I Am Disrupted

Posted by on Thursday, Mar 8, 2018 in #metoo, #silienceisnotspiritual, Blog, Gender, silenceisnotspiritual | 2 comments

The Huffington Post published an article By Carol Kuruvilla on how 1,400 evangelicals joined forces to urge protection of Dreamers. The list of signees was a who’s who in the Christian evangelical world. Men and women of great influence lent their name to the protection of DACA. I was thrilled but also disrupted. Why weren’t those men’s names listed alongside the 300 female evangelical leaders who launched the #silenceisnotspiritual movement? It seems like when it comes to the sexual exploitation of women our brothers are disturbingly quiet. Why the silence? Why are male evangelical leaders so quiet on the current issues our world is facing when it comes to women? Is it because men don’t like to identify with something so vile? Is it fear of the sexual sin hidden in their own lives? Is it because they are people of privilege and therefore do not see the issue as it really is? Is it because they can’t go after one of their own? I’ve seriously tried to understand why men in Christian leadership speak so little of the #MeToo, #Timesup, and #silenceisnotspiritual movements? More so, I’ve prayed about how I am supposed to respond to their silence. I want to be a woman who works with my brothers in Christ, not against. I don’t want to be divisive or do harm to a brother or the church. I wonder if my silence makes me complicit? I am not sure where the line is. I am disrupted. So I share my thoughts here with trepidation because I’m about to comment about some words spoken by my brothers, words that confuse the narrative and worse yet, cause women harm. I doubt that is my brothers’ intention but none the less it is the reality. Recently, I heard a sermon on why a particular church did not have female elders. The sermon opened with the idea that just as in biblical times so too, we the Church, find ourselves in a culture that rejects Jesus as Lord. Note, names are not used here as I believe this is not an individual silence but more specifically an institutional silence. The preacher continued by asking two questions: 1. “How do we conduct ourselves in a culture that rejects biblical authority?” 2. “How should we live in a culture that views the roles and relationship between men and women very differently than what the Bible teaches?” First let me say,  just because someone holds a different view on the role of women does not mean that person has rejected the authority of Scripture. Great scholarly theologians within the conservative faith community disagree on this issue. It’s helpful for a congregation to know that fact. It deserves to...

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He Withheld A Handshake

Posted by on Wednesday, Sep 21, 2016 in Blog |

I confess when I read this article, Faith- Based Refusal to Shake Hands with a Woman, and a specific religion came to mind. I won’t share which but it wasn’t mine – after all we American Christians are more “advanced.” We don’t believe shaking a female’s hand pollutes or makes a man unclean. “At a business meeting, a man refused to shake hands with me and all the other women in the room, citing ‘religious restrictions.’ He proceeded to shake hands with the men. He was, I might add, otherwise respectful.” I’ll be honest, even though I want to respect other faiths’ view of women, more often than not, I find myself breathing a sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve progressed beyond this.” Or have we? A woman on staff of a conservative evangelical church sent me an email. She was hurting over the rejection she experienced at the hands of one of her brothers in the church. The man was offended that Sally (not her real name) held a pastoral position. Even though Sally was appointed by her male elders, this man, Sam (not his real name) didn’t feel it was biblical. Sally heard Sam was frustrated by her presence on staff so she decided to reach out to him and see if they could meet. Sam then emailed another male pastor on staff and informed him that he was offended that a female pastor would email him and that a male staff member should have emailed him. Not a handshake withheld but still. I found myself breathing that sigh of “You’ve got to be kidding me? Surely we’ve moved beyond that.” Or have we? These kinds of encounters are painful. I wish they weren’t. But they are. It’s painful to realize that your gender is a liability – that being female offends. When I read the article my mind immediately went to “another religion far away” but it’s not something “they” do – it’s something we do and it’s happening right here in our local...

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I Have a Hunch

Posted by on Monday, Sep 12, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

I have a hunch – a hypothesis waiting to be proven by some taker. We know that the majority of church-going conservative women are what’s called “received knowers.” Received knowers do not construct their own knowledge—they receive it. They rely on an authoritative source (male leadership) to tell them what is right or wrong. To a received knower, there is only one right interpretation—one right answer—to a problem. Ambiguity or paradox cannot be tolerated. Concepts must be predictable, easily consumed, and clearly laid out. (In other words women tend to leave their critical thinking skills at the door of their church. Don’t get me wrong, there are women out there that recognize inconsistencies but have no forum to raise questions without being seen as divisive, angry, or not supportive of leadership. Either way, women’s voices are silenced.) We also know women in the conservative evangelical world are the least likely to be trained in the areas of leading and preaching.  That’s not to say women aren’t leading or teaching bible studies; it just means those who are teaching bible studies are less likely to be trained in those areas of service. (Women are afraid if they pursue the necessary training they will be sinning by stepping over some invisible gender role line, or that people will see them as a feminazi.) I wrote She Can Teach to help women gain the confidence and skill to handle the Scriptures effectively.  We also know that if women are to be trained to lead or teach skillfully, they first must be convinced that they are not only able but also called to do so. By “called,” I’m talking about God’s call on a woman’s life to commit to the work of ministry. Here’s what I’ve seen: Women in the conservative faith community wait for the male nod. When the male leadership nods we see a whole half of the church rise up and risk. Women start to see possibilities and they go for them. They write that book. Start that ministry. Go back for more training. More schooling. They become experts in their fields. What I’m saying is where I see women kicking butt on behalf of Jesus – it’s usually done in the presence of the male nod. Men inviting women to not only engage but go for it. And they do everything in their power to make way for her to do so. She rises up – to the opportunity. And we, the Bride of Christ, benefit and the world receives a warrior Ezer working on behalf of her Savior Jesus. She changes things. Her family, community, faith community, work place, social systems, politics …. I’ve seen it. Not as...

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My Sermon Preached @ The Summit

Posted by on Thursday, May 5, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

We didn’t record the Sunday morning message at the Summit. Many of you have asked for it so we’re blogging it instead. Not the same as hearing but for those of you who heard it you can imagine the wind blowing, noise at the table, smell of the grass and the cadence of my voice as these words were heralded. Mostly, upon reading this, I hope you are reminded of what the Spirit said to you that weekend. May you be ennobled, equipped and emboldened to respond. There’s no time for shrinking back, we need every one of us fully deployed. Fully deployed. When I was 38 I broke my back in two places. Wish I could tell you some fancy story like I was doing a flip while skiing on the Alps, but the truth is I was on the floor using my legs to move around big armoires in my bedroom. While recovering that summer, I read every book on women in the church. I was irritated by one author’s accusation that women were priestesses in the early church. I set out to prove her wrong. Not that I was ever going to tell her that, I just needed it for my own clarification. That’s when I stumbled upon the fact that there were conservative evangelical theologians who believed in Jesus and bible, and also they were orthodox Christians who upon study had concluded something different about the role of women in the Church. I came to Dallas Theological Seminary as a new Christian, and I didn’t know there was an issue. I was focused on figuring out how Jesus walked on water. But without knowing it, I had breathed in their complementarian position. While I was so grateful for my training at DTS, I was becoming aware that there was something else to consider. Suddenly I was reading smart theologians and mostly those writing for Christians for Biblical Equality, (CBE) and they believed the same orthodoxy as those at DTS yet concluded something different about the text surrounding the role of women issue. I had cognitive dissonance. Unsteady. What happened? What if I’m being led astray? Like Sue Russell mentioned earlier, we’re in a state of liminality. We are separated from what was before, but we haven’t arrived at our new destination yet. It is an uncomfortable place to be; however, it is also a scary place for some of us. If our theology shifts, we could lose our jobs. People may disrespect us. We may be called liberals. We may be accused of throwing the bible out. Some of you may have experienced that this weekend. I think Nicodemus experienced this when he questioned the idea...

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Men Make Me Better

Posted by on Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 in Blog |

First night of the Summit came to an end and my spirit was unsettled. Ray listened as I tried to figure out “what was troubling me.” He summarized, responded then gently challenged. This is what developing leaders looks like. Grateful for men in my life. Men make me better. Women make them better. We need each other....

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