God, Justice, And Punishment For Women Who Abort


March_for_Life_in_Washington,_D.C._(2013)_01

Donald Trump stepped in it last week. He was pushed into a corner, it’s true, but he made the worst of the situation by saying what he thought his new constituents—far right politicos—wanted to hear. He had adopted the pro-life position though he’d been in the abortionist camp “for many, many years” (to quote something he might say). I suspect he’d heard from his old friends that his new friends were all about punishing women, so when pressed on the issue, The Donald gave his “candid” answer, though you could tell he was sort of appalled by his own words.

Yep, he said if Roe v. Wade were overturned, a woman should be punished if she had an abortion.

Less than twenty-four hours later, his campaign issued a “clarification” which was actually a retraction. Mr. Trump, it turns out, doesn’t really believe a woman should be punished if she had an abortion.

Which actually demonstrates what a loose cannon Mr. Trump is, and therefore what a horrible President he would make. But that’s a different subject than the one in front of me.

Mr. Trump’s outlandish statement has stirred the pot, at least in some circles. There are people saying, but wait a minute: is Trump really so wrong? I mean, if these women are really killing, why should they be given a pass?

There’s a Biblical backdrop that I think sheds some light on this topic. At different times, God gave His law some teeth by bringing immediate and ultimate judgment. Two of Aaron’s sons died because they burned the wrong incense in the tabernacle. Another 450 people died—burned by fire from heaven and then swallowed by the earth—because they challenged Moses’s authority to speak for God. During King David’s rule, a man died on the spot because he touched the ark of the covenant. And in the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira were separately struck down for lying to God about how much money they made when they sold their house.

God acted with immediate judgment. And yet years later people were doing all kinds of things against His law—worshiping Baal in the temple, building high places all over Israel and Judah, handling the sacred temple vessels, and in Jesus’s day, priests cheating the people who wanted to bring a sacrifice. Yet, for all intents and purposes, God was silent.

Until He wasn’t.

It’s true He didn’t bring fire from heaven against those people. Yes, Jesus tossed out the priests making money at the expense of the worshipers, but some time later He had to get in that temple again and toss out all the crooks once more. It wasn’t like He blasted them off the planet. Just chased them away. You’d hardly say that measure up to those early judgments of God against the people of Israel who rebelled.

The point is, there came a time when God’s judgment changed from immediate to something different. Now He lets people dig their own graves. That process might take some time, but in the end, their way He will “have brought upon their heads” (Ezekiel 22:31).

In other words, none of the people who didn’t receive immediate punishment were getting away with breaking God’s law.

In fact we all will face a day of judgment. God’s servants will separate the wheat from the weeds, the sheep from the goats. And He will mete out to each what is fair and just. To the wheat, the sheep, He will give His welcome to His banquet table because of His Son Jesus, whose robe of righteousness we wear.

That welcome is for liars and prideful people, for idol worshipers and women who have had an abortion or two or three, for gossips and prostitutes, for the greedy and the envious—really for any sinner who confesses, repents, and walks in the newness of life provided by Christ’s shed blood.

The question, then, isn’t whether woman should be punished for having an abortion. That matter is in God’s hands. The only thing we have to ask is whether we as a society that propagated the lie that abortion is not wrong, can avoid God’s wrath. We might also ask if we should do more than Jesus did when He faced an adulterous woman and said, “Go and sin no more.”

It seems to me, we stand with no defense before God for allowing abortion in our land and worse, for importing it to other places. We are guilty as a society. But what hypocrisy if we were to scapegoat the women we have convinced by our lies—if we were to suddenly tell them that they are the guilty ones for believing what our leaders have been telling us for decades.

Make no mistake, those women will one day face the judgment. I know of any number of women who had abortions who will be at the banquet table, their sins, including their abortions, cast into the sea of God’s forgetfulness. Others, however, will stand guilty, not of having had an abortion, but of refusing to accept God’s Son.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18)

Advertisements
Published in: on April 4, 2016 at 6:48 pm  Comments Off on God, Justice, And Punishment For Women Who Abort  
Tags: , , , ,

Elisabeth Elliot: 1926 – 2015


Elisabeth ElliotElisabeth Elliot died on Sunday. From my perspective, she is one of the great heroes of the faith.

She influenced countless thousands in any number of ways, not the least in the area of foreign missions. After all, she not only lived sacrificially among the Ecuadorian nationals responsible for her husband’s death and preached the love of Christ to them, she also wrote about her husband and the four other missionary martyrs:

The story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and companions Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully—most famously narrated in Elisabeth Elliot’s Through Gates of Splendor—is perhaps the most chronicled missionary account of the past 100 years, and remains an inspiration for many. (Christianity Today)

Yes, an inspiration to many.

Elisabeth Elliot had strong views and didn’t couch them in buttery, inoffensive terms. I heard her speak once. A friend was going on a short term mission trip and Elisabeth Elliot spoke at the commissioning service. I don’t remember precisely what she said—sort of, why are you young people doing this? Get your heads out of the clouds. Living on the mission field is not pleasant or easy. Specifically I remember her saying, contrary to popular opinion, she didn’t go to the jungle of Ecuador because she loved hot, humid weather and poisonous snakes. She said it was no easier for her to endure those discomforts and fears than it was for anyone else.

But ultimately, Ms. Elliot was not telling the prospective missionaries to “suck it up.” That’s not the way she thought. Rather, she had a passion for God’s word and for God Himself. She held to the fact that God can and should be obeyed and trusted.

Blunt—not ungracious, not impetuous, not snappy or gruff. But direct, unsentimental, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, no whining allowed. Just pull your britches on and go die for Jesus—like Mary Slessor and Gladys Aylward and Amy Carmichael and Gertrude Ras Egede and Eleanor Macomber and Lottie Moon and Roslind Goforth and Malla Moe, to name a few whom she admired. (“Peaches in Paradise: Why I Loved Elisabeth Elliot” by John Piper, Desiring God)

She challenged believers to move out of our comfort zone and trust the God who knows the end from the beginning:

Because of her, I dared to leave my comfort zone.

I am not alone—many in my generation found similar courage and peace through her books, speaking, and radio program. There is little telling the breadth of her global heritage. I am grateful for her life, and for the profound influence she left on my own. (“This wife of a murdered missionary has died. Here’s why Elisabeth Elliot’s life mattered to so many” by Tsh Oxenreider, Washington Post)

I think Elisabeth Elliot’s influence was so profound because she spoke the truth, but it was a truth she lived. She knew romanticizing missions would give people a false view of service. She knew sentimentalizing discipleship was the opposite of what Christ required of us.

Finally, Elisabeth Elliot has had a strong influence on women in the Church and on our ideas of our place in God’s plan. Above all, she adhered to Scripture, even the growingly less popular parts that identify a wife’s role as that of being subject to her husband:

A Christian woman’s true freedom [and, of course, she would also say a Christian man’s true freedom] lies on the other side of a very small gate—humble obedience—but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested. (399—Piper quoting from Elisabeth Elliot’s chapter “The Essence of Femininity: A Personal Perspective” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)

I said “finally” but there’s really this overarching message of Elisabeth Elliot’s life, ministry, writing, speaking—she trusted God no matter what the circumstances. As it happened, she spent the last ten years of her life in the grip of dementia, a gradual death of who you are, at least in the here and now. Her third husband (her second husband died of cancer four years after their marriage) addressed her response in an interview at World Magazine:

Last year, as Elliot’s health declined, WORLD interviewed her third husband, Lars Gren. Elliot met him while he was a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and they were married for 36 years, until her death. The magazine reported:

    Gren says Elliot has handled dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands. “She accepted those things, [knowing] they were no surprise to God,” Gren said. “It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it.

(“Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendor” by Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today)

In receiving the suffering of life which a good God put into her hand, Elisabeth Elliot became one of the great saints of the Christian faith. She is an example of living out what the Bible tells us, right here, in our sophisticated twenty-first century culture.

elisabeth-elliot

The Proverbs 31 Woman


woman-praying-840879-mThe Bible is really ahead of the times. Some people think of it as a bunch of fairy tales, others that it “contains” truth. The Christian understands that the Bible is God breathed, even as Man himself was God breathed in the beginning. So it should come as no surprise that the Bible addresses things for which we need guidance in the twenty-first century.

I doubt if the people back in Solomon’s day were engaged in gender wars or that there was a lot of confusion about the role of men or of women. Yet here at the end of Proverbs is this amazing chapter detailing attributes of “an excellent wife.”

I remember a good number of years ago that the Proverbs 31 woman was who we women were all studying to become. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be excellent in our role in the home?

But then someone—I forget who—came along with a counter. This new view sort of mocked the Proverbs 31 woman by making a caricature of her getting up early, buying property, making the family’s clothes, procuring their food, and on and on. The way this person laid it out, it was so obvious that NO woman could ever do all the stuff the Proverbs 31 woman was supposed to do.

And yet, fast forward, a few decades and lo and behold, women in our culture are expected to do all the jobs the Proverbs 31 woman was doing.

So is Scripture giving us a blueprint for how to live? Not in a legalistic way—and that may have been the problem with the earlier approach. Nevertheless, it does portray women in a positive light—not as drones or slaves trailing their men by ten paces with heads covered and faces veiled.

Instead, the specifics mentioned about the relationship with this wife and her husband are two: he trusts her and she does him good, not evil.

The rest of the chapter details things she does to care for her household, to work as a businesswoman in the community, to help those in need, to be prepared for the future, and to pass on to others what she has learned.

Only toward the end does her relationship with God surface, but it appears to me to be the foundation of all else:

Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates. (vv 28-31)

The recognition she gets from her husband and her children, augmented by the praise she receives from others because of her works of kindness, generosity, and all the rest, are a direct result of the fact that she fears the LORD.

By implication, she also is not wasting time on being a charming person or trying to enhance her beauty. Those things are deceitful—here today, gone tomorrow. But the qualities of character and the service to her family and community—those things last.

The bottom line is this: in today’s gender wars, the Proverbs 31 woman gives us a pretty great model to pattern our lives after. She is hard working, focused on others, and motivated by her reverence for God.

For these things she’s called excellent and she receives praise from the person who she’s closest to: her husband. Her children will also express their gratitude for her, and all the good she’s done others will reflect favorably on her.

Proverbs 31 is not a schedule of a woman’s day, as some might have tried to make it in the past, but it certainly outlines the principles that can guide a woman through the rough gender-war waters of today.

In truth, it’s not so different from love God and love your neighbor—just a little more specific.

Published in: on February 5, 2015 at 5:50 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Watch Where You’re Bathing


David and Bathsheba031It’s not a popular position today to say that how a woman dresses has anything whatsoever to do with how a man might act, but let’s face it—women bear responsibility for suggestive behavior.

For example, an eighteen-year-old Notre Dame football player just recently grabbed public attention by posting pictures of his date with a hot porn star—a forty-two-year-old porn star. She’s old enough to be his mother, and a few months earlier, she’d be guilty of statutory rape. (Yes, reportedly some of the pictures were of the two of them having sex.)

Of course most of the attention is on the young man. Some think he scored big or that he’s looking for a role in the porn industry himself. Others wonder what his Catholic university might have to say about his actions.

But I can’t help but think, would he have taken pictures of himself and his date having sex if he hadn’t been drawn into porn by the women he watched?

Women have been seducing men since the fall, and men have been guilty of sexual sin for just as long, but only today, it would seem, we acquit women of all culpability.

Perhaps the most famous seduction story in the Bible is King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, though we generally think of Bathsheba as an innocent party. She was anything but innocent.

Yes, David had plenty of guilt in the matter. He did all the wrong things a man could do, it would seem. He stayed at home instead of going with his troops to battle, as he had been doing. It was the equivalent of staying home from work to watch porn.

He was lounging on his bed and only arose in the evening to take a walk. He saw Bathsheba—not a quick glance, because he made an assessment of her beauty—and inquired after her. When he found out she was married, he pursued her anyway.

But what about Bathsheba? She “just happened” to take a bath in full view of the king’s residence. Did she not realize how close she was to the palace? Or that someone walking on the roof (the equivalent of a porch) could see her as she bathed? I doubt if she was so oblivious.

In truth, we don’t know for sure because the story is told from David’s perspective. For example, when David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed, how did she feel about their affair then? We only know that she mourned Uriah, but I suspect she carried a lot of guilt with her to that funeral and even to her subsequent wedding with David.

We know David grieved the death of their child, conceived in adultery, but we don’t know how Bathsheba reacted. We know God confronted David, through the prophet Nathan, because of his sin, and David repented. Did Bathsheba have that same encounter with God and the opportunity to confess her sin? We simply don’t know. Scripture doesn’t tell us because the story is focused on David.

Because the Bible doesn’t explicitly point out Bathsheba’s responsibility or perhaps her open seduction of the king, I think a lot of people bypass her part in the sin. He was the king, after all, and she had to go to him when he sent for her. Really?

If she had wanted to remain faithful to her husband, she could have refused to do David’s bidden the same way Uriah did when David tried to cover up Bathsheba’s pregnancy by sending Uriah home. He wouldn’t go, choosing instead to sleep with the king’s servants. His sense of duty wouldn’t allow him to be with his wife while the rest of the army was out in the field of battle. Too bad David didn’t have that same sense of duty.

Too bad Bathsheba didn’t either. When David sent for her, “she came to him.” Would he have sent if she hadn’t been bathing where he could watch her? Clearly not or the affair would have happened sooner.

I want to be clear on one thing: I am not saying women who are raped are at fault. That kind of blanket statement is foolish.

I am saying that women dress to be attractive and that can mean, draw the attention of men to their sexiness. In other words, how some women dress is with intent to make themselves sexually appealing. How is that any different from what Bathsheba did?

If tight or short or low cut get men to turn their heads, is dressing that way really innocent, innocuous conduct? How can we continue to think women bear no blame for setting men up to fail when it comes to their lustful thoughts?

Of course David bore his guilt for his affair with Bathsheba, and so must every man who has lust in their hearts, whether they act on it or not. But because David sinned doesn’t mean Bathsheba was without sin. I suspect many of us women bear guilt of like kind to Bathsheba’s. If only we could value purity above the world’s requirement that women “be attractive”–i.e., head-turningly sexy.

Instead Christian young women swallow what society says: men want sex so women should show their sexiness. And we wonder why divorce rates are high in the church and young people are sleeping around. We might be preaching purity and abstinence, but we aren’t teaching young people, or married couples, for that matter, what steps to take to avoid sexual immorality.

One thing that will help for sure is if young women pay attention to where they are bathing.

Women As Leaders Of The Church?


When I originally posted this article three years ago, it wasn’t one of the more popular blogs I’d written. I don’t suppose that will have changed, though I do think this is an important topic and this content is well worth bringing to the forefront again.

– – – – –

It seems obvious to me that the culture and not Scripture has influenced many people to believe that women too can be pastors and elders (would they be call eldresses? 😉 ) For over 1900 years, it seems, the Church understood the role of pastor to be reserved for men, but now in these last few decades we have scholars who say that actually all those earlier students of God’s Word, for all those centuries, had it wrong.

Why would we think that God would not correct this error long ago, if in fact it was error? Why, in the first place, did the Holy Spirit lead Paul to write something that for centuries the Church would misunderstand?

In reality, I think the Church for all those centuries understood exactly what God intended—that the role of pastor was reserved for men. Here is Paul’s clear instruction to Timothy:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)

Paul not only gives the principles the Church is to follow, he gives reasons for it. A woman’s role, in part, is established because of the order of creation. It is also set because Eve was deceived, not Adam.

There are several other issues involved too.

First, Scripture gives clear instructions about the relationship a wife is to have with her husband. He is the head who is to love her sacrificially. She is to give him her respect and submission.

That’s not subservience. Her submission is the same as my putting myself under the authority of a principal when I was a teacher. I may have disagreed with how a certain principal wanted to do things, but in the end, the teacher needs to give way to the principal, though in the best working situations, the two strive to reach a place that satisfies the concerns of both.

That’s the way any organization must work. Somebody has to be in the hot seat where the buck stops. In a family, that “somebody” is the husband—the one tasked to love and selflessly serve his wife.

Each local church also has a leadership structure, with a pastor and elders taking the responsibility.

So what would happen if a woman was pastor—the head or leader of … her husband, a member of her church, who was to be her head? At one point or the other, the leadership structure God designed for the family or for the church would break down.

There’s another issue. The pastor or episkopē and the elders were given the role of “shepherding the flock.” Luke mentioned this in Acts when he recorded Paul’s farewell admonition to the elders in Miletus:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)

Peter goes into more depth in his first letter:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 – emphases mine)

Is it coincidental that Peter refers to the pastor and elders as shepherds and Christ as the Chief Shepherd? Clearly not. He is likening their role, in miniature, to Christ’s role—just as Paul did when he addressed husbands and said they were to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. In other words, as the husband is to serve as a type of Christ by his sacrificial love, so the pastor is to serve as a type of Christ in his shepherding role.

We should not minimize this function of the pastor—as one who gives us a glimpse of the head/body relationship we enjoy with Christ.

Apart from specialty cases in which God may indeed call and equip a woman for a time, even as He allowed David to eat the sanctified bread reserved for priests, the teaching of Scripture gives the offices of pastor and elders to men. They are to be humble servants and caretakers of their flock, and women, as fellow servants and fellow heirs, are to join in ministry, just not in the lead role.

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm  Comments (8)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Review – Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman


I’m a sports nut. I also love good stories. Imagine how much I love a novel about an athlete. Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman is a wonderful story which just happens to feature a female athlete. What’s not to love? 😀

Chasing Hope coverThe thing is, Cushman is a talented writer who delves into the lives of her characters, often setting two opposites in juxtaposition so that their contrariness clashes. (See my reviews for her previous novels: A Promise to Remember, Waiting for Daybreak, Leaving Yesterday, Another Dawn, and Almost Amish.) By doing so, she allows them to grow, or to fail, however they choose. Chasing Hope is vintage Cushman.

The Story. When Sabrina Rice was twelve she knew what she wanted to do with her life. Just as Eric Liddell had, she wanted to win a gold medal and use her fame to tell others about Jesus Christ as a missionary. Ten years later, she’s on a different tack, heading into the corporate world. Apparently at twelve, she’d misunderstood God’s call because her hope for Olympic gold is a mere memory–one she tries hard to forget.

She’d done well to move past her dreams until Brandy Philip runs into her world, both at school and at home. There’s no avoiding the girl when Sabrina’s Nana begs her to intervene for the girl to help her stay out of juvenile hall.

Brandy has one talent–she can run. Fast. Sabrina knows the running world and is in a position to put in a good word for her, perhaps more. If she’s willing. The question is whether or not she can deal with the memories and doubts that come along with fulfilling her Nana’s requests.

Strengths. Cushman’s greatest strength is delving into her characters and pushing their emotional buttons by putting them into relationship with others who expose them for what they are.

In Chasing Hope the protagonist must confront herself because of a relationship with the guy she’s noticed and who’s begun to notice her; with her Nana who she loves dearly; with the granddaughter of her Nana’s friend who she pretty much detests; and with her parents who have differing ideas about what she should do with her life.

The result is a layered story with varied facets which make the main character seem like a real person, grappling with real doubts and questions, creating an invite for the reader to ask them as well. As a result, the story seems almost interactive.

The details of the running world are convincing. If there are errors, I didn’t pick up on them. The training regiments, the competition, the need for a runner to push herself beyond the point she thinks she can endure–the entire running milieu seemed realistic.

The story hung together beautifully, with one question after another driving the reader to keep turning pages. Why had Sabrina’s hope for Olympic gold died? What would she decide to do about Brandy? Why did she keep secrets from her love interest? Why was she trying to bury her past? What would become of Brandy? On and on, the questions are all delightfully enticing because Cushman makes the reader care about these characters.

The theme of the story is equally strong, never preached, perfectly wrapped inside the character development, and thoroughly Christian. No mistaking–this is Christian fiction.

Weakness. Reviews are always better when they are balanced, and more credible when the reviewer points out flaws instead of glossing them over. I know this, and I’m trying, but I honestly can’t come up with anything. Nothing pulled me from the story as I read. Nothing jumped out at me as I thought back over the story in the days after I finished reading it. And nothing comes to me know as I evaluate the elements. I’ll be interested to see if other reviewers managed to come up with something I’m not seeing.

Recommendation. This book is for Christians, and it confronts a question many committed believers ask. The protagonist is a woman, but she’s an athlete, so I have no doubt men can “get” this story, but I suspect women will make up the majority of the readers. Too bad. I think guys struggle with God’s calling on their lives just as much as women do. I think this is a must read for Christians. Non-Christians can definitely enjoy the story, but the main conflict will probably seem inconsequential to them.

In conjunction with the release of Chasing Hope, Cushman has a great sweepstakes going. I’ll give you details tomorrow.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher without charge with no requirement that my views would be favorable.

Gender Matters


Recently Mike Duran brought up the issue of guys reading books with female protagonists. His conclusion, essentially was, guys don’t read girlish books because they are guys.

Makes sense. Interestingly, the majority of the guys who commented–maybe all of them–said they were fine with female protagonists. It is romance they aren’t interested in. I suspect they were using “romance” as a code word, though, for “stuff women like.”

A Charmed Life coverI have a sneaking suspicion that those guys would also not be a bit interested in reading Shelley Adina’s The Fruit Of My Lipstick or Who Made You A Princess, Be Strong And Curvaceous, or The Chic Shall Inherit The Earth. Or how about Jenny B. Jones’s The Charmed Life, even though one reader says it contains “mystery, comedy, romance, action, and drama”?

Of course, not all girls will want to read those books either, but my guess is, you’d be hard pressed to find ten guys willing to pick up one in a book store, let alone buy it and read it.

On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to imagine girls reading the latest sci fi or horror or thriller or suspense. What genre don’t women read? Men, it would seem, as a class of people, draw a line when it comes to their reading and say, Nope, I don’t want to go there and so I won’t. Women, on the other hand, seem, as a group, less inclined to lines.

Why?

Because gender matters. Men and women are wired differently.

HeteroSym2Our anatomy differences, we’re all too aware of, but we also have a different chemical make up (which is why some vitamin companies sell a multiple vitamin for Her and a different compound for Him), differences in our use of language, and differences in our brain structure which ought not to be minimized. That women more easily access both hemispheres of our brain allows us to be interested in a wider variety of things–stuff guys are typically interested in because of their left brain dominance as well as the emotive stuff, the heartwarming Hallmark Hall of Fame type stories typically thought to interest women.

Granted, I’m speaking in generalities. Of course there are guys who also have a wide assortment of interests and girls who don’t want anything to do with trucks or tanks or spaceships or footballs. But the fact remains, the generalities fit most guys and most girls

What’s my point? The fact that girls have a wider variety of fiction they read and enjoy than do guys is another indication that gender matters.

People who want to say that guys don’t like girlish books because society has programed them that way have no answer as to why girls read widely, venturing into “manly” genres with no qualms. We women are in the same society and ought to have been programmed as the guys have been.

But the truth is, women and men are different. I know that’s a radical thing to say in this day and age. But it’s true. Gender matters. It really does make men and women behave differently, think differently, and apparently, read differently.

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm  Comments (10)  
Tags: , , , , ,

“The Woman’s Role,” An Anathema?


The other day, at the post office, I stood agape watching as a man leaned across a woman bent to pick up the stamps she dropped and handed his envelop to the teller. Where is chivalry? Sadly, more often each day, it’s a casualty of the feminist war on culture.

Feminists have won, let’s face it. Everywhere accept in religious circles, or so says Washington Post Faith columnist Lisa Miller (no relation) in her article “Feminism’s final frontier? Religion.” Certainly feminists have influenced culture, even in unexpected ways, as Mike Duran’s recent article “Chuck Norris Does NOT Exfoliate!” reveals.

What troubles me is that much of this push to bring feminism into the church comes from within the church. The reasoning seems to be twofold. First, women are talented, capable leaders, so the church is missing out by not putting them in places where they can do the most good. And closely connected to this, women who aren’t finding a place to use their skills and abilities are leaving the church. In droves. In fact, the implication seems to be, unless the church gets with the feminist program, there will be no church.

Here’s what Jim Henderson, author of Resignation of Eve: What if Adam’s Rib Is No Longer Willing to be the Church’s Backbone? said in an article excerpt of that book:

How would you feel if you were capable of leading, thinking, guiding, shaping and forming a spiritual community but were denied the opportunity to do so? This experience leads some women to walk away from the Church, Christianity and in some cases God.

Many women are discouraged. And while some of them, particularly young women, leave the organized church only, others walk away from the faith altogether. (from “Jesus often gave women a platform. Why doesn’t the rest of the Church?” – emphases mine)

Leaving the church because they don’t get to be up front? Or don’t get to perform wedding ceremonies? Or conduct elder board meetings?

I’m sorry, but how genuine a faith can someone have if she comes with an attitude of my-way-or-the-highway? Jesus asked the rich young ruler to sell all his stuff and follow nomadic Jesus, not because all people everywhere are supposed to have nothing and wander from town to town, but because the stuff that guy owned was his idol. He cared more about his belongings than he did about a relationship with God.

How can Mr. Henderson miss the fact that these women walking away from church because their desire to lead isn’t met within the body of Christ are just as surely putting their own self-importance ahead of their relationship with God?

What’s more, Jesus let the man who loved his wealth so much walk away. He did not run after him saying, Never mind, just kidding. It was only a test and it doesn’t really matter that you failed. I really, really, really do still want you in my kingdom, so come on back, stuff and all. In fact, maybe we can crash at your place tonight.

Yet that’s the approach Mr. Henderson seems to be advocating when it comes to women who are unwilling to submit to the authority of the Church. He advocates “staying in the room” and having a conversation because we’re supposed to love one another.

But frankly, I’m at a loss. I don’t feel oppressed by my church because I can’t be the pastor. And actually my not being qualified to be the pastor puts me in the company of ninety-nine percent of the men there too. So do they get some kind of special charge, empowerment by proxy, because our pastors are men, not women? How is my need to submit to the pastor different from their need to submit to the pastor?

I don’t see how women in the church are marginalized. We are to disciple one another. Older women are to teach the younger. There’s nothing in Scripture that indicates women aren’t to have key roles in the church.

In his letter to the church in Philippi, Paul mentions two women who were squabbling, but he refers to them as fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. (See Phil. 4:3.) In Colossians he sends greetings to “Nympha and the church that is in her house,” so apparently she had some key role in facilitating the gathering.

When Martha was exasperated with Mary for not helping out in the kitchen, Jesus didn’t scold Mary. He chided Martha for not wanting to soak up spiritual wisdom at His feet.

So too, today. In my church we have women who plan and organize and lead and learn and disciple. But the teaching role belongs to a man. It’s the one thing, and the only thing, I’ve ever seen in the churches I’ve been a part of that limit women.

What I find particularly vexing is that this triumph of feminism has done nothing about prostitution, sex trafficking, or pornography. No, no, no. Apparently those don’t marginalize women the way the church does.

Much more to say on this subject, but I’ll save further remarks for another day (when maybe I’ve calmed down some. 😉 )

Published in: on March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (25)  
Tags: , , , ,

Women As Leaders Of The Church?


It seems obvious to me that the culture and not Scripture has influenced many people to believe that women too can be pastors and elders (would they be call eldresses? 😉 ) For over 1900 years, it seems, the Church understood the role of pastor to be reserved for men, but now in these last few decades we have scholars who say that actually all those earlier students of God’s Word, for all those centuries, had it wrong.

Why would we think that God would not correct this error long ago, if in fact it was error? Why, in the first place, did the Holy Spirit lead Paul to write something that for centuries the Church would misunderstand?

In reality, I think the Church for all those centuries understood exactly what God intended — that the role of pastor was reserved for men. Here is Paul’s clear instruction to Timothy:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)

Paul not only gives the principles the Church is to follow, he gives reasons for it. A woman’s role, in part, is established because of the order of creation. It is also set because Eve was deceived, not Adam.

There are several other issues involved too.

One, Scripture gives clear instructions about the relationship a wife is to have with her husband. He is the head who is to love her sacrificially. She is to give him her respect and submission.

That’s not subservience. Her submission is the same as my putting myself under the authority of a principal when I was a teacher. I may have disagreed with how a certain principal wanted to do things, but in the end, the teacher needs to give way to the principal.

That’s the way any organization must work. Somebody has to be in the hot seat where the buck stops. In a family, that “somebody” is the husband.

Each local church also has a leadership structure, with a pastor and elders taking the responsibility.

So what would happen if a woman was pastor — the head or leader of … her husband, a member of her church, who was to be her head? At one point or the other, the leadership structure God designed for the family or for the church would break down.

There’s another issue. The pastor or episkopē and the elders were given the role of shepherding the flock. Luke mentioned this in Acts when he recorded Paul’s farewell admonition to the elders in Miletus:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)

Peter goes into more depth in his first letter:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 – emphases mine)

Is it coincidental that Peter refers to the pastor and elders as shepherds and Christ as the Chief Shepherd? Clearly not. He is likening their role, in miniature, to Christ’s role — just as Paul did when he addressed husbands and said they were to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. In other words, as the husband is to serve as a type of Christ by his sacrificial love, so the pastor is to serve as a type of Christ in his shepherding role.

We should not minimize this function of the pastor — as one who gives us a glimpse of the head/body relationship we enjoy with Christ.

Apart from specialty cases in which God may indeed call and equip a woman for a time, even as He allowed David to eat the sanctified bread reserved for priests, the teaching of Scripture gives the offices of pastor and elders to men. They are to be humble servants and caretakers of their flock, and women, as fellow servants and fellow heirs, are to join in ministry, just not in the lead role.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , , ,

Feminism In The Church, Continued


In some ways, the previous post on this subject was more about the influence of culture on the church than it was about feminism in particular. After reading the comments to that article, I thought perhaps I should address feminism more specifically.

First, my closing paragraph to the previous post may have come across too harshly. I know more than one woman working as a pastor, and I wouldn’t say any of them is covetous of the role of men. In each instance I believe they feel they are doing God’s work, and the pastorate gives them the best opportunity to accomplish this.

Rather, I was referring to the attitude of a nebulous collection of women who believe as the culture at large does — that to be equal with men, women must do all things that men do (with the exceptions of fathering a child and bathrooming in a standing position).

These women who are true feminists have brought their beliefs into their particular church denominations, resulting inevitably in a movement in their direction. Hence, scholars have reexamined the verses that have long been understood to exclude women from the pastorate. Consequently, without adopting the whole feminist package, some women believe that the new interpretation does indeed make way for them to take this leadership role.

In addition, I’ve heard of women on the mission field who, because of the lack of any man knowledgeable in Scripture, have assumed the pastoral role until such time as a qualified man is available. Were those women sinning by stepping into the gap? Should a fledgling church be without teaching because no man is available when a women is?

Those are hard questions, and I might answer them differently today than I would have some years ago.

What comes to mind is fugitive David standing before the High Priest, lying about his need for food, and subsequently receiving the portion meant exclusively for the priests. Sin? Jesus used this very story to justify His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry.

If it had been anybody else besides Jesus! But no, He who was with the Father when He struck down Uzzah for touching the ark as it nearly tipped over, who said He came to fulfill the Law, seemed to give David a pass for eating the bread of the presence and giving it to those who were with him:

Mark 2:25-26 – And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (emphases mine)

The operative principle seems to be need over law. After all, that’s why the Jews were allowed, even expected, to pull an animal out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen in. Need.

Bringing this line of thinking back to women and preaching, it seems to me that need might create a mitigating factor that would allow for a woman to act as a pastor.

But let’s face it — in the US there isn’t often a lack of available men to take on the role of pastor.

I’m not here to judge who is or isn’t serving out of need. I’m more interested in the attitude that we in the church are developing that seems to support the idea that a woman ought to be up front just as surely as a man is.

It is this position of leadership, I think, that is at issue.

In case you missed it, in one of his comments to the previous post, Patrick brought up an interesting point — what’s the difference between teaching in a church building and doing what I do here on this blog from time to time? After all, aren’t a preacher and a blogger who writes about spiritual things both elucidating Scripture?

It’s a great question. If we understand “Church” to be the body of believers, not a building, and women are to be silent in the Church, then it seems we are never to speak of spiritual things. But we know from Scripture, that isn’t so.

There were women who served as prophets, for example. And Mary the mother of Jesus offered one of the great praise psalms of all time. The Proverbs 31 superwoman ( 😉 ) included teaching in her repertoire: “She opens her mouth in wisdom,/ And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

The point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 14 when he said women should be silent, seems to me to be uniquely connected with what happens in a church service. After all, most of the chapter deals with how to have an orderly service. Women speaking in that context also is in juxtaposition to submitting to their husbands.

So what’s Paul really saying? It seems to me, his point is that women shouldn’t interrupt the service with their questions or overstep their husband’s authority.

What are we going on about then regarding women and pastors?

Scripture sets out the clear qualifications of a pastor and then of elders. One such requirement was that each must be the husband of one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 and 3:12 and Titus 1:6). Not a lot of room there for a woman.

This post is longer than it should be already, so I’ll save for another day why it is important that we look at the bigger picture to understand the importance of this issue.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
Tags: , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: