We’re not there yet

Last week I was interviewed by Sarah Neary, a journalist with the Voice of Russia for a Women’s Equality Day article. You can read the article “Women’s Equality Day and ‘legitimate rape’ political climate” and see where I was quoted here. 

As I said in the last post, I painted a bleak picture of Christian women in churches today (that part was left out of the article). I was wondering if perhaps I was having tunnel vision and had immersed myself too deeply in the “we need equality” movement.  This weekend convinced me that all of us have it right – that women still need to fight for equality in churches.

This weekend I was in North Texas in a hotel across the street from a huge Baptist church and I wondered what they were teaching.  Was it submission, or was it equality?

Checking their website I found the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 with just two clicks. This tells you who they are. This tells you what they think of the women in their church. This is what women are willing to accept.  It is a slap in the face.

They start with: “As a conservative Southern Baptist church, our core beliefs are based on the Baptist Faith and Message approved by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. The following are some of our most important foundational beliefs.”

Inside the BF&M 2000 are these two foundational parts of the BF&M 2000:

While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Before the weekend was over, at church I heard about a woman who had attended a church in our area and left because the pastor constantly preached on women submitting to their husbands. She went to another church, and they do the same.

At our CBE Houston Conference a young husband and wife told me that their pastor preached on this often and they knew he was wrong.

Hearts are being stirred. But what is going to happen to those people.  The young woman who left one church for another is still in the other church.  The problem in our area is that there are few options.  Few churches offer women equality.

It is hard to change a mindset of the churches.  There is no benefit to the churches. The pastor might lose his job. And why change when women are willing to sit there and listen to this diatribe against them?

Will you join me in speaking out? Speak out for those women who won’t, or who can’t speak out for themselves!  Speak out! Speak out for equality.

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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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18 Responses to We’re not there yet

  1. TL says:

    You are correct. We are not there yet. And likely it is still a long ways off before women will be invited rather than having to ask if they can serve.

    What the dominionists miss in comparing the “leadership” of men over their wives to the “leadership” of Christ to the church is that Christ led by example, and that example was to show us how we are to live and behave. Christ died to lift us up, not to keep us under. Christ gave us gifts in which we are to do the very works that He did. We are to be like Him EVEN THOUGH because Christ is God clothed in human flesh we can never be the same as Christ.

    But husbands and wives are both equally human. That element of inherent superiority of God is not there. We can never be identical. But we are both equally able to do the works of the Spirit because it is the equipping of the Holy Spirit who enables us, not our humanity.

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  2. Michelle says:

    Great quote! My take on your quotes that were not included in the article is that: 1) religion was far from the main point of the article (funny when politics is a “safe” or at least safer topic, huh?) and 2) the Russian Orthodox church is hardly egalitarian. I don’t know how many of the Russian people are members of that church, or are members of any other church, but thought it was worth mentioning here.

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    • They gave me a list of questions for me to answer. Sarah took only 2 sentences out of that to quote. I am thinking of posting the whole list with my answers for Wednesday. I was heavy into religion! – mixed with secular of course. I don’t know how she found me unless she googled women’s equality or something like that. (or maybe our Lord guided her)

      > Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2012 18:06:22 +0000 > To: bwebaptist.women@live.com >

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      • Michelle says:

        Ah. Thank you. Sorry for my presumptions! Perhaps an editor is responsible for the cuts. Maybe for lack of space, content, who knows, actually….?

        Heh. Perhaps the Lord guided her to google for the right words is how I see it 😉 .

        I do not know the stance of the Russian Orthodox Church on marriage, though, in terms of whether the wife is expected to submit unilaterally to the husband or not. I know only that the church hierarchy is male.

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  3. Bob Edwards says:

    Indeed, we are not there yet. Lately, I’ve been interacting largely with brothers and sisters who see the Bible through patriarchal lenses, and I continue to be astonished by what I hear. “Women must submit to ‘New Testament Law,’ which says they must submit to men.” “God made Eve to be Adam’s subordinate.” “Women are to be submissive to husbands even if the men give them the occasional ‘smack’.” “God is a man, all the prophets were men, all the angels were men, therefore women must be in submission to men.” These comments are a just a small sample of what I hear, publicly. I won’t go into the details of abuse I see in my couselling office in the name of allegedly biblical submission. There remains an incredible amount of ignorance in the church with regard to God’s view of women: created in God’s image, equally given stewardship of creation, redeemed from the curse in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit and gifted to reach the world with the love of Jesus. Please continue to confront the damaging distortion of God’s word that would have Christian women silenced and oppressed. Thank you, and may God grant you power and perseverance to continue to share the good news of freedom in Christ.

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  4. gemmie says:

    Shirley some news from your friends down under: http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/to-love-and-to-submit-a-marriage-made-in-2012-20120824-24ru7.html
    I think I have mentioned in a comment before that I found your blog after I went to one too many weddings where the sermon was about wifely submission, and something inside me just snapped.
    I’m so so happy the media have picked up on this. It’s been on a few different news sites this week. I’d like to also mention that Muriel Porter is an absolute champ! Wish I could meet her.
    Thanks for your work Shirley. It is so encouraging.

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    • Oh, my gosh! Don’t let Piper see this! That will be Baptists way next! For those who don’t know what I am referring to, please follow the link http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/to-love-and-to-submit-a-marriage-made-in-2012-20120824-24ru7.html

      I heard this same kind of thing at a huge Methodist church in March. The minister said “Jim, you have the greater responsibility in the marriage. If she wants to go shopping, then you must go shopping with her.”

      > Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2012 13:31:27 +0000 > To: bwebaptist.women@live.com >

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    • Michelle says:

      Thanks for that link. I wish I could understand why so many younger people are attracted to this theology of gender. Do you think they were all raised in it?

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      • Bob Edwards says:

        I just listened to a speaker, who happened to be a woman, telling other women that it is in their spiritual DNA to be more prone to error than men. Because of this, she said, women need a godly husband to submit to. She has an incredible following, and is very charismatic (not spiritually, but personality-wise). I also just listened to two extremely well-known male speakers (pastors) telling their congregations that God made women to serve men. They are designed to be subordinate, and any attempt to usurp man’s God-given authority is evidence of the curse found in Genesis chapter 3.

        All of these speakers are doing one thing: passing on a prejudice against women that can be found in ancient sources ranging from the Talmud to Greek Philosophy. The central theme is that women are weak and morally inferior, therefore men must rule over them to protect them, and to protect society (and the church) from them. Plato said this, the oral law in Jewish tradition said this. St. Augustine said this, St. Jerome said this, and the church in the middle ages made it “canon law.”

        I see this as a pervasive prejudice that has become ingrained in cultural norms, religious traditions and systematic theologies. I believe the answer to this prejudice literally is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He took upon himself the curse of the law (which includes men ruling over women) so that we could be free from it. Paul in Galatians declares that as a result of this there is therefore neither male nor female in Christ. It’s in the early church that we find evidence of women apostles, deacons and teachers, following the example of God’s chosen prophet and Judge in Israel, Deborah. I believe the church needs a wake-up call to stop preaching prejudice, the law and the curse, and return to preaching a gospel of redemption and freedom.

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  5. Mabel says:

    Bob, thank you for encouraging us. I copied and pasted your 1:07am comment to our CBE Houston facebook page. Every man like you that stands with us on our fight to overturn this prejudice and rid the Church of sexism gives us such joy and enormous encouragement. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Isn’t it great that man and woman stand side by side ? Jesus would have it this way, wouldn’t He?

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  6. Bob Edwards says:

    Thanks so much Mabel. I find it very humbling and moving to stand alongside my sisters and brothers in this spiritual war–because that’s what this really is. We wrestle not against flesh and blood.

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  7. mabel says:

    Hi Bob, I put a link to your book on our CBE Houston Facebook page. I did not find you on Facebook. I use the Amazon link for the glowing review. If you are on FB, I would like to add you to our CBE Houston Chapter page if you don’t mind. Our chapter is brand new ( we put on a major conference before we started to meet formally as a Chapter, and we have only met twice.) I sense a great longing on the part of egalitarians to find people of the same mind to hang out and support ea. other. We feel so lonely and often given the silent treatment if not outright unfriendliness and rejection. So we are happy when we meet.

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  8. Bob Edwards says:

    Hi and thanks to both of you for the welcome and encouragement. Thanks also for helping to get the word out about the book. I really felt called to discuss this issue from a sociological and psychological vantage point, since those are my main areas of training and education. I focus on the manner in which cultural norms, like patriarchy, can help shape the lenses (perceptual sets) through which we make sense of our world, ourselves, God and the Bible. It seems obvious to me that many traditional scholars view the Bible through the lenses of a strong gender-bias (e.g. perceiving the word “helper” when it is used of Eve as a term indicating subordination, even though the same term is used more often of God).

    The early church did a fantastic job of combating the prejudice against women that could be found in Roman culture, Greek philosophy and Jewish oral law. It seems that these gains were lost, however, during the 3rd and 4th centuries when Christianity became a Roman institution. Shifts in thinking and even Bible translation culminated in the writings of St. Augustine and St. Jerome. Their work then set the tone for the religious traditions that defined the role of women in the church for centuries. We have yet to fully recover from this dark age.

    I’ll also look into setting up a facebook account. I’ll let you know how that goes :).

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  9. Bob Edwards says:

    Thank you for accepting me on facebook into the CBE Houston group. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch.

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