, or women for that matter, can have the kind of god-like power that the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 bestows without it having dangerous consequences.

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God is sending the answer, grab it!

My letter to Dr. Ronnie Floyd today would be the same as the one I wrote to him in 2015. Because, you see, the answer is right there in front of him and in front of the whole SBC family. They choose to ignore what is right before their eyes.

One of the favorite ministry expressions is “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.” So, Dr. Floyd, let’s go for forgiveness. God will forgive you if you call on women to preach the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t you believe that? Plead to God for forgiveness because the urgency is so great. Moses pleaded with God to change His mind. You can, too, if you feel the urgency is that great.

This past week at the SBC Convention, Dr. Floyd reiterated the urgency he expressed in 2015.

 “Vision 2025 is a call to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation,” Floyd said. “There are 331 million Americans and 7.9 billion people in the world. Eternal lostness exists and eternal hell is waiting, so we must do all we can to reach people so their names can be written in the Lamb’s book of life. …

Citing eternal lostness and the reality of hell, SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd called Southern Baptists to back the initiative “with your lives and ministries and churches,” saying, “This is not just a good thing we should do. It is the most urgent thing we should do.

“The urgency is now.”

The helicopters are flying over your roof, Dr. Floyd. If the urgency is that great, grab it!

October 5, 2015

Dr. Ronnie Floyd

Southern Baptist Convention

The Executive Committee, SBC
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203-3699

Dear Dr. Floyd,

I can hear your heavy heart in your Presidential Postings of September 8, 2015.  “We need a breakthrough.”

My heart also hurts for our nation, our world, and for our Christian faith.

Only God can send the breakthrough, but God works through people, through leaders such as yourself. God works through laypeople such as who I am. As Great Commission people, we must find a way to be what Jesus commanded us to be. Jesus himself led the way, and it is to him that we must look.

You said, “And yes, we also need pastor-leaders by the thousands to rise up and lead forward toward gospel advancement beginning in their towns, cities, across America, and the entire world.”

Jesus said the same thing when he saw the crowds of people needing a shepherd, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

I offer you the breakthrough.  

Women are here, called and seminary trained and are ready to be sent into the harvest as pastors and leaders.

“A religious man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The religious man replies, “no I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.” Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in God and God will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again because “God will grant him a miracle.” With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God. He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grant me a miracle and I have been let down.” With tears in his eyes, St. Peter responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”

Dr. Floyd, if you are serious about wanting a breakthrough to reach the masses, you’ll take who God has sent.

Shirley Taylor, Street Evangelist for Women’s Equality

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Behind closed doors

This weekend, June 13-16, the Southern Baptist Convention convenes.

I loved being a Baptist. I loved the church and I loved its ministries. For years I supported Texas Baptist Men with my financial gifts. I believed that Baptists were demonstrating the hands and feet and heart of Christ.

Years ago, in 1990, on a Sunday drive, I was burdened for the people in a new subdivision in Houston where I could see no church nearby. I wrote my pastor and poured out my heart to him over the unchurched families in that area.

A year later as I was entering my church, I overheard our new interim pastor telling the church secretary that his ministry assistant had resigned. I learned that he was a Church Starting Consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. His office was only five miles from my home. A week later I had her job and thus began my 14 1/2 years with BGCT Church Starting Center.

But things were changing within me and around me. Associations and churches were taking sides and many churches left BGCT for a more fundamental message – a message that specifically denied women’s calling as pastors and leaders and which also put a stamp on a wife’s relationship with her husband in her own home. This demoted Christ to the point that He shared His headship with husbands, with husbands being the first line of defense.

In 2004, my supervisor, Regional Consultant Ron Gunter, gave me a tape to transcribe of a meeting he had had with the deacons of a church that was deciding whether they would leave BGCT for the SBTC, or stay. As I listened to the voices in my ears, tears rolled down my cheeks.

Those men had no idea (or perhaps they wouldn’t have cared) that a woman was hearing what they were saying about women in leadership. There was unadulterated hatred and vitriol in their words as they quoted scripture. Those same words are still being used against women who seek pastoral and deacon roles in Baptist churches today.

Read the letter Russell Moore wrote to the Dr. J. D Greear, the current president of the SBC. Listen to what he says those in leadership say about women. The same hatred and venom that I heard in my ear in 2004, is still being spewed toward women today – this time in the highest leadership levels.

Russell Moore Regarding sexual abuse by Baptist male predators:  “You and I both heard, in closed door meetings, sexual abuse survivors spoken of in terms of “Potiphar’s wife” and other spurious biblical analogies. The conversations in these closed door meetings were far worse than anything Southern Baptists knew —or the outside world could report. And, as you know, this comes on the heels of a track-record of the Executive Committee staff and others referring to victims as “crazy” and, at least in one case, as worse than the sexual predators themselves.”

Jesus said to love your neighbor. Surely He also meant to love your sister in Christ. I know now when it comes to women, that Baptist leadership does not demonstrate the heart and the hands and the feet of Christ.

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The real meaning of 1 Peter 3 is not submission

June 13-16 the Southern Baptist Convention is preparing for a win against women. One way or the other, they plan to throw the bible at women.

So, I will do it for them. Let’s start with 1 Peter 3, one of their favorite chapters.

If 1 Peter 3 is not about wives submitting to their husbands, then what does it mean? What message does Peter really have for women?

Here it is: They would become mothers like Sarah because they themselves would be founding a new nation of believers, not by giving birth in the physical sense, but by spreading the gospel message so people can be born again by the spirit.

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear (1 Peter 3:1-7).”

This passage has been misused to tell women they must submit to their husbands. Some preachers even tell women that they must treat their husbands as Lord, because they say Sarah called Abraham “Lord.” But that is a misinterpretation and belittling of this passage. It is being used as a self-serving demand that women submit to their husbands, and, thus, to all men.

What is not taught is that this passage has a wonderful message to women today, just as it did to women in the First Century. The message is that they will be Mothers of a new nation. This time it would not be Israelites, but a new nation of Christians. These women are not just going to be daughters of Sarah, but they will be Mothers like Sarah. Being a daughter means that you are taking your cue from your mother, but being a Mother means that you are the one who is in charge.

When Peter said they would be Sarah’s daughters, he was telling them that the new life they had chosen as Christians was not going to be easy. Their husbands might not be Christians, and this would prove hard for them to live a Christian life when the father in the family did not live as a Christian. So, while it would be hard, if they do what is right (stay the course), and do not let fear control them, they will be birthing a new nation of Christians, and therefore they would be Mothers like Sarah. Instead of one Sarah, they would all be Sarahs!

The following paragraphs are from my book Dethroning Male Headship1 found at the end of the chapter called “They asked for Sarah first.”

Some like to quote Peter when he said Sarah called Abraham “master” in Genesis 18:12, “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” The New International Version Bible uses the word “master,” unlike other translations that use the word “Lord.”

It is impossible to connect 1 Peter 3:1-6 to the words of Sarah found in Genesis to support the doctrine of wifely submission, but Bruce Ware, one of the members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, attempts to do just that in his book, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: The Trinity as Theological Foundation for Family Ministry. Ware writes, “I find it astonishing that it is in this text, of all New Testament passages that teach on husband and wife relations, that the strongest language is used to describe a wife’s submission! Peter appealed to Sarah as an example and said that she “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Pet 3:6a), indicating that they would be Sarah’s “children” if they fearlessly followed this example.”

Ware, who is a professor Christian Theology, has missed the beautiful promise of this passage. The promise is not that women would be Sarah’s children if they are submissive, but that they would become mothers like Sarah because they themselves would be founding a new nation of believers, not by giving birth in the physical sense, but by spreading the gospel message so people can be born again by the spirit.

To emphasize, Peter does NOT tell wives they are Sarah’s daughters if they submit to their husbands like Sarah did. What he DOES say was startling, and raised the hairs on their heads by its audacity. Peter tells these women that “like mother, like daughter” and just as their mother Sarah birthed a new nation, they, too, are birthing a new nation of believers.

We can interpret Peter’s words something like this, “That was the way it was done back in Sarah’s day, but things have changed. We are now under grace by faith, not under the law. You have done what is right in becoming Christ-followers, and are Sarah’s daughters—children of the freed woman—if you do not fear as you keep following Christ, and, like Sarah, you will birth this new nation of God’s people.”

Again, Paul says the same thing:

“Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Sarah)….Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman,” Galatians 4:21-26, 31.

1 Peter 3 contains a powerful promise of building a nation of believers that is for all time.

Twenty-first century Christian women are also children of the free woman, but some still choose to cling to Hagar by holding to a master/slave relationship with their husbands, and pastors still enforce this type of submission, even when they know it is wrong.

Sarah is mentioned four times in the New Testament, three of which are specifically about her becoming the mother of a nation. 1 Peter 3:6 is too, but the greater truth of it has been neglected. By passionately claiming the first part of the scripture that says wives must submit to their husbands, the promise it held for New Testament wives has been ignored. This particular reference to Sarah in 1 Peter 3:6 emphasizes the new covenant and has those new Christian women actively participating in the ministry of the gospel by birthing a nation of believers (1 Peter 3:6; Hebrews 11:11; Romans 4:19; Galatians 4:2-26, 31).

Wives, continue in your marriages even if your husbands are unbelievers, for by doing so, you will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers.

Male headship is dethroned when Peter told Christian women that they will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers.

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The Advocate – Holy Spirit or Husbands?

This Pentecost Sunday we must talk about The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the sole reason for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Jesus said he would send an Advocate, and the CBMW has made that “advocate” a husband.

The following words are from the Pope, not a Baptist! However, the role that husbands have been given by complementarians are synonymous to the role of the other Advocate.*

“The advocate (defender) is he who, taking the part of those who are guilty because of sin committed, defends them from the penalty due to their sins, and saves them from the danger of losing eternal life and salvation. This is precisely what Jesus Christ did. The Holy Spirit is called the Paraclete because he continues Christ’s redemptive work which freed us from sin and eternal death. The Paraclete will be “another advocate-defender” also for a second reason. Remaining with Christ’s disciples, he will watch over them with his omnipotent power. “I will pray the Father,” Jesus said, “and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever” (Jn 14:16)” (The Holy Spirit as Advocate. Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit).

The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was the brainchild of Wayne Grudem, professor of theology and biblical studies. It originated from a discussion and eventually a paper he wrote in which he defined the Greek work kephale to mean having “authority over” instead of “source” as egalitarians were claiming.

That sums up the Danvers Statement very well. In Wayne Grudem’s mind and intent – based upon his own words**, men having authority over women is the overriding theme. Never mind the fact that Jesus did not give males this authority or acknowledge in any way that men were superior to women. They claim that God decided at Creation that He would share His headship over women with all men.

By giving males authority based on gender and nothing else, the writers and proponents of the Danvers Statement reduce women to an inferior status by assigning specific “roles” based on gender.

These assigned roles deny the power of the Holy Spirit.

Man-made roles do not allow for spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are those of natural abilities and also those of supernatural abilities (when God calls us to do something, He will equip us for that job). The Word of God did not categorize these gifts under two column headings: male and female. The Danvers Statement has categorized men and women into roles, but the scriptures do not. The scriptures they give to back up their arguments do not prove that God has given males headship or authority over females.

The Danvers Statement can be found on the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s website, on John Piper’s Desiring God website, on the website of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and elsewhere. A past president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson who, along with his wife Dorothy Kelley Patterson, was instrumental in both the Danvers Statement and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the official statement of the Southern Baptist Convention and the majority of its 47,530 churches, and it has the same language and intent as the Danvers Statement.

This means that Baptist churches have adopted the essential dogma of the Danvers Statement without realizing it. That should surprise no one given that the CBMW has its headquarters in a Southern Baptist theological seminary.

It is all about keeping women under control

It is important to understand that the Danvers Statement is all about keeping women under control and keeping women from leadership in the home or church. We know this because it is included in the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. This book was edited by two of the founders of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, John Piper and Wayne Grudem. The CBMW was founded in order to support male headship and male authority, and women’s submission to that authority.

From the beginning of the Danvers Statement, one can see it diverging from biblical truths, based upon CBMW’s biases and interpretations. Certainly there are differences in men and women other than anatomical differences. The Bible is not concerned with masculine and feminine traits. Jesus never mentions these inborn differences. God Himself is described with both father and mother characteristics. In the New Testament, Jesus is concerned with the heart – not masculinity, not femininity, and certainly not genitalia.

The fallacies of the Danvers Statement

Much has been written exposing the fallacies of the Danvers Statement. However, it does not take a Bible scholar to see the misogyny presented in the Danvers Statement. In reading the Concerns and Affirmations, it is clear that this is a cultural document that denies the modern age in preference to biblical times with emphasis on restrictions against women.

Scriptures have been added to the document in an attempt to justify the return of families to the First Century. A clear reading of the scriptures does not justify male domination over females as a commandment law. It cannot. Jesus made one new law and it was not about male/female leadership, but about equality in loving each other: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

Each point in the Danvers Statement begins with their belief that women are responsible for the breakdown of family and reinforces their teaching that males were created from the beginning to dominate and lead women.

When Christian men believe they are to lead their wives, or to get her ready for Jesus, they usurp the role of the Holy Spirit, the true Advocate.

*In mid-December, an article was published on the Desiring God website titled “Husbands, Get Her Ready for Jesus.” Written by a Philadelphia pastor named Bryan Stoudt, this piece argues that husbands have a responsibility to challenge and correct their wives in order to keep them on course through the path of sanctification. For Stoudt, husbands have a unique responsibility for their wives’ sanctification, a responsibility that wives do not share for their husbands. He describes this responsibility as “the staggering privilege of getting our wives ready for Jesus, their true husband.”   https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/mutuality-blog-magazine/why-husbands-cant-get-her-ready-jesus

** https://cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/14-1.pdf

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Women-bashing on Mother’s Day

They came out in force on Mother’s Day against women

These Mother’s Day tweets should have surprised me, but it didn’t. It does, however, disappoint me that Presidents of renowned Baptist Theological Seminaries and professors would engage in women-bashing such as this.

Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Baptist Seminary: “This is John A Broadus warning against the practice of women preaching in church worship. This is NOT a new belief or doctrine. Broadus wrote this in 1880.”

Owen Strachan, past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: “There is no exception to 1 Timothy 2:9-15. Not Mother’s Day, not when a woman has real gifting, not when the elders endorse women preaching. Based on his creation order, God only calls men to lead, preach, teach, & shepherd the flock. Find a church that stands for this truth.”

Daniel Akin, President of Southeaster Baptist Theological Seminary: May 9. “He is correct my friend. 100%. The Bible is crystal clear” on the B.H. Carroll statement  “The custom is some congregations of having a woman as pastor is in flat contradiction to this apostolic teaching and is open rebellion against Christ our King, and high treason against His sovereignty…Under no circumstances conceivable is it justifiable.” – B.H. Carroll

Jesus held those in leadership to a higher standard than he does us ordinary people. There is a constant barrage of self-righteous indignation against women who hear the call to preach.

Seminary presidents and professors, you are guilty of this lack of justice toward the largest segment of humanity—women.

Jesus had strong words of rebuke for the teachers of the law who loved their law more than they loved the people who were hindered by their strict interpretation of that law. They gave their required tithe and thought that gave them the right to do as they pleased. So when it came to treating people with compassion, they failed. Jesus said this failing outweighed their keeping of the law (Matthew 23:23). Amos 5:21-24 says the same thing, paraphrased: “Your religious activities, your songs, and your money do not mean a thing to me. What I am concerned about is that you are not showing justice to others.”

One-fifth of Americans have no religious affiliation, but the concern is not to provide a preacher for those lost souls, instead the concern is that some woman might feel called to preach to them, or feel called to be a deacon or elder, or to fill a position where she might exercise some spiritual authority over a man.

“You who love the law more than you do people, take heed,” rebuke from Jesus Christ, Himself.

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Mother’s Day – Glorified then Villified

Jesus told us to honor our mother and our father. That is not the reason churches celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but it does give biblical meaning to our celebration of this day.

As in many things, Christians have taken honoring mothers and fathers to the extreme.

Pastors pull out their favorite scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 13 “the Love Chapter” and Proverbs 31 with the kids rising up and calling Mama blessed.

On Mother’s Day she is glorified. On Father’s Day – in order to make him the central character in the family – she is villified.

Listen to how this pastor forgot the part about honoring your mother and father and hammered on the part that wives (mothers) must submit to daddy.

A pastor preached a Father’s Day sermon in which he told men that husbands must allow their wives to submit, because “women have to submit to their husbands in order to honor God.” The pastor said that fewer marriages would break up if the wife would submit to her husband. I have news for him. That passage is not about saving marriages.

Whenever a preacher tells a woman that to honor God, she has to submit to her husband, she ought to run to her Bible and find out why Peter or the apostle Paul would say such a thing. The fact is that the intent of the scripture is always misquoted.

1 Peter 3:1 is the passage that the pastor quoted in the sermon. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands,” and this is where they stop. But the complete sentence brings unsaved men into the story, and that pastor did not want to preach on that. More importantly, it gives spiritual leadership to wives (uh-oh!). Let’s continue with 1 Peter 3:1, “…so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…”

1 Peter 3 actually begins in chapter two with the instruction that now that they are Christians, they should act like Christians, and this is the way Christians should act:

• keep your behavior excellent among other races

• submit yourselves to human institutions – kings or those in authority

• act as free men and do not use your freedom for evil

• servants are to treat their masters with respect

• wives are to respect their husbands

• husbands are to respect their wives

It ends with Chapter 3 verses 8-9, “To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another as brothers, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you….” (Good News Bible).

Many have stolen Peter’s words about living with other Christians as Christians should, and have instead made it into an eternal marriage manual in which the wife submits.

The passage actually means, “Wives, now that you are Christians, this is what you should do. Continue on in your marriages the way you always have. Perhaps your good characters and demeanors will win your husbands over to the Lord.” Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Remember, wifely submission was a fact of life for those women. Peter wasn’t telling them to submit. They were already submitting, like they had done every day of their lives. He was just telling them to continue on as they were. Perhaps some of these women thought that since their husbands weren’t Christ followers, they should leave their husbands so they would not be unequally yoked together. We find this possibility in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness.”

I saw a perfect example of this one day as I sat in a meeting with other women speaking about equality. A young couple had been very involved in the male headship teaching of a church, and the wife was breaking away from that.  She said that she began to realize that their teaching was wrong, but her husband had not yet accepted that he was being led astray by that teaching.  She said that she felt so strongly about this that she wanted to be with others who teach female equality.  As I listened to this young woman, I could see her asking Peter, ‘What am I to do?’ And I hear Peter’s reply back to her, “Stay with your husband because you may lead him to the realization of the equality that you now have. Don’t give up what you have come to understand.”

But what the pastor had in mind when he preached on 1 Peter was that wives must submit to their husbands—period; nothing less, nothing more. But of course, he had much more to say about wives submitting to their husbands because as we will see, he loves that passage.

In his sermon, he said, “I love that 1 Peter passage.” Now why do you think he loves this passage? Why would a pastor love a wife’s submission passage?

Out of his 30 minute message on Father’s Day, he spent the first 16 minutes telling wives how wonderful they are and that a marriage is a partnership, but that she was created by God for her role, and that she must willingly submit to her husband. Not because the husband demands it, but because God demands it. He then read from Ephesians that husbands are to love their wives. The last 14 minutes was spent reinforcing the first 16 minutes.

These are direct quotes from his sermon:

• In order for wives to honor God, husbands must allow their wives to submit to them.

• The ground at the cross is level. (I would like to ask this pastor how can the ground at the cross be level if the wife has a husband stuck between her and Christ).

• He knows a guy that gives his wife a list of things to do and when he gets home, he checks the list.

• God made men to be rough and tough and He made women to be nurturing.

• Women want their men to be men.

• His pastor gave him this advice when he got married, “Make her queen of your house, and she will break her neck to make you King.”

• Who’s going to wear the pants in your family?

• The feminists want to wear the pants.

• When families follow these roles, they are less likely to get divorced.

Interspersed throughout all these sentences, he was sugar-coating the submission thing. Women are not to submit because they have to, he said, but because as a loving wife who is doing God’s will, she will want to. She is not to be a doormat. In fact, he brought in an actual doormat to show how dirty and trampled a used doormat is.

When your pastor tells you that “In order for you to honor God, you have to submit to your husband,” all the sugar in the world cannot cover up an ugly concept that has been foisted upon women. The Bible does not tell us that. 1 Peter 3 certainly does not say that. Read it for yourself. See if you can find where Scripture says that in order for women to honor God, they have to submit to their husbands. Can you find the Scripture where it says what men must do to honor God?

Have you ever heard a sermon on what men must do in a marriage to honor God? I can tell you one thing – what a man must do to honor God never puts another human being between himself and God. Yet, when only wives are required to submit in a marriage, this means that a human being has been inserted between the wife and God.

If you do not believe that God inserted a man in between you and Him when you said “I do,” then speak up and say, “I don’t.”

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Putting the fox in charge of the henhouse

Promise Keepers is coming to Arlington in July. I knew as soon as I received the email from one of its promoters that this conversation was not going to be one he was expecting. As it turned out, it was not one I was expecting either.

I wrote back and said that we do not have a men’s ministry leader as all of our ministries are open to both men and women.

He sent a kind response and repeated that Promise Keepers has an upcoming conference specifically geared for men and he was curious if we would be interested and who is the best person to speak with regarding future correspondence.

Not expecting a reply, but grateful nevertheless, I wrote back.

“You seem really nice, but you are talking to the wrong person. I know about Promise Keepers and what they believe. I have written 3 books advocating for equality of men and women in Christian service and in their own homes. There is no way I will send anybody to your conference that promotes male headship.

I want men to be godly. I want women to have those same opportunities and not be shut out by her church. I want women to know that when they walk inside their church the church sees them as equals, with equal responsibilities and blessings.

Having been a Baptist for 55 years, I know that when a family joins a Baptist church, the men and the boys have no restrictions on their membership, while the wife’s and the girl’s memberships comes with built-in restrictions.”

His reply surprised me. “I truly appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to my emails. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your past with me. I completely understand that many have taken the few sentences that say “wives be submissive” and used them as permission to lord over their wives, while completely overlooking the multiple paragraphs that say “husbands, love your wives like Christ loves the church.” I have seen this type of behavior far too much. I pray that God continues to bless us both as we seek to draw closer to Him and be the change that brings Him honor and glory.”

That reminded me of a vacation cruise where I was talking to a young man. I had explained what my books are about. His father (from Oklahoma) joined in and said, “Our pastor says we are head of our wives but we are not to lord it over them.” Well, I had heard that before. I told the father that the pastor was telling him that he had headship, and that my books explains why he doesn’t.”

The simple, unvarnished truth is that there is no reason God would share his headship with males on earth. It is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.  

Amazon.com/author/taylorshirley

Dethroning Male Headship: 2nd Ed.

Women Equal – No Buts: Powered by the same Source

Raising the Hood: A Christian Look at Manhood and Womanhood

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Searching for Utopia

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wants us to believe that female subjugation is beautiful and desirable. When something is required, it cannot be said to be freely given. It is not submission in a true sense. It is adhering to a law and therefore is subjugation.

We Christians adhere to laws, both that we believe God requires and those we believe civility requires. As a nation, we have fought hard to have laws equally apply to all men and all women. We haven’t achieved that, but we desire it.

On April 8, 2021 the CBMW tweeted:

“The biblical vision of manhood and womanhood is under assault right now. Contrary to what the critics are saying, the Bible’s complementarian vision of male and female is the most beautiful, life-giving, culture-reforming, gospel-inculcating vision on offer.”

How do they hope to achieve this vision of the beautiful, life-giving, culture-reforming, gospel-inculcation?  This is how: When women get their act together and submit, then their utopia vision will be achieved.

No matter how they dress it up, their tweet has nothing to do with a biblical vision about manhood and womanhood. It can’t because there is no biblical vision of manhood and womanhood in the bible.

A vision is something hoped for and dreamed of. What we see in the bible is something already in place. Jesus did not glorify manhood or womanhood. Jesus looked to the heart. Outward manifestations of manhood and womanhood were never mentioned.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. Matthew 15:18

Some years ago, a music band was playing on an early morning television show and my husband made the remark that he couldn’t understand the words and that that wasn’t really music.  He lamented the days of Pat Boone and Frank Sinatra. He said, “I guess this music is what they like, though.”  Thinking a bit, I told him, “No, it’s not that this is what they like, but this music is what they have been conditioned to like.”

I said that if these same people had lived in the early years of Pat Boone and Frank Sinatra, then that is what they would still like.

It brought to mind a time when I took my elderly mother shopping for a dress to wear to church. She had a particular kind of dress in mind, but of course the stores did not have a dress like that, as fashions had changed and she was holding on to the idea of earlier years.

My husband then remembered when he was small in the 1940s and he and his young fashionable mother would get on the bus to ride to town.  He said that he remembered elderly women with bonnets on their heads wearing their long cotton print dresses with long sleeves.

He said they looked like they were still living in the 1800s.

The CBMW wants us to wear our bonnets while everybody around us is wearing modern clothes.  It is fun to see and reminisce, but we really wouldn’t want to go back, would we? It was acceptable in its day, but that style doesn’t fit anymore.

Since 1987, congregations and individuals have been conditioned to accept what the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says. Jesus was concerned with the heart. The CBMW is not. They are concerned with men ruling over women, and women accepting that rule as beautiful – some kind of utopia.

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A New Meaning From an Old Story

My husband died two weeks before Easter, which we sometimes think of as being Resurrection Sunday.

It was Easter and I wanted to go to church. I thought I could do it. When I got there, my throat constricted and no words could come out, and I began crying. There were many people coming in early and I slipped past those greeting each other and went to our Sunday school classroom to take back two lesson books I had taken home with me.

When I entered the room, I realized that I could not stay at the church without Don. The last time I had been there, Don had sat by the window sipping his coffee and everything was all right. I left the room and met the young associate pastor in the hall. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. I told him that I had thought I could do it, but I just couldn’t. As I was leaving, he said, “Don’t forget this Sunday is about the Resurrection.”

The biblical story found in John 11:38-44 is so familiar to us, causing us to lose the sense of grief surrounding those days. So, let’s go back because this resurrection story began before Jesus’ death and what is actually the human story of loss that we experience still today.

Lazarus, Jesus’ good friend and brother of Martha and Mary, became ill and was about to die. Immediately the sisters sent notice to Jesus. Of course they wanted him to heal Lazarus as they had seen him do for other people. Isn’t that what friendship and love is about? It is reasonable to expect our friends to help at such a time. Surely, the sisters thought, “We have a need that my friend can fill, but we have not heard from him. Did our friendship mean as much to him as it did to me?”

Jesus got the message that his friend Lazarus was dying, but he made the decision not to go to Bethany to heal him. He gave some strange reason that fell flat on their ears. He even promised that “this sickness will not end in death.” But Lazarus died.

Then Jesus went to Bethany and to the tomb where Lazarus was buried.

In a reversal of roles, Martha ran to meet Jesus while Mary stayed behind receiving friends and neighbors into their home and being consoled. Jesus told Martha to go get Mary. The Teacher had something that he wanted her in particular to see. Martha remembered what he had said about the resurrection, but it was important for Mary to see this.

Running toward the garden where Lazarus was buried, Mary could hardly see through her tears because she was crying so hard. She was confused because Jesus had arrived after Lazarus died, and after her belief that if only he had arrived in time, they would not be here mourning her brother’s death.

“Where have you laid him?” Jesus saw her tears and then Jesus wept.

Those around him said, “See how he loved Lazarus!” But I don’t think that was why Jesus cried. I think Jesus cried because he knew the intense pain that Mary and Martha were going through. Remember, he knew already that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, so why would he cry for Lazarus?

Jesus wept because he knew the intense pain that Mary and Martha were going through.

Jesus could have healed Lazarus and he could have saved Mary and Martha from going through this loss. He knew their prayers, just as he knows our prayers when we are facing a loss. Jesus didn’t have an eternity to show those around the tomb about the Resurrection, so he used the 4 days to signify to us that we will live again – not on earth as Lazarus did, but with God in eternity.

Our prayers of healing are never wasted. Jesus wept over Mary and Martha’s grief and I believe he understands our grief when we lose someone we love. Christians look to the resurrection story to believe that we will see our loved ones again.

From my book “From Wife to Widow: What I Know Now.” Available in print and Kindle on Amazon.com. See all my books at amazon.com/author/taylorshirley

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The ox is in the ditch

I love the Apostle Paul. His words are so encouraging to struggling Christians. I love his humanity, I hurt with him through his anguish, and I rejoice with him in his love for Jesus and his love for the church that is emerging.

But as I much as I love Paul, I have a hard time believing his words can supercede Jesus. Jesus gave the most important news to women who had no husbands and that could not have been an accident. We know of these stories because the women told what happened. Jesus never placed any limitations on what women can do.

There is an incident told in Matthew where one Saturday, Jesus and his disciples were going through a grain field and they were so hungry that they started picking the grain and eating it. They were working on the Sabbath! That sounds so innocent, but to the religious leaders it was a major thing. Every week of their life, they adhered to this law. And here Jesus was telling them it was not important, that people were more important than their laws.

Called to task, Jesus reminded them that David had allowed his men to eat consecrated bread on the Sabbath which was also unlawful. Jesus reprimanded them “If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Another time Jesus challenged them about their love of the law. Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child, or an ox, that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?”

Every week of their life the religious Jews still adhere to that law! Crockpots help them get around the law. Hiring a gentile to turn the lights on and off on the Sabbath help them get around that law. Having elevators stop at every floor helps them get around that law. Jesus told them it was not important way back 2000 years ago.

Jesus told us the laws were not important 2000 years ago: Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

There are 7 billion people in the world, most needing the Savior, and there are many women, called and ready to preach the gospel. The law has become more important than the people and the children will starve if they are not rescued from the well. Suppose it is the ox that falls into the well and dies, then their family may starve.

I plead for your help to empower this generation of women to full Christian service as deacons and pastors.  We, too, have been with Jesus. Saved by the blood of the lamb and a witness to what he has done through his Word, and to how he has spoken to us.

It’s the Sabbath. The ox is in the ditch. The people need to be fed.

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Advent Love. Its Personal

Franklin Graham has it wrong. God did not intervene in the selection of this president. Jesus was not concerned about  governments, either Jewish or Roman. Jesus was concerned about the heart of the people. As we know from history, the heart of the people can be very hard and unforgiving, lacking justice and mercy. It is doubtful that God would have given this as a Christmas present to us.

We are one week before we celebrate the birth of Jesus. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jews were looking for a Messiah who would bring the kingdom of God to earth.

The great hope of Israel centered in the kingdom of God which would change the course of history by inaugurating the period of justice, peace and prosperity announced by the prophets, the more strenuously since the bitter experience of the deportation to Babylon. (The Jewish world at the time of Christ)

They wanted justice, peace and properity. Who doesn’t want that? The problem with wanting justice and peace is twofold: 1) we want to determine what justice is; 2) we want to determine what peace is.

When I think of justice, I immediately think of women’s equality and how women have been mistreated, marginalized, abused, and discounted by government and by religion, and how that continues today. I think of homosexuals who have also suffered greatly and still do. So it is with trepidation that I look at our newly evangelically-voted for government. The people chosen to represent the nation have a history of misogyny against women and hatred against homosexuals. Justice?  I see no way to justice.

When I think of peace, I think of living peacefully in our own country. My children were born during the great Civil Rights demonstrations and conflict. I was fearful for my children being born in such an unsettling time. As a mother, I desire peace. Sure, there are times I would like to get even, strike back, and win above all. But as a mother whose son has gone into a battleground in Iraq, I don’t want to see other mothers suffer during wars. So, yes, I desire peace.

Jesus did not come to change Jewish government or Roman government. He came to change the hearts of people. Through love. He said it himself “Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love – it’s personal.

(Posted in 2016. Still relevant today..) 2016 is coming to an end. What did you do this year to promote love towards people? Did your heart change in thinking about women’s equality or gay rights? The two are tied together, you know. Because when we feel we can hate one group because the Bible says so, then we can restrict the other group because “the Bible says so.”

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Advent Joy – Hunger for God

We are in the third week of Advent, which is Joy. Sunday a pink candle will be lit for preparation of the birth of the little boy who would become the Christ. It is fitting that we read the Magnificat. Elizabeth had just told Mary that the baby she carried in her own womb leaped for joy when Mary came into her home, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)

The Jews yearned for a Savior, and I imagine each had his or her own expectations of what that Savior would look like. I have heard that at each wedding, they expressed wishes that the new couple would bring forth that baby boy. We should not be surprised then, when we learn that a couple who had not yet consummated their marriage would be the bearer of that baby.

But let’s go back to Mary’s words. “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Before Jesus is even showing in the womb, Mary told us what he would do.

This is not about money at all.  It is about their spiritual condition.

So exactly what did Mary say?

She said that those who hunger for God will be filled, but those who think they are already rich in the knowledge of God will be turned upside down and the money they hold in their pockets (what they think they know about God) will fall out on the floor.

Or, as Jesus said in Matthew 23: 23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

God, I pray that those who are filled with their own sense of righteous riches and who claim to know that you favor males for your kingdom work, will have their eyes opened to Justice, mercy, and faithfulness to you.

(reposted from December 2013).

http://www.shirleytaylor.net

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