It’s November, 2015. You are currently 5 years old. The world you live in now looks completely different than the world I lived in at your age; to be honest, it even looks different than it did for your brother when he was your age just 13 years ago.
The opportunities for education, technology, talent & ability, are endless for you. You can express yourself in whatever facet or fashion that you desire. Being strong willed, tough & a leader, or keeping a soft side of humility, quietness & introversion while leading; whatever it is, it is embraced for females in this era.
Now more than ever do women have a voice that is being heard. Lives that are changing the face of humanity & history. It’s a time like no other.
Women are serving & leading in the military. They are Senators & Congress Women. Philanthropists, CEO’s, Lawyers. 2 are actually running for President of the United States. Women are Astronauts, Scientists, Doctors, Authors, Teachers, Song Writers, Psychologists, Engineers, Filmmakers, Rugby & Soccer Players, Directors, Musicians, Construction Workers, Missionaries, Electricians, Truck Drivers, Inventors, Artists…. I obviously could continue for a long time with such an impressive list.
The point I am making for you is this: we currently live in a society that tells little girls you can be ANYTHING the Lord has created you to be. You can do ANYTHING you want to do in life. You are equal just like God states in Genesis 1:27, in His image equal to man. Obviously, the list above proves that for you, right? Wrong.
The one thing you cannot do, still, in 2015, in many specific denominations across the United States, is use your call from God to be a leader, a Pastor or a position holder in the house of the Lord, also known as, CHURCH.
You’ve been limited to running the nursery & serving the pot luck meals. To cleaning & hostessing. To organizing luncheons & the ‘female’ stuff, because complementarian theology has decided this is what you, the girl, should be doing. Stifling your spiritual gifts & laying them down, in order to grow your domestic calling instead.
Some denominations will now allow & entertain you, if you want to start Women’s Bible classes or develop a board called Women’s Ministry, but the church will not financially support your plans. It’s up to you to figure out how you will continue to provide your ladies with up to date materials & the costs associated with the demands of year round curriculum. (Here’s a secret sweet baby, it’s expensive to learn about God. A good 6-12 week study is going to set you back $70-$200) But, hopefully you’re in a church where all of the free materials offered to your women’s groups aren’t primarily studies led & written by men as the majority.
I have raised you, as you know, mom is not an against all men, angry labeled ‘females only’ bashing type. Mom is an out there for humans type. Too conservative for liberals, too liberal for conservatives, too loud for the quiet woman & too controversial in thinking for the legalistic minded. Too new age for the traditionalist & too new school for the old one.
You see, many of our modern day churches have decided to separate from living as radical as Jesus did. As loving, as carefree to women & all people– now they’ve decided if you don’t speak/behave/act/follow/represent their ideals in the way they think you should, then you’re obviously into a new age, hokey, rebellious & against God’s plans type of scripture manipulation.
Many of the greatest teachers & writers of the word I have ever experienced, have been men. At the same time, many of the greatest teachers & writers of the word I have ever experienced, have also been women. Their messages were & are something that many men would & could benefit from; if only specific denominations would allow the women in congregation, to teach men. If only the men would listen. And if only traditional women would embrace this instead of using their bias as scriptural.
I do not know what the church will look like when you are old enough to read & understand the core of what women today are experiencing. I pray that you are floored this was even such a thing. I pray that any denomination in your current year, offers the same options as they uphold for men. I pray that scripture is not still twisted & turned to fit this opinion & preference & label it ‘God’s Idea And Plan’. I pray really hard that the dust will be blown off this archaic topic & FULL equality for women will be offered in the church & society, no matter what.
I can just hear older you say, “But mom wait- Scripture was actually used to invalidate women?” or “You mean the letter to Timothy from Paul was twisted that bad? The one about women sitting silently?” Yes, that letter to Timothy. There are a few more references but that seems to be the one most zoned into. And I know, it’s also the author who wrote of slavery in that time period, but since it (slavery) was something that eventually was dehumanizing, degrading & culturally unacceptable, we do not honor that anymore either obviously.
People realized spiritually at some point, that we do not own & control other humans or dictate their place in God’s Kingdom. Yes indeed, that absolutely should apply to women as well & many churches have experienced freedom in this area; sadly MANY have not.
Lean in, because I’d like to give you a history lesson on how that verse or Paul’s intention, a sentence in a personal letter, written to someone like a son has been botched to fit an agenda & lifestyle that has sorely been misguided since it was actually written. I want you to understand the original content of what Paul was saying instead of man’s & even a woman’s idea of what the female’s ‘place is’ in the home & in the church.
You at this point of your life, have pulled up a front row seat to how this family operates. You know 1st hand that your daddy & I have many strengths & weaknesses, but you also know that we are a team. We are at each others side 24-7. The only time we are not standing in unison is when the other may be crouched low in a dilemma & we need the other to pray & lift us back to our feet. Otherwise this is not a home where man rules & woman is quiet. Nor does woman control & man is weak lipped.
Your daddy has many times been the one who did the night shift with you- he has done bath duty for years- he braids your ponytails & he’s cooked your food (and mine); still does. He shops for you & buys you clothes- he prays with you & many times he’s cried with you & over you. And let me tell you, there is nothing more MANLY than a MAN who forfeits titles & boxes up labels & decides to experience for himself the joys of what a woman does for so many years, where many wives are never being offered a break.
This behavior from your daddy, this breaking of stereotype, not only prepared the way for what type of man your brother is, but he also recognized that he is preparing you for the type of partner that you will commit your life to one day; the man who will eventually take his place & help lead your home. No man should EVER want a ruler for his daughter- a controlling, dictator of the home. Scripture is never in favor of this.
In Ephesians 5:21-33, there is a call for women to be submissive to their husbands, (not someone else’s husband) but over looked are the 9 verses that follow which lay out specifically, what the man’s duties are to his wife & family. You see your daddy got the hard part, I have it easy.
Your daddy makes it easy to be ‘submissive’ (even though I seriously don’t cling to that word) because I am too busy being so in love with him & respecting him, that I actually want to serve him. And this is precisely how he treats me. He serves me, I serve him. We are so consistently concerned with being & staying tethered to one another from the string of love, that there is never a question of this submissiveness or me having to ‘mind what he says’, which is hysterical to even fathom. We are so compassioned to giving, no one has time to keep score of being given to.
When Paul penned his epistles, he did so specifically to the churches in that time- each letter is different & unique because each church was behaving in different ways after he left them & moved on; after he gave them instruction on how to live a Christ generated life.
Once Paul left these territories & new churches, old behaviors & patterns returned to them. Legalism & tradition started to seep in & false teachers started to arise. Paul’s letters may have similarities in the instruction, but that’s because the message of a Christ led & surrendered life doesn’t change- but the reasons the letters differed in tone, is due to the way those in their communities & new churches were behaving.
Paul wrote the portion of 1 Timothy 2:11,12 in this format & context to Timothy, AD 64. This was during a time when the Ephesus church was starting to conduct themselves entirely out of form. This letter was written 4 years after Ephesians was penned. His original letter to the Ephesus church was to strengthen the believers in their faith by explaining the nature/purpose of the church, the body of Jesus Christ. This was a church highly susceptible to false teachers. The letter to Timothy was to strengthen him in his leadership re: the Ephesians & remind him of how he needed to uphold the delegation that had been commissioned to him.
The reason Paul gave the instruction he did to Timothy regarding women in the area of silence, was not for roles of gender. Women had YET been taught, educated or trained to be able to teach ANY one ANY thing at that point in the establishment of those new believers. Other women on Paul’s mission journeys had been & were in position of teaching.
In 1st century Jewish culture, women were not allowed to study. Paul had offered an amazing opportunity under the new freedom in Christ to offer the women a chance to come & listen, learn, & be taught. But, many of those women in the Ephesus church had started to abuse their new found Christian freedoms. They were new converts & did not yet have the Christian maturity to teach those who already had extensive scriptural education.
In those days women were mostly illiterate- they were last to be taught anything, especially how to read or write, and much less taught to be a local leader or leader of religion.
Paul didn’t have a problem with women leading & teaching, he had a problem with any person teaching who did not know what they were talking about; he also had the same issue with MEN- many of his letters address the complications of false, idealistic, teachers who are outside the spirit of God. This was not a gender issue where he was concerned, despite the controversy many churches to date try to use to stand on & enforce.
In case you & I have not had this talk before, I’d like to share some influential female founders, leaders & teachers in Paul’s ministry & establishment of the new church in general, then before I wrap up my letter, I’d like to share with you Jesus views on women.
Here are some women you may want to bookmark & research for another day:
PHOEBE: A FEMALE DEACON IN THE CHURCH OF CENCHREA; Who Paul names & commends in Romans 16:1, 2 & instructs the Roman church to welcome her as being worthy of honor, to help her & acknowledged how she had helped others, including him.
PRISCILLA: MINISTRY PARTNER, LEADER IN THE ACTS CHURCH, MISSIONARY, FELLOW TENT MAKER; Paul was a house guest of she & husband Aquila. She was significant in Paul’s ministries & he even placed her as teacher over Apollos, a man & a great male preacher, Acts 18:24-26. Which refutes the claim that he was against women teaching men in general.
LYDIA: BELIEVED TO BE THE 1ST IN PHILIPPI TO ACCEPT JESUS & BECOME BAPTIZED, LEADING MANY OTHERS TO DO THE SAME; Reference Acts 16:13-15
DAMARIS, TRYPHENA, TRYPHOSA, PERSIS, EUODIA, SYNTYCHE, MARY, JUNIA, JULIA, RUFUS MOTHER, *MANY SISTERS, 4 PROPHETIC DAUGHTERS, DORCAS; Reference Romans 16:5-16, Acts 17:34, Philippians 4:2,3, Acts 21:9, Acts 9:36-42
There are also countless others. Paul was so appreciative of the faith & testimony of women, he accredits Timothy’s own faith base back to his grandmother & mother, Lois & Eunice; 2 Timothy 1:5,6.
Again in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16, He is quite firm in women who have husbands who are NOT believers to realize their husbands may be saved because of them. Their beliefs. And I think I’d be safe to say their teaching them the written word.
Please my daughter, do not ever let anyone tell you that because of their personal belief & perspectives, that you have no place to preach the word or be a part of church leadership. That you have no right for a man to sit under your teaching of the word. Many women do not have the call & you may be one of them, however, in the event you ARE, you need to know you have the choice & you have the right. You need to know there are spirit led churches that will welcome you.
In Beth Moore’s 10 week in depth study of the life of Paul, http://www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/To-Live-Is-Christ she very boldly covers this area in Timothy’s letter. It is something I have carried with me over the years since studying it. It allowed me to bury the old-fashioned & dogmatic beliefs many in small town USA still hold as truths; it separated me from what I had been taught vs what Jesus actually taught. Shockingly it was 2 entirely different spectrums of understanding & interpretation.
In case my study books are absent when you are older here is a beautiful excerpt from her teaching in that workbook:
When Paul said, “A woman should learn in quietness” & “be silent,” he did not use a Greek word which meant “complete silence or no talking” [he used a word] used elsewhere to mean settled down, undisturbed, not unruly.” Consider the traditional Jewish worship service. Men sat on the lower floor of the synagogue while women sat on the balcony or back of a room. Contrast that picture to the Christian worship service in the NT world. The men & women were together in a private home. The worship centered around praising God, singing, fellowshiping, eating together, sharing testimonies, & receiving instructions in their new faith. Women were included like never before.
The Christian movement was new & fragile. Any taint of adverse publicity could greatly hinder the mission of the church & mean persecution for believers. Women had to restrain their new freedom in Christ. (Gal. 3:28) so as not to impede the progress of the gospel. He said, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Thus women were to learn quietly, without calling the attention to themselves. He goes on to mention in v 12 that women should not usurp authority over men. Remember women in that day were illiterate. The Greek word authenteo, “one who claims authority,” is only used this one time in the Greek translation of the Bible. This word refers to an autocrat or dictator. Paul is saying women should not just come in & take over!
We cannot regard these verses as prohibition against women opening their mouths in church or men learning anything biblical from women. Paul gave instructions for women re: praying & prophesying during that day (1 Cor. 11:7-16). Paul issued differing instructions for churches based on their cultural settings & his desire for order in the church.
To bring us current date- I personally wouldn’t want an illiterate, spiritually immature woman who draws attention to herself, teaching me the word of Jesus Christ either, so I see Paul’s point. But I think others need to also see that in the same way we don’t own slaves, as many DID during the times the epistles were written, the instructions for women here, were not intended for ALL women & definitely not for women in 2015.
Many people love to bring up the rules & regulations of the OT, while dismissing the women who were key & foundational in those books not only having a reason to be written, but many of their lives provided the generational lineage for Jesus Christ. If the word of God is breathed by Him, then take note of OT figures mentioned like Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Sarah, Rahab, and so many more.
Jesus himself showed up & defied EVERY religious, doctrinal, ceremonial, legalistic list of do & don’t do’s there were, especially the list concerning women.
The world awaited a king. God had been silent 400 years. He could’ve chosen any way to usher Jesus into this world. He chose the Messiah’s entry through a woman. A woman not impregnated by a MAN, but the spirit of God. So if you really think about it. Men/a man didn’t have squat to do with Jesus birth- it was God, woman & spirit. Nothing about Jesus his human man-made.
Jesus was the best thing that ever happened for women & He seems to be used as the one thing to pit many denominations against them. He lifted the veil of oppression. Had there been no Jesus, modern day women would live like many of those in Eastern or 3rd world countries do today- especially the countries where another religion absent of Jesus as Messiah & Savior is predominant.
Over the years the church has evolved in the way women dress, in women being involved in many areas of music leadership, even women working sound & doing I.T. within the church. But when the Pastor takes a Sabbatical, you’ll never see a woman take his place to preach. When paid positions of teaching & leading open up, you never see those spots filled with females- the female positions are reserved for secretarial, child care & admin or art ministry opportunities, like dancing & acting.
Jesus violated every rabbinic law concerning women. He set the standard for his disciples, apostles & the New Testament church movement. He came to free ALL people, especially where the marginalized & oppressed were concerned. His intention was never to have women cast aside. Which is precisely why he refused to do it. I mean, he was only God in the flesh you know?
Author Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C.S. Lewis, wrote:
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there had never been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, who never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously, who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no ax to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.
My dear daughter you do not study from an anti-female Bible. When you read that you are fearfully & wonderfully made, you ARE. When you remember God reached from the mud & mire to make your life a living testimony because you are a medical & spiritual miracle, BELIEVE HIM, NOT THEM. You are positioned for what ever He applies to your spirit that your gifts & talents are- He will open the doors for the glory to be given to Him where & however He sends you. Never let anyone tell you, you aren’t to be sent.
Jesus Christ 1st appeared through a woman in his birth life & also 1st to a woman in his eternal life position after being raised from death. You are an equal in His kingdom & God himself tells you so as I will mention again: Genesis 1:27, So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Them, in the image of himself…. them.
I look forward to the age you are when you read this. When we slap our knees over what was still being implemented. About certain denominations who haven’t rewritten their platforms & rules in who knows how long.
One particular ‘convention’ I have emailed several times. I see their leaders all over social media, but no one will take the time to address me, return my messages, answer my questions or provide me with a response. I even tithe my money to support the missionaries tied to this group of decision makers. I’m not shocked by it, I am after all a woman….. labeled I am sure as a pot stirring loud mouth who should just sit down & accept my silence & asking any questions to gain information is probably seen as a threat. So be it. That’s where talking to God works instead. At least He answers.
I recently asked someone in church why women never took the platform in the event the pastor took a leave? I was told that the financial backers in the church would not have it or stand for it. That made me really sad & feel very depleted.
I don’t feel that I am called to pastor a church, but I could very well stand & speak a spirit led message, as could several other women who are members in churches. Our church calls us ministry partners. I sure would like to see more partnering; in every church & every denomination, that claims Jesus is Lord! Sharing the pulpit is different than storming it.
My girl, never forget who you are & whose you are- in spirit & in flesh. I pray I have raised you up in strength & dignity. Just as I did & tried to do with your brother. To fight for what is right, seek justice, love mercy & walk humbly. But never, accept anything, anyone or any teaching that is contrary to God’s plan, His word & Jesus life or purpose for you.
I love you always red bird-
To anyone out there reading this, I want to recommend a wonderful book. Purchase for yourself, your daughter, granddaughter, all females in your life & definitely men who want to know more about Christian women leaders over time. Especially times in recent history where women were expected to fit the home roles instead of something greater or more vocal. The book is 50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha You can buy on sale right now at http://www.familychristian.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=50+women+every+christian+should+know OR for Prime lovers at http://www.amazon.com/Women-Every-Christian-Should-Know/dp/0801015871 This would be a great addition to your holiday purchases.
:::btw, all bold emphasis of scripture, quotes or otherwise, is my own:::