To Clear Up a Few Things

The last post has generated lots of interaction and I’ve enjoyed all the private messages,  comments, and the in-real-life conversations. You all have been so thoughtful and kind, even in the places where we differ, and for that I’m so thankful. I wanted to clear up a few things that came up in some of these conversations.

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First of all, if you’re an email subscriber, I think you received a, shall we call it, *bonus* post in your email. You probably discovered that it was not, in fact, on my blog. In getting the last post ready, I needed a link from a previous post that I never published. In that process, I somehow accidentally published it, and immediately deleted it. I talked in the last post about writing in preachy style, and that was a post I couldn’t feel good about publishing, and it was never meant to be viewed. I have to be honest with myself when I write, and sometimes there is ugliness within me that results in reactive, confrontational style writings, and I feel a check in my spirit that keeps me from progressing. My motives in writing are something that I take very seriously, and sometimes they expose areas that need sanctification and growth.

Some of the response from the previous post involved what I didn’t say, and probably could have included for a more rounded out perspective. I wrote in generalizations and rather broadly to keep from bunny-trailing into other topics that certainly overlap with feminism. So I want to clarify a few things, but instead of leaning in for a closer look, I want to zoom out for a larger picture.

When Jesus came to earth and lived among us, and then died, a new Humanity was birthed. He spent his three years in ministry sketching out the outline of this new society. Through His teachings and in parables, He described this new way of living. His followers would love both their neighbors and their enemies. They would not fight back when wronged and would actively love the wrong-doer. They would live in life-long covenants of marriage, broken only by death. They would not give their lives to riches and to the storing up of earthly possessions and would love Him above all else. This wasn’t just a revision to Jewish morality, it was a whole new Culture. A kingdom, He called it. And then the apostles, in letters to the early churches, colored in the spaces of the sketch, practically detailing what this new society living would include. Husbands would love their wives as Christ loved the church and would live with them in understanding. Wives would love and submit to their husbands and children would obey and honor. Men would not wear religious head coverings but women would, in honor of the authority design God created. Together they would enjoy abundant life, live with hope for both the present and the future, and their lives would taste of fruit- love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. This is just a small composite of the whole thing, but to get the whole picture, you’ll have to read the entire New Testament.

When we become God’s and He infuses us with His Spirit, we aren’t  merely just born-again and saved so we can go to heaven. We become part of His narrative, part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Something that defies geographical and social barriers and limitations.

So often, when topics such as womens’ roles come up, we seek to understand it for ourselves and the implications it means for us, instead of seeking to understand them in the context of the narrative and the Kingdom. That means, when God gives instructions both to men and women, He cares about more than just the men and the women. It is crucial for the well-being and the design of the larger Kingdom Society. I suppose you could say, the success of His Kingdom hinges on our obedience to the way He wants it to work.

Women living obediently cannot alone, make the Kingdom run smoothly. That’s not a load we could or should try to carry. That’s not a burden that churches should put on us. We can’t do it alone.

And that’s where some of the rub is in all this. We live in churches and in homes that don’t perfectly reflect this Kingdom model. In fact, so much of Christianity bears little resemblance to Jesus’ sketch. And because of sinfulness, many women live with abuse or spousal unfaithfulness. How is a woman to be Christ-honoring in situations like this? What is her role?

I’m not going to sit here and pretend to have answers, because I don’t. I can’t imagine living with that kind of pain. I also don’t know the pain of being made to feel that I was in some way inferior, or of less value to God because I’m a woman, and that my thoughts or questions were unimportant. My dad has consistently shown me what God must look like, all throughout my life. Even as a child, he wasn’t threatened or annoyed by my many questions, but encouraged me to think, to wrestle, and then to own my faith. This is among the most precious gifts a dad can give his girl, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

If this has not been your experience, and you instead live with the pain of what I described above, I’m so terribly sorry.  But please don’t write off God’s whole design on account of one part gone terribly wrong. The answer to being silenced isn’t in finding your voice and then seeking, above all else to finally be heard. Its in finding the God who hears and who accepts and who values, and then settling into Him. You will find the sweetness of His voice and His peace and He will give you identity and purpose that nobody else can or should.

And I think in conversations like this, we dare not box in and create constructs that go tighter than God’s design. I think a man who lives with his wife in understanding will value her input and seek it before making decisions. I think it could also include him pitching in and helping set the table for dinner and bathing the children afterwards, and being understanding of the demands of long days at home. I think women can be God-honoring and enjoy new tools and building things. And while it took many sweaty minutes and then Youtube to help me conquer ratchet straps, for you it might be fun and easy. I think there’s space in gender roles for fluidity and flexibility. I suppose I’m just not ready to compromise on God’s design, as sketched out in Scripture.

I may have muddied the waters more, in an attempt to clear them, and if I have, I’m sorry. I don’t plan on elaborating more, as it’s time for me to move on mentally from this topic. But thanks again to all of you and your graciousness in engaging. I really do appreciate it!

Vicki

 

 

 

Regarding Women Going Home

 

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I said I wasn’t going to weigh in. And I wasn’t. And then one of you (hi, you know who you are :)), stopped in at my place of work and asked what I really thought of it. We proceeded to have a stimulating conversation, because she’s great like that, and as a result, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

I weigh in because it’s something I’ve been thinking about, and also because it affects the future of my blog.

I feel like this post needs lots of disclaimers, and no matter how I write, there will be differences of opinion. I love healthy interaction and I welcome it, so chime in, but please be nice!

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, the world of evangelical women blew up when John MacArthur’s two word response, when asked about popular author and teacher, Beth Moore, was “go home.”

The older I get, the faster I’ve gotten at filtering through the outrageous and the hysteria. This opinion piece by the Wall Street Journal is well worth your while if you want to understand how outrage works and the effects it can have on a society. It is a secular piece, and uses some rather, interesting, words, so if you can overlook them, I think you’ll enjoy it.

So after my friend asked me about it, I actually dug into what really happened and listened to the video clip. I had to turn it off because I couldn’t take the disrespect. Not because Beth Moore is a woman, but  because she’s a person. I can appreciate public disagreement but not disrespect.

So he wasn’t very nice, but apart from his personal attack on her, was what he went on to say about women in leadership true? That is the bit that I’ve been mulling the last few days.

I suppose to answer this you have to establish Biblical authority and relevance, because the Bible does in fact have instructions for women. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand so much of women and how they were treated throughout recorded Scripture. I don’t understand the times where innocent women and children paid the price for men’s recklessness and sin. I don’t understand why women seemed like little more than property in the Old Testament, and why they aren’t included in genealogies and family lineage. I don’t understand why Jesus in Matthew 15, ignored a woman from a minority race and referred to her as a dog before healing her daughter. By today’s standards, this was textbook “toxic masculinity” and racism.

It finally clicked for me today, when I was washing a stack of dishes, that God doesn’t have to explain His actions. Creator privilege. An artists draw a picture- he controls who uses it. Bobby makes a paper airplane- he says who can fly it. If God indeed made us, than He has the right to set the terms. But we aren’t just owned by God, we are beloved to God, and for that reason I choose to be a Christian. Even though there are parts about Him that I don’t understand, I’ve found Him to be trustworthy. A Creator that made a perfect world, watched it decay in sin and suffering, sent a part of Himself to die for it, and then comes to live in us? That’s why I’m a Christian.

I suppose most of what is going wrong in the world today could be chalked up to copyright infringement. Society and culture re-defining God’s terms for His kingdom and then wondering why it seems like it’s about to fly off it’s axis. Setting their rules and then looking for His grace.

Feminism, to me, is one of the scariest copyright breaches that is taking place today. Feminism, as I’m using it, is the blurring of lines between the sexes, not in questions of value, but roles. I would wholeheartedly agree that in the sight of God, both men and women are equally valued and loved, but have distinctly different roles and callings. A woman who is made to believe that she is of less value to God or needs to go through a man for a relationship with God is a different conversation and one that makes me sad.

Culture is rewriting the terms for what it means to be a woman (and subsequently- a man) and that is what MacArthur describes in his response. Women thirsty for power and control. Women finding their voices and then roaring. And I think when we’ve crested the wave, and ridden it to the bottom, we’ll find that power isn’t what we thought it was and it’s cost us something very dear. For all the successful strides towards equality and opportunity, women have never been more emotionally vulnerable and fragile. We read a lot about self-care. Maybe it is because it is emotionally exhausting doing what we weren’t meant to do. Maybe in fact, God is merciful, not mean, in His instructions to us. Maybe home is the best place for mothers because they do it best. Not because they aren’t qualified to do anything else, but because no one else is qualified to fill that role. Maybe submission isn’t sexist, but actually appropriate for healthy relationships. Maybe men filling spiritual leadership roles is the patented design by the Almighty and the only way homes and churches were designed to thrive.  His Word seems to indicate that.

I did a quick Pinterest search for “quotes about women”. And then I searched “quotes about men”. You want to guess what I found? It shook me up a bit. They both had the same kinds of quotes about women. The first search pulled up quotes like:

18 Strong Women Quotes to Remind You How Resilient You Are #MotherandGrandmotherGifts

And the second search pulled up quotes like this:

Quotes About Strength  #Quotes #Strength #Inspiration

Even if I was to suspend my Christian beliefs, I would still find these kind of “empowering” quotes…. embarrassing.

So many of the quotes in the search results seem:

– Petulant.

-Almost childish in their demand for attention.

-Taunting and fierce

-Verbally manipulative

In a strange way, as a woman, I don’t feel empowered when I read those quotes. I feel smaller. I feel a shrinking of all that is feminine and beautiful and generous. I feel the loneliness of a self-made bubble. The despair of thinking that it’s me against everyone, especially men. The emptiness of promises that can’t be kept.

Fragile like a bomb? Bombs are two things: volatile and destructive. I want to live with the discipline of self-restraint, of care and of building others up. How is being bomb-like supposed to be empowering to women? Is the idea to blow up the men?

Ironically, feminism is the ultimate reduction of the woman. It makes smaller, less generous, less compassionate, and less soft. It strips the woman of all that is rightfully and beautifully hers, and replaces it with empty promises. She is a social genetic modification, this new woman, and the modifications have weakened her and left her vulnerably exposed.

I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to post this. I’ve painted with a wide brush.  I’ve used terms without defining them. But please know this. I care deeply about women and am the biggest champion for meaningful, vibrant, and abundant living. And I’m old fashioned enough to think that we don’t need loud voices and bullhorns and hashtags to be influential and to make a difference. I think the influence of women graciously serving their families and the steadiness of walking in truth and with grace is more powerful than any platform anywhere.

Go home? I don’t mind if I do. Home is a rather nice place.

Vicki

(In considering future content for my blog, I want to be conscious of what I’ve just written. I struggle sometimes with writing in a preachy kind of way about things I care deeply about. And because I have a mixed audience, I am choosing, going forward, to not have spiritually instructive kinds of content. It’s just a personal thing God has asked me to do and I’m choosing to honor that.)