Being Disciples of the Word & How Jesus Gave Me a Higher View of Scripture

I love the bible.

As a little kid one of my most cherished church memories was singing bible verses year after year in our church ralleys.

I can still put about 50 verses with their references to song!

For the last 15 years I have studied the bible every single week verse by verse with homework for each day and commentary to go with it. I went to, not one but two bible studies a week and ran summer bible studies every year! This didn’t include Sunday church attending and studying of scripture or teaching Sunday school.

I have spent my life immersed in the word of God. But the more I got immersed in Jesus the more it changed my understanding of scripture and the role it plays in our life.

Reading and journaling through the bible has connected me with God. I remember getting in trouble during reading time at school because I was always bringing in and reading the bible.

They had no problems with me bringing in the bible they just wanted me to read from a variety of sources as well. (As Jesus did, quoting outside scripture at times.)  They felt it would enhance my appreciation for the bible to be able to learn and pull out of a variety of other sources, like Jesus did! And they were right!

You would think that this meant I had a high view of scripture, but as the Spirit of God has been growing me, lately I have become aware of how my view of the bible was narrow and skewed.

Evaluating the “function” of scripture was not something I thought much about.

I assumed Jesus did exactly as *I* did and
I assumed Jesus thought exactly as *I* thought on this matter.

When John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ” I use to literally hear that as “the bible became flesh”.

The bible was the 4th member of the Trinity to me. It was “the Word” Or at least the bible was Jesus before he converted from paper to human flesh!

This view of the bible is pretty distorted but also very common within evangelicalism. The bible becomes something very different than what God intended it to be. It becomes  an idol.

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Piper tells us to: “Marry the Bible?”

The bible is not the 4th member of the Trinity.

It didn’t occur to me that “the Word” was *only* Jesus. Thee *one & only* full of grace & truth. Wait, isn’t the bible also filled with grace & truth?

When I heard that “the word is living and active, sharper than any double edge sword” (Hebrews 4:12) … I didn’t get it. I thought of the word with the lower case “w”. The bible. (I think I didn’t connect verse 12 to verse 13)  I completely missed what it was pointing at with words like ‘living and active’ : Jesus. The fulfillment of all of the written texts.

It was clear to me that the bible was the “divinely inspired sacred text” and every single word in it was written by God exactly as He commissioned it- completely accurate.

This view is called “inerrancy”. If someone told me someone did not believe in inerrancy I wasn’t sure if they could be “serious” about God. In fact if any bible teacher veered off that course I was taught to promptly discard all of their other teaching. They were teaching a plague that would go down a “slippery slope” leading “to full blow atheism” aka sliding into hell!

Don’t take my word for it  (I’m a “progressive Christian”) Let’s take it from TGC:

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If the bible was not the book manual we read every day as we prayed, in order to grow, grow, grow… the only alternative I saw was that we made up our own rules and picked and chose from whatever parts we liked and discarded the rest.

False dichotomies, like the above TGC statement are great: the bible is either inerrant or you are “throwing out the bible”. Those were the only two possible ways to treat scripture in my head.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” from 2 Tim.3:16-17 meant that every word was a helpful true reflection of who God is and how He thinks and what He wants from us. Each passage and verse needed the same degree of reverence.

Even this one (trigger warning: sexual assault):

36 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, …37 therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. 38 I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. 39 Then I will hand you over to your lovers, …They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. 40 They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords.
Ezekiel 16

I don’t know how you feel when you read passages like this in scripture, but if you feel comfortable with God encouraging sexual assault your inerrant view may have created some serious cognitive dissonance. And trained out your empathy.

Or this passage from Psalm 137: 8&9 about how good it feels to get vengeance on your enemies.

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us– 9 he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

That lovely Psalms even ends on that “happy” note.

Maybe there was something evangelical culture was missing to this “all scripture is God breathed, useful for teaching and training us” part. What do the verses before that say?

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

So the common thread there was not about how each verse (verse numbers were not part of the original text) was 100% accurate in representing God, but that “all scripture” as a whole had a goal to teach us something- namely to point us to Jesus!

The bible informs us about Jesus. But it never occurred to me to let Jesus inform me about the bible.

It never occurred to me to see what Jesus did with the entire bible. Did Jesus completely skip over certain parts of the bible? Did He ever pull a passage out of context? Ascribe a new meaning to a familiar OT text? Did He ever take things in a different direction than the original text?

Or did He treat the entire bible (there was only the Old Testament) as equally relevant with every word holding exact clarity and truth? Did He go through a one year reading plan of the Old Testament in His teachings (He had less scripture to cover than we do!)?

I couldn’t have told you how many books he quoted from. I just didn’t know. Was it half of them?! (Google the answer and surprise yourself! )

And I never tried to figure out if He treated the Old Testament like it was inerrant. I never looked at how Jesus pulled verses out of their context with a very specific trajectory and emphasis in mind, or if he reinterpreted passages out of their clear context (examining throughout the bible “What Would Jesus Do?” with the bible?) and I certainly had never considered what a “Jesus hermeneutic” would look like.

A hermeneutic is simply your way of breaking down a bible text. If you don’t know what hermeneutic you are using, your likelihood of making scripture say whatever you want it to say, shoots way up! Did Jesus have a method or theory of interpretation? In order to learn a “Jesus hermeneutic” we need to watch how Jesus did it!

Instead of doing this, I assumed every passage and verse held equal weight and truth because God’s word was the truth, “infallible”, I was taught.

Most believers of inerrancy will only hold this inerrancy view, that God preserved every single word exactly as the Holy Spirit whispered in each authors ear to pen it, about the original autographs (which we no longer have).

They will admit there are variations among the manuscripts, and even more among the translations into modern languages. “Lost in translation” is an expression for a reason. Not all words can translate over exact sentiment or meaning accurately from one language to another.

There are some small cults that believe in inerrancy with regards to a specific linguistic translations (KVJ -Onlyists)… And they use the logic of the inerrancy belief (“why wouldn’t God accurately preserve every single word?!”)
however, by and large, this specific broadly interpreted view of what inerrancy (a term not used in scripture) means is generated from mostly the protestant stream. They would say the originals that we no longer have are without error.

If God chose not to preserve those originals (he didn’t), they would argue that we can trust the manuscripts (oldest versions we base translations on) even with their discrepancies (which are acknowledged to exist by conservative and liberal scholars alike), because they only deviate on the more *trivial* matters thus making the trustworthiness of scripture a central tenant of the faith.

“Sola scriptura” was an offshoot of this thinking after the reformation a couple of hundred years ago. It’s fruit has been a splintering of so many denominations all hoping they have finally understood the bible correctly.

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It’s interesting that the more we study how the bible was put together, the more loaded a term “inerrancy” becomes. Or the more “new” / Protestant view becomes.
I.e. Catholics have held that the bible has 73 books of canon, Protestants only hold to 66 of those books of the canon as “inerrant”.
There are 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon.
God never was clear in a very direct sort of way, about which books in this Canon would specifically be the “only” inspired words!

A council got together to debate which books should be included and which ones excluded. That was almost 400 years after these books were written.
The Synod of Hippo that agreed on this Canon was in the year 393.

Learning about the formation of the bible helped me better understand how to use it. But studying the bible, pointed to Jesus as the “one to be followed and imitated”; Showing me *how* Jesus treated this ancient text, informed how to treat different passages in light of each other, and how to evaluate the text.

For those wanting to explore how a high view of scripture is found by modeling after a Jesus hermeneutic, or to even begin to explore what a Jesus hermeneutic looks like, there are a few highly recommended resources out there.

First check out the podcast “The bible for normal people” by Peter Enns. Or read his book “the bible tells me so”…

Second, I can’t speak highly enough of Richard Rohr’s “higherachy of truth”.
https://cac.org/truth-hierarchy-truths-2015-03-03/
Check out the mp3 download at the end of that article. It will cost a few dollars, but worth the learning!

I’ve come to the conclusion that evangelical culture has lost it’s grip on a higher view of scripture by holding fast to this relatively new inerrancy model, that I grew up on.

When I read through scripture now I try to have a Jesus hermeneutic and model after how He treated scripture, giving priority to what He highlighted instead and de-emphasizing what He completely skipped over. Jesus is our model. We are to follow Him first. The bible should not be idolized.

Once I started to do that I noticed the beauty of the Bible. And I could stop trying to pretend God was a way or acted in such a way that Jesus clearly spells and lived out that He is not.

Progressive Christianity

I read an article that threw shade at progressive Christians. It tried to warn people about what to look out for, titled “5 signs your church might be headed toward progressive Christianity

It’s always awkward when the very people you use to look at suspiciously now express where you are at in your faith walk.

I had many misunderstandings about ‘those bad lukewarm liberals’, with women preachers ‘who don’t take the bible seriously and care more about their feelings than the truth.’

What a learning curve it has been to grow up from conservative and fundamentalist thinking to progressive. Different people use different labels. In the past I would be thinking if you listened to anything by Rob Bell, you were theologically off track!

Here is how I would now respond to the fearful me of 5 years ago, about progressives. (I’m going to use the articles main fear mongering points and address these one by one, in order to paint a more accurate picture of progressive Christianity. So you might want to read the article first.)

 

Indications you badly need to grow up into progressive thinking:

1. You have a lowered view of the Bible

It’s actually a higher view of the bible to understand that instead of being an instruction manual called “inerrancy”, the bible and our faith is not a list of rules but actually a conversation we are invited into. A dialogue with Him. The bible is not a preacher preaching *at* us, but a discussion with a friend.

It’s not a “to do” list but a collection of poetry, songs, prayers, some history, a mish-mash of exploring and experiencing the divine from different angles and time periods.

God uses the bible as a recording of humanity in it’s growth; of how we picture Him.

We don’t like people keeping an ugly picture of us on their phone but God doesn’t get embarrassed by showing our distorted picture’s based on our limited and growing understanding of who he is.

It’s like a collection of kids drawings on a fridge. An Evolving Faith. With immature distorted proportions earlier on at times not meant to be a literal engineer design, but if clarity and exactitude is our focus, the most accurate picture of God culminates in Jesus- who is “the Word” who made his “dwelling among us”… “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”

I highly suggest Peter Enns “the bible tells me so” or if you don’t want to read a whole book check out Richard Rohr in this article:
https://cac.org/truth-hierarchy-truths-2015-03-03/

Signs your church probably has this lower view:
• when your church says the “Word of God”, they do not mean Jesus (John 1:1) but instead they are referring to a text. A binded book of words on pages, not the person (I.e. “living word”).
• Backdrops become prescriptions rather than description. Example: patriarchy as defined in the genesis curse becomes a model to strive for, with one person ruling over the other, rather than a sad reality of broken relating.

I’ve also written about the importance of developing a Jesus Hermeneutic (a way to interpret scripture that models after what Jesus did with scripture) here.

2. Feelings are Viewed with Suspicion

Have you ever heard that “the heart is deceitful and wicked”?

Chances are you have been taught to ignore your feelings rather than combining them with wisdom, reason and logic.

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The bible never tells us to tune out our hearts but many Christians do teach us to train the empathy out of our theology.

But is your heart wicked?

“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. ” Jeremiah 24:7a

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” –Ezekiel 11:19

Be reassured God has given you a new heart that can indeed love well. His Spirit that indwels in us helps us to even have “the mind of Christ” to go with our new hearts.

Signs you are being taught to gaslight yourself and not trust your heart:

• emotions are viewed as suspicious rather than as indicators created by God to help us

• empathy is trained out of you: did you just read a chapter of the bible where God commands genocide? You are encouraged to gloss over that as if you were talking about which sports team won or lost last night’s game.

• some emotions like grief or anger are viewed negatively rather than understanding their value and place in an emotionally healthy person. The sad or complaining psalms are skipped over, nobody has heard of the book of lamentations. Anger is often labelled as bitterness or unforgiveness.

• you are not taught about your new heart and new mind but constantly reminded that “every atom in your body is tainted by sin”.

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3. Growth is De-emphasized and Certainty Replaces Faith

Although “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man” Luke 2:52, in a church where certainty and “being right” is prized, growth is seen as weakness. Changing views is dangerous and having “right doctrine” is the new golden rule.

Re-evaluating is not viewed as a healthy mature thing to do, but as a slippery slope away from God.

Evolution of faith is feared. Nobody is “working out their faith with fear and trembling” everyone has it all figured out. People are afraid to get it wrong or to have doubts and ask questions.

Signs you are in a church like this:

• the phrase “sinful questioning” is used.

• Growth is seen as weakness and being right is very important

• certainty is confused with faith and doubts are unwelcome and feared.

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4. Love is re-defined

We are often taught in evangelical culture that we love others by telling the truth to them “no matter how unpleasant”.
As if love can be extracted out from truth; As if truth could ever exist in a vacuum independent from love.

What we miss out on is that love is the lense and not the “add on”. Love is not optional. God is love. Love is not an attribute among others like truth. Instead love is the attribute that contains all the others… like justice and grace. Love is God’s essence. If you take out love for others, and tune out your heart for others, you end up with something that is not the gospel at all and your “truth” really is more about keeping people out.

Key signs you have relegated love to the background:
• clichés like “love the sinner hate the sin” are used often. Love has no practical application. How a person recieves your message or “love” is irrelevant to you.
• love is viewed as one of many attributes rather than the essence of God that summarizes all His attributes.
• lots of qualifiers on God’s love about needing to balance it out with His anger or wrath. As if His love alone is an “incomplete picture”.
• John 3:16 without John 3:17. “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn it but to save it”.
• Golden rule and greatest two commandments on love by Jesus is de-emphasized.

5. There is no humanity to your Gospel

When the “good news” becomes mere theological bullet points, you don’t have good news at all.

Any “gospel” void of “social” is best preached to non humans. Jesus addressed people’s physical emotional and practical needs. He never intended for “spiritual needs” to be void of our real life circumstances.

He even tells a story story about how on judgement day he will say that lots of people who claim to follow him he will say he never knew them. Surprisingly the people he calls out are not the ones who “don’t preach sin” but the ones who didn’t feed him when he was hungry and didn’t clothes him when he was naked and didn’t visit him when he was imprisoned.

And those people will answer when did we see you hungry or naked or in prison. When did we actually visit you? And he says whatever we do for other people we do for him.

He’s like the social Gospel Guru.

If you know Jesus without a “social” gospel you haven’t read the gospel. You must be imagining a Jesus that speaks to rocks and not people .

Signs of a lack of progress:
• Sin is defined by a right wing list of phobias like “ew gay people and immigrants” ….
• Sin is not viewed as neglecting those who are in need.
• “social gospel” is a bad word.
• Reconciliation to God is not about how we clothes ourselves in Christ as we meet needs as Jesus describes his real followers will do.

If this subject is one you want to explore some more here is a great podcast where Peter Enns breaks down how The Gospel Coalition doesn’t get Progressive Christianity:

https://player.fm/series/the-bible-for-normal-people-2360149/episode-70-pete-enns-the-tgc-doesnt-really-get-progressive-christianity-and-atheism

Where the Spirit of the Lord is There is Freedom

Guest post by Flo Fromer-Wedding

When was the last time that you, as a woman, questioned whether or not you should have the right to vote? This may sound like a ridiculous question… after all, what woman in 2018, especially in America, would question her right to vote?

I DID…. not all that long ago, in the years I attended a church that was heavily influenced by the teachings of Bill Gothard, and others who held similar beliefs, particularly about the roles of men and women… husbands and wives, such as Mike and Debbie Pearl. These teachings are promoted as Biblical… and trust me, they use Scripture to support their teachings… Distorted? Yes, but they back up everything with Scripture, which makes it very difficult for a heart seeking to be “right” with God to resist. Any “fight” against it was seen as rebellion against God and what HE had designed for my life…. nobody wants to be a “brat girl”.

The indoctrination I received there led me to begin to question whether I had any rights at all. Every teaching drove home that my place was to be one of submission and quietness… of following, not ever leading. I was to lay down my voice and my “rights” as a sacrifice that would, not only bring glory to God, but would benefit society as a whole.

I was told in this church that if someone asked me what I believe about something, then I should share, not what I believe, but what my husband believes… in other words, my thoughts and my voice should be silenced, and my husband’s heard and promoted.

The natural progression of thought, as a woman begins to FULLY SURRENDER and allow herself to be led by men…. by her husband, or her father, is to believe that her voice is neither wanted nor needed in the form of a vote (or most any other way)… that God has created men (not women) to be leaders in society and in the home. If a wife does vote she should never consider voting differently than her husband, so why vote at all if she is only echoing her husbands voice? Why not just let the men lead like they were meant to?

Folks, there are many…. thousands of Christians still holding and promoting these oppressive beliefs. Did I say all Christians? No…. but all Christians need to be aware of what is happening around them in the Name of Jesus, and be ready to defend the truth and purge out the evil, not bury their heads in the sand as I have seen so many do.

Be the one who listens to the ones coming out! Be the one who is willing to hear, not only the joyous testimonies of what one has experienced in the church, but also the testimonies of those who have been wounded by it, for the greatest evil comes from the subtle twisting of the truth, and there are many who are wielding a sword, not of truth, but of destruction, while proclaiming the very Word of God.

Do not allow fear of our own failure as God’s people, to prevent us from humbling ourselves and admitting where we have gone wrong. It is essential for the healing of broken people everywhere….

Honesty is such a beautiful thing! Honesty says, Let’s uncover the truth even if it means exposing ugly things… Even it those ugly things indict us… Honesty says let’s bring all things to the light so that we can see where we have gone wrong and do better in the future…. so that where we have caused pain and heartache, there will be joy and laughter instead!

I’m thankful for the voices of truth in my life…. I’m thankful for the first feminists who gave so much of themselves to give freedom to women…..freedom that never should have been denied them in the first place, but was… because of sin and the depravity of mankind.

I’m thankful, in a sad sort of way, for my own experience that ALMOST cost me my rights, my voice, and my true identity, for I have learned so much from it. I’ve been to Egypt, wandered in the wilderness, and I’m ready for the Promised Land.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is not bondage and oppression, but Freedom. Let’s represent Him better. ❤

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"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17

Complementarian Doctrine Damages Men Too

A lot of people are well aware of how complementarian teachings can harm women (if you are not aware, I have written about it a lot on this blog and you can read up on it here, here and here. It’s a topic that I am pretty passionate about. For perspective on how male translators and teachers have impacted how we interpret the bible click here. For a portrait of true unity between men and women click here. ) but I’ve been talking to more men in my life to understand how it affects men in horrible ways as well.

“Comp” teaching doesn’t merely limit women when it comes to working at their full capacity and using their gifts, while being some kind of sick fantasy for men who love to be in charge of women.

Rather at it’s root comp thinking robs both genders of relating to each other in a healthy way, foisting upon men and women damaging thought patterns.

This is just a small sampling of ways complementarian doctrine harms men:

It has literally damaged the way that I look at women. I was raised to ignore women’s opinions about theology, and so even though I am fully egalitarian, and have been for nearly a decade, I still have to consciously push back against a little voice in my head telling me to listen to mens opinion over women. It’s really infuriating.

Tommy Preson Phillips


Made me feel incompetent to be a full adult.

Jamie Lilly


“The bread winner” ideology was crippling to my subconscious in the early parts of my marriage. I almost felt inadequate when I was without a job and my wife was working. My mind was under constant self inflicted stress and critique regarding my role on the family. Even when my role was very clear that I needed to be a stay at home dad, I felt as though my children were keeping me from my obligation. Though this was forced upon youth in the Church, this ideology has no scriptural basis whatsoever except to be a nostalgic sentiment from a time past in America, and I makes me quiver in my core to even speak of it now.

Joshua Ulises Marmol


The “boys don’t cry” mentality. A man cannot be weak. Complain. Vulnerable. Scared. Unsure. Undecided. Confused. Sad. Depressed. Those attributes belong to women.

Gabriel Roy


I would say my emotional immaturity was a big problem as well. As much as the culture I was in wanted me to be a certain type of strength, I’ve always been a highly emotional person and I strangled that part of myself for a long time.

Daniel Roueche


As a pastor, it hurts when half the team is relegated to the bench. We need more humans involved at all levels. Also, prioritizing men for leadership positions often leaves out the most qualified candidates, which results in a less-than-desirable leadership team.

John Diffenderfer 


It makes me a lot more nervous to become friends with women in churches. Other places, like work and stuff, it’s a lot easier to talk to women.

But in church – with these rules about what is appropriate – I feel like I can’t be friends with them except through my wife. So it means I count them as a friend, but I’m not able to act like a friend. Which just leaves people confused and lonely.

Ty Brinkman


Most damaging? Women are totally different than me (since I “lead” them it means we’re not peers). Must do my own thing (as a male, with other males) and hopefully they’re happy but if not, it’s impossible to engage them (because they’re different). This is damaging because it cuts out 50% of the people God designed me to partner with, and it’s isolating, and it makes me see females as “things” to care for, instead of peers. Makes for lots of problems. Very bad.

Geoff M


It taught me I wasn’t responsible for my own sexual sin… except I was and was unable to help myself. Except it was women’s fault. And mine. But it was just how I was.

And it made me afraid of close female friendships

JR Madill Forasteros


It has robbed churches that I have served in and me as a person of interacting with women as spiritual equals and has made the church less than is should/could be in so many areas!

John Arthur Benn


 I can’t tell you how heavy the burden was…to be responsible for not just my spiritual walk but add my wife and two children to that? It was crushing.

All the guilt and shame of never “shepherding”, never discipling well enough. But now I’m free from all of that. I don’t bear the weight of leading my family alone.

I’m incredibly thankful for my wife who leads so well. And the thing I’ve really discovered is that sometimes I suck and she’s killing it! Then there’s a season when she’s down but I’m killing it! Doing this together is so much better.

I love that my son and daughter get to see us model marriage this way…for my kids to see mommy lead us in prayer or daddy do the laundry or vice versa?

So thankful to God for my parents who started this shift in our lives and thankful for the women pastors who spoke into their lives that got the whole thing rolling!

[stepping out of my complementarian bubble]… It freed me!

Joe Smith


The teaching that there is only one way to be a good man harms those who don’t fit the mold by attempting to force them to be something they’re not. For guys like me who might be soft, not especially disposed to leadership or any number of other things, we are told that we are in sin and neglecting the role that God has for us. It’s a guilt and shame cycle that should sound familiar. This leads to feeling inadequate and resentful.

The teaching goes a step further by setting up relationships for failure. What’s the point of having a partner when their input to the family can be completely overruled? This is not only an incredibly dysfunctional approach to relationships but it also places a lot of strain on the man. All family decisions are his sole responsibility, as are the spiritual lives of everyone under his roof…including his wife! Comps view the husband as picturing Christ and that makes sense because only a divine being could handle that amount of weight without cracking.

My communication with my wife especially suffered because I wasn’t considering her point of view seriously enough. And what incentive was there? I quickly learned that this approach to relationships and gender roles was absurd and after we ditched it, my personal identity and our marriage improved to the point of being healthy and normal.

Jeremy Duncan


I wanted to give a big shout out to the dozen men who took the time to be vulnerable, and who rejected the toxic gender roles!

Thank you for speaking out about the ways complementarianism has tried to mold you. Thanks for your feedback and your push back! If any other men out there want to add on the ways you have been affected, please do so in the comments below.

We need less toxic masculinity in our churches, and more men who value women the way Jesus did! May God bring deep healing to every place where these teachings have robbed you or harmed you as men.

Your sister & friend,

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My Battle With Depression

I’m going to get vulnerable here for a minute… The suicide of Anthony Bourdain, the chef (and Kate Spade in the same week) is provoking people to think about mental health (the way the tragic suicide of Robin Williams shocked people)  so I want to speak up about my own journey with depression.

The reason famous people attract attention to the topic of depression and suicide, is because they are successful and people imagine depressed people are those who have a reason to feel miserable. We have a hard time understanding that depression can hit absolutely anyone and that it doesn’t always look the way we imagine on people:

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Yes, depression can hit absolutely anyone. Strong, weak, rich, poor, friendly, happy, smiley, grumpy, successful or struggling. Some science shows that if one member of your family suffers from it (just like other illnesses) you are at higher risk to get it.

In my case it runs deeply in my family. My bio dad had it bad at times, and often attempted suicide… I’ve lost an uncle to suicide and many other family members suffered with it. In the last 2 years I have made 2 hospital E.R. visits for different family members attempting suicide.

In my own situation I think I had bouts as a child before I could ever put a name on it.

The first time I became aware that I was depressed and diagnosed was post partum depression which is common with women after having babies. Family history or not! I had to go on meds. The cloud eventually lifted. But it was a brutal journey.

It has lasted different amounts of time and ways to manage it also depended and didn’t always look the same. Sometimes meds, sometimes not, exercising has been an ally, eating healthy and a good support system. Sometimes therapy.

Depression has not always taken the same shape in my life but I have encountered it many times!

Since then I have dealt with seasonal depression (regularly) and sometimes stressful life situations triggered it in any season and other times it came at random with no cause I could pinpoint.

Sometimes depression made actual noises feel like knives were being flung at me… like light does to someone with migraines.

Other times it made me lose my appetite completely. I had a summer recently of trying to force myself to eat. I ended up taking supplement shakes because eating became awful.
It made me lose my enjoyment for everything that I enjoyed. Things that used to make me laugh or smile felt like nothing.
Imagine how much you would enjoy eating if every food tasted like water all the time?! That is what life feels like with depression emotionally. You don’t feel like yourself. You are in your body but not able to connect to emotions that bring joy. You only feel the emotions of sadness or hopelessness or despair or nothing at all. It makes getting out of bed extremely difficult. It makes looking at the future horrifying. You feel trapped.

And “cheer up” or “think happy thoughts” or “just snap out of it” or “think of those less fortunate than you” or “you have nothing to feel miserable about” doesn’t cut it.

Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a lack of thankfulness or a lack of faith. And it isn’t a choice but a battle that requires supportive and caring people around which is very challenging because when you are depressed the last thing you feel like doing is people’ing. You want to crawl up under your covers and sleep forever. But you possibly have insomnia. It’s like the worst day of a woman with bad pms emotions but 24/7. Your emotions are distorted and so is your reality.

Contrasting the difference between how I feel when I’m myself (not depressed) verses how I feel when I am depressed is more extreme than night and day. However you won’t necessarily notice it on my face or in my tone. Unless we are close you might not notice it at all. On the outside depression isn’t visible like physical injuries and many of us know how to put public masks over our depression not to feel like we are burdening others. But it feels extra exhausting.

If you are a male the stats for suicide are way higher than for women. Some of us ladies can write about being depressed and are more likely to seek help. Men are often pressured by society to pretend they have it all together and not express emotional issues. It’s more frowned upon.

I’m encouraging any men who can relate to my feelings here, who are struggling to make it day to day to talk to your doctor about it. If you have all these wonderful reasons to be happy and lots of people who love you but you feel empty- like a shell of yourself don’t ignore your health. Your mental health is just as real as your physical health issues and it needs your attention.

I hope more of you learn to use your voices about how prevalent this is. We can save lives together! I’m in your corner.

Btw if you haven’t struggled with depression thank you for reading this far. I know people will often tell someone who is depressed to “reach out” but here is some food for though:

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Lastly, if you read this far but still want some more understanding of what depression feels like check out this description on my friend’s page. It’s a tiny bit more reading but when you are done you will have gained a lot more insight and compassion for those struggling.

Let’s Talk About ‘Taking Abuse Lightly’

I hear people talking about how we throw the word “abuse” around too much and by doing so we take it lightly, but I think there are plenty of ways to take abuse lightly besides calling something abuse when it is not.

Downplaying

We also take abuse lightly when we make assinine distinctions that downplay abuse. We can say things like: “there is a difference between being an a**hole and being abusive”. We can dismiss racist or sexist comments as them lacking tact or being a jerk rather than understanding what verbal abuse looks like. Not all abuse is physical.

Limiting

We downplay abuse by limiting it to examples of rape or physical assault or molestation without recognizing emotional abuse which can include any forms of verbal abuse that take down a person’s sense of self worth.

People might focus on how “those things are much MUCH different than molestation and physical assault and rape.” (For example, in the same category of sexual abuse a person can down play assault by saying ‘but they didn’t succeed so it wasn’t rape! It’s less serious!’)

We do that by contrasting different types of abuse to downplay the severity…

Manipulation or controlling someone is emotionally abusive behavior and not merely an a**hole move!

I’ve been through emotional, physical and sexual abuse. And emotional was the worst for me. It even was the grooming and set up for accepting other forms of abuse. It is harder to recognize it and identify it as such, so it can fly under the radar while chipping away at your sense of self- to make the other forms of abuse appear normal.

Playing Neutral

We take abuse lightly by playing the neutrality card. This is a way to pretend to be fair while not recognizing one side was wronged, and the other side did the wronging.

Where there is abuse, violence, or assault there is no such thing as supporting *both* sides. “Supporting both” boils down to enabling one and dismissing the other.

“I don’t want to take sides” *is* taking a side. Because it enables an abuser:

(Image from G.R.A.C.E. -Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment)

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To say, “There are two sides to every story,” when abuse is at play is to say, “I support the abuser.” – Ruth Lucas

Unless your “support” is actually calling for justice where it should be a criminal matter, or getting psychological professional help for the perpetrator- your “support” is enablement.

Showering gifts and privileges, and your time and energy on abusers, sends a strong message to victims.

Neutrality in the face of evil is complicity.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor,  never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

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Dissociation

We take abuse lightly by disassociating behavior from abuse.
Saying things like: “there could definitely be abusive behavior” but then not wanting to think of them as an abuser or “call them an abuser”. This becomes deflective.

People do this when they are a part of a an organization (it could be a social media platform, a church or community group) that gives them significance and the leader is abusive but calling out abuse puts them at risk to lose influence or position.

Sometimes it’s a favorite pastor, book author, celebrity or comedian who does or says something horrifying. It is hard to stand up where we are invested the most. But those closest to us is where we are most accountable to speak up. When it’s our own communities our voices matter the most.

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 Sin Leveling / Guilt Paralysis

Similar to dissociation but almost the opposite way, sometimes the enemy uses our own guilt against us to keep us fearful of addressing abuse.

You can notice this at play when people say: “we are all sinners” so that anyone who views pornography sees themselves on level with someone who rapes someone. When we fear labeling, we actually dissociate the severity of a crime and make a perpetrator seem like a victim of the wrong they “stumbled upon”.

An abuser is someone with abusive behavior.

The excuse that “we are all sinners” can be used to paralyze us through shame and fear, but it can also be used to say all sins are just as bad and that we are equally awful.

A Christian with a huge Twitter following just quoted his friend saying “Once we realize that we’re all equally awful and equally loved everything changes.”

That’s not what the Bible says.

The Bible does not say all people are equally awful. It says no one is righteous and everyone has sinned. (Romans 3:10 and 3:23.) This doesn’t mean all sins are equal. It does mean that any sin is a disqualification from righteousness.

As for love, the Bible says God is love. (1 John 4:8.) Since God is infinite, I’ll go along with limitless love. (Romans 8:38-39.) It also says God became human because “God so loved the world” and he gives eternal life to “whoever believes in him.” (John 3:16.)

So the concept of being equally loved is actually subsumed by the fact that God’s love is infinite. Great news.

But equally awful? That’s just not true. Equally undeserving, perhaps. That concept has biblical support. Equal awfulness does not. It’s unscriptural hogwash. – Tim Fall

Sin leveling, is a red flag, in churches that downplay abuse.

It’s a form of spiritual abuse by gaslighting. “Was what he did REALLY that bad? Aren’t you just as bad? Isn’t it just bitterness if you are saying this needs some form of concequence or justice? Why can’t you just let it go. Aren’t you being unforgiving? Aren’t you gossiping for just bringing it up? *insert misuse of grace quote here*”

Baggage Claim

We can take away the weight of abuse not only by disassociating abusive behavior from the word “abuser” but we can also dismiss abuse by making a person a victim while they are a perpetrator of abuse.

Saying things like “they were raised that way” or “they had such a damaging past! The current behaviors are coming from someone with their own damaged baggage”

This is a false dichotomy. People with their own damaged baggage don’t get an “abuser free” card for abusive behaviors or words – and yes words can be abusive. I’ve had a damaging past. This doesn’t make me an insta-abuser who is fated to behavior beyond my control.

Try and imagine the “Good Samaritan” story, but instead of those religious people walking by the wounded because they are “too busy”, they instead asked the beat up person where the attacker went? But not to apprehend them, no! Imagine them instead saying “Hurt people hurt people!” And then they ditch the wounded and run after the abuser as if they were the real victim.

If you think this new version is far fetched just ask Billy Graham’s grandson, Boz Tchividjian who is a prosecutor by background, specifically dealing with child sexual abuse cases.

When Tchividjian requested to take on all the district’s child sex-abuse cases, the other prosecutors happily obliged. In time, he established a sex-crimes unit that handled hundreds of cases over eight years.

All too often, he says, a pastor would come to court in a supportive role, almost always sitting on the perpetrator’s side of the aisle, not the victim’s.

“I was encountering survivors who were absolutely eviscerated as a result of disclosing abuse in the Protestant church,” Tchividjian says, “and the long-term damage is sometimes more from how the church responded, or failed to respond, than the abuse itself.” [1]

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Questioning Motives

We can down play abusive behavior by guessing at the victims motives with statements like: “We don’t know her motives for telling us. What does She want us to do?! ”

Why do we need to question her ‘motives’ in an abuse situation? The number one thing a victim needs when they reach out for support is to be believed.

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“We don’t have all the facts'”

I couldn’t think of a title here so let’s go with what I hear so often! We downplay abuse by waiting to know everything to take action.
You will *NEVER* have all the facts. So stop with the “we just do not know all of the facts here.”

Isn’t that most often the case? We can’t wait till we know every detail to act on abuse!

Not Reporting Crimes

When we encourage someone to deal with something ‘in house’ instead of reporting a crime we downplay abuse.

People often twist bible verses here to make it seem like you are soiling the gospel to report and follow the laws of the land.

“Never Go Against the Family”

We take abuse lightly by acting like calling out abuse is “attacking”. This happens frequently in church situations where protecting a churches reputation becomes more important to people than the protection of victims.

We start imagining “Jesus would only talk about this in-house” and we forget how He publicly rebuked the religious leaders of His day. He “put on blast” His own.

‘Vipers! Blind guides! White Washed Tombs!’ His comments about white washed tombs fits this scenario well, where a tomb is shinny on the outside and filled with dead bones inside.

The outside world is not surprised or shocked by abuse in the church. Secular culture is not only well aware but God often uses the secular news outlets to shine light on area’s churches are keeping wrong covered up.

If we want to gain credibility with the world it will begin with honesty and not hypocrisy. The world wants to know if we are going to fake perfection or pursue truth and justice when it concerns our own.

Forgive and Forget

This is another way people try to make the victims bear the weight of the perpetrator. If you have struggled with this, I highly suggest clicking here, as Rebecca Davis unpacks this better than I will.

We ignore that God’s grace involves facing the weight of our actions. This one sometimes feels counterintuitive for Christians who are taught Jesus bore our sin and punishment but never does God’s say it removes earthly discipline and punishment for crimes. God’s goodness includes discipline and all true repentance requires facing the concequences. Jesus paying for sin never obstructs the process of justice. If anything we should be quickest to face the music without making excuses or covering up wrongs.

What else would you add to this list? Drop it in the comments…

 

Footnotes

1. http://prospect.org/article/next-christian-sex-abuse-scandal

Read Your Own Mail

In the USA, the United States Postal Service is a federal agency therefore mail theft is charged as a federal offense. Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism. It is also a crime to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in a mailbox. [1][2]

When I was a teenager in youth group a leader once told us that God gives “mail” to wives and husbands and that we each get different mail. He said that we get into trouble when we start reading each other’s mail.

According to him (and many others in a patriarchal or complementarian church):

The mail for the wife is to “submit” to her husband and the mail for the husband is to “love” his wife.

But what if our mail has been tampered with? What if in the original language the word “submit” was never there but was added in by patriarchal translators?

As scary as USA mail laws are here is what God says about tampering with his word by adding stuff in:

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Adding in or subtracting from God’s word is serious business and that is why it is critical to know about how the bible is put together and how the original language is different from our own. (See the comment section at the bottom of this note for more context on that point!)

Translators have a very serious job to do.

Did you know that in the original Koine Greek manuscripts of Ephesians 5, that the actual wording is “Wives unto your husbands” with no word “submit”?!

Back to the Source

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This is a copy of a very dependable, old manuscript (named: Parchment 46), used to translate bibles. The only things I edited in are the verse numbers and the highlighting of verse 22.

FUN FACT: As you can see from above, along with having no verse numbers in the original, the bible did not have any paragraphs or headings as well. That was only added to the bible much later on and also reflects what translators thought of the passage.

Translators decided to separate out verse 22 and begin a new chapter where it didn’t exist in the original. Some translators entitle this section: “Wives and Husbands” or “Instructions for Christian Households” or even “Marriage Like Christ and the Church”.

None of these headings are anywhere in the original language. They are also a reflection of how people tried to interpret verse 22 as something completely separate from where it came.

So where did they come up with this word “submit” to apply for wives? It came from the previous verse about the importance of mutual submission. According to verse 21 Submission is the mail for everyone.

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They took the word submit out of the previous verse and decide it to insert it into verse 22 to make the sentence structure make sense in English. Submit was added to the text in the middle of the 4th century AD. In some versions they put the word “submit” or “be subject” in italics. I took this picture myself from my own NASB bible:

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Since the previous verse already spells out the importance of mutual submission being the standard for a high view of submission, to repeat it as something separate in the very next verse seems rather odd. (Unless you are a part of a culture that sees women as particularly rebellious creatures who need to hear an emphasis on submission.)

Be Spirit Filled

If we are to look at what verb is best fitting in this context some suggest that a better fit for the context would be “be filled with the Spirit” towards your own husband, as to the Lord.

Paul did say  that all followers of Jesus Christ should “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), and that everyone filled with the Spirit would demonstrate this by “submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.” –Bob Edwards

Here is the context that this new heading has been separated out of that gives us a bigger insight on what a wife might be best doing “to her own husband”. This is where verses 21-23 flow right out of with no new paragraph:

15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How does the emphasis on wives being Spirit filled, when relating to husbands, elevate a wife in a culture that had men ruling over women? How would it empower them to know the same Spirit that lives in their husbands is fully leading them? How would it help a woman value and treasure her agency and influence in her own relationship?

Male Tampering

How did scripture go from that beautiful biblical picture of mutual submission to a one-way submission? One of the bigger problems in church history has been how male church leaders, who are heavily quoted and considered authorities on doctrine, (influencing and forming our current thoughts about this topic), have had incredibly low views of women.

Male leaders from Charles Haddon Spurgeon to John Wesley to Martin Luther to Augustine had awful opinions on women and what their roles in society should be. Please read quotes from them and inform yourself about normal mainstream views of women.

Their attitudes demonstrate the patriarchal influence on their doctrine. Most Christians would not feel comfortable quoting a Clan member or White supremacist but feel totally comfortable quoting men who displayed blatant sexism.  (Full disclosure: in my blog I have quoted Augustine[5], although not on any doctrine related to women and it still makes me uncomfortable.)

Submission Does Not Equate With Surrendering to Authority

Another big problem that both men and the church have had with accepting mutual submission (where women are told to “read our own mail”) stems from the mistaken concept that authority is linked to submission.

Although submission included “wives to their husbands,”

husbands were also told that they “ought” to “love their wives as Christ loved the church” (see Ephesians 5:25 & 28).

Jesus, out of sacrificial love, took upon himself the form of a servant and died on the cross to redeem his bride from sin. In Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus as the “source” (Greek kephale) of the church’s life, growth and redemption. It was his love that led him to “serve, rather than to be served.” Likewise husbands are called to “love” their wives, and this love is to be a source of life and growth in the marriage.

Submission being linked to “head authority” thinking, seems to have been influenced both by bad translation and hierarchical commentary that confuses the Greek meaning of the word “head” (source) with the Latin meaning of the word “caput,” used in the Latin Vulgate. Kephale meant source. Caput, in Latin, could also mean source, but often meant “leader.” Latin theologians who had a strong prejudice against women began to use kephale as a reference to leadership, when in the Old Testament Greek Septuagint, the Greek word for leader (used 109 times) was “archon.” – Bob Edwards

Bob Edwards is the co-author of the Equality Workbook with his wife Helga. They wrote the book “to help readers identify and remove patriarchal bias from Bible translation and commentary. As this bias is removed, it will become clear that far from being the will of God, patriarchy is a human tradition rooted in prejudice. This workbook also focuses on helping women to recover from the harmful effects of patriarchy.”

One of the reasons why Complementarians can’t wrap their minds around mutual submission is because they have a messed up idea of what submission means.

The realization came when a woman essentially argued against mutual submission saying that Jesus does not submit to the Church because submission means surrendering authority. And I realized that, yes: I wouldn’t expect Jesus to submit to the church in the same way that patriarchy expects women to submit to men…BECAUSE IT IS DISGUSTING AND INAPPROPRIATE IN BOTH CASES.

To patriarchy, submission means losing not only your individual will, but also surrendering your mind, your beliefs, your preferences, your autonomy, everything to the other person. You’re no longer allowed to think for yourself or make moral judgments: these are given to you. This kind of submission is absolute and is based on the conviction that the person receiving submission is a much greater person than the one giving it. … And by its very nature, it can only ever be one-way.

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But we see numerous examples in Scripture of Jesus submitting to others. He did not surrender His authority as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He did not present Himself to be reprogrammed as people saw fit. Out of His own will and authority, He chose to do what others asked of Him, and even beyond.

Comps will never get around the barrier to mutual submission until they get their heads on straight as to what submission really is. What they’re preaching isn’t really submission at all: it’s assimilation. And it’s not only impossible, but disgusting to the gentleman God who has very carefully preserved the autonomy of His people that we would submit to Him truly and love Him profoundly. – Christina Allen

Recovering Mutuality

How do we return to an early church view of mutual submission that wholly embodied the gospel?

Paul viewed Junia as “outstanding among the apostles” and praises the deacon Phoebe. He also names Priscilla before her husband Aquila and mentions his female co laborers for the gospel by name and with high esteem.[3]

When Martha insinuated to Jesus that the role of Mary was in the kitchen and not learning at the feet of a rabbi (totally not something women in those times were allowed to do)… He told Martha that Mary chose the better thing- and that it wouldn’t be taken from her! [4]

*Mic drop*

Maybe we need to look a little closer at Jesus and the way He and the early church father’s did not succumb to their societal patriarchal norms but valued and cherished women as not being “below” them or underneath them in any way!

Let us return to submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ, and close the door on toxic power structure views. The world and the flesh will always be attracted to one group ruling over and having authority over the other; whether in marriage, society at large or within church structures.

This is not our way.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. -Luke 22:24-26

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Footnotes:
1. [https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/radDocs/tipvandl.htm] 
2. [https://legalbeagle.com/12122431-consequences-mail-tampering.html] 
3. See Romans 16 
4. See the end of Luke chapter 10 
5. It came as a shock for me to realize how blatantly sexist their views were. I don’t think it’s worth dismissing everything they have to say on doctrine, but on women- absolutely! Just as I wouldn’t take seriously any kkk members view of the black community, when we learn from commentaries or church father’s about passages like Ephesians 5:22 or other doctrines on women or submission, we are going to be swallowing toxic stuff. The recognition of how mainstream misogyny was in the church history by characters we view as heroes of the faith and how that would have a big influence on the interpretation of doctrine is important. I know that if I had a better option to make a point about a piece of scripture I would try to avoid one who I knew was blatantly racist or sexist.  

Sunday Sermon to Those Who Can’t Stomach “Church”

Good Morning 🙂

I hope this Sunday finds you well. I know that some of us will be off to our places of worship, while others of us are still looking for our place. Wherever you may find yourself today, know that you are loved and needed. As Christians, we are all part of the Body of Christ, and the Body is not complete without you. Your voice matters. Your story matters. Your gifts have a purpose. You may feel invisible, but you are not invisible to God! Be encouraged today! We stand with you, and God is for you! Be blessed ❤

~Leah (Ezer Rising)

To those who are not sitting in a pew or chair this morning but who love Jesus just as much…

To those who are traumatized walking into church….

To those who are shamed (or looked down upon for not attending the 2 hour a week block of “fellowship of believers”) by people who haven’t taken the time to see why you left or by people who have chosen to stick their head in the sand rather than addressing things…

To those who are told “come back” without the questions of “Are you O.K.? How can we make this a safer place?”…

To those who have been through Spiritual Abuse or beaten over the head with the bible…

I want you to know you are still part of the body of Christ *AND* just as valuable.
God sees your reasons, knows your pain and cares about what happened to you.

You are not “less” in the body of Christ. Jesus is not waiting on you to be back in a building to approve of you, or to involve you in what He is up to.

Your concerns are valid.

I believe you do love the church even if you have tried to make a difference from within and got burned doing so.

I do believe those of you with something “negative” to say are not complainers but prophets. They were also rejected for their negative messages.

Sometimes the hard stuff is the important stuff. Thank you for fighting for the bigger body of Christ rather than trying to protect the reputation of an institution.

Thank you for protecting the vulnerable people in the body of Christ even if you have had to stand up against powerful people. Thank you for all you are still doing.

I want to say thank you to the outsiders who are discredited, not believed, maligned and ignored.

There is your Sunday Sermon.

(I will not be taking an offering. Except one of thanksgiving for you. )

 

 

The Fight for Unity!

The largest division in the body of Christ is not what you’re thinking.

If you are imagining the Protestant and Catholic division there is an even older and bigger division.

Nope it’s not the Catholic and Orthodox one either…

Give up?!

Try and name one division in the body of Christ that has gone back as far as the garden of eden?

20191217_121237_0000.pngBefore sin entered the picture, Adam called woman “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones”. When Adam without sin looked at Eve before the fall, he saw what they had in common. His focus was there.

God gave the charge to lead and subdue the earth to this duo: as a team. (Genesis 1:28) Mutuality was the theme. Just as the Trinity worked in relationship creating heaven and earth, in sync and flowing in unity; We were designed in God’s image.

After the fall Adam names her “Eve” based on those differences.

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. – Genesis 3:20

Life comes out of woman. This would have been a much more reassuring thought after the fall of man, than we might give pause to pay attention to.

Before sin their world was actually perfect and without any of the problems we deal with that brings such trauma, grief and brokenness. Sin brought death in every single way: physically, spiritually and relationally.

Although Adam is in a better headspace- when naming Eve (by focusing on a positive difference, rather than a negative one) it is still what they don’t have in common, where his focus now shifts.

We see by the curse that instead of ruling together, man would try and rule over woman instead. And throughout history this disunity can be seen time and time again.

The #metoo movement is not a new thing, although the awakening to it, is new. There is a specific awareness that things are horribly imbalanced and that “abuse of power” comes with “use of power” in how humans relate to each other.

The tension, and desire for hierarchy and “control over” has come onto the scene and has plagued mankind ever since the fall.

Guys trying to hold onto the reigns: in their marriages and in their churches is commonplace. Born is the fear of those differences and gone is the doing leadership together as equals.

God created people to relate to each other without the need for power structures. The opposite of hierarchy is intimacy.

In intimacy, there is no fear. Perfect love casts it out. Before the fall Adam had no fear of Eve being “too emotional” or not cut out for leadership. When God says he will give Adam a “helper” in Eve, the Hebrew word for a “helper” is “Ezer” that is used in scripture over and over to refer to God being *our* helper.

This is not an inferior help: Not with God helping, nor with women helping. It is not a subordinate help either; Not with God nor with women.

Seeing a woman as an inferior who should be ruled over came in with sin. Restoration in a horizontal relationship with God will naturally work itself out into our vertical relationships with each other.
Unity in human relationships starts with a redemption between this first broken relationship between men and women.

It changes Adam’s perception of “this woman who you gave me”… from one of contempt and frustration to one of value and gratitude for mutuality. Having a right view of each other and restoring that mutuality helps us to function in our full capacity.

Try and imagine a body that is only using one arm? When we don’t function as true equals the body of Christ is rendered crippled.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

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How much more sad is it to imagine a body with an arm in a sling when that arm is fully functional? This is what we do when we relegate women to “patriarchal roles” in marriage or when we default to a gender hierarchy in the church.

1 Corinthians 12

One Body but Many Parts

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”…

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

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“Share but don’t teach!”

“Throughout the Bible, we have examples of God using a myriad of non-human forces to pass messages along to man. From mammals like a donkey or whale, to an all-consuming fire. Yet, if we are to abide by Complementarian logic, a woman cannot be used to be the voice of God. Despite their claims of equality, this mindset suggests that in the hierarchy of God’s umbrella, women are worth less than an animal and a force of nature–only men can be above these things.” – Tabi Wells

I was having the conversation with a friend and this exact point was brought up.

The response:

“I’m complementarian and I know many comp women and men who would not agree with this statement or logic at all. ”

My friend Moriah Avrick responded with:

“I hear ya! I used to be complementarian and most people I grew up with still are. I don’t think comps are bad people haha….. but I see it ring true far too often in the circles I was often associated with.

I think the question for comps who disagree with this, is simply “how then, does God *actually, practically, specifically* use women to speak to men, under complementarian doctrine?” Because I for sure never would have outright owned this statement, but I think it was definitely still fairly true in many ways, at least for me and many others I know.”

And she makes an excellent point. How are women to communicate to men in a way that is “acceptable”?

In my church the line was “share but don’t teach”.

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Because sharing from behind a music stand or a pew as opposed to teaching from behind a pulpit is the line between “Christ-honouring” and sin😒😞

The pulpit gives magical authority.

I always try to be safe in a church setting when talking to brothers and warn them to be careful not to learn from me in the church setting. It’s just me “sharing my heart”!

If that doesn’t discourage them, and they are insistent on learning from me because they value the perspectives of females, I tell them we can step outside to be safe sometimes.

In all seriousness, as someone who scored high in the area of teaching and wisdom, in all spiritual gift tests, I decided to put my gifts into practice in my complementarian church by teaching little kids.

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Although some complementarians allow their boys to learn from female Sunday school teachers… they treat them like learning from women becomes taboo once they become adults. Hopefully these ideals change more as people highlight how problematic and diminishing this is.

How do you respond to the gifting of women in your life / in your church? How do you view their abilities or their role in the body of Christ?

Every time women in scripture are highlighted to those who don’t believe a woman should be doing something – I’ve heard this argument used:
“GOD USED THOSE WOMEN TO SHAME MEN.”

Everyone from Deborah, to Esther to Huldah to Jael.

These women cannot stand out as wonderful pictures of teachers,  leadership, courage, and wisdom.

Their positive gifts and attributes should only be there to make men feel embarrassed.

There is so much yuck attached to this terrible way of viewing women. Seeing women’s traits and giftings as only being there to bring shame upon men, says a lot more about what the people making those type of statements think about both men and women.

Shame is from the accuser.

This is not from God.

As I read through Romans 16 this week I was blown away by how integral women were in the early church.

Although modern stats of women in top positions of leadership in churches is dismal compared to any secular field, the early church flourished for the opposite reason!

Paul gets a bad rap among Christians when it comes to women.

As I finishing up a the last chapter of Romans, Paul ends with a list of names.

I usually don’t pay much attention to when the bible lists names but “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16

Paul’s list certainly stands out in sharp contrast to his patriarchal society.

Here are my notes:

Things I loved from the list of church leaders and co-workers Paul highlights in Romans 16

  • The first three names are all women.
  • 10 out of the 28 names are all women. We miss the significance of this because our society gives women equal rights. The establishment of women as co-workers is even more shocking when you consider in Jewish culture a woman was not allowed to read the word out loud in the temple, women could observe the ceremonies but never participate in them. Even today men and women pray separately at the prayer wall in Jerusalem.
  • Paul specifically highlights that the women were hard workers. In fact if you make a list of the women he names next to the men he writes a whole lot more about the significance of his female co-workers.
  • Junia is not only listed as an Apostle (highest church office) but “outstanding among the apostles”. Church people throughout history have had serious issues with this reality so some translations tried to write her of as a male “Junius”. When that became obviously false people have tried to water down her role to say “she was outstanding to the apostles” or “if she really was an apostle it’s only in the meaning of being a messenger of Jesus”.   Anything to try and water it down.
  • Priscilla is mentioned before her husband (Paul says they both risked their lives for him)
  • Phoebe the deacon of Cenchera gets quite the shout out (not only would she have to preach Paul’s letter as she went household to house church but she would also need to be able to read and interpret Paul’s exact words and also had to act it out in a patriarchal society.  Takes guts!)
  • Paul mentioned after all this beautiful list of team and mutuality to watch out for division caused by smooth talkers putting up obstacles. Read in context of his treatment of women, affirmation and highlighting the significance of their roles in church, that is rather interesting.

After reading through this list, is it any wonder the early church spread like wildfire? Paul did not hoard power but empowered the women around him, enabling and valuing all their gifts of leadership and church service. He worked not as a one man act but as a team utilizing both men & women together.

What a picture of church!

I feel the need to speak to all of my sister’s in the church today…
Your voices should not be a niche. You are half of the body of Christ, valuable to *ALL* of it.

I’m sad for every moment I sat in church thinking it was okay to “share but *not* teach”.

Jesus gives a parable of asking people to give an account for what they did with their gifts and talents, when he comes back. We are told that one is called “wicked and lazy” for burying it because he was “afraid”.

Let us not come up with the lame excuse to bury it because “we are women”! Time to say goodbye to the fear of having lady parts and get busy using every talent for His kingdom. Even talents that don’t fit in a kitchen or hidden in the background.