On February 6, 2015, I spoke at El Buen Pastor Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, at the invitation of the pastor’s wife. This is a church that I knew from my days at Baptist General Convention of Texas in the Church Starting Center, when it had its beginning. The church now has a Sunday morning attendance of around 300. Both men and women were in attendance.
Following is my speech to this group.
Thank you all so much for inviting me to speak with you. I am happy to be here. You have chosen the right thing to come out tonight.
My name is Shirley Taylor and I call myself the street evangelist for women’s equality.
Last week I went to an office to do business. I had been there before. I had talked about women’s equality with Pam, the manager. So last week I was back and we talked about women’s equality. I gave her my card which says “Shirley Taylor, street evangelist for women’s equality.” She said, “You need to meet my cousin. She has a Street Evangelist ministry in Houston where she feeds the homeless.”
I leaned over to her and put my hands on her hands and looked into her face. I said, “My ministry is not to the homeless, it is to people like you. In offices, at the grocery story, the library, while buying a blouse at J C Penneys.” I told her that God has called people to minister to the homeless, but that I am not one of those people.
Many years ago my son went off to a Baptist College. He called home one day and said that he wanted to be a minister to the elderly. He asked me to call the pastor of our little church to see how he could become a minister. I called our pastor and he said that he would take it to the deacons and get him licensed. With that one phone call, my son was licensed to preach.
What if it had been a daughter who wanted to be a minister?
What if it is your daughter who is called to be a minister?
(Mary of Bethany)
In Luke chapter 10 we read the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Jesus and his disciples arrived and Martha was busy in the kitchen. She looked around for Mary. She should be setting the table, and putting the ice in the glasses, but she was nowhere in sight.
Martha knew that Mary was in the living room listening to Jesus. Martha bunched up her apron in her hands and stormed in to tell Jesus to send Mary back to the kitchen to help her. What was Jesus going to do? Was he going to send Mary to the kitchen?
Both Mary and Martha knew that Jewish women did not study the Scriptures. In fact, the common knowledge of their day said, “Let the words of the Law be burned rather than committed to women.” And even something more outrageous than that: “If a man teaches his daughter the Law, it is as though he taught her about sex.”
Listen to what Jesus said back to Martha. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, slow down. Mary has chosen what is better.” All the men sitting there heard that. And Jesus says those same words to you and me today. With those words, Jesus not only allowed Mary to learn the Scripture, he was welcoming her into the presence and equality with those men.
You are mothers, and daughters, and many of you have been told what you cannot do. I am here to tell you what you can do. I am here to tell you that you are equal – no buts. You are equal before the Lord, and you are equal in your own home.
There are those who want you to believe that you cannot have any authority over a man. They tell you that you can’t teach men or preach. They tell you that you must obey your husband. They tell you he was designed by God to be your leader.
For some reason, women have listened to those things. Even though Jesus never said such a thing. Jesus never told any woman that. I choose to listen to Jesus. The last thing these women needed was another law on marriage and housekeeping. They had enough things they couldn’t do without Jesus putting one more burden on them.
There is a church in Conroe that posts on its website the roles of husbands and the roles of wives. He is to love her, listen to her and to inspire her. Pure romantic poetry!
You know what she is supposed to do? KEEP HOUSE! That is what she is supposed to do. I wonder if he is inspiring her while the vacuum cleaner is running? Or while she has her head bent down cleaning up the floor around the toilet.
When Don and I got married 53 years ago, we never heard such nonsense as men’s roles and women’s roles. My father helped my mother cook. Canned jams and jellies and tomatoes for the winter. He helped her wash clothes in the big black washpot. My mother helped him in the fields, picked cotton, and raised 8 kids.
They both worked hard. I thought all families were like that. I soon discovered that my husband did not know how to cook! During the past 53 years I have learned that is much more than household chores that make a marriage.
A woman wrote to me. We wrote back and forth a few times, each time she quoted more scriptures at me. Finally, she said, “One last reply and I do not care to hear from you again.” (I love hearing from women who get mad at me!)
She said, “I am a woman – a very equal woman within my church and my home. My husband is the head of my home and I have no trouble submitting to his authority as he submits to Christ. I am loved! I am honored! I am respected!”
I wrote back to her and said, “Honey, as long as you stay in your pen, you will be respected. Get out, and the dogs start barking!”
I want you to get out of your pens! I want to hear the dogs barking! I want you to be free in Christ, in your church, and in your home.
Let me tell you another story about Jesus.
Jesus, for reasons unknown, decides to take off one day and go visit a Gentile village. Gentiles were called impure and unclean. 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 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. Only young boys in that church were allowed to pass out registration books. So her mother told her 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. 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!
(The Woman at the well)
Let’s add another woman. The Woman at the well. Jesus gave her the same kind of news that he gave the Gentile woman. She was a Samaritan. Samaritans were poor Jewish cousins so to speak. Samaritans thought theirs was the true Jewish religion. They were expecting the Messiah, too. Jesus told this woman that he was the Messiah.
Jesus did not tell men this. He could have waited until he found a group of men to this extraordinary news to. This is big stuff! Particularly in a day where a woman could not even testify in court. This is incredibly important because these women’s words are now testimonies to the whole world.
You know what happens when you tell women anything! She tells everybody. Jesus knew women were like that. Sure enough, she throws down her water jar, and takes off running down the street. She spreads the news that she had met the Messiah. She tells men. Decent women in town wouldn’t have followed this woman. It was men she told, and it was men who believed her story, and it was men who went back to see this Messiah.
When the disciples got back to the well with food, Jesus wouldn’t eat. He said that he was not hungry. Jesus said that his body and soul were ‘filled’ because he was doing his Father’s business. There is no other story of Jesus being so touched and moved by anything else.
She, too, had chosen the ‘right thing.’
(Mary at the Tomb)
Finally, we come to the woman who is mentioned each year at Easter, and then put away until the next year. We hear her voice “He is risen!” and we repeat back “He is risen, indeed!”
One time my pastor preached on the plan of salvation and he made this remarkable statement: “There was only one plan, and after Jesus was crucified, it was up to the disciples to tell everybody about his resurrection.”
Well, not exactly, preacher. Jesus had another plan up his sleeve. “Tell a woman!”
You know, if I were a man, I would be ticked off. Women got all the good news!
- Women could be taught the scripture
- Jesus was the Messiah for Gentiles
- Jesus was the Messiah the Samaritans were expecting
- Jesus had risen from the dead.
They got the Big story. But men had a way of getting even. Shhhhhhh! They put a clamp on women’s mouths.
(The Advocate – The Holy Spirit)
Mary at the tomb completes the picture of Jesus and women. But the story doesn’t end there. This is where you come in. This is how I can assure you that Women are equal – No Buts.
Jesus promised an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit.
Women, Jesus did not promise you a husband to lead you! He promised the Holy Spirit to lead you and advise you. Listen to what Jesus said.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.
Ladies, that Advocate is not your husband. It is the Holy Spirit. Jesus didn’t mention husbands, and why would he? Nowhere does Jesus tell women that they are to be ruled or lead by their husbands. In fact, these 4 women had no husbands leading them.
“Jesus is our standard, and since Jesus did not commit women to husbands, or to males, and because Jesus did not deny women anything based on their being women, then we cannot in good stewardship of the gospel, do so either.”
Women are Equal – No Buts: We have been powered by the same Source.