Tag Archives: Biblical Womanhood

Best of Summer Link-Up

We have a lot of catching up to do, Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  Once again, it has been a busy summer here in Vacationland.  Thank you for being patient and sticking with Becky and me even when our lives are overflowing with non-blog-related activity.  Every day, we post great links on our Facebook page, and I have just scrolled through to share my favorites here from July and August.  But first, feast your eyes on the scenery around my home in Maine.  Then you’ll understand why it’s such a popular destination!

~  On Biblical interpretation  ~
6 reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 is not as clear as it seems
“A broad principle we might derive from 1 Timothy 2:12 is “bad or bossy teaching is not permitted.”

Indispensible: Women Who Plant Churches “It’s hard to imagine a stronger affirmation of women as indispensable church planters than Paul gives the women of Philippi. Church planting efforts multiplied because he broke with tradition to partner with his sisters in Christ.  The mission Jesus entrusted to his church is demanding, so demanding that it requires a Blessed Alliance of men and women working together. In this challenging post-Christian world, we are learning afresh of God’s desire for the partnered ministry of women and men in seeing the gospel embodied and advanced through the planting of new churches. We must reclaim the biblical and apostolic conviction of the indispensability of women in church planting!

~  On how patriarchy hurts men and women  ~
How the Christian ‘masculinity’ movement is ruining men
“The Christian Bible paints for us a view of manhood that is much more complex than these simple stereotypes allow. For every biblical reference to warriors like Samson or Saul, we read of characters like young David, a harpist, who through no power of his own defeated a giant. We meet Simeon, known for patiently waiting decades to see God’s promise revealed. Jesus himself notably refused to fight back, even giving up his life and physical body in a history-making display of spiritual strength.  A closer reading suggests that the Bible’s heroes aren’t meant to be models of outward toughness but exemplars of inner fortitude. So why have so many Christians accepted secular standards of masculinity as the basis for biblical manhood?”

No, Focus on the Family, I do not want to civilize a barbarian
“I think our problem is a society that encourages men to be violent, not that women should be whatever-definition-Glenn-T.-Stanton-has-for-feminine so they can motivate men out of being a malignant cancer. If appreciating a woman’s opinion is life-changing, let men and boys, single and married, respect women and their opinions in every sphere of society – including in politics, in church, in the home, at work and in social settings.”

Why Donald Trump is Good for Evangelicals
“Kinder-gentler versions of manhood and calls for men to ‘man-up!’ and take charge that thunder from evangelical pulpits and appear in books addressing men merely situate evangelicals on the cultural manhood continuum. Such definitions are woefully inadequate and run the risk that men, like Trump, will take things too far. Worse still, they fail to offer men and boys the indestructible identity, dignity, meaning, and purpose that their Creator intended when he bestowed the imago dei on all his sons and daughters.”

Its Not OK, and We’re Not Alright
“Just because not everyone experiences the fallout of an oppressive system in the same way does not mean that the oppressive system does not exist. When someone reduces all the harm, damage, and trauma of purity culture down to something “weird” or calls our responses “melodramatic,” they are erasing us and dismissing our legitimate grievances. This happens because they have had the privilege of living in an oppressive system and not being significantly harmed by it.”

~  On abuse and protecting your children  ~
The Courage Conference – Lynchburg, VA   October 28-29
“Did you know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience abuse in their lifetime, including those in church? And, for the last five years, child sexual abuse has been the number one reason Churches or Religious Organizations have ended up in court.  The Church is often the first place victims of abuse go to seek help and healing. If we are not educated and equipped to properly serve these hurting individuals, we can unintentionally neglect or even re-victimize them. This is why we created The Courage Conference. 

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife –  A Review “Reading this book also requires a willingness to reconsider one’s view of marriage. This is no simple task because her story raises questions regarding deeply held beliefs about marriage roles, male headship, and female submission that many evangelical Christians consider sacred and nonnegotiable. Yet the “silent epidemic” of domestic abuse that concerns Tucker is so dangerous and life-threatening within Christian circles, and so easily concealed, we cannot afford to brush her off and refuse to listen.”

5 Phrases That Can Help Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
“That’s your vulva.”
“Stop.”
“No secrets.”
“Did you feel safe?”
“High five, wave, or hug?”

5 everyday ways to teach your kids about consent.
1. Ask for their consent often.
2. Teach them that their “no” matters.
3. Model to your child that “yes” can become “no” at any time.
4. Seek to understand.
5. Keep “regard” at the forefront of your mind.

~  On the complementarian vs. egalitarian debate  ~
Someone mansplain complementarianism to me (ormen, what is wrong with us?)
“Because ironically, the greatest argument against this elevated religious view of men—is men. We’ve created a historical body of work reprehensible enough to make Complementarianism laughable. If the abhorrent behavior of men is trying to make an argument for moral superiority, we ain’t looking’ that good, fellas. I think we need to make room at the table and the pulpit and the office, and realize that it’s been a long time coming and it’s a really good thing.” 

5 False Assumptions about Egalitarians
1. Egalitarians don’t respect Scripture.
2. Egalitarians are wishful thinkers when it comes to the Bible.
3. Egalitarians don’t understand complementarianism.
4. Egalitarians deny that men and women are different.
5. Egalitarians undermine the church.

History of Complementarianism – Part 1 and Part 2
TWW Commenters Weigh In On Complementarianism
A FUN read full of gems like this John Piper spin-off:

“If a complementarian man finds himself being taught by, or under the authority of a woman, I think he should endure it for a season.”

Mary Kassian Compares Women Who Teach Men in Church to Fornicators
“Kassian’s boundaries are difficult to follow since it appears that she finds loopholes for just about anything so long as she is doing it.”

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~  On sexism  ~
Are U.S. Millenial Men Just as Sexist as Their Dads?
“Taken together, this body of research should dispel any notion that Millennial men ‘see women as equals.'”

9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women
Let’s finish this link-up with a bit of humor.  It’s funny because it’s true. 🙂

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The Beauty of Womanhood

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Desiring God has a new post on their blog today written by Abigail Dodds on “The Beauty of Womanhood” (I am curious to know what percentage of their blog posts are on “biblical manhood and womanhood”?).  Dodds’ writing is lovely but her description of ideal womanhood is a one-dimensional picture of privilege that diminishes the beauty of women who do not fit the complementarian mold, and is also disparaging of men who practice gender equity.  Rather than celebrating the multi-faceted, diverse beauty that exists in global expressions of womankind, Dodds places middle- to upper-class 1950’s-esque Westerners on a pedestal of “blinding beauty.”  I am certain that her intent was not to be unkind or dehumanising to others, but that is essentially what occurs when fundamentalists create firm boundaries around what a woman or man may or may not do.  Those who do not conform are less-than, or in Dodds’ words, “grotesque.”

Dodds describes a woman’s influence as “found primarily in the soil of the home,” and glorious feminine beauty as being found in a woman “who presides over her domain with strong arms and resourcefulness (Proverbs 31); daughters that are corner pillars, whose strong support could only be matched by their exquisiteness (Psalm 144:12).”  Dodds suggests that it is our culture (liberalism!  feminism!  egads!) that draws women away from the home to run on a treadmill of expectations in pursuit of rewards “that don’t require diapering.”  Let’s not mention the treadmill of expectations that come with complementarianism!

 

And what does it offer in return? Women who strive against themselves, at war with the seeming redundancy of two X chromosomes, in a competition we were never made for, and in our hearts, don’t really want to win. For when a woman sets herself up alongside a man — as made for the same things and without distinction — the result is not uniformity, but rather, a reverse order. Indeed, in order for her to become like a man, he becomes less and less like one. And that’s something that most women, even the most ardent feminists, recoil at in their heart. Not because femininity is detestable, but because on a man, it is grotesque.

But wait, there is more!  Dodds says that women who “forsake our feminine glory in pursuit of the uniqueness that belongs to men…become usurpers, persistently insisting that our uterus and biology are equal to nothing, irrelevant.”  Women are meant to “make good men great.”  We mimic our Savior by submitting to another’s will (many complementarians believe in the heretical doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son.  I don’t know if that is what Dodds is referring to here, but I wonder if women are to mimic our Savior by submitting, what are men to do?).

God’s design outlined in the Scriptures is a vision for womanhood that is not just right and to be obeyed, it is experientially better than all the world has to offer. And it doesn’t just apply those who are married or mothers. Single women of any age are meant for full godly womanhood. To be a mother in the deepest sense — that is, spiritually — nurturing and growing all God’s given her.

Complementarians will often say that living a patriarchal life is the most wonderful way to live, without truly listening to non-complmentarians about their life experiences or to complementarian women who suffer in their subjugation (read this! and this!).  It is a black and white issue for them and anyone who believes differently has been influenced by “the world” and could not possibly have acceptable reverence for God’s Word which clearly subordinates women.  I do not know Abigail Dodds personally, but methinks she may not have any direct experience living outside of a complementarian context.  I would guess that she was raised in a patriarchal culture and socialized to see the world through a patriarchal lens.  It makes sense to her, she has a great marriage and a lovely faith community (with male leadership, of course), and she wants others to live as well as she does.  Staying home is financially possible for her family and she does not recognize that this is not the case for most families, that this is privilege and not biblical womanhood.  Her motivation for writing a piece like this is commendable and her heart is pure, but frankly, complementarianism’s rigid gender roles limit both men and women from exercising their full humanity and spirituality and from mutual flourishing.

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I myself fit Dodds’ description of “blinding beauty” for most of my life.  Complementarianism is all that I ever knew and I believed it 100%.   Six years ago, while I was still complementarian, God spoke to me clear as day, calling me to pastoral ministry.  I was blown away.  I knew without a doubt that I had heard directly from God but his call directly contradicted my patriarchal world-view.  That day, the chapel dean from my college days posted a link to “How I Changed My Mind About Women in Ministry” on Facebook, so I ordered it and began my journey to egalitarianism.  For six years, I have been reading on a nearly daily basis from scholarly works defending egalitarianism (e.g. this one or this one) and articles depicting the plight of women living in patriarchal cultures (like this one).  I post what I am reading to The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors FB page. Listening, listening, listening.  Learning to pay attention to the least of these, who have no privilege and power, describe the consequences of patriarchy in their life.  An article like Dodds’ seems benign until you consider it in the larger context of the suffering of women and girls around the world.  President Jimmy Carter’s book, “A Call to Action,” is an excellent place to begin acknowledging the plight of disenfranchised and powerless women.  In my review of his book, I said,

President Carter’s book is a “call to action” to reverse the widespread gender violence that is a result of patriarchal systems that devalue women, an epidemic touching every nation.  He makes a case that denying women equal rights has a devastating effect on economic prosperity and causes unconscionable human suffering that affects us all.

The world’s discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights…Women are deprived of equal opportunity in wealthier nations and “owned” by men in others, forced to suffer servitude, child marriage, and genital cutting.  The most vulnerable, along with their children, are trapped in war and violence…A Call to Action addresses the suffering inflicted upon women by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.  Key verses are often omitted or quoted out of context by male religious leaders to exalt the status of men and exclude women.  And in nations that accept or even glorify violence, this perceived inequality becomes the basis for abuse. [dust-jacket description]

So what do I believe is beautiful about women?  The Imago Dei in them.  By that alone they are astoundingly, blindingly beautiful.  Is it grotesque when my husband diapers the children or supports my work and ministry life?  Not at all.  His love for me and our family is astoundingly, blindingly beautiful.  Our mutual love and submission to each other is what I would wish for other marriages.

You know what I think is grotesque?  Pharisaical, prescribed gender roles.


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A Response to Girl Defined – Is Feminism Devoid of God???

Last month, a dear friend sent me this picture, which linked to this article, “Why Feminism and Christianity Can’t Mix”, by Kristen Clark:

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That’s a pretty polarizing image that begs for a response, don’t you think?!

The blog Girl Defined has the tagline, “getting back to God’s design,” so my first impression was that Kristen Clark and The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors share a passion for the very same thing, and yet our primary messages are drastically different.  This is a testament to the diversity of thought within Christianity and how beliefs are shaped by personal experiences, relationships, community, cultures, socialization and more.  We are both sincere Christians, passionate for God’s Kingdom and God’s design to reign supreme.  We are also both defensive against what we perceive to be heresy that impedes God’s will.

Fundamentally, the difference between Kristen Clark’s and my ideology comes down to our respective Biblical interpretation of gender roles.  By “God’s design,” Kristen means that in the Genesis narrative, God created man to be “head” and woman to be man’s “helper.”  There is a hierarchy with God over Christ, Christ over men, and men over women and children.  Men have authority and women submit to men.  Though men and women are of equal value, their roles are different.  This is the teaching of complementarian (i.e. patriarchal) theology, which is explained thoroughly in this video by Pastor John Piper (one of the founders of the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  Kristen links to a CBMW review of “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey in the comments section, with the explanation that she respects the theologians and writers on that site.), in which he says,

The intention with the word “complementarian” is to locate our way of life between two kinds of error: on the one side would be the abuses of women under male domination, and on the other side would be the negation of gender differences where they have beautiful significance. Which means that, on the one hand, complementarians acknowledge and lament the history of abuses of women personally and systemically, and the present evils globally and locally in the exploitation and diminishing of women and girls. And, on the other hand, complementarians lament the feminist and egalitarian impulses that minimize God-given differences between men and women and dismantle the order God has designed for the flourishing of our life together.

Egalitarianism in short.

Egalitarianism in short.

So Piper would lament feminism and egalitarianism (the Christian theology that God created man and woman equal, with shared authority; see this article or this one or this video, all from respected and notable theologians, for summaries of egalitarian theology) as ideologies that “dismantle God’s design.”  Often, egalitarians also identify as feminists due to the shared goal of demolishing patriarchy, which egalitarians see as a heresy in opposition of God’s design and will for humanity.  Egalitarians believe that God created man and woman in His image (literal translation of ezer being “corresponding strength” rather than “helper”), gave both authority over creation, and hierarchy came as a result of the curse in Genesis 3.  Throughout the Bible there are women functioning outside of complementarian gender roles, and in the New Testament we see the Holy Spirit falling on both men and women, and women serving alongside men in leadership in the early church.  Here is a good response to John Piper’s masculine view of Christianity.

While Christians have always held different views on many theological issues from the advent of the Church, it is common for complementarians to treat their view of gender roles as a critical aspect of the Gospel and to besmirch their egalitarian brothers and sisters with accusations of insincerity and rebellion. The Whartburg Watch wrote a post this year called, “Owen Strachan, CBMW, John Piper and David Platt: Gender Whackiness on the Rise” demonstrating this trend of elevating gender issues to be on par with the Gospel.

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But back to Kristen’s polarizing image and characterizations of feminism.  Is it true that at it’s root, feminism is devoid of God?  If so, why are so many Christians identifying as feminists?

First of all, it is true that “feminism wears many hats” and cannot be flatly defined, in the same way that Christianity comes in many forms, traditions and political leanings.  For example, Baptists.  There are over 1,400 Baptist denominations in the United States.  To some who hear the word “Baptist,” there is a visceral, biological response because of their negative experiences with Baptists, who can be judgmental, unloving and legalistic.  I have personally known Baptists to gossip, to be gluttonous and proud.  It can be controversial to bring up the topic of  Baptists.  It can be polarizing to identify yourself as a Baptist.  So it is probably best not to identify with that word.  Just call yourself a Christian!

See what I did there?  I could change “Baptists” to “Pentecostals,” or “Episcopalians,” “Methodists,” “Congregationalists,” or “Presbyterians” for the same effect.  And if I really did believe that Baptists were misguided and I wanted to deter others from becoming Baptists, I could utilize that tactic.  Playing word games doesn’t really prove anything.  The fact is, there are no perfect denominations, political parties, or social movements.  But there are lots of social activists making positive change in the world towards values that I believe are in line with God’s redemption work.  Christians can partner with environmentalists, humanitarians, economists, social workers, politicians, educators, health professionals, counselors, scientists, and even feminists, in the work of redeeming God’s creation to it’s pre-curse state.  A feminist, atheist, Democrat, you-fill-in-the-blank is a person created in God’s image and loved dearly by God…I personally couldn’t call any imago Dei “devoid of God.”  There is common grace among all of humankind.   And has the Bible already solved all of the world’s problems and restored us to God’s design and will for humanity?  Clearly there is much work to be done, and Christ has given us that work to do.  Do I agree on all issues that all feminists tout?  No.  Do I agree that patriarchy is from the curse and has no place in Christ’s redeemed Kingdom?  Yes.

Among many conservative Christians, the word “feminist” is spit out with disdain and horror.  Feminists are accused by conservative pundits and pastors of  ruining our country with their liberal agendas.  They are compared to militants who see their gender as superior – “feminazis.”  I am not familiar with the categorizations that Kristen uses to describe feminists.  Her primary attention goes to addressing “equality feminists” though, so that is what I would like to respond to.

Like Kristen, I was a complementarian for nearly thirty years.  I respected the same theologians and teachings that she points to in her writings.  I won’t go into detail about my change to egalitarianism, as I already posted that story here.  In short, it was at God’s prompting that I began reading about women in ministry and egalitarian theology, and I became convinced that the complementarian theology of gender roles was wrong.

I didn’t come to feminism through a desire to usurp the authority of men.  I came to egalitarianism (I believe through God’s direction) and some of my conservative Christian friends began cautioning me about the slippery slope that I was on, and began jokingly referring to me as a feminist.  Not because I was arguing for abortion rights or burning my bras, but because I was asking questions about gender roles in the Church.  “Feminist” is a slur in the context of my upbringing.  Looking back, I understand that this negative response can be a powerful deterrent to keep group members from challenging the status quo of patriarchy.  It didn’t take me long to adopt the title feminist, as I couldn’t shake it and I was becoming more and more impassioned to see change in the world for women who are marginalized and abused by systems of patriarchy.

Kristen Clark’s term, equality feminism, sounds to me like a euphemism for egalitarianism.  I believe she is using this term, which is considered deviant in conservative Christian circles, to paint egalitarianism in sinister terms.

povertyI began to see that “fighting theological battles” (i.e. blogging) like egalitarianism vs. complementarianism is critical to liberating women and girls around the world who suffer the most from the systems of patriarchy and poverty and war, etc.  Becky and I share articles every day on our FB page detailing the horrors and injustices of the world’s most vulnerable inhabitants.  If it is feminist to care about these issues, then yes, I’m a feminist.  For important reference points on gender issues around the world, here are two excellent articles:

We need feminism – Rachel Held Evans
Christian Compassion or Complicity: The Abuse and Gendercide of God’s Daughters – Dr. Mimi Haddad

e4c2e61dc0186b4ebe317ab0bcc67f33And in thinking about the roots of feminism, which Kristen Clark says are devoid of God, it is a fact that many of the earliest feminists were Christians who were trying to improve the lives of impoverished, disenfranchised, suffering women and children of their day.  The blog Making a Track, by Rev. Jonathan Inkpin, celebrates the lives of early Christian feminists and is an excellent resource for learning about inspiring Beautiful Kingdom Warriors.

I am going to leave off with a comment that I found under Kristen Clark’s article from a wonderful Beautiful Kingdom Warrior who took the time to advise her Christian sisters in the better way, skipping right over the references to feminism (i.e. egalitarianism?) and getting to the heart of the matter–gender roles:

I too used to believe in the headship/submission form of marriage. But now, in my 50’s, I have changed my view. Please understand- I am in love with Jesus more than ever before, am pro-life, am a pastor’s wife, home school mom, been married to the same man for 27 years, teach Sunday school, and lead worship at our church. But I now believe that God created husbands and wives as equals, friends and co-heirs in the promises. After counseling many women who were verbally and sometimes physically abused by their Christian husbands, I studied the verses that cause so much pain. What I learned is this:

1) Eve was Adam’s helper, but this didn’t mean servant or maid. We don’t see Eve helping Adam by washing his clothes or cleaning his house; she was created to help Adam rule the world. As woman, she was given equal status as part of “mankind.” She had equal responsibilities and equal blessings. It appears that as salt is to pepper, peanut butter is to jelly, Eve was Adam’s Helper in that she helped to complete the set: man + woman = mankind. This was God’s beautiful, original design for husbands and wives.

2) At the fall, Eve was cursed, with all women, to be ruled by her husband. Ever since the curse, in nearly every society, women have been ruled by men. In some cultures, women are the legal property of their husbands and can be abused, sold, or even killed.

3) In the Old Testament, slavery is always mentioned as a curse, never part of the blessings for God’s people.

3) Jesus broke that curse, along with every other curse, at the cross. Christian women are now free- co heirs with men once again to enjoy all the blessings and promises of God.

4) In 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, Paul has many rules for women.  They are told to keep silent in church, wear head coverings or wear long
hair, and never teach a man. Paul says women “are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.” But why would Paul, who in Galatians says
that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law,” and now “there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus,” and “if you are led
by the Spirit, you are not under the law,” now put women (half the church) under the law? I think Paul was trying to jolt these churches back into grace. This
makes sense considering how in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Paul tells the people that he can’t talk to them as Spirit filled believers; because of their carnal
behavior, he must speak to them as people still under the law.

5) In Philippians 4 and Romans 16, Paul mentions many women who were ministers, deacons, teachers, laborers, co-prisoners and co-workers for the Lord! These women were anything but silent. It seems these women broke the rules of 1 Corinthians and Paul was very happy for it! Why? Because they lived in grace, not legalism. Remember, the law kills but the Spirit gives life! It is for freedom that Christ set you free, do not be burdened again with the yoke of slavery!!

6) When Paul tells wives to submit, he tells husbands to love (agape) their wives. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that agape love is patient, kind, and doesn’t demand its own way. This is, of course, the very heart of submission. So, in reality, Paul is telling husbands and wives not to demand their own way… submit to the desires of the other, just like Christians are supposed to act with all people at all times.

7) The husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church… How is Christ our head? Is He demanding or patient? Is He angry or loving? As Christ gave us the example of how to agape love, husbands are to usher this kind of love into the marriage. They are the heads in that they are to be the model of agape love for their families. Nabal was “head” by being an angry, demanding
tyrant that no one could reason with (1 Samuel 25). Clearly God was not pleased with Nabal’s behavior!

Solomon, however, was “head” by not being demanding…. When his wife was tired and turned him away one night, Solomon didn’t throw a tantrum and demand his own way, he quietly turned and left. King Lemuel, husband to the Proverbs 31 woman, also ushered this Godly love into his marriage. His wife was an intelligent woman who pursued many interests during her lifetime. Lemuel gave her the freedom, one fellow human to another, to follow her creative desires. He was “head” by being respectful to her, considerate of her needs, and proud of her talents. She, in return, loved him dearly and did him no harm all the days of his life.

My advice to Christian women is to marry a man who will be a friend, not a ruler.

 Amen.

Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  Please “like” our Facebook page where we post articles every day regarding gender issues from around the world and the church.  God bless!

Finding Healing from Codependency

There is a proverb that says, “I went up to the rooftop to find relief from my pain, and saw that all the other houses were on fire.”  I have learned over time just how true this is.  Even those who appear the most put-together are dealing with pain, symptomatic of the brokenness of our world.  We all need healing and restoration to God’s intended fullness of life for His beloved children.

You are God's delight

We live in a fallen world and are socialized from a tender age to believe many lies about who we are and what we should be and do.  Our parents may have the best intentions to protect us from these lies, but there are lies deeply embedded in their own psyches.  We strive to attain cultural standards of ideal womanhood and manhood in ways that can be contradictory to God’s plan and design for our lives.  We are all hurt by messages that are antithetical to the Good News that Jesus has redeemed His creation and we can live a life of wholeness and abundance.  In John 10:10, Jesus says,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I read this post last week about how Christian girls and women are socialized to be codependent doormats in the name of “biblical womanhood.”  The author says,

Most materials and sermons I got from Christians in my girlhood emphasized that the only way a girl or woman could be pleasing to God was to be a doormat to other people. Meaning, many hallmarks of codependency are present in this teaching, such as:

  • It is biblical or good for a girl or woman to be passive

  • Getting one’s needs met is selfish; showing or feeling anger is wrong and un-Christian

  • One should always care about other people’s feelings, needs, and wants more than one’s own

I was reminded of one of my favorite posts of all time, “Ex Good Christian Women” by Kathy Escobar.  She shares two lists of qualities present in “Good Christian Women” and “Ex  Good Christian Women” that are spot on.  She says,

“Good Christian Women”

  • rarely engage in conflict
  • are terrible at saying “no” because it feels selfish
  • know how to say the right things, do the right things, to keep the peace
  • continually strive–and i do mean strive–to be a better wife, better mother, better christian
  • live with a feeling that God is disappointed with us somehow
  • feel a lot of shame for who we are and who we aren’t (but rarely say it out loud)
  • doubt our leadership, feelings, gifts, dreams
  • dwell on the things we should be doing differently or better
  • view anger as sin
  • always seek permission

“Ex Good Christian Women”

  • are learning to show up in relationship instead of hiding
  • engage in conflict instead of avoid it
  • say “no” with less-and-less guilt and say “yes” more freely, more honestly
  • tell the truth
  • respect anger
  • are honest about shame
  • live in the present
  • are beginning to believe we are “enough”–here, now
  • open ourselves up to dreams & passions & living out what God is stirring up in us
  • lead & love & live in all kinds of new ways, with or without permission
  • are discovering that God is much bigger than we were ever taught & loves us more than we ever knew

Self-care-steps

Oh, how I relate to these posts.  I was raised in a patriarchal church culture that negatively impacted my understanding of God’s will for my life.  I was a poster girl for these ideal qualities:  being always sensitive to the needs and feelings of others (while being completely out of touch with my own needs and feelings), deferring to others (while not developing my own gifts of leadership), a helper (who could never ask others for help), an empathetic listener (who was always stoic and would never open up about my own emotions).  I always believed that I was living up to “biblical” ideals of femininity and God’s design for women.  I now understand that many of the cultural messages I received about “biblical womanhood” were actually lies and were stealing, killing and destroying me rather than giving me an abundant and full life in Christ.

Codependency is “the disease of the lost self.”  When you are arranging your life around the thoughts, feelings and needs of others, you completely lose touch of your own identity.  Another phrase to describe this is “people-pleasing.”  I have slowly found healing and have found my own voice through many years of reading.  Here are the books that have had tremendous impact in my life, leading me away from codependency and towards fullness and finding my identity in Christ as a beloved daughter, just as I am (listed in the order that I read them):

prodigal god

Logan’s cousin who ministers in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia gave us a copy of Tim Keller’s book, “The Prodigal God” when we were visiting over Christmas five or six years ago.  I read it aloud to Logan as we drove back to Maine, and my mind was blown away with a new understanding of this parable.  We are taught “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” but really Jesus was telling a story of two brothers whose hearts were in the same condition, one who broke all the rules and one who obeyed them all with the expectation of receiving something in return.  Jesus’ story demonstrates that both were loved by their Father with a prodigal (i.e. extravagant, generous, lavish, etc.) love.  This book began to chip away the performance, works-based religion that I was living.  I recognized my similarity to the second brother who was obeying all the rules on a conditional basis.  “I do for you…what will you do for me?”

safe-people

Around the same time, my church family was in turmoil and conflict, and I was hurting deeply because church has always been my second home and I was facing rejection and shunning that was traumatic beyond words.  I don’t remember how I found this book…but I do remember devouring it and buying copies for everyone in my family.  I had always been a trusting and open person and was for the first time realizing that there were toxic people in the church who could be abusive, controlling and manipulative.  “Safe People” describes characteristics of emotionally healthy/unhealthy individuals.

boundaries“Boundaries” taught me even better that in the name of loving others, I had drawn very loose boundaries in my life, allowing the needs of others to trump my own needs.  I was always saying “no” to myself and “yes” to others, with no limitations to what I would give up for others.  I had to learn that there are personal property rights around my physical, mental and emotional boundaries.  I do not owe other people control over my choices, feelings, thoughts, and words.  I do not need to feel selfish or guilty for saying “no” to taking others’ responsibilities on myself.

why you do the things you do book

I picked up this book, “Why You Do The Things You Do”, from my niece’s pile of books she brought home with her from college one holiday break.  This book taught me that there are two questions we all come into the world asking:  Am I worthy of love?  and Can I trust others to meet my needs?  According to our first relationships as helpless infants and into childhood, we internalize answers to these questions that affect us for the rest of our lives.  Using research and data, the authors describe four primary patterns of relating to others that stem from our upbringing in our family of origin.  In reading this book, I learned about myself and others in a powerful way, and there is  a lot of helpful information on “emotional coaching” for your own children.

daringgreatly_final525-resized-600

A couple years ago, I went through a phase of listening to several TED Talks every day while I was working, which introduced me to the amazing Vulnerability and Shame talks by Brene Brown.  So when I saw that she had written a book to share her research and findings in a comprehensive message of how to “live wholeheartedly”, I ordered it immediately, and then couldn’t put it down!  I learned to be kind to myself, to show up in life rather than cower behind insecurities and fear.  I learned priceless lessons on teaching worthiness to my children.  I learned how shame will keep you living small while vulnerability will not make your life perfect, but it will make your life great.

I know that it was God who directed me to EHS-bookCollette Pekar’s Tuesday morning Bible study.  While these books and many other videos and articles online have helped me to find healing from codependency, it was being in small group with a wise counselor who helped me to verbalize and process the things I was learning about healthy relationships that really made the greatest impact.  I cannot encourage you enough to find fellow warriors to pursue healing with.  One fall, our group read this book together by Peter Scazzero.  He demonstrates that we bring the dysfunctional patterns of our family of origin into our adult life despite our “new life” in Christ, and there is work to be done to shed the lies that keep us from living in an emotionally healthy spirituality.  In learning to do the work of chipping away these issues and in learning healthy habits of caring for yourself, you will begin to experience an abundant life!


It is our hope here at The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors that we will be a help to you in your spiritual journey, as we journey together.  Please add your recommendations for healing from codependency and other family of origin issues in the comments!  And “Like” us on Facebook for regular posts on gender issues in the world and in Christianity.  Thank you for stopping by!

Looking back on our first year blogging on TBKW

One year ago today, Becky and I posted our first blog entry, explaining our vision for The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors.

Looking back on our first year blogging about gender issues within Christianity, we are so grateful for all of our readers, followers, and contributors!  Thank you for commenting, messaging us, “liking” us on Facebook, and passing along articles and ideas for posts.  Your encouragement amazes us and keeps us going!

Here is a short Youtube message from yours truly:

In the past year, we have published 84 posts.  Here are our most-viewed posts:

From Becky:
Destroyed in the Destruction of Addiction
Am I too much?  Am I not enough?
Do What You Want What You Want With My Body

From Ruth:
A Response to Matt Walsh: “Christian women: feminism is not your friend”
Musings on my muffin top
God’s Unreasonable Generosity

From Guest Contributors:
Jesus was a feminist – A poem by Robin Merrill
Singleness – A Gift from God, A Seat at the Kiddie Table, or Girls Gone Wild?
Graham Explains Submission within the Trinity

We’ve also done several VLOGS.  Here are a couple of our favorites:
Beautiful and Dangerous: BODY=IMAGE, SEX=SYMBOL
Fighting for Joy

Keep reading and sharing!  And we’ll keep blogging!  Thank you so much for a great year.  We love you!

For your reading pleasure – favorite links from around the web

Looking for some great reads?  Here are my suggestions:

Carolyn Custis James of The Whitby Forum wrote “Dropping F-Bombs,” her critique of the critique that the Church has been feminized.

Women cannot be who God created us to be as ezer-warriors if we do not cultivate strength, decisiveness, and a readiness for action. And frankly, men will be stunted if they are duped into thinking their manhood is compromised if they are loving, sensitive, and gentle, or if they cry.

“Feminized” and “feminization” may not be four-letter words. But these F-bombs need to be dropped from this discussion nonetheless!

President of CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality), Dr. Mimi Haddad wrote “Egalitarians and Complementarians: One Gosepl, Two Worldviews.”

Egalitarians and complementarians share much in common. We adore Jesus and serve him passionately. We are committed to justice as a biblical ideal. And, we’re both devoted to Scripture as God-inspired. Though we both long to see the world embrace the gospel, we promote two distinct worldviews. What is our difference? Male-only authority. Is it God’s design or is it a result of sin? We are divided by worldviews that we believe reflect the moral teachings of God and our purposes in this world. And, our differing views have enormous consequences….

….If male authority is part of God’s design, we would expect to see society flourish where patriarchy holds sway. Is this the case?

Not at all. In what constitutes the largest human holocaust in history, two hundred million girls are missing from the world, primarily in places where patriarchy is most rampant. The face of poverty, abuse, disease, malnutrition, illiteracy, and hunger is mostly female. Not surprisingly, the international think tank, The Millennium Project, which tackles humanity’s most challenging problems, recognizes gender equality and empowering women (in other words, dismantling patriarchy) as “essential for addressing the global challenges facing humanity.” Patriarchy does not advance God’s justice, but is an injustice that must be overcome.

Dismantling patriarchy will require a worldview that perceives male rule as a result of sin; it distorts the nature of men and women as equals and their intended purpose to use their gifts with shared authority. Justice and the gospel are furthered when superiority and dominance are challenged by human equality—a biblical ideal.

Bob Edwards wrote, “Confusing Sexism with ‘the Gospel.”  Edwards quotes Complementarian leaders Mark Driscoll, David Murrow, John Piper and Owen Strachan on their views on women.  Frankly, what they say about women is disturbing and offensive.

In summary, what are the messages regarding men and women that are being shared by these participants in “Together 4 the Gospel”?

Men are hierarchical,
-Men need sex; it is the cornerstone of their psyche,
-The future of the church depends on male leadership.

Women are not fit to be leaders,
-Women are more gullible than men,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on their husbands as an act of Christian service,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on non-believing husbands to win them to Christ,
-If wives do not provide enough sex, husbands will inevitably sin,
-A woman’s role is comparable to that of a “helpful animal,”
-Women are not able to share authority with men because of their “characteristic weaknesses,”
-To “be a woman” is to help men become leaders, as God allegedly intends.

Many words come to mind as I reflect on these messages. “Gospel” isn’t one of them.

Morgan Lee on the Christian Post wrote, “Could Christians Opposed to Immigration Reform be Helping Sex Traffickers?”

“A lot of us evangelicals care about human trafficking, but a lot of us don’t realize how much trafficking is tied to immigration,” Yang told The Christian Post on Tuesday. “I would say that a broken immigration system is a trafficker’s best friend, because traffickers abuse the fact that there’s immigrants here without legal status and they underpay them or they enslave them or they abuse them.”

Ben Corey wrote these two gems: “5 Ways We Could Probably Be Better Christians,” and “5 Ways You Can Spot a Jesus Follower.”  Please click the links to read his full posts.  In short:

To be a better Christian, he says:
1. We might want to dial down the arrogance.
2. We’d do well to start assuming the best in each other.
3. We could refrain from attempting to apply scripture to the lives of others we don’t actually know or have relationships with.
4. We could actively look for ways to reconcile “all things” to God.
5. We could spend more time getting to know the “other”.

Corey’s helpful key to spotting a Jesus Follower,
1. A Jesus follower likes to talk about him, but they do it in such a way that it causes you to want to know more, not less.
2. A Jesus follower embraces enemy love.
3. A Jesus follower is the one who is full of compassion for outsiders and the weak.
4. A Jesus follower is the one who is quickest to show others mercy.
5. A Jesus follower is the one who, when they describe what God is like, describe Jesus.

There are a couple new videos from Sarah Bessey (author of Jesus Feminist) on The Work of the People.  These are all sooooo good.  They’re all short excerpts from a longer interview, in which she talks about loss, God’s love, leaning into pain, etc.  Cannot recommend them enough.  Could be great resources for your church, Bible study group, etc. as well.

Christena Cleveland wrote this excellent piece: “Dismantling the white male industrial complex”

The truth is that the battle for justice won’t be won when white men finally join the fight. The battle was already won on the cross. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is at hand. It’s here. It’s happening. It’s already been set in motion.  We’re inevitably moving toward a world that reflects the prophetic reality of the resurrection. Justice will be done. All things will be made new. And Jesus graciously invites all of us to partner with him in that movement. We all can play a crucial role. But let’s never forget that Jesus is the secret weapon. Jesus has already determined the outcome of this battle and he will use whoever is willing to accomplish his plan. The Kingdom of God is at hand, whether white men participate or not…

Turn toward the oppressed –If we’re following Jesus’ Spirit, it will lead us to prioritize the needs and perspective of the oppressed over the needs and perspective of the privileged. The white male industrial complex keeps people’s eyes on white men, but any victory that Jesus leads will significantly involve the oppressed. As such, the Christian reconciler’s eyes should follow Jesus’ gaze to the oppressed – and all social justice efforts should be focused on the oppressed, should benefit the oppressed, and should empower the oppressed.

And Christena Cleveland also wrote this excellent piece: “Tone Deaf Leadership: 3 reasons Christian leaders should especially listen to the oppressed voices”

I’ll say it again: within the family of God, members of oppressed groups shouldn’t have to mount a social justice campaign in order to make their voices heard. In all of these cases, the privileged leaders eventually gave in, but not before initially resisting constructive criticism from oppressed voices and digging in their heels. When the PR storm increased, they reluctantly listened, and finally acquiesced. When the process of listening follows this pattern, the marginalized voices may “win” particular battles, but they remain dishonored and relegated to the foot of the table of the family of God.

Her 3 reasons:
1. You’re leading in an unequal world and Church, and you have a responsibility to fight against inequality.
2. Jesus prioritized feedback from marginalized voices over privileged voices.
3. You desperately need the perspective of the oppressed.


That should keep you busy for awhile.  Until next time, peace!

Don’t forget to “like” our Facebook page for more great links.

The Theology of Empowering Women: Part 1

A friend passed along this awesome sermon from Kris Vallotton, founder and president of Moral Revolution, an organization dedicated to global cultural reformation, and Advance Redding, which is committed to the social/economic transformation of Redding, California.  He is also the author of ten books, including this gem:

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In the introduction to his sermon, Kris tells us his publisher asked him to double his book, which required 400 extra hours of research.  You can click the picture above to purchase his book on Amazon.

Bethel provides free previews for  a short amount of time, so you may not be able to listen for free.  I highly recommend paying to download the sermon in that case, but tried to transcribe as much as I could as I was listening.  No time to pause or go back, so it’s far from a perfect transcription, but take a look.  Good stuff!!!

http://www.bethel.tv/watch/2059/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-1-sunday-am/2014/07/06

Kris explains that he will be addressing the six passages in the New Testament that seem to restrict women.  After his introductory comments, he begins here:

Between Matthew and Malachi, before Jesus walked the earth, there was a period of four hundred years in which the religion Judaism developed.  Judaism is not a word for the Old Testament religion, which we would call Mosaic Law.  There were no Pharisees and Saducees in the Old Testament.  N.T. scribes also had a new role than O.T. scribes.  What happended was there were hundreds of extra rules added to the Mosaic Law, which included 252 laws.  When Jesus walked the earth, there were 613 laws – 113 written against women.  Pharisees hated women and the most oppressed people group in Judaism were women.

There were Jews, Romans and Greeks when the disciples were writing the Gospels and Paul was writing the epistles.  In Judaism, women were second-class citizens with no rights, no respect and no voice.  They were the property of men, literally, and were afforded no education.  Like the women in Afghanistan, women were not permitted to speak to men and were required to veil their faces in public.  Under Judaism, women could not work outside the home and marriages were arranged, so they could not marry for love.  Polygamy was legal for men, not women, and men could discard/divorce their wives.  Women could not be witnesses and were relegated to the outer court of the synagogue.  They were not allowed to read the Torah.  The most famous 1st century rabbi, Eliezer, said he would rather burn the Torah than read it to women.

The Romans were less restrictive (it is interesting how the further you get from religion, the less restrictive it is).  Roman women could work outside the home and own property.  The Greeks, though, adored women.  They believed women were more powerful than men and made gods of them.  The whole thought behind this was that the sex drive of men was stronger – women had something men wanted and had control over that, so they were more powerful.

Paul the Apostle was formerly a Pharisee, a self-described “Pharisee of Pharisees” – a former oppressor of women.  Paul wrote to nine geographic locations and restricted women in three of them – Corinth, Ephesus, and the island of Creed – all Greek cities!  Not only were they Greek, they happened to have goddesses instead of gods as the chief leader of their city.  Goddesses had more authority than gods.

Also, it is important to note that no church would have had all the letters.  There was no New Testament at this time, 30-70 years after Christ.  Paul wrote specific letters to specific churches, and told the reader who to share the letter with.  For instance, Colossians 4:16 “When this letter is read among you, share this with the church in Laodicea, and read the letter that I sent to them as well.”  In Philippians, he says, “I’m writing this letter to the saints of Philippi, and also the elders and deacons,” i.e. “I’m talking to you!”

You cannot relate to the book of Corinthians in the same way the Corinthians would have.  It was written to a certain people to address certain issues.  You cannot relate to the N.T. epistles, written to a smaller community, in the same was as the O.T. books, which were written to a whole people group.

What happens when you superimpose God’s situational counsel over universal circumstances, is  you will not come to a redemptive solution. 

The epistles tell us how God thinks, but you would only apply the counsel if you were in the exact same context.  People say, “I believe the Bible!”  But I say, “You filter the Bible through a certain context.  If you sent your son, who is struggling with pornography, to a pastor to receive counsel, and he came back with one eye gouged out and one hand cut off, you’d call the police.  Because you understand that there was a context to Jesus’ words, and you automatically apply the context whethere you think you are doing that or not!”

In the O.T., the curse over women was that they would have pain in child birth, and the husband would rule over his wife.  In Hebrew, the word for woman and wife is different, and man and husband.  We know for certain the curse is that husbands will rule over wives, not men over women.  in the N.T., there is no difference in the Greek language, so it is more complicated.  But in the O.T., we had queens, judges and prophetesses that were women, and we celebrated them.  Does it make sense that after Jesus broke the curse on the cross, we cannot have a woman elder in a church of 50 people, but we could have a queen of a nation then!  When do women get free???

We’re going to read some of the hard passages that Paul wrote, starting with 1 Corinthians chapter 7.  This was a Greek city with a goddess with temple prostitutes.  Temple prostitutes coming out of Greek mythology were priestesses.  If this woman gave herself to you, it was not a sex act as much as it was an act of anointing, and it wasn’t shameful or dirty, it was the highest act of Greek mythology.  These women were the most important women in the city.

In 1 Corinthians 7:1, “Now concerning the things you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”  Paul is answering questions the Corinthians are asking.  They came out of Greek mythology, so they are reacting.  Ok, we elevated women, so now we should oppress them.  Is it ok to touch women?  They are reacting tot he religion they came out of.  But here is the challenge:  Paul will repeat the question and then tell you his answer.  But by the time he gets to the 8th chapter, he stops repeating the question.

7:1, “….but because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each wife her own husband.  The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does.”  If you knew where Paul was coming from, you’d think he’d put a period here, but he doesn’t.  “And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”  The woman went from being a possession to the ability to own her husband, and a Pharisee just wrote that!

Verse 10,” to the married I give instructions that a wife should not leave her husband, but if she does leave, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.”  There is no such thing as women divorcing a man in Judaism.  Paul has left that behind.  From our perspective this is restrictive, from their perspective, incredibly releasing.  “A woman who has an unbelieving husband, if he consents to live with her, she should not send her husband away.”  She’s a powerful woman now!  “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife.  And the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her husband.  For otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy….How do you know, oh wife, whether or not you will save your husband?”   This guy just said, wives, you might be saving your husbands.  And if you stay with him, you are sanctifying him and making your whole family holy, wives.

Some people say the letter to Corinthians was written just to men because in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul writes “…Now I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you should prophesy.”  All.  It’s not “all you men,” it’s “all you all,” and he doesn’t make an exception here.  You can all prophesy.

In 14:26, “when you assemble together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation,…for you can all prophesy one by one”….and that’s “all you all,” because Paul has been writing to wives and husbands.  This book is for everyone in the church.

And now we come to 1 Corinthians 14:34-ff:

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

There’s two schools of thought.  One thinks this is contextual, that men sat on one side of the room and women on the other, and women would shout questions across the isle to their husbands, causing chaos and disorder.  It is true that men and women did not sit on the same side of the room.  But we’re not talking to the Hebrews who would have understood O.T. law.  If we were talking to the Jews, it would have made sense that the men would have known more because they had been taught the Torah. But we’re talking about Greeks.  The men knew  as little as the women.

The other way to read this is as a question, as some theologians believe it is.  After that verse, there’s an explosive of disassociation.  There is no perfect translation, but it means, “What?  No Way!  Nonsense!  It can’t be!”  And it’s after verse 35.

God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of every woman.  Here’s the problem, woman and wife are the same in Greek and man and husband are the same.  So you can end up with a more restrictive Gospel than the curse.  There are 43 translations of the N.T., 16 translate that woman/man.  All the others translate it husband/wife.

Then it goes on to say a woman needs to have her head covered when she’s praying.  Here’s Paul’s point in 1 Cor 11, as long as a woman is in order, she can pray and prophesy.

Let’s walk the Corinthian Road:

1 Cor 7: A man does not own his body, his wife does.

1 Cor 11: a woman needs to be in right alignment with her husband, but when she is, she can pray and prophesy

1 Cor 12/13:  you can all pray/prophesy/have a ministry

1 Cor 14: women cannot speak, just as the law says.

You can read the entire law and there is not one place in the O.T. where it says a woman cannot speak.  That cannot be written by Paul, an expert in the law.  And Paul has already said women have equal gifts and can minister.  It is opposite of what he has been saying for 14 chapters.  It also doesn’t make sense that women would have been shouting questions to men who would have replied, “I don’t know.”  And then we have the imperitve right after that question that says, That’s nonsense!  And then, did the word of God only come to you???  That makes sense, and that’s a good word.

And we have one minute and two more verses we haven’t talked about.  Jesus loves you, and if you’re a woman, you’re free.  You know when Paul says in 1 Tim 2 that women will be saved through child birth, remember that Timothy is the senior leader in Ephesus, where the goddess is Diana, the goddess of fertility, who was famous for making sure women didn’t die while giving birth.  So Paul is telling Timothy, she doesn’t need the goddess to protect her because she has a relationship with God.  They were having trouble getting women to convert to Christianity because they were all afraid of dying in childbirth.  In fact, women would travel to Ephesus to give birth.  That’s just a little taste of Timothy, and there’s a bunch more you might like.

If you’re standing near a woman, lay a hand on her shoulder and let’s pray:  Lord, we release right now, we break the power of the curse over our women that reduced them, that said you can’t live you dreams, you have to live a man’s dreams.  We break that.  We pray that women will be more powerful in the church than out of the church.  And we pray you will break the Spock-like Vulcan spirit that has overcome the church because w have no women bringing life and emotion and drama – good drama!  We release them right now to be leaders and teachers and prophetesses and judges and queens.  We release them now to fly, fly, fly!


I want to make sure you see this great comment from Susanna:

On the podcast part of Kris’s website you can download any of his sermons for free: http://kvministries.com/podcast/feed (the last one at this point is the one you’re talking about here, with ‘Part 1′ added to the title). Also wondrous is Danny Silk’s talk and book on the subject, The Invisible Ceiling. You can find a review of and link to it here: http://somebody-elses-story.blogspot.ca/search?q=The+Invisible+Ceiling


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