The Mommy-Wars, Christian Woman-Style

Now that I am blogging more often, I thought I would try to discover some fellow bloggers, especially of the Christian woman variety. I was excited when a Canadian pastor I esteem and follow recently posted a list of his favorite lady bloggers. I chose a few that sounded like they might be up my alley, and began to peruse their sites. Now this pastor that I esteem has always seemed to me very level-headed, and middle-of-the-road kind of guy. He’s certainly not liberal, but he’s certainly not fundamentalist either, which is why it surprised me that he recommended a particular women’s blog.

I am going a very different route with this article by actually not naming names, mainly because this pastor and this women’s blog could be any number of other pastors and women’s blogs out there*. The name is not as important to me in this case, as the general problem. The general problem was this women’s blog sent a very clear, manipulative message to striving, Christian women which I will get to in a moment. This blog was pretty impressive with the sheer number of female writers and guest writers it listed. Next to every lovely face was a short bio, most of them cute and/or sappy. In addition to their stated ministry goals was a snapshot about their personal lives, and here is where it hit the fan for me.

Landscape

At least 50% of these ladies were married to pastors, a few had pastors for brothers or fathers, and one lady, if my memory serves me correctly, had a pastor for a brother, father, and husband. All but one woman (as I recall) was married, and she was finishing some kind of theology or ministry degree. As if that were not enough, nearly 100% of these ladies had at least three children, and many had homeschooled or were currently. That sends a really ugly message to single, childless Christian women that their voices are just not worthy of being heard. Most sickening of all is the fact that this women’s blog is a ministry partner of a very popular Christian women’s ministry, and the lady who heads that ministry is…single and childless!

Now I would fit in with their requirements for Christian women because I am married and have had 4 children. I may even have more to “brag” about because I have quite the pro-life story to tell about my first child, and yes, I even homeschooled for a short time. But I don’t talk about my family on this blog because they are not what lends credibility to my voice. I will not play this game which only engenders division and elitism and a false, hypocritical message in the church and among its beautiful women.

I remember Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 11:17-12:10, which the church, it’s writers, teachers, women, men, and pastors should all keep in mind:

*Please note items in brackets are added by myself as examples for illustrative purposes only.

“In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews [women]? So am I. Are they Israelites [married]? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants [mothers]? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison [hospital] more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again…I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying… I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord… Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,  or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

*Ok, I lied. The name of the women’s blog is True Woman, a subsidiary of Revive Our Hearts Ministries, headed by Nancy Leigh Demoss. Click here to view the list of authors and their bios.

See also: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/01/04/bad-news-for-victims-from-nancy-leigh-demoss-and-holly-elliff-by-katy

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Women Should Be Seen, But Not Heard (In Church)

I have noticed a disturbing increase in the amount of articles on The Christian Post, as well as sentiments and doctrinal statements from both Catholics and Protestants about the role of women teachers in churches. Interestingly, these opinions seem to coincide with the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (but more on that later).

So many churches/Christians/Christian groups have told me to sit down and shut up, at least in the presence of men over the years, that I am beginning to feel like The Unsinkable Molly Brown from James Cameron’s Titanic . Of course those churches, etc. didn’t put it quite like that, but the meaning is the same. According to a great number of churches and Christian groups, my role as a Christian woman is to never ask questions, never argue, and never research or attempt to learn on my own without the careful aid of men to guide me, or the occasional women’s-only Bible study to encourage me. The term is “complementarianism” and the concept serves only to divide the Body of Christ.

What astounds me and pains me the most however, is that there are so many women who hear these things and never question. They even sometimes put themselves and their children at risk, in order to do what men/pastors/churches/older-women-with-a-lot-of-money tell them pleases God. And I am not just talking about women my mother or grandmother’s age who grew up in a culture of this belief. I am talking about young, educated women my own age, many of whom have daughters of their own.

Now when we argue with atheists and those of other religions about how the Bible exalts women, we become hypocrites and contradict ourselves if we then say that the Bible teaches women should be seen but not heard in church settings, or that women cannot teach men. “Separate but equal” was a concept I thought the church had left behind…


woman speakingThis doctrinal belief is based on several different verses, but especially this passage of Scripture from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35,

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

Another verse cited as a basis for this belief is 1 Tim. 2:11-14,

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Now, if we take this verse from 1 Timothy verbatim, not only can women not teach or assume authority over men (and just what does that mean, exactly? Should a son never consult his mother for wisdom or learning?), she also cannot be saved unless she has children. Which is ludicrous, of course. No other place in Scripture ever alludes to that, nor does Scripture ever insist that Eve only, and not Adam was a sinner, so we must be missing something.

In looking closer at the first passage for this belief from 1 Corinthians 14, we will see that this doctrinal belief fails to take into consideration the context of the passage and book overall. Directly before these two verses, is this piece from 1 Corinthians 14:26-33,

What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.  If anyone speaks in a tongue, two – or at the most three – should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”

So then, does Paul contradict himself with all of these seemingly different verses? I propose that we modern readers are missing some cultural context. In Galatians 3:26-28, Paul (the same author of Corinthians and 1 and 2 Timothy) writes,

“You are all Sons of God through faith in Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is very inclusive in this passage, and makes it clear that all these groups are counted as “sons” and heirs of God. Moreover, Paul uses the term “brethren”, “brothers”, and “everyone” to include all Christians, not just men. Paul does in fact refer to this verse again in 1 Corinthians 12:13, when he cites it in part,

For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

What this belief ultimately means is that even if a woman were to teach sound doctrine to men, it would be meaningless and even rebellious simply because of her anatomy. Are those who hold this belief truly ready to deny or ignore the Holy Scriptures they claim to uphold, based on the shape or status of the vessel that proclaims it?


But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.James 2:9-10


 

If the entire New Testament is about equality and being free from the Law, why are we so quick and eager to put women (and we women often put ourselves or sisters) back under the Law?

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace…For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:1, 4, and 6)

This belief about women not being Biblically allowed to teach men is wrong, not because it is ancient or out-of-date, but because it abuses Scripture in order to control and dominate (see also: 3 Complementarians and a Mutualist by Zach Hoag). It is not about protection (what do women need protection from in this case? The Bible? God?), and it is not about obedience to Scripture since we have seen so many other places where the Bible encourages freedom for women. This belief is founded on legalism, plain and simple, and as with any case of legalism, where will the line be drawn and who has the authority to draw it?

If a woman has no husband, some churches insist that her “spiritual covering” be her father, her father-in-law, a brother, a brother-in-law, or perhaps the woman’s pastor. Do I need to point out how the idea of having a pastor becoming a woman’s “spiritual covering” can and has lead to all kinds of evil? And what constitutes as a church setting; Bible studies? Sunday school? Sunday morning service? Church picnics? And what constitutes teaching? Singing? Reading the Bible out loud? Speaking to men from a podium? Speaking to men while they sit and the woman stands (no announcements, right)? Speaking to men in general? And films teach lessons, too. So Christian female actresses are out. Or what about writing? Can women write books that men might read?  If you are a man, should you be reading this blog post?

As long as women are in church, they are expected to sit down, be quiet, and just “trust and obey”. So much damage has been done because of that injunction to “trust and obey” men, when the Bible uses that phrase for Jesus alone. Instead of teaching men or being in leadership positions, women are relegated to the kitchens, children’s Sunday school classes, and offices of churches. But wait! There is a Bible verse that says one of the gifts of the Spirit is administration. It comes from…(drum roll) 1 Corinthians 12! Now, if women can be administrators, help others, have gifts of healing, be apostles (see Junia, Romans 16:7) and be prophets (see also Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; and Acts 21:9), why are they prevented from teaching? 1 Corinthians 12:27-28,

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

James 4:7 ,Submit yourselves, then, to God.

The church should not be encouraging anyone to bend their knee to anyone but Christ alone. He alone is the head of the church, He alone died for my sins, and He alone commands me.


 

Want more info? Check out these blogs and articles:

The New Calvinism

Different but Complementary and Separate but Equal

Covering and Authority: Hebrews 13:17

On Biblical Leadership: Submission, Control, and Authority in the Church

A Critical Spirit?

I Heart Erma Bombeck

“It goes back to the first time I saw authoress Faith Baldwin in a full-page magazine ad admonishing, ‘It’s a shame more women don’t take up writing.’ I said aloud, ‘Ain’t it the truth, Faith.’

She looked directly at me and said, ‘If you’re a woman who wants to get more out of life, don’t bury your talents under a mountain of dishes. Writing will provide a wonderful means of emotional release and self-expression…You don’t have to go to an office…Even though you are tied down to your home, you can still experience fulfillment.'” ~Erma Bombeck

Ah, Erma. Your words are like a great, big hug. Why has it taken me this long to read you?

(Borrowed with much respect from, At Wit’s End)