In April 2006, six weeks before the end of the school year, Hampton got thrown out of school. His explosion happened the same week I was to leave for my first year of residency at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. I was so looking forward to obtaining my preaching doctorate. It would not only help hone my preaching skills, but in the third year I would learn how to develop a homiletics (art of preaching) course. It was exactly what was needed to continue equipping women to teach the Scriptures effectively. But Hampton’s circumstances left me burdened. Where would he finish out his last month of school? How’s this impacting him? I decided I wouldn’t go. My heart was such a mess I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anyways. And besides, what kind of mother leaves home during a time like this? So I told my family I wasn’t going.
And there was Steve, once again pushing me places I didn’t want to go. With deep conviction, he said, “You are going! We are not letting this kid or anything else get in the way of what God has for your life. You’re going!” (Excerpt from Lime Green)
Women need men to advocate for them. In marriage. In Corporate America. In the Church.
But here’s the thing, if that advocacy becomes lukewarm or disappears, the rubber band will sling back to its original form (or close to it). Too often we think, “well, we have a woman in leadership, all is good.”
Consider Bill Hybels’s recent confession.
On August, 6, 2015, Bill Hybels stood before tens of thousands of people and humbly and courageously confessed that although Willow Creek made the decision to affirm women in ministry in the 1980’s, he made mistakes along the way.
Somewhere in the middle 90’s, I think, I said, ‘I don’t have to carry that flag anymore. Because the whole church gets it; we are done with that. We’ve crossed over.’ In the last ten years, I am embarrassed to say, it’s gone the other way… If I could do it over again, I would have kept the pressure up until every last church that I could influence would allow women to serve, and to use their gifts, and to be full image bearers in the church. (Emphasis mine)
I’m beginning to wonder if what’s going on between women and men is deeper than any of us understand. What if “man- and-woman” is God’s governing principle for his world? What if they are one of the two pillars placed on earth to oversee it? (The first pillar being God and humankind) And what if Satan knows this dynamic duo is dangerous (and I’m not talking just marriage, but as alliances for God’s Kingdom)? And in one big swipe he knocked out both pillars and he’s worked to keep them from being rebuilt ever since. When I was in seminary we observed that the Jewish people have endured persecution unlike any other people group. The thought was it was because they were the people from whom the Savior of the world would come. What if the second pillar, man and woman governing together, is similar? Then Satan would certainly work to keep them adversarial rather than allies. And when I look at the destruction between male and female (I.e.: ISIS rape theology being just one example) I have to wonder if there’s something deeper than we understand. What if our alliance is deadly towards the kingdom of darkness?
Men who advocate for women being at the table are not enforcing affirmative action; they are restoring a powerful army, the governing arm God deployed in the beginning.
Consider it. Fundamentally every other group (Black, White, Native American, Asian, poor, rich, citizen, immigrant) can be broken down to male and female. “Man-and-woman” is the prime number.
After the Cross-we are Satan’s worse nightmare.
That is why I think it will take more than a decade of male advocacy. It’s deep. It means men will need to advocate with furor for a long while. Otherwise the rubber band will sling back to its original form. Or close to it.
Pastor Mike is a great example of what I am talking about. He hired a woman to oversee the women’s ministry. Sally (not her real name) did such a good job she was asked to become the Community Pastor, a position usually filled by a male. She fine-tuned her skills and eventually she was asked to “fill in” the pulpit when the senior pastor was on vacation. Just recently a male congregant started a petition to have Sally removed because he didn’t believe a woman should hold those positions. He approached the Senior Pastor with signatures he’d gathered from others. The Pastor looked at the signatures and said, “Well I guess all of you will be leaving because we’re not asking her to step down.”
Pastor Mike, I want to thank you on behalf of women. We need more men like you who will advocate for us women!