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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