Spiritual DNA keeps women cousins to men

Today in Sunday school we studied Romans 16 and the comment was made about women serving in the church.  Immediately I had the strangest sensation that we women are discussed as if we are some creature – not quite human, but not an outer-space alien either.

More like the bonobo monkey.  It is labeled as being the kinder, gentler human cousin.  Yes, that’s it!

“Scientists have found that we (humans) are as close genetically to the peace-loving but little-known bonobo as we are to the more violent and better understood chimpanzee. It’s as if they are siblings and we are cousins, related to them both equally, sharing some traits with just bonobos and other characteristics with just chimps.”

Bonobo Monkeys in the church.  We are a lesser species in the human race.  We are labeled. We are talked about.  Discussed in the church and limited by the by-laws that are written down to make sure that we don’t overstep ourselves.

In the underworld of the blogs in the comment sections, we are discussed as if we weren’t even here, and can’t hear, and can’t read and don’t know what they are saying.

Did God make women a lesser being? A being that cannot fully serve Him in church? Or did the church make women lesser beings?

If we are not lesser beings, then why are we limited by what we can do to serve our Lord?

If you are as disgusted as I am in being labeled as some otherly creature than the species that we mate with, some species that even cannot pass on our spiritual DNA to our children, won’t you speak up?  Only males can pass on the spiritual DNA to children, and only male children at that.

How can you be silent? God made men and women the same species. God gave us, men and women, one thing that makes us the same species – vocal chords – something that most other animal creatures do not have.  Use them! Speak up!

 

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About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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32 Responses to Spiritual DNA keeps women cousins to men

  1. tommy9999 says:

    Shirley:

    You said:”In the underworld of the blogs in the comment sections, we are discussed as if we weren’t even here, and can’t hear, and can’t read and don’t know what they are saying.”

    I think if some men had their way they would rewrite the Bible leaving out anything that might have to do with a woman doing something of major significance in the Kingdom of God.

    Like

    • I have been heartbroken, felt diminished, felt degraded, and have seen tremendous arrogance from my fellow Christians when they discuss women’s ‘biblical’ qualifications to serve in the church and to be an equal in the marriage. They talk about women as if we are not even there (maybe invisible) or covered from head to toe. Just quoting scriptures, you know, and adding their two cents. I think it is time we called them on it, told them we are tired of being discussed like we are not quite human. I’ve said this before, years ago in my Sunday school teachers guide there was this comment: “The Jews loved nothing more than to go to the marketplace and argue whether or not women had souls.” We are doing the same thing. They acknowledge that we have souls, but to me it appears that they believe we have an incomplete spiritual/physical condition that keeps us from full fellowship with the Lord. Thanks for your support!

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  2. Temperance says:

    Yes I have felt that sense of being dehumanized. Or treated like a child. Yesterday’s sermon for fathers day, of course, was about the husband being the spiritual leader of the home, and spiritually protecting his family. Cannot mothers spiritually protect? Last week it was about how people stray from God’s design for marriage using adultery, cohabitation, and same sex marriage as examples. I was waiting for my pastor to name off feminism next, but it was implied instead of said directly. In the other examples he talked about how bad things happen when we place our own desires above God’s design for marriage. After all that he said husbands and wives should accept the roles God designed them to be in. It was implied that if we don’t follow gender roles we are placing our own desires above God’s intentions. Why don’t they just come right out and say it?

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    • Kristen says:

      I asked my husband if he wanted to go to church on Father’s Day. He said no, he didn’t want to hear again bout how he had to be the sole leader of the home, when co-leading with me is much more satisfying. We didn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because I didn’t want to hear the glorification of motherhood as if it were all a woman should want or aspire to. So we skipped both days.
      I wonder how men would like it if the women sat around and talked about what men could or couldn’t do in the church.

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  3. krwordgazer says:

    The pastor’s wife knows all about our position on these matters. I’m sure she has shared it with the pastor.

    Like

  4. Mabel says:

    For those not on Facebook or follow Paula’s blog, here are 2 recent entries that I would categorize as must read:
    http://www.fether.net/2012/06/20/looking-for-love-in-all-the-wrong-places/
    http://www.fether.net/2012/06/07/fun-house-theology/

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  5. Mary says:

    “If we are not lesser beings, then why are we limited by what we can do to serve our Lord?”

    Of course women are not lesser beings, but anyone who takes the Bible seriously has to acknowledge that there are a couple of roles within the church (pastor and elder) that are restricted to men. Personally, I don’t find that degrading at all. God knows best, and I trust His judgment.

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    • tommy9999 says:

      Mary:

      You said:”
      Of course women are not lesser beings, but anyone who takes the Bible seriously has to acknowledge that there are a couple of roles within the church (pastor and elder) that are restricted to men. ”

      I assure you I take the Bible seriously and IMO you have interpreted theses scriptures one way but I’m of the belief there can be another interpretation. It is not that easy to dismiss God calling women to Pastor or be Elders. What would you say to a woman who shares with you she has been called to be a Pastor?

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      • Mary says:

        I am sure you could guess my reply, but it would be that we have to judge our feelings and impressions by Scripture, not the other way around. If I feel like I have been called to something that the Bible prohibits, then I am wrong about being called to it. That is often hard to hear in individual cases, but it is true; the truth of Scripture has to take precedence over our own feelings.

        I might further take issue with the use of “called” in that context, but that is a discussion for another time.

        Like

      • tommy9999 says:

        Mary:

        Please let me ask you again what would you say to a woman who has been called to the ministry? I would really love to hear your answer.

        Like

  6. mabel says:

    Mary, according to Ephesian 4:11 ” It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” Here, the “gave” refers to spiritual gifts, not “offices”. The goal is to build up the body, not to divide the body into male, from which pool pastors can be nominated, and into female, from whom the gifts of leading/preaching are denied. If I tell you: blacks and whites are equal, but have different “role” and the word “role” which in itself should be neutral and not gender or race specific, is all of a sudden locked into race specific as to mean only whites can be pastors and blacks cannot, would you believe i am sincere in saying they are equal? I think anyone who takes the Bible seriously need to read it in the Holy Spirit, not in the literal words on the page. If you read the bible without this preconceived notion that only men can be whatever, you will read that ALL are urged to follow Christ, to build up one another, to desire all spiritual gifts. (1 Cor 14:1:Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.)
    Only men can be elders:
    When you read ” do not covet your neighbor’s wife”, do you understand it as a gender specific command, or do you understand it as a moral command?
    Elders should be husbands of one wife: is the emphasis on “husband” or is the emphasis on marital fidelity? Can single men be Elders? Paul was not married, can he be an elder?
    Church: is that a building/institution/organization? or is that The Body of Christ?
    Some argue that women cannot do this that and the other in the “church”, but they can be sent overseas and do all that to some “natives”.
    Women missionaries have been doing it forever, and no-one raises objection, as long as they are doing it “over there” and not in “my church”, according to the Bible.
    No, the Holy Spirit did not say that, even if men say we must maintain a gender divide.
    Every time I hear the oft repeated statement: men/women are equal but have different roles, my heart grieves. Mary, I don’t blame you for believing it, as you, like so many others, have been taught this relentlessly. I just ask you to think beneath the surface to see that that statement is totally unbelievable. At the end of the day, the question is: can woman do what man can do, in ministry. Why are all ministries open to qualified men, but not all ministries are open to qualified women? We are not talking about having babies here (that is another ridiculous statement I come across all the time), we are talking about building up the body of Christ. Why are women not allowed? Because the Word of God has been misinterpreted. We need to speak the truth. God’s judgment is best, but men have corrupted it to restrict half the body. Is that God’s will? Is God sexist?
    If you read the bible with an open mind, I guarantee you, you will NOT see 2 church roles only men can do. The word “PASTOR” only appears this ONCE, in Ephesian 4:11, and it refers to gifts. Why make this into a male only office based on one word that appears once in the bible? Mary, do not buy men’s lies. All the other times it is “shepherd” and it refers to Jesus. AND, men and women are urged to follow Jesus, not just men. Men and women bear the image of God, not just men.

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  7. krwordgazer says:

    Mary, as far as “taking the Bible seriously,” may I request that you read my blog post on this very topic? http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2012/05/taking-bible-seriously.html
    You may find it an interesting perspective.

    Like

    • Mary says:

      You make a fair point that perhaps “taking the Bible seriously” is not a fair statement. I think that it is very hard to avoid the conclusion that women are not to be primary teachers in the church, without some kind of self-conscious work-around — something either akin to Mabel’s “read in the Spirit rather than literally” or to your dismissal of things as cultural.

      I understand that we may simply be coming from different approaches, but I view those kinds of tactics as disingenuous, not accepting Scripture as authoritative. We all probably do that to some extent with those things in Scripture that make us uncomfortable, but I firmly believe it is an attitude that is dishonoring to God. We all, male and female alike, need to be submissive to God’s word, even when it conflicts with our preconceptions.

      Like

      • krwordgazer says:

        I find it odd that you dismiss my essay as a “dismissal of things as cultural” when the whole point of the essay is to explain that that is exactly what I am not doing. Since you apparently pigeonholed what I said beforehand according to what you have already decided to believe, it is clear that you are not open to any other way of looking at things. I absolutely do accept the Scriptures as authoritative, but that doesn’t mean I have to read them as if they have no cultural context at all– in fact, I fully believe that the Scriptures themselves prohibit me from reading them that way. It’s a pity that you didn’t take the time to really understand what I was saying.

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      • “We all probably do that to some extent with those things in Scripture that make us uncomfortable, but I firmly believe it is an attitude that is dishonoring to God. We all, male and female alike, need to be submissive to God’s word, even when it conflicts with our preconceptions.” Mary, this is the best statement you have made so far. But I don’t believe you think this applies to you. I think you are telling us that you know what God’s word says and how it should be interpretated, and the rest of us should get on board with your belief. That is disingenuous.

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      • Mary says:

        krwordgazer — Then let me go ahead and ask you, how DO you get around passages like 1 Timothy 2:12-14? How would that have been understood in its original culture? What has changed about creation itself (which is what Paul uses to justify the teaching) that makes this teaching not apply to us any more?

        In other words, if you view Scripture as authoritative, what exegetical method do you use to get out from under the authority of that teaching?

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      • Mary, I am not Krwordgazer, but I noticed that you stopped before you got to verse 15. Even complementarians don’t believe that having a baby saves a woman. But the scripture says that it does right here. Actually, according to scripture, it is a two-step salvation. Have a baby and be good.

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      • krwordgazer says:

        Mary, I don’t “try to get out from under the authority of that teaching,” and the fact that you put it that way tells me that you have indeed pre-decided that your way is the only way to read the passage so as to be submissive to God’s authority, and that I am pre-judged as someone who is trying to get out from under it. Given that, how are you going to be able to read my response with an open heart or a listening attitude?

        Secondly, my exegesis of 1 Tim 2:11-15 is a lengthy, in-depth study that places the passage in its context in the whole of Scripture, then in the New Testament, then in Paul’s writings, and then within the first letter to Timothy itself. Since you dismissed my other essay so quickly, are you actually willing to read my answer all the way through? It is too long to contain in an answer to a comment on someone else’s blog.

        If you are willing, then here are the links to my blog posts on this:

        http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-interpretation-of-1-timothy-211-15.html

        http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2011/11/5-step-analysis-of-1-timothy-211-15.html

        http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2011/11/5-step-analysis-of-1-timothy-211-15_07.html

        http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2011/11/5-step-analysis-of-1-timothy-211-15_10.html

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  8. mabel says:

    Mary, do you cover your head when you go to church and pray? Don’t you believe in the authority of the bible? Why stop at women should be silent in church and should not be elders? Not sure women cannot be pastor is anywhere to be found in the bible, or that the bible teaches pastor is an office. Do you wear gold? Have you braided your hair ever? Should men raise their holy hands in prayer? Should we greet each other with a holy kiss? what exegetical method do you use to get out from under the authority of those teachings?

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  9. mabel says:

    N.T.Wright said: to any first-century reader, and to many readers in Turkey, the Middle East and many other parts of the world to this day would be the fact that Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet within the male part of the house rather than being kept in the back rooms with the other women. This, I am pretty sure, is what really bothered Martha; no doubt she was cross at being left to do all the work, but the real problem behind that was that Mary had cut clean across one of the most basic social conventions. It is as though, in today’s world, you were to invite me to stay in your house and, when it came to bedtime, I were to put up a camp bed in your bedroom. We have our own clear but unstated rules about whose space is which; so did they. And Mary has just flouted them. And Jesus declares that she is right to do so. She is ‘sitting at his feet’; a phrase which doesn’t mean what it would mean today, the adoring student gazing up in admiration and love at the wonderful teacher. As is clear from the use of the phrase elsewhere in the NT (for instance, Paul with Gamaliel), to sit at the teacher’s feet is a way of saying you are being a student, picking up the teacher’s wisdom and learning; and in that very practical world you wouldn’t do this just for the sake of informing your own mind and heart, but in order to be a teacher, a rabbi, yourself. Like much in the gospels, this story is left cryptic as far as we at least are concerned, but I doubt if any first-century reader would have missed the point. That, no doubt, is part at least of the reason why we find so many women in positions of leadership, initiative and responsibility in the early church; I used to think Romans 16 was the most boring chapter in the letter, and now, as I study the names and think about them, I am struck by how powerfully they indicate the way in which the teaching both of Jesus and of Paul was being worked out in practice….
    at the crucifixion the women were able to come and go and see what was happening without fear from the authorities. They were not regarded as a threat, and did not expect to be so regarded. Bailey points out that this pattern is repeated to this day in the Middle East; at the height of the troubles in Lebanon, when men on all sides in the factional fighting were either hiding or going about with great caution, the women were free to come and go, to do the shopping, to take children out, and so on. .. But it’s then fascinating, by contrast, that when we turn to Acts, and the persecution that arose against the church not least at the time of Stephen, we find that women are being targetted equally alongside the men. Saul of Tarsus was going to Damascus to catch women and men alike and haul them off into prison. .. this only makes sense if the women, too, are seen as leaders, influential figures within the community.”

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  10. mabel says:

    renowned biblical scholar N.T.Wright spoke at a CBE conference in 2004. Here is his conclusion:
    I think I have said enough to show you where I think the evidence points. I believe we have seriously misread the relevant passages in the New Testament, no doubt not least through a long process of assumption, tradition, and all kinds of post-biblical and sub-biblical attitudes that have crept in to Christianity. Just as I think we need radically to change our traditional pictures of the afterlife, away from the mediaeval models and back to the biblical ones, so we need radically to change our traditional pictures both of what men and women are and how they relate to one another within the church and indeed of what the Bible says on this subject. I do wonder, sometimes, if those who present radical challenges to Christianity have been all the more eager to make out that the Bible says certain things about women, as an excuse for claiming that Christianity in general is a wicked thing and we ought to abandon it. Of course, there have been plenty of Christians who have given outsiders plenty of chances to make that sort of comment. But perhaps in our generation we have an opportunity to take a large step back in the right direction. I hope and pray that this conference, and the work of this society, may be used by God in exactly that way.
    THe entire transcript is here:
    file://localhost/Users/mabelyin/Documents/N.T.%20Wright%20Women’s%20Service%20biblical%20basis.html

    Do not ever accept anyone’s characterization that egalitarians do not take the bible seriously, or do not submit to God’s view. We thank God we no longer have to subscribe to the Jewish prayer that says: God I thank you for not making me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. Gal. 3:28 tells us that those divisions are now gone because of Jesus Christ. Jesus, we thank you for setting us free, for accepting Mary’s annointing you before your crucification, a priestly duty, for making us all priests, and for splitting the temple curtain in two so that we can go directly to God and not through any men mediator. Women can teach, preach, just as any men can. No hierarchy. Just giftedness.

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  11. Mary says:

    Given the number of comments and level of vitriol here, I think I’ll bow out rather than try to respond to everything. Let me say briefly:

    krwordgazer — From points A and B on your first link, it is clear that our views of Scripture are very, very different. “Conversation” and “Great Story” are terms I find utterly inappropriate for God’s holy and authoritative word to us, and if indeed that is your starting point, it is probably unlikely that we will come to even similar conclusions.

    mabel — I don’t try to get out from under those teachings (though wearing gold and braiding hair are not prohibited). But you are right, there are teachings in the Bible that are hard, and I strive to live by those teachings, even though they are sometimes hard. The reason for that is that I trust God, I trust Him completely, and I believe that He knows what is best both for me and for the church.

    I suppose I will end by just encouraging everyone to examine their hearts and see if that is true. Do you truly trust God, even if it means following the tough parts of His word? Are you willing to surrender everything to Him, including your political beliefs, personal philosophies, anger toward past mistreatment? There is room for disagreement within the Body, of course, but at a minimum let’s all strive toward that, and continually examine ourselves to see how truly submissive our hearts are toward God.

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    • krwordgazer says:

      Mary, I hope you didn’t jump to the conclusion that because I said the word “story” that I didn’t think the Story was true, real or factual. The fact is that the Bible, seen as a whole, has a plot– and a writing or set of writings centered around one plot is, in fact, a story. As for “conversation,” do you believe that God used the human writers as little more than pencils in His hand? Or did He inspire them with respect to their own individuality and styles of writing? If the former, then I’m not sure how you would explain the very different styles of the different books of the Bible. If the latter, then I’m not sure what’s so offensive about thinking of the blending of all of these voices into a holy conversation.
      In short, I’m not really sure what the problem is with my approach– but since you apparently disapprove so deeply of the kind of Christian I am, I can only trust that when we meet in heaven one day, you will see that my understanding of the Bible wasn’t so inappropriate and unorthodox as you think.

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    • krwordgazer says:

      I also wanted to add that as far as “vitriol” is concerned, I’m not really sure where you’re getting that. We have responded to being told that we just don’t want to obey God or the Bible, that our motive is to “get out of” following the Bible– we have objected to being judged and found wanting– but we have not accused you of anything like what you’re saying about us. We didn’t question your commitment to God, your obedience to the Bible, or your orthodoxy. If disagreeing with you or confronting your condemnation of us is “vitriol,” then I suppose we have been showing vitriol. But imagine how you’d feel if we were saying to you the kinds of things you’ve been saying to us.
      If you are imagining your mission here was to set us straight, then I can see your frustration. But honestly, Romans 14 cautions against passing judgment on your brothers and sisters about secondary matters– and as far as I can see, the role of women in the church is not foundational to the faith, so disagreement should not be treated as the heresy you are making it out to be.

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    • tommy9999 says:

      Mary:

      If simply getting a few very important questions from people qualify as vitrol what in the world are you doing blogging? This comes across as a convenient cop out to me. BTW questions are good.

      Like

  12. mabel says:

    Mary, I do not accuse people that do not agree with my interpretation of the bible as not submitting to the bible. I totally submit to the Scriptures, as you do, but I submit to the entire Scripture, not take a few verses out of context. Your interpretation that women cannot be pastors and cannot be elders are one INTERPRETATION of the bible, not the Scripture itself. Words are limited, and God works with our culture, not against it. Jesus chose 12 Jewish men, and people use the 12 men as reasons for barring women as pastors but ignore the fact that all 12 were Jews. Husband of one wife is used as another restriction, even though God has appointed Deborah as head of the entire nation of Israel. She is above any “Elder” office, if there is. Why don’t we appoint 7 deacons in every church to make sure Greek widows are fed? I see you stubbornly cling to men’s interpretation of Scripture and confuse it with obeying Scripture. I am sure your heart is in the right place and I do not doubt your motive, so don’t doubt mine. I am doing God’s will. I spend a lot of time and money and energy to right this wrong in our “churches”. I am doing the will of God, not bowing to culture or doing it to my own thinking. As a matter of fact, in blog conversation like this, I found most egalitarians to be highly educated in the Scriptures. Many of them read Greek. Very few of them exhibit a streak of stubbornness that will not even give the other side the time of day. Most have thought through this issue comprehensively and submit to the Holy Spirit. We have to fight tradition, and we have to know what we are saying. From what you wrote, I am not sure you have been fair in your accusation. Until you read all the links we put out here with an open mind, do not judge. We are here to educate each other, not judge each other. Saying that we do not obey the Scripture but does not explain anything does not help your argument, as I only hear judgment, not argument.

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  13. Temperance says:

    Vitriol… Oh, you mean the sulfuric acid?

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  14. Mabel says:

    this is an excellent article on why we should not look at Scriptures as a set of rules to bind ourselves and other people. and call it following the Scriptures.
    http://krwordgazer.blogspot.com/2012/06/thoughts-on-legalism.html

    Like

  15. krwordgazer says:

    Thanks for the promotion, Mabel! Glad you liked it!

    Like

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