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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They didn’t need another law on marriage

Did Paul teach on marriage? I was reading a paper about Paul written by a pastor, and I could see that the author was putting his own thoughts into his discussion about Paul. I guess we all do that. In fact, I suspect that we have put many words into Paul’s mouth that he did not mean. For instance, the pastor explains Paul’s teaching on marriage. He uses Romans 7:1-3 as an example and says this teaches that marriage is a commitment for life.

“Do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.”

Sounds like Paul is teaching on marriage, doesn’t it? But he is not, and to use it that way is a distortion of what Paul means. He is telling them they can find a new law in Jesus Christ, and so he uses the illustration of a marriage to make it clear.

These were people who knew the law, as Paul tells us in his opening words. They also knew about marriage. Paul is simply using the marriage laws that they all understood, to explain how they can find a new love (Christ, their Savior).

Paul is trying to help people understand that they can accept Jesus, who Paul tells them has come to replace the law, which Paul says is now dead. This was hard for them. He made the case, using their marriage laws, to show how they could live with the law, until that law is dead, and then you can choose another law, which Paul says is Jesus Christ.

Paul says this:

• in marriage a woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive

• if the husband dies she is no longer bound to him

• if she chooses a new husband before the old husband dies, she is in sin

• if she chooses a new husband after the old husband dies, she is not sinning

To mean this:

•you obeyed the old law until it died (was completed) with the coming of Jesus Christ

• if you had found a new law that replaced the old law, before Christ, you would be in sin

• since the old law is now dead, you can find (marry) a new law which is Christ (verse 4).

In Romans, Paul clarifies how they can serve Christ, and it is not about marriages at all.

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A New Year, an Old Problem

“Wives, you must submit to your husbands.”

I wonder if Susie (name changed) heard those words as she sat in her Baptist church. By his own admission, her husband had slapped her a few times, no more than four or five. At least that is how many times he admitted to in the deposition just before his trial. “I love my wife,” he said, and “slapped her only seldom” during their 15 year marriage.

He even went to church with her on occasion. Before he killed her, that is. Even before their house burned down, giving him a big insurance payment with which he bought a tractor and some land with a pond.

It took six years before justice finally came for Susie. For years her death was classified as undetermined.

It was a Saturday and Susie had been washing windows on her day off. In the afternoon, her mother called her and they went shopping together. She got home about 6:30 p.m. Susie’s husband arrived shortly afterwards and he ordered pizza delivered. Suddenly he told her he had to leave to check on something. According to him, when he returned he found Susie floating in a pond in their pasture. “Startled by a snake and fell in, choking on the pizza” was his explanation. Problem is, bodies do not float to the surface in 30 minutes. He would have had to search the bottom of the pond to find her, and would not have found her floating on the surface in that short time. He is now in prison.

“Husbands, you must allow your wife to submit to you, because by doing so, she is submitting to Christ.” I actually heard a Baptist pastor say that in his sermon.

A woman with a job like Susie’s leaves quite a sum of insurance upon her death. Her husband tried to claim the insurance, but the family knew someone who worked for a lawyer, and they brought in a patent attorney. Great story how a young patent attorney won the civil suit. Afterwards, there was a reclassification, and it was decided that Susie was murdered, and her husband was the prime suspect.

On their website, her church provides a link to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which reads: “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.”

What if there is no servant leadership of her husband? What if he is planning to kill her and hopes to receive a big payout in insurance money? How do you know when the God-given responsibility to respect the husband is null and void? Just before you are murdered?

Her church named their food pantry after Susie. That made her parents happy. Her father was a deacon in a nearby Baptist church. I went to school with her mother who was my best friend.

A greater tribute to Susie would have been to amend the BF&M 2000 to say: “Husbands and wives have a God-given responsibility to respect, nurture, and care for each other.”

“You wouldn’t give yourself a black eye, so don’t give her one,” (Ephesians 5:28a Shirley’s translation).

Pastors, there is a consequence to what you are teaching from the pulpit. Your wives must submit attitude that is taught in churches, affects every woman, even if the man they must submit to never attends church.

Pastors, you are teaching that every woman has to graciously submit to her husband. Who determines if the husband is providing servant leadership? Who came up with the sentence “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband?” Don’t you know that excludes a whole bunch of husbands? Don’t you know that those words are not in the Bible?

Join us to help more Susies before they lose their lives to husbands they are told to be submissive to.

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The Christmas Gift

Thirty years is a long time to wait to see what your Christmas Gift will actually do.  It came with no instructions but with lots of promise.  Kings journeyed far in order to see for themselves this Gift, and to bring gifts of their own in honor of this birth.

The people wanted a mortal savior, but their hero arrived as a baby and in danger of his own life. What could he do to help them against their enemy?  They expected their savior to be a man among men and they would rally behind him. They wanted another David with a bag of stones.

Jesus did not have a bag of stones.

Suppose one of you has a friend who comes at night when the house has been closed and the doors have been locked, and everybody is sound asleep.  He knocks on the door.  He tells you that someone has just arrived at his house from a long journey and he needs some bread to feed them. Will you tell him that it is late at night and that the kids are in bed sound asleep, and to quit knocking at your door because he will wake up the whole household?

No, he gets up to stop the racket of the knocking, not because it is his friend at the door, but because he wants the knocking to stop.

The Christmas Gift says “I am not that way. Just ask and it will be given, seek, and you will find it, knock and it will be opened. What man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?”

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them; for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (paraphrased Luke 11:5-10 & Matt 7:5-12)

Father, we women and others who are oppressed, have travelled far and we are knocking at your door. We have been at the church house, but the doors are closed, and the people are inside sound asleep. We are your children and we are asking for a loaf.  We have had the stones. We’ve been turned away by men for centuries, and now we are standing at Your door. Hungry for the bread and for a place at Your table.

Hear our knock, our Father.

Will you join in prayer to the Christmas Gift for the whole loaf?

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 4

Years ago I was watching television and wrapping Christmas gifts. There was a television show about the ‘true meaning of Christmas.’ I knew they were wrong, but truthfully, I did not know the true meaning of Christmas.

I learned what the true meaning of Christmas was a few years ago on a bus.  The Missions Division that I worked for while with the Baptist General Convention of Texas took us on a trip to a mosque in Richardson, Texas, near Dallas.  The imam met us. He showed us where to put our shoes, and showed us the wash room where Muslim men washed their hands, elbows, feet, face and nostrils before going into the main worship room.

We women had the option of wearing a headscarf and I did like the rest. We sat on the floor while the imam told us about their worship.  He pointed to the upper room where he said the women ‘chose’ to worship.  He said they could worship with the men, but they chose to climb the stairs and privately worship there.

The room we were in was a long rectangular room and the imam pointed out to us that it was long so that more men could be on the front row. He said they all wanted to be on the front row, and he showed us how they would nudge the other men out of the way with their elbow, and make their way to the front.

On the wall was the 99 attributes of God. My supervisor, who was a Christian Arab, said that none of the attributes said that God is love.

After it was over, we thanked the imam and put our shoes back on and took off our scarves, and climbed on the bus to go back to our offices. One supervisor who was also a preacher (as they all were) threw his hand up high and said:

“Thank God for Jesus!”

That is when I learned the true meaning of Christmas.

The Jewish people looked for a Messiah like King David.  A powerful leader who would take down their enemies, make Jerusalem Jewish again, and who would die a mortal death, as all humans do.  The scriptures promised them a savior and they anticipated his arrival.

What they got was not what they expected.  Instead of a physical warrior who would defeat the Romans, they got a spiritual warrior who, instead of turning his eyes upon their enemies, turned his eyes upon their relationship to God.  Particularly the laws they had expanded to make life miserable, and then the artful and deceitful ways they had of getting around those laws. Read Matthew 23 to see what Jesus had to say about their spiritual condition.

Jesus came to free us from the rigmarole that man had bound God with. All those laws didn’t mean anything (Matthew 24, Amos 5:21-24) because men had found ways to get around them. Jesus told them to love God with all their heart, and to love their fellow man. When love is the motivator, our worship of God, and helping our fellowman, will take on a different meaning. We will feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, treat others as we want to be treated, and give the Good News to everyone. 

Instead of being like Jesus, we still desire to make laws for Christians, especially laws about what women can and cannot do, and I wonder if Jesus would have turned his eyes upon us.

The true meaning of Christmas is the freedom that Jesus gave us.  No more rigamarole such as the way to wash your hands before eating, and not working on the Sabbath – things that had absolutely no spiritual significance to them.  In doing away with these things, Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my load is light.” Matthew 11:30.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Thank God for Jesus!

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 3

What cherished religious beliefs will fall out of your pocket? We have read the words of the Magnificat but we have missed the meaning.

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.

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 2

At this time of year, we think of babies, particularly the baby Jesus. 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.

Christmas Hope

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.

With Christianity on the decline, and false teachings flourishing, we must return to the cradle and look again into the face of the newborn babe.

Sometimes you just have to start all over. We see that in the birth of Jesus. A new start. God was still there, He still loved His people, but they had taken a path that was far from the core message. Read Matthew 23 and see the condemnation Jesus gave the religious leaders.

What would Jesus say to us today? We have messed up his message! We have taken the love that God has for all his people and have distorted that love into a message of rules and laws – just as they had. We have forgotten the greatest commandments.

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 22:37-39)

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now, I want you to imagine this. A black Christian family moves next door to you and you invite them to church. They arrive after you get there. You greet them and tell them how glad you are to see them, take their money in the offering plate, and introduce them around. Then you hand them a list of restrictions and things they cannot volunteer for because certain volunteer jobs are held for White and Asian and Hispanic people only – everybody but blacks.

How do you think the black family feels? We all know that is wrong. Christians used to do that in churches (actually they would not even let the black family inside the door). But we cannot do that anymore. We have changed in our thinking and our understanding of human rights.

So, while we cannot do that – and it was government laws that required the change, not Christians – we can still bar women from doing any volunteer or professional job in the church. Just because we want to – claiming a biblical reason for doing so. Just as we used a biblical reason for barring blacks.

The cradle is empty – time to unswaddle the babe

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…” (Luke 2:10-11)

It is time that we remember that the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” This baby was going to upset everything and turn the world upside down. And he did. But we continually swaddle the babe because we have ignored his greatest commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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?

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Birth of the Activist Jesus – Part 1

Love is plastered all over many church’s websites. But for most, it is like looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus came into the world that was having a problem with love, and we still have not fully understood what love means.

In particular, Christian women are still held to a rigid law of submission to all males. December 6, 2015, a Southern Baptist pastor preached a particularly offensive sermon in which he blamed all of society’s ills on women whose only desire is to live out the equality we were given by God our Creator. He called it ‘feminist rebellion.’ In this sermon he quoted the party line, the same old diatribe that women are far too familiar with. This same kind of sermon is heard every Sunday in many Baptist churches, and also on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

Where was love in this belittling and hateful sermon? This pastor did not quote Jesus because Jesus did not speak of – nor did Jesus indicate – male supremacy such as this pastor preached. There was no love in this sermon. He has closed his mind to the pro-feminist actions of Christ. Feminists do not want to harm or deny men any position, but male headship leaders choose to hammer women.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 has led many pastors astray with this theology of male headship, and in doing so, they have forgotten the Jesus who was born into a world of rules and laws. They have forgotten that Jesus came to call humans to a better way of life – to love God and to love others. Not only in word, but in how we treat each other.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-34)

Bob Edwards, author of Let My People Go, reminds us that Jesus is concerned with human rights, which includes the human rights of women, and we must be, too.

“I don’t discuss prejudice against women in the church as “one of those theological issues we just have to agree to disagree on.” I would not have “agreed to disagree on slavery.” I do not agree to disagree on racism. I will not politely agree to disagree on the devaluation and subjugation of all women by men in the name of God. It’s an injustice that grieves the Holy Spirit and must be addressed as such. The Bible is full of excellent examples of men and women who love people AND tell them to repent of unjust practices. Jesus, for example, confronted the religious leaders of his day for confusing the will of God with the traditions of men. I think we should do likewise.” – Bob Edwards

Jesus came to free us from the rigmarole that man had bound God with. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, and to love our fellow-man. When love is the motivator, our worship of God, and helping our fellow-man, will take on a different meaning. We will feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, treat others as we want to be treated, and give the Good News to everyone.

However, instead of being like Jesus, we still desire to enforce laws for Christians, especially laws about what women can and cannot do, and I wonder if Jesus would have turned his eyes upon us.

The true meaning of Christmas is the freedom that Jesus gave us. Yet Christian leaders today want to withhold that freedom for women. They have forgotten that Christianity is about human rights. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”(John 15:12)

This Christmas, will you remember the birth of the greatest human rights activist? Will you open your heart to loving women as equals, and not as someone who was created to submit to all males?

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To Show Love – A Message to GC2

My copy of Texas Baptists Life landed in my mailbox today. It stirred and saddened my soul.

On pages 16 and 17 there is a big spread about something called GC2 – a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love. Underline those words “To show love.”

The Message from the BGCT Associate Executive Director, Dr Craig Christina, shares his thoughts.

“… it is not a new denomination. We’re not competing with the Southern Baptist Convention or any other national or state convention of churches. …Instead we feel compelled to follow the Lord’s leading and unit God’s people to build relationships with like-minded Christians as we explore and expand mission opportunities.”

And there you have it. The same-old, same-old. The DNA does not change.

It is a NEW DNA that you must be working from. That is what Jesus came to do. He came to change the Jewish leaders’ hearts and what they were teaching. They were wrong then, and we are wrong now.

Where is the love you tout? Look at your Statement of Faith of the GC2. It is not about love. It is laws and legalistic jargon just like those Jesus reprimanded the Jewish leaders about in Matthew 23.  Jesus called them snakes and vipers because they were deadly and killed the souls of those they were supposed to be ministering to.

You are doing the same thing. You are hammering on abortion, homosexuality, and gender reassignment. This is no new work. This is the same thing that has gotten Christianity in the place we are in today. Where little love is shown.

People are leaving the church by droves. They are not seeing the love. Why did you think Jesus came to earth? Well, let me tell you. It wasn’t to keep up their old laws. It was to bring a new law. A law of love God and love your fellow man – in action and deed – not in honeyed words.

Jesus turned his eyes upon them.

What will Jesus see when he turns his eyes upon this Statement of Faith by the GC2? Where will he see “the love that you are to give?”  He knows His own love, but it hard to find your love in this statement.

Your Statement of Faith has little to do with Faith. It is mean-spirited and un-Christlike. Look at #8, #9, #10. Then see why I suggest you delete those and add a new #10 to show your love.

STATEMENT OF FAITH

THE GC2 MOVEMENT AFFIRMS

  1. There is one God who is revealed in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit;
  2. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church;
  3. The virgin birth of Christ, the eternal Son of God, who died for our sins, was resurrected on the third day, and is coming back;
  4. The Bible is God’s Word and truth without mixture of error;
  5. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone;
  6. The priesthood of every believer and of all believers;
  7. The urgent need to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus;
  8. The sanctity of human life from conception to natural death;  You are going to have a little bit of trouble with this one. The new Texas Abortion Law says that women cannot abort a baby 6 weeks from conception. If she is caught or turned in she can be brought to justice for taking a human life. Look what was agreed upon at the SBC 2000 Convention “Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 13﷓14, 2000, support the fair and equitable use of capital punishment by civil magistrates as a legitimate form of punishment for those guilty of murder or treasonous acts that result in death;” You must ask yourself: “Do you condone killing her if she has an abortion?” Of course you do. Says so right there. Also read How Southern Baptists became Pro-Life.
  9. Gender is a gift from God who creates humankind male and female in the Divine image and likeness (Gen. 1:27); Gender is not as straight forward as you want everyone to believe. We know babies are born with indeterminate gender. I learned that when I was seven years old and it was whispered that a relative had given birth to a son and “there was something wrong with the genitals of the boy.”
  10. Biblical marriage as one man and one woman in a covenant relationship with the Lord and with one another; There is a little problem there, too. Oh sure, I know you are talking about same-sex marriages, but you are the one comparing them and making them fit your standard with heterosexual marriage standards. Look at what the bible lists as biblical marriages – multiple wives, husbands with concubines, adultery with your slave. You might need to eliminate the word biblical. This, too, does not show love. It shows blatant disregard for humans’ sexuality. Not everyone was fortunate enough to be born heterosexual. You have made them outcasts. Where is the love you proclaim on your flashy website?
  11. The ordinances of the church are the Lord’s Supper and believer’s baptism;
  12. The autonomy of the local church in governance and ordination.

#8, #9, #10 should be completely deleted as written.

Number 10 should have a new paragraph reflecting your intention “To show love.”

#10.       We will show our love to our neighbor as Jesus taught, placing no restrictions on that love because Jesus did not place any restrictions, and we will strive to follow the example of Jesus.

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40, NIV

Jesus gave us a new playbook that we call The New Testament. As Christians, we have misused it and abused it.

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It was time to get out of Afghanistan

It was time to get out of Afghanistan. They are a country ruled by religion. You cannot change their religion which is male dominated and female subjugated. I know you can’t change it. We can’t even change it in the United States. Baptist churches this Sunday morning will tell men they are in charge of their families and women are to submit graciously.

The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches and Catholic churches and non-denominational churches, and other denominational churches teach the same thing. A few have changed their minds, but the majority has not. Religion rules in Afghanistan. Thank God religion does not rule in the United States. At least, not yet. But if Christians have their way, it will. And it will be the women who suffer.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 states “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind…..A free church (has) the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.” (Baptist Faith and Message 2000. XV11 Religious Liberty).

Baptists, and perhaps most Christians, do not want the state to interfere with religious values. But they do not appear to have any problem with religious values interfering with civil values.

For instance,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for blacks,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for women,

it was the government, not Christian values, that dictated Civil Justice for homosexuals,

and,

it is religious values that demand that women be submissive to all males – husbands, leaders, and so on, under the guise of ‘the Bible says so.’ Or the Quran or other religious teachings says so.

It is always women who must wear the standard of their religion. Whether it is clothing such as scarves and hijabs, or severe clothing styles for Amish, Pentecostal, etc., it is women who look strange and out of date in our Western culture.

It is women who are denied leadership positions in their church and even in the community. Women are denied leadership in their own homes and before their children. Women cannot preach or teach men, while Christian men are denied nothing due to their gender.

Religious liberty is no liberty when it comes to women. Give me civil liberty any day.

What are you doing for true Religious Liberty for women?

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