We know our places

Before 1960, Southern whites and blacks knew their places. Stepping into a bus and choosing a seat depended upon what color your skin was. Bus drivers were known to stop and tell blacks to go further back into the bus.

Black women could take white children to their breasts, but could not sleep under the same roof as white people. Blacks could work as maids and change bed linens, but could not sleep in the beds they made up. They could work as bellhops, and they could cook in hotel kitchens, but they could not eat in the dining rooms. Black people boarding passenger trains in Illinois could sit anywhere on the train, but before they got to Mississippi, all the blacks had to get up, gather their families and their belongings, and go to a separate train car, leaving only whites in their section of the train.

These laws were made by white Southerners in the Bible Belt. Many of those politicians went to church on Sunday and found justification for their discrimination from the pulpit and in the Bible.

The Southern Baptist Convention was born because Baptist Southerners wanted to keep their slaves, and they used the Scriptures to justify slavery. After the war, the Southern Baptist Convention, and other fundamentalist Christian groups, had to admit they were wrong about slavery, but they did not submit graciously. In fact, after the Civil War—which the South lost—these men were determined to enforce black and white segregation and enacted the segregation (Jim Crow) laws that lasted until the 1960s.

“We now look back on it as a form of social insanity, but it felt normal at the time. It felt normal to whites and to most blacks. The African Americans who fought to overthrow this were a tiny minority and really revolutionary and didn’t get the support of the general black public until it was pretty clear they were going to win.” (Diane McWorther “Carry Me Home”).

This was the South, baby! We all knew our places then, just as women know their places today.

We are told women can do some things in church. For instance, in some churches women can stand behind the pulpit while singing in the choir, but in other churches they cannot. A choir director told me that she could direct the choir as long as her back was to the pulpit, but that she could not turn around facing the pulpit and the congregation. Now, where is that in the Bible?

Women can walk to the pulpit to make an announcement, but must surrender the pulpit to a man when it comes time to preach the gospel. Women are told they can accept communion only from a male deacon. Well, to be exact, they do let women pass the bread and juice to the next person sitting in their row, but they cannot pass the plate of bread and juice to people behind them.

We know our places. But some of us are tired of those places. Some of us are telling our leaders that they are wrong. Some of us are holding them accountable for their segregationist attitude.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 which gave black men and women equal rights under the law also is the Act that gave all women equal rights under the law. It came about because blacks were demanding their rights under the law. Women were the beneficiaries. Blacks made up around 14 percent of the population in 1964 (included are black women). This Civil Rights Act originally was intended for blacks only but would have given black women more rights than white women. Apparently someone realized that and included “sex” meaning gender in the Civil Rights Act, today giving 50.8 percent of the population the same rights men already had.

Will you join us? Will you tell your pastor that men and women are created equal and that you will tolerate no other teaching in the church you attend?

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Letter to Denny Burk

In August 2016 I wrote a letter to the new president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Rev. Denny Burk. The letter is relevant today, just as it was five years ago. The CBMW is still fiercely protecting their male headship. Maybe they need to put on the Armor of God, and their delicate male headship would be safe!

Oh, well. Here is the letter I wrote to Denny Burk.

Dear Denny,

I have just read “My vision for the future of the CBMW.” Your dedication and desire are so aptly described. I see a burning flame in your vision and I know you will do everything in your power to bring this to pass.

Denny, may I call you Saul? You remind me so much of the biblical Saul before the Damascus Road.

“But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”…

Saul produced resources, conferences, etc. in order to equip religious leaders and organizations to put a stop to these Jesus followers. Rabbis were told to focus on getting rid of these people.

But a new day had arrived.  Pleasing God had gone in a new direction.  Jesus told them to love those who persecuted them and to love each other. And none of Jesus’ 46 parables were about women submitting to their husbands and the dire consequences if they did not.

These followers of The Way were not trying to hurt anybody, but Saul was going for destruction.

Denny, after reading your vision for the future of the CBMW, I think you are still guarding the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen. It is not too late to stop this persecution of women.

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CBMW v Beth Allison Barr

Denny Burk, president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and his minions have virtually and literally burned Beth Allison Barr at the stake.

Beth Allison Barr wrote a book. The hottest book in Christian literature right now. It is The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth.

Beth is a Professor at Baylor University. According to their website:

Professor Beth Barrfocuses on women and gender identity in medieval and early modern English sermons, drawing evidence especially from comparative analyses of biblical women, narrative women, gendered language, and the gendered nature of biblical text included within sermons. She is interested in how the advent of Protestantism affected women in Christianity as well as how and why medieval attitudes towards women in sermons both changed and stayed the same across the Reformation era.”

Denny Burk, et al, took exception to an illustration in her book.

 In her book, Beth gave the story of a medieval woman who loved God so much that she abandoned her children to go serve God. From this, Denny Burk, et al, decried Beth as a woman who advocates that women abandon their children.

Let’s look at the CBMW website, and you will see that they are really very much interested in medieval history – particularly in witches.

You are not going to believe this until you see it in writing. It is on their website CBMW.org. I will be blunt. The Danvers Statement birthed by the CBMW, and the BF&M 2000 are modern day tools equivalent to those used by the religious men during the Inquisition in which women were accused of being witches, heretics, and were burned at the stake.

Women consorting with the devil was a strong belief in the Middle Ages, and is still a factor according to some pastors, and the statement by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. If a woman becomes too strong, usurping the authority of the husband, she is guilty of inviting the devil into the home. Baptists and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that when wives submit themselves to their husbands, this enables families to withstand the devil’s temptations and the onslaughts of the world.

Heavily influenced by, and comprised of Southern Baptist leaders, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood equates women to witches (listens to the devil) on their website (Missions and Vision #2).

“If families do not structure their homes properly, in disobedience to the teachings of Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, and Colossians 3, (submissive wives) then they will not have the proper foundation from which to withstand the temptations of the devil and the various onslaughts of the world. This hinders the sanctification of married couples and also introduces confusion about basic parenting issues such as raising masculine sons and feminine daughters.” (CBMW.org)

Shockingly, this is the same language found in the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hunter’s Bible). Wikipedia quotes Michael Bailey (Battling Demons, 2003, University Press):

“The text argues that women are more susceptible to demonic temptations through the manifold weaknesses of their gender. It was believed that they were weaker in faith and more carnal than men. Michael Bailey claims that most of the women accused as witches had strong personalities and were known to defy convention by overstepping the lines of proper female decorum.” (Such as ‘feminine daughters’ from CBMW referenced above.)

Wayne Grudem said this regarding women’s submissive role: “I still believe it will happen. Jesus Christ is building and purifying his church that he might present it to himself without spot or wrinkle. But on this issue Christ’s purification process is taking much longer than I expected.” Grudem is specifically calling for the purification of the church by eliminating women leaders. Burning at the stake is illegal, but destroying women is still the goal, just as it was during the Inquisition. Claiming that it is Jesus’ desire. I wondered how those priests who burned women could sleep at night. I wonder how we can sleep at night with the same desire.

Some thought they were right, some knew they were wrong, but all thought it was for the good of the Roman Catholic Church.

Baptists teach that women are consorting with the devil when they do not submit to their husbands. For over 300 years, thousands of women died when they were accused of being witches (consorting with the devil), and today, thousands of women suffer by that same accusation by Christian leaders, under the guise of complementarianism.

Denny Burk, et al, at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that women are to be submissive to males, to their husbands of course, but also to all men in leadership. That is the foundational belief of the CBMW. Denny Burk could never have obtained the position he has if he did not believe and promote male headship.

However, it will take women such as Beth Allison Bar to open the hearts of those who cling to the tenets of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Somehow they need to hear that their cherished beliefs may not honor Christ. The fact they call women witches is one reason to reexamine those beliefs.

Christianity should be viewed in light of God’s word and in light of how both men and woman can be a Great Commission people. Demeaning and attacking Beth Allison Barr is not beneficial to Christianity nor to the Gospel of Christ.

Denny Burk has a responsibility. He knows that. His heart knows that, but his actions and his heart are defined by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (www.cbmw.org). And that organization is in the sole business of demeaning God’s creation – women – and elevating males over every woman on earth. And burning at the stake? – yes, virtually and literally.

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One Wife for Seven Brothers

A story with seven brothers dying after marrying the same woman has to have some answer, so we will attempt to resurrect a situation to accommodate the Sadducees question: “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers…. At the resurrection whose wife will she be (Mark 12:19-23 NIV).”

Which husband is going to stand up and be accountable for her? Good question. Let’s ask those who think husbands are going to stand up and account for their wives.

To understand this story we must have seven husbands dying, with the widow being married off to her brothers-in-law after each death, according to the Levirate Law so she could give her dead husband heirs. It is unlikely that the remaining six brothers were unmarried, so now we have the widow marrying several men who were already married and had a passel of kids.

This is how an improbable illustration goes, with each husband accounting for his wife for the short time she was his wife. For the story’s sake, the husbands make their accounting as soon as they arrive in Heaven.

The first husband stands before God to account for his widow: “She was so pretty, a little flighty, not given to good sense. In fact it was she who made me fall into the water. You see, I told her I could step out of the boat and walk on water, and, being a woman, she told me that I couldn’t. I stepped out just to show her that I could. She made me do it. I would not have done such a thing if she hadn’t told me I couldn’t.”

The second brother husband: “Well, you know I had to marry her because my fool brother went and got himself drowned because of her. She didn’t have any kids yet, and she wanted a boy to carry on my brother’s name. She got real sassy and burned the biscuits, and I had to teach her a lesson or two. Things were going along pretty good until I stepped out in front of that donkey I bought her to help her do her chores.”

The third brother husband: “I knew it wasn’t going to work almost as soon as I married her. She and Josephine and Zaphora didn’t get along. She never tried to fit in. She was always causing some kind of ruckus in the household. One day I came in and Josephine and Zaphora were chasing her out of the kitchen with a knife. I came between them and the knife hit me instead of her. Just one wrong move, and I got here first.”

The fourth brother husband: “The law said I had to do it, so I took her and Josephine in since neither of them had children. Zaphora ran off with the butcher, so I didn’t have her to worry about. But this wife! She made me pick up my own clothes, which is women’s work. But I tried to pacify her. I gave her a little spending money, not as much as I gave Josephine, because I had a fondness for Josephine, and she was special to me. Mr. Nice Guy, that’s me. In fact, I was being nice to her that day when she was walking because Josephine was pregnant and needed to ride. I was trying to help her after she accidentally slipped and fell into the ditch and grabbed onto me, but she pulled me down with her, and I hit my head on that rock and woke up here.”

The fifth one: “The little witch! Now they expected me to marry her. Oh, she was still pretty. But she had a mind of her own. Wouldn’t do a thing I told her to do. I already had seven children, and I thought my wife could use a little help around the house, so, like the law said, I married her and took her in. I couldn’t help it if the wife and kids did not like her. She was in the shed for only a few days. I was trying to teach her a lesson, but she was stubborn, just about tore the dang shed down, and when I ran inside to get her, the roof fell in on my head.”

Number six: “Look, it came down to this. I married her. She would not do anything right. She even wanted me to do all the work. Told me that I had to stay home at least two nights a week or she would never get with child. I couldn’t give up my friends. But, boy that woman sure could cook. Started making the best pies and fried eggs you ever ate. I had to set her straight every now and then, but making up was pure joy. Date cakes and puddings and eggs like they were going out of style. Guess I overdid it a little on the sweets, and here I am.”

The seventh, and last, brother stands before God to account for his wife: “I can’t really tell you much about her. We married one day, and I left for Egypt the next. You know, what with the other brothers and their untimely deaths and all. Last I heard she had taken up with some group that was following an itinerant preacher who was filling her head with some nonsense about her being equal.”

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Denigrating Jesus

The denigration of Jesus is subtle. Those who do it are seemingly unaware that they are belittling Christ himself, when what they really seek to accomplish is the denigration of women.

“Rabbi, we have brought food. Eat something.”

“I am not hungry.”

It had been a long day of walking and now they were in Samaria, near Jacob’s Well. The disciples were hungry and had left Jesus by the well while they went into the shops to purchase food. But now he would not eat. They had hurried back with a bag of food so they could feed their teacher. They were surprised to find him still at the well talking to a Samaritan woman, but they knew enough by now not to comment on it. He had often engaged in conversation with women. By this time they were used to it, and even a Samaritan woman did not cause them consternation. What they did comment about was that Jesus was not hungry. (John 4:1-26)

“I’m not hungry.”

“Did someone bring you food? We were starving and you must be, too.”

“I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

The conversation Jesus had with this woman at the well had an effect on Jesus that all the preaching the disciples had done failed to accomplish.

Jesus had given the word to a woman and now look at her. There she goes! She is telling all, just as he had commissioned the male disciples to do. Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” This woman was harvesting!

A man wrote me and said that the Samaritan woman’s preaching was not effective, and to prove it, he quoted Acts 8:1-6: “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them and the people with one accord gave heed unto the things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” That man then asked me: Does this not indicate that the “ministry” of the ‘Woman at the Well’ was not effective? It also indicates that it was a male, an appointed Deacon, who preached to the Samarians and baptized many.”

His comments denigrate Jesus even though his intent was to denigrate the woman at the well by belittling the effectiveness of her preaching.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” A woman was sent out, and a woman harvested, and now men seek to take that away from her, and by taking it away from her, they seek to deny all women the right to harvest.

I wish I could say, “God forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But I do not believe that. They do know what they are doing. They claim to be Bible scholars, and to have the Word of Truth. Yet they deny the Person who is the Word of Truth because it doesn’t fit into their way of thinking. They are unwilling to let Jesus himself speak to them.

Will you call out the men who are false teachers, and men who seek to denigrate women, and who use any means to do so?

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Male headship theology

It is important to understand this theology. It is pervasive. While Baptists do not directly say that young women should remain at home under the rule of their fathers, they promote the belief that mothers and children are to be ruled by the husband.

Russell Moore, when he was president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said egalitarian couples “preach a false gospel” by viewing men and women as equal partners in marriage. Moore said, “And sometimes you have people who are preaching a false gospel to themselves in their homes by men who aren’t loving their wives as themselves and wives who aren’t submitting to their husbands…That then plays itself out in other ways later on in that person’s walk with Christ.” The original link is no longer active, but take my word for it or google and you can find it posted on other websites.

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a recognized spokesman for all things Southern Baptist, wrote an article called “Women and Children First” which tells women that they are the losers when they seek equality. He tells women that they should go back to the time when men would give their lives for their wives, such as when the Titanic sank. Sounds good, but it will not float. It is patriarchy at its worst, and I repeat, this teaching is not found in the Bible. (Women and Children First? A Tale of Two Ships. March 8, 2010)

The Bible gives no examples of men giving up their lives for their wives or families. This is not to say they would not or did not, but there is no example in the Bible of men doing it. The patriarch Abraham gave up his wife to the Pharaoh’s bed to save his own skin. Esther, a woman, came close to giving up her life to save men’s lives when she defied another Pharaoh. Moses’ life was saved by three women: his mother, his sister, and Pharaoh’s daughter.

What Mohler doesn’t understand is that women have always been willing to give their own lives to birth children in order to have children or so that their husbands have an heir in societies where that is their main purpose. Men have never been put to that test, and to suggest that men are more noble than women is foolish.

How are you going to convince men to give up their lives for their wives? Why should they? Jesus gave his life for us, and that is sufficient sacrifice for women.

Reposted from 2013.

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Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr

I am working this holiday, but my heart celebrates with those who honor Martin Luther King today.

In 1961, I went to work for the Houston Lighting & Power Company. It was my first job, and immediately I encountered female discrimination. It surprised me because I had never even thought that the restrictions placed on women were discriminatory. They were, but I did not know it, similar to the way I was not fully aware of how blacks were discriminated against. To me, it was normal; it was just the way it was.

Of course I had heard of the marches and civil unrest that was taking place in the South, but it did not affect me. I remember the first time I saw a black person eating at a large department store food counter in downtown Houston. I also remember riding a Greyhound bus as a kid, and the blacks had to sit in the back. I remember “coloreds” water fountains. I remember picking cotton and the blacks picked in one field, while we whites picked in the other.

It was in the 1970s that I learned that women, white or black, could not get credit in their names. I still use the credit card that I was able to get in my own name, instead of my husband’s name. Women had a hard time getting jobs in the professional fields. For blacks and for women, it did not miraculously change overnight. It still is a hard fought battle.

So I honor Martin Luther King this day. He had a great effect on my life as a white female. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave blacks, and white women, the same rights that white men already had.

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10 questions Christians should answer

  1. Why are Christians afraid of equality between men and women?
  2. What damage is it doing to young girls and women in the church today who feel the calling of God on their lives?
  3. What will it do to young men if they believe they will have authority over women when they grow up?
  4. Where did the evil phrase feminization of the church come from that causes unjustified fear that men will quit going to church if women become pastors?
  5. How do Christians justify allowing women to have authority over children and youth, who are more susceptible to false teaching, when women cannot have authority over men who are supposedly wiser and less likely to be wrongly influenced?
  6. Are Christians afraid of losing particular denominational beliefs—what will it do to denominational identities if churches do change, and does it matter in the long run?
  7. How are those Christian churches viewed that have taken the step of having women as pastors?
  8. How does it make women feel when they are told from the pulpit that they are to submit to their husbands in all things? How does it make men feel?
  9. What will be accomplished by continuing this rejection of women as pastors and deacons?
  10. How will Christians answer God when He asks the church why they did not use the people He called?

What are you afraid of?

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Missing: the spiritual leader

A Baptist deacon wrote “The man of the house is the spiritual leader and is responsible for seeing his family loves the Lord and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

I tried to find the scriptures that tell women that their husbands are their spiritual leaders, but there aren’t any.

Look around in church on Sunday morning. You’ll see that the “spiritual leaders” are still home in bed, while the wife and the kids got up and went to church. Guess he will tell her about Jesus when she gets home.

Making the husband a spiritual leader responsible for his wife’s and family’s salvation denigrates the gospel – the good news of Christ. Jesus did not say that men were heads of their wives, and he did not indicate that men would be elevated to headship after his resurrection.

Jesus did not bind women before his resurrection to their husbands, and there is no reason to believe that Jesus would bind women to their husbands after his resurrection. Jesus said an Advocate would come and we know that Advocate to be the Holy Spirit, not Husband.

In fact, male headship is contrary to everything Jesus said. The apostle Paul recognized this in his letter to the Galatians (3:26-28) where he wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.”

Therefore, we are presented with three scriptural challenges to the doctrine of men being the heads of women:

1) It is contrary to Jesus’ teaching and actions;

2) it makes men the vicars of Christ on earth if men are the head of women (the Advocate);

3) it removes Christ from headship over women; otherwise you have to believe that it takes two—one divine God and one earthly god—to be the head of one woman.

Oh, don’t forget, for him to be the spiritual leader, we have to get him up out of bed.

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Qualifications of a deacon

You will find that I speak more often about Baptist churches because it is what I know. My background is 53 years of active service as an adult in my Baptist churches. In the little Baptist church where I grew up, my father was the pianist, and a deacon, and a licensed Baptist minister. I worked for Baptist General Convention of Texas for almost 15 years and my blogs, Twitter and website reflect my Baptist background. My blog and my books are written because of this Baptist heritage. So it is with both confidence and anguish that I write.

Each denomination determines what its pastoral and lay leaders are called, whether they are called pastors, teaching ministers, or elders and deacons.

Almost all Baptists structure their churches with the Pastor being the head of the church (even though they might choose different words to frame it), with deacons being the governing/ministry body of the church. Some few have elders. Deacons are almost always men, because 1 Timothy 3:12 says they must be the husband of one wife, and everybody knows that wives cannot be husbands. This is the same qualification used for choosing a pastor. The big difference is that a pastor is paid and actually determines the direction of the church; while deacons are unpaid volunteers and generally follow the pastor’s lead (if they like him).

Deacons are men who are chosen by the church body, and are ordained into the ministry of deacon for life. The Bible does not say that deacons have to be ordained. Women are denied ordination to any service in a Baptist church, including that of being a deacon. Ordination is how the church has chosen to set aside the office of deacon. If the deacon leaves the church that ordained him, he qualifies to be a deacon in his new church. He may or may not choose to do so, however, and it is not guaranteed that the new church will have a place for him.

Deacons were instituted in the Early Church so they could serve those who were in need, as we read in Acts 5:2, “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’”

So, in Baptist churches, deacons serve the Lord’s Supper, even though that is not the table that was being referred to in Acts 5:2.  The table in Acts 5:2 means distributing food to the widows.

The strange thing about the qualifications for a deacon as given in 1 Timothy 3, is that nothing is said about a deacon’s duties to the church or its members. However, the word deacon means servant, so they are to serve. That is noble, honorable, and spiritual. It is also something that women can do.

Deacons do not preach, they often do not teach a Sunday school class, and mainly they attend meetings. They are often charged with the financial side of ministry (building programs, maintenance, etc.). Deacons do not administer the Food Pantry in churches, and helping the hungry is seldom their responsibility.

In my 53 years of being a Baptist, I have never had a deacon call me or express any interest in my family’s well-being, perhaps because I was in church every Sunday. At a church my husband and I attended for 12 years, a deacon was assigned to each church member. One year they began promoting a deacon/flock dinner and the deacons were to send invitations to their flock, inviting them to the dinner. Don and I were not invited. This was before my church had any inkling that I was about to become radical and promote women’s equality. Finally, the day before the dinner, I called to find out who our deacon was and invited myself and Don to the dinner.

The reason the above information is important to know is that this church, like most Baptist churches, adheres strictly to the men-only qualification for deacons. It does not seem to matter what a deacon does, as long as he is male. A deacon can be as good or as indifferent as he chooses to be. Being a deacon is a position of servanthood that women are denied, simply because they are not men. It gives the church a false sense of following the Bible’s teaching.

Being a deacon is a ministry of service. It was instituted in the Early Church as a way of helping people. Why are women making such a big deal about not being allowed to serve as a deacon? Let me turn that question around and ask this of you. Why is the church making such a big deal of being a deacon that women are denied this opportunity of service?

Give that some thought.

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