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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Advent Hope – Groundhog Day all over again

bWe Baptist Women for Equality's Blog

Each year the liturgical calendar gets reset and we begin again with where it began. We know what is going to happen to Jesus at Easter, but each November we begin by retelling the story from the beginning, all over again.  We get a new chance like Phil the weatherman did in the movie Groundhog Day. We hope this year we get it right.

Phil (Bill Murray), a weatherman, is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. He gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right. After indulging in hedonism and committing suicide numerous times, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.

Like Phil, Christianity has been through its periods of hedonism and suicidal tendencies. In its…

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Advent Peace. What did the angels know?

Every year at Christmas we look at the world situation and wonder if the angels knew what they were proclaiming when they said “Peace on earth, goodwill among men.” We are not sure exactly what the angels did say as it is interpreted in many ways. The NIV version says, “Peace to those on whom his favor rests.” That sounds Calvinistic, but in the name of goodwill, today we will let that pass.

Since that is so, and because I am not a scholar, but an ordinary person reading the scriptures, I choose to read this meaning into those old familiar verses: The angels came to earth announcing the birth of a savior who is Christ the Lord. In proclaiming his birth, they were saying that God is Peace and has come willingly to the earth to be among men, and that he brings with him goodwill (that is to say, he does not bring harm to them.)

We usually take those scriptures to mean that there would be no more wars and strife and all would be joy now that Christ was born. The angels did not say that all would be rosy now. They called him Peace, and because of the great joy they have with the Father, they knew Who was arriving and they expected us to have the same great joy (Luke 2:10-11).

I think the angels may have given us more credit than we are due.

2020 is drawing to a close. But as we celebrate Advent again this year, we see a new beginning, a new year to get it right. A new year for peace in the church where both men and women are equal children of God.

(originally published 2016)

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Pastors, this is your moment

Pastors, this is your moment. This is your moment to stand up and to speak up for justice. Justice is not political. It is biblical. It is the basis for Christianity.

Justice is the reason you gave your life to Christ and answered the call to ministry. Justice is your motivation, your aspiration, and the reason for your surrender to Christ and to the people of your church.

You didn’t know that, did you? You didn’t hear it preached in your home church. Your pastor never alluded to justice. And you are following in those same footsteps. But justice is what God demands and that is the call you answered.

It is time, Pastors, to look inside your soul and in light of the scriptures, to come to terms with justice.

Jesus demands it. Read Matthew 23, and put your own name in there.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the lawand the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12 (NIV)

There will not be God-honored justice until you, Pastors of Christian churches, come to terms with what you are preaching and teaching and the heavy, cumbersome loads that you put upon people’s shoulders.

You love Jesus. I have no doubt of that. But you have not followed Jesus. You have followed religious leaders who have made their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long.

  • You have bound wives to husbands in spite of the fact that there is no scripture in the bible where Jesus tells wives they must submit to their husbands.
  • You have bound wives to husbands and given husbands authority and spiritual leadership over those wives in spite of the fact that there is no scripture in the bible where Jesus tells husbands that they have authority and spiritual leadership over their wives.
  • You have denied women their place in spreading the gospel and bringing souls to Jesus, and you have denied them their full calling for service to the Lord in spite of the fact that everything Jesus did and said was to give women a voice.
  • You have denied racial justice to all races and you have not stood up to racial injustice when your congregation spews forth racial hatred.
  • You have denied equality to those who love someone of their own sex. You, Pastors, have passed judgment on those who have been born with a desire for the same-sex and you have called it a sin. You, Pastors, have led your people to promote the most awful hateful words against them.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.

“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. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ (Someday, Pastors, your descendents will wonder why you so forcefully denied women the right to be a pastor and to preach the gospel). So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!

 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.

 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:13-39 NIV).

Pastors, this is your moment. Stand up and be a Christian! Stand up for justice.

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