Read Matt 23 before saying anything

Einstein may have said it first and we have latched on to it: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” That is what came to mind this week as I read an article in the Baptist Standard.

They asked the same questions they always ask 1) What are the key issues – opportunities and/or challenges- facing Baptist churches?; 2) What are the key issues facing Baptists as a people or denomination?; 3) What would you change about the Baptist denomination – state, nation or local?

Fair questions and the answers are standard. Don’t rock the boat. Keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results.

I would suggest that every Baptist who is asked these questions read Matthew 23 before answering. This chapter is probably the least preached chapter in the New Testament, in my experience of listening to sermons for 57 years.

Start at the beginning and pay particular attention to verse 23 and 24:

23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! (NRSV)

Digest that and finish the chapter with verses 37-38:

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you, desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Now go back to questions 1,2, and 3. How are you going to answer them? Declining churches, growth of non-denominational megachurches, a new generation of “nones” all demand something different than a generic stock answer.

Think carefully about your response as you remember what Jesus said in verse 30 “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.’ 

Then look at verse 34 and see that you are doing the same thing: “Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town…”

God is sending women – yes, women! – to preach, to pastor, to serve as deacons, yet you turn them away. You accept them into your seminaries and then you kill their spirit because you have led the congregation to believe that women cannot serve a church as a deacon, much less as a pastor!

You really want to answer these questions about Baptists! Read Matthew 23.

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Women are not prey

Women are not prey. Or, are they? Women seem to have a built-in fear response as if we were likely to be somebody’s dinner. Every time I get on an elevator, I am hoping that I will not be there alone with a male. I walk with my keys in my hand to my car. I am constantly looking around me to see if there is anyone nearby.

I don’t live in fear of men as these responses are normal to women. Just as normal as breathing and taking care of children. We look out for our children and for ourselves.

Because we may be prey.

If we let our guards down, we may get hurt. We may be pinned upon a bed with a strong male laughing and having fun at our expense. The fear will never leave us, but that same fear was never in the male who was just being who he is.

John Piper said “But this deeper meaning of manhood does not lose its significance when he walks out of the door of his home. Men, as men, everywhere, all the time, bear a burden, under God, to care for the well-being of women, which is not identical to the care women owe men.”

Piper makes this claim using Ephesians 5:25-30. “Modeling the peculiar summons to the man in marriage, Christ dies for his bride to save her, beautify her, nourish her, and cherish her.”

A claim that equates males with Christ, which Piper and his followers do.

So, if we as women have this God-given built-in fear of being prey, of protecting ourselves and protecting our children, how can we then look to males as being our protectors?

I am not sure what kind of care that Piper thinks women owe men (probably cooking and cleaning). What I do know is that in general women outlive men and are often left alone to take care of themselves. And we do this with the built-in God-given fear of being prey.

As usual, the secular world has led the way for social change. Many evangelicals are willing to blame the woman as we are taught to do because she is the instigator of sexual misbehavior. But these same women hold their keys in their hands when they go to their car, they watch out to see who is getting on the elevator with them.

We have to look back at history to see what made the great change. It is my hope that women have finally risen up and spoken up and declared “We are not prey. But we will never let our guard down, because the lamb cannot yet lie down with the lion.”

It is time. It is time to stand up. Speak up. 

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Teaching human precepts as doctrine

Sitting in church last week, I heard the words “teaching human precepts as doctrine” and immediately my mind went to “graciously submit to their husbands” as is written in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”  He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me;
 in vain do they worship me,
    teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

 You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” Mark 7:1-8 NRSV

I don’t live in the First Century. I am a 21st Century woman. I live in the here and now. I wear modern clothes, I drive a car, I work outside the home, I think like an educated person and see a much larger world than my First Century Jewish/Christian predecessors.

Nowhere did Jesus tell women they must submit graciously to their husbands, and in effect, submit to all males, which is also defined in the BF&M 2000 when they limit women leadership roles such as pastor.

We are holding on to human traditions. We are making those human traditions doctrine.

  • We are ignoring Jesus when he gave the message to Mary of Bethany when he told her to sit at his feet and learn from the Master the same way the other disciples were doing.
  • We are ignoring Jesus when he gave the message to the Samaritan woman at the well when he told her – before he told any Samaritan man – that he was the Messiah they were expecting to come.
  • We are ignoring Jesus when he gave the message to the Gentile woman when he told her that the Messiah had come to her people, just as he had come to the Jews.
  • We are ignoring Jesus when he gave the message to Mary at the tomb that he had risen and to go and tell the men the good news.

We are holding on to human traditions. We have made those human traditions doctrine, and have posted those human traditions and teach them in our churches. We have chosen to live in the First Century when it comes to males and females.

What kind of world do you want for your sons and daughters? Do you want your sons to be rulers over women? Do you want your daughters to be in constant submission to all men all the time? More than likely, that is what your church is teaching. That is what you giving your money to, and that is the message you are spreading across the world through international missions.

If you are willing to go back to Jesus and look at his message of freedom, stand up and say so. The time is right. The time is now.

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“If I could have a beer with Jesus”

A popular song is “If I could have a beer with Jesus” by Thomas Rhett. If I could have a beer with Jesus, my lyrics would be totally different.

I’d ask him why there is a tear in his eye
I’d ask him why women have been pushed aside.

If I could have a beer with Jesus,
I would ask him why men teach they are the only ones who can preach. 

If I could have a beer with Jesus,
It would not be all about me.”

Rhett thanks Jesus for saving him and asks Jesus about his family that has gone on, and wonders what heaven is like, and ends with thanking Jesus for saving him.

We all think about those things, but those are not the most important things to ask if you are sitting down with Jesus for a few precious minutes.

If you have a few minutes to drink a beer and talk with Jesus, don’t be selfish about it. Sure, there are things you want to know, and I would have a thousand questions, too.  But spend those few minutes over a beer asking how you could make the world a better place to live, how you could show love for all your neighbors, how you could acknowledge that men and women are created equally, and how you could help bring about equality.

Sit down, son. Have a beer with Jesus. By the way, why do you think Jesus wants beer? Because you do? Order him a glass of wine.

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When there is no voice raised in protest, it is assumed no one protests.

The report released this week about the six dioceses in Pennsylvania that covered up the fact that 300 priests abused over 1,000 children in my lifetime is shocking. There was no immediate response by Pope Francis whom we generally think is for the people.

More shocking than that is that few Roman Catholics will write their priests, bishops, or the Pope to make their concerns known. How do I know they won’t? Because I know that Christians will not stand up for what we see is wrong when the church does it.

  • Christians did not stand up when women were burned at the stake.
  • Christians did not stand up and demand an end to slavery.
  • Christians did not stand up to give women the right for full citizenship by allowing women to vote and run for elected office.
  • Christians did not stand up and demand that women be included in juries.
  • Christians did not stand up when churches began teaching that women must obey their husbands.
  • Christians did not stand up when women were abused in churches.

Of course Catholics knew about these abuses. When I was 18 years old in 1961 and moved from the country to the city, I met Catholics for the first time. For the first time, I heard that priests had “nephews.” Everybody knew it, but nobody stood up.

The secular world brought these things to our attention. The secular world said “times up!” The secular world voted for women’s equality.

The church still will not give women or children equality. They will continue to give men the power over women and children.

Until we stand up.

When there is no voice raised in protest, it is assumed no one protests.

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Stirring the anthill, now what?

Growing up in the country I learned that you do not stir the anthill. The ants minded their own business but when they were stirred, they scattered and went everywhere. The #metoo and #churchtoo has stuck a stick in the anthill.

An official in the 2,100-church South Carolina Baptist Convention has stepped down for unspecified reasons, adding to a number of men quietly leaving Southern Baptist jobs in recent weeks. (click to read)

The article in Baptist News goes on to list several men who have quietly left their jobs recently amid the recent focus on sexual misbehavior in churches. The sexual problems are not new, but the focus on those situations is new.

It is new enough that a survey company called our church asking a multitude of questions regarding how the church handles such a thing and if it has ever happened there and also wanted to know how the church handles abuse in the family. In the 12 years I have worked there, this is the first time we have received such a call. Which indicates to me that the anthill has been stirred.

Now what? Will church members finally get enough gumption to stand up to their pastors, to their denominations, and demand real accountability from these leaders?

Apparently not. The “For such a time as this” rally was not for women pastors or for women deacons. That was left off the table. So the people inside the building praising God and themselves, felt safe and secure.

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, responded, “We established that every professor in our School of Theology must be qualified to serve as pastor of a Southern Baptist church.” Therefore, every faculty position in the School of Theology is “going to be held by a man. And we say that without apology.”

Chuck Kelly, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “we are committed to the complementarian model of leadership as taught in Scripture.” Therefore, there are roles at the seminary for which a woman is not eligible by virtue of her gender, he said.

David Platt of the International Mission Board wants more missionaries, “With 2.8 billion in the world who have yet to hear the gospel and a room of 10,000 people who have the gospel, God may be calling out more than just these 79,” Platt said.

Neither the Southern Baptist Convention nor the International Mission Board wants women to be the ones who will preach that gospel.

If I had one question to ask SBC pastors, it would be: How does it feel to know that “by virtue of your gender,” you are not denied anything?”

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For such a time as this

The Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed female submission to all males this week when they proudly affirmed complentarianism. The church is the last holdout for female equality. The first place where a woman should have been equal is proving to be the last place where she will find equality.

SBC Resolution 1 threw flowery prose at women and patted them on the back for their church service (casseroles, children’s ministry, missionaries). Even declared that God calls and gifts women for certain limited roles according to their gender.

They listed 7 WHEREASes to say all this.

Then they RESOLVED 6 times and repeated the same stuff.

Then they ended with the same message to women that they began with:

RESOLVED, that we call upon all Southern Baptists to encourage, cultivate the diverse gifts, calling and contributions of women in biblically appropriate ways.

There you have it. Nothing new. Women are equal-but. But they are limited by what they do and by all who subscribe to the Southern Baptist Convention’s teaching of male headship.

We live in a country where women have won legal rights, but in this country the majority of Christian women have surrendered their Christian rights.

We should never forget those women who bucked the system and who demanded their rights. It was not just for equality for themselves that inspired them to fight. These brave women were looking into the future to a time when all women would be equal. They would be heart-broken to know that 21st century Christian women willingly give up their spiritual rights.

There was a group of brave women and men who attended the “For such a time as this rally” outside the convention hall last week. There was only a handful there. Just as there was only a handful of women who fought for the right to vote and other legal rights that women now have.

Thank God for this handful. You will benefit from it someday. But what we need now for you to stand up and speak up. We are in such a time as this, almost 100 years (1920-2020) since government recognized that women had a voice and could use it.

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How SBC got to this point

Next week, the Southern Baptist Convention meets under a cloud over their top leader, Paige Patterson. Patterson has done his own bad deeds, but he and the SBC and FBC Houston are being sued by a man over a claim of homosexual assault committed by Paul Pressler, who helped Patterson in the conservative takeover of the SBC in 1967.

How did we get here? When a major denomination such as the Southern Baptist Convention speaks, others listen. It is important to know how that transpired because an unimaginable number of Christians have already been affected by this denomination, and their influence continues to grow. The leadership that began the complementarian movement is still in place. They are the presidents and professors in Baptist Seminaries, and pastors of mega churches. What they sowed in 1967 is what we are reaping today. Pay close attention to that date, 1967. This is important because it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that gave women freedoms that men always had. These Christian leaders reacted vehemently against women. It was a determined, thought-out plan.

Then in 1987-88, The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was written which bedded Southern Baptists with conservative Presbyterians, among others, and also fundamentalist Christian groups Promise Keepers, and Campus Crusade for Christ. Because of their mutual desire to promote oppression of women, these groups that would not normally join together, put aside their theological differences and linked arms. This is in contrast to what Southern Baptists did in 2004 when they withdrew their presence and partnership from the Baptist World Alliance6 (a world-wide organization of Baptists) over their support for women in the clergy. This linking of arms keeps the denominations polarized in whatever efforts some may show in favor of reversing the oppression of women.

That is how women got to this point, and since fundamental Christians are the most influential groups, they are keeping us here. That is worth reading about. Below is a paragraph from the book, The Fundamentalist Takeover in the Southern Baptist Convention. A Brief History, by Rob James and Gary Leaser with James Shoopman, produced by Mainstream Missouri Baptists in 1999. They did not know the rest of the story. What fundamentalists have sown, we have reaped.

“The Café Du Monde in New Orleans was the site of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. Their plan was written on a paper napkin. Paige Patterson, now president of the largest SBC affiliated seminary, and Paul Pressler were the architects of the plan, and they used their unique knowledge of the inner workings of the SBC to systematically put their people in key positions. This stacked the dominoes in a certain way, and when they started to fall, they continued in the orderly fashion set forth on a table in a café. What began in 1967 was finalized in 1990. “This eleventh election (of a fundamentalist president of the SBC) seals the fundamentalist victory, and they celebrate at Café Du Monde in the French Quarter, where Judge Pressler and Paige Patterson had first conceived the whole plan for the takeover, many years prior.”

Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler earnestly believed that reigning in knowledge and cultural changes, and binding the scriptures to inerrancy would bring about a stronger Southern Baptist Convention and growth. They were successful, but they were wrong.

SBC Membership Declines for the 5th straight year was reported in Baptists Briefs7 on June 25, 2012. The record year for baptisms was in 1972.

So what? What does this mean? Why should you be concerned if you are not a Baptist? Perhaps you do not even like Baptists, and you think this has no meaning for you. It affects you because Southern Baptists are the second largest Christian religion group (behind Roman Catholics) in the United States.

Perhaps your pastor graduated from an SBC affiliated seminary that gives power to, and holds in esteem, such non-Baptists as Wayne Grudem, Mark Driscoll, and a multitude of others. They teach that the pastor (who must be male) is in control of his church, and that women are to be eternally submissive to all males, forever. Wayne Grudem co-edited Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood with John Piper. This is a bible of sorts and is still a bestselling book. Grudem’s Systematic Theology is the teaching book at these same Baptist seminaries, and he, along with others, has centered his theology around women’s lower status to man’s higher status before God, and before all other males.

What happened in New Orleans affects you and me, because complementarian patriarchal churches do not remain static. Churches are constantly changing, and these changes are brought on by influences of larger churches. Just as hell-fire and brimstone is not the hot topic today as it was 50 years ago, the new hot topic is the bedroom and the husband’s authority throughout the home and in the church, and the insinuation that husbands represent Christ, in bed and in church. This theology came from somewhere and it is my belief that it was conceived on the paper napkin at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans in 1967.

Throughout this book, we have seen how a decision made almost 50 years ago has affected other Christian denominations. What decision will you make that will rectify their bad judgment?

excerpt from my book Women Equal – No Buts: Powered by the same Source

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Domino 3 – Bruce Ware

Bruce Ware is the professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. At a church in Denton, Texas, he gave husbands an excuse for abusing their wives—that of being a sinner, as if sinners are not to be held accountable.

In June 2008, at a Bible church in Denton, Texas,  Bruce Ware, a founding member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, said, “And husbands on their parts, because they’re sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged—or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches.”

Ware says in effect that men can do one of two things when wives do not submit: they can become abusive, or they can become meek and passive. While this is shocking to us, it is more so when we realize that this is exactly the language of the Danvers Statement in their Affirmations. Affirmation #4 says “In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity.”

When men in that congregation heard Ware say that men can choose to abuse their wives, every man in that congregation should have stood up and said “Not my daughter, he won’t!”

They did not. But you can. Stand up and say, “No man has the excuse to abuse my daughter for any reason, even if he thinks she is not submitting enough.”

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 Danvers Statement and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 bestows without it having dangerous consequences as seen by Ware’s statement.

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.

They didn’t stand up for their daughters and they won’t do it now. But somebody has to. Will that be you?

Read A Cry for Justice: Paige Pattersons been exposed now Bruce Ware must be exposed.

Excerpt from my book “Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition

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Domino 2 – John Piper, does a wife submit to abuse?

John Piper, who, along with Paige Patterson, founded the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and who is quoted extensively in the pulpit, says this about women submitting to abuse in their marriage:

“She may have to endure being smacked and then she goes to the church and the church will deal with it.” (Does a woman submit to abuse?)

Piper does not mention going to the police. The church will deal with it, he says. Maybe with Sharia Law, the religious body deals with it. Maybe in the Mormon church, they will deal with it. But no church that I know of has the power or authority to deal with domestic problems. And I bet you anything, Piper doesn’t know of one that has the authority either. I wonder how many wives went to his church when their husbands “smacked” them.

John Piper gives a titillating story of a husband asking his wife to join in group sex in that same 4 minute youtube, Does a woman submit to abuse? He says that if a husband asks his wife to engage in group sex, she cannot submit to him because she has a greater obligation to submit to Christ and this would not be pleasing to Christ. So she says something like:

“Honey, I want so much to follow your leadership as God calls me to do that. It would be sweet for me if I could enjoy your leadership. But I can’t go there.”

Notice that there is no condemnation for a husband who would ask his wife to engage in group sex, but, instead, an explanation is issued of how she can continue to honor and obey such a man who would lead her into sin. He remains her leader even though he has just attempted to lead her into immorality.

Complementarians claim they do not want women to be doormats, but it is not these teachers of the law who are actually living in those marriages. If a husband wants his wife to be a doormat, she will be a doormat. That is what the submission doctrine is about—freedom and monarchy for husbands, but limits, servitude, obedience and bondage, if the husband so decrees, for wives.

If the husband in Piper’s example decides his wife shall engage in group sex, she will engage in group sex. Even if she used Piper’s syrupy words to excuse herself from participating in sin, if her husband believes he has the right to force her to submit to him in everything, she must comply or face the consequences. According to Bruce Ware, if the wife does not submit to her husband, it is understandable to complementarians (because men are sinners, Ware said) when the husband beats her for non-submission.

We will discuss Bruce Ware in Domino 3

Ruth Tucker knows John Piper personally. Recommended reading “Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife : My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse” by Ruth A. Tucker

A Cry for Justice (John Piper is living in a parallel universe, says Ruth Tucker in interview)

From my book Dethroning Male Headship: Second Edition

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