What cherished beliefs will fall out of your pocket?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Christmas Hope

At this time of year, we think of babies, particularly the baby Jesus. The terrorist shooting four years ago in San Bernardino reminds us that we bring babies into the world where evil happens. I am thinking of the baby girl left behind by her parents and how we ourselves were left hurt and fearful of the future. This child was a baby born and almost immediately rejected by her parents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Advent—should women look for the Christ Child or a husband?

Each year at the beginning of Advent, churches light the Advent candle, and the church begins its countdown until the Christ child is born on Christmas Day.

Many faith denominations do not light Advent candles, but almost all churches spend the month of December with Cantatas, children’s Christmas plays, and so forth. The song, “A Baby Changes Everything,” was popular one year and Don and I heard it sung at two different churches.

But do women really need Jesus?

Listen to what a man commented on my blog, “The man answers to God for the actions of his wife and children.”

Whoa! Did you catch that? How can a man answer to God for the actions of his wife and children? For that to happen, we must find scriptures to support the following beliefs:

  • The unbiblical belief that a husband can stand as a mediator between his wife and kids and God. The husband would have to be divine because it is a divine Jesus who stands as the mediator for the husband. Surely women would not need a human standing before God for her, would she?

(Job 9:32-35: “He (God) is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Jesus became that mediator between God and man.

(1Timothy 2:5-6 tells us that no husband can stand between a woman and God, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.)

  • The unbiblical belief that the wife cannot speak for herself because she is an incomplete human being, incapable of coming before God for herself, and who has no hope outside her husband.

(Romans 3:22-23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”)

  • The unbiblical belief that children are not complete human beings capable of having personal relationships with God.

(Acts 2:17: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”)

There are no scriptures to support a man answering to God for the actions of his wife. Adam and Eve each accounted for themselves. In fact, each scripture reference that I have given says completely the opposite of what the person who wrote the comment said. Oh, but he is just one person. Nobody really believes like that, do they?

Cindy Kunsman1 can tell you that some seminarians believe it. Several years ago she was invited to a conference at a Southern Baptist affiliated seminary. Cindy wrote that “Several young men asked how it was that I believed that they would not stand before God…to give an account and to intercede for their wives…These (young men) were seminary students.”

Advent—should women be looking for the Christ child, or for a husband?

Reprinted from my previous blog.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Ox is in the Ditch

Pope Francis is considering allowing married men to become priests in the Amazon. Married men from other denominations can already become Catholic priests in some cases, so this is not so strange, since there are about 120 married Catholic priests in the United States. In 1980, a path was made for married Episcopal priests to continue their ordination in the Roman Catholic church, as long as they did not marry again.

But no matter how deep the ditch is, they will not allow women to become priests. I wrote this letter to Pope Francis in 2016.

His Holiness, Pope Francis,

You most likely think it strange that I am writing you this letter, pleading on behalf of women priests. However, the ox is in the ditch and we need your help.

Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists have thrown a common net of denial over all women who feel a call as pastor or priest. If Roman Catholics will bend and allow women priests, Baptists will bend, too, and allow women pastors. On the other hand, if Baptists bend, well, I hope it works that way, too. I can’t guarantee it either way, but I am trying to remove the restrictive net that has been cast over all Christian women.

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 ox is in the ditch and Christian religious leaders will not break the law to rescue the ox. The law has become more important than the people and the people will starve because the ox will die in the ditch.

I plead for your help to empower this generation of women to full Christian service as priests. It will be a power like no other, unleashing the magnificence of God.  We read of this power in Acts 3, 4:1-18, paraphrased.

 “By what power are you doing these things?” they asked Peter and John the next day. Peter looked them in the eye and said that it was by the power of Jesus Christ, whom they had killed, but who had been resurrected, and now they were able to do this good deed in his name. If these unschooled and untrained men were able to do this, then what else could they do? After all, these men had been with Jesus. So they talked, and they talked some more, and came up with the only thing they could think of: “in order that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name.” Peter and John said, Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge.”

Like Peter and John, we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard. We are empowered by the same Source. We, too, have walked with Jesus. Peter and John could not quit telling about Jesus. They were told to stop, but they could not, because they were just getting started. We who believe in equality, cannot quit now as the battle is not yet won for women’s equality. 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. Women are called, ready and willing to pastor and to preach.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We the people

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. 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.

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.

It was 1920 before women were given the right to vote in national elections. But the battle was only half over. Women still were not full citizens of the United States with the same privileges and responsibilities that men took for granted. After 1920, women could vote, but they still could not serve on juries. It was not until 1975 that all states allowed women the privilege of serving on juries. Or to be more exact, it was not until 1975 that all women in the United States could be judged in a court of law by a jury of their peers instead of by men only.

Girls today are legally able to make choices, and they have a reasonable expectation that the government will not prevent them from doing so. As children, many of us believed that our country was founded on equality for all. We recited the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We did not know that those words were not written for women, and would not apply to women until 1964 with the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

It was September 17, 1787, eleven years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that the Constitution of the United States was signed. We get goose bumps with the words of the Preamble, which begins “We the People.” It makes us feel as if we are family with the whole United States, and all those who came before us. It is a powerful statement. Today that sentence includes you and me, and all citizens of the United States, but like the Declaration of Independence, that was not the original intent.

“We the People” meant white males and it was understood that while they brought with them wives, children and servants, those wives, children and servants were not part of “We the People.” Only white males could vote; only white males could make laws; only white males could enforce those laws; only white males could serve on a jury; and only white males could run for offices in the governing body.

Legal equality for all people in the United States did not come easily as Americans fought against each other in the Civil War, and in the courts, for the rights that should have come with “We the People.”

It wasn’t until February 3, 1870, that black males got the right to vote with the signing of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Women were seeking their right to vote, but it was felt that the most important fight at that time was for black men to get that right first. Women were pushed aside. It would be another 50 years, August 26, 1920, before white and black women were given the legal right to vote in the United States. So it was 133 years after the statement “We the People” before women were included in that statement.

Why do you think that our country denied women the right to vote until 1920? Was it because they did not know better, or were they responding to a white male culture? It is impossible to believe that they did not know better. Women had been advocating for equal rights since right after the Revolutionary War, and were very active up through the Civil War. Voting was just one of the equal rights denied women.

To repeat, it is inconceivable that the United States did not know better. This is a country that thought outside the box. This new country would not be led by kings who had power over them, but by a man who would be the President elected by an electoral college. That was extraordinary thinking, not envisioned by any other country.

The book, Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation, by Cokie Roberts (Harper Perennial, 2005) will dispel any idea that women were not speaking and engaging in the founding of our country during the Revolutionary War and the aftermath of that war.

Today, we turn to our Bibles and see that in the beginning God declared that women were equal. Women’s Declaration of Independence is right there in Genesis with these words, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” What happened between the pages of the Bible that took away women’s equality? The answer is that nothing happened between those pages to change women’s status. But much happened in man’s heart, and women have had to contend with inequality ever since.

But it should not be that way. The Bible doesn’t demand it, or even recommend it. Like everything else that women need, we will have to fight for true equality for women.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments

Gender roles and the people they hurt

This past week I received a letter from a Twitter follower. She is a pastor in a church that has several men and women pastors. I have her permission to tell her story.

Hello, Pastor Taylor. Your posts are always on point! I recently talked with my pastor about some harsh words that are spoken to the women preachers at my church, often when funerals are held at our church for people who are non-members. The incoming pastors and clergy have been awful towards us women preachers.  When I talked with the Senior Pastor, can you guess what his response was?  He pretty much told me it’s just something I’m going to have to deal with.

Well, I don’t know how to deal with it because I am a woman and I can’t change being a woman. If they had said ‘her preaching is awful, or she’s not really licensed or ordained,’ then I might be able to deal with it because I can fix those things. But to tell me to just deal with it – I don’t know how to deal with it because I’ve been hit with this so many times and I’ve run out of room in my heart to deal with it, and I’ve run out of room in my throat to keep taking deep swallows.

I was so disappointed in my pastor’s response, especially because when he is behind the pulpit he’s such a social justice pastor, and he’s all about women preaching, but I guess when it means he has to challenge the ‘good old boy network’ about how they treat us when they come to our church and see women pastors, well, I guess we are not worth it.

My experience since the beginning of my calling has been tragic (yes, to us it feels tragic). What strikes me and perplexes me so much is that African-American preachers (Baptists in particular) have become what I call both the oppressed and the oppressor. They were victims of the Southern Baptist Convention, broke away in the early 1900s to start their own conventions but continued the practice of misogyny and patriarchy. What they put us through, they would NEVER endure from the SBC (forced preaching from the floor, making fun of women’s hairstyles, looks, body changes and hormonal changes in their sermons – Yes, you heard correct!). Any challenges to these practices will result in sermons laced with “touch not my Anointed.” (meaning that the male pastors cannot be chastised, but the women pastors can be chastised and also can be made fun of.) 

(A note of clarification. I am not a pastor, I am a church secretary, Christian blogger and author.  My Twitter address is Shirley Taylor@bwebaptist. Also, this woman pastor is African-American.)

This is the letter I wrote back to her.

Pastor,

Thank you so much for contacting me.  It is women like yourself who will change the church. You are birthing a new generation where women will be respected as pastors and preachers. But it is hard and it is painful.

Two days ago I received a letter much like yours from a woman preacher who said she is discouraged. I encouraged her to stay the course and that is also what I encourage you to do.

This places a tremendous responsibility on you women pastors and preachers who deal with this in your service to the Lord. I know it does. But I ask you to please continue on. There are very few women ministers who have a church. Many women are called to serve as pastors and preachers and they cannot even find a church who will accept them. You are breaking ground for the girls and daughters who will come behind you.

Let me tell you what has happened to women in the Assemblies of God and Pentecostal and non-denominational churches.  They used to have women ministers who could pastor a church (like Methodists and Disciples of Christ churches can), but the current trend is to have husband/wife co-pastors. The wife is always the co-. Women lost their place as pastors and became co’s. It might also happen in other denominations where women can currently be a pastor or preacher if women pastors like yourself give up.

You are doing what God called you to do. Do not let those pastors of other churches demean you.  (Remember, they think being male qualifies them automatically. You know differently).

How do you deal with it? You join with other women who are facing the same thing, making all of you stronger.  Join CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality) www.cbeinternational.org. (I am a member of CBE and also CBE Houston Chapter).

Pastor, you are on the front-line of women’s equality. I admire you. I encourage you. I would love to hear from you again.

Biblical gender roles and the people they hurt! Her story is just one story, but these kind of stories are what women pastors tell. I have personally heard their stories of being treated as second-class ministers in churches where women can be Senior Pastors.

Read this article that was in the Huffington Post about women pastors of the United Methodist Church made about what is said about women preachers to their face. Watch this video they made.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A long time coming

He was my Baptist pastor in 1972 and possibly abusing his teen-age daughter who was in my Sunday school class. “Prosecutors believe the abuse spanned more than 30 years and two generations of children in Jones’ family.” He died in prison in 2006. We didn’t know it of course, but surely his family did. It was a granddaughter who finally told on him that sent him to prison.

Southern Baptist women have finally had enough. It is a long time coming. Sexual abuse is a direct result of male domination which demands female subordination.

On June 11, 2019 during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, you have a chance to make your voice known. For Such a Time as This Rally will be held June 11, 2019, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and will be from 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

The abuse will not stop until women are recognized as being fully human and fully spiritual before God, before man, and before church, and before society.

This is a step forward. There will be other steps. But this is one step. Go to the website and order a t-shirt to help defray the cost, tell your neighbors about it, tell your pastor, tell your Sunday school class. Do your part.

This is for your children. Go back to my pastor. “Prosecutors presented testimony from three of Jones’ victims, both male and female, who vividly recounted incidents of abuse, ranging from fondling to oral sex and sodomy to sexual intercourse with dogs and cattle.”

I never dreamed my pastor was doing this and was continuing to do this long after I had moved away.

It is time to put a stop to it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mother’s Fight for her Daughter

Let me tell you a Mother’s Day story about Jesus. No, not his mother. Just a mother like you and me.

Jesus, for reasons unknown, decides to take off one day and go visit a Gentile village.  When he gets there, a woman comes to him and asks him to heal her daughter. We don’t know how old the daughter is. We don’t know if this mother is married, or is a widow, or what.

What we do know is that she saw an opportunity and she took it.

Her daughter was sick. You are mothers. You know what it is like to have a sick child and no medicine. But she had heard of the Jewish Messiah who could heal her daughter.  She marched right up there to Jesus even though neither Jewish nor Gentile men would normally speak to women in public. At first Jesus said no. He said that he had been sent to the people of Israel. She pestered him. The disciples wanted to send her away, but Jesus wasn’t ready to do that. He said something about giving the food to the dogs, and she told him that the dogs got to eat the same food that the people sitting at the table ate. She said there was more than enough food for Israel. She could be given some and nobody would miss it.

Jesus healed her daughter. Those who know the Bible better than I do agree that this means that Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel. Jesus healed other Gentiles, but Bible commentaries do not give that the same significance to those encounters.

There is a common theme whenever women talk with Jesus. They argue! They talk back! They ask questions. But most importantly, they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

A friend told me that one Sunday in his church, a little 11-year old girl asked her mother if she could hand out the registration books in church. Her mother said that she could not do that. She asked her mother why and the mother told her they would talk about it when they got home.

Somebody show me where it says in the Bible that girls can’t hand out registration books! We start limiting women when they are still little girls.

This has got to stop. It is not what Jesus intended. In this Mother’s Day story, It wasn’t the daughter who asked for healing.  It was her mother who asked for healing for her daughter.

That is what I want you to do. I want you to stand up and speak up! I want you to not give up. Don’t take ‘no’ for answer. There is a healing that needs to take place for yourselves, and your daughters, your daughters-in-law, your sisters.  You are equal! No buts!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Part 6. Stepping into the Christian era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Part 5. The Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment