Red Letter Christians Interview with Dr. Mimi Haddad

The following are excerpts from an interview that Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo, of Red Letter Christians, did with Dr. Mimi Haddad, the president of Christians for Biblical Equality. It was so good, I had to transcribe* it for you. You can listen to the full interview here. Enjoy!

Shane: How does the work for equality of women intersect with other humanitarian and justice issues?

Mimi:  When you consider that the face of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition is largely female, and abuse and the demand for sex slaves around the world is driven by the porn industry, this explains why 200 million females are missing from the planet, as Dr. Amartya Sen has shown from Harvard. It also explains why humanitarian organizations demonstrate that when you invest in the education, health and businesses of females, these are the communities that thrive economically. Research from Goldman Sachs shows that investing in females drives economic growth, and it lowers unethical practices. This is referred to as The Girl Effect or the Virtuous Cycle. And the World Bank says undermining patriarchy is smart economics, it’s good for families, communities, and whole countries. And that’s what CBE seeks to do, because it is almost impossible to leverage humanitarian objectives like gender equality without the support of communities and a correct reading of Scripture.

Tony:  Where has the Church hindered biblical equality for women, and where has the Church helped biblical equality for women?

Mimi:  They are intricately connected. When the Church has had a high view of the cross and has read Scripture through the atonement rather than through gender roles, you see social justice advanced across-the-board. Consider the world of early Evangelicals, of the 1800’s. This is when the word Evangelical had more noble connotations. They were advocates of racial and gender justice, because they were strong advocates of the cross. They truly believed that Calvary changed everything, and they preached on Galatians 2:28 more than any other group in history. For example, A. J. Gordon, after whom Gordon College and Gordon-Conwell Seminary are named, he was the strongest advocate of Women’s Emancipation and Abolition.

Tony: The feminist movement, which in many cases is seen as a secular movement, began with Evangelical roots. Charles Finney, who Billy Graham considered the father of modern Evangelical preaching, if you became a Christian, he wanted to know if you were committed to the Anti-Slave movement and the Feminist Movement. Feminists had their first meetings in Wesleyan churches up in north western New York state, called The Niagara Movement. Maybe you can comment more on the history of the movement.

Mimi:  The Wesleyans have been leaders in Abolition and Women’s Suffrage, and in fact, Methodist women like Catherine Booth, who was driven by Wesleyan thought, and Katharine Bushnell, who was really one of the most popular women of her day. She was an anti-trafficker, a silence-breaker of the highest order.  I published recently an article on her legacy.  She exposed prostituted girls and women chained to beds in the Wisconsin lumber mills and the iron lines of Michigan.  It is only as Evangelicals have backed away from the high view of the cross, the high view of atonement, the idea that Jesus changes everything, that we have Evangelicals like John Piper, one of the most popular Evangelicals today, arguing not that Christianity has a Jesus-feeling to it but a masculine feel. And this has really regressed our advocacy for social justice. It is viewed now as a feminist and secular agenda.

Shane: What is it that keeps this patriarchy entrenched? Are you hopeful?

Tony: And I would like you to comment more on John Piper, one of the gurus of our time. How do you think he’s effected your movement?

Mimi:  I am hopeful, because millennials have been very strong in their courage and in giving voice so we no longer normalize the silence of victims. We are seeing it as part of our moral duty to expose perpetrators, and to create systems and structures, licensing and practices that make predators less prominent in culture and in churches. Patriarchy is deeply rooted in human culture. You can misread all religious texts, as Jimmy Carter has said in his wonderful book, “A Call to Action.” We normalize patriarchy because the “he will rule over you” sin will remain present until Christ returns. But it’s Christians that have to shine through that, as these early Methodists did, and point to a higher path and point to the cross.

I think that the tragedy that because it’s so normal, people like John Eldridge in “Wild at Heart,” instead of going to a Genesis to Revelation reading of the Bible, goes to art museums and points to the glorification of the female body, which of course, humans are made in God’s image and are beautifully and wonderfully made. Instead, we tend to make masculine and gender roles more about biblical ideals than about newness of life in Christ and leaders living by the fruit of the Spirit.

Shane: I was just speaking at an event with Lauren Winner, who’s a wonderful writer, and she said even the images we have of God tend to be very masculine. For example, the metaphors in Scripture that have become prominent are like all the churches we have called “The Good Shepherd,” and she asked if we’d ever seen “The Church of the Mother Hen.” Pull some things out of Scripture for us, where you see these roots, so you can correct our patriarchal theology.

Mimi: We have masculinized our reading of the Bible. When Jesus prayed, “Our Father,” this language hardened into modern concepts of ‘father.’ When Jesus prayed to Father, it was fathers in the ancient world who gave their children identity and inheritance. So instead of walking into the gender, masculine/maleness of that, Jesus was pointing to the bequeathing of identity, gifts, inheritance, protection. We’re missing the point when we impose gender on that instead of, “What is the larger moral principle?” It’s not maleness, it’s God’s love, protection.

Similarly, when we translate the Bible, we haven’t always done a great job.  We mistranslated words. For example, in Genesis, when gender is elaborated extensively in the first three chapters.  The only bad thing about a perfect world is Adam’s aloneness, so God creates an ezer kenegdo, which should be translated “strong rescue,” as David Freedman has demonstrated. We translate it as “help,” which in English connotes a subordination or an inferior. So translation committees need to work a little harder. And as Lauren Winner has said, we need to pull out these metaphors of God as mother. Metaphors have points of contact and points of no contact. If you’re on the patriarchal spectrum of Bible translation, you harden the masculine aspect of that instead of the moral aspect.

Tony: Also recognize, when you go to the original Greek, and to the Holy Spirit, there is every indication that the word pneuma in the Scriptures, both in the Hebrew and the Greek, suggest a femininity, that the Holy Spirit is the feminine aspect of God, that God is both masculine and feminine.

Shane: Tell us what the average person can be doing to get on board with the movement for biblical equality.

Mimi: The first thing we need to do is to work at an educational level. We need to understand and be aware of the deepest, largest study of marriage in the world is “Prepare and Enrich.”  They consistently show that dominance in marriage is a key factor in predicting abuse.  We also need to address pornography.  Have you ever heard a sermon preached on pornography?

Tony: I preached a sermon on pornography. We look at it as “what it is doing to men?”, when in reality, we ought to be asking, “what is it doing to women?” How is it reducing the status of women and how is it making women into things to be used rather than partners to be appreciated and loved.

Mimi: Right. The use of porn between Christian and non-Christian men is exactly the same. Porn of course reinforces male-dominance, female submission, and the eroticism used to be pictures of women on magazines and has moved to men inflicting pain on women and silencing their abuse. So strict gender-roles need to be explored biblically and and socially. One of four primary characteristics of abusers is adherence to strict gender roles. We need to hear sermons on strict gender roles that are enforced by groups like Boko Haram, Isis and the Taliban that tyrannize girls and enslave thousands around the world.

Shane: Yeah, I’m noticing how deeply entrenched this gets.  I’m writing a book on guns and gun violence right now.  Overwhelmingly, the predictor of women getting killed starts with domestic abuse, and women are often killed by a person who holds a key to their house, usually an intimate partner.  Looking at studies around the environment, say that when we begin to desecrate the lives of women, it leads to all sorts of other things.  But this is often the beginning sign.

Mimi: Yeah, and when governments use power and abuse, in enforcing law and even the death sentence, we see the rates of homicide rises, as Jimmy Carter has shown. That’s an important critique. We need to preach about domestic violence and abuse from the pulpit. I asked my pastor to do that last year, and he had preached for 65 years and never preached on abuse.

Tony: The thing is, we need to go to the Bible. In Galatians, as you pointed out, “In Christ, there is no longer Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, Scythian or Barbarian, male or female, all are all one in Christ Jesus.” And when the Holy Spirit comes upon the Church in the second chapter of Acts, both the men and the women end up preaching, end up prophesying. So pushing women out of the role of the pulpit preacher is unbiblical, because when the Holy Spirit comes upon the Church, women are given the same rights as men to be proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m awed and upset that certain denominations, like the Southern Baptists, have said that women cannot be preachers in the Church when men are in the congregation

Shane: When some of the first evangelists were women! The actual paradox of all this, is that women can be Sunday School teachers and missionaries, but cannot be entrusted with the pulpit. We give them some of the most precious work in the Church while still saying they’re not equal.

Tony: Our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters say they’re against the ordination of women. And their greatest missionary ever produced was a woman! Lottie Moon! I think the word that I have is, I’m against the ordination of women, I’m against the ordination of men, because all Christians are ordained for ministry.

Shane: I was talking to some of my friends about some of the things I love about Catholicism, and one of them pushed back, saying, “What have Catholics ever done for women?” And on the one hand I said, many of the great women we love from history, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Sienna, Mother Theresa, St. Clair of Assisi, have been iconized. What would you say to our Catholic brothers and sisters as we’re thinking about this? Will women priests ever happen?

Mimi: It looks like the Pope is taking seriously the role of women as deacons, which in many traditions is an ordained office, because certainly it is hard to disprove that Phoebe was a deacon, and she was  the only woman in the New Testament that held an official office in a church. And once you start these committees to do research, it’s very hard not to fall into the deep tradition of the priesthood of all believers. When very few women serve in top leadership, there’s a lot of abuse and unethical practice. Adding women, regardless of your denomination, will help with these ethical problems. The Catholic church like all churches, education is key.

Tony: In the 16th chapter of Romans, Junia is referred to by the Apostle Paul as a fellow apostle, the highest role of leadership in the church. What’s weird is that the first edition of the NIV, they changed the name to Junias to hide that a woman held the highest office in the church!  

*transcription errors and emphases are mine, all mine.  


Thanks for visiting TBKW blog! Subscribe to our email (in the column to the right) so you never miss a post! And “Like” us on Facebook, where we post articles every day from around the web on the topics of gender in the Church and world. Come again!

Advertisements

Lisa Sharon Harper slays Christian patriarchy in this epic Twitter thread!

E.47-Lisa-Sharon-Harper

Y’all know I LOVE sharing resources here that might empower you to answer God’s call on your life, especially if your church and culture are limiting you.  I was so excited to meet Lisa Sharon Harper two weeks ago at the Red Letter Revival in Lynchburg, VA.  Her sermon had me ugly-crying and she was extremely gracious afterwards when I went up to her and she prayed with me.  I read her book, The Very Good Gospel a couple years ago and can’t stop thinking about it.  I even bought several copies and gave them away for Christmas presents last year!

So yesterday, I saw this thread Lisa wrote on Twitter and I have to share it with you!   Follow LSH on social media, read her book, and invite her to speak at your churches/conferences/events – she is a POWERFUL and DYNAMIC teacher!!  Here, she explains why John Piper/TGC/CBMW/Desiring God are off-base in their gender-role teachings.


Thanks for visiting TBKW!  We love sharing resources that empower women and girls to armor up and join their brothers in the redeeming work of Jesus’ Kingdom!  Follow us on Facebook if you’d like to get posts from around the web each day addressing gender issues in the church and world.

And before you go, take a listen to this sermon from Lisa Sharon Harper on The Very Good Gospel!

Egalitarians Respond to John Piper on the Source of #MeToo

In a recent Desiring God podcast Q&A, John Piper outrageously said that egalitarianism is to blame for sexual abuse in the church.

As a leading complementarian voice in Evangelicalism (he co-founded the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), Piper has influenced millions of Christians to follow patriarchal hierarchy in the church and home, with men holding all authority and power, leaving women on the margins to submit and follow.  Egalitarianism, by comparison, teaches that leadership roles and gifts are designated by the Holy Spirit without regard to gender, age, ethnicity, income, or any other qualifier.  All persons are equal in the Kingdom of God, and in the home, egalitarians teach mutual submission between spouses.

Implying that sexual abuse is a new development in the past five decades with the rise of egalitarianism is absurd, as we can see that sexual abuse is a timeless result of sin.

I would recommend reading these three responses to Piper’s analysis.  First, Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, Int., wrote, “Do Gender Roles Keep Women Safe? A Response to John Piper” —

It’s confusing that Piper, who has spent his life preaching the gospel, links human flourishing to male and female roles instead of intimacy with Christ. However, Scripture does not associate male/female roles with holiness/godliness. According to the New Testament, godliness is inseparable from our spiritual rebirth and flourishes through relationship with Christ.

The dividing line that separates spiritual death from human flourishing has nothing to do with gender roles and everything to do with spiritual rebirth through the Holy Spirit. It’s Christ in you—the hope of glory—that imparts holiness, as demonstrated by fruit of the Spirit (Col. 1:21-27, Gal. 5:16-25). Here is where complementarians make a catastrophic error.

By insisting that maleness qualifies men to lead and care for women, complementarians give men responsibilities that rightly belong only to those who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership. Maleness isnot morality. Maleness is not a character quality. Maleness can tell us nothing about a person’s intimacy with Christ, their character, or their commitment to holiness.

God intended humanity to flourish through male-female co-dominion, which sadly, does not endure. Adam’s sin and first failure was disobedience to God, not failure to protect and lead Eve. God did not tell Adam “protect and hold authority over Eve,” but “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat,” (Gen. 2:17). When they disobey God, their shared rule deteriorates into the “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:16. Male rule, authority, and dominance is a consequence of sin. It is a distortion of God’s ideal for humanity. It wrecks the thriving that God intended.

According to Prepare/Enrich—the largest group studying marriage in the world—domestic violence and abuse are statistically linked with dominance. Theories that advance dominance can only fuel abuse. For this reason, humanitarian organizations “marble” gender equality into their goals for successful impact. Gender equality neutralizes the power imbalances that allow for abuse, which explains why adding women as middle managers and on boards lowers the rate of unethical practices.

Let’s turn our attention to the church. According to Kathryn A. Flynn, clergy-perpetuated sexual abuse (CPSA) is “not an issue of sexuality but rather one of a power imbalance that negates any possibility of ‘consensual’ mutuality. This distorted power dynamic has been accentuated by some clergy abusers through the misuse of significant social, cultural and even supernatural power ascribed to religious representatives as being derived from God.”[1] Further, the World Health Organization found that “traditional gender and social norms [are] related to male superiority.”[2]

The Sinnergists wrote, “No John Piper, Egalitarianism is not to Blame for Sexual Abuse”

Egalitarianism, by its very definition, is the belief that all people are equal and that there is no inherent difference of power, authority, worth, or status between men and women.

Sexual abuse, by its very nature, is about the exertion and the assertion of power. As experts have long noted, sexual abuse is not about lust or desire or even sex; it is about power and it is about control.

Egalitarianism and sexual abuse therefore, by their very natures and definitions, are mutually exclusive. A person who is truly egalitarian would never sexually abuse another person, because a person would never sexually abuse another person whom he or she truly viewed as an equal. To state it another way, a person who sexually abuses another has, by their own actions, demonstrated that they are not actually egalitarian because, as stated above, true egalitarianism is inherently and fundamentally incompatible with sexual abuse.

And Rachel Held Evans’ post, “Patriarchy doesn’t “protect” women: A Response to John Piper” is a must read! —

The #MeToo movement does not reflect some sudden increase in the abuse of women; rather, it reflects a growing awareness of those abuses, and a mounting, collective fervor to confront them. It’s a movement led by and for women, women who aren’t asking for some sort of paternalistic “protection” because they are fragile females, but rather to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve simply because they are human beings.

But what’s most dangerous about this posture is that Piper seems to assume that because evangelicals aren’t confronting sexual assault and abuse the way that Hollywood is, then those things must not be happening in their churches, that abuse only occurs in egalitarian communities where women have more power and influence. I would posit that, based on the many stories I hear from women who have left evangelical churches, it’s far more likely that abuse is flourishing in patriarchal homes and churches where women are given little voice and little recourse; it’s just getting swept under the rug rather than named and confronted. After all, Piper has said in the past that a woman in an abusive relationship should “endure verbal abuse for a season” and “perhaps being smacked one night,” before seeking help—not from authorities, but from her (male-led) church. As we have seen in the unfolding story of Sovereign Grace Ministries, in highly patriarchal churches where women have no power and where abuse claims are typically handled “in house” by the men in leadership, abuse runs rampant.

That’s because contrary to Piper’s argument, patriarchy isn’t about protecting women; it’s about protecting men. It’s about preserving male rule over the home, church, and society, often at the expense of women. 

In addition to mishandling his analysis of the #MeToo movement by blaming sexual assault on egalitarianism, Piper grossly mishandles Scripture in an attempt to proof-text his claims. For example, he points to the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis to suggest that an order of authority was established at creation wherein men are designed to lead and protect women, and women are designed to defer to and follow men. The Fall, as Christians sometimes like to call it, was the result of Adam’s failure to live into the masculine role of leading and protecting his wife. This is an…innovative….reading of the text for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2 to describe Eve, (typically translated “helper”), is formed from the Hebrew word ezer.  Far from connoting helplessness or subordination, the word ezer is employed elsewhere in Scripture to describe God, the consummate intervener—the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14), King David’s strong defender and deliverer (Psalm 70:5), Israel’s shield and helper (Deuteronomy 33:29). Ironically, in Genesis, the woman is literally the “strong protector” of the man!

In conclusion—

Banning women from the pulpit and silencing their voices in the church doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Instructing women to submit to their husbands by “enduring abuse” doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Handling abuse and assault allegations “in house” by reporting them to the male elders of a church instead of to the police doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Misusing Scripture to reinforce gender stereotypes based more on white, American, post-World War II cultural ideals than biblical truth doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Calling for a return to patriarchy doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

I particularly appreciated C. Allen’s responses to Piper’s tweet (posted above):

1-Fullscreen capture 3222018 22732 PM


Thanks for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  Did you like this post?  Please pass it on to others!  And  “Like” us on Facebook to see new  articles each day from around the web dealing with gender issues in the church and world.

God’s Vision for His Daughters

The following is a talk/sermon I gave in February at a ladies luncheon and in a service at our church.


I used to think that teenagers were the only ones who struggle with identity issues, as they are expected to be “finding themselves,” questioning authority, pushing boundaries, etc,  but I’ve discovered that the search for identity can continue beyond adolescence, and even be a lifelong journey.

The reason we struggle so much with our identity is that the Enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy us, constantly using lies that tell us to find our identity:

We are what we do.
We are what others say about us.
We are what we have.

As long as we are experiencing success and people are saying good things about us, or we are living comfortably and enjoying good relationships, we can feel OK.  But when we face failures, when others disapprove of us, when we lose people and things that are dear to us, then we may experience an identity crisis.  We may discover that we’ve been finding our identity in what we do, or in what others say about us, or in what we have.

001

We can be laid flat when an identity crisis comes, and may feel like the fool who built his house on sand instead of a firm foundation.  Or it can feel like we are standing face-to-face with a wall that doesn’t want to budge, and we have to push through by sheer will or just give up and walk away.  And that’s what many people do – they drift away from the Church or their faith when they lose their footing in one of these crises.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends became a Christian and I went through a Bible study with her about core doctrines of our faith. And then we went off to different colleges and she messaged me that she was doubting her faith.  I had no frame of reference for doubt, I had never had a single doubt in my 19 years of Christianity at that point.  So I had no idea how to meet her where she was.  She was having an identity crisis.  A couple years later, she died tragically, and I found myself having an identity crisis.  I was angry at myself for “letting” her drift from God.  I was angry at God for letting her die before I “fixed” her.  I didn’t walk away from my faith, but instead this was a catalyst for spiritual growth for me.  I learned that God was a loving Shepherd who pursues his lost sheep.  He didn’t need me to save my friend, so I lost my Savior complex.

This is what an identity crisis can do – it can be a time of spiritual growth as God chips a lie from the Enemy off our identity.  These crises are a natural and necessary part of our spiritual development as we mature and are sanctified more and more to be like Jesus.

God laid out a vision for his sons and daughters, so that we could live by the firm foundation of the identity that he intended for us.  Living in a fallen world, that vision is obscured by the lies of the Enemy.  But it is right here in Genesis chapter one and two.

002

One of the first aspects of our identity is that we bear the image of God. That means we are representatives of the character of God on earth.  We are the eyes and ears, hands and feet, and the voice of God.  As such, every voice matters in the church.  Every one of us has a unique aspect of his character to share with the church.

003

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he left his disciples with a Great Commission, to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).  Here in Genesis, God lays out the first Great Commission – our mission to manifest God’s kingdom here on earth.

004

The essence of God’s mission for human beings can be boiled down to four words:

Fruitful – Jewish scholars decided that in order to fulfill this command, men and women should marry and have at least two children.  By this standard, Jesus failed, because he never married or had any children.  And if you divided the worlds’ population by married and unmarried, you’d discover that half are unmarried, and one in four couples struggle with infertility.  As we see in the perfect life of unmarried and fatherless Jesus, who demonstrated perfect image bearing for us, this command is not only about procreation, but goes along with the biblical theme of the “fruit” that comes from being a faithful witness.  A faithful life bears good fruit.  And Jesus never faltered, even when tempted by Satan to believe the same lies he tries to tempt us with.  Jesus always drew near to His Father and prayed for His Father’s will to be done.

Multiply – We multiply image bearers through creative action, as representatives of the character of our Creator God.  We must allow our imaginations to draw us into doing unlikely and beautiful ministry for God.  The Night to Shine is a great example of creative action that puts God’s loving character on display for the world to see and multiplies image bearers in the process.  In Jesus, the perfect Image Bearer, we see creativity on every page of the Gospels.  His stories and parables drew crowds.  His miracles never ceased to surprise.

Rule – God has given us authority over all Creation.  Again, this is a mission for both men and women, boys and girls to fulfill.  We are God’s eyes and ears, his hands and feet, and his voice in this world.  It is a position of authority to represent God.  Every one of us is a born leader in God’s kingdom.  That manifests through our different gifts, talents, and callings – and it looks like servanthood and humility, as our perfect image bearer Jesus demonstrated.  But we need to root our identity in that fact.  We are kings and queens!

Subdue – This is about pushing back against the lies and destruction of the Enemy to God’s good creation; to be activists for the redemption of his creation.  Jesus was not passive when he saw people hurting – he was moved by visceral compassion and then he acted to heal, to feed, to teach.  As God’s representatives, we too need to be moved to ACT.  We need to “Let our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God” ( as Bob Pierce said, the founder of World Vision and Samaritans Purse).  If we begin to imitate Jesus, the perfect Image Bearer, in small ways each day, our capacity to be fruitful, to multiply, to rule and to subdue will grow.

Not a small task!  This is the mission for all image bearers – male and female, young and old – to be fruitful, multiply, rule and subdue.  God knit each of you together while you were in your mother’s womb, giving you everything you need to accomplish the good works he planned for you to do (Ephesians 2:10)!  Often times we can get too comfortable and busy here in America, and are content to worship God, to spend time with God each day, to lead a “good” life, and we may miss that God has a MISSION for us to do!

That was the chapter one creation account.  The focus there was vertical, about the relationship between human beings and their Creator.  In chapter two, we see a horizontal focus, on how males and females relate to each other and function together as partners.

005

Not good for man to be alone –

  1. He was alone in his relationship with God, no other creation called to live by faith
  2. He was alone in his mission to be God’s image bearer and to build God’s kingdom

God is Trinitarian, three-in-one, so Adam’s aloneness meant he missed a big part of image bearing and was impeded in revealing God in the world.

“God is entrusting his reputation to our male/female relationships.  We are telling the world what God is like by how we interact, value one another, build his kingdom together, and move towards Trinitarian oneness” (Carolyn Custis-James).

006

If God is entrusting his reputation to our male/female relationships, we need to unpack what it means for women to be “suitable helpers.”

And here, I’m going to remind you that the Enemy attacks our identity with lies.  Lies that make us feel less-than, unworthy.  The Enemy tells us we “should” find our worth in our accomplishments, appearance, education, femininity or masculinity, occupation, race, spirituality, wealth, etc.  He lies to us, telling us we are what we do, we are what others say about us, we are what we have.

007

And these lies get ingrained in our psyches through SOCIALIZATION.

We live in a Fallen world, where the Enemy prowls around looking to steal, kill and destroy.  And he’s been very effective, even in spreading lies even in the church.

We are socialized to believe certain lies about our identities through three processes:

  1. Modeling (how we observe others behaving)
  2. Overt Instruction (how we were instructed to behave)
  3. Reinforcement (positive or negative responses to our behavior)

Then, our socialization results in cognitive lenses, like bifocals or rose-colored lenses, that impact the way we understand the world and ourselves.  The Apostle Paul says that now we see as through glass, in heaven we will see face to face.

Socialization is POWERFUL.  Through our cognitive lenses, we learn to associate or assign meaning to words in a process that happens nearly instantly, in one-seventh-of-a-millionth second.

I want to do an exercise with you.  I’ll say a few words, and I want you to pay attention to your immediate association.  CHURCH; WORSHIP; LEADER; WOMAN

You may have thought “helper,” because every Bible translation you’ve ever read of Genesis 2:18 and 20 render the Greek word ezer there as “helper.”  The Holy Spirit inspired the word ezer to be used here to describe God’s daughters, so we want to understand it properly.  And sometimes, our modern English just doesn’t convey the same meaning as the original Hebrew.  This word ezer is a pretty striking example of this.

008

“The word ezer is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Twice it is used in the context of the first woman. Three times it is used of people helping (or failing to help) in life-threatening situations. Sixteen times it is used in reference to God as a helper.  Without exception, these biblical texts are talking about a vital, powerful kind of help. Yet when ezer is applied to the first woman, its meaning is usually diminished to fit with traditional and cultural views of women’s roles.” – Marg Mowzcko

Every instance where ezer occurs, it is in the context of warfare.  And the Garden of Eden is no exception.  God intends for his daughters to be a “strong help” in the war against the Enemy and in building his Kingdom!

Similarly, the Hebrew word kenegdo that is translated “suitable” or “meet” actually means “corresponding to, signifying equality.  God has not created a subordinate assistant for Adam but rather, a strong equal.  Men and women are neither inferior nor superior to each other. Both bear the image of God, both share the mission of human authority over creation.

009

Our final passage doubles down on the equality of male and female:

010

Like the translation of ezer, the word translated “Rib” here doesn’t actually refer to a bone, but means “good portion of Adam’s side.”  Some theologians have argued a strong case for this meaning that the first human was divided in two.

Oneness is the point here, with God at the center of their oneness.

011

So as we see in these Creation stories, our true identity is as image bearers, here in Appomattox to represent God’s character and mission.  As his representatives, we are at the center of what God is doing in Appomattox—not as spectators but as kingdom agents and as leaders responsible for what is going on around us.  We are God’s eyes and ears, his hands and feet, and his voice in the world.  We are ezer warriors, and as his representatives, we need to see the world through his eyes, love what he loves, grieve what he hates, and join his cause.

He gave us Jesus as the example of a perfect image bearer, showing us exactly how we are to be fruitful, multiply, rule and subdue.  Everywhere he went, Jesus was the embodiment of love, mercy and justice. We too must embody the gospel in our relationships and work.  And I believe this little army here today can be a catalyst for revival in Appomattox!

012


Thanks for visiting TBKW!  “Like” us on Facebook where we post articles from around the web everyday, dealing with gender issues in the Church and world!

I was reading Carolyn Custis-James’ book, “Half the Church” when I prepared this talk, and her influence is all over it.  I would highly recommend you read her book!

10 Awesome Women Pastors from History

I was so excited to write an article for CBE International’s Arise blog for Women’s History Month!  I researched dozens of women to narrow this post down to ten notable early women pastors from United States’ history.  Please pass the article on to others if you like it!  I would love to have future opportunities to write for my very favorite organization, Christians for Biblical Equality!


10 Awesome Women Pastors from History

WHM10pastors

During Women’s History Month, and especially on International Women’s Day, we have a unique opportunity to correct the marginalization of women’s accomplishments and influence. Those blindspots exist in the church too, especially when it comes to women pastors. Women pastors are not a new phenomenon, but many Christians aren’t aware that there is a long tradition of women pastors in the church.

Women in history were faithful to their pastoral callings—against all odds. Many pursued ministry against the cultural tide of patriarchy in the church. These tenacious women are a vital part of our Christian legacy. But also, when we celebrate women pastors in history, we open doors wide for women in ministry today. With that in mind, here are ten awesome women pastors from early American history you should know.

Read the rest here.


Thanks for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  “Like” us on Facebook, where we post articles from around the web dealing with gender issues in the church and world.

Esther as “Bachelor” contestant who was “In it to win it”

This past Sunday, I visited a Converge church, a denomination formerly known as the Baptist General Conference.  This denomination hosts a rather diverse group of pastors, from fundamentalist, complementarian John Piper to “heretic” Greg Boyd from Woodland Hills Church, of which I am a faithful “podrishoner.”  In addition, our beloved former church in Maine is a part of Converge.

The pastor at this church I visited is a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate and an obvious complementarian, whose demeanor and style struck me right off as being NeoCalvinist and of the Piper-persuasion.  He was opening a series on Esther and I was blown away with his take.  I don’t think it is over-stating to say that I was appalled.

He began with a description of the wicked king, whose wife Vashti did a good thing refusing to strip tease for a room of drunks, but this made the king look bad for not having control of his household, which he oddly publicized all over the kingdom when he threw his “Miss Persia” contest.  We’ve all seen “The Bachelor” and may credit Hollywood with this brilliant idea, but Ancient Persia was ahead of their time!  He described Esther’s year of beauty treatments under the care of eunuchs – “We all know what a eunuch is, right?  Good, I don’t have to explain it.”  Then this young pastor went on to say it is difficult to say who the heroes of this story really are, as Mordecai and Esther stayed in Persia rather than return to their own land with Nehemiah to rebuild, and they hid their Jewish identity, so they weren’t living according to covenant laws.  And Esther was “in it to win it” in a contest with a “sexual component.”  So her character is questionable but God was able to work all things for good in this story (Romans 8:28).

Viewing the context of Esther like this is very similar to Mark Driscoll’s perspective.  He wrote about Esther,

She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.

This is a really detestable way to paint the life of a teenage girl who was probably around 12-14 years old and was “sought,” “gathered” and “taken” by the king’s soldiers and placed in custody of Hegai, the eunuch (castrated man) in charge of the harem.  Saying that Esther was competing in a “Miss Persia Pageant” is like saying blacks “immigrated”
to Southern cotton farms.  This was sex slavery.  Esther could not refuse the king without risk of execution.  And after her one night with the king, had she not been crowned queen, she would have been discarded/imprisoned in a harem for the remainder of her life.  Calling Esther’s character into question is preposterous.  Would we question the character of Jews in Nazi Germany for hiding their ethnicity?  Would we question a child who was raped at knife-point?

Esther had NO CONTROL over her imprisonment and rape.  She was a child.  She was a victim.  She was a minority.  She was a young girl in a patriarchal world that only valued women as property.  She had no power or agency in the context of this story.

And she is the HERO!!  Do not minimize Esther because she is a female heroine in the Bible!  Stop minimizing the amazing women of the Bible that God used to do amazing things for His Kingdom!  Jews celebrating Purim know exactly who the hero is – they cheer every time the reader says Esther’s name, and boo whenever Haman’s name is read.

It is not difficult at all for us to condemn Sharia law for child marriage.  But when it comes to Roy Moore and Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill, Evangelicals can be painfully hypocritical.  And with the on-going conversation about the hashtags #metoo, #churchtoo and #silenceisnotspiritual, the book of Esther is a beautifully relevant story to tell in addressing sex abuse and the church’s historic culpability in covering it up.  Sex abuse among Protestant denominations is a sadly prevalent reality.  The church I was visiting had around 600 people in attendance.  If the statistics bear out, there were probably around 100 people there who have been sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.

The Whartburg Watch gave this analysis of Driscoll’s contemptible statement above:

1.”Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions.”
Driscoll shows an abysmal lack of understanding about the role of women in this culture. She did not “allow” men to make decisions for her; she was forced to do so.  She would be forced to do so if she was beautiful or ugly.

2. “She spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women.”
Let’s get something straight.  Being taken to a harem by a bunch of the kings’ men is not a day at the spa. This was about one thing for everyone involved and that was making the king happy. If the king wasn’t happy, everyone involved would die.   She had ZERO right of refusal unless she wanted a straight ticket to eternity.

3.”She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite.”
Once again, Driscoll demonstrates his unremitting fixation with sex. He assumes that she was some sort of sex machine that serviced the king in such a way that he made her his queen. How does he know that? Could Esther have been kind, thoughtful, smart, or humorous? I guess it doesn’t matter because, in Driscoll’s world, it all boils down to sex. So that was, is and ever more shall be, his final answer.

4. “Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor.”
Driscoll’s attempt to bring this into a modern context shows a bizarre reinterpretation of the historical nature of that culture. Did he ever take a history course?  If he did, I want the name of his professor. Today’s reality shows are based on freedom of choice. One does not have to be Kim Kardashian, although Deb comes pretty close. (Let’s see if she is reading this). But,  from what I have read about Driscoll’s needs, his wife better be on her “A” game or another book will be forthcoming, bless her heart.

5. “She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.”
How does he know that she lacks character? Character is revealed, not when things are going well, but when things are going dreadfully wrong.  In fact, from my observations of Driscoll, he needs to spend some time in study and prayer on the issue of character. Mark Driscoll is certainly no Esther when it comes to this virtue.

Secondly, did anyone read any verses in Esther about her conversion? How does he know she didn’t have a real faith in God? When it came time to save her people, she requested that the Jews fast for three days. Fasting is one of those biblical things, last time I checked. So, did she just get lucky and guess that they should fast or was she just a quick study?

A Bit of Humor

One of the funnier comments I found on this sad example of Driscoll’s Biblical exposition is the following. The author at Kludt said that he had some points of agreement with Driscoll. Here is how he presented it.

[Esther] grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her uncle. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.

In this article, Marg Mowzcko talks about Mark Driscoll’s preference for Karen Jobe’s commentary on Esther, and the interesting irony that complementarians will read women theologians but will not allow that same woman to publicly teach her wisdom and scholarship on that same topic.  

I just had to log in today for this special rant.  Even though I grew up complementarian, I have been attending egalitarian churches for nearly eight years now, so hearing complementarian exposition first-hand again was jarring.  I believe the patriarchy is the evil result of the Fallen relationship between men and women and is not at all God’s vision for humankind.  We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.  For there is now no more male or female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, for we are all one in Christ (Galatians 8:28).


Thanks for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  “Like” us on Facebook, where we post interesting articles every day from around the web, dealing with gender issues in the church and world.

 

 

What I Love About Homeschooling

Flash Quiz!

What is something that Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, C.S. Lewis, Wolfgang Mozart, Leo Tolstoy, and Mark Twain have in common?

white-schoolkids-ca-1935

They were all home schooled!

I am homeschooling my kids this year and have had several people ask what I love about homeschooling, so I thought I would post my thoughts here.  But first, I want be clear that I understand that home education is not feasible for most families.  I’m not writing this to shame non-homeschooling families.

I also believe that we need public schools, and our public school teachers deserve mad props for being amazing public servants!!  This is not an anti-public school post.

We each must prayerfully discern how God is leading us in how we will raise and provide for our children, and then follow with confidence in God’s perfect love for our children.  The kids will be alright.  Amen?!

Home schooling only accounts for 3% of education in the United States, with 2.3 million students learning at home in 2016.  It is definitely the “road less traveled,” and as someone on that road, I would love to share my favorite things about home education:

I have more time to disciple my kids.

In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus commanded us to make disciples (i.e. Jesus followers).  I often felt like our busy life pre-homeschooling impeded our ability to teach our kids about God and God’s Kingdom.  Not to mention that the weight of their peers’ voices was overpowering our own as parents.  In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses directs us to, “Impress [the commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  I have lots of friends who do a beautiful job discipling their public-schooled kids.  I am not saying it cannot be done.  All I am saying is it is easier as a homeschooling family.  

love infusing the day with theology.  As we studied Harriet Tubman last week, I talked to my kids about liberation theology.  And I can focus on their character development.  This year, I feel like I am quoting John 4:6-8 over and over again.  “Beloved, let us love one another.  For love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who loves not, knows not God, for God is love.  Beloved, let us love one another.”  I have first-hand access to see that this is a lesson that needs repeating…and repeating…and repeating.  This is the kind of socialization that I want for my children.

It’s a slower lifestyle.

We live in a fast-paced world and many bemoan the speed of life compared to previous generations.  When we were public-schooling our kids, they were up at 6:30, racing around to catch the bus by 7:00, and after-school activities kept them busy until dinnertime and even bedtime for older students with homework.  We had very little family time.  Now, we all get plenty of sleep and have lots of free time for chores and play, the truly important work of childhood.  If the kids are excited about a project, they have the time to enter flow and fully develop their ideas.  I can be flexible with our schedule to allow for rabbit-trails and exploration, lots of field trips and spontaneous family adventures.  While we were public-schooling, my sons never played with their little sister.  It warms my heart to see our family growing closer together through our new slower lifestyle.

Studies show that in the modern public school classroom, management, busywork, waiting, leaving and arriving, and other diversions reduce gross instructional time to around ninety minutes a day.  According to Dr. David Elkind of the University of Rochester, attention in class to single students may average, per student, only six hours per year.¹  With home education, you are able to complete your daily curriculum in much less time, freeing up much of the day for your kids to be imaginative and to participate in household chores and life.

I get to participate in my kids education.

I have a lot of fun learning along with my kids!  One of my Clifton StrengthsFinder results is Connectedness – making connections between ideas.  I have such a good time making connections between what we are learning in our curriculum and the life events that we experience outside of “school.”  The whole world becomes our classroom!

The flip-side of this coin is that there can be a lot of insecurity in homeschooling — am I doing enough with them?  Are they progressing adequately?  What am I not doing that I should be teaching them?

The truth is, home education, public schools and private schools are all imperfect.  Each scenario has pros and cons, and saying yes to some pros means accepting the corresponding cons.  But you weigh your options and decide what is best for your family and then you go forward bravely.

613b29722dcf555a4e6275004ffc5d4cIt takes time to find the homeschool style that works best for your particular kids and family.  Styles include eclectic, classical, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, school-at-home, Waldorf, etc.  You can buy full curriculum or piece your own together. Some curriculum works better than others for different individuals.  You may try different styles year to year, or even within the same year.  A big pro in home education is having flexibility to drop things that aren’t working and to pursue new options.  Give yourself lots of grace as a budding teacher.  Think outside the box, get your kids involved in a co-op or part-time at the public school. There are countless options.

In my opinion, providing a nurturing, non-competitive, shame-free environment for education gives natural learners a place to thrive.  We cannot predict outcomes, but that can also be said of public-schooled children.

Self-directed learning sticks harder.

Our brain won’t hold onto information that it deems expendable.  When I was in school, I forgot almost everything I studied once the information was regurgitated onto a test.  Once the purpose of the information was accomplished, an “A,” I was done with it.  Not knowing that I would find that information valuable in later years, my brain didn’t file it in my long-term memory.

Kids are naturally curious about their world and are motivated to learn information to be productive and successful in life.  Each child bears the image of God and has the capacity to impact the world through creative authority.  If students have more agency to pursue areas of natural aptitude and interest, the knowledge they acquire “sticks harder.”

In a Smithsonian Report on the development of genius (cited in this article), it was found that children need three conditions for optimal development: “1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and 3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.”  These conditions are more readily found in the home than in the classroom.

Mental health and self-image matter for life.

Children (most adults too, for that matter!) tend to judge another’s worth on three factors: beauty, intelligence, and wealth.  Janet Kizziar and Judy Hageforn, experts in the field of adolescent self-esteem, write: “The way his peers perceive him strongly influences the adolescent’s conception of himself, which generally remains unchanged throughout his life.  Peer influences are at their zenith during preadolescence and adolescence when youngsters are most inclined to feel socially, emotionally, and even intellectually inept.”²  Child psychologist Dorothy C. Briggs points out that “no child can see himself directly, he only sees himself from the reflection of others.  Their ‘mirrors’ literally mold his self image…what goes on between your youngster and those around him, consequently, is of central importance.”³

Anxiety, depression, bullying, drug use, porn use, suicide, and more are growing problems among our young people.  Attentive parents can infuse their children with a deep sense of worthiness and belonging that will give their life a firm foundation.  I don’t want peers to influence my children’s conceptions of themselves that will last for their entire lifetime.  I love Brene Brown’s Parenting Manifesto – I have it printed and hanging on my fridge.   “Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable.”

In conclusion,  As image bearers of God, every human has an amazing capacity to attain the knowledge needed to pursue their particular calling and path.  Whether our children are home or attending a school, we can nurture in them loving, generous, and brave character.  We can give them a sense of wonder at God’s amazing creation (including themselves).  I am very grateful that, at least for now, I am able to keep my kids home with me, where they have time to explore and the security to be themselves.


¹Ballman, Ray E.  The How and Why of Home Schooling  (Crossway Books; Wheaton, IL.  1995),  p. 35.

²Kizziar, Janet and Hageforn, Judy.  Search for Acceptance: The Adolescent and Self-Esteem (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1979), p. 2.

³Briggs, Dorothy.  Your Child’s Self-Esteem: The Key to Life (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970), p. 2.

Here are a couple recommendations I have for parenting/homeschooling resources (Please leave your recommendations as a comment – I’d love to see them!):

  • Writings by high school teacher turned education reformer, John Holt.
  • This is an old quote, but worth considering (from the Homeschooling wiki page):

In the 1970s, Raymond and Dorothy Moore conducted four federally funded analyses of more than 8,000 early childhood studies, from which they published their original findings in Better Late Than Early, 1975. This was followed by School Can Wait, a repackaging of these same findings designed specifically for educational professionals.[46] They concluded that, “where possible, children should be withheld from formal schooling until at least ages eight to ten.” Their reason was that children “are not mature enough for formal school programs until their senses, coordination, neurological development and cognition are ready”. They concluded that the outcome of forcing children into formal schooling is a sequence of “1) uncertainty as the child leaves the family nest early for a less secure environment, 2) puzzlement at the new pressures and restrictions of the classroom, 3) frustration because unready learning tools – senses, cognition, brain hemispheres, coordination – cannot handle the regimentation of formal lessons and the pressures they bring, 4) hyperactivity growing out of nerves and jitter, from frustration, 5) failure which quite naturally flows from the four experiences above, and 6) delinquency which is failure’s twin and apparently for the same reason.”[47] According to the Moores, “early formal schooling is burning out our children. Teachers who attempt to cope with these youngsters also are burning out.” Aside from academic performance, they think early formal schooling also destroys “positive sociability”, encourages peer dependence, and discourages self-worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers. They believe this situation is particularly acute for boys because of their delay in maturity. The Moores cited a Smithsonian Report on the development of genius, indicating a requirement for “1) much time spent with warm, responsive parents and other adults, 2) very little time spent with peers, and 3) a great deal of free exploration under parental guidance.” Their analysis suggested that children need “more of home and less of formal school”, “more free exploration with… parents, and fewer limits of classroom and books”, and “more old fashioned chores – children working with parents – and less attention to rivalry sports and amusements.”[47] 

  • More Black families are choosing homeschooling to give their children an education free from discrimination.
  • A great podcast with psychologist Alison Gopnik on the Gardening vs. Carpentry models of modern parenting.

    “The idea is that if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you’re going to be able to shape your child into a particular kind of adult,” she says.  “I think the science suggests that being a caregiver for human beings is…much more about providing a protected space in which unexpected things can happen than it is like shaping a child into a particular king of desirable adult.”

  • Sir Ken Robinson’s must-see TED Talk on education reform:


The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors is a place for empowering women to pursue their God-given callings alongside their brothers in Christ.  We post articles about gender issues in the Church and world every day on our Facebook page.  Subscribe to our blog so you never miss a post!