Tag Archives: Desiring God

It’s Okay to Walk Away

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I’m a nail biter and drink my coffee sans foam art, but otherwise this is totally me.

I made a rash decision yesterday to comment on a Desiring God post by John Piper about the decline of male headship theology.  He was saying that “Christlike headship will endure because it is true to God’s word,” and in explaining its decline, he said that those who are becoming egalitarians are being influenced by secularism or are bitter.

This was my comment:

I can tell you why I became an egalitarian, if you are really curious. I grew up Conservative Baptist, went to an Evangelical college, went to a reformed seminary, maintaining my complementarian worldview/interpretive lens. Along the way I met some egalitarians who deeply loved God, had beautiful marriages, and held to the Bible’s authority with a high view of Scripture. Not like I had been taught egalitarians were like. Then one day, as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I was sitting in a Bible study and heard God say loud and clear to me: “I want you to co-pastor with your husband.” I was not reading “liberal” theologians, I had little “secular” influence in my life, and I was not bitter about my role. I am naturally a submissive, quiet person. So I started studying the issue of women in ministry and was convinced by egalitarian interpretations. I think it is helpful to talk to actual egalitarians about why they believe what they believe rather than speculating and painting them as secular or bitter. The Bible tells us to consider others better than ourselves, so in the least, we can give others the benefit of the doubt rather than mischaracterizing their motivations. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of our complementarianism/egalitarianism, so let us love one another.

I regretted this comment pretty quickly, after receiving the first two comments:

Ken Edwards: Anytime someone says they’ve heard from the Lord I always hope they’ll compare what they’ve heard with scripture. If the two don’t line up one might be wise to question who was speaking.

Annie Carder: Your definition of “submissive” is off. There’s your problem.

I sat on these comments for an hour, telling myself, “You don’t have to reply.  You can walk away,” then I replied,

I realize I posted in complementarian territory, and we all don’t know each other from Adam. Just wanted to say that the overall premise of the argument that egalitarians are influenced by secularism or bitterness is 1) unloving, 2) counter to my experience knowing many egalitarians, 3) untrue of my own change to egalitarianism. Just wanted to make the suggestion that y’all talk to egalitarians as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than maligning them and never engaging with their actual arguments.

At what point do you walk away?  I should have trusted my instinct.  I was in an unsafe place.  When complementarians comment on posts on The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors FB page, I always treat them with respect, kindness, and hospitality.  It is rare that I am treated well on complementarian playgrounds.  They assume that I am worldly and bitter, so they gift me with “tough love.”  Like this man who emerged next…

Steve Hulbert: But then you’re not engaging with what’s being said to you…

I took the bait.

To Ken Edwards: I definitely did. Had to read egalitarian theologians and pastors to understand their interpretation of headship, creation order, women in ministry, etc. Have been taught the complementarian perspective all my life and it always seemed clear and right to me, so I was shocked by the idea of co-pastoring. Also have never experienced anything like that before or since. The next day, someone recommended the book “How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership” and this article by Dr. Walt Kaiser, and I haven’t really stopped reading since then (five or six years). http://www.walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

To Annie Carder: Didn’t realize I had defined submission in my original post. Was just trying to say that submitting to my husband as the head of the family was not hard nor was it making me bitter or power hungry. I find that egalitarians take submission further, with mutual submission.

To Steve Hulbert: I was regretting my post, feeling gun-shy about being the odd one out in this comment thread.  I appreciate everyone’s kindness.

Then Steve started in.  He stuck around until he told me to get lost, pretty much.  But here’s how he began:

Steve Hulbert: I’m reading that link and it’s pretty much what I would have expected: poring over many small details and blaming mistranslation for what the text appears to say. It doesn’t make any sense in the context of Corinthians 11 to say that the sign of authority is a sign of the woman’s power when the preceding verse has said that woman was created for man and not vice versa, and earlier that the man is the head of woman. I’m no expert to interpret that passage but I notice he’s only referred to one verse and nothing about the rest of the context.

To which I replied,

Thanks for reading the article! I hate debating but can send links at light speed if anyone ever wants more info. Another egalitarian resource is newlife.id.au. Here’s her post on 1 Corinthians 11: http://newlife.id.au/…/the-chiasm-in-1-corinthians-11…/

Then got this gem, which I ignored:

Enoque Júnio Calado: So did Mohamed, so did John Smith. All have claimed they heard the voice of God and created false religions. No further revelation apart from the bible should be made into doctrine, and those who plainly deny the scriptures should be anathema.

Sola Scriptura

And this,

Jason Warner: Such a facinating discussion. As I see it…evangelical comps and evangelical egalitarians essentially function in the same way. Russel Moore has commented on this as well – regarding the inconsistency of comps on paper and in function – that comps want to check the comp box. Piper and Grudem created the comp concept, as we know it now, within the last 30 years. But even those within the Reformed camp do not agree on what it actually means or how far to take the concept (home, church, work, Trinity, etc.). Last year’s ESS uproar is an example of the “infighting.”

I liked that one.  Then got this,

Joye Stewart: Found this on the internet..

The place to begin in this, as in other biblical questions, is to ask, “What does the Bible say?” Even a cursory reading of the pertinent texts reveals three important observations: 1) there were no known women pastors in New Testament times; 2) none of the instructions regarding church order include instructions for women pastors; and 3) some texts on church order explicitly forbid women to occupy that role. Paul, in 1 Tim. 2:12, states, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” (NIV) . This verse is introduced by a statement that women should learn “in silence,” and it is followed by the statement that “she must be silent.” The word silence means being possessed by a calmness of spirit and peaceful disposition. It is set as the opposite to “teaching” and “having authority over a man.” Paul does not expect that women will not or can not learn or teach (compare with Titus 2:3-5 and 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14,15). He states that they cannot teach or have authority over men. Thus, they cannot have a pastoral position, or perform the pastoral function, for that puts them in authority over men.

If the scripture says women are not to teach or have authority over men, then I would follow the scripture over the voices in my head.

I didn’t have to sit around deciding whether or not to reply to this comment.  Outright misinformation needs correction, for the sake of silent observers.  I said,

In reply to point 1, there are many known women in ministry in the New Testament, even in relation to men. Junia, Lydia, Peter’s daughters, Phoebe, etc. https://godswordtowomen.org/pastors.htm

Per point 2, many instructions have been interpreted with male pronouns where the original text was inclusive. The Holy Spirit descended on men and women at Pentecost, the gifts of the Spirit are never gender specific. It was prophesied that “your sons and daughters will prophecy” and that has come to pass.

Per point 3, I believe the egalitarian interpretations of those passages are compelling and align more with the overall message of Scripture – men and women are both fully created in the image of God and were both given dominion and authority by God. Both men and women are told to submit to one another and to serve and make disciples. The first missionary was a woman (the Samaritan woman at the well evangelized her whole city), and the first person to preach the resurrected Christ was Mary.

Jason Warner commented again, and he seems to be a super nice complementarian. Very kind and gracious.

Jason Warner: Ruth – comps have strong biblical support as it relates to some specifics (elders, etc.) too. You bring up good points to consider though. The idea that women in the Bible didn’t always operate within the modern “comp” structure is an example of how difficult it is to pinpoint what comp actually looks like on any consistent level. Once one gets past elders and pastors (Catholics would then be comps too if that’s the measuring stick) it become merely, in my view, much about talk and labels. I’d like to see Piper and OT Deborah work this out together …now that would be interesting!

Me to Jason Warner: yes, I agree. Comp theology always made sense to me….until it didn’t anymore.

And then Steve got back to me.

Steve Hulbert: So you don’t have an answer to my point then.

Please don’t spam this page with questionable links.

Does Steve run the Desiring God page?  Did he even open the link?  Marg Mowzcko’s blog is a highly rated Bible scholarship website.

Got these lovely comments next:

Julie Castin Cordeiro: praise the Lord!!! I am getting a master in theology…my husband is a 3year convert. God has called me to ministry not him.

Ruth dont waste your time…God has called you be happy and submit to His calling. If these who object you can prove your gifts are from the devil, then ok…otherwise praise the Lord and serve . And by the way ridiculous those who compare your quiet time with the Lord with Mohammed…like they never read and heard God speak!!!

Rosie Turner: Thank you for sharing Ruth, I agree with you 100% and it is encouraging to hear your voice on this thread and after reading such an upsetting article from DG. Thank you.

And these not-so-nice comments:

Darnell Turner: That was Satan not God.

Joye Stewart: Sorry but I don’t buy into that Ruth. You’re forgetting your place. Whenever someone says God spoke to them I always cringe. The devil is a liar. The best lies are the ones that are mix: ed with a little truth. It doesn’t say that you should be a doormat in the Bible but you are not equal with men and you’re not to have authority over them. You’re making up your own gospel to suit your fleshly desires. The devil was proud and wanted to be equal too, he wanted to be God and he was cast down for his rebellion. The devil spoke to Eve and she ignored Gods instruction seems like a mistake a lot of women nowadays are making.

Steve likes Joye’s comments.

Had the conversation with myself again, “What are you doing here?  Walk away!”

Didn’t listen.  Things went downhill quickly from here.

To Steve Hulbert: Walt Kaiser was the president of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where Tim Keller went. Not a scholar to dismiss, someone to engage with and consider. I got the feeling that you were trying to find the weakest argument in his article that you could defeat and I am not interested in debate. I find that debate is not a fruitful endeavor when both sides are in defense mode rather than listening to understand. My primary beef with the original article by John Piper was that he was maligning egalitarians to complementarians who are eager to agree. If you really believe male headship will stand the test of time, you can defend it without tearing down your “enemies,” who are actually part of the Church. I shared another article on the passage you asked about because if you want to understand egalitarian theology, an actual theologian will explain it better than I can.

To Joye Stewart: Paul said that Adam was the one who sinned. Both sinned, both were punished, and that is where hierarchy among gender began. In the Creation story, God told both Adam and Eve to rule over Creation. The Hebrew “ezer kenegdo” that is translated “suitable helper” literally means “corresponding strength.” God is repeatedly our “ezer” throughout the Bible, swooping in to “help” God’s people in battle, and is in no way subordinate to us. “Kenegdo” connotes equality, partnership. Together, men and women are a strong, dynamic duo. No gender hierarchy in God’s original design. Makes sense that God would give Adam a partner rather than an assistant for the big task of ruling Creation. Two heads are better than one, it’s not good to be unequally yoked, etc.

Steve Hulbert: I didn’t look for a weak argument. I found one on the first page.

Sarah Allen: And yet, in Britain there are women in the role of prime minister and head of police, there are women working as judges, police officers, CEOs, university lectures… everywhere there are women in positions of authority; instructing, guiding and managing the lives of men and other women. Why can equality not translate to the church?

Me to Steve Hulbert: Ok, I respect your pov. We probably aren’t going to change each others minds but I appreciate your gentlemanly engagement.

Steve Hulbert: “Why can the church not be more like the world”

I wish every egalitarian would be so honest

Me to Steve Hulbert: patriarchy is the way of the world. Although the tide is shifting towards equality in some cultures, we aren’t there. It would be nice if the Church were leading the way, as the early Church did in elevating the status of women.

Steve Hulbert: Ruth I feel rather nauseous hearing you talk about something God has clearly instituted as “the world’s way”. I think perhaps we should quit while we’re behind.

Steve Hulbert: It grieves me that godly submission is being misunderstood and resisted in the church as in the world. God led me to start taking a submissive attitude to my father and it’s been a challenge as I’ve always liked to think I know better than him. But it’s a game changer in terms of how God is able to bless you. Submission is so much at the heart of God’s way of life that you forfeit your blessings in a huge way by not embracing it. Joye will probably tell you precisely that if you listen instead of arguing. Feminism is of the enemy. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and that’s what feminist is. I’ve had to learn to put aside the MRA stuff and the bitterness it engenders which is fine for the world but not fit for God’s people. You’ll be misled into thinking feminism is better and it’s not. Entitlement culture is not God’s culture. Grasping for equality is the antithesis of Christlikeness. In fact making sinners feel or appear equal has never been a biblical concern or slavery would have been prohibited.

Since I was making Steve nauseous with my argumentativeness, I let him have the last word and will leave things at that.  I realize that I don’t have to attend every argument I am invited to, but it is a fine line figuring out when you are having a fruitful conversation and when things are becoming toxic.  It’s not every day that I get compared to Mohamed and John Smith, get called entitled, bitter, grasping.  I reject those words.

This comment thread was also a good reminder to me to watch my words so that I do not do this to others.  It is tough to oppose a doctrine that I believe is inherently abusive without demeaning those who hold to it.  How else can you describe a system that subjugates some under the authority of others due to one factor alone: gender?  Not spiritual maturity, callings or gifts.  Gender.  GENITALIA.

Hierarchy in the Church sidelines the majority and celebrates the ministry of the few, the John Pipers.  Their words have authority and power while others, who also have a relationship with God and have the power of the Holy Spirit within them, are powerless in the Church.  It is not just women but also most men who find their God-given authority and gifts unused and unvalued in hierarchical churches.

We must also consider the epidemic of domestic violence and emotional abuse in the Church.  Or the epidemic of gender violence, rape culture, sexism, FGM and femicide, financial inequality, objectification and sex slavery, etc., in our world.  Let the Church be a force for the empowerment and honoring of women and girls!  Let us heal the brokenness that patriarchy has brought to the world since the Fall!

Typing conversations is hard.  It is easy to misunderstand and hear unintended tones.  The moral of this story should be, love one another, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and if your gut is telling you to walk away, listen! 😉


Here’s a link to the comment thread on FB if you’d like to see how it has devolved since I posted this article.

Why are Women More Eager Missionaries? John Piper’s opinions miss the mark.

On today’s “Ask Pastor John” episode, posted here, John Piper* is asked why so many single missionaries are women (80-85% of all single missionaries), and Piper responds that he doesn’t really know, but has a couple opinions, that are in short:

Single missionaries by and large would prefer to be married.  Proposing marriage falls on men, so the type of man that is single because he lacks the courage to propose marriage also lacks the courage to become a missionary, which takes grit, courage and strength.

One thing I agree with, is that missions work takes grit, courage and strength.  However, I have different opinions than Piper on this phenomenon of single women going into missions.  Mine are,

  1.  Conservative evangelical women who are gifted in leadership and teaching may only be permitted to use those gifts on the mission field.
  2.  Conservative evangelical men who are gifted in leadership and teaching may use those gifts anywhere, and are often funneled into local ministry as young men and so do not need to look so hard for opportunities to lead.

My opinions come from personal experience as a young woman who aspired to be a missionary, and as an approaching-middle-aged woman who has been thinking and reading about gender issues in the Church for several years now.

I grew up in a pastor’s family, and my father loved missionary work so he was always planning missions trips and inviting missionaries to come to our church, where we would personally host them in our home.  I remember as an 8 year old hearing about Amy Carmichael‘s missionary work in India in a Sunday School lesson.  I am not someone who remembers every detail of my life, so a snapshot like this is usually significant, an a-ha! moment in my identity formation.  Amy Carmichael is my earliest hero.

My family also spent three years living in Bolivia and Paraguay, South America, working in a boarding school for missionaries and filling in for missionaries on furlough in jungle and city locations.  We met many single missionaries, all female except for four males (two of which were dismissed for molesting children).

Having been raised in the Conservative Baptist denomination, I never saw women in pastoral leadership.  No one ever told me that with my leadership in the youth group and award winning speech contest record, that I could be a pastor one day.  If a young man had demonstrated these qualities, he would have been invited to preach and been encouraged to pursue pastoral ministry in his schooling.  When it was time for me to go to college, I only thought about two options – music ministry or missionary work.  These were the only leadership roles that I had ever seen women in, and it was the entire scope of my imagination for my own life.

I had great love for God’s Kingdom and wanted to participate in bringing God’s redeeming work to the world.  I studied music in college because I felt that was my spiritual gifting.  And then I went to seminary and started out with a missions degree, but let my aunt and uncle talk me into a more ‘practical’ degree that could be used anywhere, Educational Ministries.  I fell in love with my husband, a former missionary to Romania, and imagined us working overseas together.  I was devastated when this didn’t come to pass, as it was my entire identity.  I was going to be a missionary.  I couldn’t imagine how I could use my gifts for God here in the USA.

One day, God had to out-right spell it out to me in an audible voice: “Ruth, I want you to co-pastor with your husband.”  Logan had been talking about church planting, and I was saying, “OK, whatever,” but feeling zero passion personally about being involved in a church plant.  I knew I would be relegated to babysitting and cooking and would be left out of the dreaming, teaching, leading part of ministry.  Now I understand that dreaming, teaching and leading are aspects of my God-given design for co-dominion with my husband (Genesis 1:28).

I began reading voraciously about women in ministry.  God began introducing us to couples who co-pastor.  It was an exciting and enlightening time.  It was also hurtful to realize that I had catching up to do in preparation for pastoral ministry, because I had never been guided as a young person towards leadership.

For the first time, I began to see how women in the Bible were leading all along.  I began to learn about women pastors in the USA.  At one time, there were more female Baptist pastors than male.  However, they were serving in rural, impoverished churches while men had more desirable positions in cities and east coast towns.  As rural towns became more prosperous, denominations began tightening their belts on women in ministry so that men could take their churches.  Our own church in Maine had a history of female pastors generations ago.  There has been a steady move away from allowing women in ministry in recent decades.  It was not that long ago, 1987, that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was founded, and it was in 2000 that the Southern Baptist denomination stopped endorsing women’s ordination.

Of course, another avenue for women in ministry was mission work.  On the field, women could teach and lead even the [non-white] men.  There are aspects of classism, sexism and racism intersecting with the issue of women’s ordination.  While women may not teach men in  wealthy, white, Western churches, their work in Africa, Latin America or Asia is admired.  Women may not preach in many of our churches, but a visiting missionary woman may “share” her experiences on the field with her sending church, sometimes even from behind the pulpit.

I would be remiss to not point out that Jesus never married before beginning his ministry, and Paul taught us to remain single for the sake of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 7:7-38).  Too often, marriage is placed on a pedestal and given too much importance in the Evangelical tradition.  Certainly, married couples can work together as a “Blessed Alliance” for the sake of the Gospel.  But young people do not need to be married to serve the Lord.  And I would guess that 80-85% of single people serving the Lord right here in the USA are male.

Let me share some more resources for further reading on women in ministry on the mission field and in local congregations.

Missiologist Jenny Rae Armstrong wrote a powerful piece about our privileged Western cultural perspective on womanhood and gender roles in this piece, “On Being a Woman After God’s Own Heart.”

Founder of Youth With a Mission, Loren Cunningham, believes women should serve in ministry alongside men.  Here is a short video from the YWAM website:

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You can purchase “Why Not Women?” here.

Here are a couple articles on the History of Women in Missions, Women in Mission: A Protestant Tradition.

I saw this astute comment on the Desiring God FB post: image

God has gifted all of us for Kingdom work, and churches should be empowering the Priesthood of all Believers rather than setting a few up in a hierarchy of power in the Church.  We should be guiding all of our church family to uncover their giftings and callings and make room for them in our congregations.  It is a waste not to use each person to their full potential.


*John Piper is a pastor, theologian and co-founder of the complementarian organizations, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, The Gospel Coalition, and Desiring God.  He is an influential force in conservative, reformed, fundamentalist evangelicalism, with a large following.  On Facebook, he has 438,000 followers, 879,000 on Twitter, and his writings and sermons reach millions around the world.

Here are some rebuttals from Egalitarians to Tweets and sermons Piper has produced recently:

In 2012, John Piper said that Christianity had a “masculine feel” and Ben Witherington responded to his address with this excellent article: “John Piper on Men in Ministry and the Masculinity of Christianity.”

Spiritual Sounding Board tried to decipher some of Piper’s strange tweets and shared a particularly disturbing tweet.  Zack Hunt has written on The Monstrous God of John Piper.

Sojourners Magazine includes John Piper in their great article on Kissing Sexist, Racist Christianity Goodbye.

John Piper is not at the fore-front of this post by Tim Fall, but he is in the background and Fall’s piece is great, so you should check it out.  Silencing Women – the guaranteed way for men to stay in control.

Jory Micah responded to another Ask John episode about egalitarians and complementarians dating in this post.


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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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